What To Do When You Want To Read Everything

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

One of my (Marybeth’s) favorite bands is The Blue Nile, and a line from one of their songs says “She saw the world and she wanted it all.” I think we’ve all had that feeling before– that “I want it all, I want everything,” moment. Today we’ve rounded up some stories that focus on that feeling of wanting more. Whether it’s more answers, more freedom, more love, more time, we know why the word “everything” is so evocative. And so do the characters from today’s roundup.

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All of Us and EverythingAll of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher

For fans of the quirky, heartfelt fiction of Nick Hornby and Eleanor Brown comes a smart, wry, and poignant novel about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.

The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

Note: we HIGHLY recommend this novel. It’s one of our spring book club selections and one that I (Marybeth) inhaled when I read it last fall and still rave about.

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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 and the euphoria of finding love again.

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Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

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Everything EverythingEverything Everything by Nicola Yoon

If you love Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Augustus, and Mia and Adam, you’ll love the story of Maddy, a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken. This innovative and heartfelt debut novel unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more.

“My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

“But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

“Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

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How Jennifer Weiner’s New Novel Was Inspired By Her Own Life

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner | @JenniferWeiner

Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner

Every creative writing student in the world hears, “Write what you know” — that your life, as you’ve lived it, can be the raw material from which you can build beautiful fiction. What they don’t tell you is that, if your life is anything close to typical, it’s so mundane and repetitive and boring that not even your own mother would want to hear about it.

Fiction’s less about committing the specifics of your day-to-day existence to the page, and more about finding those moments and using them as jumping-off points, or inspiration. What if it had happened this way? What if I’d made a different choice?

At least, that’s been true for most of what I’ve written. But WHO DO YOU LOVE is about second chances, and it really is one of those rare ripped-from-the-headline stories where the raw material of real life got repurposed as fiction.

Once upon a time, I met a guy. I was a young reporter working at my very first newspaper job; he was a recent journalism-school graduate looking for his first job, and he came to interview at my paper. After a day of meetings and writing sample stories, he got to go out to dinner with one of the staff writers (taking prospective hires out was a plum assignment, because the paper gave you fifty bucks to spend on dinner). I remember this very tall, extremely skinny guy wandering over to my desk and asking, in a deep voice, if I was done yet. I remember snapping, “No, still working!” But then we went to dinner, and we talked and talked and talked — about writing, and our families, and our favorite books and our friends.

He came to work at the paper. We dated for two years. We were madly in love. I desperately wanted to get married. And he…wasn’t ready.

Time went by. We got better jobs at bigger papers. In our late 20’s, when he was in New York and I was in Philadelphia, we dated again. I still loved him. I still wanted to get married. And he..still wasn’t ready.

More time went on. 9-11 happened and, like everyone else in the world who knew someone in New York City, I frantically tried to call him, until he called me (he was in San Francisco, and fine). I met another guy, and married him, and had two beautiful girls. The marriage ended. My father died. Then my dog died. For some reason, I’d kept it together after my father’s death, but when I lost Wendell, who’d been my constant companion for seventeen years, through jobs and breakups and marriage and childbirth, I was completely undone.

I didn’t want to be one of those pathetic women who stalk their exes on Facebook. I was, however, willing to be one of those pathetic women who attempt to contact exes using AOL email addresses that are probably no longer in service. I sent Bill an email with the memo line IS THIS STILL YOU? Thirty seconds later, he’d written back. It was still him. Five years after that, we got married.

It’s one of the rare cases where truth might be stranger than fiction, one of the few times where you can put real life on a page and have people who aren’t your relatives or your therapist want to read it. So I took the bones of our story — two people who love each other but just can’t quite get it right, two people who are in and out of each other’s lives over a span of twenty years — and turned it into WHO DO YOU LOVE.

I hope you like reading it as much as I loved writing it — and living it.

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Who Do You Love“PURE ROMANCE… READERS WILL FIND THEMSELVES LAUGHING, CRYING, AND HOPING.” —BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenial heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who  shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again— linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed both of their lives.

A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale. Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

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When Several Minds Are Better Than One

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Sometimes authors collaborate on projects, combining their best efforts–and their audiences–for a book that will captivate and enchant. Today we’re sharing several books that brought authors–and now readers–together!

