May 12, 2023

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author J. Ryan Stradal, a story of a couple from two very different restaurant families in rustic Minnesota, and the legacy of love and tragedy, of hardship and hope, that unites and divides them

Mariel Prager needs a break. Her husband Ned is having an identity crisis, her spunky, beloved restaurant is bleeding money by the day, and her mother Florence is stubbornly refusing to leave the church where she’s been holed up for more than a week. The Lakeside Supper Club has been in her family for decades, and while Mariel’s grandmother embraced the business, seeing it as a saving grace, Florence never took to it. When Mariel inherited the restaurant, skipping Florence, it created a rift between mother and daughter that never quite healed.

Ned is also an heir—to a chain of home-style diners—and while he doesn’t have a head for business, he knows his family’s chain could provide a better future than his wife’s fading restaurant. In the aftermath of a devastating tragedy, Ned and Mariel lose almost everything they hold dear, and the hard-won victories of each family hang in the balance. With their dreams dashed, can one fractured family find a way to rebuild despite their losses, and will the Lakeside Supper Club be their salvation?

In this colorful, vanishing world of relish trays and brandy Old Fashioneds, J. Ryan Stradal has once again given us a story full of his signature honest, lovable yet fallible Midwestern characters as they grapple with love, loss, and marriage; what we hold onto and what we leave behind; and what our legacy will be when we are gone.

“Stradal serves up another saga of food and family, hurt and healing, pitched between cliff-hanger moments. . . that make the pages fly.” —People

“Stradal…displays his gift for writing female characters who are fully realized, sometimes unlikable, but always as flawed and compelling as real people. The Midwest setting is written with love and respect, and while the story is often heartbreakingly sad, there’s also real warmth and comfort in Stradal’s writing. A loving ode to supper clubs, the Midwest, and the people there who try their best to make life worth living.” —Kirkus (starred)

“Stradal’s novels…always resonate…He explores universal themes: love, loss, regrets for one’s past mistakes, and longings for what might have been—plus, of course, the importance of family.” —Publishers Weekly

I don’t know a whole lot about the Midwest, other than what I’ve gotten from books and a friend from St. Louis. Stradal’s books are firmly set there, so they are always a learning experience for me. Plus, he wrote one of my favorite books ever – Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

I’ve heard of supper clubs, probably from his earlier books, but this book dives deeply into the tradition. I’m still not 100% sure I can differentiate between a supper club and any other restaurant, other than in the reading it feels somewhat different. We try and understand things we aren’t sure of by thinking about things in our own lives that may be similar – to me, to my understanding, it feels almost like a country club restaurant, without the golf and the membership dues.

This is a story that spans generations, marriages, deaths, and estrangements. Once I started this book, I was hesitant to put it down and not because of anything gimmicky, like 2 page-long chapters (I’m looking at you, James Patterson et al.,) but because I wanted to see what happened next with this family. This is a book where you can’t help rooting for all the characters to come together, to find their happy endings, but as in life, not all the endings are happy. This story took me on an emotional journey, and I loved it.

Let me add that Pamela Dorman books never let me down. If you are searching for a new read, a good way to find one is by imprint, in this case, Pamela Dorman books. You can google her or even do a search in Amazon, and anything you find attached to her name will be a good book, (at least for me.)

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE LAKESIDE SUPPER CLUB by J. Ryan Stradal. Pamela Dorman Books (April 18, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-1984881076. 352p.






May 12, 2023

From the publisher:

A woman’s second act on the island of Nantucket delivers much more than she expected in this captivating novel by New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer.

“A beautiful, hope-filled, heartwarming story about new beginnings and second chances.”—RaeAnne Thayne, author of The Cafe at Beach End

Heather Willette has a good life in Concord, Massachusetts. But when her marriage has fizzles out, Heather has to decide what sort of life to live next. Ready to seek out her own happiness and discover herself again, Heather decides to leave her husband and rent a cottage on Nantucket. And her plan is going perfectly—until her son, Ross, announces he’s moving to Nantucket to work at his girlfriend’s family’s construction business instead of going back home to work with his own father, like he’d promised. Worst of all for Heather, this means having to get along with her.

