Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Most Fun We Ever Had

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



Synopsis (from Amazon):  When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that awaits them. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are in a state of unrest. Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator turned stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she's not sure she wants by a man she's not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. With the arrival of Jonah Bendt--a child placed for adoption by one of the daughters fifteen years before--the Sorensons will be forced to reckon with the rich and varied tapestry of their past: years marred by adolescent angst, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.


One (or more) Sentence Summary:   LOVED IT! We read The Most Fun We Ever Had for book club.  We all loved it.  A story surrounding a family with struggles that no one would even know they had.  I so enjoyed learning about each of the daughters' past and current lives and how they were all connected.  Marilyn and David seem so stable and it is shocking that they didn't really know the details going on in their daughters' lives.  Family dynamics at its best.  

The Most Fun We Ever Had is a long book (over the normal page number for our book club selection).  However, it is worth every page turned.  I didn't seem like a 500+ page book.  I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. A must-read for sure. 





CLAIRE LOMBARDO earned her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her debut novel, THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has been translated or is forthcoming in over a dozen languages. Claire has worked as a social worker and currently teaches fiction writing. She was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois, and now lives in Iowa City, Iowa. 

THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD is currently being adapted for an HBO series to be produced by Laura Dern and Amy Adams and written by Lombardo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Wife Upstairs

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






Synopsis (from Amazon):  A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for. 

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Crazy good twist in the end. The Wife Upstairs is told by three different people; Eddie the recent widow; Bea the wife that died and was never found and Jane the dog walker who falls for Eddie. Each of their own stories are interwoven into one good read. I read somewhere that The Wife Upstairs was a reimagining of Jane Eyre and having just read that for the first for my book club I was intrigued.  Glad I read it and if you like Jane Eyre or a book with a twist or two, The Wife Upstairs is a book for you.



Rachel Hawkins (www.rachel-hawkins.com) was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama, and is currently at work on the third book in the Hex Hall series. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree....

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Event

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




Synopsis (from Amazon):  There’s a reason Emmeline Frothingham left her hometown of Creek Water, Missouri as soon as humanly possible. That reason is small-minded, judgmental people who wouldn’t know the truth if it was coughed up on them like an errant furball.

After graduating from college, Emmie gets her dream job in New York City. As the head buyer at Silver Spoons--a high-end boutique, and single girl about town, her life is ideal. That is, until the night of The Event, her company’s annual award's ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nerves plus too much tequila leave Emmie dealing with a wicked hangover, the unemployment line, and a surprise to end all surprises.

Facing the repercussions of her wild night, Emmie is forced to go home to work in her family's business. But her return puts her dead in the sights of the gossipy country club harpies who drove her away in the first place.

Will Emmie make peace with her past and embrace the love of her family? Will she discover that the man who seems to be judging her most has a secret of his own? Find out in this deliciously fun romantic comedy, sure to put a smile on your face!


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I had heard of Whitney Dineen but had never read anything by her. When Whitney paired up with Meliane Summers to write a series, I knew I had I to check out some of her books.  I started with The Event, which is book 1 in The Creek Water Series (total of 4). While they are stand-alone books, they characters all build off the previous books, so I would start with book 1. I can guarantee you will want to jump right into the next book. Whitney is the type of author I love. Funny, crazy, laugh out loud, good storyline type of books.

Emmie leaves her small town to go to the big city.  When "The Event" happens she finds that it is time to pack it up and go back home. She finds herself pregnant and really isn't sure who the father is, but that he looked like a famous movie star (too many drinks one night). Back at home, she starts her life over and everyone has to have a say in it. She also runs into her old high school flame. Sparks fly but not the romantic ones. 

I can't give the ending away - but you will love it.  Extremely funny with great characters. Just the type of place I would love to belong - strong community with lots of ties - one that looks out for everyone.

Already started books 2 - The Move. I want to read all her other series too: 
  • Seven Brides for Seven Mothers Series (Assuming 7 books series - book 4 just came out!)
  • Relatively Series (3 book series)
  • Mini Chronicles Series (3 book series)
  • She Sins at Midnight
  • Going Up?
  • Love for Sale
  • You do You!


USA Today Bestselling author Whitney Dineen is a rock star in her own head. While delusional about her singing abilities, there’s been a plethora of validation that she’s a fairly decent author (AMAZING!!!). After winning many writing awards and selling nearly a kabillion books (math may not be her forte, either), she’s decided to let the voices in her head say whatever they want (sorry, Mom). She also won a fourth-place ribbon in a fifth-grade swim meet in backstroke. So, there’s that.

