The Unexpected Daughter Review & Giveaway

The Unexpected Daughter


New From: $14.53 USD In Stock

The Unexpected Daughter tells the story of a dysfunctional family, although not for comedic purposes.  This family is at the center of a culture clash, one that threatens every character and drives their feelings.

Roshan is a golden boy in the eyes of his mother, Esha.  She raised him as a single mother and moved to the United States from India.  He is expected to have an arranged marriage and become a doctor, even though his true passion is in art.  He’s used to these expectations because he knows this is how it works in his Indian culture.  But as he develops feelings for his best friend, Jenny, an American girl, his mother tries to convince him that she won’t understand their culture.

The story is told from Roshan, Esha, and Jenny’s point of view in alternating chapters.  Each character has many flaws, which show how realistically they’re written.  Nobody is perfect and they all have skeletons in the closet which bubble up to the surface throughout the story.

Aside from differences in how they were raised, this is also a story of addiction and how it can break families.  I’m lucky that where I am in life I haven’t had to face this crisis, but I know several people who have.  I learned a lot about early warning signs and best practices for facing it head-on.

The author writes about the good and bad in families.  And I think we can all agree that every family is made up of both good and bad.  Nothing is picture perfect, especially when that’s all that’s shown on the outside.  So it’s an easy story to connect to, as most readers all have blemishes in their family background.

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

About the author:

Sheryl Parbhoo is an author, blogger, educator, and mother of five. A native southerner, her interest in the intricacies of human culture led to a BA in Anthropology from the University of Memphis. Her longing for the spice of life culminated when she married her high school sweetheart, a South African Indian immigrant, and became a stay-at-home mom to their five children for over 20 years.

Sheryl is known worldwide for her blog, Southern Life Indian Wife, where for years she shared stories from her spicy masala/southern cornbread way of life raising her large multicultural family and navigating the quirks of Southern and Indian in-law relationships. These, along with the responses received from readers, are the real-life inspirations for her novel, The Unexpected Daughter.

On sherylparbhoo.com, Sheryl shares her love of writing and personal experiences as a writer. She has been a featured contributor for Masalamommas.com, Twins Magazine, among others. She and her family’s blended cultural traditions have been highlighted on PBSNewshour.com, as well as on various online sites.

For more on Sheryl, including social media and contact information, visit her website.

Thanks to the author, I have 2 signed copies to give away.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Lilli de Jong Review & Giveaway

Lilli de Jong: A Novel


New From: $7.93 USD In Stock

I know I spotlighted this book a couple months back, but when I was offered the chance to review it after hearing everyone rave about it, I jumped at the chance.  The writing is exquisite.

***The story:

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”***

As a mother, I couldn’t help but relate to Lilli’s plight.  It’s amazing to me how women and their “bastards” were treated back then.  As if they were nothing without a husband.  But at the same time, I applaud Lilli.  She didn’t shrink back and let these things just happen to her.  She did everything in her power to make sure her baby didn’t suffer.  Most women would have given up.  Lilli was a fighter.  We could benefit a lot from her attitude and behavior today.

Yes, historical fiction fans will love this book.  It was incredibly researched.  And any topic in the book you have questions about is addressed in the Author’s Note.  But I urge you to pick up this novel to both get a taste of how far we’ve come with women’s rights but also how much more of a battle we still have to fight.  This novel brings that all to light.

Even though it was at times heartbreaking, I was confident in the author’s storytelling ability and amazed it was a debut.  I know her future writing endeavors will be well worth the read.  My thanks to HF Virtual Book Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 10
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 11
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, July 12
Review at Luxury Reading

Thursday, July 13
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Friday, July 14
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 17
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Tuesday, July 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, July 19
Review at Creating Herstory
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, July 21
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, July 24
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, July 25
Review at SJ2B House of Books

Wednesday, July 26
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, July 27
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, July 28
Review at Just One More Chapter

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away TWO Notebooks featuring quotes from Lilli de Jong! Notebooks are spiral-bound (4×6 inches) with 50 blank pages. To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Lilli de Jong

