The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

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The Last Book Party is a coming of age story about Eve Rosen, who is “stuck” in a position as an assistant to an editor at a book publishing company.  When she is passed up for a promotion, which was given to a man, she begins to rethink her future as well as her past.
Since middle school Eve has wanted to write stories…short stories and novels.  But unfortunately her fear of failure has always gotten in her way and with her brother who is a math genius and who has always been cheered on by her parents, she is afraid of not being able to live up to what she perceives are their expectations for her.
Then by chance she is invited to a party on Cape Cod where her parents summer and is introduced to renowned writer Henry Grey, his wife, a famous poet named Tillie and their handsome son Eric.  And her life is changed.  She quits her job and becomes Henry’s assistant as he tries to complete his memoir.  She becomes obsessed with their lives and their writings while always feeling she could never be as good a writer as Henry or Tillie.  Seeing them only superficially and from the outside.
As she assists them in planning their annual end of summer “Book Party” where everyone dresses as book characters, secrets begin to become exposed and Eve has the realization she has not been living her life as an adult, but as a girl who has barely grown up.  Always living in her brother’s shadow and having no confidence in herself she sees that everyone has flaws and she is not as alone as she thought.
Thank you #NetGalley #HenryHoltandCo #KarenDukess #TheLastBookParty for the advanced copy.  The book is out now.

It’s Not You It’s Him by Sophie Ranald

thIf you enjoyed Ranald’s last book, Sorry Not Sorry, you will truly enjoy her new one, It’s Not You It’s Him.

Ranald has brilliantly taken one of her characters, Tansy, and created a moving story of love, loss, lack of self-confidence and body image and tied it in a bow with humor and hysterical scenes.

Tansy has just broken up with “the love of her life” Renzo.  Blaming herself for not being a better person, someone who would deserve his love and affection, she along with her roommate devise a scheme in order to win him back.  Tansy decides she needs a fake boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Josh a frenemy from high school, not especially a favorite time in Tansy’s life, comes to London and stays with her.

All the while Tansy is trying to keep her job, help her mother make ends meet and assist a young upcoming designer which makes for a very chaotic life.

The story shows how some women will take just about any kind of verbal abuse from powerful men who they feel are superior to them and blame themselves.

It also traces those episodes in one’s past life which we all have and can relate to where there were nasty words said, embarrassments in front of others and horrible tricks played,  Those emotions can not only hurt when they originally happen, but can last your lifetime.

It’s Not You It’s Him is a very powerful story about women who begin to learn at all ages how to take back the power they have lost and begin to put themselves first.

Bravo Sophie Ranald!

Thank you #NetGalley #Bookouture #SophieRanald #It’sNotYouIt’sHim for the advanced copy.  The book is out right now.

 

Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron

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I will never drive by a flea market again without thinking of Hallie Ephron and her latest mystery Careful What You Wish For.

Emily Harlow is a professional organizer married to Frank Harlow a professional hoarder (of flea market finds) as well as a lawyer.  They say opposites attract right?

So when Emily is called by an elderly woman to organize a storage unit she had no idea her late husband had even rented, and a young woman whose husband is an antique hoarder like Frank hires her to declutter belongings her husband will not allow her to bring into the house she thinks she’s hit the jackpot!

But suddenly Emily finds herself embroiled in possibly aiding a thief, as well as unknowingly being involved in a murder which could possibly implicate her.  Who on earth would want to frame Emily and why?

Careful What You Wish for is the best type of mystery novel.  You think you have it all figured out and then another clue appears sending the reader in another direction.  Ephron certainly knows how to keep the reader guessing!

The book would be an enjoyable beach read or even just a read in your cozy chair.

And just for the record, my husband will not be visiting flea markets anymore!

Thank you @HallieEphron @WmMorrowBooks #CarefulWhatYouWishFor for the advanced copy.  The book will be out August 6.

