Monday, March 30, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? March 30, 2020


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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Well, we are starting week 3 of our new 'normal'. I'm getting assigned more 'work from home projects', which is a good thing, it gives me more structure. I am finding that it is still hard to focus on reading so I only got one book read this week. Hopefully this will improve as our new way of life settles down. So, how are you doing?

Stay safe and healthy everyone.
And remember to wash those hands!!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a good week. Happy reading!

What I'm currently reading

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Stories We Never Told
by Sonja Yoerg

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Verity
by Colleen Hoover
Narrated by Vanessa Johansson and Amy Landon

What I recently finished

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The Book of Lost Friends
by Lisa Wingate

What I am going to read next

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The Trinket Box
by Katheryn Ragle
Thought I would grab something off of my TBR pile instead of a review book.

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Book Blitz! Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard ~ Excerpt and a #Giveaway! #KeepForever



Keep Forever



Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 28th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction


“Unlike some war stories that focus on intense, harsh and graphic depictions of post-combat trauma, this tale unfolds gently, like an Edna Ferber novel, spread across many decades, detailing the impact this soldier’s illness has on an entire family, including children and grandchildren. Keep Forever is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying read that I highly recommend.”Gary Seigel, author of Haskell Himself

Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice.

Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school. At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight. The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother. Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home.

A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul. Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades.

After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.

Inspired By A True Story


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Excerpt

“Anything you can give me for this headache?” Paul clenched his teeth, hoping to reduce the lightning bolts behind his eyes. He tried to remember how delicious it felt to be pain-free.

“We’ll get you something.” Dr. Shapiro turned to his nurse. “I’m ordering a mild sedative for Paul so we can remove the shrapnel. When we’re done, find him a spot in the ward and—”

Paul interrupted. “I have a friend who was wounded. I think he was on the chopper with me. Do you know if Sam Sutton is here?” He looked at the doctor for reassurance.

Dr. Shapiro knew who Paul was talking about. He laid a hand on Paul’s arm. “He just got out of surgery. I’ll see if I can get him a bed next to you once the anesthesia has worn off.”

“Will he be okay?”

“Yes, we treated his hand.” That’s all Doctor Shapiro would share with Paul. He stood up and moved to the next patient in line. Paul struggled to prop himself against the wall, comforted only by a small pillow for his head and a thin blanket to minimize the shaking he couldn’t repress. He surveyed the scene that unfolded before him and waited for Sam to join him. The room was filled with muffled groans from dozens of young men, many in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, mutilated limbs, and grotesque facial wounds that replaced the once handsome, strong, vigorous appearance of youth. Some

screamed in agony as young nurses did their best to scrub lacerations and change dressings, while others lay silent with nothing more than a vacant, faraway look.

Paul watched a trim and confident nurse, her chestnut hair securely pulled away from her face in a tight bun that showed off her high cheek bones and almond-shaped eyes—rich, like the color of chocolate. She wrapped the final piece of clean gauze around the head of a distressed young soldier and whispered something in his ear. Whatever she had said appeared to relieve his agitation as a slight smile crossed his face and he surrendered his broken body to sleep.

The nurse walked over to Paul, pulled up a chair, and introduced herself. “Hello. My name’s Diane. Feeling okay? Any pain? It’s almost time for another dose of medication.” Amidst all the suffering, she smiled and waited for Paul’s response.

“Hey, hi, I mean hello, Diane. My name’s Paul. Waiting for my friend, Sam Sutton. Doc said they would bring him out soon. Ya know if his hand’s okay?” He hoped Diane might have more information about Sam’s condition, but she politely excused herself as she rushed to meet two medics entering with Sam, still groggy from surgery. They inched closer to Paul and the empty cot next to his. Diane’s gentle hand guided the corpsmen as they lifted Sam from the stretcher to make his transition to his bed as comfortable as possible.

Paul gasped aloud. He couldn’t help it. There was no way to silence the sound that rose from his throat when he saw his friend beside him, his right hand thick with bandages, wrapped as if to protect something that was no longer there. Paul slowly brought his hands to his face and felt the layers of soft bandages, only his eyes, nose, and mouth exposed. His head pulsated and his face felt tight and swollen. With crystal clarity, his mind flashed back to the instant when his life, when Sam’s life, were forever changed. His body tensed with the memory—the sounds, the heat, the explosions, the cries for help, and the smell of death all around them. He choked back tears and resolved to remain stoic and grateful that his wounds would soon be invisible. Unlike Sam, he had escaped a lifetime of disfigurement and the constant reminder of his brush with death.

