SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS by Susan Mallery

July 14, 2017

Click to purchase

Kelly and her sister Olivia have been estranged for many years. Their mother was the town whore and eventually walked out on the family. Kelly thought that Olivia was just like their mom and convinced their father to send her to boarding school before she ended up a teenage mother. They haven’t seen each other since, so Kelly and her dad, Jeff, are surprised when Olivia shows up.

Kelly and Jeff, run the family business, a tulip farm. They live in a small town about an hour outside of Seattle. Olivia has been living in Phoenix, doing staging for a real estate company. Things are really slow in hot, hot Phoenix in the summer so she decides to spend some time reuniting with her family.

Both girls have serious relationship issues, with each other, their mother, and with men. Kelly was in a five year long relationship and when the guy broke up with her, she really didn’t care. When the boy she had a crush on in high school starts pursuing her, she’s interested. He manufactures tiny homes, like the ones on HGTV, so that was a fun subplot.

Olivia has been following in her mother’s footsteps, happily seducing men but never really having a relationship. And Kelly’s best friend Helen is secretly in love with Jeff, the sisters’ father. All three women have big secrets, but eventually find happiness with each other and the men in their lives. It is a joyful and occasionally painful road to get there.

I learned a bit about tulips, which was nice. I grew up in New York and when I was a kid, I planted tulips every year, then dug the bulbs up again after they finished blooming and stored them in a Barbie doll lunchbox in the garage. Tulips don’t grow in Florida, although I guess you could refrigerate them and fool them into thinking it’s winter but I haven’t tried that. I live in a tropical paradise and while tulips are lovely, I don’t mind not growing any.

I liked the characters a lot and enjoyed spending time with them, even for just one night. There were three romances here and everyone had their happy ending. Another fun read from a terrific storyteller.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS by Susan Mallery. HQN Books (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-0373802760.  448p.

Kindle


THE LIGHT IN SUMMER by Mary McNear

June 29, 2017

Click to purchase

A Butternut Lake Novel

This was my first time reading this author, and I intend to read more of these Butternut Lake books. This was a really good, fast fun read, perfect for summer.

Of course it probably helps that the main character, Billy, is the small town librarian – that always gets me interested. She is a single mom, the result of a one-night stand, her first time having sex, when she was 18 years old. The father was a fishing guide in Alaska, and by the time she realized that she was pregnant, he had moved on with no forwarding address. Luckily, she has wonderful parents who support her and help her raise her son, Luke.

Fast forward several years and Luke is a young teen. Billy’s dad passed away, and they are both having a hard time dealing with it, but Luke refuses to discuss it. He has made a couple of new friends and is getting into trouble with them – getting suspended on the last day of school, then getting arrested for graffiti. This is a very small town in northern Minnesota, and the cop knows Luke is a good kid so he gets off with just a warning. But Billy is worried about how to handle this new person who is living in her son’s skin.

One day at work, Billy is looking out the window and sees a man driving a Porsche being ticketed. Cal is really good looking and turns out to be staying with his sister for the summer, while going through a divorce and selling off his partnership in a Seattle architecture firm. Eventually, Billy and Cal meet and there is a strong attraction, but things move slowly for a while. Billy is dealing with Luke, and Cal has his issues but they keep bumping into one another and things progress nicely.

This was a one night read for me. I loved these characters and the small town life – an idyllic summer read. Unfortunately, my library only has digital audiobooks of her earlier books – going to have to see what I can do about that!

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LIGHT IN SUMMER by Mary McNear. Thomas Dunne Books (September 6, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250089090.  304p.

Kindle


THE IDENTICALS by Elin Hilderbrand

June 28, 2017

Click to purchase

The problem with this book is that I liked the characters so much that I was truly sorry to turn the last page. I want to spend more time with them, I want to see what happens in the rest of their lives.

The title refers to identical twins, Tabitha and Harper Frost. Growing up, they were as close as you’d expect identical twins to be, but then their parents divorced. Eleanor, the tyrannical, blue-blooded mother, decreed that each parent would take custody of one child, splitting the fourteen-year-old girls apart. They both want to go with their easy going father, but a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors makes the determination and shapes the rest of their lives.

Harper goes off to live with her father in his ramshackle house on Martha’s Vinyard, while Tabitha lives in the family compound 11 miles away on Nantucket. Harper makes one bad decision after another and is often the talk of the town. But her latest peccadillo – an affair with her father’s married doctor, really pushed the Vinyard folk over the edge.