Kailee Essex is thrilled that Ross is willing to move to her hometown. She has big hopes for their happily ever after, especially now that her parents are finally showing interest in her career. She’s less thrilled, however, about his mother living nearby. Kailee has clashed with Heather since the day they met. But anything is possible in the summer sun and sea breezes of Nantucket—even reconciliation. And when change comes sooner than either Heather or Kailee expect, they must learn to overcome their differences to fight for the future they want.

With All the Days of Summer, beloved storyteller Nancy Thayer delivers a moving novel that explores the complexity of family and the unexpected ways fate can guide you forward.

“Thayer delivers another heartwarming story that fans will enjoy.”Booklist

Nancy Thayer writes heartwarming stories with strong female protagonists, and the setting on Nantucket is just the icing on the cake here. Heather has been married for a long time, but her son is getting ready to finish college and she decides it’s time for her to find some happiness. Not that her marriage is a bad one, it’s just not especially happy or fulfilling. Heather and her husband have grown apart and while that isn’t enough of a reason for some people to divorce, it is for her. When her best friend finds a small cottage for rent on Nantucket for $10,000 for the summer – a steal for this market – Heather decides to take some of the money she’s been squirreling away for years and splurge on this summer rental. Her husband doesn’t quite understand why she is leaving him, but he doesn’t put up much of a fight, either. I think her calmness and logic in all of this is a rather nice change from the usual craziness of so many divorces.

The only downside to Heather’s plan is that her son, whom they expected to take over the father’s hardware store, is not interested in doing that. He has a girlfriend and it is getting serious, so when her father offers him a summer job working for his company, the largest construction company on Nantucket, he jumps at the chance. His girlfriend is none too thrilled to find out that Heather is staying on the island, too. She is immature in a lot of ways, and it takes some time to see her grow up.

Heather and her future daughter-in-law both do a lot of growing this summer. I liked seeing Heather come into her own here, and while the ending is a bit too neat, it is perfect for my first read of the summer books. The calendar may not say summer yet, but Thayer took me there anyway. I enjoyed the writing, the setting, and the characters in this domestic fiction with a touch of romance – everything I like in a book.

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ALL THE DAYS OF SUMMER by Nancy Thayer. Ballantine Books (May 2, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0593358450. 352p.





Spotlight Review: ALL THAT IS MINE I CARRY WITH ME by William Landay

May 9, 2023

From the publisher:

A mother vanished. A father presumed guilty. There is no proof. There are no witnesses. For the children, there is only doubt. From the New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob. . . .

“Astonishing, powerful, and provocative, this book is worth the excruciating wait for another William Landay.”—Louise Penny, author of A World of Curiosities

One afternoon in November 1975, ten-year-old Miranda Larkin comes home from school to find her house eerily quiet. Her mother is missing. Nothing else is out of place. There is no sign of struggle. Her mom’s pocketbook remains in the front hall, in its usual spot.

So begins a mystery that will span a lifetime. What happened to Jane Larkin?

Investigators suspect Jane’s husband. A criminal defense attorney, Dan Larkin would surely be an expert in outfoxing the police.

But no evidence is found linking him to a crime, and the case fades from the public’s memory, a simmering, unresolved riddle. Jane’s three children—Alex, Jeff, and Miranda—are left to be raised by the man who may have murdered their mother.

Two decades later, the remains of Jane Larkin are found. The investigation is awakened. The children, now grown, are forced to choose sides. With their father or against him? Guilty or innocent? And what happens if they are wrong?

A tale about family—family secrets and vengeance, but also family love—All That Is Mine I Carry With Me masterfully grapples with a primal question: When does loyalty reach its limit?