Diane hovered over Sam as he stirred. She had played this part too many times the last nine months, soothing traumatized young men, convincing them that everything

would be just fine, even though it was not always the truth. She knew he would need a voice of reassurance when he realized where he was and the severity of his injuries. Sam’s eyelids fluttered. He tried to focus on his surroundings and take in the foul odor and musty smell of the tent, lined from one end to the other with broken bodies. The stench of disinfectant, humidity, and soiled linens stuck to the canvas walls of the makeshift hospital like glue, and he swallowed hard to prevent the nausea from taking hold of his body. Sam rolled his head to one side and looked at Paul, who appeared composed, determined, and calm.

“You made it, buddy. We made it,” whispered Paul.

About the author


Alexa Kingaard was born in San Diego, CA and has lived most of her life in the area. She currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.

Her debut novel, Keep Forever, was inspired by her late ex-husband who batted the residual effects of the Vietnam War for decades after his return. The burden he brought home is shared by combat veterans of all conflicts, and her fictional account highlights the collateral damage encountered by family members and loved ones living with PTSD in their midst.

Her second novel, My Name is Rose, departs from her personal experiences and focuses on the collective memories of her generation. She loves writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.

Connect with Alexa
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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Book Spotlight #Giveaway! Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood #BornWicked

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I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves, to share some of the many books I have, and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.


Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

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Born Wicked

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1
Hardcover, 330 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile 

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.


About the author

Jessica Spotswood

Jess is the author of the historical fantasy trilogy The Cahill Witch Chronicles and the contemporary novels Wild Swans and The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls. She is the editor of the anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats and The Radical Element, and co-editor (with Tess Sharpe) of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft. Jess lives in Washington, DC, where she works for the DC Public Library as a children’s library associate. She is a feminist and a Hufflepuff.  ~ Goodreads

Connect with Jessica


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Thursday, March 26, 2020

On Tour! The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb ~ Excerpt #TheDarknessWeHide


The Darkness We Hide


The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb
ISBN: 9780778309475
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books

In the thrilling conclusion to The Undertaker’s Daughter series, The Darkness We Hide, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face for so long, she’s willing to meet it for the secrets it holds. Death has followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling into a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending it once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear.

Purchase The Darkness We Hide


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Excerpt

One

Winchester, Tennessee
Monday, March 9, 7:35 a.m.

