Author Archive | marybeth

We’ve Got Your Beach Books Right Here

Today’s post by our own Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

It’s beach season– which always means new beach books on the bookstore shelves. Today we have literal beach books, so there’s no mistaking the best place to read them! (We’d assert that a hammock in your backyard or poolside in your own neighborhood would do just fine as well.)

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Forever BeachForever Beach by Shelley Noble

One woman struggling to hold on to what she has,

One woman learning to forgive

Their lives entwined by one little girl.

Sarah Hargreave is anxious to finalize the adoption of her foster daughter Leila. Once a foster child herself, Sarah longs to become Leila’s “forever” family and give her all the love and stability she was denied in her own childhood. When Leila’s biological mother suddenly reappears and petitions the court for the return of her daughter, Sarah is terrified she’ll lose the little girl she loves to the drug addicted mother who abandoned her.

Having grown up in foster care, Ilona Cartwright fights for the rights of children who have no one to fight for them. But to Sarah she is Nonie Blanchard, who grew up in the same group foster home as Sarah. They’d promised to be best friends forever, then Nonie was adopted by a wealthy family, and Sarah never heard from her again. Sarah still hurts from the betrayal. But Nonie harbors her own resentment toward the past.

Mistrustful of each other, the two women form a tenuous alliance to ensure Leila’s future, but when Leila’s very survival is on the line, they’ll have to come to terms with their own feelings of hurt and rejection to save the child they both have come to love.

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Sunshine BeachSunshine Beach by Wendy Wax

There’s nothing that a fresh coat of paint and a few glasses of wine can’t fix…

After losing their life savings in a Ponzi scheme, Maddie, Avery, and Nikki have banded together to make the most of what they have left, using their determination, ingenuity, guts, and a large dose of elbow grease. It’s Maddie’s daughter Kyra who stumbles across a once glorious beachfront hotel that has fallen into disrepair. The opportunity to renovate this seaside jewel is too good to pass up—especially when they come up with the idea of shooting their own independent television show about the restoration. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. With the cameras rolling, Maddie’s second-chance romance with her all-too-famous new boyfriend gets complicated, Avery struggles with grief over the loss of her mother, and Nikki’s reluctance to commit to the man who loves her could leave her to face the biggest challenge of her life. Even the hotel seems to be against them, when their renovation uncovers a decades-old unsolved murder which just might bring their lives tumbling down all over again…

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Barefoot BeachBarefoot Beach by Toby Devens

The beach house carried some kind of spell, concocted of—I don’t know—salt air, sea grass and Old Bay seasoning that over the years had permeated its walls and floorboards. Whatever it was, the place cast fabulous magic.

For Nora Farrell, Tuckahoe, Maryland, isn’t just a summer refuge, it’s home—where she married the love of her life, decided to have a child, and has remained connected with her two closest friends. Even now, long after her husband’s passing, Nora reunites with Margo and Emine every June….

But this year, challenges invade the friends’ retreat. Even as Nora delights in teaching at her dance studio, she is shaken by the possible loss of her beach house…and by a tentative new romance. While Margo directs a musical at the Driftwood Playhouse, she finds her marriage on rocky ground. And Em, who relishes running her family’s café, struggles to handle her rebellious daughter.

With their personal dramas reaching a fever pitch, the women will discover that it isn’t only the beach that brightens their lives. Their bond with one another provides the ultimate magic.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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An Amazing YA Summer– Four New Titles!

Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

I’ve read so many great new Young Adult books lately that I couldn’t help but share more than one with you this month. Below, find books representing all of the best that summer has to offer: romance, music, adventure, and much more!

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Holding CourtHOLDING COURT by K.C. Held

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Why I love it: A YA romantic comedy mystery? Count. Me. In. The protagonist, Jules, is a fascinating, lovable, honest, and quirky character that I just couldn’t get enough of. Her seemingly random psychic blurting made me LOL more than once, and her love of Grayson Chandler’s abs created plenty of adorably awkward teenage crush moments. This reminded me of a fun, younger version of Psych (LOVED that show) set at a Medieval Times dinner theater, which might sound cheesy but is actually magically delicious.

