Posted in May 2019

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Synopsis:

With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).

My review:

I read the first two books in The Peachtree Bluff series back to back and then I had to wait for the final book. It seemed like a long wait but oh so worth it! Reading The Southern Side of Paradise was like catching up with old friends and picking up where you last left off. Kristy Woodson Harvey is my number one for southern fiction! This is listed as the final book in the series but I’m hoping for more of Ansley, Caroline, Sloane and Emerson’s story!

About the author:

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the internationally bestselling author of DEAR CAROLINALIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE, SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE, THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM and the forthcoming THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE. Kristy was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, her work has been optioned for film and her books have received numerous accolades.

Harvey is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism and holds a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern LivingTraditional HomeParadeUSA TodayDominoOur State and O. Henry. She has been seen in Today.com, Women’s Health,The Washington PostUS News and World ReportThe Huffington Post, Marie Claire’s The FixWoman’s World, Readers’ Digest, Bustle, New York Live and North Carolina Bookwatch, among others.

She is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, serves on the board of Beaufort Historical Association, and is a member of the University of North Carolina’s Women’s Leadership Council. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, book conferences and private events. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and seven-year-old son where she is working on her next novel.

Posted in Author spotlight, May 2019

Author Spotlight: Andrew Lam

About the author:

Andrew Lam, M.D., is the award-winning author of three books. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Born in Philadelphia and raised in central Illinois, he graduated summa cum laude in history from Yale University, where he studied military history and U.S.-East Asian relations. He then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by specialty training in ophthalmology and retina surgery at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where he also served as chief resident.

Dr. Lam has authored numerous scientific articles and is a co-investigator for several national clinical trials. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine, a partner at New England Retina Consultants, and an attending surgeon at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

He resides in Longmeadow, Massachusetts with his wife and four children.

Repentance–On sale now!

A captivating new novel about one family’s darkest secrets and the lengths to which a man will go to set things right.

France, October 1944: A Japanese American war hero has a secret. A secret so awful he’d rather die than tell anyone—one so entwined with the brave act that made him a hero that he’s determined never to speak of the war. Ever.

Fifty-five years later, his son, Daniel Tokunaga, is a world-famous cardiac surgeon with a beautiful wife and successful kids. But Daniel’s outwardly perfect life is a façade. He despises his father who prized toughness and achievement above warmth or affection. And for other reasons…troubles from the past that he has never revealed to another soul.

As Daniel’s marriage threatens to crumble from his own indifference, and a medical crisis compels him to return to his parents’ home, he stumbles upon the darkest secret of all—his father’s.

Soon the quest for the truth between father and son opens wide the gulf between them but also Daniel’s deepest questions of life…what is honor? Redemption? And most important of all, what is love?

Drawn from the heroic true story of a Japanese American regiment that fought in World War II and became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history, this poignant drama also shows the sorrows of the internment camps where American citizens of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned solely because of their race.

Repentance is a swift, sweeping novel in which one family’s catastrophic past unfurls just as the foundation of their present lives begins to crack. What they learn is that the briefest of moments—a split-second of indecision—can echo across generations.

Some secrets are too painful to be shared.

Some secrets you wish you never knew.

Posted in March 2019

Until The Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Synopsis:

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

My review:

I loved everything about Until the Day I Die from the gorgeous cover to the twisted page turning story inside! I thought I had the ending all figured out but I didn’t see it coming!

About the author:

Emily Carpenter is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of suspense novels, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, The Weight of Lies, and Every Single Secret. After graduating from Auburn with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, she moved to New York City. She’s worked as an actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant for the CBS shows, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. You can visit Emily at emilycarpenterauthor.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Book details:

  • Published March 12, 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
  • 348 pages
Posted in March 2019

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Synopsis:

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

My review:

I have always loved The Wizard of Oz movie and couldn’t wait to read Finding Dorothy! Elizabeth Letts tells the story of a young Maud Gage Baum and her life with L. Frank Baum along with the making of the movie version of Baum’s famous book. I loved reading how Baum’s real life was woven into his book. This is a must read glimpse behind the scenes of one of our most cherished books and movie adaptation.

About the author:

Elizabeth Letts is an award winning and bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. The Perfect Horse was the winner of the 2017 PEN USA Award for Research Non-fiction and a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. The Eighty-Dollar Champion was a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2012 Daniel P Lenehan Award for Media Excellence from the United States Equestrian Foundation. She is also the author of two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning, and an award-winning children’s book, The Butter Man. She lives in Southern California and Northern Michigan.

Book details:

  • Published February 12, 2019 by Ballantine Books
  • 351 pages
Posted in May 2019

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner

Synopsis:

Summer has started in idyllic Sag Harbor, and for Emma Mapson that means greeting guests at the front desk of The American Hotel. But when one of the town’s most famous residents, artist Henry Wyatt, dies suddenly, Emma learns he has mysteriously left his waterfront home – a self-designed masterpiece filled with his work – to her teenage daughter, Penny. 

Back in Manhattan, legendary art patron Bea Winstead’s grief at her lifelong friend and former business partner Henry’s passing turns to outrage at the news of his shocking bequest. How did these unknown locals get their hands on the estate? Bea, with her devoted assistant Kyle in tow, descends on Sag Harbor determined to reclaim the house and preserve Henry’s legacy.

While Emma fights to defend her daughter’s inheritance, Bea discovers that Henry left a treasure trove of sketches scattered around town. With Penny’s reluctant help, Bea pieces them together to find a story hidden in plain sight: an illustration of their shared history with an unexpected twist that will change all of their lives.

