New Release Spotlight! Brenda Novak’s Latest, The Bookstore on the Beach, a Perfect Summer Read

I’m definitely putting this one into my beach bag! I’ve never seen a bookstore on the beach but I have seen one of those Little Free Libraries, where you can leave a book for someone else to pick up, on Cape Cod at Corn HIll Beach in Truro. Fun Fact: A pivotal scene in my novel Blue Hydrangeas takes place at this beach.

Description

How do you start a new chapter of your life when you haven’t closed the book on the previous one?

Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

“A heart-tugging romance. Readers are sure to be sucked in.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

A page-turner with a deep heart.”—Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Summer  

About the Author

It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s career as a bestselling author–she caught her day-care provider drugging her children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day. That was when Brenda decided she needed to quit her job as a loan officer and help make a living from home.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda says. But she sold that book, and the rest is history. Her novels have made the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including eight Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best, the Silver Bullet and the National Reader’s Choice Award.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are proud parents of five children–three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually raising funds for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). So far, Brenda has raised $2.6 million!

Join Brenda Novak’s Online Book Group on Facebook– http://www.facebook.com/groups/brendanovaksbookgroup/. We’re currently reading her newest release THE BOOKSTORE ON THE BEACH. Get an autographed copy in one of Brenda’s popular Book Boxes: http://www.brendanovakstore.com/.

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Books I Love! American Dirt is Enlightening and Humanizing

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

My Take

Quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read, although getting to the end of it was an arduous process. I first checked it out of the library to see what everyone was talking about, read a few chapters, but reluctantly returned it because it was overdue and my TBR list was massive. Then my book club decided to read it, so I checked it out again and ended up reading it in hardcover, Kindle, and audio before finally finishing it and I was gobsmacked. This is a real eye opener.

The tragic and terrifying plight of the people desperate to enter the US at the southern border are well known to me, but in Cummins’s hands they seem tangible and compelling. It’s one thing to read a news story or analysis of a Mexican immigrant caught at the border, but to witness the journey of a mother and her young son fleeing from their comfortable home in Acapulco, Mexico after the vicious murder of their family, desperate to stay alive to make it to the safety of “el norte,” had me putting aside pretty much everything to find out what happens. My heart raced each time they encountered a stranger they did not know if they could trust, and soared at the generosity of those who offered them comfort. I particularly liked the characters of the teenaged sisters, and Beto, as well as the coyote.

There is a lot of hype about this book. To each their own. I found it enlightening and humanizing and recommend it to anyone looking for something to take them out of their normal reading routine.

About the Author

Jeanine Cummins s the author of THE OUTSIDE BOY, THE CROOKED BRANCH, the true crime work A RIP IN HEAVEN, and AMERICAN DIRT, all of which are published by Tinder Press. She lives in New York with her husband and two children. You can follow Jeanine on Twitter @jeaninecummins.

New Release Spotlight! Sally Hepworth’s The Good Sister is Twisted and Compelling

Sally Hepworth, author of The Mother-In-Law, delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.

Description

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Take

Amazing! I was hooked from the start and found the characters of both sisters compelling in their own “twisted” ways. I especially loved the character of Wally. Well written and taut with tension, The Good Sister is a fascinating read into the mind of a narcissist, but the exploration of Fern on the spectrum was spot on. I recommend this for anyone looking for a great escape. Captivated me on a cross-country flight with a three hour layover. I also loved her novel The Things We Keep, which has a dementia theme.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, The Mother’s Promise, The Family Next Door, and The Mother In Law. Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

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Books I Love: It’s Twisted All Right – Tarryn Fisher’s Latest Thriller, The Wrong Family

Description

Have you ever been wrong about someone? Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch. Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore. Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace.

But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel… She shouldn’t get involved. She really shouldn’t. But this could be her chance to make a few things right. Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

From the wickedly dark mind of bestselling author Tarryn Fisher, The Wrong Family is a taut new thriller that’s riddled with twists in all the right places.

