This month’s book club selection is absolutely worth the wait. We’ve long been fans of Joshilyn Jackson and have waited eagerly for her newest book to arrive. We got early copies of SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY and fell in love with the characters immediately. A young, single mother. A charming, genius child. A broken, gifted man. The best friend who never turns away. It’s a story about miracles and redemption and finding the truth when the truth seems impossible. It is classic Joshilyn Jackson and it’s her best novel yet. We adored this book.
But here’s the deal. You can’t actually buy a copy for eight more days. It doesn’t officially publish until November 19th. Don’t fret, however, we have five copies of SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY up for grabs this week. (See the entry form below for details) And Joshilyn will be with be with us the entire month sharing exclusive content including pictures of her writing space, the inspiration behind the novel, and the short story prequel to the novel (among other things). In the mean time you can pre-order a copy of the novel at your local independent bookstore or the links provided here so that you have the book in your hot little hands the moment it’s available.
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SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY is beloved and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson’s funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be.
Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn’t define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.
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Can’t wait until the 19th to get a taste of SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY? Well, friends, you’re in luck. MY OWN MIRACULOUS will tide you over. Pick up a copy when you pre-order SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY and get a running start at the novel.
From New York Times bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson comes an e-original short story that gives a fierce and funny character from SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY a standalone adventure all her own.
Shandi Pierce got pregnant when she was only seventeen years old. She fell for her son—deeply, instantly, completely—but as she sat at the table feeding him, her own mother was sliding eggs and bacon onto her plate, feeding her. Now, four years later, Shandi is still more parented than parent.
She lives with her mom, her dad pays her bills, and her best friend, Walcott, acts as her white knight. But Natty is no ordinary kid, and when his savant behavior catches the attention of an obsessive stranger, only Shandi sees the true menace.
To protect her son, Shandi must grow up—fast—and find an answer to the question, how can a girl remake herself into a mother?
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Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times Bestselling author of GODS IN ALABAMA, BETWEEN, GEORGIA, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, BACKSEAT SAINTS, and A GROWN UP KIND OF PRETTY. SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY is her most recent novel. Her short novella, MY OWN MIRACULOUS, is the prequel to SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY, and is available as an e book and an audio download.
She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband and their two kids. She loves Bourbon and Hot Yoga (not together) and she has more dogs than you. Unless you have three. Joshilyn is also an award winning audiobook narrator.
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Alas, all good things must come to an end. We’ve loved this week’s series–and each of the novels we’ve featured here–but we have a book club selection to announce on Monday. So we asked Kathleen McCleary to wrap up The Books Of Fall by telling us a bit about her latest novel, LEAVING HAVEN.
This is your last chance to win all five novels that we’ve featured this week. And if you’re just now dropping in don’t forget to read about the novels we featured on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Also, if you haven’t yet tossed your name in the hat, make sure to do so today. See the entry form below for details.
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I’ll tell you something true: I am not that interested in babies, and yet I just published a novel about a woman who longs for a baby. Of course my novel, LEAVING HAVEN, is about other things, too: friendship, love, fidelity, integrity, wholeness. But at the heart of it is a woman’s desire for a baby, a desire she can’t give up.
It’s a desire I understand very well, even though I’m long past wanting a baby. But seventeen years ago, when I was five months pregnant with what would have been my second child, I went into my obstetrician’s office for a routine visit only to be told that the baby I was carrying was dead.
This was my third pregnancy loss. I had a daughter, but my husband and I wanted another child—or even two. And with that third loss, I realized I might never have one.
No one tells you how to mourn the unborn. I felt the loss as the first deep grief of my life; I would not weep again in that kind of primal way until my father died fifteen years later. Miscarriage is a death, and death remains the last taboo in our culture, the topic that’s just too personal/frightening/raw/real to talk about.
For weeks, I lived in a kind of limbo. I had gained enough weight that I no longer fit into my regular clothes, but I couldn’t wear maternity clothes. People didn’t know what to say to me. Friends’ eyes would slide from my face to my shrinking belly, and then they would turn away. “It’s not like losing a child you actually knew and loved,” someone said. Well, no, it wasn’t, but it was the loss of a child nonetheless, made lonelier by the fact that I was the only one who had really known this unborn baby, and so I was the only one to mourn him, or her. I held my daughter tight at night, aware she might be the only child I would ever have, knowing I was lucky beyond words to have her, knowing it did not still the longing for another baby. I felt greedy; I felt bereft.
