Happy Pub Day – September 27

Happy Pub Day to these authors!

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong

An Indiscreet Princess by Georgie Blalock

Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy

Before We Were Sorry by Kit Frick

Miss Peregrine’s Museum of Wonders by Ransom Riggs

Spells for Lost Things by Jenna Evans Welch

Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

Lark and Kasim Start a Resolution by Kacen Callender

Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast

Forestfall by Lyndall Clipstone

Secrets So Deep by Ginny Myers Sain

Creep by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

Forest Hills Bootleg Society by Dave Baker and Nicole Goux

Next in Line by Jeffrey Archer

Where We End and Begin by Jane Igharo

Jacqueline in Paris by Ann Mah

Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

We Spread by Iain Reid

Is There Bacon in Heaven? by Ali Hassan

It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames

What books are you most excited for this week?

Blog Tour Excerpt: Summer on the Island

Title: Summer on the Island
Author: Brenda Novak
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Mira Books
Release Date: April 5, 2022

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A summer of healing, friendship, love…and a secret that could change everything.

After the death of her US senator father, Marlow Madsen travels to the small island off the coast of Florida where she spent summers growing up to help her mother settle the family estate. For Marlow, the trip is a chance to reconnect after too long apart. It’s also the perfect escape to help her feel grounded again — one she’s happy to share with friends Aida and Claire, who are hoping to hit reset on their lives, too.

A leisurely beachfront summer promises the trio of women the opportunity to take deep healing breaths and explore new paths. But when her father’s will reveals an earth-shattering secret that tarnishes his impeccable reputation and everything she thought she knew about her family, Marlow finds herself questioning her entire childhood — and aspects of her future. Fortunately, her friends, and the most unlikely love interest she could imagine, prove that happiness can be found no matter what — as long as the right people are by your side.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Teach Island looked exactly the same as Marlow Madsen remembered it. Since the entire world had been disrupted by the pandemic, the comfort and familiarity of this place nearly brought tears to her eyes. Part of that was how strongly she associated it with her father. John “Tiller” Madsen, who’d gotten his nickname because of his love for sailing, had died a month ago. But the island had long been his escape from the rat race of Washington, DC, where he’d served as a United States senator for thirty years.

“I can’t believe I’m back. Finally,” Marlow said as she rolled down the passenger window to let in some fresh air.

Part of the archipelago of forty-five hundred islands off the coast of Florida, Teach was only seven square miles. Marlow loved its homey, small-town atmosphere. She also loved its white sand beaches and its motley collection of bars, restaurants, bait-and-tackle stores and gift shops, most of which, at least in the older section where they were now, had kitschy decor. Because the island was named after Edward Teach, or Blackbeard, one of the most famous pirates to operate in this part of the world in the early eighteenth century, there was pirate stuff all over. A black skull-and-crossbones flag hung on a pole in front of the most popular bar, which was made to look like a colonial-era tavern and was named Queen Anne’s Revenge after Blackbeard’s ship.

In addition to the Blackbeard memorabilia, there was the regular sea-themed stuff—large anchors or ship’s wheels stuck in the ground here and there, fishing nets draped from the eaves of stores and cafés, and lobsters, crabs and other ocean creatures painted on wooden or corrugated metal sides. Her parents had a house in Georgia, a true Southern mansion, as well as their condo in Virginia for when her father had to be in Washington. But this was where they’d always spent the summers.

Now that Tiller was gone, her mother was talking about selling the other residences and moving here permanently. Marlow hated the sense of loss that inspired the forever change, but since Seaclusion—her father’s name for the beach house—had always been her favorite of their homes, she was also relieved that her mother planned to keep it. This was the property she hoped to inherit one day; she couldn’t imagine it ever being out of the family. And after what so many people had experienced with the fires in California, where she’d been living since she graduated college, and all the hurricanes in recent years that had plagued Florida, she had reason to be grateful the house was still standing.

“Sounds like you’ve missed the place.” Reese Cantwell, who’d been sent to pick up her and her two friends, had grown even taller since Marlow had seen him last. His hands and feet no longer looked disproportionate to the rest of his body. She remembered that his older brother, Walker, had also reminded her of a pup who hadn’t quite grown into his large paws and wondered what Walker was doing these days.

“It’s a welcome sight for all three of us,” Aida Trahan piped up from the back. “Three months by the sea should change everything.”

Claire Fernandez was also in the back seat, both of them buried beneath the luggage that wouldn’t fit in the trunk. They’d met at LAX and flown into Miami together. “Here’s hoping,” she said. “Even if it doesn’t, I’m looking forward to putting my toes in the water and my butt in the sand.”

“You’ll get plenty of opportunities for that here,” Reese said.

