About Marianne Sciucco

I'm a writer of Young Adult, Women's, and Contemporary fiction, an eclectic reader, and book promoter. I love to share good books and book deals with others who love to read. I'm also a founder and manager for AlzAuthors, the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer's and dementia. When I'm not living my writer life I'm a nurse at an upstate New York community college. In the evenings you'll find me reading a good book on my Kindle or searching for something compelling to watch on Netflix. Please follow my adventures in publishing. And friend and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Note: I am an Amazon Associate and may receive a small commission from book sales.

Books I Love! The Ride of Her Life is an Engrossing Tale of a Woman’s Quest to Realize a Lifelong Dream

Description

The triumphant true story of a woman who rode her horse across America in the 1950s, fulfilling her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Horse and The Eighty-Dollar Champion.

“The gift Elizabeth Letts has is that she makes you feel you are the one taking this trip. This is a book we can enjoy always but especially need now.”—Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv

In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor’s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men’s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn’t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.

Annie, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi, rode straight into a world transformed by the rapid construction of modern highways. Between 1954 and 1956, the three travelers pushed through blizzards, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and clung to the narrow shoulder as cars whipped by them at terrifying speeds. Annie rode more than four thousand miles, through America’s big cities and small towns. Along the way, she met ordinary people and celebrities—from Andrew Wyeth (who sketched Tarzan) to Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx. She received many offers—a permanent home at a riding stable in New Jersey, a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky, even a marriage proposal from a Wyoming rancher. In a decade when car ownership nearly tripled, when television’s influence was expanding fast, when homeowners began locking their doors, Annie and her four-footed companions inspired an outpouring of neighborliness in a rapidly changing world.

My Take

The simple idea of a woman setting out on horseback alone to traverse the country – from Maine to California – in 1954 was enough to get me to pick up this book. Once I started turning pages I couldn’t stop. Annie’s early life was interesting, as she was raised on a remote farm with no modern conveniences, and I enjoyed those well-written early chapters that sucked me into the story. She was never a woman used to comfort, thus she faced her journey with practicality and little expectations for aid. But as the story wound on it became even more fascinating. It describes a way of life long gone as Annie made her way along country roads, avoiding highways becoming more and more congested with cars and danger, and finding kind, generous, trusting strangers along the way who provided food, shelter and support. I wondered how or if someone could make a similar journey today.

Throughout the story I felt like I was riding right behind Annie on Tarzan, little Depeche Toi on my lap. The descriptions of the struggles she faced due to winter weather, cold, heavy rains, overnight stays in jail cells because those were the only available rooms in town, illness, and injuries to her horses were gripping. The beauty she encountered in nature and the landscape, and the goodness she found within the hearts of townsfolk was heartwarming and inspiring. She traveled without GPS, or even a decent map of the country, relying on regional maps and instructions from those she passed on how to get to her destination. It took her a lot longer than she expected but she finally made her way to California, although with some disappointment.

Highly recommended for those interested in Americana, women’s history, and a good road trip.

About the Author

If you want to know why I’m a writer, you’d have to thank Mrs. Barclay, the children’s librarian in the Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes, California, and my mother. who has read more books than anyone else I know, and who carted me to the library from the time I could barely walk. From the day I sounded out my first board book (Ann Likes Red), read my first poem (Block City, by Robert Louis Stevenson) and was swept up in my first long chapter book, (Little House in the Big Woods) I’ve been a passionate reader and fascinated by the lives and personalities of my favorite authors. But I was a late bloomer. I spent my twenties and thirties working as a nurse-midwife and raising four children. When I turned forty, I decided that I didn’t want to be one of those people who thought she had a book in her but never gave it a try, and I sat down to write my first novel. Now, writing is my full-time pursuit. My passions are horses and all animals, my children, singing in a choir, and long road trips through the backroads of America. I care deeply about issues that affect women and children, and especially those who are fleeing danger. But my favorite hobby is still the one that Mrs. Barclay and my mom got me started on– reading.

