Winter Garden

For many of my readers currently stuck indoors due to the severe snow storms up north, here is another one of my book reviews that I think you will definitely enjoy…

Winter Garden is another magnificent story from one of my favorite authors, NY Times best selling author, Kristin Hannah. As some of you may already know I have read all of her books and have reviewed a few of them before on the blog (Firefly Lane, Night Road).  I promise, here’s another one that will not disappoint.  And make sure you give it a chance, as this is the type of story where you may find yourself a bit frustrated at first (I did), finding the book a little slow and maybe even disliking the characters. Don’t let that worry you, it is necessary for the story to be told this way, and as it evolves, you find yourself yearning to find out what happens, as it starts to reveal many interesting secrets from the character’s past. Truly beautifully written.

Winter Garden, photo courtesy of Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden, photo courtesy of Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (synopsis)

From the author of acclaimed national bestseller Firefly Lane comes a haunting, heartbreakingly beautiful novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between past and present.

Sometimes when you open the door to your mother’s past, you find your own future…

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life.

It begins with a story that is unlike anything the sisters have heard before—a captivating, mysterious love story that spans sixty-five years and moves from frozen, war torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska.  The vividly imagined tale brings these three women together in a way that none could have expected.  Meredith and Nina will finally learn the secret of their mother’s past and uncover a truth so terrible it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they think they are.

Every once in a while a writer comes along who navigates the complex and layered landscape of the human heart.  For this generation, it’s Kristin Hannah.  Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Winter Garden is an evocative, lyrically-written novel that will long be remembered.

So, pickup a copy of  Winter Garden and grab a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy a great read.
Have you read any good books lately?  I love suggestions!

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Before the Storm…

I have not done a book review in a while, as the Fall season has been quite busy with a lot going on. However, with the holidays upon us, it’s always good to take a break and re-energize before the craziness of holiday shopping and parties begin. I have blogged about Diane Chamberlain before, as I love all of her books, so here I go again (click here for the review of my favorite book of hers).  Some of her books are part of a series or trilogy, as are the two that I am reviewing today, Before the Storm and Secrets She Left Behind.  Once again, I do suggest you read them in order, as it always makes it easier to follow the story line. I simply could not wait to read the sequel to see how the story unfolds, and trust me, you will be just as anxious!

Photo Courtesy of Diane Chamberlain Books.

Photos Courtesy of Diane Chamberlain.

Before the Storm (Synopsis)
Fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood is special. Others notice the way he blurts out anything that comes into his mind, how he cannot foresee consequences, that he’s more child than teenager. But his mother sees a boy with a heart as open and wide as the ocean. Laurel Lockwood lost her son once through neglect. She’s spent the rest of her life determined to make up for her mistakes, and she’s succeeded in becoming a committed, protective parent—maybe even over-protective. Still, she loosens her grip just enough to let Andy attend a local church social—a decision that terrifies and infuriates her when the church is consumed by fire. But Andy survives…and remarkably, saves other children from the flames. Laurel watches as Andy basks in the role of unlikely hero and the world finally sees her Andy, the sweet boy she knows as well as her own heart. But when the suspicion of arson is cast upon Andy, Laurel must ask herself how well she really knows her son…and how far she’ll go to keep her promise to protect him forever.

Secrets She Left Behind (Synopsis)
One afternoon, single mother Sara Weston says that she’s going to the store—and never returns. In her absence, she leaves her teenaged son alone with his damaged past and a legacy of secrets. Keith Weston nearly lost his life in an act of arson. He survived—but with devastating physical and emotional scars. Without his mother, he has no one to help him heal, no money, nothing to live for but the medications that numb his pain. Isolated and angry, his hatred has one tight focus: his half-sister, Maggie Lockwood. Now the person Keith despises most is the closest thing he has to family—until Sara returns. If Sara returns. . .

So, I hope I have peaked your interest in these terrific mysteries.  Now just pick up a copy of these books, or download them to your e-reader, and enjoy a great read!

Have you ever read a novel by Diane Chamberlain?  If you have, I’d love to hear which was your favorite.My Signature

Beautiful Ruins

Continuing with my book reviews, here’s my next pick…

Beautiful Ruins, a New York Times Bestseller, immediately caught my eye (I was judging a book by its cover, literally.) But who can blame me with that magnificent photo of the Italian coastline. I figured this was something I would be interested in as I have a slight obsession with Italy. This was the first novel I’ve read by Jess Walter, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I must say I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading a few more of his books. Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962…and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. This book has romance, drama, a beautiful setting, and tells a great story.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (synopsis from Goodreads)

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

Well, there you have it…so, pickup a copy of Beautiful Ruins or download it to your e-reader, and enjoy this great story.

Have you read any good books lately?  I love suggestions!

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Leaving Time

To continue with my summer book reviews, here’s my next pick…

Leaving Time, the latest book from NY Times Bestselling author, Jodi Picoult, has to be one of the books that has surprised me the most with its ending. I must admit I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Jodi Picoult.  I have read many of her books, because I think she is an amazing writer (I loved My Sister’s Keeper), and I would love to meet her at a book signing. However, I haven’t loved all of her stories, they’re not for everyone. After a few chapters I thought I was in for another disappointment…and then suddenly, I could not put it down.  And the ending was completely unexpected, there is a reason it debuted at #1 on the NY Times bestseller list.

Leaving Time. Photo courtesy of Jodi Piccoult.