Claire needed the peace and tranquility and a chance to heal. She’d lost her home in the fires that’d ravaged Malibu last August. To say nothing of the other dramas that’d plagued her this past year.

Marlow looked over at their driver. Apparently, since her father’s death, Reese had been helping out around the estate, in addition to teaching tennis at the club. His mother, Rosemary, had been their housekeeper since well before he was born—since before Marlow was even born. Marlow was grateful for the many years of service and loyalty Rosemary had given the family, especially now that Tiller had died. It was wonderful to have someone she trusted watch out for her mother. Eileen had multiple sclerosis, which sometimes made it difficult for her to get around.

“Looks as casual as I was hoping it would be.” Claire also lowered her window as Reese brought them to the far side of the island and closer to the house. Situated on the water, Seaclusion had its own private beach, as well as a three-bedroom guesthouse and a smaller apartment over the garage where Rosemary had lived before moving into the main house after Tiller died so she could be available if Eileen needed anything during the night.

“There are some upscale shops and restaurants where we’re going, if you’re in the mood for spending money,” Marlow told them.

“When have I not been in the mood to shop?” Aida joked.

“You don’t have access to Dutton’s money anymore,” Claire pointed out. “You need to be careful.”

Claire had lost almost everything. She had reason to be cautious. Aida wasn’t in the best situation, either, and yet she shrugged off the concern. “I’ll be okay. I didn’t walk away empty-handed, thanks to my amazing divorce attorney.”

Marlow always felt uncomfortable when Dutton came up, and sometimes couldn’t believe it wasn’t more uncomfortable for them. The way Claire and Aida had met was remarkable, to say the least. It was even more remarkable that they’d managed to become friends. But Marlow twisted around and smiled as though she didn’t feel the sudden tension so she could acknowledge Aida’s compliment. Although Marlow was only thirty-four, she’d been a practicing attorney for ten years. She’d jumped ahead two grades when she was seven, which had enabled her to finish high school early and start college at sixteen. A knack for difficult negotiations had led her to a law degree and from there she’d gone into family law, something that had worked out well for her. Her practice had grown so fast she’d considered hiring another attorney to help with the caseload.

She probably would’ve done that, if not for the pandemic, which had shut down every aspect of her life except work, making her realize that becoming one of the best divorce attorneys in Los Angeles wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. No matter how much money she made, she didn’t enjoy dealing with people who were so deeply upset, and the richer, more famous the client, the more acrimonious the divorce. She hoped she’d never have to wade through another one. If a marriage worked, it could be wonderful. Her parents had proved that. But after what she’d witnessed with other people since passing the bar, she was beginning to believe Tiller and Eileen were the exception.

“All I did was make Dutton play fair,” Marlow said. “But at least you have some money you can use to get by while you decide what to do from here.”

“I liked being a trophy wife,” Aida grumbled. “I’m not sure I’m cut out for anything else.”

Like so many in LA, she’d been an aspiring actress at one time, but her career had never taken off. After she’d married Dutton, she’d spent more time at the tennis club, where she and Marlow had met, than trying out for any auditions.

“Don’t say that,” Marlow told her. “You can do a lot more than look pretty.”

Claire remained conspicuously quiet. She’d been subdued since they left, so subdued that Marlow was beginning to wonder if something was wrong.

“We’ll see.” Aida shrugged off the compliment as readily as she had the warning. “But before I have to make the really hard decisions, I deserve a break. So where’s the expensive part of the island again?”

Reese chuckled. “We’re almost there.”

“We’ll be able to play tennis, too,” Marlow told her. “The club’s only a mile from the house. And Reese is our resident pro.”

“No way! You play tennis?” Aida’s voice revealed her enthusiasm.

“Every day,” he replied.

“Can he beat you?” Aida asked Marlow.

“He was just a kid the last time we played, and he could take me about half the time even then. I doubt he’ll have any problem now.”

“I can see why you talked us out of renting a car,” Claire said, finally entering the conversation. “Considering the size of this place…”

“Like I told you before,” Marlow said, “most people walk or ride a bike.”

“You only need a car if you’re going off island,” Reese chimed in. He was driving them in Eileen’s Tesla.

Marlow was anxious to ask how her mother was doing but decided to hold off. If she questioned him while her friends were in the car, she’d probably get the standard “Fine.” But she wasn’t looking for a perfunctory answer. She wanted the truth. What he’d seen and heard recently. He was the one who’d been here. Marlow hadn’t been able to visit, not even when her father died. Thanks to the pandemic, they hadn’t been able to give him the funeral he deserved, either.

Reese glanced into the rearview mirror. “Are the three of you staying all summer?”

Marlow suspected he was hoping Aida, in particular, would be on the island for a while. Although Aida was thirty-six, fourteen years older than he was, she was a delicate blonde with big blue eyes. The way she dressed and accessorized, she turned heads, especially male heads, wherever she went.

