Wednesday, October 20, 2021

When We Were Young

A moving, life-affirming story about two male friends who reunite and unravel old secrets and resentments while taking a long hike.

British novelist Richard Roper has the uncanny ability to embroil quirky characters in heart-wrenching situations, rendering their predicaments into immensely appealing fiction. In How Not to Die Alone (retitled and reissued as Something to Live For), a grief-stricken man grappled with his sad lot in life. In Roper's second novel, When We Were Young, he again mines the theme of how breaking the shackles of the past can lead to transcendence. 

As teenagers, Theo and Joel--would-be writers--were best friends until a life-changing accident drove a wedge between them. Now, estranged for more than 10 years, the two men lead separate lives. Hard-driving Joel, from a sordid family background, is a successful TV writer who harbors secrets. Floundering, lovesick and bitter Theo is barely scraping by, living in a backyard shed at his parents' house. Things take a turn when Joel crashes Theo's 30th birthday party, hoping to reconnect with his long-lost friend and to convince him to make good on a promise made in their youth: to hike all 184 miles of the Thames Path, from Gloucestershire to south east London. As the two set out on the long, arduous journey, they wind through episodic memories of the past--what united and divided them. What will it take for them to bury the hatchet and make peace? 

Roper delivers an enormously moving and surprising story about the rarely documented bond of male friendship, focusing on the lengths some must travel in order truly to forgive and sacrifice for another. 


When We Were Young: A Novel by Richard Roper

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $26.00 Hardcover, 9780525539919, 352 pages

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

 

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 27, 2021), link HERE

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Mango, Mambo, and Murder

When a food anthropologist moves from New York City to Miami, she suddenly finds herself in hot water created by a double-murder plot. 

Mystery writer Raquel V. Reyes plunges a lovable, quick-witted Cuban-American amateur sleuth deep into hot water in her fun, first cozy mystery novel, Mango, Mambo, and Murder.

 

Miriam Quinones-Smith, an academic-turned-food anthropologist-turned-cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV program, moves from New York City to Miami with her restless husband and adorable young son. When her best friend, Alma, drags her to a Women’s club luncheon, a socialite at the event face-dives into a pile of chicken salad…and dies. When another woman dies soon thereafter, all hell breaks loose. Miriam’s curious mind and meddling sweeps her into an investigation that delves into the Miami social scene and soon upends her life—and the lives of those she loves. Can her amateur super-sleuthing figure a way out of--and solve--the mayhem?

 

Reyes delivers a fast-paced, spicy debut--replete with rich details of Cuban-American culture--that will satiate the appetites of foodies and cozy mystery lovers alike.

 

Mango, Mambo, and Murder (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery) Raquel V. Reyes

Crooked Lane Books, $26.99 hardcover, 9781643857848, 336 pages

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Mona at Sea

A darkly comic story about a bright, clever college grad who struggles to come of age during the tumultuous Great Recession.

Mona at Sea is a very funny, darkly comic first novel about a high achiever, on the brink of starting her adult life, who has her hopes and aspirations dashed amid the Great Recession.

 

In 2008, in suburban Tucson, Ariz., bicultural, 23-year-old Mona Mireles graduates from college--top of her class and with an equally high opinion of herself--and is eager to start a promising new finance career on Wall Street in New York City. When the job suddenly dissolves amid the economic downturn, Mona becomes a "sad millennial" in more ways than one. Down on her luck, she sinks into anxiety and depression. Broke, lovelorn and not happy living at home--her parents' marriage is in a shambles--she is forced by her mother to attend a support group for others also in search of work. There, she meets other defeated, unemployed souls who make Mona's woes pale in comparison as she gets a fuller experience of all that awaits in the real world.

 

The story of Mona's efforts to reboot her life and find meaning in its pitfalls is filled with unexpected, bittersweet twists and turns. However, it's her intimately rich first-person narration--how her scorching wit and wisdom mask her own vulnerability and foibles--that makes her story come fully alive. Mona Mireles, ever a perfectionist--and unabashed in sharing her cleverly rendered observations, criticisms and insights--will keep readers laughing as she rises above her sad, zany lot in life.


