Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman ~ My Thoughts and an Excerpt #TheHeirloomGarden #NetGalley


The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman 
ISBN: 9781525804618
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: Graydon House

In this heartwarming and feel-good novel filled with echoes of Dorothea Benton Frank, Debbie Macomber and Elizabeth Berg, two women separated by a generation but equally scarred by war find hope, meaning – and each other – through a garden of heirloom flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to loneliness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind a towering fence surrounding her home and gardens, the former botanist has built a new family...of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to an heirloom garden filled with starts – and memories – of her own mother, grandmother, husband and daughter.

When Abby Peterson moves to Grand Haven, Michigan, with her family – a husband traumatized during his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability – they find themselves next door to Iris, and are slowly drawn into her reclusive neighbour's life where, united by loss and a love of flowers, Iris and Abby slowly unearth their secrets to each other. Eventually, the two teach one another that the earth grounds us all, gardens are a grand healer, and as flowers bloom so do our hopes and dreams.

Purchase The Heirloom Garden

My thoughts about The Heirloom Garden ~~

(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—"Late summer, 1944 – We are an army, too. I stop, lean against my hoe and watch the other women working the earth."

Viola Shipman is one of my must-read authors. I just know when I start one of her books, that I am going to be swept away into another world, a world full of memories and love. Her recent book focuses on gardens, flowers, and the memories tied to those flowers. 

The Heirloom Garden spans two time periods, between the 1940's and present day. When Abby and her family move in next to Iris, a woman who has been a recluse for many years, the garden provides a source of healing for everyone. 

I enjoyed the story immensely and I learned so much about the history and beauty of flowers and how important they are to some people. I love the idea of an heirloom garden, full of flowers from people from your past. They are so meaningful when there are memories attached to them. 

I loved The Heirloom Garden and I highly recommend it. It definitely gets 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 from me!

I received a copy of The Heirloom Garden via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion. 





We are an army, too.

I stop, lean against my hoe and watch the other women working the earth. We are all dressed in the same outfits—overalls and sunhats—all in uniforms just like our husbands and sons overseas.

Fighting for the same cause, just in different ways.

A soft summer breeze wafts down Lake Avenue in Grand Haven, Michigan, gently rustling rows of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beets and peas. I analyze my tiny plot of earth at the end of my boots in our neighborhood’s little Victory Garden, admiring the simple beauty of the red arteries running through the Swiss chard’s bright green leaves and the kale-like leaves sprouting from the bulbs of kohlrabi. I smile with satisfaction at their bounty and my own ingenuity. I had suggested our little Victory Garden utilize these vegetables, since they are easy-to-grow staples.

“Easier to grow without weeds.” 

I look up, and Betty Wiggins is standing before me.

If you put a gray wig on Winston Churchill, I think, you’d have Betty Wiggins, the self-appointed commander of our Victory Garden.

“Just thinking,” I say.

“You can do that at home,” she says with a frown.

I pick up my hoe and dig at a weed. “Yes, Betty.”

She stares at me, before eyeing the front of my overalls. “Nice rose,” Betty says, her frown drooping even farther. “Do we think we’re Vivien Leigh today?”

“No, ma’am,” I say. “Just wanted to lift my spirits.”

“Lift them at home,” she says, a glower on her face. Her eyes stop on the hyacinth brooch I have pinned on my overalls and then move ever so slowly to the Bakelite daisy earrings on my earlobes.

I look at Betty, hoping she might understand I need to be enveloped by things that make me feel safe, happy and warm, but she walks away with a “Hrumph!”

I hear stifled laughter. I look over to see my friend Shirley mimicking Betty’s ample behind and lumbering gait. The women around her titter.

“Do we think we’re Vivien Leigh today?” Shirley mimics in Betty’s baritone. “She wishes.”

“Stop it,” I say.

“It’s true, Iris,” Shirley continues in a Shakespearian whisper. “The back ends of the horses in Gone with the Wind are prettier than Betty.”

