The Last Mrs. Parrish Review & Giveaway

The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel


New From: $12.88 USD In Stock
Release date October 17, 2017.

At 400 pages, this was a longer read for a thriller, but I raced through it.  When I started this book, I didn’t read any synopsis because I wanted to see where the story took me.  And to be honest, even halfway through I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but it was an addicting page-turner and still took me by surprise.

The tag line for this book and written across the cover is “Some women get everything.  Some women get everything they deserve.”  And with two reliable narrators of this story, you don’t know who specifically this is referring to.  Is it Amber, a young woman with a hidden past whose main goal in life is stealing the husband of her new friend, Daphne?  Or is it Daphne, so used to wealth and privilege as a Connecticut socialite?

The second half of the book had elements reminiscent of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, filled with tension.  There were also parts which reminded me of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  So if you enjoyed either of those books, I recommend picking this one up.

I think the story will be more enjoyable if you go in without reading much about it first, which is why I didn’t regurgitate much of the plot here.  The night I finished, I still had a third of the book left but refused to sleep until I finished, eager to find out how it ended.  I can’t wait to see what this writing duo comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy to give away to a lucky winner.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Hanna Who Fell From the Sky

Hanna Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel


New From: $8.14 USD In Stock
Release date September 26, 2017.

From the back cover:

A magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl’s struggle for liberation

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she’s known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

About the author:

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Mothers and Other Strangers Review & Giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers


New From: $10.80 USD In Stock

This book grips you with its first sentence and never lets go: “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

As the book continues, we are on Elspeth’s journey with her, as she comes to terms with her mother’s death and all the family secrets that are ready to bubble to the surface.  She most eagerly is trying to figure out her mother’s connection to the Seekers, a cult-like religion that is reminiscent of Scientology.

This novel does not let you off easy.  We are dealing with rape, murder, betrayal, and family dysfunction in such a way you will be extremely thankful for your own mother.  In fact, it’s easy to think this could be a memoir in the way the timeline is handled and how real these characters act.

Sorell writes beautifully, but it’s not a case where you will get bogged down in the language.  It’s a fast read, and you’ll want to race through to reach its conclusion.

Sign me up for any future books from Sorell.  I know the prose will be fluid and the story convincing, if it is anything like her debut.  My thanks to Goldberg McDuffie and Prospect Park Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina likes to balance out the long solitary hours of novel writing, with her work as a Creative Director of Eat My Words, a SF based branding firm, where she collaborates all day long with innovators and entrepreneurs whose identity she establishes with only one word, their name.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Eden Review & Giveaway

Eden: A Novel


New From: $10.89 USD In Stock

I was delighted to get a chance to read Eden, a story many of my blogger friends were raving about.  I didn’t know much before reading, but if you are a fan of the family saga, keep reading.

Eden tells the story of Becca Fitzpatrick, matriarch of her extended family and living in Eden, the beach house her father, Bunny Meister, built at the beginning of the century.  Her daughter lives with her currently, along with her granddaughter Sarah who shows up to announce her pregnancy.  When Becca finds out her deceased husband has misspent all of their savings, she’s despondent that it might be her last summer at Eden, so she works to get the family together one last time.

The book alternates between the present, leading up to the family weekend, and the past, long before Becca is even born.  It is a story of four generations.  And while there are lots of family members, it is easy to follow their stories and connections.  If you do have trouble, the author included an easy-to-follow family tree in the beginning for reference.  I loved traveling back in the past and learning about how Eden came to be along with all the historical events like the Stock Market crash and the 1938 New England hurricane.

There is something about a family saga that is so endearing.  You quickly become attached to characters since you follow them throughout their lives.  The Meister family experienced many hardships and they all made choices I did not agree with.  But I was eager to see how they played out.  And I love that the Eden house became its own character in the novel, one that also endured many ups and downs.  I look forward to what Jeanne writes next.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Jeanne Blasberg is a voracious observer of human nature and has kept a journal since childhood. After graduating from Smith College, she surprised everyone who knew her by embarking on a career in finance, making stops on Wall Street, Macy’s and Harvard Business School, where she wrote case studies and business articles. A firm believer that you are never too old to change course, Jeanne enrolled at Grub Street, one of the country’s pre-eminent creative writing centers, where she turned her attention to memoir and later fiction. Eden is her debut novel. Jeanne and her husband split their time between Boston and Westerly, RI. When not writing, she can be found playing squash, skiing, or taking in the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay. For book group questions and to learn more, please visit www.jeanneblasberg.com.

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Boat Runner Review & Giveaway

The Boat Runner: A Novel


New From: $7.00 USD In Stock
Release date September 5, 2017.

