ON FIRE ISLAND by Jane L. Rosen 

May 26, 2023

From the publisher:

A book editor spends one last summer on Fire Island in this sparkling and surprising new novel from the author of A Shoe Story.

As a book editor, Julia Morse lived and breathed stories. Whether with her pen to a manuscript or curled up with a book while at her beloved Fire Island cottage, her imagination alight with a good tale, she could anticipate practically any ending. The ending she’d never imagined was her own.

To be fair, no one expects to die at thirty-seven. So when the unthinkable happens to Julia, rather than following the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, she chooses to spend one last summer near those she loves most.  

As she follows her adoring, novelist husband Ben to their—unexpectedly full—home on Fire Island, she discovers the ripple affect her life has had on the trajectory of so many: her baseball loving, young-at-heart neighbor who believes it’s best not to go it alone, two bright-eyed teenagers eager to become adults, and her best friend who must shake off heartbreak for a new chance at love.

With poignant comedy and insight, On Fire Island is an ode to the stories all around us and to the brightest types of loves…for the people closest to you and the places that shape you.

“Rosen has a winning sense of humor, bringing levity not to awkward and painful moments, and she packs the narrative with vivid details of beach life and city life. This is a treat.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A sometimes tough read that will appeal to readers wondering if those who die can stick around for just a little longer.” – Kirkus Reviews


Jane Rosen writes such interesting stories! I loved Nine Women One Dress and A Shoe Story, and this book lived up to my high expectations. Our main character is Julia Morse, a young woman who has died. That is not a spoiler! The dead Julia narrates the book from the get go. A young woman dying is always traumatic, and we meet her husband, Ben, a famous author, who is grieving. Her family insists on sitting shiva for the full week, and Ben can’t bear it. He takes the dog and walks out without a word to anyone, and moves into their beach home on Fire Island. This summer resort setting is as much of a character as everyone else.

Julia goes along for the ride, metaphorically speaking that is. She is an observer here, and shares her insight into her husband and friends. Her best friend, Renee, just got divorced after their teenage son catches his father in bed with another woman. Other characters include Renee’s son, Matty, and Shep, a neighbor who used to own the house Ben & Julia bought. Shep is also a widower, but much older than Ben, so when Ben finds him sleeping in his bed, he figures the old guy just got confused. But it turns out he doesn’t want to stay in his new, much larger house, so they become roommates.

The summer on Fire Island is healing for everyone, eventually, but there is a lot of unhappiness as well. Fortunately for us, Rosen manages to infuse humor among even the saddest of moments, and I was invested enough in these characters to make this a one night read. I also was intrigued by the notion of Julia being able to hang around her family and friends until she felt ready to go to that great beyond…which turns out to be, well, no spoilers here. I loved this book, despite its slightly morbid premise, and highly recommend it.

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ON FIRE ISLAND by Jane L. Rosen. Berkley (May 23, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0593638071. 320p.






May 19, 2023

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookstore on the Beach

There are secrets that bring friends together, and others that drive them apart…

Mariners Island is barely ten miles long, but when Ivy, Ariana and Cam were teenagers, it was their whole world. Beyond the pristine beaches and iconic lighthouse lies the beautiful old library that belongs to Ivy’s family. While that bound Ivy to the island as an adult, Ariana could not leave Mariners behind fast enough. The town holds too many…memories. Not only her unrequited feelings for Cam, but the tragedy that left a scar on the community.

When a young girl went missing, a teenage Cam was unthinkably the prime suspect. Ariana and Ivy knew he couldn’t have hurt anyone, and they promised to protect him—even if it meant lying on his behalf.

Now, twenty years later, Ariana returns to Mariners just as new evidence emerges on the case, calling into question everything the three friends thought they knew—and everyone they thought they could trust. What really happened that night? Over the course of one eventful summer, Ariana, Ivy and Cam will learn the truth—about their pasts, their futures and the ties that still bind them as closely as the pages of a book…

“Filled with mystery and drama, coupled with themes of family ties and secrets. This page-turner will not disappoint.”—Booklist


An old mystery brings three old friends together, but their stories are about to change. A young girl had gone missing on this small island twenty years earlier. Ivy and Ariana stretched the truth a tiny bit and said that Cam was with them until almost midnight when in fact, they had separated an hour earlier. But they were best friends, and that’s what friends do for one another. Besides, they were positive Cam had nothing to do with the missing girl.

With no evidence, the case is put to rest until the body of a young girl is found at the beach. The case is reopened, and once again Cam is a suspect. Ivy never left the island; her family founded a library there and she still runs it. Ariana is back visiting when all of this comes to a head. A romance is brewing while the mystery starts to unravel. This is a pageturner for sure, with enough red herrings to keep the suspense going until the very end.

This was a fast-paced story with interesting characters and all the circumstantial evidence a mystery needs – until it gets solved. Novak is a great storyteller, and this novel of romantic suspense is a terrific beach read. Hello, summer!

5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SEASIDE LIBRARY by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (April 11, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0778333517. 400p.







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.





CLASS MOM by Laurie Gelman

August 6, 2017

Click to purchase

Anyone who’s ever been a class room mother or even a PTA volunteer will easily identify with the hell these women go through. But here Gelman brandishes humor like a weapon, (ok, more like a Nerf gun,) gently making fun of all the archetype parents we’ve come to know and love this century – the lesbian moms, the helicopter parents, the mom with the highly allergic child, and so forth. If you are looking for an escape, a light read that is pure fun, you have come to the right book.

I was never the class mom, but I often volunteered, chaperoned field trips, was secretary of the PTSA when my son was in middle school, was team mom for Little League and softball and basketball, etc. Plus my kids are almost eight years apart in age, so I got to do it all over again with my daughter. So let’s just say I really related here.

Jen Dixon is not your typical kindergarten mom; for one thing, she already has two kids in college. When her best friend, also the president of the PTA, recruits her to be class mom, she rebels, then acquiesces, leading to a lot of really snarky,  funny emails sent to the class.

There are moms who do not appreciate the snark and a coup is attempted. Another of the class parents is Don, Jen’s high school crush, a single dad who she starts a flirty text relationship with. You know that is going to blow up in her face but it’s so much fun getting there. Jen and all her family drama justs makes us root for her all the harder.

Laurie Gelman is married to Michael Gelman, and if that name sounds familiar it’s because he’s the long time producer of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” “Live with Kelly and Michael,” and actually goes back to the Regis & Kathy Lee days of the show (I actually heard about this book when she was on Live recently.) Gelman really captured this lovely suburban community well in her debut, plus I always love a good epistolary novel – the emails and texts bring it home. Nepotism aside, this was an afternoon read for me, and it truly did make me laugh out loud.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CLASS MOM by Laurie Gelman. Henry Holt and Co. (August 1, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250124692.  304p.