When people ask me how “autobiographical” my novels are, I explain that the feelings in my books are facts, it’s just the facts that are fiction—something I heard once and agree with wholeheartedly. LEAVING HAVEN is about a woman who longs for a baby and can’t give up that dream. Georgia, the main character, is not me, but her feelings about wanting a baby are mine. Her fears are mine, too.
Like Georgia, I was lucky enough to have another baby. My daughters are grown now. My eldest is 19, a brilliant, spirited girl who is currently traveling in New Zealand. My youngest is 16, a happy, sweet-natured kid who is an accomplished student and athlete. I love them with all my heart. Yet I still think about the baby who wasn’t, the baby who was due on October 16 (the same birthday as Madonna’s daughter), the baby who might have looked a little bit like me, who might have been a boy, who might have been. I gave him a name when I wrote this novel. Haven.
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Georgia Bing and Alice Kinnaird have always been there for each other. After Georgia suffers several miscarriages, Alice is eager to help her best friend have another baby, and Alice donates some of her eggs. Georgia is thrilled when she learns she’s going to have the baby boy she’s always wanted—until a devastating discovery destroys her dreams.While Alice is happy about her friend’s pregnancy, she also feels a twinge of disappointment, a sense that her own life is missing something she desperately craves. On the surface, she has everything—a busy social life, a great job, a faithful husband, and an amazing teenage daughter. But her well-ordered world is knocked off its axis when she’s tempted by a passion that threatens the bonds of friendship, marriage, and motherhood that sustain her. As the safety of their past is shattered, Georgia and Alice must each embark on a journey of self-discovery—an odyssey filled with surprising challenges that will test them and force them to confront the truth of their lives . . . and the choices they’ve made.
Our Books of Fall series continues today with the charming novel, THE WISHING THREAD, by Lisa Van Allen. Make sure you read about the books we featured on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. And don’t forget to toss your name in the hat to win all five novels by using the form below!
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I’m a knitter, and whenever I make a gift for someone, I always knit a few good wishes and prayers into the stitches in hopes that some of that good energy will somehow rub off on the recipient down the line.
So you can imagine it wasn’t a far leap from there to, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a person could knit a magic spell?”
In that moment, the idea for The Wishing Thread was born.
As for the setting of the story, I owe that to my husband. He and I love going on adventures in the Hudson Valley, and we’re particularly interested in local history. The Hudson Valley overflows with ghost stories, in part because many battles of the Revolutionary War happened along the Hudson River’s shores.
One day, while the idea for The Wishing Thread was just a little itch at the back of my brain, my husband said he wanted to take me to Tarrytown. I asked him, “Do you mean Tarrytown as in the place where Washington Irving set ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?’”
Of course, he did. And then I had a setting that was a writer’s dream: a colorful, historic village that runneth over with folk tales of ghosts, pirates, and of course The Headless Horseman. I knew The Wishing Thread had found its home.
As for the story, my little kernel of an idea become more and more complex as it grew. The “magic” in The Wishing Thread isn’t exactly an easy magic; it’s demanding and notoriously unreliable.
In the book, three estranged sisters must come together to decide the fate of their family legacy—a yarn shop called The Stitchery.
In order for the magic of The Stitchery to work, a person must be willing to give up something that’s as important as what they’ll receive if the spell works. And that means the “magic” is not a sure bet.
Each sister must come to terms with the family’s dubious position in the community—and with her own feelings about what is magic and what’s just the power of suggestion at work.
Since the book came out, I’ve been pleased to receive many letters from others who knit and crochet. The book’s been well-reviewed by the big players, but I have to say my favorite compliment came from a reader who said The Wishing Thread was the “best knitting book” she’s ever read.
These days, when everything is made by machines and in factories, handmade gifts mean so much more—and by “handmade,” I’m talking about everything from mittens to home-cooked meals. I hope this book will speak to any woman who knows the magic of giving or receiving gifts made with heart.
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For fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Sarah Addison Allen, The Wishing Thread is an enchanting novel about the bonds between sisters, the indelible pull of the past, and the transformational power of love.
The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.
When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?
