Sunday, January 16, 2022

The EX - Husband

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~





Synopsis:  

It’s an offer she can’t refuse…and can’t escape.

True: Charlotte has an unsavory past. She married the wrong man, got caught up in his con artist games, took what wasn’t hers. She got out, though: divorced Sam, started fresh.

False: She left him before things went too far. Nothing bad happened.

True: Sam is missing, and before he disappeared, he left cryptic messages about someone threatening him—someone who has been threatening Charlotte, too.

True: She’s on the straight and narrow, has accepted a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party on board a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella.

False: No one on board knows about her past, and she’s far away from anyone who means her harm.

As the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations—the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago—increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. Someone knows what Charlotte did. Is it the blushing bride? The seemingly placid mother-in-law? Or the mysterious heiress?

Someone knows, and someone wants revenge—before the ship reaches its final port.


The Ex-Husband 

Author: Karen Hamilton

ISBN: 9781525811609

Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: Graydon House



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Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. She has now put down roots in the UK to raise her three children with her husband and she also writes full time. Her books include The Perfect Girlfriend, The Last Wife, and The Ex-Husband, out January 2022.


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Excerpt: THEN


Eighteen Months Ago

Barbados




A TIP-OFF. THAT COULD BE THE ONLY EXPLANATION.

Dreaded realization filtered through the rows of passengers and crew in the cruise terminal via mutters about delays intermingled with curiosity and general resignation at the inevitable holdup. Sickening dread roiled deep in my gut. Surreptitiously, I glanced back at the queue snaking behind me. Still no sign of Sam. Where was he?

The person in front of me took a step forward, pushing his backpack with a foot. Reluctantly, I followed.

Sam had only darted back to the ship to pick up his watch, carelessly left beside the basin in his cabin. It should have taken him fifteen minutes—twenty max. He had insisted that I save our place in the line to save time. Our flight to freedom was less than four hours away.

I messaged him.


Where the hell are you? Hurry up! I am nearly at the front of the line.


Well, not quite, but it was true enough. 


No reply.

Indecision kept me rooted to the spot. Sam would be annoyed if I lost our place. It would break one of our rules about blending in. Then again, neither of us was thinking straight. Our nerves were frayed. We were both tense after a wakeful night dissecting what had gone wrong, each of us blaming the other. But he left me with no choice. We always disembarked together. We had each other’s backs. Rule number one.

I tried to calm my fears. The upheaval wasn’t necessarily anything to do with us. I was too quick to jump to worst-case scenarios, usually after my conscience had given me a good poke. Sam and I excelled at slipping beneath the radar, despite his popularity.

In the corner of the vast, high-ceilinged building, portable air-conditioning units blasted out woefully inadequate cool air. My heart pounded so hard it almost hurt. Sweat slid down my spine. I stepped out of line and walked back in the direction of the ship. James, head of the ship’s security team, was standing by the exit. Relief. He would know where Sam was.

Strangely, James didn’t acknowledge or return my greeting. His manner was uncharacteristically off. No, he said. I couldn’t go back on board.

“But Sam should have been back by now,” I said. “He only went for something he’d forgotten.”

James shrugged.

“Just wait for him in line. He’ll show up. There’s nowhere else for him to go. This is the only exit.”

“What’s going on?” I said, trying to cajole James into thawing his attitude.

I opted for a friendly, neutral tone. And why not? We were colleagues, after all. Friends, companions. Equals, really.

“There are searches, from time to time.”

“Not that I’ve ever seen,” I said. “I hope it doesn’t hold us up. What is it? Drugs? Weapons?”


I smiled, safe in the knowledge that I was carrying neither.

“Get back in the line,” said James. “Wait for Sam there.”

I had no choice. As I turned, I saw Sam up ahead. He must have joined a different line. His bag was already being searched. How the hell had we missed each other? Why hadn’t he called me? Why did he go through without me?

There was nothing I could do but rejoin the queue and watch. I couldn’t read the expression of the person searching his bag, but the body language appeared at ease. Jolly, even. Everything felt off, badly wrong. Fragments of our heated conversation last night started piecing together. Just wait until I get hold of Sam, I thought. I would kill him for breaking our rules and putting me through all this extra stress.

I watched as Sam exited into the outside world. I could imagine the sun brushing his face as he inhaled the warmth of the Caribbean air. I distracted myself by dissecting the type of people they were pulling over. Lone travelers. Fresh, bubbling red rage at Sam rose. I called him. Straight to voice mail.

I was now among the stragglers, recognizing some of the faces. God, this was torture. I fought the urge to push to the front, explain about Sam and ask to be whisked through so that I could catch up with him, find out what the hell he was playing at. Breathe, breathe, breathe, I repeated over and over in my mind. I can do this. It’s all about playing the game.