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Tone DeafTONE DEAF by Olivia Rivers

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

Why I love it: I’ve never read anything quite like this before. Ali and Jace, with their experiences with music and the Deaf culture, were absolutely fascinating characters. I loved their connection. Ali is a great, strong, smart protagonist who I couldn’t help but cheer for all the way through. I’m also a fan of how skillfully the topic of abuse was woven into the story, bringing in a serious topic without making the whole story depressing.

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Little Black Dresses LITTLE BLACK DRESSES, LITTLE WHITE LIES by Laura Stampler

Harper Anderson always believed she belonged somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick’s backyard can one girl take? That’s why Harper is beyond ecstatic when she lands her dream internship as a dating blogger at the elite teen magazine Shift. Getting to spend the summer in New York City to live her dream of becoming a writer? Harper’s totally in.

There’s just one teeny, tiny, infinitesimal problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a lot of – or, really, any – dating expertise. In fact, she might have sort of stolen her best friend’s experiences as her own on her Shift application. But she can learn on the job…right?

From awkward run-ins with the cute neighborhood dog-walker to terrifying encounters with her crazed editor, from Brooklyn gallery openings to weekends in the Hamptons, Harper finds out what it takes to make it in the Big City–and as the writer of her own destiny.

Why  I love it: Harper’s story, along with the characters, the pacing, and the settings are all spot on. Harper as a main character is relatable and flawed yet still totally likable, and I found her summer adventures to be just irresponsible enough to have fun without crossing the line into encouraging destructive behaviors. I also loved the ending and how Harper grew throughout the course of the story.

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Love & GelatoLOVE & GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Why I love it: I have all the love in the world for well-written YA books involving an American teen traveling to a place I’d love to go. Through the journal that was left for her in Italy, Lina makes some new and strong connections to her mom, and she learns some truths about her father, which ultimately lead her to really understand and appreciate what family means. She also finds love and adventure throughout the summer, and the story is really just beautiful. It also left me with a serious desire to go to Italy… But I settled for making a feast of Italian food for my family.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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An Overdue Tribute To Pat Conroy

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

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MARYBETH WHALEN

When I was 17 years old, I read a book called The Prince of Tides. Though I’d long been a reader I’m not sure any book had ever gripped me like this one had. I know it’s easy to say “I couldn’t put it down.” But I could not put it down. I read it behind my textbook in class, the boy I had a crush on leaning over to see what I was reading and asking “So, what’s that book about?”

I still remember totally forgetting to be cool around this boy as I gushed about all the many layers and nuances contained in this rich story world I had entered. I didn’t care. I was crushing on this book far more than I could even think of crushing on him. This author got it. This Pat Conroy. He got family dysfunction and undying love. He got the south and the people who live there. He got the melodic flow of language and the grip of a story well told.

Even though I had never met him he got… me.

Flash forward many years later. I’m at a literary event and he’s there. Serving readers food. Literally carrying the food to their tables and chatting them up as he did. He was warm and funny and gracious and self deprecating. He laughed a lot. I stood at a distance and watched, but was too tongue-tied and awestruck to approach him. When he died in March I saw myself there, standing in that doorway considering approaching him and chickening out instead. I chastised myself for not taking the chance when I had it. Here I was in front of my literary hero and… I blew it. And I always thought I’d just get another chance eventually. So the news of his death was sobering and saddening. I’d missed my chance forever.

So a few weeks ago when I heard that his beloved wife, Cassandra King Conroy, had organized a memorial for the public in his adopted hometown of Beaufort, I decided to go. Because this was a chance I was not going to miss. And though he wouldn’t actually be there, I sensed he would be there. And other people who felt like I did about him would be there. It was the closest I was ever going to get to making good on my missed opportunity. So I got in my car and drove the four hours Beaufort. It was on a whim, yet it felt like it had been determined long ago.

