I am thrilled today to be dishing about Carole Bumpus’ new travel novel: A September to Remember: Searching for Culinary Pleasures at the Italian Table, about her and her husband’s month spent in Italy. I loved reading about Carole and Winston’s adventures and the food they experienced in Italy. The story was very readable and captured the good, the bad, and the ugly of travel! I laughed out loud at some parts! Carole includes recipes for some of the wonderful traditional dishes she and her husband enjoyed while there.
This is a stand alone title within a series of books about travel and culinary pleasures.
Highly recommended! Thanks for making me part of the tour!
Here's the overview:
This culinary travel memoir is an invitation to join in on a month-long trek through Italy, all in the search of the true Italian experience. Sprinkled with unforgettable characters, you will sup on sumptuous traditional foods, sip regional wines, and enjoy vast panoramas of extraordinary beauty. You may find yourself dancing at harvest festivals, climbing through Etruscan tombs, traipsing among Roman ruins, or bathing in ancient Roman termes (hot springs).
You may also enjoy climbing to the heights of wonder in Capri or to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. Or delight in soaking up the ancient and cultural history in Milan, Firenze (Florence), Amalfi, Pompeii, Lecce and Rome. You can bask in the sun and rugged beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Adriatic Sea, or the gorgeous Amalfi Coast. Or you can chat for hours over family meals while collecting a compendium of regional and traditional recipes (cucina povera), while you capture a rare glimpse inside the secrets to the Mediterranean psyche. It is truly a trip of a lifetime.
About the Author:
Multi award winning author, Carole Bumpus is a retired family therapist, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She began writing about food and travel when she stumbled upon the amazing stories of women and war in France. Her historical novel, A Cup of Redemption, was published in October 2014, and her unique companion cookbook, Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption, was released in August 2015.
Books One and Two of her Savoring the Olde Ways series, Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, were published in August 2019 and 2020; her third book in the series, A September to Remember: Searching for Culinary Pleasures at the Italian Table is due out April 27, 2021. All five books have been published by She Writes Press which is part of SparkPoint Studio, LLC.
But wait! There’s more!
There is a giveaway for 3 copies of ‘A September to Remember‘, (one copy per winner).
This giveaway is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ends on June 1, 2021.
I like Sunny and Al’s easy-to-read travelogues and they tend to enjoy traveling to places that I enjoy, so I was more than happy to accept Sunny’s offer of a kindle copy of their book: Cruising from Boston to Montreal. What a treat! Sunny and Al start off in Boston (my city!) and enjoy a Red Sox game, then board a Holland America cruise ship north. If you know me, you know our family loves to cruise. We love having everything just steps away from where we are and we love exploring new ports of call. Sunny and Al are the same and they take you along on their adventures. During this COVID year, when we couldn’t travel at all, it was fun to read a book about going places! I’ve been to Quebec City but not to Montreal or PEI so I found Sunny’s descriptions and Al’s pictures interesting. This book would be fun to read even if you didn’t want to travel yourself. Sunny and Al are two retirees that seem to be open to adventure, fun, finding yummy food, and relaxing with a good book. It would be fun if our paths crossed on our travels in the future!
I love Susan Meissner’s writing, so I was excited to see this one come up on Net Galley. It tells the story of Sophie Whelan, who answers an ad to be the wife of a widower in San Francisco and stepmother to his young daughter. Sophie is an Irish immigrant who can’t wait to get free of NYC and she loves her new life in San Francisco with a lovely home, plenty of money, and most of all, her daughter whom she bonds with right away. But everything is not as it seems, especially with her quiet and secretive husband, and Sophie stands to lose all that she holds dear. In the midst of this, the 1906 earthquake occurs and Sophie and little Kat struggle to survive.
I couldn’t put this one down! I loved this story – I often love to read about California in the past. I loved the character of Sophie and how she was so resilient.
Highly recommended if you like historical fiction!
Thank you for my review copy!
April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.
Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.
Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.
The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.
From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity.