A calmness descended over me as I was beckoned forward. One step after another, a neutral expression on my face. I could see the sun through the glass doors. No sign of Sam in the crowds beyond. I focused on the large brandy or whiskey I was going to order on the flight. I thought about the type of movie I would watch, a comedy or something light and easy to absorb. Or maybe I wouldn’t bother with any distractions at all. I could use the time to think.

Half a yard, then another. The man in front was pulled over to my right, with a brusque wave. A harmless-looking elderly couple was also summoned. Not me. Not yet. I was so nearly there. Please, God. I know I’ve made mistakes. I know I’ve made bad choices, but just let me keep walking and I will make amends.

“Miss?”

Shit.

“Yes?”

“Can you come over this way, please, and place your bags on the table?”

I smiled. “Yes, of course.”

Everything turned numb, as though this was happening to someone else. Invincibility was Sam’s superpower, not mine.

Victimless. That is what Sam and I had always said about the people we befriended. Relax, I told myself. They won’t find anything. I’d triple-checked, hadn’t I?

My bag felt unusually heavy as I lifted it up. It was still covered in hotel, airline and cruise stickers. Funny, the inconsequential things I focused on. Sam often told me to scrape them off. “Bland and anonymous is always best. The smallest of details can offer up rich clues to the wrong people.” He would know.

“Open your bags, please.”

“Sure.”

My mouth was dry. I rotated the combination on my lock: one, eight, eight, my birth date and month, a small act of rebellion when it came to Sam’s insistence never to do the obvious. It clicked open. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to lift the lid, to display my personal belongings ready for public inspection. It was humiliating.

The officer lost patience and did it for me. Time slowed as he unzipped the bag. Nestling on top of my favorite red blouse was something that, although familiar, didn’t belong to me.

Blind panic.

“That’s not mine.” I reached to grab it, to remove the emerald necklace from its nest among my possessions. Someone had put it there.


“Stand back, please.”

I felt the fresh horror rise inside me as two other customs officers walked over and peered at the necklace.

“I said it’s not mine. Someone has been in my bag.”

Stony faces, bland expressions, dismissive words.

I tried again.

“You need to go through the CCTV, check who entered our cabin. Someone planted this.”

I looked from face to face.

Still nothing.

I should’ve kept quiet. They’d already decided that I was guilty. A thief. Someone without rights.

Anger replaced fear as my privacy was violated. My swimwear, toiletries, underwear, shoes, travel guides, my Spanish-language course books, my costume jewelry, my every-bloody-thing was removed and examined by careless rubber-gloved hands.

A glimmer of hope ignited when their search concluded. All they had found was something that was such an obvious plant. The necklace rested on the side of the counter, taunting me. Not for the first time either. Magpie-like, the moment I had first spotted the emerald-and-diamond choker with a teardrop pendant, I longed to own it. Green was most definitely the color of envy.

“Come with us, please.”

I was shown to an interview room. I could hear a baby crying outside. Alone, without my belongings, I had time to piece things together. Grim reality, like a blast of icy water. I had been sacrificed, thrown under the bus. Sam knew. He’d been tipped off. Instead of saving the two of us, he’d chosen to save himself. “For better, for worse” clearly no longer applied. It was a final act of cruelty. A brutal end, regardless of how rocky our marriage had been. All that mattered was himself.

       Time spooled and distorted. I sat, trying to appear nonchalant, yet as outraged as an innocent could be, robbed of her freedom. I felt watched. The heat stifled me. I wanted to plunge into a cold pool, swim below the surface, somehow wash away the dirty feelings that threatened to swallow me whole.

Anger took over as I sat there. I wasn’t taking the rap—no way. As two police officers walked into the room, I was prepared to embrace my inner canary. Whatever it took. But it became clear I wouldn’t need to sing that day.

I was free to go. It had all been a terrible mistake. Huge apologies. Strange, but true. My belongings—even the necklace—were returned.

Outside, despite the heat of the midday sun, I wanted to run. I had got away with it. I was free. Except… I wasn’t.

I didn’t like the person I had become—hadn’t for a long time. Something needed to change. Sam’s customary reassurances that “all would be well” had been my elixir. It smoothed away fears and doubts, the ones my conscience tried in vain to shove to the forefront of my mind during the darkest hours. The sudden and horrible unraveling of our gilded situation was the result of arrogance. His and mine.

But for now, I had to put myself first. I walked toward the shade and sat on a bench beneath a palm tree. I had less than two hours to catch my flight, but I could still make it. I sent Sam a message.

Call me. ASAP.

Nothing.