I went alone, and I sat alone, and I listened to every word of tribute spoken about this man who so impacted my life with his words. I took in the breathtaking view of the bay and the palm trees blowing in the breeze and the unbelievably blue sky and I understood that this was what he was writing about– the land, the words, the people, the stories. I laughed and I cried, and I paid my respects to him the only way I had left. Because it was something I could do. It was my way of saying thank you, of saying goodbye, of coming as close to him as I was ever going to get again this side of heaven.

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ARIEL LAWHON

Some authors are so revered that their names are whispered at literary events like an incantation. Authors who earn an “esque” after their names. Patchett-esque. Conroy-esque. Authors whose style is so unique, so mesmerizing that others emulate them for decades. The Kings and Queens of publishing as it were.

And I will never forget the day I first saw the reigning King and Queen of publishing in the flesh for the first time, or the regret I’ve held since that day. In October of 2014 I was invited to attend the Southern Festival of the Book here in Nashville. My debut novel had been published a few months earlier and it was the last event I was scheduled to attend. If I’m being totally honest, I was exhausted and wilted and tired of talking about myself and my book. So as I sat in the green room, waiting for my panel, I was a little subdued. And then heard THE GASP. When I looked up, Ann Patchett and Pat Conroy stood in the door, and fifty or so authors sat open-mouthed staring at them.

Here’s what you need to understand about me: if I am in awe of you, I will avoid you at all costs. I will not make eye contact or ask for your autograph. My absurd brain believes that the best way to show respect is to be the one person in a room not genuflecting. I will give you one less hand to shake. One less gushing compliment to deflect. I will leave you alone because I assume that you’re tired of the lines. This is unreasonable and I have no idea why I do it but it’s my default setting.

So I sat there, watching fifty authors rise to their feet and form two lines, and I settled deeper into my chair. A very flawed plan considering that within minutes I was the only person sitting. And three feet away, directly to my left, was Pat Conroy. But I dug in, determined.

The simple truth is that I froze. And it was awkward. And embarrassing. And obvious. I find myself in green rooms like that on occasion and at the time I thought I’d have another chance. I would rally and do better next time. But you know how this story ends and that second chance never came. If I could have done it all over again I would have gotten to my feet and shaken his hand. I would have told him what an honor it was to meet him. How staggered I am by his talent. I would have allowed myself to be in awe. He would have forgotten me instantly but I would have treasured the memory.

A memory that I never made because I’m an idiot.

Shake your hero’s hand. Give that gushing compliment. Send the email. Write the letter. Tell them that story in the signing line about how their novel changed your life or made you want to be a writer or helped you forgive your dad. They’ll understand. They do this because they know words are powerful and they want to hear that they have touched your life. Don’t be like me. Be a fan girl.

So when I woke on March 4th and learned of Pat Conroy’s passing I was devastated. But I instantly knew how to make amends. I decided to read through his entire body of work this year as penance for my stupidity. I already owned The Prince of Tides but I bought each of his other books on my book tour this spring and I am currently  immersing myself in Pat Conroy’s south. I’ve lived here for much of the last twenty years but I can honestly say I’ve never really understood it until now.

Thank you for that, Mr. Conroy. It has been an unexpected gift. And I’m sorry that I don’t have the sense God gave a rock. I hope we get the chance to laugh about that one day on the other side of eternity.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Quick Lit For June

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

Here’s what we’ve been reading lately– some for research, some for encouragement, and some just for fun!

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MB Reads

What Marybeth Is Reading Right Now

It’s Ok To Laugh by Nora McInerny Purport: Two words to sum up this memoir– ugly cry. I had to go into my bathroom where my kids wouldn’t say, “Mom, what’s wrong? Why are you retching and heaving after reading that innocuous looking book?” Okay, that’s not what they would’ve said but that’s what I was doing. Nora McInerny Purmort has crafted one of the rawest, most compelling memoirs of loss and living after it I’ve ever experienced. And to read it was truly an experience. It’s going to be one of my top books of this year for sure.