Connect with Elizabeth Letts

http://www.elizabethletts.com
Twitter: @elizabethletts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eightydollarchampion
instagram: elizabethletts

New Release Spotlight! The Soulmate Equation, a Rom-Com from Writing Team Christina Lauren

The New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners returns with a witty and effervescent novel about what happens when two people with everything on the line are thrown together by science—or is it fate? Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project and One Plus One.

Description

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers:This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

About the Authors

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York Times, USA TODAY, and #1 Internationally bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Dating You / Hating You, Autoboyography, Love and Other Words, Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, and The Unhoneymooners. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com, @ChristinaLauren on Instagram, or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.

Books I Love! Hunter Biden’s Memoir Beautiful Things is a Raw, Honest Look at Addiction

Description

“I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love,” Hunter Biden writes in this deeply moving memoir of addiction, loss, and survival.

When he was two years old, Hunter Biden was badly injured in a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister. In 2015, he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved big brother, Beau, who died of brain cancer at the age of forty-six. These hardships were compounded by the collapse of his marriage and a years-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

In Beautiful Things, Hunter recounts his descent into substance abuse and his tortuous path to sobriety. The story ends with where Hunter is today—a sober married man with a new baby, finally able to appreciate the beautiful things in life.

My Take

From its first pages I knew Hunter Biden’s memoir Beautiful Things would be a beautiful book, not because of its subject matter for that is extremely ugly, but because of the writing, and the way he presents his story with raw honesty. I doubt he held much back because the tale he tells of his spiral into alcohol and crack addiction following the death of his beloved brother Beau is harrowing, and I can’t imagine much worse. The Biden family’s story is well-known by anyone paying attention to recent events in America: A wife and mother, a baby daughter and sister killed in a tragic car accident. Two brothers left motherless and injured in a hospital, forging a lifelong bond that remains strong even through death. A father who becomes President of the United States at one of the worst times in our nation’s history. In spite of the tragedy and politics they are a simple family at their core, loving one another deeply and persevering in spite of their pain, building lives of service, using their own experience to comfort others. Hunter’s story is the dark side of all of that love and altruism. His story leaves us with a glimpse into a world that most of us never encounter, except perhaps in the movies, or on TV, or in novels. Here are some of his observations I will carry with me forever:

“The most insidious thing about addiction, the hardest thing to overcome, is waking up unable to see the best in yourself.”

“Sobriety is easy. All you have to do is change everything.”

“Even when the ghosts of addiction have been banished, they still exist.”

As a nurse who encounters people with addictions often and a woman who once cared for a man plagued with similar demons these words help me to empathize and better understand those who fall into the belly of this beast. Recommended for lovers of memoir, addictions specialists, and readers who enjoy entering new (though ugly) worlds.

About the Author


Hunter Biden is a lawyer and an artist. A graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, Hunter has worked as an advocate on behalf of Jesuit universities, and served on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including as vice chairman of Amtrak and chairman of the board of World Food Program USA. The son of Joe and Jill Biden, Hunter is the father of three daughters: Naomi, Finnegan, and Maisy. He lives with his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, and their son, Beau, in California.

New Release Spotlight! The Hotel, a Nantucket Novel for the Beach

If I can’t get my body to Nantucket this summer I can go there in a book. This would make a great beach read, Nantucket sand or not.

Description

Secrets and lies….at Nantucket’s most exclusive and glamorous, family-owned hotel.A new, dramatic family saga series from the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of The Nantucket Inn and The Restaurant.

The Whitley was Nantucket’s most exclusive hotel. It was a sprawling collection of pristine white cottages and an elegant main building on a long stretch of private, white sandy beach. The list of famous celebrity guests that had visited over the years was top secret and a matter of pride to the Whitley family. If you worked in the hospitality industry, landing a job at The Whitley was the ultimate goal. Many of the staff had lived and worked there for years. There were strict rules about the staff keeping their distance from both the guests and the family. But sometimes, rules were broken.

No one is more surprised than Paula Whitley when her grandfather, Wynn Whitley, the founder of the hotel and many other business holdings, makes two big announcements. He is promoting Paula from her quiet behind the scenes role handling the accounting, to being in charge of everything. The rest of the family, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and parents, are stunned and not everyone is happy about it.

