For My Ears: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Description (via Amazon) –

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes by award-winning author Mary Beth Keane, is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’ youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter, who are born six months apart. In the spring of Kate and Peter’s eighth grade year, a violent event divides the neighbors, the Stanhopes are forced to move away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact. 

But Kate and Peter find a way back to each other, and their relationship is tested by the echoes from their past. Ask Again, Yes reveals how the events of childhood look different when reexamined from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace. 

Narrated by Molly Pope, this was an intriguing and at times heart-breaking story of two families and the events and love that bind them together. Unforgettable and as tragic as it is redemptive, this is one that you won’t soon forget.

I got mine through Audible.

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

Description

“A subtly but relentlessly unsettling novel.” —TANA FRENCH, author of The Witch Elm

It was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

I read this novel several weeks ago, but it’s rather haunting so I still remember it! It was well-plotted and suspenseful, moving back and forth in time as it tells Allison’s and Maureen’s stories.

Hard to believe it’s a debut novel! Recommended to those who like a suspenseful mystery. Thank you for my copy!

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

I adore the cranky and wonderful Olive Kitteridge; and I truly enjoyed the first novel about Olive and how wonderfully written it was. This one continues Olive’s story, basically for the rest of her life. It is so well-written that it makes the story of her life beautiful. Elizabeth Strout has an amazing way of making the ordinary extraordinary.

Here’s the overview (and thanks for my ARC galley through Net Galley!):

Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions.

“Strout managed to make me love this strange woman I’d never met, who I knew nothing about. What a terrific writer she is.”—Zadie Smith, The Guardian

“Just as wonderful as the original . . . Olive, Again poignantly reminds us that empathy, a requirement for love, helps make life ‘not unhappy.’”—NPR

NAMED ONE OF FALL’S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS BY People • Time • Entertainment Weekly • Vanity Fair • BuzzFeed • Vogue • USA Today • The Seattle Times • HuffPost • Newsday • Vulture • Bustle • Vox • PopSugar • Good Housekeeping • LitHub • Book Riot

Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). TheNew Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us—in Strout’s words—“to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”

Praise for Olive, Again

“Olive is a brilliant creation not only because of her eternal cantankerousness but because she’s as brutally candid with herself about her shortcomings as she is with others. Her honesty makes people strangely willing to confide in her, and the raw power of Ms. Strout’s writing comes from these unvarnished exchanges, in which characters reveal themselves in all of their sadness and badness and confusion. . . . The great, terrible mess of living is spilled out across the pages of this moving book. Ms. Strout may not have any answers for it, but she isn’t afraid of it either.”The Wall Street Journal

Mistletoe at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

Available today! And just in time to get you in the Christmas spirit!

I love, love, love this series about a woman finding love after 40. As a woman who found love after 35, I can relate! Plus, she has this little miniature horse as a pet and I want one!

Susan Schild sent me a galley of this novella (about 70 pages) and I loved continuing with Jenny’s story. Thank you! I believe it is only available via Amazon kindle. Just a note: it would be considered a “clean read”.

Here’s the overview:

Ready for a feel good read that will ease you into the Christmas spirit? 

Join forty-three-year-old newbie innkeeper Jenny Beckett at the Lakeside Resort on beautiful Heron Lake. Jenny’s dreading Christmas. With almost no cabins booked for the holidays, she’s accidentally made promises on social media about dazzling Christmas festivities happening at the Lakeside Resort. Trouble is, the holidays are fast approaching, Jenny’s not begun to finalize plans, and she keeps running into roadblocks.

Stretched tight, Jenny scrambles to book a decent Santa Claus, a horse-drawn wagon for Currier and Ives-style sleigh rides, and the Christmas choirs she’s so enthusiastically described online. To complicate matters, Mama has a frightening fall, Charlotte and Ashe are at odds about their upcoming wedding, and Jenny’s getting the jitters about marrying and building a cabin with her fiancé, Luke.

When Jenny shares her fears with Luke and her best girlfriends, she starts to feel the wonder of the season. Friends gift her a new vintage camper, Mama and Landis make a startling announcement, and friends and family pitch in to help her deliver the dazzling Christmas she’d promised. Jenny realizes she already has all she needs for a magical Christmas and a happy future.

With cozy romance, classic carols, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and happily ever afters, Christmas joy is always on tap at The Lakeside Resort.

USA Today Bestselling author Susan Schild writes heartwarming novels about women over 40 having adventures, falling in love, and finding their happily ever afters. Follow her on BookBub for updates.

HFVBTour for DRAGON LADY by Autumn Bardot

I’m excited to be part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for Autumn Bardot’s crazy good novel: DRAGON LADY. It’s got pirates, adventure, romance, and excitement and is based on the true story of the infamous Asian lady pirate: Zheng Yi Sao.

Here’s the overview:

Prostitution required the violation of my body. Piracy required my soul. The first enslaved me. The second set me free.