“We are,” Aida said, and the subtle hint of flirtation in her voice told Marlow that she’d picked up on Reese’s interest.

“We have some big decisions to make in the coming months,” Marlow said, hoping to give Reese a hint that this wasn’t the opportunity he might think it was. Aida was on the rebound. She needed to put her life back together, not risk her heart on a summer fling.

“What kind of decisions?” he asked, naturally curious.

Claire answered for her. “Like what we’re going to do from here on. We’re all starting over.”

Reese’s eyebrows shot up as he looked at Marlow. “Meaning…what? You won’t be returning to LA?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I sold my condo and closed my practice before I left, just in case.”

His jaw dropped. “Really? But your mom said you’re one of the most highly sought-after attorneys in Los Angeles.”

No doubt her mother talked about her all the time. She’d heard a few things about Reese’s family, too, including the fact that he hadn’t finished school because he’d let partying come between him and a degree. But Marlow didn’t know Reese that well. She’d spent more time with his much older brother, Walker, when they were growing up. “It’s not that it wasn’t working out. It was. I’m just…done with divorce.”

He turned down the rap music he’d had playing since they got in. “Have you told your mother?”

“Not yet. I was afraid she’d try to talk me out of it. I know it’s sort of crazy to walk away from what I had going. Not many lawyers would do that. But after being quarantined for so long, working with people who almost always behaved their worst, I’m finished suffering through other people’s emotional turmoil.”

“Can’t say as I blame you,” Aida agreed. “I feel so bad about how Dutton treated you.”

Aida’s ex hadn’t just called Marlow names. He’d gotten her cell phone number from Aida, claiming he wanted to negotiate directly, and then proceeded to threaten her on more than one occasion. “We can all be glad Dutton’s out of our lives.”

“Amen,” Aida said, but again Claire said nothing.

They reached the gap in the shrubbery that signaled the beginning of her parents’ drive, and Reese turned into Seaclusion.

“Look at this!” Aida exclaimed. “It’s a whole compound.”

Reese parked in the detached four-car garage. “Welcome home,” he said with a grin.

Marlow had her carry-on with her, but when she went to the trunk to get the rest of her luggage, Reese insisted he’d bring it in.

She thanked him, put her bag down and, eager to see her mother, hurried to the house.

Rosemary was waiting on the stoop, where her mother would normally be. “It’s good to see you, Marlow.”

“Thanks, Rosemary. It’s good to see you, too. Is Mom okay?”

At fifty-five, Rosemary was five years younger than Eileen and tall and thin, like her two sons. They’d gotten their good looks from her—didn’t resemble their father at all, who wasn’t around anymore. Marlow could recall him showing up at the Atlanta house drunk and bellowing for Rosemary to “get her ass home.” It wasn’t any surprise to Marlow that the relationship hadn’t lasted. He’d abandoned the family when Reese was four or five.

“She’s fine. A little tired.” Although Rosemary smiled, she seemed anxious and uptight herself. Was it because of Eileen? Was she worse off than Marlow had been told?

“Is it anything to be concerned about?” Marlow pressed.

“No. She was so excited to see you that she couldn’t sleep last night. That’s all. She’s in her room resting if you want to go in.”

Anxious to reassure herself that nothing more serious was going on, Marlow introduced Aida and Claire to Rosemary, and while Rosemary led them to the guesthouse, where Reese was taking the luggage, Marlow went inside. “Mom?” she called as she moved through the living room.

“In here!” her mother called back.

Marlow’s stomach knotted as she reached the master bedroom and swung the door open wider. It was a beautiful day outside, not a cloud in the sky, yet the shades were drawn, making it dark and cool.

As soon as she reached the bed, she bent to kiss her mother’s paper-thin cheek. “I’m so glad to see you again.”

Eileen’s hands clutched her wrists. “Let me look at you. It’s been too long.”

“Who could’ve guessed a pandemic would come between us? That wasn’t something I even considered when I went so far from home.”

Once her eyes adjusted to the light, Marlow could see that the room hadn’t changed. Her father’s watch glimmered on the dresser, his slippers waited under the side chair and his clothes hung neatly in the closet as though he might walk through the door at any moment. Her mother hadn’t done anything with his personal property. That meant Marlow would have to deal with it, but she was actually grateful Eileen had waited. Touching his belongings was their only remaining connection to him, their only chance to say goodbye, and now they could do that together.

“Are you hungry?” her mother asked. “Rosemary made tea for you and your friends.”

Marlow sat on the edge of the bed. Eileen had thick dark hair and bottle green eyes—both of which Marlow had inherited—and looked good despite being so ill. But she was pale today and had lost significant weight. “That sounds wonderful,” Marlow said.