“She’s right,” I say. “I’m not paying enough attention today.”

I suddenly grab the rose I had plucked from my garden this morning and tucked into the front pocket of my overalls, and I toss it into the air. Shirley leaps, stomping a tomato plant in front of her, and grabs the rose midair.

“Stop it,” she says. “Don’t you listen to her.”

She sniffs the rose before tucking the peach-colored petals into my pocket again. 

“Nice catch,” I say.

“Remember?” Shirley asks with a wink.

The sunlight glints through leaves and limbs of the thick oaks and pretty sugar maples that line the small plot that once served as our cottage association’s baseball diamond in our beachfront park. I am standing roughly where third base used to be, the place I first locked eyes with my husband, Jonathan. He had caught a towering pop fly right in front of the makeshift bleachers and tossed it to me after making the catch.

“Wasn’t the sunlight that blinded me,” he had said with a wink. “It was your beauty.”

I thought he was full of beans, but Shirley gave him my number. I was home from college at Michigan State for the summer, he was still in high school, and the last thing I needed was a boyfriend, much less one younger than I was. But I can still remember his face in the sunlight, his perfect skin and a light fuzz on his cheeks that were the color of a summer peach.

In the light, soft white floaties dance in the air like miniature clouds. I follow their flight. My daughter, Mary, is holding a handful of dandelions and blowing their seeds into the air.

For one brief moment, my mind is as clear as the sky. There is no war, only summer, and a little girl playing.

“You know more about plants than anybody here,” Shirley continues, knocking me from my thoughts. “You should be in charge here, not Betty. You’re the one that had us grow all these strange plants.”

“Flowers,” I say. “Not plants. My specialty is really flowers.”

“Oh, don’t be such a fuddy-duddy, Iris,” Shirley says. “You’re the only woman I know who went to college. You should be using that flower degree.”

“It’s botany. Actually, plant biology with a specialty in botanical gardens and nurseries,” I say. I stop, feeling guilty. “I need to be at home,” I say, changing course. “I need to be here.”

Shirley stops hoeing and looks at me, her eyes blazing. She glances around to ensure the coast is clear and then whispers, “Snap your cap, Iris. I know you think that’s what you should be saying and doing, but we all know better.” She stares at me for a long time. “The war will be over soon. These war gardens will go away, too. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Use your brain. That’s why God gave it to you.” She grins. “I mean, your own garden looks like a lab experiment.” She stops and laughs. “You’re not only wearing one of your own flowers, you’re even named after one! It’s in your genes.”

I smile. Shirley is right. I have been obsessed with flowers for as long as I can remember. My Grandma Myrtle was a gifted gardener as was my mom, Violet. I had wanted to name my own daughter after a flower to keep that legacy, but that seemed downright crazy to most folks. We lived next door to Grandma in cottages with adjoining gardens for years, houses my grandfather and father worked themselves to an early grave to pay off, and now they were all gone, and I rented my grandma’s house to a family whose son was in the coast guard.

But my garden was now filled with their legacy. Nearly every perennial I possessed originally began in my mom and grandma’s gardens. My grandma taught me to garden on her little piece of heaven in Highland Park overlooking Lake Michigan. And much of my childhood was spent with my mom and grandma in their cottage gardens, the daylilies and bee balm towering over my head. When it got too hot, I would lie on the cool ground in the middle of my grandma’s woodland hydrangeas, my back pressed against her old black mutt, Midnight, and we’d listen to the bees and hummingbirds buzzing overhead. My grandma would grab my leg when I was fast asleep and pretend that I was a weed she was plucking. “That’s why you have to weed,” she’d say with a laugh, tugging on my ankle as I giggled. “They’ll pop up anywhere.”

My mom and I would walk her gardens, and she’d always say the same thing as she watered and weeded, deadheaded and cut flowers for arrangements. “The world is filled with too much ugliness—death, war, poverty, people just being plain mean to one another. But these flowers remind us there’s beauty all around us, if we just slow down to nurture and appreciate it.”

