Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret. 

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

My thoughts...With each new Karen White novel I simply become a bigger and bigger fan of hers. The Sound of Glass was another exceptional novel full of southern mystery and learning to find ones true self. Merritt Heyward moves to Beaufort, South Carolina after inheriting a home from her late husband's grandmother, Edith. A home, a place and a family Merritt didn't even know existed. Merritt is looking to leave her life behind and to simply exist alone in South Carolina. She barely arrives to find out her late husband, Cal, had a younger brother. If seeing a man who looks like her husband isn't enough her late father's wife and a half brother she never met show up needing her help.

It is through these interactions where Merritt slowly begins dealing with her own past, as she finds a haunting collection in the upstairs attic. What in the world could all of it mean and what does any of it have to do with her?

The Sound of Glass deals with strong family dysfunction in a powerful way. Merritt from early pages is sharp and not an endearing character, but White has a way of slowly pealing away the outer shell and allowing the character to find herself. I absolutely loved The Sound of Glass. The story was strong and compelling wanting to me figure out what in the world was Edith hiding and my word was I completely surprised! I absolutely loved Loralee and Rocky/Owen. It was really just fantastic all around. I will say don't expect to read through this quickly. The bulk of the book really allows you to get to know the characters and form attachments to them, but then the novel hits that sweet spot and you can not put it down. I found myself reading late into the night and using up a box of kleenex. If you are a fan of Karen White's this novel will once again prove why you love her and if you haven't read her books this is one you shouldn't miss. Highly recommending!


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As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review. The books I review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to me by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. I never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are my own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spotlight: Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. And Greer ended up with the blame.

Now Greer has been given one more chance—a shot at finding the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. There’s one motel, a marina, a long stretch of pristine beach and an old fishing pier with a community casino—which will be perfect for the film’s climax—when the bad guys blow it up in an all-out assault on the townspeople.

Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. She takes a room at the only motel in town, and starts working her charm. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who’s seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company. The bay has only recently been re-born, a fishing industry has sprung up, and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.

Will true love find a foothold in this small beach town before it’s too late and disaster strikes?  Told with Mary Kay Andrews inimitable wit and charm, Beach Town is this year’s summer beach read!

Beach town is on my list of books to read this summer!


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As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review. The books I review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to me by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. I never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are my own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spotlight: The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck

From Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl, comes a brilliant new novel about a literary couple. The unlikely marriage between Nathaniel Hawthorne, the celebrated novelist, and Sophia Peabody, the invalid artist, was a true union of passion and intellect.…

Beset by crippling headaches from a young age and endowed with a talent for drawing, Sophia is discouraged by her well-known New England family from pursuing a woman’s traditional roles. But from their first meeting, Nathaniel and Sophia begin an intense romantic relationship that despite many setbacks leads to their marriage. Together, they will cross continents, raise children, and experience all the beauty and tragedy of an exceptional partnership. Sophia’s vivid journals and her masterful paintings kindle a fire in Nathaniel, inspiring his writing. But their children’s needs and the death of loved ones steal Sophia’s energy and time for her art, fueling in her a perennial tug-of-war between fulfilling her domestic duties and pursuing her own desires.

Spanning the years from the 1830s to the Civil War, and moving from Massachusetts to England, Portugal, and Italy, The House of Hawthorne explores the tension within a famous marriage of two soulful, strong-willed people, each devoted to the other but also driven by a powerful need to explore the far reaches of their creative impulses. It is the story of a forgotten woman in history, who inspired one of the greatest writers of American literature.


About the author
Historical fiction writer, book blogger, voracious reader. Erika's first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING was self-published. Penguin Random House published HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, CALL ME ZELDA, FALLEN BEAUTY, and a short story anthology to which Erika contributed, GRAND CENTRAL: ORIGINAL STORIES OF POSTWAR LOVE AND REUNION. Her forthcoming novel THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE will release on May 5th, 2015.

Erika writes about and reviews historical fiction at her blog, Muse, and is a contributor to fiction blog, Writer Unboxed. She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Hemingway Society, the Millay Society. and the Hawthorne Society.



