I’ve read a couple of William Landay’s books that were excellent; his first novel, Mission Flats, and his bestseller, Defending Jacob. Defending Jacob became a limited drama series on Apple TV+ with Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery, and was very good. I was looking forward to this new book and was not disappointed.

This is a family nightmare – the mother goes missing one day, and no one knows what happened to her. Of course, the father/husband is the chief suspect, but they don’t get anywhere with him because he is a criminal defense lawyer. His kids, on the other hand, have their own theories. The family is split, but they come together when their mother’s body is found twenty years later. The original detective is retired, but he’s never forgotten this case and has always been sure of the father’s guilt. He starts working with the family to try and solve the mystery.

I don’t want to give anything away here. Most of the book explores the family dynamics, at least until the mystery starts unraveling. I found the ending to be a bit muddled, but definitely worth the read to get there. This is a beautifully written, interesting, and gripping mystery.

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ALL THAT IS MINE I CARRY WITH ME by William Landay. Bantam (March 7, 2023). ISBN:  978-0345531841. 336p.




May 5, 2023

A new and royally good debut rom com for Spring 2023, perfect for anyone who likes London, laughing out loud and love

From the publisher:

Love is in the heir in this royally good rom com – perfect for anyone who likes relatable heroines (with great hair), hot and aloof book boyfriends (with great hats), near misses, almost kisses and a corgi or two.

Despite living in an actual castle, happily ever after is evading Margaret ‘Maggie’ Moore.

From her bedroom in the Tower of London, twenty-six-year-old Maggie has always dreamed of her own fairy-tale ending.

Yet this is twenty-first century London, so instead of knights on white horses, she has catfish on Tinder. And with her last relationship ending in spectacular fashion, she swears off men for good.

And then a chance encounter with Royal Guard Freddie forces Maggie to admit that she isn’t ready to give up on love just yet… But how do you catch the attention of someone who is trained to ignore all distractions?

Can she snare that true love’s first kiss… or is she royally screwed?

A right royal rom com, perfect for fans of Red, White and Royal Blue and The Royal We.

This was such an interesting and fun read! The author, an influencer, actually lives in the Tower of London, as does our heroine. I have never been to the UK, and I have always assumed the Tower of London is just that; a tower. Turns out it is a castle with various buildings and tons of history.

Maggie’s father is a beefeater, and since her mother’s passing they live together in the Tower. Maggie works at the ticket counter selling entry to interested tourists. Her boss is a bit of a dick, and her co-workers are all mean girls, and her boyfriend of seven years was cheating on her. They’ve called it quits but he keeps sniffing around.

There are rotating teams of Royal guards at the castle and Maggie meets Freddie and their chemistry just lights up on the page. Except he comes and goes and can be a bit standoffish. Even when he invites her around, he lets his friends entertain her. Eventually, they spend a bit of time together and Maggie finds herself falling for him. She isn’t sure about his feelings though – all that British stiff upper lip makes it hard to get a read on him.

His friends help her set up a profile on a dating app, and she promises them she will try five dates. One is more horrible than the next, and anyway, no one really compares to Freddie. Except it turns out he may not be as available as she would like.

This is a laugh-out-loud funny British romcom with enough details about the Tower to make me want to visit. A super fun read – don’t miss it.

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FALLING HARD FOR THE ROYAL GUARD by Megan Clawson. Avon (May 2, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0008554415. 384p.





PLAYING IT TOUGH by Amy Andrews 

May 5, 2023

Sydney Smoke Rugby Series, Book 8

From the publisher:

Cosmetic tattoo artist Orla Stewart doesn’t do anything in half measures. She went from being the ultimate party animal to living a life that’s ridiculously straight and narrow. Turns out, cancer can change a girl. A lot. Adios to delicious cheeses, boozy dance parties and easy men. Hel-lo to celibacy and a sweet house-sitting gig with a massive pool. Until one very hot, very unwelcome intruder turns things upside down.