Book Spotlight: The Roving Eye

Go. Be there. For the past six decades Richard Evans has followed that dictum – being where the action was, not just as a tennis writer and broadcaster – 196 Grand Slams and counting – but through his years as a foreign correspondent in America, France and Vietnam as well as a spell as a roving global reporter for the US television programme Entertainment Tonight.
Evans, whose English family fled France in June 1940, also became a National Service Captain in the British army, without having to dodge a bullet which was not the case in Cambodia nor in Miami where he was struck by a cop during an anti-Nixon demonstration.
Evans was in Memphis hours after Martin Luther King was shot; campaigned through Indiana and California with Bobby Kennedy – “a unique politician” – before he, too, was assassinated and witnessed the pre-Olympic demonstrations in 1968 against the Mexican Government which ended in massacre.
He accompanied the Wimbledon champion and activist Arthur Ashe on two trips to Africa, witnessing the dark days of apartheid and was back in South Africa in 1990 covering Mike Gatting’s rebel cricket tour during the historic weeks that saw Nelson Mandela released and apartheid abolished.
Evans paints an insider’s portrait of Margaret Thatcher and No 10 Downing Street during the time he was with the Prime Minister’s daughter, Carol; a romance with the actress Gayle Hunnicutt and two marriages; friendships with Richard Harris, Michael Crawford and more Wimbledon champions than you could fit into the players’ box. He was also the last person to interview Richard Burton.
A life lived to the full, covering the globe with a Roving Eye – being there.

About the author: Richard Evans has been a journalist since the 1960s where he began his career writing for the Evening Standard. He has covered tennis for outlets including the Sunday Times, Fox Sports USA and Tennis Magazine, reporting on more than 196 Grand Slams over the course of his career. Evans was the play-by-play commentator for BBC Radio at Wimbledon for twenty years and was a commentator for the Tennis Channel at the French Open and AO Radio at the Australian Open. He is the author of 18 books, including biographies of tennis legends, the official history of the Davis Cup, and most recently co-authoring Pain, Set & Match.  Follow him on Twitter.

 

The Fourth Monkey Review & Giveaway

The Fourth Monkey (A 4MK Thriller)


New From: $11.75 USD In Stock
Release date June 27, 2017.

It has been a long time since I read a gritty serial killer novel.  The last series I recommended was the Smoky Barrett series starting with Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen.  I had heard The Fourth Monkey was good, so I was excited to read it.  And I was pleased to find that it was fantastic!

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We are first presented with the 4MK killer by finding his signature white box tied with black string.  Inside is either his victim’s ear, eyeballs, or tongue.  He follows the “Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil” mantra.  You’ll have to read the book to find out why it’s called The Fourth Monkey.  And the Chicago detectives searching for him assume he’s a vigilante killer.

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What I loved so much about this book and made it so readable was that interspersed throughout the search is the killer’s diary.  It starts with him as a young boy and takes us through a creepy period in his life to give us a glimpse as to why he does what he does.  I found the diary to be as page turning as the rest of the book!  I couldn’t wait to get back to the back story to read more.

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If you are a fan of Dexter (the books or television series), You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes or James Patterson, this book is a must read.  With an open ending, I sure hope J.D. Barker adds another to this series.  I’d love to find out what trouble these characters find themselves in next.  My thanks to Maxine Groves and HMH for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

🙉 🙈 🙊

Today for one lucky winner I have a #4MK Killer Swag Bag which features a hardcover book and more fun prizes!  U.S. and UK residents only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Alice Network Review & Giveaway

The Alice Network: A Novel


New From: $7.43 USD In Stock

While I love reading historical fiction, often to discover a piece of history I knew nothing about, it’s rare to find those same books action packed.  The Alice Network is an exception.  The quick pace starts on page 13 and doesn’t let up until we reach the stunning conclusion.

This story is told in duplicate timelines, one in 1947 and the other in 1913.  Charlie is 19 in 1947 and also pregnant out of wedlock.  She is determined to find out what happened to her missing cousin.  After a tip leads her to Eve Gardiner’s door hoping she can help her, the two take off in search of answers.  The 1913 story is Eve’s as we learn of her role during WWI and how it ties into Charlie’s missing cousin.