Leaving Time, photo courtesy of Jodi Picoult.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (synopsis)

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

So, pickup a copy of Leaving Time or download it to your e-reader, and enjoy a great summer read.
Have you read any good books lately?  I love suggestions!

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Night Road

To continue with my summer book reviews, here’s my next pick…

Night Road is one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors, Kristin Hannah, a NY Times Bestselling author, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at a few book signings. The first novel of hers that I read was Firefly Lane (click here for my review), which was fantastic.  I quickly became hooked on her books and have read many more.  But I have to say that as the helicopter mom that I am, this book really touched my heart, because it was beautifully written.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Night Road, photo courtesy of Kristin Hannah

Night Road by Kristin Hannah (synopsis)

For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows—her twins, Mia and Zach—are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.

Jude does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm’s way. It has always been easy– until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.

On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.

Vivid, universal, and emotionally complex, Night Road raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

So, pickup a copy of Night Road or download it to your e-reader, and enjoy a great summer read.
Have you read any good books lately?  I love suggestions!

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Keeper of the Light Trilogy

With some of us in the middle of spring break and summer just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time for some more book reviews. Here are some great reads from one of my favorite authors, Diane Chamberlain, a USA Today and London Times bestselling author of 23 novels (click here for the review of my favorite book of hers). I started reading Keeper of the Light, not realizing it was the first of The Keeper of the Light Trilogy, which also includes Kiss River and Her Mother’s Shadow. After I finished the first book, I could not wait to hear what happened to the O’Neill family and I had to read the other two books…I couldn’t put them down. Although they do not necessarily need to be read in order, I highly recommend you do, to better follow the story line.

Photos Courtesy of Diane Chamberlain

Photos Courtesy of Diane Chamberlain

Keeper of the Light (Synopsis)
Dr. Olivia Simon is on duty in the emergency room of North Carolina’s Outer Banks Hospital when a gunshot victim is brought in. Midway through the desperate effort to save the young woman’s life, Olivia realizes who she is-Annie O’Neill. The woman Olivia’s husband, Paul, is in love with. When Annie dies on the operating table, she leaves behind three other victims. Alec O’Neill, who thought he had the perfect marriage. Paul, whose fixation on Annie is unshakable. And Olivia, who is desperate to understand the woman who destroyed her marriage. Now they are left with unanswered questions about who Annie really was. And about the secrets she kept hidden so well.

Kiss River (Synopsis)
Set eleven years after the first book, the O’Neill family finds itself facing new challenges in the form of a stranger obsessed by the old Kiss River Lighthouse. Separated by a continent from her child, Gina Higgins comes to Kiss River with little more than a desperate plan. Now, saving her daughter depends on whether she can uncover a message buried deep below the ocean’s surface. Kiss River’s historic nineteenth-century lighthouse has all but fallen into the sea, taking with it the huge Fresnel lens that once served as its beacon. Gina is desperate to find a way to raise the lens; the glass holds the key to her future, her fortune and her only chance to save the one person who matters to her. Clay O’Neill lives in the old light keeper’s house, a home he shares with his sister, Lacey. When Lacey invites her to stay with them, Gina eagerly accepts. As Gina begins her quest to raise the lens, Clay finds himself drawn to her struggle, and to Gina herself. But the answers lie deep below the ocean. And the lighthouse holds secrets that neither Clay nor Gina can anticipate….

Her Mother’s Shadow (Synopsis)
Visiting the O’Neill family once again in the haunting setting of Kiss River, Her Mother’s Shadow tells the story of the adult Lacey O’Neill as she’s thrust into the role of mother before she’s had a chance to truly grow up herself. Annie…A loving mother and wife, Annie O’Neill was the heart of the small community of Kiss River. But her generous nature hid a darker side that remained secret for years after her tragic death. Lacey…When Lacey O’Neill finally learns the shattering truth about the mother she’s spent a decade emulating, the foundation of her life begins to crumble. Then her close childhood friend dies, leaving her teenage daughter, Mackenzie, in Lacey’s care, and Lacey unwillingly finds herself in the role of mother. Mackenzie…Uprooted by her mother’s death, Mackenzie resents her new home of Kiss River. She wants nothing to do with the father who never knew she existed—and especially not her mother’s oldest friend. But the person who could understand her best might be the one she resents most: Lacey.

So, I hope I have peaked your interest in these terrific mysteries.  Now just pick up a copy of these books, or download them to your e-reader, and enjoy a great read!

Have you ever read a novel by Diane Chamberlain?  If you have, I’d love to hear which was your favorite.

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The Friday Night Knitting Club

To continue with my summer book reviews, here’s my next pick…

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (click here for synopsis)

I’m not sure why I usually end up reading books that are part of a trilogy or series, but I seem to be drawn to them.  This next book that I am recommending is by Kate Jacobs, the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club, and its sequels, Knit Two, and Knit the Season. I’ve had the pleasure of reading all three books, and I recommend you read them in order.

Here’s an excerpt from Google Books:  It starts almost by accident: the women who buy their knitting needles and wool from Georgia’s store linger for advice, for a coffee, for a chat and before they know it, every Friday night is knitting night. As the needles clack, and the garments grow, the conversation moves on from patterns and yarn to life, love and everything. These women are of different ages and backgrounds, and face different problems, but they are drawn together by threads of affection that prove as durable as the sweaters they knit.

FNKCCollage

I guarantee you’ll really enjoy these books, so as usual, pickup a copy or download it to your e-reader, and enjoy a great summer read!

What have you been reading this summer?