American rugby import Ronan Dempsey’s partying is trashing both his reputation and his game—and risking his chances for making the US Olympic team. He needs to clean up, and the pool house belonging to a family friend is the perfect place to hideaway. No. More. distractions. Which is exactly when a gorgeous, pink-haired hellion knocks Ronan on his ass…

The chemistry is instantaneous, charged, and absolutely, completely, totally off-limits. Proximity makes temptation nearly impossible to resist. Now it’s a deliciously torturous game of pushing boundaries and holding out. It’s just a matter of time before someone breaks…

Each book in the Sydney Smoke Rugby series is a STANDALONE:
* Playing By Her Rules
* Playing It Cool
* Playing the Player
* Playing With Forever
* Playing House
* Playing Dirty
* Playing It Safe
* Playing It Tough

I’ve read a few of Andrews’ books and enjoyed them all, but she is so prolific I can’t keep up! This is the eighth book in this series, but the first one I’ve read; I’ll be looking for the earlier books for sure.

Orla is housesitting when a strange man shows up and looks like he is trying to break into the pool house. Orla is one tough cookie and she doesn’t play. Before he knows what hit him, Ronan, a profession rugby player, is flat on his ass. Turns out his mom is friends with the property owner, and offered him the pool house for a while.

Ronan has been enjoying the spoils of professional athletes – one night stands, one after another. But his game is suffering for it, and he really wants to go home and make the American Olympic rugby team, which means he has to get his act together. He is being scouted and he can’t afford to mess up.

Orla is not thrilled with her new houseguest, even though they are in separate buildings as it were. But beggars can’t be choosers, and she loves where she is staying and he is awfully cute. Ronan has made a bet of celibacy with his teammates, and even though he is madly attracted to Orla, he is determined to keep his game strong and his libido in check. If you’ve read any forced proximity romances, you know how this is going to end, but who cares? It is so much fun to get there.

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PLAYING IT TOUGH by Amy Andrews. Entangled: Brazen (April 17, 2023). ASIN:‎ B0BYX1YSMY. 260p.




May 5, 2023

From the publisher:


Tautly wound and expertly crafted, Two Nights in Lisbon is a riveting thriller about a woman under pressure, and how far she will go when everything is on the line.

You think you know a person . . .

Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone―no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new―much younger―husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.

“This smart, calculating author remains many notches above others in his field” The New York Times

“Devilishly clever . . . Wait until you read the ending that Pavone springs on you.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Nothing is quite as it seems in this energetic thriller that calls into question marriage, loyalty, and truth.” The Washington Post

Nominated as best hardcover novel, 2023 ITW Thriller Awards!

I haven’t read Pavone in a while, but since I was heading to Lisbon I queued this book up on my Kindle and started reading as soon as the plane left the ground. We were flying to Lisbon from Miami via Air France, so a stop in Paris (always a hardship!) and then a short hop to Lisbon. I finished this book before Paris – it was unputdownable and the twists never stopped coming.

This book came out last year, and the paperback just came out this week. Fortuitous timing! This thriller features an unreliable narrator, an intriguing foreign setting, and a cast of sketchy characters, none of whom is quite what they appear to be. It starts off with a kidnapping – the main character, Ariel, wakes up to find her husband gone. And he’s not answering his phone. Nothing else seems to be missing, so she heads down to the front desk of the hotel but no one remembers seeing him. She then reports it to the local police, but since he’s only been gone a few hours, they are none too interested. Either is the American Embassy. At least they are not interested until she receives a ransom note.

Ariel has connections with someone pretty high up in the American political arena, and has enough dirt on the man to gain his cooperation in raising the ransom money. But nothing is as it appears, and as the layers unfold in this twisty story, things seem to get more and more complicated, instead of the other way around.

I never saw the ending coming, but to be fair I don’t really try and figure out books like this. I just enjoy the ride and this was a terrific ride indeed!

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TWO NIGHTS IN LISBON by Chris Pavone.‎ Picador; Reprint edition (May 2, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-1250872302. 448 p.




