Author to Author Interview: Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson

Today’s post by Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson | @AlixRickloff and @JenniferRobsonR

We’re delighted to visit with Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson today as they discuss their new novels, SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL and MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS. We’ll be back with part two of this interview on Thursday. Until then, enjoy!

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Alix: I started life as a European history major so, to me, research is half the fun of writing the book. I don’t know how many times I fell down the rabbit hole in search of some obscure tidbit only to surface hours later wondering where my writing day had gone. Old Pathé newsreels were the worst. They sucked me in every time. Did you ever experience that thrill of the hunt when you were researching Moonlight Over Paris? Was there one resource you found more tempting—and more dangerous to your word count—than others?

Jennifer: I sympathize—that happens to me every time I’m in the middle of researching a book, and it can come as an awful shock to discover that I’ve frittered away an entire day chasing down details that don’t seem to have any relevance to the book I’m writing. The thing is—and it’s taken me a while to figure it out—sometimes it’s those very same discursions that lead me to something unexpected and useful. When I was in the very early stages of researching Moonlight Over Paris, I stumbled across a photograph of an incredibly lifelike painted eye-patch that appeared to have been made to cover a missing eye. It led me to the American Red Cross Studio for Portrait Masks, which I’d never heard of before; I had (wrongly) assumed that such work was confined to the studio of Francis Derwent Wood in England. A week later, after chasing down and devouring every bit of information I could find on the people who worked at the Paris-based studio and the masks they created for disfigured soldiers, I reluctantly had to admit that I couldn’t use it in my work in progress, mainly because the dates didn’t line up with my heroine’s timeline. So I set my notes aside—and then, months later, realized that the studio would make the perfect setting for my contribution to Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War. If only every fall down the rabbit hole were as useful!

Alix: As a reader, I love series that allow me to revisit a beloved world and find out what has become of my favorite characters. While your books aren’t what I would define as a strict series, they are connected. Are any of the characters from Moonlight Over Paris or your earlier books still clamoring for a story of their own?

Jennifer: I would say that most of them are! In my books I try very hard to create secondary characters who feel as real and complete as the central figures in the narrative, to the extent that I create and fill out “Proust Questionnaires” for everyone with a significant role. Readers may never know that Helena’s friend Mathilde considers a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens with her daughter to be her greatest joy, but my knowing such a thing helps me to shape her character and ensure she remains true to it over the course of the book. It also means that she, and most of the supporting cast in my books, feel very really to me—so much so that I can imagine entire books for most of them. If I had to choose which one among them would get a book of his or her own, I think it would be Etienne, Helena’s friend in Moonlight Over Paris. He was a great artist, so life likely took him all sorts of interesting places, but he was also a gay man, which would have placed him in terrible peril if he were still in Europe at the outbreak of the Second World War. Perhaps I will just have to write him into one of my WW2-era books, the first of which I’ve just completed, and answer my questions about him that way!

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Moonlight Over ParisAn aristocratic young woman leaves the sheltered world of London to find adventure, passion, and independence in 1920s Paris in this mesmerizing story from the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over.

Spring, 1924

Recovering from a broken wartime engagement and a serious illness that left her near death, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr vows that for once she will live life on her own terms. Breaking free from the stifling social constraints of the aristocratic society in which she was raised, she travels to France to stay with her free spirited aunt. For one year, she will simply be Miss Parr. She will explore the picturesque streets of Paris, meet people who know nothing of her past—and pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

A few years after the Great War’s end, the City of Light is a bohemian paradise teeming with actors, painters, writers, and a lively coterie of American expatriates who welcome Helena into their romantic and exciting circle. Among them is Sam Howard, an irascible and infuriatingly honest correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Dangerously attractive and deeply scarred by the horror and carnage of the war, Sam is unlike any man she has ever encountered. He calls her Ellie, sees her as no one has before, and offers her a glimpse of a future that is both irresistible and impossible.

As Paris rises phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, so too does Helena. Though she’s shed her old self, she’s still uncertain of what she will become and where she belongs. But is she strong enough to completely let go of the past and follow her heart, no matter where it leads her?

Artfully capturing the Lost Generation and their enchanting city, Moonlight Over Paris is the spellbinding story of one young woman’s journey to find herself, and claim the life—and love—she truly wants.

