Harlequin Summer Reads Blog Tour for Red Sky over Hawaii by Sarah Ackerman

I’m thrilled to take part in Harlequin’s Summer Reads Blog Tour today, dishing about Red Sky over Hawaii by Sarah Ackerman! This was a compelling story – WWII historical fiction/romance – that takes place in Hawai’i. If you know me, you know I love the Hawai’ian Islands and there were so many places that featured in the story where I had been, it made my connection to the novel even stronger.

Here’s the description:

ABOUT THE BOOK:

For fans of Chanel Cleeton and Beatriz Williams, RED SKY OVER HAWAII is historical women’s fiction set in the islands during WWII. It’s the story of a woman who has to put her safety and her heart on the line when she becomes the unexpected guardian of a misfit group and decides to hide with them in a secret home in the forest on Kilauea Volcano.

The attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything for Lana Hitchcock. Arriving home on the Big Island too late to reconcile with her estranged father, all she can do is untangle the clues of his legacy, which lead to a secret property in the forest on Kilauea Volcano. America has been drawn into WWII, and amid rumors of impending invasion, the army places the islands under martial law. When they start taking away neighbors as possible sympathizers, Lana finds herself suddenly guardian to two girls, as well as accomplice to an old family friend who is Japanese, along with his son. In a heartbeat, she makes the decision to go into hiding with them all.

The hideaway house is not what Lana expected, revealing its secrets slowly, and things become even more complicated by the interest of Major Grant Bailey, a soldier from the nearby internment camp. Lana is drawn to him, too, but needs to protect her little group. With a little help from the magic on the volcano, Lana finds she can open her bruised heart to the children–and maybe to Grant.

A lush and evocative novel about doing what is right against the odds, following your heart, and what makes a family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sara Ackerman is the USA Today bestselling author of The Lieutenant’s Nurse and Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. She blames Hawaii for her addiction to writing, and sees no end to its untapped stories. When she’s not writing or teaching, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean. She currently lives on the Big Island with her boyfriend and a houseful of bossy animals. Find out more about Sara and her books at http://www.ackermanbooks.com and follow her on Instagram @saraackermanbooks and on FB @ackermanbooks.

While I could have had a bit more suspense and less romance, overall this was a great read. I’d love to read more of Ms. Ackerman’s novels. They are well-plotted and paced.

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my ARC, and for letting me have a little “visit to the Islands”!

For My Ears: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Before I stopped commuting due to COVID, I had the pleasure of listening to this fun YA murder mystery, written with multiple voices.

Here’s the overview of it via Amazon:

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

I enjoyed Pip’s pluckiness in solving this mystery and I also liked all the twists and turns in the plot. It kept my interest while navigating my rather dull commute and I often listened while working at my desk or over lunch.

You don’t have to be a teen to enjoy this one! I got mine with my Audible credit through Amazon.

Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar

Description

From international bestselling author Mario Escobar comes a story of escape, sacrifice, and hope amid the perils of the Second World War.

August 1942. Jacob and Moses Stein, two young Jewish brothers, are staying with their aunt in Paris amid the Nazi occupation. The boys’ parents, well-known German playwrights, have left the brothers in their aunt’s care until they can find safe harbor for their family. But before the Steins can reunite, a great and terrifying roundup occurs. The French gendarmes, under Nazi order, arrest the boys and take them to the Vélodrome d’Hiver—a massive, bleak structure in Paris where thousands of France’s Jews are being forcibly detained.

Jacob and Moses know they must flee in order to survive, but they only have a set of letters sent from the South of France to guide them to their parents. Danger lurks around every corner as the boys, with nothing but each other, trek across the occupied country. Along their remarkable journey, they meet strangers and brave souls who put themselves at risk to protect the children—some of whom pay the ultimate price for helping these young refugees of war.

This inspiring novel, now available for the first time in English, demonstrates the power of family and the endurance of the human spirit—even through the darkest moments of human history.

I have enjoyed reading other novels by Mario Escobar so I was excited to get this one via Net Galley. While it tells a memorable and suspenseful story of two brothers, I must admit that sometimes I found it stretched my ability to find it believable. If I suspended my disbelief a bit, I enjoyed this story about family and brotherhood in the time of war. Lots of historical references are built in accurately, such as the Vel d’Hiv roundup (something lots of people don’t know about since the Velodrome d’Hiver is no longer standing). I will share it with my high school daughter as it’s not a disturbing read, but instead one of hope and resilience.

Thank you for my ARC, Thomas Nelson Publishers!

Harper Collins/Harlequin Virtual Tour for: THE SUMMER SET by Aimee Agresti

Description

The real drama happens offstage in this juicy novel about a former A-list actress who must spend the summer at the idyllic theater where she got her start. But with a first love and celebrity rivals present, will this be the second chance she imagined or her last act?

Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood’s hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she’s pushing forty, exiled from the film world and back at the summer Shakespeare theater in the Berkshires that launched her career—and where her old flame, Nick, is the artistic director.