Mona at Sea by Elizabeth Gonzales James

Sante Fe Writer’s Project, $15.95 paperback, 9781951631017, 270 pages

Publication Date: June 19, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

 

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 6, 2021), link HERE

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

It's Better This Way

An emotionally evocative portrait of mid-life love complicated by blended family dynamics.

Debbie Macomber is never afraid to tackle hot-button contemporary issues. In It's Better This Way, she delivers a highly charged story that packs an emotional wallop, centered on the aftermath of breakups and a middle-aged romance that faces opposition from their two complicated families. 

This tightly woven story is bound by many threads. After 31 years of marriage, Julia Jones's golf-pro husband, Eddie, left her for another woman. Julia is finally ready, after six months of readjustment and transition, to embark on a new chapter in her life. She sells the family home and her design business and then moves into the Heritage, an upscale building in downtown Seattle, Wash. Her supportive adult daughters, Hillary and Marie--furious with their father, his choices and the hurtfulness of his actions--cheer her on. When Julia starts working out in the exercise room at the Heritage, she meets Heath, a divorced hedge-fund manager and father of two sons, Adam and Michael, close in age to Julia's girls. When Julia and Heath strike up a friendship that slowly begins to heat up into something more, their respective children become leery and try to quash the middle-aged couple's chance at forging new love.


Macomber (A Walk Along the BeachWindow on the Bay) has a firm grasp on issues that will resonate with readers of domestic fiction. Well-drawn characters and plotting--coupled with strong romantic subplots and striking coincidences--will keep readers rooting for forgiveness, hope and true love to conquer all.

 

It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber

Ballantine Books (Random House), $27.00, hardcover, 9781984818782, 320 pages

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

 

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 13, 2021), link HERE

Friday, September 10, 2021

The 20th Anniversary of 9-11-2001 : The Attack on the World Trade Center

Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01 in the USA...The world has really changed since then! 

The Wall Street Journal (via writer-journalist Anne Michaud) pays beautiful homage to personal stories surrounding the 9-11-01 attack on the World Trade Center...I'm pleased and proud that my own experience/memory has been included. 

The story I share centers on my meeting, by chance, a 9-11 Police widow on the last night of the Tribute in Light memorial at Ground Zero--the very first installment of that monument commemoration that ended on April 14, 2002. I was greatly moved by the encounter and took a photograph that night--a photograph that remains close to my heart...Learn the story behind the story (and the photograph) in the article...God Bless America and all those personally impacted by the terrible attacks...and God Bless the USA. I/We will never forget!


Link to read the article HERE

Thank you Anne Michaud!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Summer of No Attachments

In this gentle, feel-good romance, a small-town veterinarian and her dedicated assistant fall in love with two brothers.

As in The Somerset Girls, animal rescue is central to The Summer of No Attachments, Lori Foster's tender-hearted romance set again in Sunset, a small community in rural Kentucky. This installment focuses on Ivey Anders, a veterinarian who recently called it quits with her beau. Ivey is assisted at the vet clinic by Hope Mage, a good friend and dedicated worker who has sworn off men because of a disturbing incident that occurred several years before.


Ivey and Hope tend to an abandoned dog with a broken leg and soon discover the dog is pregnant. After the birth of the pups, Hope looks into renting a new apartment in town, roping in Ivey to offer her opinion of the place. There, Ivey meets the landlord, Corbin Meyer, a single businessman. Corbin has just learned he's father to a troubled 10-year-old boy, Justin. The child was dumped into Corbin's life by Justin's drug- and alcohol-addicted mother.


When the boy meets Ivey, the two instantly hit it off, discovering they share a love of animals and horror movies. Their connection bonds them--and Ivey and Corbin. As father and son get to know and fall in love with romantically reluctant Ivey, Hope meets Corbin's brother, Lang, who is smitten with Hope, but finds he must walk on eggshells in order to woo her wounded heart.


