THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE by Susan Wiggs

August 15, 2019

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From the publisher:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author brings us her most ambitious and provocative work yet—a searing and timely novel that explores the most volatile issue of our time—domestic violence.

At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.

She’s come home.

Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.

And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.

But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.

Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.

Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.


REVIEW

Susan Wiggs is one of my favorite writers. She excels at telling wonderful stories with characters you can’t help but care about, but there is usually something deeper as well. This is a book of the #MeToo movement, set in the fashion industry, which for some reason, has been exempt from this. At least I haven’t seen any earth shattering stories, but as in any industry where mostly men are in power, one can’t help but wonder…

The story moves back and forth between present day and Caroline’s childhood and coming of age. We meet Caroline and Will as young teens, then Sierra a couple of years later. Theirs is a complicated relationship, as are most friendships of three people, especially when one of them is a good looking guy. Caroline and Will have an instant connection which never really fades away. But instead of pursuing that, he falls for the beautiful Sierra, while Caroline watches from the sidelines. When they all wind up in the small town of Oysterville, the friendship rekindles with some unexpected changes.

I think from the start we can’t help but hope Caroline and Will end up together, but he is married to Sierra and they seem happy – at least at first. But as life goes on, it brings change. When a couple doesn’t grow together, they tend to grow apart and that is never good for a marriage.

Caroline inherits these children from a friend who dies of an overdose. She knew the woman had been in some sort of abusive relationship, but never knew or even suspected drug use. Caroline is a woman who has struggled for years to break into the fashion industry, then has her dreams snatched away in a public spectacle. At a loss, she takes on these children and runs home to Oysterville. The guilt Caroline feels for not pushing their mother, not helping her more, leads her to start a support group for abused women. Somehow she is shocked to find out how many women, even in such a small town, are affected.

This was a very good read, filled with the empathy and power that words can bring to such a dark subject. Book groups will find lots to discuss here.

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE by Susan Wiggs. William Morrow (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-0062425584. 384p.

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LOVE AT FIRST LIKE by Hannah Orenstein

August 12, 2019

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From the publisher:

Named a Best Book of Summer by GlamourBuzzFeedCosmopolitan, and many more!

From the author of Playing with Matches, the rollicking tale of a young jewelry shop owner who accidentally leads her Instagram followers to believe that she’s engaged—and then decides to keep up the ruse.

Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.

Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life.

Written with singular charm and style, Love at First Like is for anyone growing up and settling down in the digital age.


I was really excited to get this book. It seemed smart and modern and I love everything Brooklyn, not to mention the buzz was terrific. But as is sometimes the case, all the hype led to me being disappointed. I assumed, from the description, that Eliza would find some guy to help her with the social media campaign then fall in love. That is usually the basic romance trope, but that is not what happens here. Instead, Eliza pretends to fall in love and pushes this really nice guy into a relationship through sheer effrontery and duplicity.

Maybe it’s generational, but I didn’t understand the whole premise of the book. Posting an engagement on Instagram would dramatically increase sales? And continuing the lie would keep the sales coming? Setting that aside, I really didn’t understand how a character would actually consider marrying someone because it might increase their sales yet again. That is, for me, just beyond the pale.

I felt badly for Blake, but also had to wonder how someone who made their fortune in a similar business would also not be more social media savvy, despite his protestations that he had people to do that sort of thing for him. Regardless, I can’t imagine that there are millennials out there that aren’t on their phone day in and day out, whether they have staff for that or not. Maybe that’s on me though.

Finally, it was ridiculously easy to figure out the entire plot pretty much from the get go, and frankly, I like to be surprised now and then. Eliza, specifically in the way she treated Blake, pissed me off more than anything. When Eliza plots to keep her engagement ring from Blake by having her sister give him a $45,000 ring “on the house” because of the legal ramifications, that just left me cold. It was completely heartless. Maybe if Blake hadn’t been made out to be such a nice guy it would have been a little more palatable.

It is really hard for me to really enjoy a romance when I dislike the protagonist so much. The whole point of a romance is the happily ever after. Sure, the book had its charming moments, and there were occasional laughs, but when the happy ending kicked in, at that point I just didn’t care.