And the second big announcement–she’s expected to work closely with a newly-hired consultant, a turnaround expert in luxury hotels. Paula dislikes David Connolly immediately. He’s arrogant and bossy and annoyingly right most of the time. She’d be loving her new role, if it wasn’t for him. And everyone, family and staff are wondering–what is grandfather’s goal? Is he looking to sell The Whitley?

Start reading now!

About the Author

Pamela M. Kelley is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of women’s fiction, family sagas, and suspense. Readers often describe her books as feel-good reads with people you’d want as friends.

She lives in a historic seaside town near Cape Cod and just south of Boston. She has always been an avid reader of women’s fiction, romance, mysteries, thrillers and cook books. There’s also a good chance you might get hungry when you read her books as she is a foodie, and occasionally shares a recipe or two. 

Feel free to sign up for her list to hear about new releases as soon as they are available as well as extras like early bird discounts. Sign up here.

Books I Love! 5-Stars for Sarah Moon’s Middletown, Terrific #YA

Description

Thirteen-year-old Eli likes baggy clothes, baseball caps, and one girl in particular. Her seventeen-year-old sister Anna is more traditionally feminine; she loves boys and staying out late. They are sisters, and they are also the only family each can count on. Their dad has long been out of the picture, and their mom lives at the mercy of her next drink. When their mom lands herself in enforced rehab, Anna and Eli are left to fend for themselves. With no legal guardian to keep them out of foster care, they take matters into their own hands: Anna masquerades as Aunt Lisa, and together she and Eli hoard whatever money they can find. But their plans begin to unravel as quickly as they were made, and they are always way too close to getting caught.

Eli and Anna have each gotten used to telling lies as a means of survival, but as they navigate a world without their mother, they must learn how to accept help, and let other people in.

My Take

This audiobook had me from the start with its story of two teenage sisters coming to grips with their mother’s alcoholism. Eli (13) and Anna (17), aka Peanut Butter and Banana, are determined to stay together when their mom ends up in a 90-day rehab and will go to several extremes to make this happen. At the same time they’re dealing with a few other angsty issues such as Eli’s crush on her best girlfriend and the bully at school who makes each morning miserable, and Anna’s chasing after a boy known as “The Jacket,” while conflicted about taking on the mom role for her sister. This story has a full slate of social issues in addition to alcoholism and coming out: sexual abuse, abandonment, poverty, and more, but the story doesn’t get bogged down with it. Instead, the author uses tight dialogue, snappy little comebacks, relatable characters and a fast pace to keep it all moving. The narrator did a terrific job keeping all of the characters straight and bringing the appropriate emotion to each role. Recommended for YA readers of all ages.

About the Author

Sarah Moon is a teacher and writer. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, with her wife, Jasmine, and their daughter, Zora. She is the coeditor of THE LETTER Q, a young adult anthology. Her first YA novel was the critically acclaimed SPARROW; the second is MIDDLETOWN, publishing in 2021 with Levine Querido.

Connect with Sarah Moon on Twitter

The Grief Diary: The Final Clean Out, Sorting Trash from Treasure

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

It’s Clean Up Week in my town, a period of more than seven days when residents are permitted to put any unwanted, discarded, broken-down items out on the curb for pickup by the Department of Public Works.

What happens next is anybody’s guess.

As you may imagine this is very popular with my neighbors, who begin piling up their junk days before the trucks arrive, making me dodge dilapidated furniture, unsightly mattresses, demolished children’s toys, and whatever else they see fit to dispose of as I power walk through the neighborhood. Some people, like me, have a tidy little pile in front of the house. Others stack mountains of useless items in front of theirs. I wonder, how long have they been holding on to this crap?

Humans are, by nature, pack rats, hoarders, holding on to things long after their usefulness and beyond their attraction. You never know when you might need that empty ricotta cheese carton. That Chinese food container would make a good cookie tray, if I were ever to bake cookies and bring them somewhere. That new wireless keyboard I bought is terrific, but I better hold on to the old one, just in case. Everyone’s house is full of objects we can’t bring ourselves to throw out because one day we might need them, and what a shame if we have to go out and buy them again.

Never is this more apparent then when you’re tasked with the job to clean out, once and for all, someone’s home after they have passed away. I have done this three times.