My Take

This is my first book by this author and I’m hooked. It was a quick read that had me thinking and wondering about the crawl spaces in my own house: Is anybody in there? The Crouch family is so self-absorbed and overconfident they notice nothing odd going on in their hall closet, that a stranger has taken up residence there, privy to every conversation. Juno, their unknown squatter, eventually acts upon their most secret secrets, setting off a deadly chain of events. Could this really happen? I easily suspended my disbelief because the author had me questioning every plot element as I turned the pages. Who is Juno? What happened to her that she’s living in secret in someone else’s house? What’s wrong with Dakota? And what did Winnie do that messed up her marriage? So many questions, all wrapped up neatly in the end. Recommended for those who enjoy suspenseful dramas.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Tarryn Fisher is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Seattle with her children and husband.  Her heart is dark but she loves you with it anyway. Tarryn is the founder of Guise of the Villain, a fashion blog, and has written twelve published novels. Tarryn is a Slytherin.

  @tarrynfisher
  @guise_of_the_villain
  @authortarrynfisher
  @DarkMarkTarryn

The Grief Diary: Cause of Death

Exploring the Aftermath of Love and Loss. This is the fifth in this series

The end of life comes in many ways, some expected, some totally unexpected. I have witnessed both. I wonder which is best, and for who, and why, as if an answer exists.

Sudden Death

In my family, an early death is not uncommon, especially on my father’s side. Many of his 11 siblings passed before I came along: brother Victor at just 25; sister Helen at 27; brother Chester at 34, sister Gladys at 39. My dad died at 45. Others lived only into their 60’s. I’m told they contracted rheumatic fever during an outbreak in Boston in the 1930’s, which resulted in rheumatic heart disease, leaving them all vulnerable to valvular disease, heart failure, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest.

Most of these deaths were unexpected, in spite of our knowing the decedent had a heart condition. But they were not senseless. “They had heart trouble. What a shame.” Sad but not surprising: In their day, most people did not survive a heart attack. Cardiac care is much improved since then. People live a lot longer with “heart trouble.”

When my brother Vic died following an inexplicable motorcycle accident last summer, my brother Kenn asked, “Didn’t we already go through this with Daddy?” He went into cardiac arrest following a heart attack. Vic’s was a sudden death too, on the Fourth of July, a beautiful summer day, perfect. He had recently made some major life changes to fulfill a dream and was as happy as I’d ever seen him. We’d hosted a barbecue at my house that day with my husband’s family, the first time we’d gathered in many months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We stayed outdoors the whole time, enjoying the holiday, oblivious as we celebrated that our lives had taken a tragic turn due to an accident on a winding Vermont highway almost 300 miles away.

The call came: Vic and Deanna were in a motorcycle accident. They passed away. “Are you kidding?” was my first reaction to the friend who relayed this news, a reflex response. Of course he wasn’t. Why would anyone kid about something so serious? But it was unbelievable. And senseless. Vic didn’t have a motorcycle at the time (he was riding a friend’s). A bike ride wasn’t part of that weekend’s plans. Why was he even on a motorcycle? His partner Deanna was on the back of the bike. I’m told it was her first motorcycle ride. Why didn’t she stay behind? These thoughts tormented me for days and still do. We have so many unanswered questions. And like my father’s death, it was sudden, and the suddenness made it so much worse. Vic was just 57.

Protracted Death

Conversely, in 2017 we lost another family member after he endured a vicious cancer that took him in less than two years. He had surgeries, chemo, radiation, everything, and yet succumbed. As the weeks ticked on and the outcome looked bleak we prepared ourselves for the phone call, but at the same time prayed and hoped for a miracle. Where life exists, so does hope. But we knew days before his death there would be no miracle, and I was at work when I got the call. I expected it, but still felt as though the floor dropped out from under me.

And I wonder: Is it better to know ahead of time, to prepare yourself for loss, or is it better to be blissfully unaware of impending doom and get the news like a gut punch, jolting you out of your world? And who benefits either way: you or the decedent?

I’ve heard people say it’s best to simply die in your sleep, in an instant, no warning. That might be better for the decedent but for those left to mourn it’s horrible. There’s no closure, too much unsaid and undone.

In my nursing career I witnessed hundreds of people suffer a slow, painful death, hanging on to the last possible moment, until nothing remained of them. Believe me: the will to live is the strongest force in life. People can endure tremendous physical challenges. But this leads to anticipatory grief, which can last months if not years, and places a tremendous strain on all involved. The upside is time to plan for the end, to sort things out, to make amends, to say goodbye, to say “I love you” one last time. Is this better?

Is anything “better” about any of this?

An Invitation

Please take this journey with me. We can communicate with one another in the comments, perhaps find healing together. Subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications of new posts. Thank you.