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Today I am happy to give you a sneak peek of the next novel (coming April 3, 2018) by Kristy Woodson Harvey. This is the second novel in the Peachtree Bluff trilogy. You can find my review of the first, Slightly South of Simple here, as well as Kristy's two previous novels Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love. 

To celebrate the cover reveal, Kristy is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card. Visit her website at www.kristywoodsonharvey.com (under cover reveal in her blog section), for a chance to win!

Here is what the back blurb looks like:

Leaving fans “practically [begging] for a sequel” (Bookpage), critically-acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family.

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.

Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this is a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances that proves why she is the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).

And here is the cover! It's gorgeous, just as ALL of her covers have been!

Head over to your favorite bookseller and pre-order this one! And if you haven't read the first book of the trilogy, I highly recommend it, or any of her previous works!

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Little Fires Everywhere Book Cover Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng
Fiction
Penguin Press HC
2017
Paperback
352
Publisher via BookExpo

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood - and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

My review:

Make no mistake about it, this will be one of the best books you will read this year! Ms. Ng knocked it out of the park with her sophomore novel (her first was the highly acclaimed Everything I Never Told You). This had all the ingredients of a 5 star read for me, except for one glaring fact. I am the mother of two adopted daughters (from China)! Without revealing too much about the plot, suffice it to say that I don't know that I've ever hated a character more than Mia! I hated that she got involved in the custody issue, and when the reader finds out the reason behind her doing so, I hated her even more!! I'm going to try not to rant here, but I was also insulted by the lawyer implying that there were no Asian dolls available back in 1998. I beg to differ. My daughters came to the US in 1997 and 1999, and they both had several dolls that looked like them including Cabbage Patch, Barbie (Kira 1998), Mulan (which was released in 1998) and American Girl. I know that is nitpicking, but it still rankled with me. I thoroughly enjoyed all the other characters and plots in this book, and the writing was fabulous!

This is a must read book. Definitely worthy of 5 stars, but I gave it 4 because I couldn't see both sides of the one subplot when the issue hit a bit too close to home. Do yourself a favor (except perhaps if you are an adoptive mom) and get yourself a copy of this one!

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The Other Alcott Book Cover The Other Alcott
Elise Hooper
Fiction
William Morrow
September 5, 2017
Paperback
432
Free from publisher

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May. Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession. Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her? So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.” “Elise Hooper’s thoroughly modern debut gives a fresh take on one of literature’s most beloved families.

My review:

Confession time before continuing with this review. I have never read Little Women! I know, I know, but I have to gear myself up for really long books, and just never got around to this one (although I do own a copy). I'm not sure whether that fact has any bearing on my review, but I wanted full disclosure. This was a perfectly good  read, but it did contain a few problems for me. I thought the story was interesting, it seemed well researched, and it flowed well. I am not an artist, and I did get a bit bored with some of the longer passages about May's art. The dynamics of the family members was the most entertaining part of the book for me, although I can't say that I came away really liking any of them (why couldn't Anna take care of the parents?). I did appreciate the various settings described throughout (Rome, London, Paris, Boston), and the peeks that were given of some of the other famous artists of that time period. The insertion of letters was also a plus for me.

A good read, maybe a bit too heavy on the creation of art, but probably one that will have even more impact for those who have read Little Women.

 

Let's see how this month worked out for me in my attempt to lower my tbr (to be read) pile.

Incoming books from publishers (and an Instagram giveaway win):

Books I purchased:

Total Incoming = 17

Outgoing:

Total Outgoing: 12 physical, 11 audio, 1 e-book = 24

This month: 24 minus 17 = minus 7
Last month ending: plus 68
New total = plus 61

Considering that this total was plus 77 after the month of June (with BookExpo and my birthday), I'm pretty happy with my progress! Carry on to September 🙂

My thanks to @williammorrowbooks for this free copy for review. This title released 8/22. 📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖 Interestingly, I recently came across an article that said that Myrtle Beach (where our beach house is, and this picture was taken) is one of the top spots for UFO sightings! I decided it was a sign that I should read this book, even though I have absolutely no belief in such things. While I enjoyed the part of the story where Lucy is looking for evidence of what happened to her brother, the spaceship stuff was just beyond my interest. There was quite a lot going on in this story, but suspending my feelings about UFO's kind of took away from my enjoyment of the subplots. I also think this was a bit too long, for me it kind of dragged in places. ⭐️⭐️💫/5 While this was not really for me, if this world (or out of this world) is of interest to you, definitely give it a try. 📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖 Lucy Durant was only fourteen-years-old when she lost her older brother. First to his paranoid delusions as he became increasingly obsessed with UFOs and government conspiracies. Then, permanently, when he walked into the desert outside Bishop, California, and never returned. Now on the tenth anniversary of Nolan's mysterious disappearance, Lucy is still struggling with guilt and confusion--her memories from that period are blurry and obscured by time, distance, and alcohol. Now an adult, she's stuck in a holding pattern, hiding out at her father's house, avoiding people, and doing whatever she can to keep herself from thinking about Nolan. But when a series of unsettling events leads Lucy back to Bishop, she is forced to reconcile with her estranged mother and come to terms with the tangled memories of her past to discover what really happened to her brother all those years ago. Told in Lucy and Nolan's alternating voices, Everything We Lost is a psychological mystery exploring family, beliefs, obsessions, the nature of memory, and fear of the unknown--a haunting, compelling story that will resonate with readers long after the last page is turned. #everythingwelost #valeriegeary #williammorrow #bookblogger #bookreview #ondbookshelf