Love James Bond movies?  Pick up this book.  Any interest in history, especially women’s empowerment?  Pick up this book.  Need a read to keep you on the edge of your seat?  Pick up this book.  Even book clubs will find much to discuss and you can find some questions to get you started in the back.

I loved The Alice Network for its glimpse into the life of female spies as well as its ability to keep the story moving, hard to do at almost 500 pages.  I would love to see this one turned into a movie.

Some bloggers on tour were able to do a special video chat with Kate.  You can view it here.

 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Kate Furek

About Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and chances to win!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Best Beach Reads of 2017

A lot of best of summer lists have books that release throughout the summer.  I want you to have access to these great reads NOW, so without further ado, here is my list for the best beach reads of 2017.

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

This one has it all: heartbreak, romance, mystery, and even several beach scenes.  When you turn the last page and are disappointed it’s over: the sequel releases July 4!  You can preorder it here.  Both books are currently available on Kindle for less than $5!

 

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rosen

I blew through this book in less than 48 hours.  It’s a cute and quick read that features a unique cast of characters all with a relation to that little black dress.  You can read my full review here.

 

The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner

I feel like weddings in books make the perfect summer read.  Everyone can remember having or attending a quintessential summer wedding.  This book has that times 3!  3 weddings of 3 sisters  or 3 sisters sharing 1 wedding?  Either way, this one keeps dropping secrets until the end.

 

The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

We can’t get through summer without a psychological thriller to keep you turning the pages eager to find out what happens.  This one reminded me of a horrible car crash where you just can’t turn away.  Not everything in this idyllic neighborhood is as it seems.  Some disturbing characters lead to deadly consequences.

 

The Assistants by Camille Perri

Super excited to find out a movie is in the works for this one!  Imagine Thelma & Louise as office assistants in today’s world and you have this romp of a novel.  Anyone who has ever dealt with office politics will appreciate the humor of this debut.

 

Forks, Knives, and Spoons by Leah DeCesare

Aside from a throwback to the ’80s, this book made me reminisce about my college days.  The lovable characters navigating relationships both in school and the real world made this a hard to put down debut.  You can read my full review here.

 

The Regulars by Georgia Clark

If you enjoy a little magical realism thrown into a story, I hope you will give this book a try.  It is a smart and modern age fairy tale for Generation X and Generation Y.  You can read my full review here.

 

I would love to hear what you thought of these books and what others are on your summer reading list!  This post contains affiliate links.

Allie and Bea Review & Giveaway

Allie and Bea : A Novel


New From: $9.19 USD In Stock

Allie and Bea, or what could also be titled When Bad Things Happen to Good People, is Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest release.  If you have not read her before, get yourself immediately to a bookstore or library to pick up some of her novels.  You might know her as the woman who wrote the book Pay it Forward, in which the movie starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt was based.

This new book tells the story of Bea, a woman who had been easily making do living in her trailer since the death of her husband.  She lives on very little and is used to her lifestyle until one telephone call ends it all.

Allie is a teenager from a wealthy household who always has the newest gadgets and doesn’t need to beg for anything.  When her life is turned upside down, she is thrust out into the “real world” without any preparation.

Neither of them were prepared for an adventure or companionship, but it turns out they needed each other more than they expected.  I noticed myself smiling in many spots as I was reading this book.  It was such a joy for these two to experience new surroundings with each other.  But I was so impressed how they each taught each other to have a different outlook.

This novel is over 350 pages but I was quickly flipping pages to find out what was going to happen next on their journey.  After several thrillers, this was such a warm-hearted story, filled with two characters that I learned from.  Hyde easily writes two completely different age groups perfectly.

I’m eager to see what she writes next.  In the meantime, if you need a fast-paced story that will put a smile on your face, be sure to pick this one up.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy to give away to a lucky winner.  Continental U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Best Books of 2016

I know 2016 was a great year for books when all but one of these selections published for the first time this year.  This list contains multiple genres, everything from memoir to YA and even a new one for me, sci-fi.  So grab a cup of coffee and get your holiday gift lists ready!