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LOVE AT FIRST LIKE by Hannah Orenstein. Atria Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1982117795. 336p.

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WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey

August 7, 2019

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey. Berkley (June 11, 2019). ISBN  978-1984804020. 288p.

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THE RIGHT SWIPE by Alisha Rai

August 6, 2019

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From the publisher:

Alisha Rai returns with a sizzling new novel, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…


Rhiannon. I know it is a popular name but when I hear it, or read it, all I can think of is Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and the song (see YouTube below. You’re welcome.) Luckily, I love that song. I also loved this character. She was strong, feisty bordering on aggressive at times, and definitely a woman in charge of her own destiny. That worked for me.

We know that Rhi has experienced some trauma in her life that affects her professional career, and eventually we get most of the sordid details. So she definitely has baggage and she creates rules to protect herself. She also knows that sometimes rules can be broken.

Samson also has baggage. Not only is he a former professional football player, he comes from football royalty, with both his father and his uncle former NFL stars. But he lost his father and more recently, the uncle he took care of. He hasn’t really dated in years and his first attempt is a disaster. But Samson has a bigger problem than lack of dating skills; he doesn’t think he’s capable of a relationship because everyone he’s ever loved has left him.

The chemistry between these two is palpable and I couldn’t help rooting for them to get together. The very hot sex just adds to the fun. When they are thrust together in business, they realize they have a lot more blocks to get past in their personal lives. But this is a romance so happily ever after is a requirement.

Rai once again gives us a charming read with humor and pathos. She also tackles some important topics like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, sexual harassment in the work place, and the prejudices towards women-owned businesses, especially in the tech industry. She handles all of that beautifully, exploring these issues in a very personal way. This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE RIGHT SWIPE by Alisha Rai. Avon (August 6, 2019).  ISBN  978-0062878090. 400p.

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SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME by K.A. Tucker

August 6, 2019

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME by K.A. Tucker. Atria Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1501133442. 384p.

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About K.A. Tucker

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. KEEP HER SAFE made Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2018 list for Romantic Suspense. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.

Keep up with K.A. on all platforms:

Website ➜ http://www.katuckerbooks.com/
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LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Kristan Higgins

August 5, 2019

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BLOG TOUR

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Kristan Higgins’ latest; it is simply unputdownable! Plus read on to find out how you can win a copy of her last book, Good Luck with That!

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?


REVIEW

Higgins brings her characters to life on the page and creates a memorable family saga in her latest. Like all good family tales, there is drama galore and enough angst and laughs to keep the pages turning.

Family matriarch Genevieve London has not had the easiest life, so even though she is definitely the antagonist of the story and makes some really horrible choices, we can’t help but feel a little bit badly for her. Emma is our heroine, and I really loved her relationship with her daughter Riley. As close as they are, and as distant as Emma and Genevieve are, it really speaks to the kind of mother she is that she allows Riley and Genevieve to bond. I also loved how independent Emma is, and her willingness to stand up to her grandmother and speak her truth.

There is a bit of romance here between Emma and Miller, a neighbor of Genevieve’s who is a widower with a very difficult three-year-old daughter, Tess. I hate to say Tess provides some of the comic relief, but she definitely does at times. She also made me want to hug both my kids and tell them how fabulous they are.

The family relationships here are all fraught, but it makes for compelling reading. This was a one night read for me as I really couldn’t put it down. I must say I really love Higgins’ writing, she hits the perfect pitch for each character and the story in general. Great beach reading or for any kind of escape you may need. Don’t miss it – I loved this book!

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Kristan Higgins. Berkley (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-0451489425. 448p.

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To win a copy of Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “GOOD LUCK” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by August 31, 2019. One (1) name 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 only. Your book will be sent by PenguinRandomHouse.

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.


Read an excerpt of Life and Other Inconveniences :

When I called Genevieve back and told her we were coming—including Pop, who would be staying elsewhere—there’d been a long pause. “Thank you,” she finally said.