Rowan DuPont parked on the southeast side of the downtown square. The county courthouse sat smack in the middle of Winchester with streets forming a grid around it. Shops, including a vintage movie theater, revitalized over the past few years by local artisans lined the sidewalks. Something Rowan loved most about her hometown were the beautiful old trees that still stood above all else. So often the trees were the first things to go when towns received a face-lift. Not in Winchester. The entire square had been refreshed and the majestic old trees still stood.
This morning the promise of spring was impossible to miss. Blooms and leaves sprouted from every bare limb. This was her favorite time of year. A new beginning. Anything could happen.
Rowan sighed. Funny how being back in Winchester had come to mean so much to her these past several months. As a teenager she couldn’t wait to get away from home. Growing up in a funeral home had made her different from the other kids. She was the daughter of the undertaker, a curiosity. At twelve tragedy had struck and she’d lost her twin sister and her mother within months of each other. The painful events had driven her to the very edge. By the time she finished high school, she was beyond ready for a change of scenery. Despite having spent more than twenty years living in the big city hiding from the memories of home and a dozen of those two decades working with Nashville’s Metro Police Department—in Homicide, no less—she had been forced to see that there was no running away. No hiding from the secrets of her past.
There were too many secrets, too many lies, to be ignored.
Yet, despite all that had happened the first eighteen years of her life, she was immensely glad to be back home.
If only the most painful part of her time in Nashville—serial killer Julian Addington—hadn’t followed her home and wreaked havoc those first months after her return.
Rowan took a breath and emerged from her SUV. The morning air was brisk and fresh. More glimpses of spring’s impending arrival showed in pots overflowing with tulips, daffodils and crocuses. Those same early bloomers dotted the landscape beds all around the square. It was a new year and she was very grateful to have the previous year behind her.
She might not be able to change the past, but she could forge a different future and she intended to do exactly that.
Closing the door, she smiled as she thought of the way Billy had winked at her as he’d left this morning. He’d settled that cowboy hat onto his handsome head, flashed that sexy smile and winked, leaving her heart fluttering. Four months ago he’d moved into the funeral home with her. The one-hundred-fifty-year-old three-story house didn’t feel nearly so lonely now. She and Billy had been friends most of their lives and, in truth, she had been attracted to him since she was thirteen or fourteen. But she’d never expected a romantic relationship to evolve. Billy Brannigan was a hometown hero. The chief of police and probably the most eligible bachelor in all of Franklin County. He could have his pick of any of the single women around town. Rowan hadn’t expected to be his choice.
She had always been too work-oriented to bother with long-term relationships. Too busy for dating on a regular basis.
Billy had made her want long-term. He made her believe anything was possible, even moving beyond her tragic past.
The whole town was speculating on when the wedding invitations would go out. Rowan hadn’t even considered the possibility. This place where she and Billy were was comfortable. It felt good. Particularly since fate had given them a break the past four months. No trouble beyond the regular, everyday sort. No calls or notes from Julian. No unexplained bodies turning up. And no serial killers had appeared looking for Rowan.
Life was strangely calm and oddly normal.
She would never say as much to Billy, but it was just a little terrifying. The worry that any day, any moment, the next bad thing would happen stalked her every waking moment. Somehow she managed to keep that worry on the back burner. But it was there, waiting for an opportunity to seep into her present.
“Not today,” she said aloud.
Today was important. She and Burt Johnston, the county coroner, had breakfast on Monday mornings. She locked her vehicle and started for the sidewalk. The Corner Diner was a lunch staple in Winchester. Had been since the end of the Great Depression. Attorneys and judges who had court often frequented the place for lunch. Most anyone who was someone in the area could be found at the diner. More deals and gossip happened here than in the mayor’s office.
But breakfast with the coroner wasn’t the only event that made this day so important.
Today she intended to offer her assistant, Charlotte Kinsley, a promotion and a part-ownership in the funeral home. Since there were no more DuPonts—Rowan had no children and couldn’t say if that would ever happen—she needed to bring someone into the family business. Someone younger who could carry on the DuPont legacy.
Rowan paused outside the diner. The iron bench that sat beneath the plate glass window was empty. Surprise furrowed her brow. Burt usually waited there for her. She surveyed the cars lining the sidewalks as far as the eye could see. No sign of Burt’s. He was never late but there was always a first time. After all, he wasn’t exactly a young man anymore.
She sank down onto the bench, dug her cell phone from her bag and sent him a text. She was the one who generally kept him waiting and he never once complained. She certainly wasn’t going to do so. His car was a little on the vintage side as well. Maybe he had car trouble this morning. Worry gnawed at her. A dead battery or a flat tire. Surely he would have called her.
“Morning, Rowan.”
She glanced up, smiling automatically. Lance Kirby, one of the attorneys who was not fortunate enough to have an office on the square. The ones who had been around a lifetime held on to that highly sought-after real estate. The others, like Kirby, waited patiently for someone to retire or to die. Meanwhile they showed up for coffee in this highly visible location bright and early every morning.
“Good morning, Lance.”
Kirby was a couple of years older than her. He’d lived in Winchester his entire life other than the years he spent at college and law school. He was divorced and had three kids. He’d asked Rowan out to dinner on several occasions. She hoped he didn’t ask again this morning. Coming up with an excuse to turn him down was becoming tedious. Surely he was aware that she and Billy were a couple now.
The idea startled her a little. This was the first time in her life that she was half of a couple in the truest sense of the word.
“If you’re waiting for Burt, he’s parked around back. Every spot around the square was taken before seven this morning.” Kirby reached for the door. “People have come early hoping for a chance to get into the Winters trial. Everyone wants to hear the story on that family.”
Rowan had been reading about the trial for weeks in the Winchester Gazette. “That explains why I had to circle around for a while before I found a spot.” She’d forgotten about the small parking area in the back alley behind the diner. “Thanks for telling me. I was worried he’d stood me up.”
Kirby laughed. “I don’t think any man still breathing would stand you up, Rowan.”
She glanced at her cell phone as if it had vibrated. “Oops. I have to take this.”
The instant she set the phone to her ear, Kirby went on inside the diner, the bell over the door jingling to announce his entrance.
Thank goodness.
For appearances’ sake she kept the phone to her ear a half a minute, then put it away. To pass the time she counted the yellow daffodils brimming in the rock planter built around the tree at the edge of the sidewalk. Those lovely yellow flowers were coming up all around the funeral home, too. Her mother had loved gardening. Early-spring blooms were already bursting all over the yard. Maybe her mother had hoped to chase away some of the gloom associated with living in a funeral home.
Since her father’s death, Rowan had hired a gardener. Somehow her father had managed to keep her mother’s extensive gardens alive and thriving for all those years. Rowan did not have a green thumb at all. She had killed every plant she’d ever tried to nurture. She was not going to be the one who dropped the ball on the family garden.
She glanced up then down the sidewalk. Still no sign of Burt. With a sigh, she pushed to her feet. Maybe he was on the phone, which would explain why he hadn’t answered her text. Rather than keep waiting, she cut through the narrow side alley to the small rear parking lot. With his taillights facing the back of the diner, Burt’s white sedan was nosed up to the bank that faced North Jefferson Street.
Rowan quickened her pace and walked up to the driver’s side of his car. Burt sat behind the steering wheel, staring out the windshield.
For a moment Rowan waited for him to glance over and see her but he didn’t move. Whether it was the lax expression on his face or some deep-rooted instinct, she abruptly understood that he was dead.
She tugged at the door handle. Thankfully it opened. Her heart pounding, she bent down. No matter that her brain was telling her he was already gone, she asked, “Burt, you okay?”
Her fingers went instantly to his carotid artery.
Nothing.
Rowan snatched her cell from her bag and called 911. She requested an ambulance and the chief of police, then she laid the phone on the ground and reached into the car and pulled Burt from his seat. She grunted with the effort of stretching him out on the pavement. On her knees next to him, she pressed her ear to his chest. No heartbeat. She held her cheek close to his lips. No breath.
Rowan started CPR.
The voice from the speaker of her cell phone confirmed that the ambulance was en route. She informed the dispatcher that she’d started CPR.
Rowan continued the compressions, her eyes burning with emotion. Burt was her friend. She had been gone from Winchester for a very long time and he had made her feel as if she’d never left. She did not want him to die. Other than Billy, he was the person she felt closest to. The voice of logic reminded her that Burt was just two months shy of his eightieth birthday.
She ignored the voice and focused on the chest compressions. “Come on, Burt. Don’t you die on me.”
Facial color was still good. Skin was still warm. He couldn’t have been in this condition for long. Hope attempted to make an appearance. But it was short-lived. Even a few minutes could be too many.
Damn it!
The approaching sirens drove home the realization that this was all too real.

