Friday, June 30, 2017

Wait For The Rain & Bridges - Reviews & Giveaway

Reviews by Darcie Czajkowski

Wait for the Rain by Maria Murnane
When Daphne White looks in the mirror, she hardly recognizes her reflection. The dreams she had for her life when she was fresh out of college didn’t pan out as she’d planned. She dreamed of marriage, motherhood, and a career as a writer. While she did get married, she is now divorced, and her ex-husband is about to remarry. Meanwhile, Daphne hasn’t been out on a single date since they split up two years ago. Daphne is also a mother to Emma, but her teenage daughter needs her less than ever these days. And her career? Well, that was pushed to the way side years ago to allow her to devote her time and attention to raising her daughter.

Daphne hasn’t seen her college best friends, KC and Skylar, in a decade. Somewhere along the way of marriage and motherhood, Daphne stopped making the effort to keep in touch. But with her fortieth birthday on the horizon and Emma away with her father, Daphne has the perfect reason to celebrate and no excuse not to get away.

But relaxing on the beach isn’t so easy for Daphne. Her relationships with her friends feel stilted after so many years apart, and Daphne doesn’t know how to open up to them. She fears what they will think of her once they find out that the woman they used to know doesn’t exist. She fears that they will be disappointed in her. And the disappointment Daphne feels in herself is enough of a burden on her shoulders.

Will the magic of Saint Mirika be enough to inject hope into Daphne’s life? Will Daphne be able to summon the courage to share her struggle with her friends? Will she be able to rekindle the motivation inside of herself to pursue her career goal of becoming a writer?

In Wait for the Rain, Maria Murnane explores the value of friendship during difficult times. Everyone needs a support system; that’s what helps us to endure the lows that we all experience. Murnane brings to life common feelings associated with divorce, remarriage, and reentering the dating world. She also raises a poignant question: What do we do – or should we do – when our lives don’t turn out as we expect? Whether you’re turning forty, dealing with a major life change or upheaval, or struggling to reconcile your life vision with reality, Wait for the Rain is a story that will resonate with you.

Purchase the book at:
Amazon * Barnes&Noble

Bridges by Maria Murnane
Daphne, Skylar, and KC are back together again in Bridges, the sequel to Wait for the Rain. A lot has changed for these women: Chronic dater Skylar is engaged. Daphne has written a novel. And KC has become a (step)grandmother. Now, the Three Musketeers are back together again in New York to celebrate Skylar’s engagement and help her find the perfect wedding dress.

But, of course, life is never that simple, especially when it comes to these ladies. Normally spunky KC appears tired and withdrawn. Daphne has been rejected by most of the agents she’s submitted her manuscript to. And Skylar is struggling to connect with her soon-to-be stepdaughter.

Will the weekend be a disaster? Will these women be driven apart at a time that should be celebratory? Or will the women find a sense of peace in their respective challenges and a reason to appreciate every phase of life, happy or sad, easy or difficult?

Consistent with Wait for the Rain, Bridges takes the reader on a relatable journey and addresses challenges that most of us face: envying the life of a successful friend, wondering if we will ever find “The One,” and feeling defeated in the pursuit of a goal. This novel encourages the reader to go after what matters most to her in life, to dream big, to never give up, and to never settle for anything less than fireworks. If you enjoy bubbly, breezy stories with happily-ever-afters, then Bridges should be on your summer reading list.

Purchase the book at:
Amazon * Barnes&Noble

About the author:
The way Maria became an author is a little crazy. She quit her PR job and went to Argentina by herself for what was supposed to be a two-week trip. Instead, she ended up staying for a year to play soccer for one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world (River Plate). While down there she also decided to write a humorous novel called Perfect on Paper based on her experiences as a single woman in San Francisco. Fast forward a few years, and she’s now the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series (Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly), as well as International Book Award winner Cassidy LaneKatwalkWait for the Rain, and Bridges.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beach House for Rent - Pub Day Giveaway

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.