Drawn together in their battle for the house, Emma and Bea are forced to confront the past while facing a future that challenges everything they believe about love, fate, and family.

My review:

Pack a copy of Drawing Home in your beach bag this summer! I loved this story of mother/daughter relationships, an unexpected inheritance and a bit of mystery set in Sag Harbor. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand will love Drawing Home!

About the author:

Jamie Brenner is the bestselling author of the THE FOREVER SUMMER, THE HUSBAND HOUR, and THE WEDDING SISTERS. Her latest book is DRAWING HOME. She lives in New York City and spends her summers visiting the beach towns that inspire her novels.. For contact info, tour dates, and book clubs please visit www.jamiebrenner.com

Book details:

  • Published May 7, 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
  • 368 pages
Posted in May 2019

Split-Level by Sande Boritz Berger

Synopsis:

In Split-Level, set as the nation recoils from Nixon, Alex Pearl is about to commit the first major transgression of her life. But why shouldn’t she remain an officially contented, soon-to-turn-thirty wife? She’s got a lovely home in an upscale Jersey suburb, two precocious daughters, and a charming husband, Donny. But Alex can no longer deny she craves more—some infusion of passion into the cul-de-sac world she inhabits. 

After she receives a phone call from her babysitter’s mother reporting that Donny took the teen for a midnight ride, promising he’d teach her how to drive, Alex insists they attend Marriage Mountain, the quintessential 1970s “healing couples sanctuary.” Donny accedes—but soon becomes obsessed with the manifesto A Different Proposition and its vision of how multiple couples can live together in spouse-swapping bliss. At first Alex scoffs, but soon she gives Donny much more than he bargained for. After he targets the perfect couple to collude in his fantasy, Alex discovers her desire for love escalating to new heights—along with a willingness to risk everything. Split-Levelevokes a pivotal moment in the story of American matrimony, a time when it seemed as if an open marriage might open hearts as well.

My review:

As a child of the 70’s, I jumped at the chance to read Split-Level. What happens when a married couple decide to have an “open” marriage and become swingers? I have often wondered how marriages can survive without monogamy. Sande Boritz Berger gave me a though provoking glimpse into a life style completely different than my own. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this captivating novel!

About the author:

After two decades as a scriptwriter and video/film producer for Fortune 500 companies, Sande Boritz Berger returned to her passion: writing both fiction and non-fiction full time. Her stories and essays have been published in The Rambler Magazine, Every Woman Has a Story by Warner Books, Ophelia’s Mom by Crown Publishing, Aunties: Thirty-five Writers Celebrate Their Other Mother by Ballantine and others. Sande received an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from Stony Brook Southampton College where she received the Deborah Hecht Memorial prize for fiction. The Sweetness was a semi-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel awards. The author lives with her husband in Manhattan. She has two daughters.

Book details:

  • Published May 7, 2019 by She Writes Press.
  • 320 pages

Posted in April 2019

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Synopsis:

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

My review:
Although my kids are now grown and out of the house, I can remember those hectic days of trying to balance work and raising kids. There were so many days that I would just roll my eyes and say, “Calgon, take me away!” MOMSPRINGA?! That’s brilliant! The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is a story that I think all mothers can relate to, whether they are married or single. I think at some point, we have all wished we could just get away from the day to day of raising kids and find that person we used to be. I enjoyed reading Amy’s adventures in finding some “me” time and discovering herself once again.

Posted in April 2019

Park Avenue Summer by Rene Rosen

Synopsis:

Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as Renée Rosen draws readers into the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan Magazine, where a brazen new Editor-in-Chief–Helen Gurley Brown–shocks America by daring to talk to women about all things off limits…

New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.

My review:
Park Avenue Summer is a fascinating glimpse into the early days of Cosmopolitan magazine(as we know it!) and it’s first female editor, Helen Gurley Brown. Rene Rosen’s research is always evident in her books but her work shines through in this novel! I lost sleep over this book simply because I couldn’t put it down and read into the early hours. Grab a copy of this book, a martini and settle in for an amazing read!

Posted in April 2019

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Synopsis:

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.

My review:
When I saw that Sally Hepworth had a new book, I didn’t even bother reading the description because I knew it would be good! The Mother-In-Law tells the story of so many family relationships besides the sometimes adversarial relationship between a daughter in law and her mother in law. While I first saw Diana as cold and calculating, I soon realized why. Sally Hepworth seamlessly blends familial relationships and issues along with a whodunit that kept me turning the pages!

Posted in April 2019

Only One Life by Ashley Farley

Synopsis:

Julia Martin grew up wealthy, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, Jack, that she knew true happiness. He made her feel worthy and loved. Their marriage was also an escape from her sister’s bullying, her father’s scrutiny, and her chilly and enigmatic mother. But when tragedy strikes on the night she gives birth, Julia’s happiness is shattered. She has no choice but to return home to her family’s South Carolina mansion, where the grief and guilt buried in her mother’s past await her.

As a young woman trapped in a bitter marriage, Julia’s mother, Iris, once needed her own means of escape. In Lily, she found a best friend. In the flower shop they opened, she discovered independence. Then came a transgression—unforgivable, unforgettable, and unresolved—that changed Iris’s life forever.

Now, in Iris’s most desperate hour, her only hope is to regain the trust of the daughter she loves—and to share the secrets of the heart that could rebuild a family’s broken bonds.

My review:
I love a good southern fiction book and Only One Life was amazing! I loved the different viewpoints and learning about Iris and Julia’s stories, layer by layer. I read this captivating story in one sitting…unputdownable! Grab a glass of sweet tea, pull up a chair on the porch and settle in with this book!