The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

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I thought Sandie Jones’ first book, The Other Woman, was incredibly cleaver.  But after reading her second, The First Mistake, I am pretty sure this one is just masterful!

The First Mistake is an addictively suspenseful story about a family who seems to have it all.  Alice, the wife, married once before, finds true love again with Nathan, the second husband, who seems to emulate what she loved about her first husband, Tom.  They have two children and a thriving company which they are about to take globally.

Suddenly Nathan starts to act strange.  In ways which Alice cannot and does not want to understand.  Would he try and hurt their business? Their family? And if so why?

Alice’s best friend Beth is her rock.  She knows all Alice’s secrets.  She is Alice’s sounding board.  Until something happens and then their friendship explodes.  She can’t trust Nathan and now she can’t trust Beth.

Alice only has herself to get her out of a mess she doesn’t really even understand.  How strong is she really?  Can she force herself to see what she doesn’t really want to?

This story was incredible!  There were so many twists and turns my head began to spin even as I was thinking give me more! and more!

Do yourself a favor and add Sandie Jones to your must read list.  You will not be disappointed.

Thank you #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #SandieJones #TheFirstMistake for the advanced copy.

Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum BLOG TOUR

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Rouge is the story of three women who become entrepreneurs in the beauty industry in the 1930’s.  It follows their careers as they invent different types of cosmetics and the reason why they were invented.  It is the story of how women can be ruthless when they are climbing the all important “ladder” of success, and how each will step on the other’s toes to make it first to the top.
The story begins as the women’s rag to riches stories are each told. And how backstabbing between them never stopped, even when they all had succeeded.  For them it was not just the climb, but the obsession of staying at the top and trying to push everybody else down.  These women become obsessed with fame, power, fortune and social standing and will do anything, including murder, to stay there.
Josiah Herzenstein (Josephine Hertz) was born a Polish Jew who had to keep her heritage a secret.  When she leaves Poland to come to America she becomes a workaholic in order to prove her worth and creates a cosmetic company which skyrockets her onto the global stage.
Constance Gardner is her rival.  She too had ideas on what women would like, only her approach was a bit different.  She, like Josephine, has secrets of her own.  Secrets which could destroy her company.  And she skyrockets to fame as well.  Both women despise each other, and are jealous of the other’s fame and power. Unfortunately they feel there can only be room for one cosmetic heiress.
Cee Cee Lopez worked for Constance for many years.  She too had an invention which was overlooked.  As an African American woman her journey is very different than Josephine and Constance.  She will do anything to be the first African American woman to become a millionaire in the cosmetic industry.  When a situation occurs and she breaks with Constance she sees this as her chance.
Included in the intriguing story are of course love affairs, heartbreak and intense hatred among the rivals.  With everyone trying to vie to be the most extraordinary cosmetic genius, and each plotting against the other, can anybody survive?
This was such an interesting read with a different story.  It truly had it all.
Rouge comes out June 25.
Thank you to #NetGalley #St. Martin’s Press #Rouge #Richard Kirschenbaum for the advanced copy.

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About the author:

RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York Business’s “40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He is the author of Under the RadarClosing the DealMadboy, and Isn’t That Rich? and the New York Observer‘s “Isn’t That Rich?” column. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

ROUGE Blog Tour Q&A with Richard Kirshenbaum

  1. How did you become inspired to write ROUGE?

“I’m part of the first generation of men to have worked for the first generation of female entrepreneurs and executives. As an ad man, I also ran many cosmetic accounts throughout the U.S., from Avon to Revlon, and much in between. I was inspired by the female entrepreneurs who founded the first multi-billion dollar female driven industry, and was surprised that there hadn’t been a novel about the industry before this.”