Today I’m part of the Winter Reads Blog Tour from Harlequin for Women’s Fiction, dishing about The Bookstore on the Beach by Brenda Novak. This is a novel that has several subplots, but primarily focuses on three generations of women: Mary, a bookstore owner with a past she’s kept hidden; Autumn, her daughter whose husband went on a business trip and never returned; and Taylor, Autumn’s daughter, who is trying to understand her sexuality and also dealing with a life changing event. The story is told in three voices. There is some romance, some mystery, some “family issues”. This is my first Brenda Novak title and I enjoyed it!
Here’s the overview:
About the Book: For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Kay Andrews, comes New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak’s newest standalone work of women’s fiction, a big, sweeping novel about family and the ties that bind and challenge us. In this novel, three generations of women from the same family share a house and work together at a bookstore in Colonial Beach over the course of a summer.
How do you start a new chapter when you haven’t closed the book on the last one?
Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers—she still has no idea where he went or why. After being happily married for twenty years, she can’t imagine moving forward without him, but for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.
Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort by working alongside her mother and aunt at their quaint bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a life change neither of them saw coming and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into Quinn Vanderbilt—the boy who stole her heart in high school—old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.
I kept thinking that this would make a great bookclub discussion. So many times in this book I asked myself: what would I do??
Thanks for my copy and making me part of the tour!
About the Author:
Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a five-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.
A while back, Jenny R., a publicist at Pegasus Books, offered me a copy of Windhall by Ava Barry. It sounded great! But I didn’t really have time to read and review it due to various other commitments.
Here’s the scoop on it:
Hollywood in the 1940’s was an era of decadence – and director Theodore Langley was its king, paired with Eleanor Hayes as his lead actress. That ended when Eleanor’s mangled body was discovered in Theo’s rose garden and he was charged with her murder. The case was thrown out before it even went to trial and Theo fled L.A., leaving his crawling estate, Windhall, to deteriorate.
Decades later, investigative journalist Max Hailey – raised by his grandmother on stories of old Hollywood – is sure that if he could meet Theo he could prove once and for all that the famed director killed his leading lady. Then, when a copycat murder takes place near Windhall, the long-reclusive Theo returns to L.A. and Hailey finally has his chance…
As Hailey discovers that the implications of Theo and Eleanor’s controversial final film, The Last Train to Avalon, reach far beyond Eleanor’s murder, the journalist must race to piece together both recent and decades-old crimes before it’s too late.
About Ava Barry: Ava Barry was a script reader for Bold Films and Intrigue Entertainment, and an editorial assistant for Zoetrope: All-Story, Francis Ford Coppola’s literary magazine. This is her first novel. She lives in Australia. You can read her fascinating interview with Wendy Werris in Publishers Weekly here!
I offered to do a Q&A because I wanted to hear more! So here is my Q&A with the very generous Ms. Barry. Thank you for your time! And if you are a writer yourself, gentle reader, then you are NOT going to want to miss this!
Q. I’m a huge fan of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Are you as well? How were you drawn to write about this era?
Oh man, I could write fiction about the Golden Age of Hollywood for the rest of my life and never get bored of it. I’m obsessed. I fell completely in love with it in 2009, which is when I saw Sunset Boulevard for the first time. I had always thought black and white movies were dull…boy, was I wrong. That week I went to the campus library and checked out a stack of books on film history, particularly the early days of Hollywood. I haven’t looked back.
Q. I know a lot of people ask this, but readers want to know — what type of research did you do to write your novel? How long did it take?
As soon as I started reading about Old Hollywood, I knew that I wanted to write a book about it, but I had no idea how to frame it. I loved absolutely every element of that old world, from the screenwriters and producers who coddled their leading stars, to the studio enforcers and people who covered up crimes, down to the people who made props and created those beautiful worlds. I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on: lots of memoirs and essays, as well as old screenplays. The book that gave me the most information was “The Penguin Book of Hollywood,” edited by Christopher Silvester. Since a lot of this old world has disappeared, most of my information came from books, although I did visit a lot of filming locations, as well as sites of famous murders.