Whitney loves to play with her kids (a.k.a. dazzle them with her amazing flossing abilities), bake stuff, eat stuff, and write books for people who "get" her. She thinks french fries are the perfect food and Mrs. Roper is her spirit animal. 

***Super fans, please check out my reading group Eat, Laugh, Love on Facebook for early announcements and other good stuff: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1145541502567944 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Mother Next Door

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







Synopsis:  

For fans of Lisa Jewell, Aimee Molloy, and Joshilyn Jackson, an upmarket suspense novel from a multi-award-winning author about a tightknit group of suburban mothers who invite a new neighborhood mom into their fold, and the fallout the night of the annual block party, when secrets from the past come back to haunt them…


The annual block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul de sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plan the event for months.


Except the Ivy Five have been four for a long time.


When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet... until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.


As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They'll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.


From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…


The Mother Next Door : A Novel of Suspense 

Tara Laskowski

On Sale Date: October 12, 2021

9781525804700

Trade Paperback

Graydon House

$16.99 USD

352 pages



BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mother-next-door-a-novel-of-suspense/9781525804700

Politics & Prose: https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781525804700

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mother-next-door-tara-laskowski/1138551311?ean=9781488078125&st=AFF&2sid=HarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC_7651142_NA&sourceId=AFFHarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Next-Door-Novel-Suspense/dp/1525804707/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-mother-next-door-by-tara-laskowski-paperback/-/A-82219724

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-mother-next-door/id1547075567?id=1547075567&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

One More Page: https://www.onemorepagebooks.com/book/9781525804700

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-mother-next-door

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525804700?aff=PublishersWeekly



Photo credit: Ron Aira


TARA LASKOWSKI is the author of One Night Gone, which won an Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and Anthony Award, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Left Coast Crime Award, Strand Critics' Award, and Library of Virginia Literary Award. She is also the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, has published stories in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Mid-American Review, among others, and is the former editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, @TaraLWrites.


SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://taralaskowski.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tara.laskowski.9

Twitter: @TaraLWrites

Instagram: @taralwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56555529-the-mother-next-door


EXCERPT:


HALLOWEEN


Ladies and gentlemen, skulls and boys: by the time our Halloween block party is over tonight, one of us will be dead.

And I don’t mean dead as in dull, or dead as in zombified. I mean dead as in gone. Dead as in expired. Killed.

Murdered.

You may be feeling distressed about this, knowing what you know about Ivy Woods—the great neighborhood it is, the sweet, loving families that live there. How could such a tragedy happen in such a wonderful place? You may have traveled here yourself, as a child or as a parent, lured in by the local fame of the street and its ghoulish decorations each year. The lights, the smoke, the gravestones, and the moaning. The witches, cackling and handing out candy. The swarms of little Frankensteins and cowboys and robots and ballet dancers lugging their pillowcases and plastic pumpkin buckets filled with sugar and junk.

But Ivy Woods isn’t perfect.

Far from it.

Look closer. Look under the makeup and the masks, look into the windows of the perfect houses. Dig under the surface of those freshly mowed lawns and you’ll find the worms. I’ve looked—believe me, I’ve looked. There’s something about this street. There are secrets. I know from watching through the windows, from hearing the hushed conversations, from lingering on their faces when they think everyone else has looked away.

Oh they think they are perfect. They pat themselves on the back for throwing such good parties, for raising such fine children, for living in such big houses.

But they are pretending.

They don masks on this one single night to dress up as someone or something else, but in reality they live their lives this way.

We all do.

We hate ourselves. We are too fat, or too thin. We should work hard, be smarter. We are lonely and depressed. We are worried about money. We are ashamed of the way that our friends and family treat us. But we lie about it all. We hide behind a protective fa├žade, fragile glass figurines inside elaborate dollhouses designed to look like perfect, safe, happy places.

Tonight it will all shatter.

Watch closely and you’ll begin to see what I see. There’s trouble in the air, a cold wind blowing in from far away, and it’s settled on Ivy Woods Drive. The secrets and the lies we tell ourselves and others will emerge tonight like spirits of the dead. Lines will be drawn. Sides will be taken. Someone won’t make it out alive.