Treasure, Trash, Trophies?

The first time I was involved with cleaning out a deceased family member’s home was in 2002. I was just on the periphery, brought in to help out at the tail end of things and after all the “good stuff” had been claimed by others. No bother. I picked up a metal colander and a pretty green bowl I use to this day, and a yellow ceramic flower pot I gave to my daughter. A few other tchotchkes we couldn’t bear to part with take up space on shelves in the garage. At these times we may tend to go for more functional items but often are moved to latch on to the sentimental, those things that bring on memories of the person we’ve lost, which explains the variety of decades old music boxes we continue to cling to although we haven’t started one up in ages.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

This particular clean out occurred at my husband’s Aunt Rosie’s house. Aside from the colander, bowl, flower pot, music boxes, and the tchotchkes I acquired I took away from that experience an eye opening lesson I think about to this day, almost 20 years later. You see, Aunt Rose had been a champion bowler for most of her life. She was a legend in town, so much so that when I met people and mentioned my last name they immediately asked if I was related to her. In her attic were hundreds, hundreds, of bowling trophies she’d won over the decades, all sizes, some just a few inches tall, others three or four feet in height and heavy. They gathered dust under the beams of her roof, had languished there for years, forgotten perhaps, but now they needed to be moved because a new buyer was coming in.

The last thing we wanted to do was trash them. After all, they represented a lifetime of hard work, dedication, grit, and determination. A huge accomplishment for a woman of her time, unmarried, childless, working full-time at a good government job. The trash heap would not do. So I made some calls to see if perhaps they could be recycled, melted down, reused, awarded to new champions. No one was interested. The bowling alley where she’d played most of her games didn’t want them. The trophy shop in town said no thanks. We had no place to keep them. And so they ended up out at the curb with the rest of the junk no one could use. Making dozens of trips, we carried them down from the attic and stacked them amid discarded household items, garbage, the last remaining remnants of a home, a life. I felt a bit despondent as I realized that what one might prize most in life can actually mean nothing to others and is easily discarded. She herself had relegated them to the attic, unseen and perhaps unthought of for years. We kept a few for old time’s sake but the rest were taken away with Monday’s trash pick up. Treasure became trash.

Mom’s Home Sweet Home

Years later, in 2018, I was tasked with cleaning out my mother’s home after she passed away. Like with Aunt Rose’s house, a buyer was at the door, this time literally as he actually took part in the clean out! We needed money to pay for her care, and as she was no longer living at home it seemed best to sell her mobile home. We had a buyer just days after we listed it. Unfortunately, Mom passed before the closing. As my brothers and I were all in town for the services we decided to move up the closing and prep the home for immediate takeover, that weekend. My brother Vic called some friends and 15 of us descended upon her home of 20-odd years and had it move-in ready in SIX hours. And there was a LOT of stuff in that home. The cupboards and closets were full. Each person took a room and sorted trash from treasure, making three piles: stuff to keep, stuff to throw out, stuff to donate. Throughout the day people claimed various items and marked them with their names or moved them to their cars. We made several trips to the Salvation Army. The new owner took some of the larger pieces of furniture we couldn’t move.

Mom loved her home. It was in a peaceful little trailer park on the cusp of Cape Cod, her own little slice of heaven where she lived worry-free as it was very affordable for a couple living on Social Security and a pension. In the end, though, a home is just an asset, the greatest asset when circumstances change and paid caregivers are required. And the remainder of its contents became useless once they’d been picked over by family and friends wanting just a little piece of Mom to keep her memory alive: a sugar bowl, a plaque on the wall, a bible, any old thing. And there was tons of it.

As the hours wore on we worked tirelessly, sorting the piles. The one in the rented dumpster grew taller and wider as we moved through her possessions. All the cars were packed door to door. We finished while there was still daylight left. I was the last to leave, locking the door behind me. I brought home more dishes, kitchenware and tchotchkes than I’ll never need or use that now clutter my garage, a clean out job for some other day.