“On one condition, Genevieve,” I said. “You do not mention money or inheritance to Riley. Not a whisper, not a hint. I don’t want you dangling your bank accounts in front of my daughter and snatching them away if she uses the wrong fork.”

“By which I assume you’re referring to the fact that I didn’t fund your teenage folly.”

“Teenage folly? You mean your great-granddaughter? Yes. This summer isn’t about the money. It’s us giving you a chance to make amends, and you making me Hope’s guardian.”

“How very gracious you are, my dear,” she said, and I heard a slurp. Five o’clock somewhere.

But she agreed, and here we were.

My clients, the ones I saw in person, were fine with me leaving for two months. I’d TheraTalk with most of them; two were about done anyway, and said they’d call me if they needed me. I’d had to give up my office space, though; luckily, a classmate from my PhD program had sublet it. Once I got back, I’d have to find another space, but I’d deal with that later.

Pop had found himself a little apartment over an antiques shop on Water Street. I was unspeakably grateful that he’d be nearby. He’d always hated Genevieve, who had viewed my mother as insufficient wife material for her wretched son.

Then again, she had a point. My mother had taken her own life. Maybe Genevieve had sensed something, even back then. She was many things, but she wasn’t stupid.

We crossed the Connecticut River, then the Thames. “There’s the Coast Guard Academy, Pop,” I said, pointing. He was an Air Force man himself, but he nodded. We went through Mystic, and I remembered going to the aquarium with Jason on a date. Or a field trip, maybe, but we’d held hands. Kissed in the dim light of the myriad fish tanks, and it had felt like the most romantic thing in the world.

He knew we were coming, of course. He was excited, he’d said on the phone. Talked about being separated, wasn’t sure where things were headed there. The boys couldn’t wait to meet Riley in person, though they knew her from Skype and phone calls.

My heart leaped into overdrive when, just before we hit Rhode Island, Charles exited the highway and entered the land of stone walls and gracious houses, tall oaks and two-hundred-year-old farms. The woods and fields gave way to narrower streets, and we went over the bridge that led to the borough.

Welcome to Stoningham, the sign said.

I found that I was holding my grandfather’s thumb, same as I had when I was little, back before my mother died, when seeing my grandparents was the happiest thing ever. He gave my hand a squeeze.

“Oh, my gosh, this town is so cute!” Riley said.

And it was. The sky was Maxfield Parrish blue, the lights of the Colonials that lined the streets glowing in what seemed to be a welcome. People were out, walking their dogs. At the library green, some kids tossed a football. As we came onto Water Street, Riley exclaimed over the little shops and restaurants. “There’s a café, Mom! Hooray! Oh, and an ice cream place! Even better!”
I smiled, but my stomach cramped again. It felt like I had never left.

The town hadn’t changed much. Still adorable with its colorful buildings and crooked streets. I caught glimpses of Long Island Sound as we drove, smelled garlic and seafood. Would Genevieve have dinner for us? Would she hug me? I swore if she made Riley feel one iota of shame, we’d be out of Connecticut forever.

Charles turned onto Bleak Point Road, where the most expensive houses in town sat like grand old ladies, weathered and gracious. All had names, which Riley read aloud as we passed.

“Thrush Hill. Summerly. Wisteria Cottage. Cliff View. Pop, we have to name our house when we get back!”

“Name it what? Crabgrass?” Pop asked.

“That’s kind of perfect, actually,” I murmured, having gone to war many times with weeds in our small yard.

“Oh, Sheerwater! We’re here!”

The iron gates (yes, gates) opened, and we turned onto the crushed shell drive. Sheerwater had ten acres of land, the very tip of Bleak Point, and it looked like a park, with beautifully gnarled dogwood trees on either side of the driveway, their intertwined branches making a tunnel of white blossoms. Spring was late this year.

We rounded the gentle curve, and my hands were sweating now.

“Holy guacamole,” my daughter breathed. “It’s even prettier than the pictures!” In the rearview mirror, I saw Charles smile. Beside me, Pop stiffened. He’d never been here, of course.

