Books I Love! The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan is Women’s Fiction on the Road

It took me all summer and then some to get into this book but am I glad I did! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Georgina Sutton, and it completely captivated me on so many levels. It’s great women’s fiction, an enlightening “coming of age” novel for a woman in mid-life and her octogenarian mother, and a woman in transition, with many truths laid bare. Even the teenage daughters grow a bit. A wonderful read!

About the Book

Get swept into a summer of sunshine, soul-searching and shameless matchmaking with this delightfully big-hearted road trip adventure!

Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move in to a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.

Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own.

Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.

When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She’s not the world’s best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?

As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late to start over.

My Take

From the moment they take off you know the cross-country adventure of Kathleen and Martha will be transformative and fun. Each has something to prove, both have something to come to terms with: For Kathleen, it’s old heartbreak and abandoned relationships, for Martha it’s poor choices and a divorce. Liza, too, has to come to grips with her marriage (is it failing?) and finding herself after devoting years to raising her spoiled, unappreciative twin daughters.

As a lover of anything British I checked out this audiobook and found myself on an American journey across Old Route 66, a road much traveled for those seeking answers, change, growth, opportunity and adventure. Our unlikely duo find all. Back in England, Liza takes her own adventure full of temptations and a rebirth of her previous self, whom, she finds, she’s been missing for quite a long time.

The narration is superb, the clipped British tones of Georgina Sutton carrying the story well.

Recommended for lovers of strong women’s fiction, heroines of an unexpected age, romance on the road, and renewal stories.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe.

Sarah lives near London, England and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike. 

Join Sarah’s mailing list at http://www.sarahmorgan.com for all book news. For more insight into her writing life follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Instagram at @sarahmorganwrites Contact Sarah at sarah@sarahmorgan.com

Great Escapes! Mary Alice Monroe’s The Beach House Has All the Feels of Summer

I came to know the work of Mary Alice Monroe fairly recently and read the last two books in this series first. This summer I decided to start at the beginning and picked up The Beach House, which was republished with a new (gorgeous!) cover. I was immediately whisked away to a Lowcountry summer with characters I quickly fell in love with, and started putting together the backstory of this family saga. And the turtles! Musn’t forget the turtles. What a writer!

Description

Caretta Rutledge thought she’d left her Southern roots and troubled family far behind. But an unusual request from her mother—coming just as her own life is spinning out of control—has Cara heading back to the scenic Lowcountry of her childhood summers. Before long, the rhythms of the island open her heart in wonderful ways as she repairs the family beach house, becomes a bona fide “turtle lady” and renews old acquaintances long thought lost. But it is in reconnecting with her mother that she will learn life’s most precious lessons—true love involves sacrifice, family is forever, and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven.

My Take

When I fall in love with a book I’m delighted to find that it’s one of a series. The more books in the series the better. I can read them one after another until sated, and wait impatiently for the next. I approached this series backwards, reading the last two first before starting on Book One. I absoultely loved The Lowcountry Summer series and whipped through that before finding Ocean Boulevard, and this summer’s Summer of Lost and Found. When I saw the new cover for the first in The Beach House series I knew I had to go back to the beginning of the Rutledge family’s story and picked up The Beach House. This is the kind of summer book that grips you and puts you right into the heart of a family and their different dramas, easily choosing sides and rooting for your favorite characters. The story of Lovie is heartbreaking. Cara’s transformation is inspiring. The beautiful beach scenes put you right on the Carolina coast. The romances between Cara and Brett and Lovie and Russell are swoon worthy. This is a book you can visit again and again. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Recommended for readers of gripping women’s fiction and books about environmental issues, and beach lovers.

About the Author

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.

Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels, published worldwide, and the author of two children’s picture books. She writes richly textured stories that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. 

Monroe has achieved many lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and SIBA and starred reviews. She has received numerous awards, including several Readers’ Choice Awards, RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the Girls Scouts of America Woman of Distinction Award, the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing and was featured at the National Festival of the Book, the 2008 International Book Award for Green Fiction for The Butterfly’s Daughter, the 2015 Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, and the ASPCA Henry Bergh award for Children’s Fiction. Monroe’s A Lowcountry Christmas won the 2017 Southern Prize for Fiction. Her novel, The Beach House, was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. In 2018 Mary Alice Monroe was inducted into the South Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. 

Mary Alice is an active conservationist and serves on the Board of the South Carolina Aquarium and The Leatherback Trust. She is a frequent speaker at book festivals, conferences, and private events. Monroe is also a frequent contributor to magazines and online blogs.

Mary Alice Monroe is published by Gallery Books and Aladdin Books, Simon & Schuster. Her agent is Faye Bender of The Book Group. 

Monroe lives with her family on Isle of Palms, a barrier island off Charleston, South Carolina. For additional information, go to http://www.maryalicemonroe.com.

Books I Love! Murder on Principle – Drop Everything and Read Eleanor Kuhns Latest Will Reed Mystery

This is the tenth in Eleanor Kuhn’s Will Rees mystery series. I love these books! They’re original and unexpected. This one’s got an interesting plot twist: smallpox. How timely. Read it when you’ve got nothing else to do after you pick it up.

About the Book

Will Rees faces a moral dilemma when a slaveholder is murdered while attempting to recapture a former slave: should he pursue lawful justice or should he let the killer go free?

November 1800, Maine. After helping their long-time friend Tobias escort his wife, along with a liberated slave and her child, from the Great Dismal back to Durham, Will and Lydia Rees’s lives are interrupted when a dead body is found near their home.