Foster's feel-good, small-town romance weaves in well-plotted story threads and complications that expose how scars from the past, if healed, can unlock more hopeful, brighter futures. 

 

The Summer of No Attachments by Lori Foster

HQN: Harlequin, $16.99 paperback, 9781335459893, 336 pages

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

 

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (June 22, 2021), link HERE 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Golden Girl

A beautifully drawn novel about a middle-aged woman, killed in a hit-and-run accident, who monitors life as it goes on without her.

Prolific novelist Elin Hilderbrand (28 Summers) ponders death, grief and the hereafter in the beautifully uplifting Golden Girl.

 

As the book commences, Vivi Howe--successful author of 13 novels and a 51-year-old divorced mother of three--dies in a hit-and-run accident near her home on Nantucket Island. Once Vivi's soul ascends from Earth, she is assigned a spirit guide, Martha, who allows her to view one last summer as life goes on without her for her three adult children, their father (her ex), her best friend and an old flame. As Vivi monitors from afar, she can give three "nudges" to alter the shape of events as they unfold in the lives of those she's left behind.

 

What ensues is an emotionally powerful story largely centered on Vivi's three children, all named for authors. Willa, the oldest, is married and pregnant again after suffering two miscarriages. When a long-lost beau of Vivi surfaces, Willa becomes intrigued to learn more about the life her mother led--and the secrets she kept--before marriage and family. Beautiful, rebellious middle child Carson gets swept up in substance abuse and makes histrionic bad choices. And Leo, an angsty high school senior about to start college, faces romantic turmoil. Threaded throughout the story is an ongoing investigation into who might've killed their mother.

 

Faithful readers have come to depend on Hilderbrand's top-notch escapist fiction that puts lively, dramatic new spins on families challenged by love and loss. Golden Girl will exceed their expectations.

 

Golden Girl: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand

Little, Brown and Company, $29.00 Hardcover, 9780316420082, 384 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

 

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (June 4, 2021), link HERE 


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Three Dreamers: A Memoir of Family

An incredibly moving memoir about three women who greatly influenced the life of notable suspense novelist and screenwriter Lorenzo Carcaterra.

Suspense novelist and screenwriter Lorenzo Carcaterra (Payback; Sleepers) shares an intimate, true story about three, strong-willed, determined women who "saved" his life. Carcaterra--"the son of an ex-con and a housewife who spoke only Italian [who] grew up in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan"--was raised watching his mother trapped in an abusive, loveless, impoverished marriage to a man who had murdered his first wife. When he was 14, Carcaterra's mother sent him to Ischia, Italy, to spend the summer with his maternal grandmother, Nonna Maria, and other relatives. The trip proved to be a watershed.


Nonna Maria--wise, dignified and of great resilience--becomes a bedrock, championing her sensitive grandson, who has storytelling aspirations. Upon returning to the U.S., Carcaterra grows determined to forge a writing career, though his mother, Raffaela, belittles his goal. Steeped in misery, Raffaela--a widow whose second marriage is to Carcaterra's volatile father--often resents her son for being his bullying father's offspring. Dutiful, devoted Carcaterra, however, stands by his mother through some cruel, searing rejections. When Carcaterra meets Susan, an editor and coworker at the New York Daily News, he finds a soulmate whose love and support help turn the tide. Carcaterra finally launches his novel-writing career and the couple build a beautiful, sadly shortened, life together.


Many heart-wrenching incidents pervade the traumatic landscape of Carcaterra's life. But the richness of his forthright storytelling gives tender form to sadness and loss, shaping it into a deeply moving narrative about hard-fought familial love and forgiveness.

 

Three Dreamers: A Memoir of Family by Lorenzo Carcaterra

Ballantine Books, $28.00 Hardcover, 9780593156711, 240 pages

Publication Date: April 26, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (April 30, 2021), link HERE

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Much Ado About Nauticaling

A sister and brother running a tourist operation off the California coast get dragged into the undertow of a murder investigation.

