The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman

The Hope Chest was my first introduction into the wonderful world of author Viola Shipman. The Summer Cottage, the latest is even more lovely and inspiring.

Adie Lou Kruger spent her summers as a child at her grandparent’s summer home called Creaky Cottage, and then as a married adult with a child and husband at the same cottage when her parents took it over. There were very simple rules which had to be followed while at the cottage such as “Leave your troubles at the door” and my personal favorite “Nap often”. It was perhaps the best times of her life.

But when her parents both die and Adie Lou’s marriage fails she believes she should sell the cottage and begin to rebuild her life. Unable to let go of the memories of what the cottage has meant to her throughout her life, she makes a decision which will change her trajectory.

She decides to turn the much loved and much run down cottage into a bed-and-breakfast although many people doubt it will be able to succeed. Adie Lou watches as the progress of renovating the cottage. which comes with its own share of problems. begins to inspire her to feel hopeful about her decision as well as feeling empowered despite the harsh realities she encounters along the way.

The Summer Cottage is about finding out who you really are, finding love in many different forms, the importance of family of all types and especially the goodwill and tenderness of others.

Thank you #NetGalley #Graydon House #The Summer Cottage #Viola Shipman. The book will be out April 22.

The House of Secrets by Terry Lynn Thomas

Sarah Bennett has just endured a trial where her father had been accused of murder. He was found not guilty much to her chagrin as she was the star witness. Hounded by the press she seeks someplace to hide-out until all the media madness dies down.

She finds a job as a typist at the hospital of Dr. Matthew Geisler and his wife Bethany. Dr. Geisler has been treating people with mental illness and has become fascinated with the occult. He learns that Sarah has been hearing screaming and weeping. She thinks she is losing her mind but he feels these are signs she has certain powers to see and hear ghosts.

Minna, one of the residence of the hospital believes she too can see ghosts and fears that her dead fianc√©, Gregory, who happens to be Dr. Geisler’s late brother is haunting her and warning her that something bad is going to happen to the doctor.

In the meantime, Sarah discovers that her old flame Zeke who seemingly disappeared just before her father’s trial is also staying at the hospital due to injuries he incurred from an “accident”.

Soon Sarah begins to see and hear spirits who are trying to tell her things she cannot quite grasp. She keeps hearing from Geisler’s dead sister who insists her brother is in danger. She must solve the mystery of who would want to hurt the doctor and why, but also whoever it is are they from this world, or the hereafter? She must act quickly before there really is a murder.

This book was a cozy, historical story with a little paranormal thrown in. An easy read with lots of suspense and surprises. The House of Secrets is Book 2 in the Sarah Bennett Mystery series. The first book is The Spirit of Grace. You can find both out now.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollins #The House of Spirits for the advanced copy.

A Palm Beach Wife by Susannah Marran

A Palm Beach Wife is about the Harrison family. Edward a successful businessman, Faith his loyal wife with a little business on the side to keep her busy and Katherine their beloved daughter who is getting ready to go to graduate school. But it is also about what happens when you lose everything you have but in the process find everything you have ever needed.

Living the Palm Beach lifestyle seems like it would be heaven, but in reality the anxiety of always being on and never making a mistake can be brutal. You are only worthy of the lifestyle for a long as your worth holds out. Faith and Edward are worth a lot, until they are not.

With their lives falling apart it is up to Faith to keep her head high and to try to fight her way out of a terrible disaster. She soon finds out who her true friends are in a town where superficiality is the word of the day. She must also stay true to her husband and family although temptation is all around her.

In a town where gossip is vicious and chairperson titles can be taken away at the drop of another fifty thousand dollars, Faith must try and hold herself together in order to keep her family together so they can all come out of this with their dignity intact.

Thank you #NetGalley #St. Martin’s Press #A Palm Beach Wife #Sussannah Marren for the advanced copy.¬† The book comes out April 9.

The Editor by Steven Rowley

The Editor is a fictional novel about first time author James Smale who sells his book to Doubleday during the 1990’s only to find out his editor is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The story is very lovely and awkward and funny at times as James tries to feel comfortable with his new editor and not make a complete fool of himself in the process of getting to know her.

As Jackie and James do begin to bond, James’ other relationships, with his mother and family, whom the book is based, on begin to fall apart (more than they already had been), as does his long-time relationship with his partner Daniel. Although he looks to Jackie for notes on his book, she seems to sense his anxiety and tries to give him the life advice he so desperately needs to finish his work and perhaps make peace with his life.