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About the author


Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra's love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at www.DebraWebb.com or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.

Connect with Debra


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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Every Summer by Joanne DeMaio ~ My Thoughts #EverySummer

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Every Summer

Every Summer by Joanne DeMaio
Series: The Seaside Saga #10
Print and e-book, 306 pages
March 3, 2020 by Joanne DeMaio

From New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio comes a novel of one unforgettable week at the shore -- during a summer that changes everything.

Every summer has a story. That couldn't be more true for Jason and Maris Barlow, the Bradford brothers, soon-to-be innkeepers Elsa and Celia, and the rest of The Seaside Saga cast. But this particular summer is leaving its mark on the New England beach town of Stony Point. As lone lobsterman Shane settles in for another week at his rented bungalow by the sea, emotional tides turn. Relationships come unmoored; secret love affairs surface; family bonds are tested.

So head under the trestle, walk the cottage-lined streets, sit on the sandy boardwalk, and spend Every Summer with your favorite beach friends. They're waiting for you.


My thoughts about Every Summer ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Every Summer, the sea has cast a sweet spell on Maris' life."

I just love this Seaside Saga series and am always excited for my next visit back to Stony Point. Every Summer picks up where the previous book ended and we are dropped back into the lives Jason, Maris, Shane, Celia, Elsa and all the rest. It's like visiting with old friends again. 