Tabitha, who also never marries, nonetheless has children with her partner. But the wedge between the twins becomes insurmountable after Tabitha gives birth to a second child, premature son, who dies a few months later. Tabitha blames Harper, but her grief is neverending, chasing away her daughter’s father, who eventually marries and has his own family.

Eleanor, the family matriarch, is a fashion designer, somewhat reminiscent of Gloria Vanderbilt. Tabitha lives with her surly, out of control teenage daughter in the guest house on the property, and works for her mother, managing the store on Nantucket. And then her father dies.

Harper plans the celebration party her father wanted, and her mother, sister and niece all attend, but the rift is still strong. He has left the house to both girls, leaving them with a dilemma; sell it as a teardown, or invest beaucoup bucks and renovate, selling for much, much more.

Meanwhile, Eleanor gets a bit tipsy at the funeral celebration and ends up falling down the stairs when she gets home, breaking her hip. Tabitha leaves her daughter alone, goes with her mother to Boston, where they will have to stay while Eleanor recuperates from surgery.

Harper goes to Tabitha’s house to take care of her niece and run the store. Eventually Tabitha goes to their father’s house to try her hand at renovating, so in effect, the women trade lives for a summer. And what a difference a summer can make.

Once again Hilderbrand has created a world I long to visit. This is another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE IDENTICALS by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (June 13, 2017). ISBN 978-0316375191. 432p.

Kindle


THE GLASS KITCHEN by Linda Francis Lee

June 17, 2014

Click to purchase

Read through to the end to find out how you can win your own copy of THE GLASS KITCHEN or a Kitchen Aid mixer!

Portia was the perfect Texas politician’s wife – until he had an affair with her best friend and dumped her. She takes off for New York City, to an apartment she inherited from her aunt. Her sisters inherited the other two apartments in the house, but sold theirs to Gabriel, who seems shocked to find her living downstairs in the garden apartment.

Portia and her sisters grew up in Texas and after losing their parents, all three sisters lived with their grandmother who owned a restaurant called the Glass Kitchen. Portia inherited something special from her grandmother, a gift the family calls ‘the knowing.’

Portia finds herself cooking certain foods, with only the vaguest sense of why, but invariably someone shows up who needs whatever she has prepared, like the dozens of cupcakes made before knowing there was a school bake sale. But after her grandmother dies, and her husband tells her she’s crazy, she fights those impulses as best as she can. Portia just stops cooking. But living on her own in NYC has brought those feelings back, and Porita just stops fighting her gift.

There is a strong attraction between her upstairs neighbor Gabriel and Portia, and they start a secret affair, with him climbing down the fire escape into her bed at night. Gabriel has two children, the precocious 12-year-old Ariel and a rebellious teenager, Miranda. Their mother died the previous year in a tragic car accident, and Gabriel moved them to the city in hopes that would help with their healing. Portia and Ariel form a unique bond, especially after Gabriel hires her to cook for the girls, but Miranda is a much harder nut to crack.

When Portia’s sisters land in financial trouble, they decide the answer to all their problems is to open a Glass Kitchen in New York City. Gabriel is dead set against it, citing harrowing statistics about restaurant failures in the city but the women plunge ahead. Meanwhile Gabriel and Portia keep giving in to their attraction until Portia finds out he’s been lying to her, then she dumps him and hides out with a neighbor.

Romances never run smoothly, and Lee does a more than credible job here, even with the touches of magical realism sprinkled throughout the book. This is a charming, sweet and funny story with wonderful, warm characters you can’t help but care about. If you liked The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, you should enjoy The Glass Kitchen as well – I actually liked it a lot more. Recipes are included, and the jalapeño mustard is on my list to try for sure.

If you are looking for a beach read with real heart, look no further.

6/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE GLASS KITCHEN by Linda Francis Lee. St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (June 17, 2014). ISBN 978-0312382278. 384p.

The publisher is offering up a special contest

Enter to win a Kitchen Aid mixer! 

 

If you would like to win your own copy of THE GLASS KITCHEN:

Send an email to contest@gmail.com with “GLASS KITCHEN” as the subject. You must include your snail mail address in your email.

All entries must be received by July 4, 2014. Five (5) names will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States or Canada. One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.