One of the best chapter sequences is the Thanksgiving Dinner at James’ mother’s house. Most of us can empathize with the tensions that sometimes erupt, and how deeply hidden secrets can come spewing out! I laughed and gasped and laughed again!

But throughout the book it is his relationship with Jackie which helps him to finally find a grown-up ending for his novel and perhaps assists him in actually becoming a real man himself.

The writing is so creatively crafted and although completely fiction, what a testament to Rowley’s writing style to make you feel James’ relationship with Jackie really took place. I loved the humor, the insight and the sadness he brought into the story.

The book is out today. Don’t miss it!

Thank you #NetGalley #G.P. Putnam and Sons #The Editor #Steven Rowley for the advanced copy.

The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

Nora is the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner. Her sole purpose in life is to take care of everybody else. Even her ex-husband who has certainly moved on. She has a sister, Kit, who is a free spirit who depends on the kindness of everybody, especially her sister, and lives life moment to moment without a care in the world.

When there is a death in the small town of Guthrie, Nora and Kit are shocked to find the local cake baker has left her property to them, which includes a dog named Freckles who goes missing and although there are sightings, has yet to be apprehended. But the inheritance comes with a hefty price. There are back taxes owed on the property and a development company had been in talks to buy up all the land and create a huge store.

In the meantime, Kit has decided she wants to become a filmmaker and wants Nora to take out a loan so she can buy equipment.

Nora must try and figure out how to handle all these situations without putting her diner in jeopardy. Then things go from bad to worse and Nora begins to lose hope in herself and those around her.

Louise Miller writes about small town life seamlessly. How many of us wish we could live…in a community with friends who are always there and where everybody knows everybody. As I read the Town Meeting scenes, I had flashbacks to old Gilmore Girl episodes.

Although not a sequel to her first book, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, some of her previous characters make guest appearances.

I loved every minute of this story and cannot wait for Miller’s next!

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl was a top food critic when she decided to take a job as the editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine, the culinary food magazine of its time. But in her new memoir we see she is so much more than the 10 year editor of Gourmet who sadly was their last as they shockingly closed in 2009.

When she was just 8 years old, coming from humble beginnings with a mother who was bipolar and spent hours and days and months in deep depression, and a father who not only adored Ruth, but adored his wife none the less, she read her first issue of Gourmet Magazine and she was hooked. It was then she made the decision to pursue something in the food industry, so when offered the job at the magazine she was frightened, honored and excited.

Feeling as if everyday would be her last, Reichl went on to change the magazine’s direction into the popular bibliophile it became under her tenure.

She tells stories in the book of making a bet of $100 that they would not lose subscribers if they put a dead fish on the cover (they did not), to writer David Foster Wallace’s travel piece about a Maine Lobster Festival and the killing of lobsters.

We also meet many of the eccentric personalities who graced the halls during her tenure. We see how her immediate family, her son Nick, a young child when she took the job and her husband Michael supported her and gave her sage feedback and advice. She also describes the aftermath of 9/11 and how the New York food industry bonded together to assist the first responders.

There are mouthwatering descriptions of meals she has had the pleasure of experiencing which make the reader wish they had been there to witness and taste. And if that is not enough, she even includes a few of her favorite recipes.

As a fan of Reichl, I loved her novel Delicious and her travel show on television, I ravenously “ate up” her stories and her life during her time at Gourmet.

Thank you #NetGalley #Random House #Save Me the Plums #Ruth Reichl
The book will be out on April 2.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

The Perfect Girlfriend is the incredible twisted story of a woman named Juliette who has fallen deeply in love with a pilot named Nate. Their relationship as far as Juliette is concerned is perfect. Until Nate decides it’s not and breaks up with her.

But Juliette’s love is unwavering. She will do anything to get him to come back to her. She just knows he still loves her. She will be the perfect girlfriend. So scheme after scheme she begins to get closer to her perfect dream. No one will get in her way.

This is the best thriller I have read in a very long time! Karen Hamilton, in her very first novel has created a love/hate story so perfect that I actually began rooting for Juliette! or is that just MY twisted mind! I don’t know.

I marvel at the intricacies of Juliette’s plans and how Hamilton was able to fit it all together and make the story work up until the last word. The story is narrated by Juliette so we are able to read her thoughts and feel her emotions, yet even to us the readers, Juliette never totally gives away all her cards. It is amazing to see just how far she is willing to go to get her happy ending. I cannot tell you how involved I became in her and Nate’s relationship!

I highly recommend this book.

Thank you #NetGalley #Harlequin #Karen Hamilton #The Perfect Girlfriend for the advanced copy. The paperback comes out March 26.