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Book, Meet Book

Today we’re introducing two books to each other– and to you– that are both examples of the best in women’s fiction by authors at the top of their game. Both books have a little suspense and a lot of emotion. Meet these books today, then add them to your TBR list!

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The Perfect NeighborsThe Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

How well do you ever really know the family next door?

Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

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In Twenty YearsIn Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

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Add a Little Chill to Your Summer With These Thrillers

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

There’s just something about summer that makes me want a big stack of page-turning thrillers at the ready. If you feel the same then today is YOUR day. We’ve got your stack right here!

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The American GirlThe American Girl by Kate Horsley

From a bright new talent comes a riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident, and the journalist determined to break the story and uncover the dark secrets a small town is hiding.

On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.

Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.

As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?

Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.

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The Woman in Cabin 10The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

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Under the HarrowUnder The Harrow by Flynn Berry

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

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Wilde LakeWilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney representing suburban Maryland—including the famous planned community of Columbia, created to be a utopia of racial and economic equality. Prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death, the fiercely ambitious Lu is determined to avoid the traps that have destroyed other competitive, successful women. She’s going to play it smart to win this case—and win big—cementing her political future.

But her intensive preparation for trial unexpectedly dredges up painful recollections of another crime—the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Justice was done. Or was it? Did the events of 1980 happen as she remembers them? She was only a child then. What details didn’t she know?

As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn’t want to know the whole truth?

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Little Girl GoneLittle Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

On a frozen night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.

But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .

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 A Game for all the familyA Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah

Pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, a woman must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life in this dazzling standalone psychological thriller with an unforgettable ending from the New York Times bestselling author of Woman with a Secret and The Monogram Murders.

You thought you knew who you were. A stranger knows better.

You’ve left the city—and the career that nearly destroyed you—for a fresh start on the coast. But trouble begins when your daughter withdraws, after her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school.

You beg the principal to reconsider, only to be told that George hasn’t been expelled. Because there is, and was, no George.

Who is lying? Who is real? Who is in danger? Who is in control? As you search for answers, the anonymous calls begin—a stranger, who insists that you and she share a traumatic past and a guilty secret. And then the caller threatens your life. . . .

This is Justine’s story. This is Justine’s family. This is Justine’s game. But it could be yours.

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Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by BA Paris

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

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Finding Time For Our Friends: Guest Post by Erin Duffy

Today’s post by Erin Duffy

Today we bring you novelist Erin Duffy. This post hit home with both Ariel and I who, though we don’t live near each other and only see each other maybe twice a year, cherish our funny texts, phone conversations shared over top of screaming children in the background, and those rare times when we’re actually together and can not stop talking because we have so much to make up for. So, here’s to girlfriends, and to the books that remind us just how valuable they are. Read on…

Erin Duffy Author Photo Credit Elena Seibert (1)FINDING TIME FOR OUR FRIENDS

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I don’t trust girls who don’t have girlfriends. I’m sorry. I just don’t. If we meet and you tell me that you don’t have any girlfriends, you can bet that I’m operating under the assumption that you’re either half-alien or that there’s something seriously wrong with you.

I love my friends. I cherish them. I don’t have any sisters and without them I don’t know how I’d have made it through junior high, or high school, or college, or my twenties. Now that I think about it, I’ve needed them desperately throughout my thirties, too.

You get where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: maintaining adult friendships isn’t easy. We are busy women. I don’t know a single woman who has an abundance of free time on her hands. Everyone I know is either working like a lunatic, or taking care of lunatic children, or working like a lunatic while also taking care of lunatic children. It’s hard to schedule lunches, or dinners, or even phone calls in the middle of the week when 90% of the time everyone, this author included, is so tired by 7:00 P.M. that it takes herculean strength not to face plant into a bowl of pasta before Alex Trebek throws out the final Jeopardy question. It’s not easy to keep in touch in a meaningful way, but really good friends will understand that sometimes text messages, or pictures on Instagram will have to be enough. We are busy women. We are doing the best that we can.