This story is a little more fraught with tension and drama than others in the past, as couples try to figure out their lives and as brothers try to reconcile a divide of fifteen years. It was definitely a page turner as I wanted to make sure everyone was going to be okay, and happy. 

And then..... the reader is left with not everything being resolved and not everyone in a happy place. I really need the next book! Luckily Joanne's next book is coming out in May so I don't have long to wait. I love my visits to Stony Point and can't wait to go back again soon. 

I received a copy of Every Summer from the author and this is my honest opinion.

About the author

Joanne DeMaio

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Currently at work on her next novel, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

For a complete list of books and to learn more about the author, visit Joannedemaio.com. She also enjoys hearing from readers on her Facebook Page.

Connect with Joanne


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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Book Blitz! After All by Heidi McLaughlin ~ Excerpt and a #Giveaway! #AfterAll


After All



After All by Heidi McLaughlin
Publication date: March 24th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary


From New York Times bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin comes a heartfelt story about overcoming great loss and forgiving past sins to find happiness again.

Brooklyn Hewett hasn’t stepped foot in Cape Harbor for fifteen years—not since an accident claimed the love of her life, Austin Woods. Desperate to move forward, Brooklyn has focused on raising her daughter for the past fourteen years. But when the opportunity comes along to renovate, and possibly buy, the old Driftwood Inn, Brooklyn knows it’s time to go home.

But it won’t be easy. For one, Austin’s best friend, Bowie Holmes, still lives in Cape Harbor. Brooklyn hasn’t quite been able to forget him: not since the night they spent together—the same night they both lost Austin. Separated by tragedy and guilt, they’re brought together by the Driftwood project. And as they rebuild the inn, they discover they’re also rebuilding something else.

Brooklyn’s always been desperate to move on, not knowing that she first needs to reconcile past transgressions. She can’t forget, but she can forgive—Austin, Bowie, and herself—on her way toward long-awaited happiness.


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Excerpt

Instead of heading straight to the Driftwood Inn, Brooklyn detoured and drove down Third Street. This was the only town she had ever lived in or visited that hadn’t had a Main Street. It was such a random thing she picked up on when she and her parents moved here years ago. She never understood why until she learned that when the town incorporated, the people counted the streets up from the harbor, numbering instead of naming, with First Street being the closest to the water.

Curiosity filled her. For years she had not asked questions about her favorite spots, mostly to avoid the feeling of being homesick, but also so she could forget. The less she knew, the better. The less she longed to return, the easier it would be to create a new life. That was what she needed to do: start over, put the past behind her, and move on.

At the red light, she closed her eyes. It only took her seconds to tell Carly she would come back, even though, deep down, it wasn’t what she wanted to do. Yet, she owed the woman and could never tell her no. Brooklyn was content with the life she was living. She was one of the most sought-after home renovators, with homeowners paying her top dollar to come to them, to transform their visions into their dream homes. Her job afforded her many luxuries, except roots. She didn’t rent a home, let alone own one. Each town became her stomping ground, until the next job came in. She traveled thousands of miles, back and forth across the country, leaving her mark everywhere she went.

About the author


Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.

Originally, from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband, two daughters, and their three dogs.

In 2012, Heidi turned her passion for reading into a full-fledged literary career, writing over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Forever My Girl.

When writing isn't occupying her time, you can find her sitting courtside at either of her daughters' basketball games.

Heidi's first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe, and opened in theaters on January 19, 2018, and is now available on DVD & Digital.

Connect with Heidi


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Monday, March 23, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? March 23, 2020


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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Well, here we are in our new 'normal' - staying home as much as possible, working from home when I can, not going out, and missing being together with my family so, so much! Thank goodness we can FaceTime! I try to get out to take a walk every day, weather permitting (we're still getting snow!) and it seems so eerie with hardly anyone out on the streets. The governor said yesterday that our state (South Dakota) is trending to peak in cases by May into June. UGH! Unbelievable.

My thought when this all started about 2 weeks ago was 'Great, a little time off from work - think of all the books I can get read.' Well, that's not happening. I'm finding it hard to get into a book and am easily distracted by the news and checking for updates on the situation. Is this happening to you? Any tips for me to get past this? I really want to enjoy all the books on my TBR stack.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.
And remember to wash those hands!!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a good week. Happy reading!