I lived in Los Angeles for three years after college, and on my days off, I spent a lot of time exploring the city. I looked up filming locations for old movies like Chinatown (and Sunset Boulevard, of course), and went to visit those spots. I went to the central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and hid in their basement, reading these old out-of-print books about Hollywood.
The crazy thing about this old world is that up until recently, a lot of those old stars were still alive. For a long time I wanted to meet Baby Peggy, who was the first “child star” (born in 1918 as Diana Serra Cary) – she was still alive until last year! I also held out hopes (very, very distant hopes) of meeting Olivia de Havilland and even Shirley Temple, who was still alive when I moved to Los Angeles.
Q. Many novelists say that the characters come into their own and live in their heads and drive the story. Is this your writing experience? Or did you know where the story was going when you started?
It’s very rare for me to know where a story is going when I start writing it. This is why it took me so long to find the story that I settled on in WINDHALL: I knew that I wanted to write about Old Hollywood, but I had no idea which angle to take. I finally decided to write about my own experience, which was living in Los Angeles and being obsessed about a world that has nearly died away. I knew that the distant spectatorship was probably the most compelling angle, because Old Hollywood isn’t exactly accessible; you can only obsess from a distance. Soon that world will only exist in memories and books, sadly.
Q. I see this is your debut – wow! It’s always so impressive when a debut novel hits it out of the ballpark. What tips could you share for (struggling) writers who are hopeful of getting published?
This is a misconception that I’m always happy to correct, because I feel like it sets up so many authors to feel badly about themselves if they don’t succeed in a huge way with their first published work. This is my fourth book – nobody wanted the first three! I have been writing seriously for twelve years, and that’s how long it took for me to get published: twelve years.
I’m always happy to share these figures because it might encourage other authors to keep putting their stuff out there: I queried about two hundred agents before I found mine. Not only with WINDHALL, but with my other books, too – and was roundly rejected by everyone! Annie Bomke (my agent) and I started working together at the beginning of 2017, and Annie started sending WINDHALL out that fall. I didn’t keep a tally of publishers who rejected us, but I think it was between 40 – 50. It took two and a half years for Windhall to land with Pegasus. That’s a very long time to become an instant success!
The stories of people who “succeed instantly” are the ones that make headlines, and I find that so disheartening to read. It makes you think that you either have what it takes or you don’t, and if you don’t, you should give up now. Don’t give up! I definitely did not have what it took at first, and I had to keep learning, growing and improving.
Here are some tips that I can share:
Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry. If you don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, getting published seems like a daunting, ethereal dream. It’s a business, like anything else. I read “The Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published” – it sounds so cheesy, but I learned everything I know about getting an agent, writing a query letter, a synopsis, etc from that excellent book.
Keep track of your “failures.” This might sound counterintuitive, but it works, and I’ll tell you why: writing without getting published can feel like throwing pieces of paper down a mineshaft. If you never see any results or positive feedback, you can feel tempted to give up. Don’t! Keeping a reminder of all the people you queried (and all the people who responded, whether negative or positive) reminds you that you have been doing a TON of work.
READ. Oh my god, I can’t tell you how many would-be authors I meet who “don’t have time to read books.” Honey, please. Attempting to write a book without reading is like attempting to run a marathon without exercising. I have read some of these literary efforts, and it shows. I also speak from personal experience: 2011 was an incredibly stressful year for me, and I read about five books. Anything I tried to write that year was complete gibberish. I finally got my life back on track and read copiously in 2013, which is when I started writing seriously again – and it was so much easier to write after reading.
Q. Can you tell us what you are working on currently?
I’m working on another mystery set in Los Angeles. This one is also set in Los Angeles, and it’s about a female private investigator. The P.I. takes the case of a young woman who was the lone survivor of a violent attack that took the lives of her very wealthy family…and now it looks like the killer has come back to claim the young woman’s life, too.