Grandma Myrtle would take her pruners and point around her gardens. “Just look around, Iris. The daisies remind you to be happy. The hydrangeas inspire us to be colorful. The lilacs urge us to breathe deeply. The pansies reflect our own images back at us. The hollyhocks show us how to stand tall in this world. And the roses—oh, the roses!—they prove that beauty is always present even amongst the thorns.”

The perfumed scent of the rose in my pocket lingers in front of my nose, and I pluck it free and raise it to my eyes.

My beautiful Jonathan rose.

I’d been unable to sleep the past few years or so, and—to keep my mind occupied—I’d been hybridizing roses and daylilies, cross-pollinating different varieties, experimenting to get new colors or lusher foliage. I had read about a peace rose that was to be introduced in America—a rose to celebrate the Nazis leaving France, which was just occurring—and I sought to re-create my own version to celebrate my husband’s return home. It was a beautiful mix of white, pink, yellow and red roses, which had resulted in a perfect peach.

I remember Jon again, as a young man, before war, and I try to refocus my mind on the little patch of Victory Garden before me, willing myself not to cry. My mind wanders yet again to my own.

My home garden is marked by stakes of my experiments, flags denoting what flowers I have mixed with others. And Shirley says my dining room looks like the hosiery aisle at Woolworths. Since the war, no one throws anything away, so I use my old nylons to capture my flowers’ seeds. I tie them around my daylily stalks and after they bloom, I break off the stem, capture and count the seeds, which I plant in my little greenhouse. I track how many grow. If I’m pleased with a result, I continue. If I’m not, I give them away to my neighbors.

I fill my Big Chief tablets like a banker fills his ledger:

1943-Yellow Crosses

Little Bo Beep = June Bug x Beautiful Morning

(12 seeds/5 planted)

Purple Plum = Magnifique x Moon over Zanadu

(8 seeds/4 planted)

I shut my eyes and can see my daylilies and roses in bloom. Shirley once asked me how I had the patience to wait three years to see how many of my lilies actually bloomed. I looked at her and said, “Hope.”

And it’s true: we have no idea how things are going to turn out. All we can do is hope that something beautiful will spring to life at any time.

I open my eyes and look at Shirley. She is right about the war. She is right about my life. But that life seems like a world away, just like my husband.

“Mommy! Mommy!”

Mary races up, holding her handful of dandelions with white tops.

“What do you have?” I ask.

“Just a bunch of weeds.”

I stop, lean against my hoe and look at my daughter. In the summer sunlight, her eyes are the same violet color as Elizabeth Taylor’s in National Velvet.

“Those aren’t weeds,” I say.

“Yes, they are!” Mary says. She puts her hands on her hips. With her father gone, she has become a different person. She is openly defiant and much too independent for a girl of six. “Teacher said so.”

I lean down until I’m in front of her face. “Technically, yes, 

but we can’t just label something that easily.” I take a dandelion from her hand. “What color are these when they bloom?”

“Yellow,” she says.

“And what do you do with them?” I ask.

“I make chains out of them, I put them in my hair, I tuck them behind my ears…” she says, her excitement making her sound out of breath.

“Exactly,” I say. “And what do we do with them now, after they’ve bloomed?”

“Make wishes,” she says. Mary holds up her bouquet of dandelions and blows as hard as she can, sending white floaties into the air.

“What did you wish for?” I ask.

“That Daddy would come home today,” she says.

“Good wish,” I say. “Want to help me garden?”

“I don’t want to get my hands dirty!”

“But you were just on the ground playing with your friends,” I say. “Ring-around-the-rosy.”

Mary puts her hands on her hips.

“Mrs. Roosevelt has a Victory Garden,” I say.

She looks at me and stands even taller, hooking her thumbs behind the straps of her overalls, which are just like mine.

“I don’t want to get dirty,” she says again.