What I'm currently reading

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The Book of Lost Friends
by Lisa Wingate

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Verity
by Colleen Hoover
Narrated by Vanessa Johansson and Amy Landon

What I recently finished

Every Summer
Every Summer
(The Seaside Saga #10)
by Joanne DeMaio
My thoughts will be posted on Wednesday

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A Good Neighborhood
by Therese Anne Fowler
Great story! Read my thoughts HERE.
And enter my giveaway HERE.

What I am going to read next

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Stories We Never Told
by Sonja Yoerg
Huge fan of this author!

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Book Spotlight #Giveaway! A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler #AGoodNeighborhood

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I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the many books I have and give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.

I recently read the book I'm offering this week and posted my thoughts here. This is a great story that I am excited to pass on to someone else so they have a chance to read it as well. 


Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

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A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
ARC, 279 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by St. Martin's Press

In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he's made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn't want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie's yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don't see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.


About the author

Therese Anne Fowler

Therese Anne Fowler (pronounced ta-reece) is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author whose novels present intriguing people in difficult situations, many of those situations deriving from the pressures and expectations of their cultures as well as from their families.

Her books are available in every format and in multiple languages, and are sold around the world. Z has been adapted for television by Amazon Studios. A Well-Behaved Woman is in development with Sony Pictures Television.

Therese earned a BA in sociology and cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from North Carolina State University. She has been a visiting professor and occasionally teaches fiction writing at conferences and workshops. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she is married to award-winning professor and author John Kessel. They reside in North Carolina. ~ Author's website

Connect with Therese


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Friday, March 20, 2020

And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton ~ My Thoughts #AndTheyCalledItCamelot #NetGalley

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And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton
Print and e-book, 448 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Berkley

An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…

Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.

But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.


My thoughts about And They Called It Camelot ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"The pink pillbox hat and Chanel-inspired bouclĂ© suit awaited her on the bed."

I, like a lot of other people, am very enamored with the Kennedy's, the idea of Camelot, and in particular, Jackie. And They Called It Camelot was an excellent account, albeit fictionalized, of the life of Jackie, Jack, and the rest of the Kennedy family.

I remember where I was and what I was doing when President Kennedy was shot. That event totally took over our lives and we obsessed to know everything about them, sitting glued to our TVs for days. This story took me back to that riveting time and let me take a step into Jackie's life to better understand her, her relationships, her family, and her loves.

This is a very well written novel that delved into the life of Jackie O. I'm in awe of the research that the author had to have done to write such an interesting accounting of her life and the times. I highly recommend And They Called It Camelot.

I received an ARC of And They Called It Camelot from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.

About the author

Stephanie  Thornton

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska.

American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt is available now and her next book, And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis will hit the shelves March 2020. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Stephanie


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Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler ~ My Thoughts #AGoodNeighborhood

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A Good Neighborhood
 by Therese Anne Fowler

Print and e-book, 279 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by St. Martin's Press

In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he's made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn't want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie's yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don't see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.


My thoughts about A Good Neighborhood ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"A upscale new house in a simple old neighborhood. A girl on a chaise beside a swimming pool, who wants to left alone."

Therese Anne Fowler is a new-to-me author, although I do have other books of her's on my TBR list. A Good Neighborhood is a very well written book that I found myself engrossed in. It was bit difficult to read at times, just for the fact that it does cover some of the injustices that are happening for real in our world now. The ending was not what I was expecting but I guess we can't always have that HEA ending in life that we want, right?

The story is full of interesting characters, some very likable, and some not so much. There were times I just wanted to shake some of them to wake them up to what was happening in their lives and to their loved ones. I feel that's a good thing when an author can stir up such strong emotions in me. I enjoyed this story and the author's writing. I will definitely be reading more books by her.

I received an ARC of A Good Neighborhood from the publisher via Goodreads and this is my honest opinion of the book.

About the author

Therese Anne Fowler

Therese Anne Fowler (pronounced ta-reece) is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author whose novels present intriguing people in difficult situations, many of those situations deriving from the pressures and expectations of their cultures as well as from their families.

Her books are available in every format and in multiple languages, and are sold around the world. Z has been adapted for television by Amazon Studios. A Well-Behaved Woman is in development with Sony Pictures Television.