I am happy to be taking part in the Harlequin Trade Publishing Winter Blog Tour for Mysteries and Thrillers, featuring JUST MY LUCK by Adele Parks. I loved this book so much! The story centers on three families of best friends and what happens when one of them wins the lottery. A huge issue is that they normally – for years – have shared a ticket weekly. This time they supposedly didn’t. However what I loved about this book was that it showed how complicated money can be. People often think that all their problems will be solved if they are rich; this book shows that it can be quite the opposite. I loved the main character so much. One of my favorite parts was when they won and everyone made a list of what they would buy first. In among the expensive cars, designer clothes, and high end travel, was her item: a new couch. 🙂
Here’s the overview:
Adele Parks has brought her #1 Sunday Times sensation, JUST MY LUCK (MIRA Trade Paperback; April 6, 2021; $17.99) to the US!
Be careful what you wish for…
After spending happy hours, parenting classes and barbeques together for the last 15 years, Lexi and Jake Greenwood have celebrated and shared almost everything with the Pearsons and the Heathcotes, including their lottery numbers. Then one night, the unthinkable happens. Someone has been telling lies – lies dark enough to burn bridges and tear the tight group of friends apart. When the Greenwoods win a stunning $23 million in the lottery with their group’s numbers shortly after their dramatic falling out, the Heathcotes and Pearsons believe they’re entitled to part of the prize… and the three couples will do anything to claim what is theirs.
Reader beware: the last chapter will change everything.
A compulsively readable portrait of the fragility of friendship, the corrosiveness of sudden wealth, and the dark side of good luck, Adele Parks’ latest domestic thriller will make you think twice about trying your hand at the lottery.
This would be a GREAT choice for book clubs. What would you do with millions of dollars? And what do you think about that ending….?
Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review copy!
Adele Parks is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels, including Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck, as well as I Invited Her In. Just My Luck is currently in development to be made into a movie. Her novels have sold 4 million copies in the UK alone, and her work has also been translated into thirty-one languages.
I absolutely loved Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network so I was thrilled to get her new book The Rose Code through Net Galley this month! This had all the makings of a great story: Bletchley Park, WWII, smart/strong women, friendships, love, and a spy in their midst. I could NOT stop listening. I laughed. I cried (not while driving). I sat in suspense.
Saskia Maarleveld is the narrator and she does a fantastic job with the different voices and accents — truly top notch!
I loved these characters so much – but my heart went out to Beth, the intelligent young woman who was basically kept at home by her parents and manipulated by them until she broke free and started working at BP. I also loved the mix of fictional and real characters. And from now on, I must refer to Buckingham Palace as “Buck Place” — too funny!
Here’s the overview:
The hidden history of Bletchley Park has been waiting for a master storyteller like Kate Quinn to bring it to life. The Rose Code effortlessly evokes the frantic, nervy, exuberant world of the Enigma codebreakers through the eyes of three extraordinary women who work in tireless secrecy to defeat the Nazis. Quinn’s meticulous research and impeccable characterization shine through this gripping and beautifully executed novel.” (Beatriz Williams, New York Times best-selling author of Her Last Flight)
The New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.
The year 1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything – beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses – but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of East End London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.
The year 1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter – the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger – and their true enemy – closer….
Net Galley now offers audiobooks for review, which is great for me as I have a long commute each day and listen to a couple of books a month while I drive. I picked up this one as I have liked Joshilyn Jackson’s other novels. It was definitely suspenseful! I was a bit stumped by the mystery (until it became clear and then I wondered why I hadn’t figured it out!) and I liked how thrilling it was.
Joshilyn Jackson does the narration herself, which is kind of cool. I’m not sure I like her “teen girl voice” as much as I like her adult voices, but I did like how she nuanced the language of the story.
Here’s the overview – it comes out April 6.
Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.
Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned by her single mother that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected her mother’s fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree has all a woman could ever dream of: a loving lawyer husband, two talented young teenage daughters, a new baby boy, a gorgeous home, and every opportunity in the world.