There it was—my grandmother’s twenty-room cottage, pristine and gracious and lit up like the fires of hell.


About the Author

 


THE BOOK CHARMER by Karen Hawkins

July 30, 2019

I don’t mind a bit of magical realism in my books so Sarah’s having books talk to her was fine by me. I loved that the books insisted they be read and by whom and Sarah was just the conduit, putting said books into the hands of said readers. But that is just a minor plot point. This story is really about Grace.

Grace is new to town but arrives with her foster mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her late sister’s young daughter. So Grace has her hands full, to say the least. She had to leave a high powered, high paying job to care for them, to move to the small town of Dove Pond, where her foster mother was from, in hopes that the familiar surroundings and people will help her. She lands the poor paying job of town clerk, but with a bargain basement rental from a relative of her foster mother, her low salary is not as big a deal as one would think. Grace plans on sticking around for only a year, then finding a better paying job somewhere else. But of course, the small town of Dove Pond sinks into her soul.

The Dove family, Sarah included, all have gifts of some sort. Sarah’s is the talking books, her sister brews magical teas. Not sure about the rest of the family but probably will find out more as the series progresses. My only quibble is that this book was really about Grace. She has the romance with the happily every after, yet the book was named for Sarah, who, I would bet, has her own romance coming up (and I’m looking forward to it.)  I liked these characters and definitely will be back to visit Dove Pond.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BOOK CHARMER by Karen Hawkins.  Gallery Books (July 30, 2019). ISBN  978-1982105549. 368p.

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INTERCEPTED by Alexa Martin

July 29, 2019

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The Playbook, Book 1

From the publisher:

Series in development with Starz & G-Unit Films and Television by 50 Cent and La La Anthony!

One of NPR’s Best Books of 2018
An Amazon Best Romance of 2018 Pick
An iBooks “Best of September” Pick
A GoodReads Best of the Month pick for September
One of Booklist‘s Top 10 Romance Debuts for 2018
One of BookBubs Best Fall Romances of 2018

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there’s a new player on the horizon, and he’s in a league of his own…

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There’s just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he’s nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team’s wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee’s return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin’s relationship to survive the season.


I love a good sports romance, and the reviews and buzz around Fumbled, the second book in the series, originally brought me to this author. So yes, again, I am reading a series out of order. Luckily, there are only two books so far, so at least now I’m ready when the next book comes out! Plus can I just say that this is a great romance with diverse characters, always a welcome addition to the genre. Martin has a bit of writing quirk that may be just a generational thing, but she uses hashtags. A lot. Sometimes they are super appropriate and usually they are funny, but now and then I thought she went a bit over the top with them.

As I mentioned in my review of Fumbled, this has some real life behind it. Both these books revolve around NFL players (albeit for a fictitious team) and in real life, Martin is married to a retired professional football player. So she speaks with some authority here which really added to the story for me. One of my favorite sports romance series is from Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who writes about another fictitious football team, and Martin’s books almost seem like an updated version to me.

A friend told me she never reads sports romances because she doesn’t like sports, but trust me, that is not a prerequisite. Not to stereotype (much!) but professional athletes make great romantic leads because they are young, good looking with ripped bodies, and they are loaded, leading so many women to fantasize about meeting/marrying one. And what is a good romance novel but a good fantasy?

Intercepted introduces some terrific characters and the writing is smart and funny. Marlee is terrific; strong, feisty and feminist, all traits I can relate to. Gavin is a cut above the usual jock, and is deserving of this wonderful woman. I loved watching how they come together and there is some hot sex along the way before they even get their happily ever after. All the cattiness with the football wives added a lot of humor and I loved Marlee’s best friend having her back. Good friends and a supportive family go a long way here.

Martin is definitely on to something here and I hope she continues her journey. I’m really looking forward to her next book.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

INTERCEPTED by Alexa Martin. Berkley (April 23, 2019).  ISBN 978-0451491978. 336p.

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EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes

July 27, 2019

WINDOW ON THE BAY by Debbie Macomber

July 24, 2019