If you’re visiting us for the first time this week, make sure you read our posts from Monday and Tuesday to learn about the other two novels we’ve profiled in our Books of Fall series. Today we’re featuring the much-anticipated, THE WHOLE GOLDEN WORLD, by Kristina Riggle. This is one of those heart-in-your-throat novels that leaves you just a bit shaken and thinking of the characters, and their choices, for months afterwards.
Every day this week we’re giving away all five books in this series. See the form below for today’s entry details.
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I was leafing through my local paper when this headline grabbed me: “Former teacher admits having sex with 17-year-old girl.” Of course I read on, how could I not? But it was the first paragraph that got my novelists’ wheels turning: the writer noted that the young woman sat on the defendant’s side of the courtroom, while her parents sat on the prosecution’s side.
One of the fascinating parts of human nature, for me, has to do with the different stories we tell ourselves. A group of people can experience one event, and even preserve all the same basic facts, but come out with different narratives.
Here was a clear case of that very dynamic in action, and in a way that must have been painful for those involved. That was the seed of THE WHOLE GOLDEN WORLD, which opens in a courtroom, with 17-year-old Morgan stepping away from her parents to go sit behind the man accused of criminal sexual conduct against her.
When I started out as a newspaper reporter, I used to think Capital-T-Truth was out there (like Fox Mulder would have said on the X-Files) and it was my job to dig it up and present it. After working as a reporter for years, and listening to impassioned sources look at the same facts and come up with wildly different versions of truth – all committed absolutely to their beliefs, which were often perfectly plausible – I realized that Truth was far more complicated than I ever believed in J-School.
Complicated truth makes for a tough sell in 14 column inches, but it’s fertile ground for a novel, and a whole lot more like real life.
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Seventeen-year-old Morgan Monetti shocks her parents and her community with one simple act: She chooses to stand by the man everyone else believes has exploited her—popular high school teacher TJ Hill. Quietly walking across a crowded courtroom to sit behind TJ, and not beside her parents, she announces herself as the adult she believes herself to be.
But her mother, Dinah, wants justice. Dinah is a fighter, and she believes with all her heart and soul that TJ is a man who took advantage of her daughter. He is a criminal who should be brought to justice, no matter what the cost to his family.
Rain, TJ’s wife, is shocked that her handsome, loving, respected husband has been accused of a terrible crime. But has her desperation to start a family closed her eyes to the fault lines in her marriage? And can she face the painful truths about herself and her husband?
Told from the perspectives of these three remarkable women, THE WHOLE GOLDEN WORLD navigates the precarious territory between childhood and adulthood, raising questions about love and manipulation, marriage and motherhood, consent and responsibility. It’s a novel both shocking and unforgettable in its power.
Confession: I absolutely loved the book we’re featuring today. It’s not often that I’ll willingly trade sleep for anything, but for this novel I made the happy exchange. I stayed up until three o’clock two nights in a row and never once complained about the sleep-deprived results. It was worth it.
So I am delighted to introduce you to the second novel in our Books of Fall series: THE RUNAWAY WIFE by Rowan Coleman. (Click here to learn more about Monday’s featured novel, CARTWHEEL by Jennifer Dubois) We’re giving away all five novels in this series every day this week. See the form below for today’s entry rules.
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Every book I have ever written has meant a lot to me, but with my latest book THE RUNAWAY WIFE, something really special happened when the real world and the fiction I love to write collided. It changed me as a person and a writer, forever.
I was getting ready to research my tenth novel, which with the help of my Facebook readers I’d decided should pivot around the theme of domestic abuse. It was a subject I’d touched on briefly once before, when I wrote my short novella Woman Walks into a Bar, which to this day remains one of the pieces of work of which I am most proud, but I was ready to look into the subject in more depth, I felt it could make a really powerful subject for a novel.
I go to my facebook and twitter followers a lot, ask them to name characters in a book, or a bar or café. I really enjoy getting my readers involved in the writing process, so I didn’t give it much thought when I posted on my Facebook page asking if anyone had any personal experiences of domestic abuse, or any stories they might share with me in confidence. I’m not sure I expected any replies.