I hailed a cab to take me from the cruise terminal to the airport, deciding to make one detour to a friend’s house en route. I wanted to hide my pot of gold somewhere safe.

As we drew into the airport, fear took hold again. What if I was making a mistake? In a daze, I checked in. The airline staff wouldn’t tell me if Sam had checked in too. I called him again even though I knew, deep down, that there wouldn’t be an answer. As I placed my bag down to go through the X-ray machine, I heard my phone beep. I had to wait more painful minutes while my bag passed through the checks before I could snatch up my phone and read it. Sam!

One word.

Sorry.

What the hell was he doing?

Sam’s empty plane seat taunted me all the way to London as I planned the things I was going to say and do when I next saw him. Because I would see him again. He wasn’t the only piece of unfinished business, because there was someone else I needed to track down too. The real owner of the necklace and the catalyst behind our downfall and the death of our marriage. 


Excerpted from The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton, Copyright © 2022 by Karen Hamilton. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.



Thursday, January 13, 2022

These Girls

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~





Synopsis (from Amazon):  Family secrets may shape us all, but it's the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us.

Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance. 

Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It's a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated. 

Her roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee's weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills - despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she's heading for real danger. 

Then there's Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby - or why she left everything she once loved behind. 

Pekkanen's most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love - and find the lifeline they need in each other.




One (or more) Sentence Summary:  These Girls somehow was placed and forgotten on my to be read bookshelf.  Over the holidays I pulled out some books that got pushed to the back that is when I (re)discovered These Girls.  

A great story about three different females and how their pasts impacted their present. Each one is part of the overall story. Each character unfolds as we learn more about their past and their desires. The acceptance they are all looking for in their jobs and lives bonds them into a friendship that allows them to be their for each other when it is needed most.

A quick read with great characters. I am sorry it got pushed back on my shelf as I do like everything I have read by Sarah Pekkanen.


Sarah Pekkanen is the bestselling author of The Ever AfterThe Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best of Us, Catching Air, Things You Won’t Say, and The Perfect Neighbors. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY, among other publications. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Paris Bookseller

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~





Synopsis:  THE PARIS BOOKSELLER opens in 1917, as World War I ends and Paris is alive as a thriving center for culture and modernity. With new ideas rapidly taking the post-war world by storm, Sylvia Beach moves to Paris and opens the doors to her new English-language bookshop with the help of fellow writer and bookseller Adrienne Monnier. What starts as a partnership and friendship with Adrienne soon blossoms into a romance, and the women work together to create a haven for English writers and readers.

 

Sylvia quickly falls in love with James Joyce’s prose, especially his unpublished manuscript, Ulysses. When the contentious novel is banned in the United States for its obscenity, Sylvia takes a massive financial and personal risk, deciding to publish it under the auspices of Shakespeare and Company. She quickly realizes that the success and notoriety of publishing the most influential book of the century comes with steep costs. While many patrons applaud her efforts, some believe she has marred the integrity of Shakespeare and Company as she remains staunchly loyal to Joyce. Even worse, the future of her beloved store is threatened and her most enduring friendships are put to the test when Ulysses success leads to Joyce being wooed by other publishers. Now on the cusp of World War II and facing financial ruin, Sylvia must decide how far she will go to keep Shakespeare and Company alive.

 

Maher not only captures the life of a brave and inspiring bookseller, but also transports readers to the electric cultural atmosphere of Paris in the early 20th century. Sylvia’s romantic relationship with Adrienne Monnier is exquisitely rendered and offers an insightful look into what it meant to be a lesbian in Paris in the early to mid-twentieth century. Maher’s descriptions of a society grappling with the effects of World War I while simultaneously entering an age of modernism will captivate readers, as will cameo appearances from much-beloved literary figures. 

Published just in time for the 100th anniversary of Joyce’s Ulysses, THE PARIS BOOKSELLER is a moving celebration of the enduring power of literature and art.


Kerri Maher is the author of The Girl in White GlovesThe Kennedy Debutante, and, under the name Kerri Majors, This is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and was a writing professor for many years. She now writes full-time and lives with her daughter and dog in a leafy suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts. Learn more online at kerrimaher.com.

Friday, January 7, 2022

30 Things I Love About Myself

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~





Synopsis:  Thirty and not exactly thriving, Nina Mistry finds herself spending the night of her 30th birthday behind bars. In the aftermath of a  break-up from the man she thought was the love of her life, and struggling to define a journalistic career that seems to be going nowhere, Nina has really hit a new low.

 

Just as Nina falls into despair, a book lands in her cell: How to Fix Your Shitty Life by Loving Yourself. It must be destiny. With literally nothing left to lose, Nina makes a life-changing decision to embark on a self-love journey. By her next birthday, she’s going to find thirty things she loves about herself.