It’s not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself getting her groove back, bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships and even reigniting her spark with Nick, who still seems to bring out the best in her despite their complicated history.

Until Charlie’s old rival, Hollywood’s current It Girl, is brought on set, threatening to undo everything she’s built. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on the show of a lifetime to fight for the second chance she deserves in career and in love.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and undeniable charm, Aimee Agresti’s The Summer Set is about first loves, second chances, and third acts.

If you know me, you know I love live theater — watching it and being part of it as an actor. This was a fun and funny read — Charlie is a bit of a bad girl, but you can’t help but like her and admire her pluckiness. Back with her old flame, Charlie is focused on herself and getting her way (think “diva”). At the same time we get a glimpse into some of the other characters as they share the voice in this story. Underneath it all is the imminent demise of the summer theater unless something or someone makes all the difference and breathes new life into it.

A fun read that is a light romance, this was a great choice for the summer! I will admit to sometime being confused when the point of view switched, but I figured it out!

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my ARC!

Here’s a bit about the author:

Aimee Agresti is the author of the Gilded Wings novels, Illuminate and Infatuate. She is also an entertainment journalist whose work has appeared in People, the Washington PostMademoiselle, and the New York Observer. As a staff writer for Us Weekly magazine, she interviewed many celebrities and penned the magazine’s coffee table book Inside Hollywood. She lives in Washington, DC.

Harlequin Blog Tour for: This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Heather Gudenkauf’s This Is How I Lied, a suspenseful mystery featuring police detective Maggie O’Keefe (I hope it is the start of a series!).

This was a fast-moving and suspenseful read, focusing on the murder of Maggie’s best friend twenty years earlier.

Here’s the overview:

Description

Gudenkauf proves herself the master of the smart, suspenseful small-town thriller that gets right under your skin.” —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Check out these other riveting novels of suspense by bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf:

The Weight of Silence
These Things Hidden
One Breath Away
Little Mercies
Missing Pieces
Not a Sound
Before She Was Found

Me again!! I had not read any of Ms. Gudenkauf’s books before – I need to look them up! I recommend this one to mystery lovers, especially if you like a strong, female protagonist. The pacing was solid and the characters well-developed.

Thank you for making me part of the tour!

Author Bio:

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

Buy Links: (provided by Harlequin; NOT affiliated with BBNB)

Harlequin

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @hgudenkauf

Instagram: @heathergudenkauf

Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor

Goodreads

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD, FAAFP

I’m thrilled to take part today in the PR by the Book’s virtual book tour for Dr. Jill Grimes’ new book of health for the college student. Geared towards the first-time-on-their-own young adult, this handy little book covers everything from head to toe (and in between!).

My daughter, who is almost 17, and I took a look at this handbook and found it to be great for many things right now! For instance, achy ankle? Here are some exercises to do. Headache? Some reasons why and some steps to take. Nosebleeds? What’s going on and what to do. When to see the doctor and when to worry (or not). It’s all in here!

Thank you so much for sharing this helpful book with us. It will go to college with Anne when she goes!

Dr. Grimes is a nationally recognized medical media expert, author and mom. Find her online at https://jillgrimesmd.com/the-ultimate-college-student-health-handbook/.

Find this book on Amazon (link provided by tour and not affiliated with BBNB):

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-College-Student-Health-Handbook/dp/151075103 

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

I just love Jennifer Weiner’s books and I was SO excited to get her latest BIG SUMMER from Net Galley! This was a great book and the perfect summer read. I loved the main character of Daphne, a plus-sized blogger, who lives in NYC with her loving parents and has tens of thousands of followers in her online life. She blogs fashion for curvy girls and is an “influencer”. Her former best friend from high school, Drue, is getting married and wants Daphne to be part of her day. However, things don’t go as planned and the story veers off on a different course.

While I loved Daphne, I have to say that some of her memories and experiences in the book, especially from when she was younger, are painful to read. Who among us has ever felt perfect? Daphne’s character voices so eloquently the struggle that still exists within her to accept and love herself unconditionally.

I just loved this one – a little romance, a wedding scene, the beach, a murder, mystery man, etc., etc. Keep it coming, Ms. Weiner!

Thank you, Atria Books, for my ARC!

Description

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “nothing short of brilliant” (People) Mrs. Everything returns with an unforgettable novel about friendship and forgiveness set during a disastrous wedding on picturesque Cape Cod.

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

On a perfect summer night, as generations of Cavanaughs descend on the family beach in Cape Cod, the cute guy materializes and a family feud erupts. With rumors swirling about everything from a failing business to infidelity, it’s clear why Drue wanted Daphne by her side. When Daphne wakes up the morning of the wedding to find that her crush has vanished and that something terrible has happened to her friend, it’s up to her to dig deep into Drue’s past, to unpeel the layers of illusion, and to find out the complicated truth about perfect Drue Cavanaugh.