I can’t save that person, but I’ll tell the story. Turn over the rocks, expose the worms. Pull back the masks.

Because I know their secrets, secrets that will destroy them all.

If they don’t destroy themselves first.


Excerpted from The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski, Copyright © 2021 by Tara Laskowski. Published by Graydon House Books.




Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Bookstore on the Beach - Review

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






Synopsis:  

For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Kay Andrews, comes New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak's newest standalone work of women's fiction, a big, sweeping novel about family and the ties that bind and challenge us. In this novel, three generations of women from the same family share a house and work together at a bookstore in Colonial Beach over the course of a summer.


How do you start a new chapter when you haven’t closed the book on the last one?


Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers—she still has no idea where he went or why. After being happily married for twenty years, 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 by working alongside her mother and aunt at their quaint bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a life change neither of them saw coming and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into Quinn Vanderbilt—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.


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  A dream of mine is to own a bookstore/craft store combination on a beach….we can all dream, right. The title of this book had be sold! 

A good read with good characters. Autumn, mother of two teenagers whose husband disappears. Her teenagers and their struggles to figure out who they really are and want to become. Her mother that has secrets buried and come bubbling up. Her long ago boyfriend stirs up feelings from the past. All of the above makes The Bookstore on the Beach a good read.

Perfect for your fall or winter book bag - so you can picture yourself in a quaint beach town during the cooler months. 





Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a five-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader's Choice, the Bookseller's Best, the Bookbuyer's Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.


Bookshop.org

IndieBound

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Amazon

Indigo

Book Depository

Walmart

Target


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Anxious People

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




Synopsis (from Amazon):  From the number one New York Times best-selling author of A Man Called Ove comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world. 

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them — the bank robber included — desperately crave some sort of rescue. 

As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next. Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope — the things that save us, even in the most anxious times. 




One (or more) Sentence Summary: Another amazing book by Fredrik Backman. Loved the characters (some really quirky ones) and how they all come together full circle. Everyone has their own issues they are dealing with and like reality, we don't know what each other are carrying on our backs. Anxious People is both funny in parts and heart breaking in other parts. 

Amazing story that will touch your heart, like all his books do.

My bookclub read it and loved it! We had some really great conversations around the story.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors.  I just love his books.  My two favorite are Beartown and Us Against You (my son plays junior hockey).  I have read all his books and they are a must have on release day.  




Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime, as well as one work of nonfiction, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. His books are published in more than forty countries. His next novel, Anxious People, will be published in September 2020. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @Backmansk.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Hamnet

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



Synopsis (from Amazon):  In 1580’s England, during the Black Plague a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this “exceptional historical novel” (The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. 

Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.


One (or more) Sentence Summary: I have to disclose - it took me two attempts to read Hamnet and I am so happy I went back the second time.  I LOVED IT! If you try or tried it and couldn't get into the story the first time, I recommend trying again. 

A spin on Shakespeare's life was very interesting. I loved all the parts about Agnes and her potions. Brought tears to my eyes grieving the lost of child. It was so raw. It is very hard for me to explain the book, as there was a lot characters and a lot going on.  I wouldn't do the book justice if I tried….

Hamnet really is a must read - don't give up on it as it is amazing!

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of the Sunday Times no. 1 bestselling memoir I AM, I AM, I AM, and eight novels: AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award, and HAMNET. She lives in Edinburgh.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Guncle

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




Synopsis (from Amazon):  Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is, honestly, overwhelmed. 

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick's brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of "Guncle Rules" ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting--even if temporary--isn't solved with treats and jokes, Patrick's eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you're unfailingly human. 

With the humor and heart we've come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  The Guncle is another book I wish I had put on the "What's in Your Beach Bag?" summer reading list.  I loved it. First book I have ever read by Steven Rowley and it will not be last.  This was another book I kept seeing on must read lists and in top 20 books of the summer articles. Now I know why!

Patrick or GUP as he is know is an amazing man going through his own set of problems and anxiety when his sister-in-law dies and his brother checks himself into rehab. Maisie and Grant, Patrick's niece and nephew all of sudden are in his care.  He doesn't even know how to take care of dog. The lessons they all learn are amazing.

The Guncle will have in tears for two reasons - it is hilarious and gut-wrenching sad. I absolutely loved this book (and would have loved to have had a GUP in my life). A must read - no doubt about it.



Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, The Editor and The Guncle. His fiction has been translated in twenty languages. He lives in Palm Springs.