Cleaning Out Vic’s Dream House

Lastly, I inherited the job of cleaning out my brother Vic’s house last fall. Like the others, it too had a buyer at the door. He had just bought it months before and hadn’t fully moved in at the time of his unexpected, inexplicable death. We found boxes of stuff stacked all over the basement, a lifetime of memorabilia, items picked up along the way, some I assume forgotten, some useless. Every box had to be sifted through, every item catalogued and considered: is it trash or treasure? It took weeks, long hours, and sore muscles. It was devastating.

I had not yet had a chance to visit him in his new home (thanks to COVID) and had only seen pictures. It was his dream house. For years he’d wanted to quit his job and move out of the city to the mountains where he could live in peace amid nature, no neighbors. Each time I went there I searched for his presence but it wasn’t there. I had no memories of him in this house.

As I sorted through his things I felt like I was betraying him. “I’m sorry,” I whispered many times through tears as I discarded something or sold something else at a fraction of its cost to whoever was willing to buy it. It was one of the worst tasks I’ve ever faced. Among his possessions were many items he treasured, loved, adored, but in the end they were of little value to anyone else. It sickens me to think of those who walked away with a little piece of Vic for just a few dollars, while at the same time I’m grateful they did so because we had to get rid of all this stuff. We had a deadline, and as the days ticked off and fewer of them remained I was getting nervous, worried that the day of the closing would arrive and the house would still be full of clutter. Thanks to the help of a very committed real estate agent we met our deadline. The sale went through as planned. And I hold on to some treasures I claimed during the cleanout.

It’s Just Stuff

Months later my brother Kenn and I talked about those frenetic, frantic days, marveling at how we got it all done, just four of us and a real estate agent. He too claimed truckloads of belongings in a desperate attempt to hang on to part of our brother. He now realizes, as he can’t get around his basement, that in the end it’s all just “stuff.” Vic is just as gone as he was when we learned of his death, when we buried his ashes, no matter what items we hold onto. In fact, that’s what Vic always said: “It’s just stuff.” He had a practical approach to possessions, even those he treasured most. They’re here to serve us for as long as we want, and when we are no longer here to use them or they become unwanted they’re just “stuff” to move along, trash or treasure, to give or sell to someone else, known or unknown, anyone who has a need, a want, a use.

Spring Cleaning

Minimalism is the new “thing” these days. After being shut up in the house for the past 14 months due to the pandemic it’s time for a deep spring cleaning. Out with the old. Then of course there’s always new clutter to buy to replace the old clutter. In with the new. Reflecting on these experiences I vow to not leave a mess for my daughter to clean out when I’m gone. I’ve begun paring things down. I’m having a yard sale or two this summer to dispense with as much as I can. The rest will go to the Salvation Army. Some of these items will have come from Aunt Rosie’s house, my mom’s, or Vic’s. It’s a cycle. And it’s just stuff.

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.

New Release Spotlight! Bookshop By the Sea, a Sweet Summer Romance by Denise Hunter

Oh, the joys of a bookshop by the sea! I’ve known a few, particularly the Provincetown Bookshop, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which featured Blue Hydrangeas on its shelves the year it was published, Nantucket Bookworks and the famous Mitchell’s Book Corner on Nantucket Island, also in Massachusetts, and Sundial Books on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Beachy bookstores are perfect for rainy days or for browsing during an after dinner stroll through town. If you’re lucky, you may catch an author event. Sadly, my family never cared to while away the hours in a bookshop by the sea so my visits were brief, but I never failed to stop in at least once, and each time walked out with something new to read while I reclined in my beach chair, toes in the sand, the waves rolling in for background music. A perfect beach day. 💕

Description

Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

About the Author

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys. You can learn more about Denise through her website DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her on Facebook.

Books I Love! Little Pieces of Me, Alison Hammer’s Latest Women’s Fiction, is a Fun, Funny Read

This was not the typical woman joins DNA registry, woman finds lost relatives, and they all lived happily ever after (except they seemed pretty happy at the end.)

Paige, 43 (a little older than I expected for this story, but hey) starts an account with FamilyTree.com, does the swab, submits it, and moves on. She wasn’t really interested in learning about her genetic makeup or discovering relatives she doesn’t know. The account was a perk for her job at an advertising firm, research, nothing serious.