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About the author:
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer GirlsThe Summer WindThe Summer’s End, Last Light Over CarolinaTime Is a RiverSweetgrassSkywardThe Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina.
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Beach House For Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Identicals - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

Review by Melinda Garza
Elin Hilderbrand's latest novel, The Identicals, features identical twins, Harper and Tabitha. The story goes back and forth between two islands, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Harper and Tabitha are identical twins but are so different and live two very different lives. When their parents divorced, they played rock, paper, scissors to see which daughter went with which parent.  Harper won and chose to go with their dad, Billy Frost, in which Tabitha was very upset about. Tabitha had to live with their mother, Eleanor Roxie Frost (ERF). Tabitha has not been able to forgive Harper for choosing to go with Billy and she having to live with her mom.

Harper and Billy lived on Martha's Vineyard. At 73 years old, Billy dies. His doctor, Dr. Zimmer, is Harper's lover.  Dr. Zimmer is also married to Sadie. She owns The Upper Crust. The night of Billy's death, Harper and Dr. Zimmer (Reed) decide to meet and Sadie catches them.  The whole island is talking about their love affair. Harper also has another boyfriend by the name of Drew. She isn't really into him as he is someone she dates in order to make Reed jealous.

Harper has to contact her mother and sister when Billy dies in order to notify them of his death and services. Meanwhile, Tabitha and Eleanor live in Nantucket which is a fancy upscale haven for billionaires. Eleanor is a woman of refinement and owns a clothing store. Tabitha had no real youth as she became pregnant as a young woman. Due to living with Eleanor, Tabitha has adopted her mom's taste, is snobby and uptight, and lives in Eleanor’s shadow. She works for her mom at her shop. Tabitha later becomes pregnant with a 2nd child who was born prematurely. Her first born is named Ainsley and is a wild rebellious teenager who hates her mom and is selfish. Tabitha was having a difficult time adjusting and taking care of her kids shortly after her son was born and released from the hospital so Harper went to help. On the last night of her stay, Harper insists Tabitha and she go out for a fun night. That very night, Tabitha's newborn son dies.  Tabitha blames Harper. If Harper had not insisted they go out she would have been home and might have prevented his sudden death. They, unfortunately, haven't spoken in 14 years since that tragic night.

When Tabitha, Eleanor, and Ainsley attend Billy's services, drama occurs so they leave early. Upon arriving home, Eleanor falls and breaks her hip. Tabitha goes with Eleanor to the hospital but Ainsley continues to give Tabitha trouble. Harper goes to help out with Ainsley despite Tabitha not wanting anything to do with her or her help. Tabitha then decides to go take care of Billy's home despite Harper wanting to sell it as is. Basically, they switch lives and islands.

Are Harper and Tabitha able to reconcile?  Are they able to overcome their bitterness with each other and love each other again?  Are they able to help each other out with Ainsley, Eleanor's store, and Billy's home?  What happens with Harper and Reed?  What about Tabitha - is she able to find love again, forgive, accept her past, and be the mother she wants to be to Ainsley?

Elin Hilderbrand wrote this page turning novel with lots of twists and surprises. It is a great summer read about an unforgettable summer that will change the identical twins forever. I could not put this book down even while on my own beach vacation. This is a definite must read.

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About the author:
Elin Hilderbrand is six minutes older than her twin brother, Eric. She spent time on Martha's Vineyard (summer 1989) before she ever discovered Nantucket (summer 1993), the island she has called home for twenty-four years. Hilderbrand is the mother of three busy teenagers (pause and consider what a miracle it is that this novel even exists). The Identicals is her nineteenth novel.

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The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Summer Dance - Giveaway

When Liam Tate was seven years old, his uncle Cooper opened his heart and his Nantucket home to him. In the intervening decades, Liam has found both love and loss on the island, and since learning of his son Levi’s existence, a new kind of happiness. Yet one piece of his family history remains elusive—the long-ago romance between his uncle and Sally Adams. Now Sally has a revelation that sets the whole town abuzz: She’s publishing a book about what happened during the summer when she and Cooper first met, painting a picture so vivid it feels like yesterday . . .

In 1969, Winston Ellis Cooper III lands on Nantucket with only a duffel bag and a bottle of Jack Daniels. He finds a sparsely furnished beach cottage, about as far from Vietnam as he can get. But even here, Cooper can’t withdraw from the world entirely. Especially once his eyes meet Sally’s in the flickering lights of a summer dance. The effects of that fiery affair can still be felt decades later. And as the story unfolds, there are new lessons for all to learn about life’s triumphs and heartaches, and about loving enough to let go.