Truly, Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: This one’s not available yet but go ahead and put it on your radar (July 26, 2016). Because it’s yet another fine example of Liane Moriarty doing what she does best– revealing the complexities of life in suburbia, and digging into the interior lives of a bunch of ordinary people even as their exterior lives take many twists and turns. This hefty tome is nearly 500 pages, but I  enjoyed every one of them. And also?? She’s going to be our headliner at #ReadSavannah in September!! If you can wait that long I’d say buy a copy there and have her sign it. Even better. Here’s how to register for the event– we hope to see you there!

Me and My Baby View The Eclipse by Lee Smith: I listened to this one on audio because sometimes it’s good to go back to your reading roots. Lee Smith was hugely influential on me as a writer and as a reader. I discovered her when I was 15 and some of my dad’s renters moved out and left a huge box of books behind. (Can you imagine? It was a travesty leaving books behind like that!) But their dumb move was my gain because, knowing I was a reader (understatement), he gave them to me. Her novel Black Mountain Breakdown was in that box, and that was the beginning of my lifelong fandom of Lee Smith. Going back and hearing these stories was nostalgic and satisfying, and made me remember why I love her writing so.

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What Ariel Is Reading Right Now

Listen, I’ just going to say it now: I have too many books open at the moment. Some of these I’ve read and some are in progress but there’s a reason that I’ve committed to each of them. It’s also worth noting that I picked up every book in this first set because I was drawn to the cover. They all have this mesmerizing feel about them. Magical even. I dig it. Further proof that I do judge books by their covers and I’m not sorry about that.

Cool Covers

Two If By Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I don’t know how to say it other than this: Jacquelyn Mitchard’s new novel cured an almost year-long reading slump for me. I loved this novel wholeheartedly. It’s about a man named Frank Mercy who rescues a young boy with extraordinary gifts and then goes to great lengths to protect him. It’s about fatherhood and loss and falling in love after profound tragedy. It’s about believing the unbelievable and standing in the gap to protect those who can’t protect themselves. This was my first Mitchard novel and I had no idea what to expect but I now understand why so many people adore her. I found it long (in a good way) and smooth and I actually dreamed about these characters while reading. I loved this book so much, in fact, that I wrote Jacquelyn afterward to thank her. And then she wrote back. And I flopped around and died of happy.

The 100 Year Miracle by Ashley Ream. I started this one last night and I have high hopes for it. It’s about a natural phenomena that occurs off the coast of Washington state once every one hundred years and the handful of people who desperately need the miracle it provides. I need the magical and the miraculous in my life right now and I can’t wait to report back. If the first chapter is any indication, this novel is going to be a big winner with me. I’ve written here before about how I always know if I’ll love a book by the time I finish the first chapter.

Progeny by Tosca Lee. This was the first book in ages that I’ve read in a single day. I just usually don’t have the time, no matter how much I love a book. There are always things to be done and people to collect and words to write. But this novel found me on a day when I wasn’t feeling great and I laid on the couch and read it cover to cover. We’ve all heard that somewhat creepy expression “bathing in the blood of virgins.” Well this novel is about the descendants of Elizabeth Bathory, the woman who, according to legend, did just that. It’s a little bit YA, a little bit magical realism, and whole lot thriller. I inhaled it.

Red Books

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Yes, I’m the one person on earth who didn’t read this book when it published a few years ago. The fact is that I’m stubborn and sometimes I don’t read a book simply because everyone else is reading it and I want to be contrary. I don’t like being told what to do. But I’ve wanted to read it all along and I’ve held out long enough. So with the movie releasing I thought it would be the perfect time. I’m just a few chapters from the end and I absolutely love it. I get it now. You win, Jojo. Well done, girl.

Six Years by Harlan Coben. I’ve held on to this advanced release copy since it came in the mail two (three?) years ago. This is my first Coben novel and I’m really curious to see if this is my jam. I have a feeling it will be.

The Expats by Chris Pavone. I’m on a thriller kick at the moment and I’m reading this one because my agent absolutely adores Chris Pavone. She told me I had to read it and I do whatever she tells me. The end.