Therese earned a BA in sociology and cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from North Carolina State University. She has been a visiting professor and occasionally teaches fiction writing at conferences and workshops. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she is married to award-winning professor and author John Kessel. They reside in North Carolina. ~ Author's website

Connect with Therese


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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Release Day! Under the Apple Blossoms by Deanna Lynn Sletten ~ My Thoughts #UnderTheAppleBlossoms

Happy Release Day!!

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Congrats Deanna
on the release today of
Under the Apple Blossoms!

Under the Apple Blossoms: A Lake Harriet Novel by Deanna Lynn Sletten
A Lake Harriet Novel (Book 4)
Paperback and e-book: 262 pages
Published March 17th 2020 by Deanna Lynn Sletten

Sometimes the only one standing in the way of your happiness is you.

Debbie Adams has never thought of herself as beautiful or witty. Her short, curvy stature has always made her feel self-conscious. As the owner of Deb’s Bridal Boutique near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Debbie runs the business she’d inherited after her mother’s death. But owning a bridal shop has never been her dream—it had been her mother’s. And as the years go by, Debbie sees friends and neighbors pairing off and building a future while her life remains stagnant. Then, one March day, frantic to get in shape before a friend’s wedding, Debbie forces herself to go biking. As she rides along the icy lake path, she’s startled by a runner and slips and falls. Regaining her bearings, she looks up into a pair of warm, brown eyes and the most handsome face she’s ever seen. Could this tall, extremely fit, and good-looking man be her destiny?

Marc Bennett’s life is amazing. He owns a chain of fitness centers around the Twin Cities and lives in a beautiful mansion that overlooks Lake Harriet. The only thing missing from his life is a wonderful woman to share it with. Not that he’s lacking in applicants for the position. He’s a handsome man with a warm, caring personality and women flock to him. But at thirty-six, he’s had the shallow relationships and he’s not in a hurry to commit to anyone. Then one crisp, spring day, as he’s running the lake path with his dog, Bernie, he literally crashes into a woman on a bike. As he attempts to help her up, he finds himself looking into the most beautiful pair of blue eyes. Eyes he can’t seem to get out of his mind.

   

My thoughts about Under the Apple Blossoms ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Debbie Adam's leg muscles strained as she pedaled her bicycle through her neighborhood toward the trails at Lake Harriet."

I love all the books in this Lake Harriet series, but I really think that Under the Apple Blossoms is my favorite..... so far. My trip to Lake Harriet this time was so much fun. I just loved this story!

Debbie and Marc run into each other, literally, in the park as she takes a tumble from her bike. You just know that things are going to heat up from there.

I immediately felt connected to Debbie for some reason. Maybe because we're both on the short side, both lacking in self-confidence when it comes to our bodies. Maybe? But for some reason, I liked her from the start.

And I enjoyed watching a true friendship develop between Debbie and Marc as he settles into a new community, a place that had plenty of beautiful women who would love to become friendly with him.

The Lake Harriet stories are filled with loving, kind, and comfortable characters, people you would love to know and hang out with on a regular basis. I can't wait to see who Deanna introduces us to in the next story. And each book has a dog or two, important characters who play vital roles in each story. 

Under the Apple Blossoms is book #4 in the Lake Harriet series but it definitely can be read as a standalone. All the characters are intertwined through the books so it always feels like meeting up with old friends again. I absolutely love my visits to Lake Harriet and love that each new book introduces me to new people... and another dog.

Give the Lake Harriet books a try, I know you are going to love the people, and the dogs, as much as I do. Start with Under The Apple Blossoms—you'll love it as much as I did.

I received a copy of Under the Apple Blossoms from the author and this is my honest opinion. 

Check out the rest of the Lake Harriet stories on Amazon

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Read my thoughts about these 3 books herehere and here.

Click on the covers to find them on Goodreads

About the author

Deanna Lynn Sletten

Deanna Lynn Sletten is the author of Maggie's Turn, Finding Libbie, One Wrong Turn, Miss Etta, and several other titles. She writes heartwarming women's fiction and romance novels with unforgettable characters. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime. Deanna believes in fate, destiny, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, and happily ever after, and her novels reflect that.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing on the lake in the summer.

Deanna loves hearing from her readers. 
Connect with her here—

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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