“I thought your friends might enjoy it. And I know how much you like clotted cream. When we were in London with your father several years ago, that was all you wanted to eat.”

The twinkle in Eileen’s eyes made Marlow feel slightly encouraged, until her mother winced as she adjusted her position. Eileen had to be feeling terrible, or she’d be up and around and asking to meet Aida and Claire.

“Are you having another attack?” Marlow asked. Her mother’s disease came in waves, or what they called “attacks.” Sometimes she grew worse for no clear reason—she didn’t do or eat anything different—and then she improved just as mysteriously. Although the steady decrease in her functionality attested to the fact that each attack took a little more from her…

“I must be. But don’t worry about me. It’s…more of the same. How was your flight?”

The lump that swelled in Marlow’s throat made it difficult to swallow. She’d already lost her beloved father. Was she going to lose her mother this year, too? The probability of Eileen’s dying had hung over their heads ever since she was diagnosed twenty-six years ago, so it’d come as a total shock that Tiller had died first. He’d never been sick a day in his life—until he got shingles. Then he’d spent five weeks in bed and simply didn’t wake up one morning. According to the autopsy, a blood clot had formed and traveled to his lungs.

“The flight was crowded and miserable,” she answered. “But aren’t all flights that way?”

“You should’ve come first class.”

Marlow thought about her decision to sell her place and close her practice but decided not to mention it until later. Eileen’s father had been a steel baron; she’d married into money, as well. She’d never known what it was like to struggle. Marlow hadn’t, either, but she was out in the world and much more cognizant of the difficulties faced by those who didn’t have quite as much. “I didn’t want to ask Aida and Claire to spend the extra money. You know what happened to Claire.”

“Yes. The poor thing. I’m so glad she had insurance to cover the rebuild. The fires in California have been awful. I’ve seen them on the news.” Eileen lifted her head to look toward the door. “Where are your friends?”

“Rosemary’s helping them get settled in the guesthouse.”

“I can’t wait to meet them.”

“They’re grateful to you for letting them come home with me. But with the way you’re feeling, maybe I should’ve come alone—”

“No, no,” she broke in. “They both needed a place to recoup, as you said. And having them here won’t hurt me. New friends might help fill the terrible void I’ve felt since Tiller…” Her voice cracked.

Marlow squeezed her hand, wondering if it was the emotional toll of losing Tiller that’d gotten the best of Eileen, rather than MS. “I miss him, too,” she whispered.

Her mother brought Marlow’s hand to her cheek. “It’ll be good to have you here for practical reasons, too. I think there’s something that has to be done with the estate.”

“What’s that?” Marlow asked in surprise.

“I don’t know. Samuel Lefebvre’s been calling me, trying to get me to come meet with him, but I told him you’re the one to talk to. I can’t face it.”

Sam was her father’s attorney and had been since Marlow could remember. He’d written her a character reference when she applied to Stanford, since he’d graduated from there himself, which was how she’d landed on the opposite coast. “I can handle it. It shouldn’t be hard. Most, if not all, of Dad’s estate will pass directly to you. Maybe he left me a few trinkets.”

“I’m sure he did. But Sam acts as though there’s business at hand, so he must need something.”

“You know Sam. He’s fastidious, always in a hurry to wrap things up. It won’t be a problem.”

A ghost of her mother’s former smile curved her lips. “You’re so capable. You’ve always been capable—just like your father.”

Marlow heard Rosemary come into the house with Aida and Claire. “Should I wait to introduce my friends to you until after we eat?”

“Maybe that would be best,” Eileen said. “It’ll give me the chance to rest a bit longer.”

“Of course. There’s no rush.”

“I can’t wait to spend more time with you. It’s comforting to know we have the whole summer.”

“It is.” Marlow hugged her mother, breathing in the welcome scent of her perfume before going out to join Aida and Claire in the dining room, where Rosemary had put a tea caddy filled with small sandwiches, crackers with herb spread, homemade scones and chocolate-covered strawberries. The clotted cream was in small dishes at the side of each plate.

“Looks delicious. I don’t think anyone in the UK could do it better.”

“Then I did it right,” Rosemary joked.

When Marlow sat down, she halfway expected Reese to join them, since she knew he was on the property, but he didn’t come in. As generously as her family had treated Rosemary and her boys, there’d always been a distinction between the family and the help. Marlow supposed that, in many situations like this, it was inevitable: there was a natural hierarchy when it came to employment.

“Reese has gotten so tall,” she remarked to Rosemary, helping herself to a cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwich.

“He’s a handsome man,” Aida said.

Marlow shot her friend a warning look but didn’t dare say anything in front of Reese’s mother, who seemed to take the compliment at face value. “He’s six-four, as tall as his brother now,” she said proudly.