Until the day she awakens and sees a witch peering into her bedroom window, an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.
Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daughters’ private school…just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly – Bree only looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.
The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.
To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small – but critical – task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price, making her complicit in a tangled web of tragedy and shocking secrets that could destroy everything she loves. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will lead Bree to dangerous places, explosive confrontations, and chilling truths.
Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family – but what if the cost tears their world apart?
I love this series of cozy mysteries featuring the intrepid and often comical Epiphany Bloom, and I was thrilled to take part in the blog tour for Katie Gayle’s latest installment: The Museum Murder.
Here’s the overview:
Dastardly deeds, daring deceptions and a dress to die for… Epiphany Bloom is back on the case!
Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom, would-be detective and London’s unluckiest woman, finds herself in a real costume drama when she unearths a theft at a fashion museum.
The missing dress is a proper piece of Hollywood history, worth a fortune. And as Pip investigates, she finds the museum staff all had reasons to want the garment gone. From fancy boutiques to sketchy back alleys, Pip discovers the fashion world is not all glitz and glamour as she hunts down her prize.
As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate, Pip also has her growing feelings for her housemate Tim to contend with, a family of cats to feed and her mother keeps phoning about a shipment of llamas arriving any day now from South America.
But there’s no time for distractions because Pip’s not the only one after the dress. And for the most dedicated collectors, a piece like this is worth any price – even murder…
A laugh-out-loud, light-hearted cozy mystery for fans of M.C. Beaton, T.E. Kinsey and Joanne Fluke, that will have you reading late into the night.
Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet.
Today I’m part of the Bookouture blog tour for Marion Kummerow’s WWII historical novel of two sisters separated at Bergen-Belsen who defy the odds in finding each other and surviving the war.
Here’s the overview:
1944, Germany. Two sisters seek to overcome impossible odds to be reunited, in this utterly devastating and unforgettable novel about sisterhood, courage and survival.
All they had left was each other. Until the Nazis tore them apart.
After years of hiding from the Nazis, Rachel Epstein and her little sister Mindel are captured by the Gestapo and sent to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. The only ray of light for either girl is that they are together.
But on arrival they are separated. As she’s seventeen and deemed an adult, Rachel is sent to work in a brutal factory whilst four-year-old Mindel is sent into the so-called “star” camp for Jewish prisoners. All on her own, Rachel knows her sister will have no chance of survival—unless she can find someone to take care of her.
Working in the windowless, airless factory—filling munitions casings with chemicals that burn her fingers and make her eyes sting—the only thing that keeps Rachel going is the thought of her little sister. Because if there’s even a chance Mindel is alive, Rachel knows she must try to save her.
But, separated by barbed wire, and treated brutally by SS guards who do not even see them as human beings, can either of the orphaned sisters ever dare to hope that they’ll find their way back to each other? And to freedom?
A completely heartbreaking, utterly gripping tale of courage, loss and overcoming impossible odds, perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Ragged Edge of Night and The Orphan’s Tale.
I enjoyed this story. I’m always struck by the resiliency of young people surviving war, be it in the past or in present day. The ONLY thing that I would have changed in this book is that Mindel seemed older to me – more like seven than four. It kept jumping out at me that she seemed (developmentally) older than four. I had the good fortune to connect with Ms. Kummerow on this very point and she shared that she used her own daughter and things she was saying at the same age as her model. So there you go!
Overall I enjoyed this story and I always appreciate an ending with a good resolution! I loved the characters, especially Mindel’s special friend, Laszlo. This is the first novel my Ms. Kummerow that I’ve read. I’ll need to look for her others as she often writes about WWII.
Thank you for my review copy and making me part of the tour!
Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family.
Inspired by the true story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime, she started writing historical fiction, set during World War II. Her books are filled with raw emotions, fierce loyalty and resilience. She loves to put her characters through the mangle, making them reach deep within to find the strength to face moral dilemma, take difficult decisions or fight for what is right. And she never forgets to include humor and undying love in her books, because ultimately love is what makes the world go round.