The Sound of GravelThe Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner: A fascinating memoir about growing up in a polygamist community in Mexico and it’s one of those cases where truth is stranger than fiction.  Beautifully written considering the author’s trials and tribulations and a perfect book for fans of The Glass Castle.

All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson: This beautiful and All the Winters Afterhaunting novel is not just words written on paper, but a multilayered story of a family and their grief over time.  At its heart is also a love story, not only between two people, but one between a person and his home.  The setting is chilling and the story is full of hope and promise.

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: I truly was holding my breath in spots as I turned the pages of this book.  It had a hold on me that didn’t let up until I finished the entire thing.  For a debut author, that’s quite an accomplishment.  This is the one thriller I’ve recommended to everyone this year.  I guarantee you won’t think of a “perfect marriage” the same way after finishing this book.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: When I think of outstanding YA, my brain automatically goes to John Green for The Fault in Our Stars or Rainbow Rowell for Eleanor & Park.  Make room on your The Serpent Kingbookshelves for Jeff Zentner.  He had me laughing in one paragraph to crying in the next.  I was so emotionally invested in these characters.  They were extremely well drawn out that I couldn’t help but form a tight connection.  I was sad to see them go as I turned the final page.

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult: As important as this novel is, so is the author’s note at the end.  Jodi portrays three completely different characters with such grace and credibility.  You know a ton of research went into creating them.  It’s a story of race relations and it couldn’t have come at such an important time in our history.  I applaud her for not shying away from writing this story, which needed to be written, when she knows people will react with hatred.  I know when I pick up one of her books I will never be disappointed.

Aftermath by Clara Kensie: Lots of books have been written about a tragedy, where something Aftermathhappens to a family as they all have to deal with it.  Aftermath takes place when a tragedy is resolved, and the repercussions of a kidnapped child and how the family handles it today.  I loved the short chapters which made it easy to keep reading.  The story itself was compelling and there were plenty of surprises along the way.

The One ManThe One Man by Andrew Gross: Mix historical fiction with a thriller and you have this hard-to-put-down novel.  Gross used to co-write with James Patterson but he clearly deserves the individual accolades for this one.  It is an extremely well-paced story about trying to infiltrate the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII and then having to break out.  So far, this is the defining book of his career.

Center Ring by Nicole Waggoner: Nicole jokes that she was so homesick when she moved away from her hometown that she invented 5 best friends to keep her company and that’s how this Center Ringstory was born.  I related to multiple characters in this book, especially when they were trying to balance it all, like the circus theme suggests.  It ends with a cliffhanger but happy to report Book 2 in the trilogy, The Act, releases in February!

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: A beautiful reflection of living life and living it to the fullest told by this neurosurgeon as he faces his imminent death from cancer.   Yes, the story is heartbreaking, but his words will move you.  This is a tiny book but it sure packs a powerful punch.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin: I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this debut was recommended and blurbed by both Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favoriteThe Forgetting Time authors.  This has one of the most unique storylines I’ve ever read and had me spellbound.  It even has a mystery embedded in the story.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Emmy & OliverEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: A sweet and fun contemporary YA.   Oliver is kidnapped by his father and reappears years later in his hometown when all his elementary school friends are now teenagers.  Emmy’s personality is full of wit and snark and just jumps off the page.  A truly heartfelt read that answers the question, “Does absence make the heart grow fonder?”

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: Sci-fi is not a genre I normally read but when I heard all the raveDark Matter reviews for this one, I knew I had to pick it up.  It is a complete mind warp that has your brain working in new ways.  As I was reading, I was envisioning it playing out as a movie right in front of me.  So even if this isn’t normally your cup of tea, if you like thrillers and fast-paced books, please give it a try.

 

Did you read any of these books and feel the same way?  What were your favorites of 2016?  I’d love to hear and welcome any comments.  Have a Happy New Year!