I was shocked and amazed by the response; when I opened my email the next day there were more than 200 emails waiting in my inbox. Each story I read was horrific and frightening in its own way, giving me an insight into the secret lives of many women; lives that all too often remain hidden. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone – well educated wealthy women are just as likely to suffer as women from a less privileged background – but the one thing all those women had in common was that they were survivors. After years of being mentally and physically beaten down, they had managed to find the emotional strength, somehow, to break free and start again. And that was where I found the beginnings of the character that was to become Rose. I knew I wanted this to be a book about finding hope in world that seemed hopeless.
As I was writing THE RUNAWAY WIFE I realized that this book had captured my heart in a way that no other had, I cared so much for Rose, because in my head she embodied all of the women that had so generously and bravely shared their stories with me. It meant so much to me that I got this book right, that it became the most challenging project I have ever worked on.
Soon after publication in the UK I began to receive emails and letters, facebook messages and tweets from readers who THE RUNAWAY WIFE had meant something to, and who recognized themselves in Rose, and that came as a huge relief to me. I was glad that women who had been through a similar journey to Rose approved of the book, but more than that, when I heard from a few, still caught up in abusive relationships I was heartened by hearing that in some small way THE RUNAWAY WIFE had helped then think about getting help and changing their lives. And since writing this book I have become an active campaigner and fundraiser for domestic abuse charities.
When I set out to write a novel, the first thing I always want to do is to tell a good story, but when it comes to THE RUNAWAY WIFE the story of so many women became part of my story, and it’s a book that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
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When Rose Pritchard flees her abusive husband in the middle of the night, there’s only one place she can think of going. Millthwaite is a remote village deep in the Lake District, hundreds of miles from her unhappy home. It’s also Rose’s only link to Frasier McCleod. They met just once, long ago, but his kindness sparked a connection that has sustained her ever since.
Rose checks in to a local B&B with her young daughter, earning the scrutiny of the nosy landlady and the attention of her charming musician son. After the tumult of Rose’s marriage, the beauty of the surrounding countryside restores her hope. Here she will seize a chance to reconnect with her estranged father, to watch her anxious daughter grow in confidence, and to discover whether she’s been chasing a foolish fantasy in loving a man she hardly knows or following her heart’s call.
Candid, moving, and unflinchingly honest, this is a powerful story of heartache and new beginnings, friendship and family. Rowan Coleman’s touching and ultimately triumphant novel is a reminder that it’s not what you leave behind that defines you but what you’re running toward.
We will announce our November Book Club Selection next Monday. In the meantime we’re kicking off our holiday season a little early with a week-long series called The Books Of Fall. We’ll be featuring a must-read novel every day this week. These are all novels that we have read and loved recently. They are books made us think and made us cry. We got angry. We laughed. We celebrated. In every case, we needed to talk to someone after we finished. It’s a diverse collection of books, and no matter what your preference, there’s something for everyone in this series.
You know we love sending you home with a great book. But this week is a little different. We’re giving away all FIVE books EVERY day this week. (See entry form below for details). That means every day between November 4th and 8th, one lucky winner will receive all the books featured in this series. Keep them for yourself, or share them with friends. Either way, enjoy some of the best fiction releasing this fall:
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Each character in Cartwheel sees something different when they look at Lily Hayes, an American exchange student accused of murdering her roommate. The cartwheel Lily performs during her initial interrogation is an illustrative example of this—to some people it seems benign, to others suspicious—but it is not the only one. After her arrest, everything Lily has ever done, written, or said is viewed through the prism of the crime, harnessed as evidence of either her innocence or her guilt. Minor incidents of callousness or aggression cast strange shadows in retrospect: suddenly a catty e-mail looks homicidal, an ill-timed joke appears sociopathic, and a fictional story about a crime seems chillingly prophetic.
As another person writing a fictional story about a crime, I couldn’t help but consider how my own life might appear to a stranger who was scouring it for evidence of depravity (if I were ever accused of murder, Cartwheel itself would probably be exhibit A). I’ve always been fascinated by the details we zoom in on when someone does (or is accused of doing) something terrible—those small ugly moments in a life that only ever seem particularly significant when viewed, retroactively, as foreshadowing. In anyone’s past, no matter how virtuous or unexceptional, we would probably find a few. Many of Lily’s details, in fact, are nearly universal—she occasionally says things about people she would not say to them directly, she doesn’t always behave with perfect cultural appropriateness when traveling abroad, she sometimes misreads those around her and is sometimes misread by them in return.