“Don’t you want to do it for your father?” I ask. “He’s at war, keeping us safe. This Victory Garden is helping to feed our neighbors.”

Mary leans toward me, her eyes blazing. “War is dumb.” She stops. “Gardens are dumb.” She stops. I know she wants to say something she will regret, but she is considering her options. Then she glares at me and yells, “Fathead!”

Before I can react, Mary takes off, sprinting across the lot, jumping over plants as if she’s a hurdler. “Mary!” I yell. “Come back here!”

“She’s a handful,” Shirley clucks. “Reminds me of someone.” 

“Gee, thanks,” I say.

Mary rejoins her friends, jumping back into the circle to play ring-around-the-rosy, turning around to look at me on occasion, her violet eyes already filled with remorse.


A pocket full of posies,

Ashes! Ashes!

We all fall down.

“I hate that game,” I say to Shirley. “It’s about the plague.”

I return to hoeing, lost in the dirt, moving in sync with my army of gardeners, when I hear, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

I look up, and Mary is before me, her chin quivering, lashes wet, fat tears vibrating in the rims of her eyes. “I didn’t mean to call you a fathead. I didn’t mean to get into a rhubarb with you.”

Fathead. Rhubarb. Where is she picking up this language already?

From behind her back, she produces another bouquet of dandelions that have gone to seed.

“I accept your apology,” I say. “Thank you.”

“Make a wish,” she says.

I shut my eyes and blow. As I inhale, the scent of my Jonathan rose fills my senses. The rumble of a car engine shatters the silence. A door slams, followed by another, and I open my eyes. The silhouettes of two men appear on the perimeter of the field, as foreboding as the old oaks. I notice the wind suddenly calm and the plants stop rustling at the exact same moment all of the women stop working. A curious hum begins to build as the men walk with a purpose between the rows of plants. The women lean away from the men as they approach, almost as if the wind had regained momentum. Row by row, each woman drops her hoe and shuts her eyes, mouthing a silent prayer.

Please not me. Please not me.

The footsteps grow closer. I shut my eyes. 

Please not me. Please not me.

When I open them, our minister is standing before me, a man beside him, both of their faces solemn.

“Iris,” Rev. Doolan says softly.

“Ma’am,” the other man says, holding out a Western Union telegram.

The world begins to spin. Shirley appears at my side, and she wraps her arms around me.

Mrs. Maynard,

The Secretary of War desires me to express his deepest regrets that your husband, First Lieutenant Jonathan Maynard, has been killed…

“No!” Shirley shouts. “Iris! Somebody help!”

The last thing I see before I fall to the ground are a million white puffs of dandelion floating in the air, the wind carrying them toward heaven.

Excerpted from The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman, Copyright © 2020 by Viola Shipman. Published by Graydon House Books.


About the author

Viola Shipman is the pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother's name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his writing. Rouse is the author of The Summer Cottage, as well as The Charm Bracelet and The Hope Chest which have been translated into more than a dozen languages and become international bestsellers.

He lives in Saugatuck, Michigan and Palm Springs, California, and has written for People, Coastal Living, Good Housekeeping, and Taste of Home, along with other publications, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Release Day! Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey ~ My Thoughts #FeelsLikeFalling #TallPoppy #NetGalley

Happy Release Day!!


Congrats Kristy
on the release today of
Feels Like Falling!

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Print and ebook, 400 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Gallery Books

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand) and the bestselling author of the Peachtree Bluff series comes an odd-couple tale of friendship that asks just how much our past choices define our happiness.

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her extremist husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger, Diana Harrington, fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a worn-out Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn. But when her first love returns, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.

Parade’s 20 Most Anticipated Books of Early 2020
SheKnows’ 10 of the Most Anticipated Books Coming in 2020
Mary Kay Andrews’ Reading Challenge Women’s Fiction Pick
Working Mother’s 20 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 for Working Moms

Purchase Feels Like Falling

My thoughts about Feels Like Falling ~~

(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 lines.)