Those quick connections will have to be enough until you and your besties are able to steal away for a weekend together––which is what I did this past spring. My girlfriends and I spent the first two hours catching up on the basics: jobs, husbands, relationships, kids, and the rest of it pretending like none of those things existed. Forty-eight hours on a beach with them was all I needed to completely recharge my oh-so-very-drained battery, and tap into a part of myself I’d forgotten existed. Girlfriends are awesome like that. We made tentative plans to do it again next year, and I hope that we can make that happen. If not, no biggie! We all understand that leaving real life isn’t easy. We are busy women. We are also best friends.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had challenging friendships, or that there haven’t been people who’ve gotten lost along the way. (No plug intended)! A few years ago, I had a difficult conversation with a then close friend who’d become a major source of stress in my life. Originally, I’d wanted us to work through our problems. Then she uttered two little words that all but caused me to choke on my latte, “You’ve changed.”

I’ve changed? Since when? The nineties? Thank God! I’m proud to say that I’m nowhere near as stupid as I used to be. A friendship that expects, or demands, that you never grow, is one that you can do without. At least, that’s how I felt about it, and it’s why I haven’t spoken to her since. I beat myself up over the end of our friendship for a long time. I wondered if I should’ve done something differently. Then I realized that it was okay to let her go.

We are busy women. We are allowed to decide who we want to be without anyone else’s expectations holding us back. I have a girlfriend who used to shop with me at Banana Republic suddenly decide she only wanted to speak Spanish and dance in underground Dominican clubs in the East Village. Good for her! I hope she learns to salsa with the best of them, but we probably won’t hang out on weekends quite as much because I don’t speak Spanish and I definitely don’t dance. We now have very different definitions about what makes a fun Saturday and that’s totally fine. I’m happy she’s happy with her life. I don’t think she owes anyone an apology for becoming the woman she wanted to be.  She certainly does not owe one to me.

We have to be smart with how we allocate our spare time, and we have to be forgiving of our friends who have very little of it. I don’t need to talk to my girlfriends every day, though I certainly wish that I could. I know that if I send a text asking, ‘are you free?’ I’ll get a response. It’ll go something like this: “I’m running around like crazy, but I’m here if you need me.”  We are busy women, but we will always make time for our girlfriends.

That’s how we know who they are.

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LostAlongtheWayhcA fresh, funny, and insightful novel about what it really means to be “friends forever” from the acclaimed author of Bond Girl and On the Rocks.

All through childhood and adolescence, Jane, Cara, and Meg swore their friendship would stand the test of time. Nothing would come between them, they pledged. But once they hit their twenties, life got more complicated and the BFFs began to grow distant. When Jane eloped with her slick, wealthy new boyfriend and didn’t invite her oldest friends to the ceremony, the small cracks and fissures in their once rock-solid relationship became a chasm that tore them apart.

Ten years later, when her husband is arrested and publically shamed for defrauding his clients, Jane realizes her life among the one percent was a sham. Penniless and desperate, deserted by the high-society crowd who turn their surgically perfected noses up at her, she comes crawling back to her childhood friends seeking forgiveness. But Cara and Meg have troubles of their own. One of them is trapped in a bad marriage with an abusive husband, while the other can’t have the one thing she desperately wants: a baby. Yet as much as they’d love to see Jane get her long overdue comeuppance, Cara and Meg won’t abandon their old friend in her time of need.

The story of three friends who find themselves on a laugh-out-loud life adventure, Lost Along the Wayilluminates the moments that make us, the betrayals that break us, and the power of love that helps us forgive even the most painful hurts.

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Quick Lit For July

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

It’s that time again– time to join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit roundup in which we share quick reviews of what we’ve been reading. There’s never been a better time to read than summer– and our lists this month show it!

What Marybeth is reading…

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The Girls by Emma Cline: This book was disturbing. And not for the faint of heart. So if you pick it up, do so with that in mind. But if you’re at all interested in Charles Manson and the girls who followed him, or if you– like me– have been enjoying Aquarius starring David Duchovny, I do recommend it. Not only for the fascinating retelling of what could’ve happened, or how it could’ve been back then (though Cline changes the name of the hypnotic, charismatic leader so she’s not claiming it is Manson– if you know the history, the story is very, very similar) but for the writing itself. This will end up being one of my best books of the year– not because it was uplifting and made me feel wonderful about the human race– but because I appreciated what the author accomplished in writing it.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott: I’ve read most all of Megan Abbott’s books and I raced through this one just as I’ve raced through her others. This one, set in the world of gymnastics, is about a mysterious death and exactly what happened– and why. But more than the mystery, this is a stark look at the world of competitive girls’ gymnastics, and what can happen when parents– with the best of intentions– get overly invested. I found that part even more compelling than the mystery itself. Plus, Abbott is just so good at rendering the teenage girl on the page.