“What’s Walker been doing these days?” Marlow asked.

Rosemary used a towel to hold the hot teapot with both hands. “He’s living here on the island now.”

Marlow paused, her sandwich halfway to her mouth. “He left Atlanta to come here permanently? When?”

“As soon as he heard about COVID. Poor guy’s always felt he needs to be there for me and Reese,” she said with an affectionate chuckle. “I guess it’s no wonder since, growing up, he had to be the man of the house.”

Eileen hadn’t mentioned that Walker had moved to Teach, but at thirty-six, he probably didn’t come to the house much. “What part of the island does he live on?” Marlow asked. “He’s not staying above the garage, is he?”

“No, Reese is there now. Walker bought the cottage down by the cove. It’s not very big, but the setting is magnificent. I’ve never seen prettier sunsets than the ones I see from his front porch.”

Marlow liked the cove, too. The beach there was small and completely cut off from the other beaches, so it was often overlooked by tourists, which made it feel almost as private as the beach her family owned. “What does he do for a living?”

“He’s the chief of police.”

Marlow sat taller. “The chief of police?”

Rosemary shrugged off her surprise. “It sounds loftier than it is. There are only two other officers on the force.”

“But…how’d that happen? Last I heard, he was a street cop in Atlanta.” She remembered someone telling her that a friend had talked him into going into the academy. That had been a while ago—probably a decade—but Walker’s ascent still seemed quick.

“This is your oldest son?” Claire interrupted.

“It is,” Rosemary replied before answering Marlow. “He didn’t want to be separated from me or his brother during the pandemic, so he kept checking for jobs on the island—and he found one.”

“The chief of police quit or was fired or something?” Claire asked.

“No, Walker got on as a regular officer first,” Rosemary clarified. “But when the chief retired, he took over.”

“Do you have a daughter-in-law, too?” Aida asked. “Or any grandbabies?”

“Not yet,” Rosemary replied. “I bug Walker about finding a wife all the time, but he just laughs it off and tells me you can’t hurry love.”

“Maybe Reese will be the one to give you grandbabies,” Aida said.

“He’s got some growing up to do first,” Rosemary said and headed into the kitchen.

Marlow and Claire both gave Aida a pointed stare.

“What?” she said, lifting her well-manicured hands as though she’d done nothing wrong. “He’s twenty-two. It’s not as though he’s underage.”

Rosemary reappeared before they could say anything further. “Walker’s here,” she announced. “I needed a few things for the soup I’m making for dinner tonight, and he said he’d grab them for me.”

A knock sounded on the door. After Rosemary opened it, Marlow could hear Walker say, “Here you go. You’ll find some of those dark chocolate–covered almonds you like in the bag, too.”

Marlow could see a slice of Rosemary as she accepted the sack he handed her. “Thank you.”

“No problem. I’ll see you later.”

“Walker?” his mother said, calling him back. “Marlow’s home if you’d like to come in and say hello.”

There was a slight pause, which indicated he wasn’t thrilled with the idea. Marlow could understand why. They hadn’t exactly been close, at least not during their teenage years. But he eventually said, “Fine. But just for a minute. I have to get back to work.”

Excerpted from Summer on the Island by Brenda Novak, Copyright © 2022 by Brenda Novak, Inc. Published by MIRA Books.

About the author:

Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a five-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.

Blog Tour Review: The Liz Taylor Ring

Title: The Liz Taylor Ring
Author: Brenda Janowitz
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1978, Lizzie Morgan and Ritchie Schneider embark on a whirlwind romance on the bright beaches and glamorous yachts of Long Island. Over the years, their relationship has its share of ups and downs, including a nine-month hiatus that ends with a stunning eleven-carat ring—one that looks just like the diamond Richard Burton gifted Liz Taylor after their own separation. Like the famous couple, despite the drama that would unfold throughout the Schneiders’ marriage, the ring would be there as a symbol of their love…until it wasn’t.

Decades later, when the lost ring unexpectedly resurfaces, the Schneiders’ three children gather under one roof for the first time in years, eager to get their hands on this beloved, expensivereminder of their departed parents. But determining the fate of the heirloom is no simple task, unearthing old wounds and heartaches the siblings can’t ignore. And when the ring reveals a secret that challenges everything they thought they knew about their parents’ epic love story, they’ll have to decide whether to move forward as a family or let the ring break them once and for all.

Review:

Lizzie and Richie Schneider had a whirlwind relationship, starting in 1978. They separated for nine months in the 90s but when they got back together, Richie gave Lizzie a ring that resembled Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond ring from Richard Burton. Over the years the ring was lost and found, but no one knows where it ended up. Now, after Lizzie and Richie have both passed away, their three children find the ring again. They don’t know what to do with it, as it represents their parents’ love story. Addy wants it because she’s the oldest, Nathan wants it because it represents true love, and Courtney wants to sell it to pay off her debt. Some other challenges arise that threaten to break the family up forever, unless they can figure out a way to settle their differences.