Spotlight Review: THE HALF MOON by Mary Beth Keane

May 2, 2023

From the publisher:

From the beloved author of the triumphant New York Times bestseller Ask Again, Yes comes a magnificently told novel about the complexities of marriage, family, longing, and desire.

Malcolm Gephardt, the handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss is finally ready to retire, Malcolm is inspired to buy the place. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to make it a bigger success—but quickly realizes that his customers don’t like change and that making a profit won’t be easy.

Malcolm’s wife Jess is smart, confident, and has dedicated herself to her law career. But after years of trying to have a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her. Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away, and while her hopes and expectations fall short of the current reality, she wonders how to reshape her life.

Taking place over the course of one tumultuous week—when Malcolm learns shocking news about Jess, a patron of the bar goes missing, and their town gets hit by a massive blizzard—award-winning author Mary Beth Keane’s skilled storytelling and generous spirit are on full display as she carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.

Mary Beth Keane (Ask Again, Yes) takes us into a marriage that is struggling. Jess and Malcolm married when she got pregnant, but she lost that baby. That turns into years of infertility treatments and IVF, which is immensely frustrating and expensive. Jess is an attorney but doesn’t love her job, only the paycheck that comes with it. Malcolm recently purchased the bar where he’s worked for over twenty years, but he neglects to tell Jess that he also bought the building on a handshake deal with his old boss, which proves to be a problem. Everything comes to a head one week in this small town when a blizzard hits and everyone loses power, one of the bar’s regulars goes missing, Malcolm is feeling overwhelmed with money problems, and worst of all, Jess has left him for another man, begging the question: can this marriage be saved?

Verdict: This deep dive into the complexities of marriage makes this perfect fodder for book discussions. Should appeal to readers who enjoy Elizabeth Berg, Eleanor Lipman, or Meg Wolitzer.

©Library Journal, 2023

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HALF MOON by Mary Beth Keane. Scribner (May 2, 2023). ISBN:  978-1982172602. 304p.



BookBitch Diary: May 1, 2023

May 1, 2023


Douro River Valley Wineries Tour

The bad news: my husband came down with Covid two days after we got home. Then 5 days later, I tested positive. I’ll be stepping back from this blog until things are controlled and we are on the mend. I hope you understand.

As I mentioned in my last diary entry, my husband and I planned this trip to Portugal because we were thinking about retiring there. After this trip, we are firmly decided. We loved the country and the people and the lifestyle and the food! And the wine – An American in Portugal: I live where wine is cheaper than water.

Now the planning begins in earnest.

I have always been a proud American, until 2016 when this country started straying from its democratic roots into the wannabe autocracy Trump promoted. The death of democracy seems almost inevitable, which I find incredibly sad. I always identified with that opening scene of The Godfather, that first line – “I believe in America.” No more.

My husband’s main reason for wanting to retire to Portugal is that the cost of living is so much lower than it is here. Honestly, we could not afford to retire in this country. at least not if we want to have any sort of fun in retirement. We could probably survive, but that would be it, and frankly, surviving is not how I want to spend my remaining years.

I am also inclined to move for the cost of living, but for so much more. I am sick of the politics in this country. I cannot stomach all the mass shootings and the complete takeover by the NRA in regard to our gun laws – or lack thereof. I am sick of Republicans’ “thoughts and prayers” while the governor of the state I live in just signed a truly reprehensible gun law. It goes into effect on July 1 and means anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida can carry a concealed gun in public without any training or background check.

Portugal is ranked as the 6th safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. There were 35 homicides in Portugal in 2021. Yes, you read that correctly. And that includes all kinds of homicide, not just guns. This is a great piece about retiring to Portugal: In my new home, Portugal, gun violence is not a constant worry. If you didn’t know, I live only a few miles away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, home to one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

Portugal ranks 22nd worldwide in health care, with a hybrid public-private health insurance system, according to the Legatum Centre for National Prosperity and clearly illustrated in this data chart from Statista. The U.S. excels in research rather than actual health care.