Here’s To Us by Elin Hildebrand: My summer is not complete without an Elin Hilderbrand novel, so of course I dove into this one as soon as it hit the shelves. While this will not go down as my most favorite of hers ever (that title belongs to Summerland), it was a fun read and the continual food mentions kept me perpetually hungry. No one writes food like Elin Hilderbrand.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: I read this in four days. It kept me turning pages and wondering just what the truth was about the situation– with lots of red herrings to keep me guessing. I found the resolution satisfying but the final scene still niggles at me a bit. Not sure why. If you read it and agree, message me and we can talk!

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner: This is not out yet, but I snagged an early copy and then quickly tore through it. I have read every single one of her books so it was so fun for me to read more about her life and writing. I appreciated her honesty, her humor, and her willingness to share herself with those of us who’ve read and loved her work. Well done! If you, too, are a fan put this on your radar (0ut October 11, 2016)

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What Ariel is reading….

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The Expats by Chris Pavone.  It’s a really great, smart thriller by a new-to-me author. My agent raved about this book recently and she has great taste so I picked up a copy and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s one of those books where you feel like the author has been reading your mail. The book is told from a woman’s point of view–often something male writers don’t pull off well–but he absolutely nails the voice and the inner dialogue and fears that are common to women. Highly recommended so far.

The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This book is 650+ pages and covers three hundred years of Romanov history. It’s fascinating and comprehensive and surprisingly very readable. Technically this is for research but I’m enjoying it so much it doesn’t feel like work. Always a good thing!

And…that’s it. I’m doing a little experiment at the moment where I’m limiting myself to reading one book for pleasure and one book for work and no more. I’ve have a terrible habit of starting so many books that I don’t finish any. So this allows me to be more focused and more productive. It’s working great so far!

What are you reading this week?

 

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Book, Meet Book

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

When we read (and loved!) these two books we decided they just had to meet. (One is one of our “Books of Summer”!) Both feature men who survived a traumatic event and bonded with a young boy in the aftermath. And yet both are very different stories. Read on and then… read on!

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Before the FallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

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Two If By SeaTwo If By Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian. Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village. Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.

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#READSavannah Update And Announcements

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

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We can’t believe that #READSavannah is almost here. Just a little over eight weeks left. And since we’ve been working hard behind the scenes on all the details we thought we’d share a few updates with you.

Tickets are going fast! There are only a couple for the lunch option left but there are a handful of non-lunch tickets available. You can register here.

#READSavannah is part of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance yearly conference. The main conference itself will be held at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto — 15 East Liberty Street. (If you’ve not made your reservation already, we suggest doing so as soon as possible. The hotel fills up quickly.) but #READSavannah will take place across the street from the hotel at The Knights of Columbus Hall–3 West Liberty Street.

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We’ve compiled a guide of Literary Minded Things To Do In Lovely Savannah…. Many of these suggestions come from locals so you know they’re top notch. This is a perfect guide for those of you who will be spending the entire weekend and are looking for things to do on Friday and Saturday. Click the link for details.

And finally, we have a number of author confirmed to participate in the day’s events, including Liane Moriarty, but here are a few more we’re really excited about.

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#READ 1From one of America’s most important writers, Perfume River is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.

Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.

Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of sixteen novels, including Hell, A Small Hotel, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. He is also the author of six short story collections and a book on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and received the 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

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#READ 3A micro-preemie fights for survival in this extraordinary and gorgeously told memoir by her parents, both award-winning journalists.

Juniper French was born four months early, at 23 weeks gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her twiggy body was the length of a Barbie doll. Her head was smaller than a tennis ball, her skin was nearly translucent, and through her chest you could see her flickering heart. Babies like Juniper, born at the edge of viability, trigger the question: Which is the greater act of love–to save her, or to let her go?