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The Salt House Book Cover The Salt House
Lisa Duffy
Fiction
Simon and Schuster
June 13, 2017
Paperback
304
Free copy from publisher via SheReads

In the coastal town of Alden, Maine, Hope and Jack Kelly have settled down to a life of wedded bliss. They have a beautiful family, a growing lobster business, and the Salt House—the dilapidated oceanfront cottage they’re renovating into their dream home. But tragedy strikes when their young daughter doesn’t wake up from her afternoon nap, taking her last breath without making a sound.

A year later, each member of the Kelly family navigates the world on their own private island of grief. Hope spends hours staring at her daughter’s ashes, unable to let go. Jack works to the point of exhaustion in an attempt to avoid his crumbling marriage. Their daughters, Jess and Kat, struggle to come to terms with the loss of their younger sister while watching their parents fall apart.

When Jack’s old rival, Ryland Finn, threatens his fishing territory, he ignites emotions that propel the Kelly family toward circumstances that will either tear them apart—or be the path to their family’s future.

Told in alternating voices, The Salt House is a layered, emotional portrait of marriage, family, friendship, and the complex intersections of love, grief, and hope.

My review:

What a lovely novel, with such great characters you just want to wrap them up in a big hug and tell them it's going to be ok. The book centers around a family torn apart by the death of the youngest child. Both parents and the two remaining sisters tell the story in alternating chapters. We explore how this tragedy has impacted each of them, and how they are trying to go on with their lives. The writing was lovely, especially the characters. They were so real, and so raw with emotions, that they leapt off the page! I loved the setting of coastal Maine (a yearly vacation spot for me while growing up in Vermont), the first romance of sixteen year old Jess, the pain and guilt of the mother, and the innocence of the now youngest sister. While I liked the initial response mechanism of Jack, I wasn't as interested in the whole rivalry sub plot. Putting that small opinion aside, this books packs a whallop of a punch in terms of how does a family come back from a devastating event, or do they?

This is a book that I highly recommend for the writing, the emotional punch, the wonderful characters, and the ways we attempt to battle back from tragedy.

This was a monthly pick of the SheReads book club. To read more about them clink this link and follow all the reviews and discussion about this book on social media using #shereads.

 

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Map of the Heart Book Cover Map of the Heart
Susan Wiggs
Fiction
William Morrow
August 8, 2017
Hardcover
320
Free copy from publisher

An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the blessings she’s enjoyed. When her ageing father asks her to go with him to his native France, she has no idea that shes embarking on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her.

Returning to the place of his youth sparks unexpected memories—recollections that will lead Camille, her father, and her daughter, Julie, who has accompanied them, back to the dark, terrifying days of the Second World War, where they will uncover their family’s surprising history.

While Provence offers answers about her family’s past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, Camille meets a handsome American historian who stirs a passion deep within her she thought she’d never experience again.

My review:

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. There was some great plot material to enjoy, and made me want to delve in further. I'm going to talk about that first, and leave my semi-rant for later 🙂 I really enjoyed the mystery of Henry's past, which takes the characters to France to explore what happened to his family in the midst of World War II. It was riveting to see things unfold, mostly through the aid of old family photographs. I also really liked the sub plot involving the teenage daughter of the main protagonist. It was lovely to see the transformation of this girl, from body image self loathing, to being comfortable in her own skin. I thought she was well written and was really rooting for her. I was very satisfied, and loved the endings for both Julie and Henry. Where things fell apart for me was the obligatory romance. I could see it coming within the first twenty pages. Man and woman meet and instantly dislike each other, but then can't stop thinking about each other, then end up having to work together, yada yada yada, YAWN! I'm not really a fan of romances in books, but if there has to be one, please let it happen naturally and not have me know what is going to happen before I've gotten twenty pages in. Phew, rant over 🙂

If you are a fan of romance books, I think this book will definitely fit the bill. It is well written, with characters to root for, and a mystery on the side. I found myself rolling my eyes over the romance, but I thoroughly enjoyed the other aspects. If you like a predictable romance along with some great sub plots, by all means read this one.