Romanov Research

These three are all on deck as research for my new novel. Combined they probably run eleventy-billion pages and cover three hundred years worth of history. If I can’t speak in complete sentences for the next six months this is why. Pray for me.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Book, Meet Book

These two books must meet because they’re both about a disturbing event told in a compelling way. What do you think? Are you going to read one or– like us– both??

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All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

It begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefully constructed world.

As Tom and Charlotte seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

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The Last Good GirlThe Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta

It was her word against his…until she disappeared.

Emily Shapiro has gone missing. A freshman at a Michigan university, Emily was last seen leaving a bar near Beta Psi, a prestigious and secretive fraternity. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. At first, the only clue is pieced-together surveillance footage of Emily leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her.

When prosecutor Anna Curtis discovers a video diary Emily kept during her first few months at college, it exposes the history Emily had with Dylan: she accused him of rape before disappearing. Anna is horrified to discover that Dylan’s frat is known on campus as the “rape factory.”

The case soon gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Anna has to find something, anything she can use to discover Emily alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to stop before she ruins the name of an innocent young man.

Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Book, Meet Book: Two Novels About Lost Loves

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Sometimes we find novels that just have a certain connection– so much so we feel they must meet each other (and you!) right away! These two novels are about lost loves… that might not stay that way.

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One True LovesOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

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Everything We KeepEverything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Our Pre-Summer Thriller Roundup

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start stocking your beach bags with page turners so riveting you’ll forget to reapply sunscreen. We’re getting your list started with a bang today– better stock up on aloe while you’re at it!

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Dont You cryDon’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

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woman with a secretWoman With A Secret by Sophie Hannah

Traffic on Elmhirst Road has come to a halt. The police are stopping cars, searching for something. Nicki Clements waits patiently, until she glimpses a face she hoped she’d never see again. It’s him—and he’s the cop checking each car. Desperate to avoid him, she makes a panicky U-turn and escapes.

But Nicki’s peculiar behavior did not go unnoticed, and now the police have summoned her for questioning. A resident of Elmhirst Road has been murdered—a controversial newspaper columnist named Damon Blundy. The detectives begin peppering her with questions. Why was she seen fleeing the scene? What is her connection to the victim? Why was the knife that killed him used in such a peculiar way? Why were the words “HE IS NO LESS DEAD” painted on the wall of Blundy’s study—and what do they signify?

One simple answer could clear her. But she can’t explain why she fled Elmhirst Road that day without revealing the secret that could ruin her.

Nicki isn’t guilty of murder. But she’s far from innocent. . . .

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the other widowThe Other Widow by Susan Crawford

Everybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs . . .

It isn’t safe. That’s what Joe tells her when he ends their affair—moments before their car skids off an icy road in a blinding snowstorm and hits a tree. Desperate to keep her life intact—her job, her husband, and her precious daughter, Lily—Dorrie will do everything she can to protect herself, even if it means walking away from the wreckage. Dorrie has always been a good actress, pretending to be someone else: the dutiful daughter, the satisfied wife, the woman who can handle anything. Now she’s going to put on the most challenging performance of her life. But details about the accident leave her feeling uneasy and afraid. Why didn’t Joe’s airbag work? Why was his car door open before the EMTs arrived? And now suddenly someone is calling her from her dead lover’s burner phone. . . .

Joe’s death has left his wife in free fall as well. Karen knew Joe was cheating—she found some suspicious e-mails. Trying to cope with grief is devastating enough without the constant fear that has overtaken her—this feeling she can’t shake that someone is watching her. And with Joe gone and the kids grown, she’s vulnerable . . . and on her own.

Insurance investigator Maggie Devlin is suspicious of the latest claim that’s landed on her desk—a man dying on an icy road shortly after buying a lucrative life insurance policy. Maggie doesn’t believe in coincidences. The former cop knows that things—and people—are never what they seem to be.

As the fates of these three women become more tightly entwined, layers of lies and deception begin to peel away, pushing them dangerously to the edge . . . closer to each other . . . to a terrifying truth . . . to a shocking end.