First line—"I had always been a planner."

I fell in love with Kristy's stories after reading her very first book and I've been a huge fan of hers ever since. I always look forward to reading her newest....and now here it is!

Feels Like Falling is a captivating tale of two very different women, two people who have absolutely nothing in common. Well, other than the fact that they are both struggling and have no one else to lean on. As their unlikely friendship unfolds, we get to watch them learn what is really important, and who they can really rely on.

Kristy's stories just keep getting better and better with each book she writes. I am so excited for her and the release of Feels Like Falling. This is the perfect beach-read book for this summer, even if you don't make it to the beach. Pick it up. Read it. I promise you won't be disappointed—you're going to love it, just like I did!

I received an ARC of Feels Like Falling from the author and this is my honest opinion.



About the author

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the bestselling author of Dear Carolina, Lies and Other Acts of Love, Slightly South of Simple, The Secret to Southern Charm, and The Southern Side of Paradise. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing, a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, her work has been optioned for film and her books have received numerous accolades.

Harvey is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism and holds a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, Domino, Our State and O. Henry. She has been seen in, Women’s Health,The Washington Post, US News and World Report, The Huffington Post,Marie Claire’s The Fix, Woman’s World, Readers’ Digest, Bustle, New York Live and North Carolina Bookwatch, among others.

She is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, serves on the board of Beaufort Historical Association, and is a member of the University of North Carolina’s Women’s Leadership Council. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, book conferences and private events. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and seven-year-old son where she is working on her next novel. ~ Goodreads

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Release Day! Go for Love by Laura Chapman ~ My Thoughts #GoForLove

Happy Release Day! 

Congratulations Laura
on the release today of
Go For Love!

Go for Love by Laura Chapman
Go for Love series, book #1
103 pages
Publication Date: April 28, 2020

Tech start-up darling Sarah Burton is branching out with a new company aimed at connecting adventurous professionals with overseas companies—like grown-up study abroad. When a glitch threatens her launch, only one person can help.

Beck Spencer swore he’d never give his ex-girlfriend another chance to break his heart. But with his own business in need of cash, and the big money she's offering, he can’t say no. To taking her on as a client or falling for her all over again.

Despite their attempts to keep it professional, the spark between Sarah and Beck reignites hotter than ever. Is this their second chance at true love? Or will the differences that drove them apart keep them from being together?

Go for Love is a standalone romantic comedy series about strong women looking for adventure and finding surprise romance around the world and the men who join them along the way. Go for Love is a prequel novella—no cliffhanger.

My thoughts about Go for Love ~~

(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—"Spending a few days without the Internet wouldn't kill Sarah Burton. But it just might bury her career six feet under. She could practically read the tombstone."

I always know when I start a Laura Chapman story that I'm going to be able to escape the 'real world' for a little while and start an exciting, fun adventure. Go for Love is all that, and more. Her stories always feel so real to me, with characters who I'd want as friends.

This was a quick read—a sweet, entertaining novella that is kicking off a new series for Laura, promising more fun and oodles of adventures. I can't wait! Check it out!! 

Go for Love
Book #2 releasing on May 26!

About the author

Laura  Chapman

Laura Chapman is the author of sweet and sexy romantic comedies, including Playing House, The Marrying Type, the Queen of the League series, and other stories. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. ~ Goodreads

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Release Day! The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman #TheHeirloomGarden

Happy Release Day!


Congratulations Viola
on the release today of
The Heirloom Garden!

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman
Print and e-book, 448 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Graydon House

In her inimitable style, Viola Shipman explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose…and flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

With delightful illustrations and fascinating detail, Viola Shipman’s heartwarming story will charm readers while resonating with issues that are so relevant today.


About the author

Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, the internationally bestselling author of nine books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose his grandmother's name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction.

