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 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 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.