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I let you goI Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

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The Girl From HomeeThe Girl From Home by Adam Mitzner

Jonathan Caine is a true master of the universe—a currency wizard with a trophy wife, a penthouse condo with a view of the Statue of Liberty, and the desire for more—when his world comes crashing down, spiraling him into a relentless fall from grace. Devastated, Jonathan returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father and attend his twenty-fifth high school reunion, where he becomes reacquainted with former prom queen Jacqueline Williams. Back in the day, Jackie didn’t even know Jonathan existed. Now she is intrigued by the man he has become. But their budding relationship has problems, not the least of which is Jackie’s jealous and abusive husband. Jonathan is determined to learn from his mistakes, but is he capable of complete transformation? Or will a shocking temptation test his desire for redemption beyond anything he could have imagined?

 

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Book, Meet Book

Today we continue our “Book, Meet Book” series and introduce two novels to each other– and to you guys– because we think they have some things in common and would make a good match. Today’s books feature single parents, new places, and unexpected love. Will you add one– or both– to your “Want To Read” list? Let us know!

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Stepping Into a New DayStepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .

Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a back-seat to his 600-lb. hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T.C. Barbour appears in her life.

A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T.C.’s attention for good.

But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.

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The Summer of MeThe Summer of Me by Angela Benson

As a single mother, Destiny makes sacrifices for her children—including saying goodbye for the summer so they can spend time with their father and stepmother. Though she’ll miss them with all her heart, the time alone gives her an opportunity to address her own needs, like finish getting her college degree. But Destiny’s friends think her summer should include some romance.

Destiny doesn’t want to be set up…until she meets Daniel. The handsome, warm and charming pastor soon sweeps Destiny off her feet. But is romance what she really wants? Or needs?

As the days pass, Destiny will make new discoveries—about herself, the man she’s fallen for, and the people around her. And she’ll face challenging choices. But most of all, she’ll grow in ways she never imagined, learning unexpected lessons about trust, forgiveness, and the price of motherhood…and truly become the woman she wants to be.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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The Lighter Side of Spring

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Whether laugh out loud funny or just plain heartwarming, these recent releases focus on the lighter side of life– and spring is the perfect time for lightening things up!

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Wedding GirlWedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

You’ve Got Mail meets Julie & Julia in the new foodie fiction from the author of Recipe for Disaster.

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch…

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Rejected WritersThe Rejected Writer’s Book Club by Suzanne Kelvin

Librarian Janet Johnson is puzzled when she is invited—and practically dragged—to her first meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club. This quirky group of women would much rather celebrate one another’s rejected manuscripts over cups of tea and slices of lemon cake than actually publish a book. But good friends are exactly what Janet needs after moving to the small town of Southlea Bay, Washington. Just as the ladies are about to raise a teacup to their five hundredth rejection letter, they receive bad news that could destroy one member’s reputation—and disband the group forever. To save the club, Janet joins her fellow writers on a wild road trip to San Francisco in search of the local publisher who holds the key to a long-buried secret. As they race to the finish line, they’ll face their fears—landslides, haunted houses, handsome strangers, ungrateful children—and have the time of their lives.

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Where We FallWhere We Fall by Rochelle Weinstein

By all accounts, Abby Holden has it all. She’s the mother of a beautiful teenager and the wife of a beloved high school football coach. And all it took to achieve her charmed life was her greatest act of betrayal.

Coach Ryan can coax his team to victory, but he can’t seem to make his wife, Abby, happy. Her struggles with depression have marred their marriage and taken a toll on their daughter, Juliana. Although this isn’t the life he’s dreamed of, he’s determined to heal the rifts in his family.

Chasing waterfalls and documenting their beauty has led photographer Lauren Sheppard all around the world. Now it has brought her back home to the mountains of North Carolina—back to the scene of her devastating heartbreak.