So Paige is dumbfounded when she receives an email from FamilyTree.com alerting her that someone new to their database is her father. Which completely throws her because her father has died, and she is still in mourning.

Yet all of her life she has felt as though she doesn’t belong to her family. She looks different. Her mother is strangely aloof. Some things don’t add up. She has to know: Has her mother been lying to her all of her life? Was her dad not her dad? If not who is? And what happened between him and her mother?

As Paige explores these possibilities with the help of her friends Maks and Margaux, and her fiancé, Jeff, we’re entertained with their antics, banter, and dedication to Paige (these are some great friends.)

This is a fun, funny read.

Recommended for readers who like quick reads, a little mystery, and an emotional conundrum.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Founder of Every Damn Day Writers, Alison Hammer has been spinning words to tell stories since she learned how to talk. A graduate of the University of Florida and the Creative Circus in Atlanta, she lived in 9 cities before settling down in Chicago. During the day, Alison is a VP Creative Director at FCB Chicago, but on nights and weekends you can find her writing upmarket women’s fiction.

Connect with Alison Hammer

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Goodreads

New Release Spotlight! Mary Alice Monroe’s Latest Beach Read Summer of Lost and Found

Pull out the beach chairs! Mary Alice Monroe has given us a new beach read. I’m a sucker for southern women authors so I’m kicking off my summer reading frenzy with this one!

The New York Times bestselling Beach House series returns with this tender and compassionate novel following the Rutledge family as they face a summer of upheaval and change with perseverance, unity, and a dose of humor, discovering unexpected joys and lessons that will endure long past the season.

The coming of Spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, Spring 2020 threatens stagnation. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her—and her family—finances, emotions, and health teeter at the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time?

Love in the time of the coronavirus proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons learned during this summer than opportunities lost, that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards. In The Summer of Lost and Found, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired fans for decades.

Mary Alice Monroe once again delves into the complexities of family relationships and brings her signature “sensitive and true” (Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling to this poignant and timely novel of love, courage, and resilience.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe

New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to coastal South Carolina. Already a successful author, she was captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home. Her experiences living in the midst of a habitat that was quickly changing gave her a strong and important focus for her novels. She writes richly textured books that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. Her novels are published worldwide. With the same heart of conservation, Monroe has written two children’s picture books as well. She lives with her family on a barrier island outside Charleston, South Carolina and is an active conservationist, serving on the South Carolina Aquarium Board Emeritis, The Leatherback Trust, The Pat Conroy Literary Center Honorary Board, and Casting Carolinas Advisory Board. For additional information on the environmental topics in Mary Alice’s novels, visit her Conservation page.

Connect with Mary Alice Monroe

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Books I Love! Harmels’ The Book of Lost Names is Swoonworthy

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice NetworkThe Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

My Take

I am newly in love with this author, Kristin Harmel. The Book of Lost Names is a World War II novel told from the resistance movement in France that is engrossing and full of the “feels,” a love story, a war story, and so much more. Definitely swoonworthy.

Eva is a young college student interested in not much more than books, a good Jewish girl who strives to please her parents. But when the Nazis tear them apart she is thrust into a new world that puts her and her mother in danger for their lives and introduces her to a priest and a young forger, Remy, furiously working to save as many Jews as they can. Together they work at their own peril to create the “papers” that will allow these people – including children – to escape to Switzerland and safety.

The story is told in two parts: Eva looking back as an old woman and the story’s unfolding in real time during the war. We learn of Eva and Remy’s slow growing deep love for each other, and Eva’s mother’s refusal to accept what is really happening to them, and the fate of her husband, who was sent east to Auschwitz, and her bitterness at her daughter’s dedication to the resistance. Through it all we see Eva’s efforts to remain true to her Jewish faith and her parents’ expectations for her, resulting in her losing the love of her life.

This is a gripping read that I will remember for a long time. I’m especially thrilled that this author has an undiscovered backlist for me to enjoy this summer. Highly recommended for those who like World War II dramas based on actual circumstances and rich research.

About the Author

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into 28 languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE magazine while still in college and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features–tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz and has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She is the co-founder and co-host of the popular web series and podcast FRIENDS & FICTION.

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