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Best Intentions Book Cover Best Intentions
Erika Raskin
Fiction
St. Martin's Press
August 15, 2017
Hardcover
288
Publisher

"Marti Trailor--social worker on hold, mother of three, wife of a successful obstetrician, daughter of a Congressman--is ready to go back to work. She's thrilled when the perfect opportunity falls in her lap. The catch? The job is at her husband's hospital and he seems not to share her enthusiasm. Undeterred, she takes the position counseling vulnerable young women as they prepare to give birth. Marti quickly begins to feel like she is making a difference in the lives of her clients. Soon, though, she finds herself caught up in the dark side of the medical center--with its long hours, overworked doctors and entrenched practices. When she witnesses something she can't unsee, Marti, who has always done her best to keep a low-profile, finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight with all of Richmond, Virginia watching. In her captivating domestic suspense novel Best Intentions, Erika Raskin weaves together high stakes hospital politics, the pressures of family life, and the consequences of trying to do the right thing"--

My review:

I was excited when I read that this story revolves around a hospital setting, since I worked in hospitals before my "Mom life". Not surprisingly those aspects were what I enjoyed the most about the book. I was captivated by the work that Marti was doing as a social worker, responsible for helping at risk new moms. I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the stress of hospital workers, the ways that certain hospital mishaps are glossed over (or covered up), and the seedier side of some of the higher ups in command. What I wasn't as interested in was the character of Marti herself. Parts of her I really liked (the social worker), but parts of her annoyed me (her dealings with her husband, and some of her over the top behavior). Also, all of the aberrant behavior of the hospital staff didn't work for me, even though it ultimately did figure into the plot.  The little snippets at the beginning of each chapter that threw you into present time took a while to get used to, and kind of upset the flow of the book for me. I thought the trial at the end was a nice way to add drama and climax to the plot, and I did enjoy it.

All in all, this was a decent read. It's short, has some parts that were great and some parts that I could have done without, but a good story with an even better setting. Check out some of the other reviews on Goodreads, I have bookish friends who really loved this one.

The Daughters of Ireland Book Cover The Daughters of Ireland
Deverill Chronicles
Santa Montefiore
Fiction
William Morrow
August 15, 2017
Paperback
576
Publisher

Perched majestically atop the lush emerald hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill has been the home to several generations of the Deverills. But when the castle fell prey to a devastating attack during the Irish revolt, the ancestral home’s survival was at stake—until Celia Mayberry and her husband buy the estate and vow to restore Castle Deverill to its former glory. For Celia, the castle holds many fond childhood memories when she ran through its vast halls with her cousin Kitty Deverill and their cherished friend Bridie Doyle. But not everyone is elated. Although Kitty is grateful to her cousin for purchasing the manor and ensuring it will remain in the family, she cannot help but be wistful for the days when she was the mistress of Castle Deverill. While she is content in her new life with her husband Robert and her adopted son JP, her heart still yearns for Jack O’Leary—the man she cannot have. As Kitty struggles with her choices, she must make a heartbreaking decision that could bring her the greatest joy, but hurt those closest to her. Now wealthy and the toast of the town in New York City, Bridie Doyle has come a long way since she was a young girl in Ireland and the daughter of one of the maids at Castle Deverill. But all her money cannot ease the pain over giving away her baby. When she finds love, she is tempted to return to her beloved homeland—even if it means she will have to face the woman she still longs to seek revenge against. As Celia wastes no time, or expense, in hiring workers to renovate Castle Deverill—even when the country soon finds itself in the midst of the Great Depression—she has no idea that her world is about to be shattered. Now everything that felt so certain is cast into doubt as these daughters of Ireland must find the inner strength to build a new future.

My review:

When I was sent this book by the kind folks at William Morrow to read and review, my first reaction was to look at this stunning cover, but think this is not really my kind of book. Well color me surprised, because this was an excellent read! It centers around three women who grew up together in a castle in West Cork, Ireland. Two of the women are cousins, one is the daughter of a cook in the castle. They are all grown up when we enter this story, and are dealing with grown-up problems like jealousy, adultery, scandals and lies. One of the cousins has purchased the war ravaged castle they grew up in and is restoring it in a grand way, but financial trouble looms. The other cousin pines for a former lover while caring for her adopted son resulting from an affair between her father and, you guessed it, the cook's daughter (and former playmate). The boy's biological mother has moved to the US, and is living the grand life, but wondering if she should go back and claim her son. There is a ton going on in this book, and the writing was on point to keep the pages turning to find out how these lives would all play out. The only real issue that I had was that I did not know going in that this was part of a trilogy. I did not read the first book (The Girl in the Castle), and honestly didn't feel that it hindered me in any way when delving into the story. However, there were lots of loose ends at the end that I'm sure will be carried over to the last book. Trouble is, will I remember the book by the time I get to the next one (this is why I'm not a huge fan of series books).

This is a great family saga taking place in the 20's in Ireland. I'm going to call it a soap opera in book form! Not going to lie, it is a chunkster of a book, but I think you'll be hooked.

Thank you to author Anne Montgomery for sending me this free copy for review. 📖 📖 📖 Another of those sleeper books that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. This is a young adult novel, but can easily cross into adult fiction. The descriptions of the fundamentalist Mormon life was chilling, and the attempt of Rose to escape was intense! Alongside her is her new found friend Adan, himself trying to escape the foster care system. Figuring out who to trust was a wild ride for Rose and Adan as well as the reader. Other than the end being a bit too tidy, this was an engrossing read that I highly recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 📖 📖 📖 Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away. Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl--Rose--running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community. With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust? 📖 #bookblogger #thescentofrain #annemontgomery #treehousepub

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