Others are more specific—such as her interrogation room cartwheel and the divided interpretations it animates. And one incident, Lily’s childhood killing of a banana slug, was inspired by my own life—though it wasn’t a banana slug, but a snail, and though I didn’t personally deal the fatal blow, only made no move to intervene on the snail’s behalf. What stays with me about that incident is the curiosity I felt beforehand and the horror I felt afterward—the sense that I had exercised a quality I didn’t recognize myself as having. I never did anything like it again. And as that moment has so far proved the apex of violent mischief in my life, the episode has meant nothing for me—nobody has looked deeply into it for evidence of anything. When donated to Lily Hayes, however, it’s a detail that suddenly becomes crucial: it transforms into a critical portent, an explanatory clue, in the eyes of the other characters. Perhaps this is understandable, but it also doesn’t seem quite fair. And so here, to set the record straight, is my confession: Lily Hayes and I both committed unprovoked crimes against terrestrial mollusks as children. Only I got away with it.
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Written with the riveting storytelling of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.
When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.
Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.
In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond.
This book. It’s beautiful… and while the cover is absolutely gorgeous, it’s what you’ll find inside that’s even better. So if you were wondering what you should do this weekend, it’s this. Buy it, curl up with some comfort food and a blanket, and dive in.
Callie is a seventeen year old girl that commands attention from page one as you get a glimpse into her life on the run – constant homelessness caused my her mom’s need to escape from the past, and with only enough possessions to fill a small thrift store suitcase. Heartbreaking.
And then a routine traffic violation turns into a life-changing event for Callie and her mom, forcing Callie to come face to face with a father she’d grown up thinking didn’t love her. Suddenly, she sees the sad reality of what life with her mom has been, in comparison to what life with her dad could have been.
Through the overwhelming and in-your-face love of a larger than life Greek family, an incredibly hot and somewhat mysterious guy, a rediscovered preschool best friend, and a seriously cute community with a seriously cool book store, Callie is able to find the healing that she needs to move on with the decision she now faces: her mom or her dad?
By the time I finished this (which was on the same day I started because I just couldn’t stop), there were happy tears in my eyes and a good book hangover was in full force. I mean, I don’t give out many five star ratings on Goodreads, but I didn’t even hesitate for this one. I just loved it. And I also really wanted to travel to Tarpon Springs, Florida for some touristy sponge shopping and authentic Greek food.
Trish Doller has set herself pretty firmly on my list of must-read authors with this one. She deals with heavy topics in this YA/NA novel without making it depressing. She writes a raw, swoony romance that feels real, yet isn’t the saving grace of the protagonist – the romance isn’t what makes Callie ok, it just plays a part. That’s refreshing.
I asked Trish to tell us more about the setting of Tarpon Springs and what we, as adult readers, can take from Callie’s story. Her response made me want to go back and read it all over again!
What Trish Doller has to say about her novel, it’s setting, and writing damaged characters:
“The book is set in a small Florida town called Tarpon Springs––which is a real place––that boasts a significant Greek-American population. The main tourist destination is the sponge docks, a neighborhood within the town filled with Greek restaurants, gift shops, and sponge-diving related activities. As I walked down the street on my first visit and heard people speaking Greek, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be dropped into this pocket of Greek life. So I started thinking about who I might drop into Tarpon Springs. It had to be someone who’d either never been there before or who had been gone for a long time. And that’s when Callie’s story started taking shape in my head. The more I got to know her, the more I discovered that coming home to Tarpon Springs would be a big thing. An important thing.
Despite the fact that Callie is a damaged seventeen-year-old, I think there is some universality to her experiences that make WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE accessible to adult readers. Her story involves becoming part of a family, giving and accepting love––not to mention feeling deserving of that love––and learning how to forgive, as well as claiming her own sexual agency. I don’t know about you, but even though I went through a fairly typical adolescence, I can look back and relate––and I think other adults will, too. WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE also offers a sweet and sexy romance between Callie and Alex, a Greek-American sponge diver who––it has been said––brings the swoon. So there’s that.”
Where the Stars Still Shine is enthralling and charming and beautiful. I do hope you’ll run out and get a copy! Enjoy. - Melissa
Don’t forget that today is the last day to enter this months giveaway. See this post for details on how to win all three of Jojo Moyes’ novels.