The body is that of Mr Gilbert, a slaveholder from the Great Dismal. Was he murdered in pursuit of the former slaves?

When it’s discovered Gilbert was infected with smallpox, and Gilbert’s sister arrives demanding justice and the return of her absconded slaves, Will is torn. Finding the killer could lead to the recapture of the former slaves. Letting them go free could result in a false arrest and endanger the Durham community. Will must make a choice . . .

My Take

It’s easy to get lost in Eleanor Kuhn’s world of 1800’s Maine. The series is painstakingly researched and the characters are written so well. You’ll think you’re in the mystery alongside Will and Lydia, feel the fear of the escaped slaves, and despise the elegant southern plantation mistress who comes to take them back to Virginia. The issue of race is deep in this story as abolitionists and sympathizers with the slave owners do battle. The smallpox outbreak – and the doctor’s ingenious way to offer a vaccination – is taken right out of today’s headlines. I couldn’t stop reading and spent a delightful Saturday afternoon trying to figure out the killer. Kuhns gave us several good options, but the ending came as a surprise. Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

About the Author

ELEANOR KUHNS is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. She lives in New York, received her master’s in Library Science from Columbia University, and is currently the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.

Connect with Eleanor Kuhns

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

New Release Spotlight! Jennifer Weiner’s That Summer Was Not the Beach Read I Expected

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Summer comes another timely and deliciously twisty novel of intrigue, secrets, and the transformative power of female friendship.

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, That Summer is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.

My Take

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. My expectations were high when I picked it up. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this title and I like this author and enjoyed other books she’s written.

Maybe it’s me but I found myself confused about who was who and how the characters lives intertwined. I’ve been reading a lot lately – sometimes two or three books at the same time – which could have caused my confusion, or maybe it was the similarities in the characters names – Diana and Diana aka Daisy – that mixed me up. It also could have used a tighter editing as there were many grammatical errors, adding to my confusion. I almost brought the book back to the library unfinished. I also found the Diana character a bit unbelievable, taking on the persona of a sophisticated, sought after business consultant after living on the beach in Truro for years, hiding from the world and happy to do so. The other Diana – Daisy – was a lot more likeable and I found myself rooting for her.

The men were despicable characters, a bit cliche as privileged white men preying on young girls they considered beneath them (literally and figuratively.)

I can see where this book can be triggering for rape survivors and should have come with a warning. Definitely not a beach read.

Not what I expected, but I finished it.

Hopefully Weiner’s next book will be better.

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, The Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com

Great Escapes! Viola Shipman’s The Clover Girls is a Trip Back to 1980’s Summer Camp

A perfect read to take you back to youthful summer days!

Description

“Like a true friendship, The Clover Girls is a novel you will forever savor and treasure.” —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author

Elizabeth, Veronica, Rachel and Emily met at Camp Birchwood as girls in 1985, where over four summers they were the Clover Girls—inseparable for those magical few weeks of freedom—until the last summer that pulled them apart. Now approaching middle age, the women are facing challenges they never imagined as teens, struggles with their marriages, their children, their careers, and wondering who it is they see when they look in the mirror.

Then Liz, V and Rachel each receive a letter from Emily with devastating news. She implores the girls who were once her best friends to reunite at Camp Birchwood one last time, to spend a week together revisiting the dreams they’d put aside and repair the relationships they’d allowed to sour. But the women are not the same idealistic, confident girls who once ruled Camp Birchwood, and perhaps some friendships aren’t meant to last forever…

Bestselling author Viola Shipman is at her absolute best with The Clover Girls. Readers of all ages and backgrounds will love its powerful, redemptive nature and the empowering message at its heart.

My Take

What a joy this was on so many levels! I discovered this author on the Friends & Fiction Show. To my surprise, Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse. To think a man wrote this gorgeous book that probes deep feminine issues and ponders the emotional decisions women make that impact and change their lives forever, changing themselves in the process. I got lost in it immediately and didn’t come up for air until I finished it.

The four woman at the heart of the story, The Clover Girls – Emily, Veronica, Elizabeth, and Rachel – are decades past their summer camp days and lifelong friendship pact. Left behind were backstabbing plots, deep hurts, broken hearts, and lost dreams. Their adult lives have been disappointing and difficult and all are “lost,” unsure of their purpose, their places in the world. All of this is etched out in the inner thoughts of each character, the thread that drives the tapestry of this richly woven novel. As they break through the pains of their past and rekindle their friendship, long dormant, they emerge with renewed purpose, both personally and as The Clover Girls. Throughout all is the music and pop culture of the ‘80’s: TV, fashion, John Hughes movies, Molly Ringwald, Boy George, Madonna, and so much more.

I never went to summer camp so am unfamiliar with all that goes on there but reading this book gave me a certain nostalgia for easier times and the benefits of long summer days outdoors, by a lake, with friends who are everything, and I’m certain I missed out on a good thing.

Recommended for lovers of women’s fiction, the 80’s, and women who long to go back to their girlhood and fix things.

About the Author

Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse, a popular award-winning memoirist and internationally bestselling author of 12 books translated into 20 languages and selected as Today show Must-Reads, Indie Next Picks and Michigan Notable Book. Rouse chose his grandma’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms inspire his fiction. He lives in Michigan and California, and hosts Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour, every Thursday.

Connect with Viola Shipman

Viola Shipman Website

Wade Rouse Website

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

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

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