Santa Catalina Island is an idyllic Pacific paradise—one that was fondly frequented by former corporate businesswoman, Whitney “Whit” Dagner, and her brother, Nick, who return to the island to take over “Nautically Yours,” a tourist operation once run by their grandparents. The duo conducts popular glass bottom boat tours and also operate a quaint gift shop. But when a dead body emerges--a strangled corpse is spotted during one of the boat tours and is later identified as belonging to a wealthy and powerful (albeit shady) local businessman--the once heavenly vacation destination turns into a hellacious crime scene. Matters grow even more grave when the investigation points to Nick--who had an ax to grind with the deceased--as prime suspect. This sets Whitney on a quest to clear suspicions about her brother and root out the real killer.

 

A well-drawn cast of memorable characters—along with a cuddly cat, the spirited pull and tug of romance and surprising twists and turns--deepen the appeal of this swimmingly bright and breezy first cozy mystery by Gabby Allan.

 

Much Ado About Nauticaling (A Whit and Whiskers Mystery: Book One) by Gabby Allan

Kensington Cozies, $15.95 paperback, 9781496731067, 256 pages

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Summertime Guests

A probing, suspenseful drama where strangers at a posh hotel reflect on their lives after a jarring sudden death.

 

Wendy Francis (Best Behavior) delivers a smart, probing drama that skillfully unravels the complex emotional lives of an ensemble cast in Summertime Guests, a novel set one weekend in June at a posh hotel on the North Shore of Boston.


Legendary elegance is the hallmark of The Seafarer, a famous, historic hotel. After a major renovation, the landmark destination reopens under the management of workaholic, 39-year-old Parisian, Jean-Paul, who has a wife and new baby he is woefully neglecting. There are 250 rooms at The Seafarer. However, Francis narrows her focus on only a handful of guests: Riley and Tom, a young, Midwestern couple planning a wedding at the establishment are challenged by the overbearing expectations of the mother-of-the-groom. Widowed Rhode Island journalist Claire O’Dell, age 61, checks into the hotel to take a breather. Claire wrote a provocative article about a local politician with mob ties, and her newspaper suggests she take some time off. Claire uses the opportunity to reconnect with an old flame who lives near Boston. And then there is a 30something couple: Gwen, a teaching assistant, who treats her beau, Jason, an adjunct professor, to a weekend birthday get-away in the hope of healing their fraught relationship. Emotional, personal complications abound and deepen as the lives of these strangers are affected when a woman plunges to her death from a hotel balcony. 

 

The subsequent investigation into the mysterious sudden death makes for a reflective, deeply engaging and suspenseful story with many threads sure to ensnare the attention of rapt readers.


Summertime Guests: A Novel by Wendy Francis

Graydon House, $16.99 paperback, 9781525895982, 320 pages

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (April 9, 2021), link HERE


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Runner

A Chicago cop-turned-private investigator sets off to find a missing girl, in foster care, who might be running away from danger.

 

Tracy Clark delivers the fourth book in her highly-charged Chicago Mystery Series featuring Cassidy “Cass” Raines, a 36-year-old, African American former cop-turned-private eye. Cassidy, immensely perceptive, is no-nonsense, but has a sense of humor that lightens even the grimmest of scenarios. She takes on all kinds of cases. However, missing persons are her specialty.

 

In this installment, a recovered addict hires Cass to search for Ramona, her fifteen-year-old daughter who has run away from her foster home. Alongside the police search, Cass employs her street-smart connections to find the missing girl. Might Ramona be hiding out because she’s privy to secrets that have the power to destroy her?

 

Clark (Broken Places, Borrowed Time, What You Don’t See) has created an engaging heroine and supporting cast that keeps readers coming back for more. Runner is a super-charged, atmospheric, story anchored in big city drama that lives up to the fast-paced implications of its title.

Runner: A Cass Raines Mystery (Chicago Mystery, Book Four) by Tracy Clark

Kensington, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781496732019, 304 pages

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

Wednesday, June 23, 2021