I grew up surrounded by art. My parents were artists (they met at art school) and my father later ran a business storing and transporting art, so my earliest memories were spent wandering his warehouse, gazing at the priceless paintings and sculptures through the stretchers and cases. While art was treated reverently, it was also unremarkable, and as a child, having sat under his desk copying the Jackson Pollocks, or Francis Bacons, I would ask why my art wasn’t as valuable as the paintings in the high security area.
It is a question that still preoccupies me. What separates two works that look the same, that just happen to be by two different people?
In my book The Girl You Left Behind, a once-worthless painting becomes the subject of a multi-million pound lawsuit after the artist who paints it becomes fashionable. In the 1900s the painting has huge emotional significance to its subject, as it represents a time when her husband painted her and she was joyously happy.
Unfortunately, it has significance too to the German Kommandant who takes over her hotel, and sees remnants of his life before the war – as well as a woman he finds increasingly compelling.
And decades later, for Liv Halston, its owner, it speaks to her of her late husband and the happiness they shared. Each of these people suffers, and fights to claim this painting as their own.
Sometimes I look at the items in my home that have value to me: a carved figure, a picture by my daughter. What would have value in future years? More importantly, what would I do to keep them? There is no value, except the value that we place on them. To me, the lock of my child’s hair, or their first painting is as important as a Jackson Pollock. I just hope nobody ever offers me the chance to swap.
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Jojo Moyes’s bestseller, Me Before You, catapulted her to wide critical acclaim and has struck a chord with readers everywhere. “Hopelessly and hopefully romantic” (Chicago Tribune), Moyes returns with another irresistible heartbreaker that asks, “Whatever happened to the girl you left behind?”
France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.
Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.
Like Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress and Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key, The Girl You Left Behind is a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with Moyes’s signature ability to capture our hearts with every turn of the page.
Today begins our book club discussion of THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes. We’re changing things up a bit this month and will be discussing the book in the comments section of this post. As usual our discussion will be led by the bright and lovely Tamara Welch. Make sure you follow her on Twitter and stop by her website.
Tamara has a few questions to get us started:
1. What do you think of the cover of The Girl You Left Behind? Does the cover entice you to read the book? Does the cover “fit” the book?
2. The Girl You Left Behind- what did you think the storyline was going to be about? Was it different than what you anticipated? Better? Worse?
3. The story is told in dual narrative. Do you like stories told in dual narrative? Was one story better than the other? Did you feel a connection to 1 character more than the other?
4. At the heart of the story is a painting. Has there even been a piece of art that you have had such a strong reaction to?
5. Can you understand why Liv did not want to give the painting back? Is Liv right? Wrong? What would you do?
6. What would you do for love? How far would you go for love?
7. Was the ending satisfying?
I’d wager that every woman reading this email knows of a woman that’s suffered through breast cancer. We’ve lost friends and sisters. Mothers and aunts. We’ve sat by bedsides and in waiting rooms. Sometimes we have said goodbye and sometimes we’ve celebrated with those we love as they beat this ruthless disease. But we’ve all wished there was something we could do to help.
And the amazing thing is that you can help by doing the thing you love most: reading.
About the Read Pink initiative: ‘Read Pink, now in its fourth year, is an initiative created by Penguin Group USA to promote the fight against breast cancer in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). This year, Penguin is pleased to offer fourteen bestselling women’s fiction and romance titles to raise awareness. The $25,000 donation that Penguin Group USA contributes, regardless of sales, provides vital funds to support the mission of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
So if you’re out and about this month, grab one of the novels listed below. Make sure to select the books with the Read Pink logo. And if you don’t know what to pick, may we recommend one (or all!) of these three novels. Our particular favorites:
2013 Participating Authors:
Karen White, The Beach Trees
Nora Roberts, Chasing Fire
Erika Robuck, Hemingway’s Girl
Jodi Thomas, Just Down the Road
Carly Phillips, Perfect Fit
JoAnn Ross, Sea Glass Winter
Karen Rose, Did You Miss Me?
Catherine Anderson, Lucky Penny
Kate Jacobs, The Friday Night Knitting Club
LuAnn McLane, Pitch Perfect
Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot
Alyson Richman, The Lost Wife
Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia
Penelope Lively, How It All Began