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fall of poppiesFALL OF POPPIES by an impressive lineup of talented historical novelists

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

Featuring: Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Heather Webb.

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the year we turned fortyTHE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.

Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.

Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.

Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.

But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…

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the forgotten roomTHE FORGOTTEN ROOM by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

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What Should I Read Next: A Podcast With Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

wsirn2

Photo courtesy of Anne Bogel, aka Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

Today Marybeth and I are visiting with Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) on her new podcast, “What Should I Read Next.” We’re talking about the audacity of telling other people what to read and the reality that sometimes reading gets very, very personal. If you’re visiting us after listening to the podcast, welcome! And if you’ve not yet been to Anne’s site, or listened to the podcast, you can do so here.

And, as always, you can find She Reads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Happy reading!

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Inspiration And How It Strikes

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author, J.T. Ellison | @thrillerchick

We’re delighted to have J.T. Ellison on the blog today discussing the inspiration behind her new novel, and one of our spring book club selections, NO ONE KNOWS. If you’ve not yet picked up a copy of this one you’re really missing out. It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. And she has great taste in glasses.

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JT_EllisonInspiration. It’s the most common question I get from readers, and from non-readers, too. Where do you get your ideas? How do you keep them straight?

The honest answer is I get ideas everywhere. From the most mundane, simple moments to earth-shattering news events. Quiet despair and public catastrophe. The ideas aren’t the problem. It’s finding the time to write them all. When I do have an idea, I capture it immediately, either in an online file or my idea notebook. Good ones stay with you. They’re visited often in your mind. Some are fed, watered, and put outside for the night; some are caressed longingly. Some, despite the excitement that created them, lay dormant, never to be developed. But some ideas eat at you. They won’t let you rest. They force you to build them into something. These are the ideas that become novels.

Five years ago, I dreamed that my husband went missing from an event. We were at separate parties at the Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee – bachelor and bachelorette. Oddly, he sent me a drink I hate: a vodka tonic, the first clue to my subconscious mind something wasn’t right. When I went to look for him, he was gone. Disappeared. And I knew in my heart I’d never see him again.

It was one of those incredibly vivid dreams that stays with you even when you wake. For the first few moments after I opened my eyes, a desperate sense of loss clung to me. My heart felt broken, my chest bruised by an incredible pain. How was this possible? How would I survive losing him? How would I go on?

When reality (and relief) finally crept back in, I knew I had to write the feelings down. While I was journaling this horrible dream, it hit me. What I like to call a “lightning strike idea.” Some authors would argue that all book ideas are lightning strikes, but not me. Lightning strikes only a few times, I believe, and it’s what you do with it that matters. I quickly pulled a story together, almost out of thin air. Young, innocent Aubrey Hamilton. Her handsome husband Josh, missing. Voila. The beginning of NO ONE KNOWS was born. My very first standalone novel, built on the back of a terrible dream.

It doesn’t sound like enough to go on, does it? And yet, five years later, the story is complete, has just hit bookshelves and is (hopefully) soon to be in your hands. Inspiration is like that. It can be quiet or loud, simple or complex. There’s magic in it, without a doubt. That’s our gift, I think. The ability to take the banal and create something new.

NO ONE KNOWS had a long, tumultuous journey, full of rewrites and changes in direction, new titles and new characters. It is hands down the most challenging book I have ever written, and I am so incredibly excited that it is finally, finally ready for you to read. I hope you enjoy it!

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No One Knows (1)In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

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Spring Book Club Selections

Spring Books 2

We have never been so relieved to see spring. Maybe it’s because we’re getting older and therefore winter seems to be getting longer? Or maybe this winter was as long and hard and cold as it felt. Regardless, we have fallen into spring and are reveling in the sunshine and blooms. And with a new season we have a new crop of book club selections to share with you. We’ve chosen three novels, all very different, all very good. There’s a dark domestic thriller that is sure to leave you guessing until the final page (NO ONE KNOWS by J.T. Ellison), a quirky family drama that will pluck your heartstrings until they quiver (ALL OF US AND EVERYTHING by Bridget Asher), and a good old fashioned love story that will leave you swooning (WHO DO YOU LOVE by Jennifer Weiner). We’ve got something or everyone so let us know which one rings your bell!

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No One Knows (1)NO ONE KNOWS by J.T. Ellison

In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

You can read the first chapter here.

You can add NO ONE KNOWS to your “want to read” list here.