A sparkling novel about the complexities of female friendship, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

I heard about this book when I was at my online bookclub with my friend Amy at her site – http://www.momadvice.com – and we were talking about Mary Kubica’s new book (The Other Mrs – reviewed here: https://drbethnolan.com/2020/04/05/the-other-mrs-by-mary-kubica/ ). Ms. Kubica said she had just read Little Secrets and it was very good so I got it from Net Galley (lucky me!).

What a read! It was suspenseful and thrilling and scary but not too graphic or disturbing. I don’t usually read things about missing children as it gives me nightmares, but this was okay for me. I feel that Ms. Hellier (new author to me) did such a great job in describing the main characters feelings and depression while she is caught in a horrific limbo of not knowing what happened to her child.

So glad I picked this one up! Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

Here’s the overview:

Description

“Unflinching and unforgettable. Little Secrets has everything you want in a thriller” —Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door

Overwhelmed by tragedy, a woman desperately tries to save her marriage in award-winning author Jennifer Hillier’s Little Secrets, a riveting novel of psychological suspense.


All it takes to unravel a life is one little secret…

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family—until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.

Permanently.

The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead


I absolutely loved this story about young Bea and her changing family situation. Bea is in fifth grade and her parents have divorced (which she is still fully adjusting to) and her father is going to remarry. This is a huge shift for her. She will now have two dads, and a new step sister (she always wanted a sister) who lives in CA. That’s a lot of change and Bea, with her anxiety and her eczema, is keeping her list to give her some sense of steadiness. Add in some issues at school and you’ve got a touching and realistic novel.

I adore Rececca Stead’s writing and often recommend it for my students. She treated the topics in this book so sensitively yet honestly that I can imagine that many readers will be touched by Bea’s story, like I was.

Thank you, Net Galley and Wendy Lamb Books, for my copy!

Description

EIGHT STARRED REVIEWS! The reassuring book kids and families need right now.

“An absolute original . . . a story that kids will love.” –R. J. Palacio, bestselling author of Wonder

At a time when everything is changing for Bea and her family, the important things will always stay the same. A soon-to-be classic by the Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me.

After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.

When Dad tells Bea that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled. Bea loves Jesse, and when he and Dad get married, she’ll finally (finally!) have what she’s always wanted–a sister. Even though she’s never met Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, Bea is sure that they’ll be “just like sisters anywhere.”

As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy, and readers will discover why the New York Times called Rebecca Stead a “writer of great feeling.”

Post from the Past: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

I love Outlander (books and show), and I see that in 2020 we will be getting the next installment (Book #9: Go Tell The Bees that I Am Gone). One final book, Book 10, will follow and then Jamie and Claire’s saga will be over. However, it’s been SO LONG since I read Book #8 that I thought I would remind myself of it. Then I thought — perhaps my readers would like to remember it, too? So, here for you – direct from several years ago on my blog (2016) – is my review of Outlander Book #8: Written in my Own Heart’s Blood.

If you know me, you know I have an Outlander obsession. I’ve read them all (and watch the show). Of course I had to read the latest tome from Ms. Gabaldon. I did it over time, though, reading several other things at the same time, because sometimes I just needed a break from the trials of living in the 1700’s!

This book starts where the last one left off, and I only wish I could have remembered exactly what had happened at the end of the last book! Next time I am definitely re-reading the end of the previous book. It took me about 100 pages to get settled and remember all the challenges folks were facing. (What I really needed was a chart with characters, which is there, but really not too accessible via kindle; print copy would have been better).

Anyhow, Claire and Jamie were reunited. Lord Grey was having some serious physical issues in the war (and with Jamie). Ian was wanting to marry his Quaker love, Rachel. Brianna was fending off a crazy man who was trying to abduct Jem, while Roger runs off to the past thinking Jem is there (but ends up in the wrong time). Then there was a whole HOST of other folks running around and having problems. I could scarcely keep track of it all!

As always, I love the story of Claire and Jamie. Theirs is a love that truly transcends time. The other many subplots are fun to follow, though I found the time in the forest with the soldiers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. Things picked up quickly towards the end and one can see another book on the horizon.

Now if you know me, you know I have a “problem” shall we say, with Brianna. I can’t stand her “I’m perfect. I’m intelligent. I’m beautiful. Everyone desires me. I’m Brianna.” personality. I found her much more likable in this installment. Her motherly side has softened me to her. Now, instead, I find Rachel annoying. Her “I am pious. I am perfect. I am incredibly beautiful and brave with a perfect body under these drab Quaker togs. Look at me!” character is a bit much. I don’t want her killed off, but really, let’s make her not quite so perfect. And once I got thinking about this I realized that all the women in these books are pretty much physically perfect while most of the main men have some sort of physical difference or scar or missing limb: Jamie’s scars and missing finger, Jenny’s husband’s limp, Roger’s damaged throat, Fergus’ hook, Colum’s Toulouse-Latrec. Interesting…

Okay – I just googled to make sure it was Colum with the T-L and not Dougal and there’s an Outlander Wiki???

Anyhow, you, too, can slog through the 800+ pages of the latest Outlander. You can see it on Amazon where I got mine.