For the first time in seventeen years, a trio of once-inseparable friends find themselves confronting past loves, hurts, and the rapid rush of a current that still pulls them together…

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Will YouWill You Won’t You Want Me? by Nora Zelevansky

Marjorie Plum never meant to peak in high school. She was Queen Bee. Now, 10 years later, she’s lost her sparkle. At her bleakest moment, she’s surprised by renewed interest from a questionable childhood crush, and the bickering with her cranky boss–at a potentially game-changing new job–grows increasingly like flirtatious banter. Suddenly, she’s faced with a choice between the life she always dreamed of and one she never thought to imagine. With the help of a precocious 11-year-old tutee, who unknowingly becomes the Ghost of Marjorie Past, and a musician roommate, who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama, Marjorie struggles with the ultimate question: Who does she want to be? Nora Zelevansky’s Will You Won’t You Want Me? is a funny, often surprising, novel about growing up when you are already supposed to be grown.

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The ONe that Got AwayThe One That Got Away by Leigh Himes

Meet Abbey Lahey . . .

Overworked mom. Underappreciated publicist. Frazzled wife of an out-of-work landscaper. A woman desperately in need of a vacation from life–and who is about to get one, thanks to an unexpected tumble down a Nordstrom escalator.

Meet Abbey van Holt . . .

The woman whose life Abbey suddenly finds herself inhabiting when she wakes up. Married to handsome congressional candidate Alex van Holt. Living in a lavish penthouse. Wearing ball gowns and being feted by the crème of Philadelphia society. Luxuriating in the kind of fourteen-karat lifestyle she’s only read about in the pages of Town & Country.

The woman Abbey might have been . . . if she had said yes to a date with Alex van Holt all those years ago.

In the tradition of the romantic comedy Sliding Doors and Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World, Leigh Himes’s irresistible debut novel tells the funny and touching story of an ordinary woman offered an extraordinary opportunity to reboot her life, explore the road not taken, and ultimately, find her true self–whoever that may be.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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But When: A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock

Today’s post by Amber Brock | @AmberBrockWrites

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 Amber Brock to share a bit about her new novel, A FINE IMITATION in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!

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Amber Brock -- photo credit Nina Parker

Amber Brock — photo credit Nina Parker

My novel, A Fine Imitation, is the story of two crucial moments in socialite Vera Bellington’s life—the first crossroads comes when she is a junior at Vassar in 1913, and the second is in 1923, when she’s living in the most luxurious penthouse in Manhattan, the Angelus, in an unhappy marriage. As a college student, she’s considering the immediate choices her future offers. She’s torn between the enticing possibilities college has opened up for her and the role prescribed for her by society. Ten years later, she is locked in a cycle of pointless social engagements, suffocating under her overbearing mother’s close watch, and slowly coming to the realization that the life she’s living is not one she would have chosen for herself.  She’s been playing the role of dutiful daughter and happy wife for too long, and she at last begins to admit to herself that the part she’s playing has brought her only misery.

Vera gets two “but when” moments, both of which involve free-spirited artists who cause her to question the life dictated by her place in society. In 1913, the turning point is a night out on the town with her friend Bea Stillman. When Vera agrees to sneak out with Bea, she sets in motion a chain of events that lead to more broken hearts than just Vera’s own. In 1923, still haunted by the choices she made in the fallout after that night, Vera meets a handsome, mysterious artist who brings up the same choice between her heart and her reputation. Emil Hallan, much like Bea did ten years before, pushes her to challenge the things she’s blindly accepted. In doing so, Vera reaches deep inside to find the college girl who once had hope about her circumstances and choices. But with that hope comes painful memories, and before she can claim a new life, she must confront the mistakes of her past.

Vera’s “but when” moment in 1923 doesn’t come with easy answers. Though she’s falling in love with Emil, she knows he’s hiding his true identity. His secrets could ruin her if she decides to follow her heart. And while the life she’s trapped in at the top of the Angelus building does offer comfort and security, it means remaining in a marriage with a man who will never really be her partner. Still, even if the choices aren’t easy, Vera begins to realize that simply having choices at all helps her find a new strength. Ultimately, that strength has the potential to save her.

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A Fine Imitation jacketSet in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite’s restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin.

Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus–the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home.

Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera’s curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan’s warmth and passion, Vera can’t suppress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too–and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile.

When the dangerous mysteries of Emil’s past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice–whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we’ve always led is not the life we want to have.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

read more