Wade's novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope Chest; and The Recipe Box. NYT bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank says of Wade and his latest novel, The Summer Cottage: "Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters. Viola Shipman is that voice and The Summer Cottage is that novel.


Dear Reader:

Does your garden tell a story? Mine does. And it’s the inspiration behind my new novel, The Heirloom Garden, which explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose … and flowers.

My grandma was a grand gardener, and many of her original flowers (like her perfumed peonies!) now live in my garden. Each has a memory that reminds me of family. If you love multigenerational sagas filled with hope and history (this explores WWII Victory Gardens, and 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of WWII’s end), love to garden or just love books and flowers, The Heirloom Garden is the spring “pick” for you!

I consider The Heirloom Garden to be my richest, deepest, and most moving work to date. It explores how loss and loneliness affect us, how we cope and – too often – how we don’t. As an author, I always start my novels notwith an heirloom in mind, or certain character, but a question. In this novel, my questions were, “What makes us isolate ourselves from the world? And what gives us hope?” In the novel, two women scarred by war – World War II and the Iraq War – are united by loss and a love of flowers. In my case, much of the pain I explore in the novel is real: My brother died when he was just 17, still a child in so many ways, and his loss had a profound impact on me and my family. How we healed, how we came together, how we found faith – and each other – again is a huge part of this novel.

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II (on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered, with documents signed on the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on September 2, officially ending the war). In addition, The Heirloom Garden also explores the history of Victory Gardens and their importance in America and World War II. Thousands of gardens were started in cities, large and small, all across America – women leading the charge – and they helped feed their own families and communities as well as our troops and allies. Today’s resurgence of urban and community gardens is a legacy of those Victory Gardens.

Like my previous book, The Summer Cottage – which was the #1 bestselling novel in Michigan last year – I am honored to be able to write novels that are inspired by my grandmothers’ and mom’s heirlooms, lives, lessons and love. The multigenerational family sagas I write are meant to serve as a universal tribute to our elders, whose stories and sacrifices helped shape us and make us the people we are today. And in these turbulent times, my novels are meant to remind us what matters most in life. It is readers like you who constantly remind me what matters most. Thank you for your support, and I truly hope you love The Heirloom Garden. ~ Goodreads

For more about the author, please visit Wade Rouse’s official website

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Monday, April 27, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? April 27, 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!


Week 7—We got an email from work late Friday afternoon informing us that we will not be coming back to work on May 15 like originally planned. We will continue to work remotely until May 31. And who knows after that? But...... this will not affect me after the 21st because (drum roll, please) I am RETIRING effective May 21!!

This is something I have been thinking about and planning for, for awhile now. Hubs has been retired for 6 years already and and I had a milestone birthday last week so we figured it was time. [Pop over to my birthday post and leave a comment to enter my birthday giveaway!] We had plans to do some traveling right away but that will be put on hold for now. I will say, it'll be nice to have the summer off, even if we can't go anywhere. More reading time for me!!
Take care. 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

Hello, Summer
Hello, Summer
by Mary Kay Andrews
Pub date 5/5

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by Michelle Obama
Narrated by Michelle Obama

What I recently finished

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Go for Love
by Laura Chapman
Book #1 of a fun, upcoming series.
Pub date 4/28

The Heirloom Garden: A Novel
by Viola Shipman
Pub date 4/28
My thoughts will be posted on Wednesday.

What I am going to read next

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The Library of Legends
by Janie Chang
Pub date 5/12

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?


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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Book Spotlight #Giveaway! Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf #OurSoulsAtNight

Our Souls at Night

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.

This author has a special place in the heart of my sister and she made him a special author to me. She is a veterinarian in Colorado and was Kent's vet when he was still alive so she got to know him very well. She sent me his books over the years and I have read quite a few of them. I especially love his Plainsong series. 

I ended up with two copies of this book so wanted to share it with one of you!


Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

Our Souls at Night

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Vintage

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf's fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have long been aware of each other, if not exactly friends; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife. His daughter, Holly, lives hours away in Colorado Springs; her son, Gene, even farther away in Grand Junction. What Addie has come to ask—since she and Louis have been living alone for so long in houses now empty of family, and the nights are so terribly lonely—is whether he might be willing to spend them with her, in her bed, so they can have someone to talk with.

Louis is surprised, even shocked, that she would've thought of him, though he soon is brave enough to try, impressed by the courage of her proposal. And so their lives now find a new rhythm and their conversations range freely, if sometimes haltingly, through their personal histories: his work as a high school English teacher; the loss of her teenage daughter, and the harm this did to her marriage as well as their son; his brief affair, as a young husband and father, which Addie had heard about; their youthful aspirations and middle-age disappointments and compromises; the joy both feel in at last being able to express the woof and weave of their experiences. This unusual arrangement, as Addie predicted, provokes local comment, and then the disapproval of their children, and their nightly pattern is further disrupted when her son, whose wife has departed for California, asks Addie to take in his six-year-old son, Jamie, for the summer while he tries to solve his various troubles.

Jamie is confused and hurt, of course, but gradually finds comfort in the company of his grandmother and her friend Louis, neither of whom has spent much time with kids in years but in turn learn how to all over again. Teaching the boy to play catch. Adopting a dog from the local shelter. A camping trip in the mountains, a trip to the county fair, simple pleasures that are a hallmark of Haruf's fiction. As are the things that jeopardize them, from the death of a mutual friend to family tensions that suddenly test Addie and Louis's ability to withstand them. And the subtle denouement then sweeps both of these amazing people forward—heartbreakingly, hearteningly into the unknown. 

About the author

Kent Haruf

Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, a hospital in Arizona, a library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, and universities in Nebraska and Illinois.

Haruf is the author of Plainsong, which received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction, and The New Yorker Book Award. Plainsong was also a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award. His novel, The Tie That Binds, received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the Pen/Hemingway Foundation. In 2006, Haruf was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

All of his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Holt is loosely based on Yuma, Colorado, an early residence of Haruf in the 1980s.

Haruf lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado, with their three daughters. He died of cancer on November 30, 2014. ~ Goodreads


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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Book Blitz! Perfection by Kitty Thomas ~ an Excerpt and a #Giveaway!


Perfection by Kitty Thomas
Publication date: April 8th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Romance

Everyone thought I was married to the perfect man. But if Conall Walsh were perfect, I wouldn’t have killed him.

I thought I got away with it until I received an anonymous note at the ballet company I dance for:

You were a very bad girl. If you don’t want me to report what I know about last night, meet me at the old opera house after rehearsal. I will tell you the price of my silence when you arrive. If you speak of this or bring anyone with you… no deal.

But his price isn’t money. It’s me.

This is a standalone contemporary dark romance.

Purchase Perfection




There’s a crackling sound and then a booming male voice magnified over a speaker.

“I neither need nor want your money, Ms. Lane” It’s a smooth, rich baritone. But I can’t tell if the voice belongs to someone old or young. And I don’t recognize it.

“Do you know he beat me? He threatened to kill me. What was I supposed to do? He practically owned this city. Do you know how much power he had? What other choice did I have?” I shout into the mostly empty theater.

“Do you know how much power I have?” he counters.

Obviously a lot if he can get into this building and have electricity running in it. “I don’t deserve prison,” I say.

“Murder is a serious crime.” His tone is similar to the one you’d hear in the principal’s office after being caught vandalizing a dumpster behind the school.

“Please…” I feel the hysteria bubbling over as my gaze continues to dart around the cavernous theater, trying to find where he’s hiding, what perch he observes me from. “Please…” I say again… “You said you’d tell me your price. How much? Please. I’ll pay you anything.”

“No, Ms. Lane. Not money. I have plenty of that. The price of my silence is your obedience.”

The stillness that follows this announcement is so complete you could hear a pin drop on the black dance tarp. What the hell does that mean?