(A quick note on this book. J.T. is actually a close friend of mine (Ariel’s). She’s been very good to me and to my family in the years since we moved back to Nashville. I had the chance to read an early copy of NO ONE KNOWS and I loved it so much I wrote an endorsement for the cover. But gentle readers will want to know that this novel is grittier and sexier than most of the others we’ve chosen. It isn’t for the faint of heart but the payoff is so worth it.)

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All of Us and EverythingALL OF US AND EVERYTHING by Bridget Asher

For fans of the quirky, heartfelt fiction of Nick Hornby and Eleanor Brown comes a smart, wry, and poignant novel about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.

The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.

You can read the first chapter here.

You can add ALL OF US AND EVERYTHING to your “want to read” list here.

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Who Do You LoveWHO DO YOU LOVE by Jennifer Weiner

An unforgettable story about true love, real life, and second chances…

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel grows up in an affluent Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent for running.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed the course of both of their lives.

A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale, Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

You can read the first chapter here.

You can add WHO DO YOU LOVE to your “want to read” list here.

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What We’re Into: March 2016 Edition

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

As always, we’re linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer to discuss what we’re into this month. We’d love to hear what you’re into as well! Let us know in the comments below.

MARYBETH WHALEN

MB Collage

This March has meant surprisingly warm temps, which has sent everything into full-blown green/spring mode. We’ve taken full advantage of this wonderfulness, venturing outside every chance we get. We’ve taken long walks up to our neighborhood lake, snapped pics of sunsets as we dined al fresco, and loved all the blooming flowers.

The kids got Enos for Christmas and have finally been able to put them to steady use. Whether it’s in our backyard alone or with friends at our community lake, they’ve gotten much mileage out of these portable hammocks in March. And I’ve enjoyed seeing them do something other than watch tv or stare at a device!

This month I got to go to lovely Montauk NY to stay at the Montauk Yacht Club for a meaningful, memorable weekend with some lovely women as I led one of my More To Your Story retreats. I don’t get the chance to do that very often but every time I do, I’m reminded how much I love to do it. This setting was particularly inspiring.

Easter happened in March this year, which meant it snuck up on me. We had one of our most low-key Easters ever– and this mama loved it! I had all my chicks in the nest at one time (increasingly rare) which meant picture time, much to their chagrin. But they played along and we got a shot everyone was pleased with (also increasingly rare).

Spring break also happened in March and with different kids on different schedules, that meant we had someone out of school and home for three weeks straight. Though I love having my kids around, that kind of schedule will mess with a mother’s productivity!

We didn’t go anywhere this year for spring break with the youngest three so we promised we’d take them to do fun stuff all week instead. We went on walks, to movies, to the trampoline jump place, to the zoo (with grandma) and– the artistic youngest’s pick– to paint pottery. All in all, trip or no trip, it was a nice, much-needed break from routine, lunch packing, homework, and carpool schedules. And a nice taste of summer to come!

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ARIEL LAWHON

Ariel Collage 5

Our new house. One day, hopefully in the near future, I will tell the story of why our family didn’t have a home of our own for the last three years. I’m not quite ready yet. I still have a bit more processing to do. But here is what I can say: my husband and I finally bought a new home in January. It’s our hope to live here for the rest of our lives. To raise our boys here. To hold our grandchildren here. Having a home is something that can be taken for granted but we hope to never do so again.

Pencils. This one is weird, I know. But I am really into pencils right now. I think this is a side effect of finally having an office. I’m collecting supplies like Office Depot is going out of business. It’s like a disease. We won’t even talk about the post-it-notes right now.

My office. Here’s what you need to understand: I’ve never had a place to write. Yes I only have two books out there in the world but I’ve been writing for a very long time. My writing space has always had to be portable. But for the first time I have a dedicated writing space. And my husband–good man that he is–is slowly remodeling it for me. As you can see from the picture above we’ve stripped some wallpaper and put up a chandelier and painted walls. We’ll deal with the icky carpet and much-needed bookshelves later. For now I’m happy to have a room of my own.

Listening to my son play the violin. If I could live my life over this is one of the only things I’d change. I’d learn to play the fiddle (same instrument, different type of music). There’s just something about it that moves me. So when my son decided to play the violin in school this year I almost wept with joy. Mostly it sounds like a dying cat right now but my gosh, there’s something there. I can hear it. He can hear it. And I hope he continues playing.