 

Soon, Nina finds herself making new friendships (including a new pal who happens to be an astrology guru), embarking on daring romantic escapades (featuring some very public love-making), taking career risks (and suffering the fall-out), and finding more time to focus on her family and the things that matter most. What follows is a story filled with so much laughter, joy, challenges, and heartbreak – and a whole lot of living that makes life worthwhile on her journey to self-discovery.

 

Sanghani was inspired to write this novel after she herself spent a night in jail. She used the time to meditate and reflect, turning a negative situation into something more positive for herself. Uplifting but also incredibly honest, funny, and relatable, Sanghani’s novel is an absolute delight. Nina’s voice is fun, real, and oh-so-refreshing – perfect for fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

Radhika Sanghani is an award-winning journalist and author based in London. She writes features for publications like the Daily MailDaily TelegraphThe Guardian and Grazia. Her two previous novels, Virgin and Not That Easy were published in 13 countries worldwide, with Virgin made into an online TV series. Radhika is also a body positive campaigner, and founded the #sideprofileselfie movement to celebrate big noses. 30 Things I Love About Myself is her third novel.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Catch a Star

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~



Synopsis (from Amazon):  When all she wanted was to fit in, Tamika Catchings stood out and felt left out, never knowing one day she'd stand out - as a basketball superstar and an inspiration. She faced being set apart by her hearing loss, separated from family, living up to high expectations, and the pain and discouragement of debilitating physical injury. Yet she reached for the stars with hard work, perseverance, and her faith in God. Through the silence, she found the way to shine. 

Catch a Star tells Tamika's story of overcoming: of leading the Indiana Fever to its first championship, being named one of the WNBA's top 15 players in history, earning three Olympic gold medals, and founding the Catch the Stars Foundation to help young people achieve their dreams. Her story will inspire listeners to face their doubts and fears, encouraging them to reach for their own stars, no matter what challenges come their way.



One (or more) Sentence Summary: I won Catch a Star at an event celebrating women. Tamika was the keynote speaker.  I had no idea who Tamika was....never heard of her....don't follow basketball.  I fell in love with her from the start.  She is an amazing woman who has learned how to deal with her hearing loss and is so successful.  She is an amazing storyteller.  Loved her book too! 

Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever was the WNBA's 2011 MVP. A three-time Olympic gold medalist and nine-time WNBA All-Star, Catchings was a four-time All-American and a member of the National Champion University of Tennessee Lady Vols under legendary Coach Pat Summitt. Catchings' story of overcoming adversity, growing in faith, and achieving success despite the many challenges she's faced inspires the boys and girls served by her foundation, Catch the Stars, in Indianapolis.

Ken Petersen is a veteran in the book publishing industry. He has written numerous books in the categories of memoir, motivation, self-help, and theology, and he's coached a number of authors in writing and publishing. He lives with his wife, Rita, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Everything After

 ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~





Synopsis (from Amazon):  The Light We Lost mixes with a touch of Daisy Jones and the Six in this novel of first love, passion, and the power of choice--and how we cannot escape the people we are meant to be.

Two loves. Two choices. One chance to follow her dreams.

Emily has come a long way since she lost her two passions fifteen years ago: music, and Rob. She's a psychologist at NYU who helps troubled college students like the one she once was. Together with her caring doctor husband, Ezra, she has a beautiful life. They're happy. They hope to start a family. But when a tragic event in Emily's present too closely echoes her past, and parts of her story that she'd hoped never to share come to light, her perfect life is suddenly upturned. Then Emily hears a song on the radio about the woman who got away. The melody and voice are hauntingly familiar. Could it be? As Emily's past passions come roaring back into her life, she'll find herself asking: Who is she meant to be? Who is she meant to love?


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I was so excited to read Everything After since I loved Jill Santopolo's The Light We Lost. Everything After is filled with raw/real emotions of things given up in the past and what could have been in Emily's life. When Emily reconnects with her college sweetheart (and bandmate) at a venue he is playing - all sorts of "what ifs" come crashing back.  

Like all of Santopolo's books, you will not be disappointed in this one.  Short chapters (alternate between present and past), easy to read and fall in love with some characters and their stories, and some twists that make this book different from others.



Jill Santopolo is the internationally best-selling author of More Than Words, The Light We Lost, which was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, and the forthcoming Everything After (available March 9, 2021). Her books have been translated into more than 35 languages, and have been named to the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Apple, and Indie Bound bestseller lists. She is also the author of the Alec Flint Mysteries, the Sparkle Spa series, and the Follow Your Heart books. Jill has traveled all over the U.S.—and to Canada and Europe—to speak about writing and storytelling. She lives in New York City and Washington, DC.


 Amazon