Kelley and Thomas French chose to fight for Juniper’s life, and this is their incredible tale. In one exquisite memoir, the authors explore the border between what is possible and what is right. They marvel at the science that conceived and sustained their daughter and the love that made the difference. They probe the bond between a mother and a baby, between a husband and a wife. They trace the journey of their family from its fragile beginning to the miraculous survival of their now thriving daughter.

Kelley Benham French is a Professor of Practice in journalism at Indiana University. A former reporter and editor for the Tampa Bay Times, she was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for “Never Let Go,” a series about Juniper’s survival.

Thomas French is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and the Riley Endowed Chair in Journalism at Indiana University. He is the author of Unanswered Cries, South of Heaven, and the New York Timesbestseller Zoo Story.

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#READ 4For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes a novel Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything, calls “a haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.”

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona and writes for The Writer’s Almanac, so if you need a quick anecdote about literary history, she’s your girl. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, where she also coordinated the graduate program in creative writing. GIRL IN PIECES is her first novel for young adults.

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#READ 5New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….

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#READ 6Wedding season has arrived in New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe’s next novel in the “distinct, complex, and endearing” (Charleston Magazine) Lowcountry Summer series, set against the romantic, charming Charleston Lowcountry.

Nothing could be more enchanting than a summer wedding—or two!—in Charleston’s fabled lowcountry. A centuries-old plantation, an avenue of ancient oaks dripping moss, a storied ballroom, a sand dune at sunset…

Yet when a stranger arrives, a long held family secret could silence the bells ringing for the Muir sisters. Scandals surface, family bonds are questioned, and promises are broken and renewed. In A Lowcountry Wedding Monroe delves into the heart of marriage, commitment, and family ties. Huffington Post calls the Lowcountry Summer series “the perfect beach read and a whole lot more.”

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

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#READ 7The award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today’s headlines.

Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. Their investigation sets them up against a brutal cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood as his own, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Among shady moonshiners, duplicitous madams, crooked lawmen, and the constant restrictions of Jim Crow, Boggs and Smith will risk their new jobs, and their lives, while navigating a dangerous world—a world on the cusp of great change.

Set in the postwar, pre-civil rights South, and evoking the socially resonant and morally complex crime novels of Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley, Darktown is a vivid, smart, intricately plotted crime saga that explores the timely issues of race, law enforcement, and the uneven scales of justice.

Thomas Mullen is the author of The Last Town on Earth, which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA TODAY. He was also awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction forThe Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers and The Revisionists. His works have been named to Year’s Best lists by The Chicago Tribune and USA TODAY, among others. His stories and essays have been published in Grantland, Paste, and the Huffington Post, and his Atlanta Magazine true crime story about a novelist/con man won the City and Regional Magazine Award for Best Feature. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and sons.

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YA Review: The Selection Series and a Huge Royal Giveaway

Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

The Selection

Update: the winners of this giveaway are Brooke, Mandy, and Kim P. You’ll be receiving an email shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered!

I’ve heard people describe THE SELECTION series as The Bachelor meets THE HUNGER GAMES, which is a pretty accurate description in terms of the entertainment value, but it’s really so much more than that. For one, the “bachelor” in this case is a gorgeous prince (and don’t most of us dream of that at least a little bit?) looking for his bride. For another, the main character, America Singer, is far more amazing than most of the backstabbing women we love to hate on The Bachelor.

In the world of THE SELECTION, there’s a caste system in place designed to keep the peace in an unsteady future (though not a crazy sci-fi future) through a hierarchy of its people. Royalty are 1s, nobles are 2s, and so on and so forth, with wealth and power reducing with each step down. America Singer, a 5, has grown up in a family with very little resources. She’s had a secret love with a childhood friend, Aspen, that has little hope of surviving because he’s a 6 and she’s expected to marry higher. When the royal family announces a Selection to find Prince Maxon a princess, America registers in the hopes of being chosen and having the chance to earn some money (the girls are compensated for their time) for her family. She is shocked to find herself among the 35 candidates chosen to come live in the castle as Maxon chooses a wife.

The 35 girls make both friends and enemies while largely staying out of the politics of running a country, but America isn’t like most girls. She’s feisty and intelligent and catches Maxon’s eye right from the beginning. America is driven by a desire not just to improve her own family’s situation, but to shed light on the weaknesses of the caste system and how it negatively impacts the lower levels. I absolutely loved her character for her strength and determination.