Keeping fresh flowers in the house. The lovely Anne Bogel taught me the simple joy of keeping fresh flowers in the house. We all need a bit of simple joy now and then. So I’m embracing this habit enthusiastically.

Pat Conroy. I’m reading through Conroy’s entire body of work this year. I’m working on an essay about the why behind this decision. For now I’ll just say that it’s the only way I can honor his legacy. I think he would approve.

 

What I'm Into

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Four New Historical Fiction Releases That Should Make Your “List”

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

It goes without saying that we love a good historical fiction. The chance to visit another time and place, to walk in someone’s shoes who lived long ago, is just too good to pass up. And we know you guys agree. So here’s a list of new releases you might want to put on your want-to-read list!

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The Beauty Queen of JerusalemTHE BEAUTY QUEEN OF JERUSALEM by Sarit Yishai-Levi

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.

Gabriela’s mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there’s more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family’s previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin’ ’70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

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The View From Prince StreetTHE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET by Mary Ellen Taylor

Stretching from the 18th century to present day, THE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET traces the intertwined histories of three Alexandria families. Taylor, author of At the Corner of King Street (a SIBA Spring 2015 Okra Pick) and The Union Street Bakery, draws once again on historic Alexandria, Virginia and its legends. But this time, she trains her eye on the earliest days of the city, which were fraught with the specter of witches and family curses.

The binding of these three families is set in motion at the beginning of the novel, with the chilling arrival of Faith Shire at Patience Macdonald’s farmhouse in 1751. Soon after, a dangerous barter involving a child is arranged that will affect the clans for centuries to come.

Fast forward to present-day: after her sister’s death in a car accident, Rae McDonald’s teenage years were in turmoil. Pregnant at sixteen, she found a loving couple to adopt her child—and then buried her grief under a heart of stone. Her sister’s best friend Lisa Smyth survived the crash, but never told the truth about it. As long-buried artifacts that link their family histories are unearthed, both women are forced to confront the secrets of the past.  .  . and take the first steps to a new future.

Throughout, one question arises: what boundaries will a mother cross to protect her child? As the generations progress, each family will unearth the strange and surprising ties that bind them together—and the dark choices that led there.

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A Taste for NightshadeA TASTE FOR NIGHTSHADE by Martine Bailey

The story begins in Manchester in 1809. When budding young criminal Mary Jebb swindles Michael Croxton’s brother with a blank pound note, he chases her into the night and sets in motion a train of sinister events. Condemned to seven years of transportation to Australia, Mary sends him a ‘Penny Heart’-a token of her vow of revenge.

Two years later, Michael marries naïve young Grace Moore. Although initially overjoyed at the union, Grace quickly realizes that her husband is more interested in her fortune than her company. Lonely and desperate for companionship, she turns to her new cook to help mend her ailing marriage. But Mary Jebb, shipwrecked, tortured, and recently hired, has different plans for the unsuspecting owners of Delafosse Hall.

A Taste for Nightshade is a thrilling historical novel that combines recipes, mystery and a dark struggle between two desperate women, sure to appeal to fans of Sarah Waters and Carolly Erickson.

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Platinum DollPLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film 

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.

In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

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Four Novels That Will Satisfy Your Curiosity

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Some would say that readers are escapists, that we want to hit the pause button on life and just enjoy the chance to be somewhere else for a little while. This isn’t far from the truth, actually. But we think there is also deep curiosity at work. Readers want to know what it’s like to be someone else as well. We wonder what it’s like to be a surrogate mother, the daughter of a felon, a stage mom, or an Alzheimer’s patient. So we read. Women’s fiction in particular satisfies this curiosity splendidly. So today we’ve got four fabulous novels to add to your reading list. Let us know which ones stir your curiosity!

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Dear ThingDEAR THING by Julie Cohen

After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily has offered to give them the one thing that they want most.

Romily expects it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and she has no desire for any more children. But Romily isn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire-and even destroy their marriage.

Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make…

Thought-provoking, heart-rending but ultimately uplifting, Julie Cohen’s Dear Thing is a book you won’t be able to put down, until you pass it on to your best friends.