The weather is fairly temperate all year round, especially in the south but even in the north, the winters are quite mild which works for me. Most people speak English, especially in the bigger cities, but I will learn Portuguese. It only seems right. Americans are welcome there, and there are about 10,000 already living there – retirees and digital nomads. There are beautiful beaches along the entire west coast of the country, plus river beaches more inland, with lots of beautiful parks and all sorts of terrain for hiking. Plus thousands of years of history! It is about a six hour flight to New York, and with the lower cost of living, I am hopeful that we will be able to travel more than we can afford to here. Not to mention all of Europe is easily traversed!

These are just some of my reasons for wanting to retire to Portugal – and U.S. News & World Report ranks Portugal as the 4th best country for Americans to retire to: Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement

Book News

Let’s file this under “Should this be happening?”

And on a lighter note…

Food News

7 Myths About Cooking With Salt

by Becky Krystal April 6. 2023

“Salt has been essential to cooking — and the human existence — for thousands of years. Our bodies can’t function without it. Our food is often tastier with it.”

Interesting article that may allay some fears people have about salt, while also explaining why it is so important in the various ways we use it in cooking.

I made this Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte for Passover, a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It was so good I took half of it to work so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it all!

Other News

A really smart friend of mine started a new business called Rise & Hedge, a twice-monthly financial literacy email newsletter. I think it is perfect for the young adults in your life, high school and college students, even middle-schoolers, not to mention anyone else who struggles with what to do with their money, how to grow it, and how to protect it. This is from their “About Us” page:

Rise & Hedge was created for one simple purpose:

To provide FREE financial literacy and investment education, with actionable ideas, to those who need it the most. 

Financial literacy education is mandated in fewer than half of America’s states, and innumerable people either don’t have an online brokerage account or don’t know what to do with it if they do. We’re here to change that.

Our team is comprised of educators, instructional designers, investment publishing professionals and digital marketing experts who aim to create best-in-class content and get it in front of your eyes, so you can make informed investment decisions that benefit the wellbeing of your personal finances. 

Learn more about how we achieve this by signing up for our FREE newsletters, which deliver how-to lessons and investment ideas to your inbox twice a month.

As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe.

THIS BIRD HAS FLOWN by Susanna Hoffs 

April 28, 2023

From the publisher:

A delightfully funny and steamy debut novel about music, fate, redemption, and love from beloved songwriter and Bangles co-founder Susanna Hoffs that is “part British romcom, part Jane Eyre, and one hundred percent enjoyable” (Tom Perrotta).

“A total knockout . . . The smart, ferocious rock-star redemption romance you didn’t know you needed.” —New York Times Book Review

Jane Start is thirty-three, broke, and recently single. Ten years prior, she had a hit song—written by world-famous superstar Jonesy—but Jane hasn’t had a breakout since. Now she’s living out of four garbage bags at her parents’ house, reduced to performing to Karaoke tracks in Las Vegas. Rock bottom.

But when her longtime manager Pippa sends Jane to London to regroup, she’s seated next to an intriguing stranger on the flight—the other Tom Hardy, an elegantly handsome Oxford professor of literature. Jane is instantly smitten by Tom, and soon, truly inspired. But it’s not Jane’s past alone that haunts her second chance at stardom, and at love. Is Tom all that he seems? And can Jane emerge from the shadow of Jonesy’s earlier hit, and into the light of her own?

In turns deeply sexy, riotously funny, and utterly joyful, This Bird Has Flown explores love, passion, and the ghosts of our past, and offers a glimpse inside the music business that could only come from beloved songwriter Susanna Hoffs.