This was a cleverly crafted story. The diamond ring, that is similar to Elizabeth Taylor’s famous ring, had quite a journey. It was won during card games, sold, repurchased, and lost. Each of the children had a different theory on where it went, and they were all right though they didn’t know where it ended up. The ring represented their parents’ love and made its way back to the family.

This story also dealt with some serious issues. Nathan thought his husband was cheating on him. Courtney was in debt that she was keeping secret from her estranged family. Addy was concerned with how her teenage daughters were taking risks and behaving like they were adults. They also had a history of addiction, both alcohol and gambling. All of these problems could be traced back to their parents, which in turn related to the ring.

The Liz Taylor Ring is a beautiful story.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

Other books in the series:

Brenda is the author of seven novels, including THE GRACE KELLY DRESS and the upcoming THE LIZ TAYLOR RING, which will be published by Harper Collins/ Graydon House on February 1, 2022. She is the former Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Real Simple, The Sunday Times (UK), Salon, Redbook, USA Today, Bustle, The Forward, the New York Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Hello Giggles, Writer’s Digest Magazine, WritersDigest.com, and xojane. 

Brenda attended Cornell University and Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review. Upon graduation from Hofstra, worked for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, and did a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York

Have you read The Liz Taylor Ring? What did you think of it?

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite Places to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Favourite Places to Read. Here’s my list:

1. On the couch

2. In bed

3. In the backyard

4. On the beach

5. In the park

6. In waiting rooms

7. In the car (audiobooks or while parked and waiting for someone)

8. On a plane

9. In a mall

10. In a checkout line of a store 😂

What’s your list of places to read for Top Ten Tuesday?

Review: Gutter Child

Title: Gutter Child
Author: Jael Richardson
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian
Publisher: HarperAvenue
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A fierce and illuminating debut from FOLD founder Jael Richardson about a young woman who must find the courage to determine her own future and secure her freedom

Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In this world, Elimina Dubois is one of only 100 babies taken from the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity as part of a social experiment led by the Mainland government.

But when her Mainland mother dies, Elimina finds herself all alone, a teenager forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. Elimina is sent to an academy with new rules and expectations where she befriends Gutter children who are making their own way through the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how. When Elimina’s life takes another unexpected turn, she will discover that what she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she longs for after all.

Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.

Review:

The nation is divided into the wealthy Mainland and the policed Gutter. Elimina was taken from her mother in the Gutter and raised in the Mainland. She didn’t get to live a privileged life because her adopted mom was always protecting her from the prejudices of the Mainland. After her mother dies, Elimina is sent to an Academy where she will be trained for a life of servitude. Elimina was raised on the Mainland so she doesn’t fit in with the other Gutter children in the Academy, which is further enforced when she gets put in a position of power in the school. Then, Elimina’s life takes an unexpected turn that leads her back to the Gutter. She must find the strength to keep going and stand up to the injustices that she faces.

This was a coming of age story set in a dystopian that has roots in history. Elimina had a youthful innocence when she arrived at the Academy. She hadn’t had much experience with people from the Gutter, even though that was where she was born. She is suddenly forced to grow up after her mom dies and she meets friends with horrific backgrounds. The story takes place over a couple of years, but Elimina has to become an adult during those years.

This story had strong themes of systematic racism and slavery. The children were purchased by employers and had to work off their debt to society to earn their freedom. However, most people didn’t ever earn that freedom no matter how hard they worked. Elimina was right between the Gutter and the Mainland since she grew up on the Mainland but was born in the Gutter. She had experience in the Mainland but she didn’t know much about the Gutter despite being born there. Elimina was in a unique position to bridge the gap between the two societies.

Many parts of this story were difficult to read. Some possible content triggers are racism, abuse, rape, death in childbirth, and suicide. Though these are difficult things to read about, they are part of the history of racism that this story was about. It’s important to read stories like this to learn how to change in the future.

This is a beautiful debut from Jael Richardson, the founder of the Festival of Literary Diversity!

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc

Have you read Gutter Child? What did you think of it?

Review: The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Title: The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Author: K. Woodman-Maynard, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A sumptuously illustrated adaptation casts the powerful imagery of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel in a vivid new format. 

From the green light across the bay to the billboard with spectacled eyes, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 American masterpiece roars to life in Katharine Woodman-Maynard’s exquisite graphic novel–among the first adaptations of the book in this genre. Painted in lush watercolors, the inventive interpretation emphasizes both the extravagance and mystery of the characters, as well as the fluidity of Nick Carraway’s unreliable narration. Excerpts from the original text wend through the illustrations, and imagery and metaphors are taken to literal, and often whimsical, extremes, such as when a beautiful partygoer blooms into an orchid and Daisy Buchanan pushes Gatsby across the sky on a cloud.