 

 

Conjuring Casanova Review

Conjuring Casanova


New From: $10.80 USD In Stock

The synopsis: Lizzy has been wounded by the men in her life far too often, which is why she spends herfree time immersed in the memoir of the legendary lover, Giacomo Casanova. After a child in her care tragically dies, Lizzy escapes to Venice for a needed break to work through her life crisis. One morning, Casanova appears beside her on the hotel rooftop. The time gap and culture clash sets in motion an attraction that spans centuries. Witty and charming, Casanova is
Casanova—in a frenzy of love for women. Who better to teach modern, guarded Lizzy about
love and life than an eighteenth-century Libertine?

Page by page, Rea engagingly sets our modern mores into sharp focus, giving readers a
great romp through time. Lizzy’s friends are seduced—literally and figuratively—by the open,
and curious high mind of Casanova. He loves modern technology and imaginative experiences.
Seeing life through his eyes, Lizzy has new epiphanies, struggles and surprises, as she rethinks
her life and supposed liberty.

For lovers of love, humor and sharp banter, Conjuring Casanova is an entertaining and
touching read. Rea dishes up the perfect romance—spicing it up with a taste of history and a
time-slip, and delivers a delicious story about love and being human.

My thoughts: This book came at a perfect time, as I had just finished a heavy and emotional read.  It was a light book but still had me flipping pages.  The unique storyline was one I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know how Casanova appearing in 2016 would end up for Lizzy.

For fans of romance, be sure to add this to your reading list.  The humorous dialogue and situations add an extra dimension of fun to this book.

I loved the descriptions of Venice and Paris.  Being a couch traveler, Rea made it feel as if you were walking the streets with the characters.  And having known nothing about Casanova prior to this read beside his reputation as the world’s greatest lover, it was interesting to see what a smart and endearing man he was.

img_1456About the author:

Melissa Rea has a degree in psychology with a minor in French, is an amateur Casanovist. A dedicated researcher, she has read Histoire de Ma Vie many times in English and in its original Archaic French. She traveled to Paris to see the handwritten manuscript when it was displayed for the first time in over two hundred years, and has stayed in the hotel in Venice that was Giacomo Casanova’s home for nine years. Originally from Louisiana, Rea has a degree in dentistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She practices in St. Louis where she lives with her husband, and is at work on her third novel. When not drilling, reading or writing, she is in search of the next Madmen/50s era dress and a matching bon mot.  She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Thank you to Quatrain PR for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Small Great Things Review

Small Great Things: A Novel


New From: $12.87 USD In Stock

I was in high school when I learned that OJ Simpson had been acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.  I remember the Bronco chase, I remember the trial, and I remember exactly where I was when they announced the verdict.  But because I was in school, I didn’t get to watch the day-to-day trial coverage or know much more than the jury found him not guilty.  So recently my husband and I binge-watched the FX series “American Crime Story: The People VS. OJ Simpson.”  I was fascinated to see how much race played a role in the trial and the outcome.  I had no idea.

As I was reading Small Great Things, I was reminded of the OJ case.  Everything from jury selection and being stuck with the assigned judge all the way through adding an African-American lawyer to second chair the case for image purposes.  My point is this: OJ was acquitted 21 years ago.  Jodi’s book released this October, of 2016.  We haven’t made much progress in race relations.

Small Great Things tells the story of Ruth, an educated African-American labor & delivery nurse who is accused of murder after white supremacist parents forbid her from touching their baby and the infant dies after a routine medical procedure.  Looking for a scapegoat, the parents, Turk & Brit, immediately take action against the hospital and Ruth specifically.  The story is told through the points of view of Ruth, Turk, and Ruth’s white public defender, Kennedy.

I can imagine you, like me, will find sections tough to read because of how honest and real they are.  It’s amazing to me how Jodi portrays three completely different characters with such grace. The words are important.  I had to step away a time or two to remind myself that this was fiction because they were written with such credibility.  And I applaud her determination to write this book when she knew she would get different reactions.

Equally as important as this book is the author’s note at the end.  Please do not skip over that when you finish.

If you can imagine being shocked more at how race is handled in our justice system today, be sure to read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.  An incredible nonfiction book that should be required reading for every American.

My sincere thanks to Penguin Random House for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

img_1449About the author:

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.