Full disclosure: Devin is a friend of mine.  When I found out he was going to have his debut published, I was beyond excited for him.  He promised me an early copy, and I was thrilled to receive it.  I even got choked up reading the acknowledgements because most were such close friends.  But then I had a thought: What if I hated it?  How would I tell him?  So I left it to sit on my nightstand, where day in and day out I looked at it, afraid to pick it up.

But then my mom asked if she could read it.  And my husband.  So of course I had to read it before they did, so I finally started, and boy, am I glad I did.

I guarantee this is a WWII story you haven’t read before.  It introduces Jacob Koopman, a teenager living in a small Dutch town with his older brother, Edwin, and his parents.  His father owns a lightbulb factory and in an attempt to secure more business, he decides (without his wife’s permission) to send the boys to a German youth camp just as Hitler and the Nazis are coming into power.  Jacob’s story is followed through the war as he grapples with which side is doing the right thing and how far he will go to protect his loved ones.

It is obvious to see the amount of research that went into this book.  I quickly formed an emotional connection with Jacob and could sympathize with his plight.  It’s hard enough to be a teenager.  But just try to deal with that as war is breaking out.  I believe he tried to see the good in everyone, even those who we would now call “enemies” in our history books.

If you enjoy books like All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, Once We Were Brothers, and City of Thieves, be sure to give this one a read.

If you ever get the chance to meet Devin, at an event or book signing, please go.  Aside from the fact that he’s the nicest person ever, you’ll be fascinated by his family history and his past that all shaped this story.

Thanks to Devin, I have 2 signed copies to give away to lucky readers.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Something Like Happy Review

Something Like Happy: A Novel


New From: $8.99 USD In Stock
Release date September 5, 2017.

Do you ever have a day where everything seems to be going wrong?  You overslept, can’t find matching socks, car won’t start, you spill your coffee on your lap?  The list goes on and on.  That is how Annie Hebden is when we first meet her.  Except her day is her life.  She can’t catch a break and she is just miserable.

Polly Leonard is the opposite.  She is full of so much personality that she can barely contain it in her body.  She swoops in to rescue Annie from herself and is determined to make her happy.  And she sets a goal of 100 days to do it.  Why?  Because Polly only has 100 days to live.

I went through every emotion while reading this book.  I laughed.  I cried.  (I did.)  I got angry.  The author really fills the book with a cast of vibrant characters that will have you giggling one second and aching the next.

And while their friendship lasted only a short bit of time, I completely bought in to it.  I’m sure we all have experiences of meeting someone new and heading full bore into a new relationship, whether it’s a friendship or something more.  It’s so easy to get attached quickly.

Fans of Sally Hepworth’s The Things We Keep will find a lot to love in this story.  And if you enjoyed Allie & Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde ($1.99 as of this post), I was reminded of a similar personality clash between the two friends as started off in that book.

This book is being published by new imprint Graydon House.  It is their first release, one of four for this year, that Harlequin is aiming to work as book club selections.  And it is full of discussion in each character’s choices, motivations, and how they interact with others.

My thanks to Little Bird Publicity for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: 

Eva Woods was born in Ireland but now resides in London and has published two women’s fiction novels with Mira UK and also writes crime fiction for Hodder UK as Claire McGowan. In addition to writing novels, she teaches creative writing and has written for Glamour, You magazine, the Guardian, the Dublin Herald, and more. Something like Happy marks her North American debut.

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky Review

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky: A Novel


New From: $10.86 USD In Stock

What a delight this was!  Sure, it sounded funny but I didn’t expect much.  And I often use the term laugh out loud without actually laughing out loud.  More like a light chuckle or smiles while reading.  You guys, I actually laughed out loud.  Enough to cause my husband to ask what I was reading.

The characters come to life in Summer Heacock’s debut.  The main focus is on Kat, a baker who is going through a bit of a dry spell in the, ahem, sex department.  She’s been with her boyfriend for years but has fallen into a rut when her lady bits start causing her trouble.  She starts feeling guilty and tells her boyfriend he can go look for sex elsewhere while she tries therapy on her own.

As I was reading, I kept imagining what a great romantic comedy this would make on the big screen.  The dialogue is so witty that it wouldn’t take much to start the screenplay.  (Dear Hollywood, I’m interested in playing Shannon, okay?). When you add in Kat’s three coworkers to the mix of advice, gossip, and all things vaginas, hilarity ensues.

I raced through this book in a day.  The chapters are short and sweet and the story flies.  Definitely pick this up if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up or beach read.  It was such a refreshing break from watching the news and those heavy, emotional books.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and Q & As with the author.