This faithful yet modern adaptation will appeal to fans with deep knowledge of the classic, while the graphic novel format makes it an ideal teaching tool to engage students. With its timeless critique of class, power, and obsession, The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel captures the energy of an era and the enduring resonance of one of the world’s most beloved books.

Review:

Nick Carraway moves in next door to the wealthy Gatsby. Nick hears about the famous Gatsby from his cousin Daisy and her husband. Gatsby is known for throwing lavish parties, but no one can recall anything about the actual man, despite attending his parties. Soon, Nick gets swept up in two affairs that Daisy and her husband Tom are having with other people. Not everything is what it seems in the life of the Great Gatsby.

This is a great adaptation of this classic literary novel. The water colour illustrations suited the literary plot which dances around Nick, even though he is the narrator. His position of the unreliable narrator was demonstrated in the images when he would say one thing but the characters did something else. This shows that he can’t be believed.

The way the words were placed on the story were also part of the narrative. Some of the sentences were written on buildings or roads, rather than set aside in speech bubbles. Sometimes they were even curved if the characters were moving a lot in the images. The speech bubbles for women, such as Daisy, were more curvy with waves around the edges, which demonstrated the lighter tone and musical way they spoke. I liked the way this literary novel was adapted into a graphic novel using unconventional techniques.

This graphic novel is a great accompaniment to the novel!

Thank you Candlewick Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Have you read The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation? What did you think of it?

Review: The Love Square

Title: The Love Square
Author: Laura Jane Williams
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s single. But it can still be complicated…

Penny Bridge has always been unlucky in love.

So she can’t believe it when she meets a remarkable new man.

Followed by another.

And then another

And all of them want to date her.

Penny has to choose between three. But are any of them The One?

The bestselling author of Our Stop will have you laughing, crying and cheering Penny on in this funny and feel-good exploration of hope, romance and the trust it takes to finally fall in love. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane’s If I Never Met You and Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare.

Review:

Penny is a café owner who is discouraged by the lack of romance in her life. When Francesco walks into her café one day, she thinks that her luck is about to change. They have a whirlwind romance that seems too good to be true. Penny is suddenly called away from London, to return to her home town in Derbyshire to run her uncle’s restaurant. Francesco makes it easy for her to leave, but she can’t help thinking about him while she starts two new romances in Derbyshire. Penny strings all three men along, which can only end in heartbreak.

This story started out as a slow burn. Penny and Francesco’s romance was quite slow, and took up almost the first half of the book. I was wondering when the “love square” was going to come in, because it was just the two of them for so long. I think some of the details of that romance could have been condensed to get to the main point of the plot sooner, which was Penny’s love square with three men.

Penny was a frustrating character. At the beginning, a man told her that he didn’t want to be with her because she was too confident. However, by the end, she was letting certain men put her down to the point that she thought there was something seriously wrong with her. The men made her feel bad for doing the same things that they did to her. It was frustrating to see her being insulted and lacking the confidence that she was told she had the beginning of the story.

The cover didn’t match the story. The three men who are pictured on the cover don’t match the ones in the story. On the cover, one man has a dog and another has a bike, even though bicycles were never mentioned and a dog barked in one scene. These men didn’t match the chef, wine merchant, and concert tour manager in the story.

This slow burn romance didn’t work for me.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Have you read The Love Square? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Someone’s Listening

Title: Someone’s Listening
Author: Seraphina Nova Glass
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

She wrote the book on escaping a predator… Now one is coming for her.

Faith Finley has it all: she’s a talented psychologist with a flourishing career, a bestselling author and the host of a popular local radio program, Someone’s Listening, with Dr. Faith Finley. She’s married to the perfect man, Liam Finley, a respected food critic.

Until the night everything goes horribly wrong, and Faith’s life is shattered forever.

Liam is missing—gone without a trace—and the police are suspicious of everything Faith says. They either think she has something to hide, or that she’s lost her mind.

And then the notes begin to arrive. Notes that are ripped from Faith’s own book, the one that helps victims leave their abusers. Notes like “Lock your windows. Consider investing in a steel door.”

As the threats escalate, the mystery behind Liam’s disappearance intensifies. And Faith’s very life will depend on finding answers.

Review:

Faith Finley is a psychologist with a radio talk show called “Someone’s Listening.” After the book launch for her latest self-help book, she gets into a car accident with her husband, Liam. However, Liam wasn’t found at the scene of the accident with her. Liam has disappeared without a trace. Faith is also dealing with the repercussions of a sexual assault allegation from a patient. When Faith starts getting threats that are ripped out of the pages of her own book, it becomes more urgent for her to figure out what happened to Liam.