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Multiple ListingsMULTIPLE LISTINGS by Tracy McMillan

What would you do if your ex-con father suddenly came to visit…indefinitely? Family drama ensues when Nicki’s dad unexpectedly wants to move in with her, her son, and her boyfriend in this comedic novel from successful TV writer Tracy McMillan.

Nicki Daniels owns a home appraisal business, but real estate is her true passion: she lives for open houses and really knows her way around a floor plan. And especially at this juncture of her life, real estate has come to signify the stability she is trying to build with her teenage son, Cody, and her much younger boyfriend, Jake. She’s finally ready to find the perfect house for the three of them and work on a new business venture with Jake that she thinks will jump-start their lives together.

Meanwhile, Ronnie, a longtime inmate at a nearby correctional facility, is getting some good news for once—there was a mistake in his sentencing, and he’s eligible to get out of prison. Ronnie decides his best option to avoid homelessness is to move in with his estranged daughter: Nicki. Even though they haven’t spoken in years, her door is always open to him, right?

Imbued with wit and profound insight into relationships, Multiple Listings speaks poignantly—and often hilariously—about the ties that bind families of all types together.

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No Ordinary LifeNO ORDINARY LIFE by Suzanne Redfearn

Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and their three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. In a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives.

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The Things We KeepTHE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

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Human Connection, OR Why Authors Go On Book Tour

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

A strange dichotomy happens in the life of every writer. There is this chunk of time (maybe six months, maybe six years) where we sit alone, in a room taking Nothing and turning it into Something. There are stretches of time within this season where proper nutrition and good hygiene are sacrificed for the sake of Story. Though I am loathe to admit it now, there was a point while writing FLIGHT OF DREAMS where I was on the “bathe every other day” schedule. But here’s where it often gets surreal: books are finished, edited, and then published. The writer then enters into a new season where we have to put on grown-up clothes, and leave the house to discuss our novels. We go from private individual to public individual in the time it takes to get through the security checkpoint at an airport. Depending on a writer’s personality type, this can either be the really fun part or the really painful part. I’m an extrovert so this is fun for me. I love meeting readers. I love visiting bookstores. I love to travel (though having to do it without my husband always make a little sad). I am fortunate in that I love both parts of my job.

But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized the real point of book tour: human connection. Yes, I know it’s also about publicity and marketing and making sure readers know the book exists. All of that is true. And good. But at the end of the day we’re all humans. We crave connection and Story and a sense of belonging to something–even if that something is simply a community of readers gathered at a bookstore on a Tuesday night to drink wine and discuss a moment in history.

But in the rush of travel I often forget this. It’s easy to focus on whether my carry-on will fill in the overhead bin and whether I’ve memorized all of my talking points for the signing that night. So when I walked into Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama my mind was on making sure I did a good job. I certainly didn’t see the older, white-haired gentleman standing at the front of the store, clutching a copy of FLIGHT OF DREAMS to his chest.

No sooner had I walked in the door however, than Stephanie (bookseller extraordinaire) called me over to meet Karl. He is 92 years old. He still speaks with a heavy German accent. He knows all about the Hindenburg, of course. BECAUSE HE’S ACTUALLY BEEN ON IT. As it turns out, Karl’s father took him to see the great airship in 1937, when he was 13 years old. They toured it just a few months before it exploded over Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Life is funny. For me. For Karl. For all of us. My new friend and his lovely wife immigrated to the United States fifty-six years ago. They retired and moved to Fairhope, Alabama thirty years ago. And two days before my signing at Page and Palette they wandered into the bookstore and saw FLIGHT OF DREAMS. Karl bought a copy simply because it was about the Hindenburg. It was a point of connection for him, a happy memory. And then they came to my signing to tell me their story. At the end of the my presentation I handed the microphone to Karl and we all asked him questions about the Hindenburg. Afterward he sat beside me and signed copies of the book.

I tell Karl’s story whenever I speak about the book now. Because the truth is he has become part of my story. Human connection. It’s the most meaningful part of this job.

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You can buy a signed copy of FLIGHT OF DREAMS from Page and Palette here. I think Karl would approve.

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Flight 3From a dazzling new voice in historical fiction, FLIGHT OF DREAMS is an utterly suspenseful, heart-wrenching novel that vividly brings the fateful voyage of the Hindenburg to life.

On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.

FLIGHT OF DREAMS is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, FLIGHT OF DREAMS is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

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