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About the author:
Nan Rossiter was born in Mount Vernon, New York. She grew up in Pelham, New York, and in Barkhamsted, Connecticut. From a young age she loved to draw. After high school, she attended Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a BFA in illustration.
After working in the freelance field and creating art for internationally recognized companies such as Viking, MasterCard, and UPS, Nan began writing and illustrating books for children. She is the author-illustrator of several children’s books, including, most recently, The Fo’c’sle: Henry Beston’s "Outermost House".
Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband and two handsome sons. When she’s not working, she enjoys hiking with her family or reading a good book. 

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A print copy of Summer Dance by Nan Rossiter

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Good Widow - Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Today was the last day of school before summer vacation for elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales. An exciting day, to be sure. But in the grand scheme of things, it is really just another day in Jacks’ life ─an ordinary day, really.  She goes home and, as she does multiple times each day, calls her sister, Beth, to regale her with funny stories from her day. Still chatting with Beth, there’s a knock on her door, and Jacks finds two police officers waiting on the other side. And her day isn’t ordinary any more.

First, they tell Jacks that James, her husband of eight years, has been killed in a car accident in Maui. Yeah, that’s seriously bad, collapse-on-the-floor shocking bad news. Wait. Did the officer say Maui? James was away on business, yes, but in Kansas.

“Are you sure it’s my husband, James?”  “Yes, Ma’am.”

“And the accident was in Maui?”  “Yes, Ma’am. And, um, he wasn’t alone.”

Jacks is still trying to grasp that she is now a widow, but even harder still, to comprehend the other stunning information ─James was having an affair?  He was in Maui with her? His last days, his last minutes on this earth were with her? ─when there’s another knock on her door.   The man identifies himself as Nick Ford, the fiancĂ© of Dylan Matthews, the woman with James in Maui, the second victim in that fatal car accident.

Nick says he wants more information and his idea for getting it is to go to Maui, to retrace the steps that James and Dylan took.  He’s thinking that Jacks must feel the same way, and he’s hoping that Jacks will go with him. Jacks’ first reaction is that he’s crazy!  This idea is crazy!  It is, right?  Seriously, she doesn’t even know this man!

But Jacks’ desire to be where James was in his last moments, to learn what she can about this woman he was with when he died, and to (hopefully) get some closure wins out.  Is closure actually possible, given what she knows, what she doesn’t know? Can she trust Nick, a man she just met? One way to find out: Jacks and Nick are off to Maui.

In The Good Widow authors Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke start the novel right off with the problem. In truth, Jacks has two problems: sudden widowhood and James’ mistress. Then the journey ─surely a painful and heartbreakingly difficult one for Jacks and Nick ─begins.  The journey to get answers, to find the truth. The journey to understand. The journey to reach the other side of tragedy and grief.  

So sad, I know, but we’re going to Maui (if only through the pages of this book)! As we, along with Jacks and Nick, follow the itinerary that James and Dylan took, we meet people who remember ‘friends’ James and Dylan.  With each observation or conversation that is disclosed, more and more pieces of the puzzle are added.

Fenton and Steinke do a wonderful job of moving The Good Widow forward in present time, but also taking us back into the past to fill in the before story. Just when I thought I knew where the future was going, something from the past would come to light to surprise me.  I very much enjoyed the Maui site-seeing adventures, but the unfolding drama of Jacks’ and Nick’s exploration really kept me turning the pages.

Think you got it all figured out?  Maybe, but maybe not! You’ll only know for sure if you read the book. And you do want to read The Good Widow!

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About the authors:
Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke are the authors of the forthcoming suspense novel, The Good Widow, to be published by Lake Union on June 1, 2017. You can pre-order it here! Liz and Lisa have been best friends for over 25 years.  They created this website to celebrate books women (and men!) love and to have a place to talk shit about reality TV stars.  They have also published three novels with Simon & Schuster/Atria Books. Your Perfect Life is a hilarious and heartwarming story of two childhood best friends who switch bodies at their twenty-year high school reunion. The Status of All Things, is a cautionary tale of a woman who realizes she can change the course of her entire life by what she writes in her Facebook status. And The Year We Turned Forty follows three women who get the chance to relive the year they turned forty, a year they each made decisions that altered the course of their lives.  But a lot happened before their first publishing deal…

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Goldberg McDuffie is giving
2 lucky winners a print copy of
The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

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