  1. Can you talk about your research process?

“Over the past thirty years, a lot has been drawn from biographies of well-known people who run these cosmetics companies. As a novel, Rouge is a compilation of characters based on women and men who founded these companies. I often draw from those biographies. I also do an enormous amount of research online. Today vs. 25 years ago, where you had to go to the New York Public Library, it’s a joy to be able to access so many articles and books online. I think it’s really important, when writing a period piece, to understand world events that happened during that time.  It’s hard to set a book in the 1920’s and place your character at a bar, if that’s when prohibition was in effect. So unless you really understand what’s going on in the world, you can’t give an accurate portrayal. One has to do a year-by-year deep dive if you’re writing historical fiction.”

  1. How was the experience of writing ROUGE, a novel, different from your last book, Isn’t That Rich?, which was nonfiction?

“Essays are mostly observational and contemporary, so I was always intrigued by the people I know and some of the ridiculous things that occur in a certain group. Creating fictional characters is actually in many ways more rewarding for me. I believe that when you create strong characters and come up with a great plot line with characters who drive the story, it’s fascinating to bring so much life. It’s the ultimate creative process.”

  1. Tell us about some of the locations where you wrote ROUGE?

“In the acknowledgements at the back of the book, I include places, as well as people. I was inspired from writing in different locations. For example, in the villa in Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels. You can rent out the villa, which includes a manual type-writer, and it’s really inspiring to write in a place like that with such literary significance. It inspired me to write something worthy. Every time I go someplace, it adds to the tapestry of what I’m writing about.”

  1. What’s the last book you read?

Currently reading: Three Men on a Diet: A Very English Approach to Losing Weight by George Courtauld.

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The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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The Invited is part ghost story, part suspense and part mystery.  All of which adds up to an incredible novel which will give you goosebumps and keep you up way too late as you read into the night to see what happens next!
Nate and Helen decide they want to live their lives off the grid so to speak.  With an inheritance from her dad, they buy a secluded plot of land in a very small town in Vermont.  There they will build by themselves their dream house.  From cement all they way to finished house.
And that’s where the fun begins!  Once the land is bought, they find out their property is allegedly haunted by Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who was hung back in the 1800’s after being accused by the townspeople of being a witch.  Folklore states that Hattie had hidden a fortune somewhere on her property and refused to tell anyone where prior to her hanging.
Helen, who had been a history teacher, begins to research Hattie and her family throughout the years and begins to make shocking discoveries.  Nate, who is an animal fanatic becomes obsessed with the nature surrounding the property.  But when Helen begins to bring newly discovered pieces which belonged to Hattie into the home they are building, this “conjures” up more than anyone could ever have expected.
With clues from Hattie, Helen realizes she is being asked to help some people who are in trouble.  Time is of the essence and she must decipher all the clues before someone else is killed.
A terrific read for people who like ghost stories and especially for people who like things that go bump in the night!

Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan

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Summer Hours is a love story of sorts, but more important it is a story of a girl (woman) Becc who experiences a few rites of passage during her lifetime.  As a child, she and her best friend Eric bond over movies…any and all.  Inseparable until the end of their senior year of high school, both realize that perhaps this friendship could turn into something more.  It is made quite clear by the end of that summer nothing will happen.
When high school turns into college, Becc has a relationship with an older man which no one can know about.  This will later impact her relationship with Eric as a final betrayal to him.  Their relationship severed completely.
But when one of their childhood friends gets married in a summer wedding 10 years later Becc and Eric decide to meet up once again for a road trip almost the equivalent to Thelma and Louise (or Louis) in this case!  Their awkwardness during the trip with flashbacks as to how they ended up on this journey and the walls which were built throughout the years begin to break down and crumble.
Summer Hours is a beautiful coming of age story which focuses on Becc’s challenges as Miss Perfect in high school, through her college years where she has decided to have no boundaries and to keep secrets, to her working adult life where her mistakes come back to haunt her.   Especially her reasons for letting her choices always interfere with her relationship with Eric.
Can you really ever go back or take back mistakes and change the trajectory of your life after you have broken it?
Thank you #NetGalley #Graydon House #Summer Hours #Amy Mason Doan for the advanced copy.  The book is out now.