About the author:

Summer Heacock is an author of contemporary women’s fiction, and prances through life like a Disney cartoon that says the “F” word a lot. She lives in a teeny Indiana town where she’s a stay-at-home-mom to two scampy tots, wife to an amazingly understanding husband, herder of a rescue critter menagerie, and collector of life-size celebrity cardboard cutouts. When not writing or hoarding jellybeans, she’s a member of the Midwest Writers planning committee, and a cohost of PubTalkTV. She can be found at www.Fizzygrrl.com, and on Twitter as @Fizzygrrl. Her follow-up novel, FINDER’S FEE, is due July 2018, from MIRA/Harlequin.

A Stranger in the House Review & Giveaway

A Stranger in the House


New From: $10.00 USD In Stock

For all the parts of The Couple Next Door that I loved, there were some similarities:

1. The action begins right as the book takes off.  No slow buildup getting to know characters or backgrounds.  You open this book and the story begins.  With a bang.  Literally.

2. Short chapters.  It’s so nice when life gets busy and I have minimal time to read for pleasure that I can get more reading in because chapters don’t drag.  They are quick and succinct.

3. Always a surprise.  Even when you reach the conclusion and discover the truth, there’s still another surprise lurking.

So fans of her debut will enjoy this book as well.  It’s the story of Karen Krupp, a bookkeeper, who races out of her home one night without her purse and her phone and while dinner is still cooking.  When her husband, Tom, arrives home, he has no idea what happened to her or where she went.

I give credit to the author for this unique storyline, which seems to be getting harder and harder to provide in the mystery/thriller genre.  I have not read a book like this before.  She continuously drops surprises throughout but does so with subtlety.

About the author:

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. She has written two award-winning literary novels, and her suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, was a New York Times and an international bestseller. A Stranger in the House is her second thriller.

I have a treat for you all!  The kind folks at Penguin have sent me an advanced copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Dress in the Window

The Dress in the Window: A Novel


New From: $5.15 USD In Stock

From the Back Cover:
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful colors—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister, Peggy, both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer: Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, Peggy now a widowed mother, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their gray pasts the sisters strive for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients, with the help of Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together they are able to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as Peggy and Jeanne soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

Here’s an excerpt:

Jeanne

Nancy Cosgrove had seen the gown made up in taffeta in Vogue, and taffeta was what she had to have. Jeanne made a muslin first, at Nancy’s insistence, even though muslin could never stand in for the stiff, slippery hand of the real thing. The muslin’s skirt hung around Nancy’s lumpy hips like wet rags and Jeanne thought she’d finally come to her senses—but Nancy just went home to get her crinoline. It made only a slight improvement: the muslin spread out over the stiff underskirt like leaves floating on a pond. But Nancy took herself across the river to the city, where she found a bolt of emerald green moiré taffeta in a shop at the corner of Fourth and Fulton.
​When she brought it back, the bolt of fabric sitting in the passenger seat of her garish two-tone Packard Clipper like a visiting dignitary, it occurred to Jeanne that Nancy might still be trying to one-up her, even after everything that had happened. Never mind that Jeanne slept in the unfinished attic of the narrow row house that she shared with her sister and her niece and Thelma Holliman. She suspected that there was a part of Nancy that was stuck back at Mother of Mercy High School, where Jeanne had sailed like a swan through adolescence, winning top marks and courted by a steady stream of St. Xavier boys. By contrast, poor Nancy had been as awkward as a stump, beloved by no teacher, no suitors, and none of the other girls.
​Jeanne tried not to hold this belated vengefulness against Nancy: they badly needed her money. Still, Nancy had no head for sums, and there was not enough fabric on the bolt for the New Look dress she had hired Jeanne to sew for her. Unlike the wide bolt of unbleached muslin that Jeanne kept on a length of baling wire on Thelma’s back porch, the taffeta that Nancy brought back was only forty-eight inches wide—a scant forty-eight inches at that, the selvages taking up the better part of an inch on either side. Jeanne could barely cut a skirt panel from it—even with Nancy’s oddly short, bowed calves—and only by forgoing the deep hem she’d planned in favor of an understitched facing.
​Jeanne had been up the night before until nearly three in the morning, hand-tacking that facing with a single strand of superfine Zimmerman and a straw needle. When she finally went to bed, she had an unsettling dream. It had been months since she’d dreamed of Charles, but suddenly there he was, wearing a hat that had hung on a nail in the carriage house of his parents’ estate in Connecticut, a western style of hat that his father had brought back from a trip to Montana.
​But in the dream Charles frowned at her from beneath its broad brim, while he pressed his hands to his stomach, trying to stanch the blood pouring from the hole in his side, while all around him in the trenches of Cisterna, his fellow Rangers were felled by the German panzers. Only six of them came home, out of more than seven hundred—but
Jeanne didn’t care about any of them. She would have traded them all to have Charles back.
​War had made a monster of her, and there was nothing she could do about it—except to sew. A stitch, another, another. In this way the minutes and hours passed.