As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review. The books I review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to me by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. I never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are my own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.

Monday, May 11, 2015

French Coast by Anita Hughes

Serena has the job she's always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.

Everything feels unbelievably perfect...until it doesn't. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she'll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette's who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate's generosity, but it seems that there's more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents' marriage, and it isn't long before she begins to question her own relationship.With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new
friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track. Fast paced and impeccably written,
French Coast will draw readers in to the intoxicating world of the Cote D'Azur. Hughes' beautiful prose and sense imagery bring the food, fashion, and feel of the ocean to life in this audacious new novel.

My thoughts...If you are heading out to the beach or poolside, make sure you grab Anita Hughes Beach Bag worthy summer chick lit novel! Hughes does it again! A fun and sexy read that took me to another amazing destination! A glimpse into the lives of the super wealthy with amazing french cuisine and desired fashions, but even the wealthy have family troubles.

Serena Woods seems to have it all. A dream career working at Vogue, a sexy fiance who completely supports her and loving parents. Once she steps foot in Cannes to begin ghost writing a memoir everything in Serena's perfect life begins to unravel.

French Coast is one of those books that when you sit down to read it, you are devour it. It's a smart and sexy read. I can't say Serena was a compelling character meaning I wasn't really rooting for her until the very end of the novel, but I was completely engrossed in the story of Yvette. I had no idea where her story would take me. While I was really focused on Yvette's story, Serena's story suddenly took me completely off guard! It went in a very surprising direction and made me pull for her! The story quickly wrapped up leaving me WANTING MORE!

Highly recommending you throw French Coast in your summer bags!


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As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review. The books I review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to me by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. I never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are my own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.

Friday, May 8, 2015

10 Most Memorable Moms in New Fiction by Andrea Lochen



Ten Most Memorable Moms in New Fiction

What better time of year than Mother’s Day to showcase some of the most memorable fictional mothers in some of the best new novels?  From loving, supportive mothers to complex, trailblazing mothers to selfish, vindictive mothers, this list has it all!  



1) The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White (Lake Union, July 2015)


 Ella Fitzwilliam, the mom in THE PERFECT SON, quit a successful career in jewelry design to be full-time parent, mental health coach, and advocate for her son, Harry, who has a soup of issues that include Tourette syndrome. She has devoted 17 years of her life to his therapy, to educating teachers, to being Harry’s emotional rock and giving him the confidence he needs to be Harry. Thanks to her, Harry is comfortable in his own skin, even when people stare. After Ella has a major heart attack in the opening chapter, her love for Harry tethers her to life. But as she recovers, she discovers the hardest parenting lesson of all: to let go.


2) Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb (Plume, January 2015)


In RODIN’S LOVER, Camille’s mother, Louise Claudel, is spiteful, jealous, and disapproving of Camille’s pursuit to become a female sculptor in the 1880s. She also shows signs of mental illness. Because of this relationship, Camille struggles with all of her female relationships the rest of her life, and ultimately, to prove to her mother that she’s truly talented.





3) Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen (Astor + Blue Editions, April 2015)




In IMAGINARY THINGS, young single mother Anna Jennings has a unique power that most parents only dream of—the ability to see her four-year-old son’s imagination come to life.  But when David’s imaginary friends turn dark and threatening, Anna must learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, what his friends truly represent, and how best to protect him.




4) The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister (Sourcebooks, January 2015)



In THE MAGICIAN'S LIE, Arden's mother is remarkable both for what she does and what she doesn't do. As a young woman, she bears a child out of wedlock and runs away with her music teacher, never fearing the consequences. But later in life, her nerve fails her—just when her daughter needs her most.




5) Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (Putnam, 2014)



In FIVE DAYS LEFT, Mara Nichols is, in some ways, a typical mother: she loves her daughter fiercely, thinks about her constantly and goes to great lengths to balance her high-stress legal career with her daughter’s needs. But there are two ways in which Mara isn't typical at all. First, she adopted her daughter from India, making good on a lifelong promise to rescue a baby from the same orphanage where Mara herself lived decades ago. And second, when Mara is diagnosed with a fatal, incurable illness that will render her unable to walk, talk or even feed herself, she has to make the kind of parenting choice none of us wants to consider—would my child be better off if I were no longer alive?



 6) House Broken by Sonja Yoerg (Penguin/NAL, January 2015)



In HOUSE BROKEN, Helen Riley has a habit of leaving her grown children to cope with her vodka-fueled disasters. She has her reasons, but they’re buried deep, and stem from secrets too painful to remember and, perhaps, too terrible to forgive.






7) You Were Meant for Me by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Penguin/NAL, 2014)

 In YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME, having a baby is the furthest thing from Miranda Berenzweig’s mind.  She’s newly single after a bad break up, and focused on her promotion at work, her friends and getting her life back on track.  Then one frigid March night she finds a newborn infant in a NYC subway and even after taking the baby to the police, can’t get the baby out of her mind.  At the suggestion of the family court judge assigned to the case, Miranda begins adoption proceedings.  But her plans—as well as her hopes and dreams—are derailed when the baby’s biological father surfaces, wanting to claim his child.  The way she handles this unforeseen turn of events is what makes Miranda a truly memorable mother.




8) The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft (Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2015)

 In THE FAR END OF HAPPY, Ronnie has hung in there as long as she can during her husband's decline into depression, spending issues, and alcoholism and he will not accept her attempts to get him professional help. She is not a leaver, but can't bear for her sons to witness the further deterioration of the marriage. She determines to divorce—and on the day he has promised to move out, he instead arms himself, holes up inside a building on the property, and stands off against police. When late in the day the police ask Ronnie if she’ll appeal to him one last time over the bullhorn, she must decide: with the stakes so high, will she try one last time to save her husband’s life? Or will her need to protect her sons and her own growing sense of self win out?


9) Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (Washington Square Press, 2014)

 In YOUR PERFECT LIFE, long-time friends, Rachel and Casey wake up the morning after their twenty year high school reunion to discover they’ve switched bodies. Casey is single with no children before becoming an instant mom to Rachel’s two teenagers and baby. Despite her lack of experience as a parent, and her often comedic missteps with the baby in particular (think: diaper blow outs and sudden sleep deprivation) Casey’s fresh perspective on her new role helps her connect with each of the children in a very different way than Rachel. And when the oldest, Audrey, is almost date raped at her prom, it is Casey’s strength that she draws from an experience in her own past that ultimately pulls Audrey through. Although it is hard for Rachel to watch her best friend take care of Audrey when she so desperately wants to, she realizes that Casey can help her daughter in a way she can’t. And Casey discovers she might have what it takes to be a mom to her own children someday.


10) The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (Bantam, 2013)



Elizabeth Bohlinger, the mother in THE LIFE LIST, is actually deceased. But she still has a big presence in her daughter's life—some may say too big! With heartfelt letters, Elizabeth guides her daughter, Brett, on a journey to complete the life list of wishes Brett made when she was just a teen. Like many mothers, Elizabeth has an uncanny ability to see into her daughter's heart, exposing buried desires Brett has long forgotten.







Andrea Lochen is a University of Michigan MFA graduate. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Berkley, 2013), won a Hopwood Award for the Novel prior to its publication. She has served as fiction editor of The Madison Review and taught writing at the University of Michigan. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, where she was recently awarded UW Colleges Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her second novel, Imaginary Things (Astor + Blue Editions, 2015) is recently released and has garnered wonderful praise. With features on Barnes & Noble.com, Huffington Post, and Brit + Co., her work is being introduced to thousands of new readers.  Andrea currently lives in Madison with her husband and daughter and is at work on her third novel. For more information visit www.andrealochen.com


Buy a copy of  Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen
Publisher:  http://bit.ly/1HJ3VW9






FTC Disclaimer
As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review.

The books we review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to us by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. We never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are our own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.