This story started out with some thriller tropes. Faith had a different version of reality than the people around her. She believed that her husband was in the car with her when she had the accident, but he wasn’t found there. Faith also came from an abusive household and was a heavy drinker, both tropes in the thriller genre. Once the main mystery of finding Liam was underway and Faith started to get threats, the story left the tropes behind and became its own story.

The layout of this story was a little confusing at the beginning. The chapters alternated between “then,” which was immediately after the car accident, and “now,” which was seven months after the accident. These chapters were confusing because they were so similar. Both time periods would flashback to other events, so I had a hard time keeping the events in the correct order. The second half of the book was much more linear because it remained in the present, rather than switching back to the past.

I was quite surprised at the ending. I had a couple of suspects in mind, who weren’t actually the main suspects in the story. The person who was threatening Faith wasn’t who I suspected at all. There were a couple of red herrings, which weren’t cleared up at the end and just made me suspect the wrong people, but most of the clues lined up with the guilty person.

This was a great thriller!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

About the author:

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.

Have you read Someone’s Listening? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Kids Are Gonna Ask

Title: The Kids Are Gonna Ask
Author: Gretchen Anthony
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Park Row
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A whip-smart, entertaining novel about twin siblings who become a national phenomenon after launching a podcast to find the biological father they never knew.

The death of Thomas and Savannah McClair’s mother turns their world upside down. Raised to be fiercely curious by their grandmother Maggie, the twins become determined to learn the identity of their biological father. And when their mission goes viral, an eccentric producer offers them a dream platform: a fully sponsored podcast called The Kids Are Gonna Ask. To discover the truth, Thomas and Savannah begin interviewing people from their mother’s past and are shocked when the podcast ignites in popularity. As the attention mounts, they get caught in a national debate they never asked for—but nothing compares to the mayhem that ensues when they find him.

Cleverly constructed, emotionally perceptive and sharply funny, The Kids Are Gonna Ask is a rollicking coming-of-age story and a moving exploration of all the ways we can go from lost to found.

Review:

Thomas and Savannah have a podcast where they interview the eclectic people their grandmother brings home for dinner. One evening, they get the idea to create a new podcast to document the search for their biological father. Their mother died when they were thirteen years old, and they have lived with their grandmother since then. They work with a media company to develop their podcast to find their father, which is called The Kids Are Gonna Ask. However, it brings them a lot of attention that they weren’t expecting and they don’t know how to cope with it.

Though this story has two seventeen-year-old main characters, it’s an adult novel rather than a young adult novel. Some of the chapters were writing from the perspective of adults, which I don’t think young adult readers would be interested in. Since this story has both teenage and elderly characters, it could appeal to a wide variety of age groups.

I liked the mystery of this story that slowly unfolded as Thomas and Savannah learned more about their mom and their biological dad. The identity of their bio dad was revealed fairly early on in the story, which cut out the suspense of wondering who he could be. The pacing slowed down after they found each other, though there were still some surprising events to come.

This story shows the dangers of doing a public search for someone. Thomas and Savannah had to make some serious decisions about how much privacy they were willing to give up in the search for their father. They were also criticized for possibly revealing the identity of their father and affecting him and his family. It’s important to recognize that others can be affected when embarking on a public search for someone through a podcast.

I really enjoyed this story.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Sadie by Courtney Summers

About the author:

GRETCHEN ANTHONY is the author of Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, which was a Midwestern Connections Pick and a best books pick by Amazon, BookBub, PopSugar, and the New York Post. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Medium, and The Write Life, among others. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

Have you read The Kids Are Gonna Ask? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Last Wife

Title: The Last Wife
Author: Karen Hamilton
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Graydon Thriller
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Perfect Girlfriend.

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends—until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…

Review:

Marie has always been jealous of her best friend Nina. After Nina dies of cancer, Marie finally has a chance to take over Nina’s life. Marie moves in with Nina’s husband, Stuart, and helps him look after their children. While living with Stuart, Marie discovers secrets about Nina’s past.

Marie was the narrator of this story and she was unreliable. She constantly lied to other people and herself, which got confusing at times. She would jump around in the narrative between memories and the present, without much distinction between the two time periods. I found Marie and all of the other characters unlikeable, because they each were hiding horrible secrets.

The story was slow at first, because there was a lot of groundwork that had to be laid before the real tension began. I had a hard time relating to any of the characters because they were so unlikeable. The book took a turn at the end that I wasn’t expecting, so I was pleasantly surprised at that.

This was a twisty thriller.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

About the author:

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy and, having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. She is also the author of the international bestseller The Perfect Girlfriend.

Have you read The Last Wife? What did you think of it?