“Clever and entertaining . . . with an insider’s feel for the mixed blessings of pop fame​.” —Los Angeles Times

“A sweet and tender romance—and a valentine to music.” —NPR

“In this sexy, page-turning treat, Susanna Hoffs writes as engagingly as she sings.” —Helen Fielding

The old adage, “write what you know” proves out here in this debut novel from Susanna Hoffs. If the name is familiar, that’s because she co-founded The Bangles, with monster hits like Manic Monday and Walk Like an Egyptian. (And they did a guest spot on the Gilmore Girls!) I always find it interesting that creative people in one field are also creative in others, like Tony Bennett and his painting, and now Susanna Hoffs and her debut novel.

The main character is Jane Start, who had a one hit wonder a decade earlier of a cover she did of a little known song from a huge star, Jonesy. She is on her way to England to meet with her best friend/manager, Pippa. But first she has to get through this flight – Jane is not a fan of flying. When her seatmate, Tom, realizes the issue, he is there for her, holding her hand. The more they talk, the more Jane finds herself totally into this Brit, and he seems pretty into her as well. Tom is a professor at Oxford and doesn’t really have a clue who she is, which Jane likes.

Jane doesn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks, but when she does, things start moving very fast – she moves in with him a couple of weeks later. Then Pippa tells Jane that Jonesy wants her to sing on the opening night of his new tour, Jane is almost paralyzed with fear. It’s been too long since she performed in a venue like that. And when Jonesy keeps putting off the rehearsal and there’s no sound check, she really is freaking out.

Meanwhile, Jane is getting to know some of his colleagues at Oxford, and finds out about his former girlfriend, who apparently was perfect. But she doesn’t want to discuss her past relationships, so things get a bit muddled and jealously rears its ugly head. Jane ends things with Tom, but he doesn’t give up that easily. Eventually they find their happy ending, just when I was ready to give up on them!

This was a fascinating look at the inside of the music industry, and a terrific romance as well. Highly recommend – don’t miss it!

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THIS BIRD HAS FLOWN by Susanna Hoffs. Little, Brown and Company (April 4, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0316409315. 368p.






April 28, 2023

From the publisher:

New mom May Peterson can’t believe she’s back in her hometown. She has eight weeks to fix up, and sell, her childhood home. Just enough to say hello to her best friend and goodbye to her painful past. But in the warm, tightly-knit community of Maple Hill, it’s impossible to avoid anyone—especially the cute “boy next door.” And while May is definitely over the idea of love, his irresistible smile still makes her toes curl…

When they were kids, Austin Merrick only ever saw May as his sister’s best friend. Over time, they’d become friends, sharing late-night chats over cheddar popcorn. Now May Peterson has returned with an adorable baby that quickly wraps him around her little finger. But after seeing the damage a broken heart can do, Austin and his brother made an agreement: to never, ever fall in love. No marriage. No kids. Ever.

Now they’re working together to fix up her old home, and sparks of attraction are making it almost impossible to keep to their no-romance rules. But when it comes to love, hearts never play by the rules…especially when it comes to finding “the one.”

This author was new to me and I really enjoyed this book. I must admit I was surprised to find out it was only 260 pages – the author did a really good job of character development and plotting, especially for such a short book. It was a sweet and sexy second-chance romance, and I really enjoyed it.

May never wanted to come back to the small town of Maple Hill. She was bullied in high school, and humiliated herself by admitting she had feelings for her best friend’s older brother, Austin. But she’s inherited a house that needs some fixing up to get it ready to sell. She decides to give it six weeks. Austin’s family’s construction company is happy to take on the reno for her. But that puts her in constant contact with Austin.

May had given up on love and adopted a baby. She was an adopted child herself, but her parents were not great, to say the least. She is determined to give her baby all the love she never got. But the more time she spends in Maple Hill with Austin and his family, the harder it will be to leave.

You can pretty much guess how the happy ending goes, and it was a very enjoyable read getting there. If you want a fast, fun read with all the feels, pick up a copy of this terrific book.

THE BACHELOR CONTRACT by Victoria James. Entangled: Amara (April 17, 2023). ISBN:‎ 979-8391410676. 260p.