Peggy

It was well past time to turn out the light and get some sleep, but Peggy didn’t set the square black Conté crayon down. She took a dainty sip of the bitter, cold coffee left over from the morning—yesterday morning, to be accurate, since it was nearly one-thirty—and made a bold, broad stroke down a fresh piece of newsprint. The piece of wood she’d rigged as an easel—taken from a cabinet face from a building being torn down around the corner—shifted on the bolster on which Peggy had propped it. Too bad they didn’t know any carpenters who might make her a real easel, Peggy thought grimly. Too bad they didn’t know any useful men at all.
​On her little mattress not three feet away, Tommie shifted and rolled, her rosette lips pursed. She was a restless sleeper, as she had been a restless baby—she’d
come into the world uneasy, as though she knew already that she’d be denied a father, denied the perfect charmed life that Peggy had promised her many months earlier, when she’d first made her presence known on a prodigious wave of nausea, harbinger of the difficult pregnancy to come.
​No, nothing about Tommie was easy, and sharing a room with her—and yes, Peggy knew she was lucky to have a room at all, with her sister making up a bed each night in the freezing attic—was a daily torment.
​Another curving black stroke of the crayon, to meet the first. In those two lines were the suggestion of the back, the shoulders, the curve of the hip. Peggy glanced at the latest issue of Vogue, open to a spread titled “The New Blouse-and-Skirt Formula,” featuring full-circle skirts nipped in tight over balloon-sleeved blouses. The first wave of outrage over Dior’s new look seemed to have abated, silenced, perhaps, by the unstoppable tide of women hungry for a bit of glamour. Peggy could sympathize. The wartime fashions, made severe and scant by textile regulations dictated by the War Production Board—had looked all right on angular, thin women like her sister. But on curvy Peggy, they looked downright ridiculous.
​She sketched soft, feathery strokes to suggest a full skirt like the one in the Vogue layout. Underneath the skirt, there would be structured layers of tulle to give it shape, but her drawing would only show the fanciful outline, like a bell, with satin pumps peeping from the bottom. Peggy could wear such a skirt—if she had anywhere to go. She had retained her small waist even after Tommie’s birth, and her bosom remained high and generous. She was still making do with her corset from two years ago, but if she could afford one of the new French-waisted ones, with the tabs that could be cinched tightly . . .

About the author:

Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sofia Grant has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under the name Sophie Littlefield. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. Her latest novel, THE DRESS IN THE WINDOW (William Morrow, July 2017) explores the lives of three women who break into the fashion industry after the end of WWII. Visit www.sofiagrant.com for more information.

The kind folks at William Morrow have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Class Mom Review & Giveaway

Class Mom: A Novel


New From: $13.00 USD In Stock

For everyone who loved the scenes in Big Little Lies dealing with the classroom politics, have I got the book for you.  Imagine an entire book of classroom politics.

Class Mom is full of snark and witty dialogue, mostly from our protagonist, Jen Dixon.  As an older mom with two college-aged daughters, her son, Max, with Baby Daddy #3 and Husband #1 ( as she calls him ) is starting in kindergarten.  Her best friend and PTA president, Nina, recruits her to be the class mom.   But not everyone can handle her humor.  And so begins a school year full of disagreements, misunderstandings, and fun.

I’ll be honest.  When I read Jen’s first email, I didn’t think I’d like her at all.  But it turns out that was just her sense of humor and it takes some getting used to.  As each chapter begins with actual emails, you should have no trouble reading this book quickly.  I finished in 24 hours!  It is a light and fun read, a perfect distraction from work stress and what I hope no parents really deal with from other parents at school.

Major props to the author for her stance on goody bags!  I could not agree with her more.  In fact, I found her more relatable now as I also have a son entering kindergarten.  I think book clubs (especially those who still have small children) will get a kick out of this book and find many laugh out loud moments.

Also, what a perfect cover for this book.  It reminds me of Glee, if that gives you any insight into what you’ll be reading.  The art department did a tremendous job capturing the book perfectly, all while making it whimsical.

My thanks to Henry Holt for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Laurie Gelman was born in Ottawa Canada and realized her life long ambition to be an author at the ripe old age of 52.
Before that she spent 25 years as a broadcaster, wife and mother. Class Mom is her first book.
She lives in NYC with her husband and 2 daughters.

 

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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