“Empty out your dance bag in the center of the stage and spread out all the contents,” he says.

I freeze at that. There’s a gun in my dance bag. I’m not that stupid, that I’d just go meet some mysterious blackmailer without going home to get a weapon first. I mean, come on.

“I want to remind you that we aren’t in a 1940’s noir film. I have a phone on me at all times, and I will use it to report you if you hesitate again.”

I take a deep breath. My hands are visibly shaking as I empty out the dance bag, arranging the contents, carefully concealing the gun in a dance sweater.

“What are you hiding from me?” the voice asks again.

I look around the otherwise empty theater, trying desperately to find the source of that voice.


“Do you want to go to prison, Cassia?”

His use of my first name startles me. It feels too familiar in spite of everything.

The voice continues. “No. Lies. I want to see what you’re hiding.”

I don’t know how I thought I would get away with this. Did I think he’d just show up and confront me in some straight forward face-to-face way? Did I think he’d let me see him? Did I think I’d have a clear shot, and he’d just stand politely still while I put a bullet in him?

What the hell was I thinking?

“Last chance to save yourself,” he says, his patience running out.

I feel like I’ll hyperventilate as I unwrap the gun from the sweater and lay it out on the brightly lit stage. I flinch and look around me as if he’ll somehow swoop down, materialize on top of me, and rip me apart for daring to try to defend myself.

He chuckles. “Were you planning to build a body count? Gotten a taste for it, have you?”

“N-no,” I stammer.

“No, Sir,” he corrects. “I expect a basic level of formality and etiquette when we’re in this space together.”

Everything inside me freezes at this. When we’re in this space together.


About the author

Kitty Thomas writes dark stories that play with power and have unconventional HEAs. She began publishing in early 2010 with her bestselling Comfort Food and is considered one of the original authors of the dark romance subgenre.

To find out first when a new book comes out, subscribe to Kitty's New Release List:

Connect with Kitty


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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It's My Birthday ~ Here's a #Giveaway to Celebrate! [CLOSED]

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today, April 22nd is my birthday!

Yep, another year has come and gone. 
And I'm another year older. 

I love celebrating birthdays and I want to party with you! And ... I'm going to give one of you a present.

Congratulations to Jean! She's the winner of my birthday giveaway! Jean, an email has been sent. 

Thank you all for stopping by. I love all of your comments and I had a wonderful birthday. 

Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you, in case you're the winner.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Release Day! Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier ~ My Thoughts #LittleSecrets #NetGalley

Happy Release Day!!

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Congrats Jennifer
on the release today of
Little Secrets!

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
Print and e-book, 352 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Minotaur Books

From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.

Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado's four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he's rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn't her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he'll be the last. She's falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek's lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek. 


My thoughts about Little Secrets ~~

(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—"Pike Place Market is a tourist trap on a regular day."

Little Secrets is full of secrets, both big and small. This book is amazing and in this time of unease, when I've been having trouble concentrating on reading, this story and the lives of these people captured my attention and kept me spellbound. I was hooked from the heart-wrenching first chapter. So intense!  

I loved this book and all of the drama and secrets. Jennifer is a new author to me but I've already got more of her books on my TBR list. I love her dark and twisty mind, er stories. I highly recommend Little Secrets if you like to read edge-of-your-seat, page turners that you can't put down. 

I received a copy of Little Secrets via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion. 

About the author

Jennifer Hillier

Jennifer Hillier writes about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things. Born and raised in Toronto and a proud Canadian, she spent eight years in the Seattle area, which is where all her books are set.

She loves her son, her husband, the Seahawks, and Stephen King. Not equally, but close. She's the author of six novels, including Jar of Hearts, which won the Thriller Award, and was shortlisted for the Anthony and Macavity Awards.

Her newest psychological thriller, Little Secrets, will be out on April 21, 2020 from Minotaur Books.

Learn more about her at ~ Goodreads

Connect with Jennifer

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


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