There is bit of a love triangle happening between America, Aspen, and Maxon, but it’s very well done and I love the resolution of it. I enjoyed the dreaminess of the royal setting and the realistic feeling of the political climate, and I am always, always, always a sucker for a story that showcases a teenager standing up for what’s right in an effort to make their world a better one. I should also mention that this is a pretty clean series as far as content goes; I’m totally comfortable having this in the middle school library, though its appeal reaches much higher in age groups.

Now, this IS a series, but the good news is that the final book came out recently so you can easily binge-read them all this summer. From THE SELECTION, the girls are narrowed down to a field of eight in THE ELITE, and then even further in THE ONE. The story of the next generation is continued in two additional books, both of which are also out, so you don’t have to wait for those either. I definitely recommend reading all the way through to the end – Kiera Cass is an excellent writer and she wrapped the whole series up amazingly in the final book, THE CROWN.

OwlCrateNow, OwlCrate: Another thing I’m loving right now is subscription boxes. It’s just fun to have a happy thing show up in the mail alongside the bills and junk mail, you know? So, I’ve done some research on YA Lit boxes and found one I’m really excited about: OwlCrate. I love their boxes, which are built around a monthly theme and include one great YA title and related swag. And guess what June’s theme was? ROYALTY. It’s perfect.

So, the wonderful people at OwlCrate have decided to give THREE of those Royalty boxes away to She Reads readers. Just comment below and let us know something you’re excited about reading this summer, or why you’d like to receive the box. We’ll pick our winners at random and notify you soon.

We also have our very own discount code for OwlCrate – if you’d like to subscribe (like I am, because it’s too exciting not to), enter the code SHEREADS15 at checkout for a 15% discount.

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About THE SELECTION

The first book in the captivating, #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series! Discover a breathless fairy-tale romance with swoon-worthy characters, glittering gowns, fierce intrigue, and a dystopian world that will captivate readers who loved Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

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But When, The Moment That Changes Everything

Today’s post by Amy Hatvany | @AmyHatvany

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Amy Hatvany to share a bit about her new novel, SOMEWHERE OUT THERE in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!

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Amy Hatvany

Amy Hatvany

SOMEWHERE OUT THERE is the story of two sisters who are separated at a young age and end up being raised in vastly different circumstances. I chose to write the book from their points of view, as well as from their mother, the woman who was unable to care for them, and explore what happens when the sisters reconnect and have to decide whether or not to search out the woman who abandoned them. Because the book is written from three points of view, there are three “but then” moments, during which the story is kicked into action.

For Jennifer, the unstable young mother, it is the day she finds out she will be going to jail for petty theft and child endangerment and neglect. Before that point, she had been determined to try to find a way to take care of her daughters, no matter what, but then decides that she is too dysfunctional—that they would be better off without her—and signs away her parental rights.

For Natalie, the youngest of Jennifer’s two girls, her trajectory changes the moment she asks her adoptive mother for more information about her birth mom, whom she knows nothing about, and is shocked when her adoptive mom reveals the fact that Natalie has an older sister—a secret that has been kept from Natalie for over thirty years. Natalie had initially planned on searching out her birth mother, but then decides that she needs to find her older sister, first, and is determined to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

For Brooke, the elder of Jennifer’s daughters, who grew up in a state facility and being bounced around from one foster home to the next, her life is spun into a new direction the night she realizes that she might be pregnant. Brooke is a bit of a loner, having always taken care of herself and not letting anyone close to her for fear of getting hurt. She finds herself pregnant and alone, terrified of raising a child on her own, but then a single phone call from an organization that links estranged family members changes her life forever.

What happens to all three of these women after their “but when” moments is the crux of why I wrote SOMEWHERE OUT THERE—to delve into how profound emotional loss affects us, and whether or not having been deprived of meaningful connection once in our lives keeps us from being able to experience it at all.

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somewhere out thereWhat happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.

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Book, Meet Book (Where Did You Say You’re From?)

Today we’re introducing two books to each other– and to you– because they have something unique in common. These two books needed to meet because the main characters are both from a place that defines their pasts and informs their futures. We think they’ll get along famously!

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paradise ballroomThe Girl From The Paradise Ballroom by Allison Love

The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.

Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist–but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.

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savoyThe Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

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