A young girl is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a floating brothel. Xianggu begins as a servant, but soon her virginity is bought by the highest bidder. Ambitious and determined, she learns the business in hopes of earning her freedom from the madam. Her dreams are washed away when a midnight pirate raid changes her life.

Kidnapped by the notorious Red Flag boss, Xianggu embarks on a journey that demands beauty, brains, and brawn. But Xianggu must do more than learn to wield a sword, sail a ship, and swim across the bay, she must become indispensable to the pirate boss if she hopes to survive. The winds, however, never blow in the same direction, and Xianggu must make a decision that requires her to battle jealous men, ancient prejudices, and her own heart.

The triumph of the notorious Zheng Yi Sao is a sexy, fierce, and unflinchingly realistic story of how a prostitute became the most powerful and successful pirate in the world.

In 18th century China, when men made and enforced the rules, the Dragon Lady lived by her own.

Even though there is violence in this book (physical and sexual) and also sexually explicit scenes (fair warning), I loved this story and couldn’t help but admire Xiang gu. She was a definite bad a** woman of history! I had not read anything by Autumn Bardot before, but I found this engaging and well-written and definitely well-researched.

Here’s a bit about Ms. Bardot:

About the Author
Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and erotica about sassy women and daring passions!
Her erotic fiction includes Legends of Lust, Erotic Myths from around the World, published by Cleis Press. Confessions of a Sheba Queen (erotica) will be available Jan 2020.
The Impaler’s Wife, her debut historical fiction, released in April 2019.
Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching literary analysis for fourteen years
When Autumn’s not writing or working, you’ll find her hanging out with her ever-growing family, spoiled husband, and pampered rescue pooch. Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.

Highly recommended for those who like this genre!

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

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

I am currently reading Kristin Harmel’s newest book and I was reminded that I had not finished this novel from last year! This is a wonderful WWII story about a young American woman who marries a French man and stays in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Their lives are intertwined with the Jewish family next door, and Ruby must decide if she will risk all she has in order to do what she knows is right for those she cares about.

Highly recommended! Thank you for my copy to review through Net Galley!

Description

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.

When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Summer at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

The very kind Susan Schild sent me an electronic copy of her latest Lakeside Resort novel in order for me to read and review. I just love this series! It centers on a 40-something-year-old woman (Jenny) who is making a fresh start by creating a resort with some property she has inherited. She lives in a trailer there and has two cute dogs and an adorable pet miniature horse. I totally want a mini horse since reading these books!

Here’s the overview:

Ready for more love and adventure after 40?

Forty-three year old Jenny Beckett has just renovated eight rustic guest cabins on beautiful Heron Lake, North Carolina. Brand new to the inn- keeping business, she is struggling to make The Lakeside Resort profitable. Wrangling guests like The Fighting Couple, persnickety attorneys, and the curvy gals from the Fabulous You Fitness Week keep her on her toes. Jenny’s business isn’t her only problem. Her mother and stepfather have just moved in for an extended stay. Startling developments with her possible fiancé, Luke, make Jenny question his commitment to her. An all-gal camping trip in her old Airstream lifts her spirits, but Jenny still has doubts about whether she and Luke can make their love work.

After all the heartache she’s had, can Jenny learn to trust love again and finally find her happily ever after?

This book is sometimes termed “romance” or “women’s fiction” or “clean reading” or even “Christian” – all I can tell you is that it’s a feel-good story that is very relatable if you, like me, found your love when you were older! Plus there’s that cute mini horse!! Lots of every day issues and challenges and an easy flow to the writing make it easy to read. And I always love a happy ending.

Thank you, Ms. Schild, for my copy!! I notice that that place that I no longer link to has kindle copies for only $4.99 right now!

And — You don’t have to read the first in the series to appreciate this one, but do yourself a favor and get it, too!

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

I absolutely loved this story about a “blue” woman who works as a librarian on horseback in the mountainous “hollers” of Kentucky. Cussy Mary’s vocation is to bring literacy to the people of her area and the fact that she is shunned for being “blue” won’t stop her. I loved the voice of this character and found the storyline intriguing and interesting. I did wonder why the author chose the blue storyline and then discovered that it is based in fact — there was a succession of Kentuckians who shared a recessive gene that led to unoxygenated blood, which makes the skin appear blue. Interesting!

Highly recommended! Thanks for my e-copy to review!

Description

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is.  Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own  traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. 

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however,  she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble.  If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler. 

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage,  fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

City of Flickering Light by Juliette Fay

I really enjoy Juliette Fay’s writing and was thrilled to receive her City of Flickering Light, about the early days of Hollywood, via Net Galley! It tells the story of three friends who are a bit down and out and head to Hollywood to make their fortunes, having a lot of adventures and ups and downs along the way.

Here’s the overview from NG:

Description

Juliette Fay—“one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal)—transports us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the raucous Roaring Twenties, as three friends struggle to earn their places among the stars of the silent screen—perfect for fans of La La Land and Rules of Civility

It’s July 1921, “flickers” are all the rage, and Irene Van Beck has just declared her own independence by jumping off a moving train to escape her fate in a traveling burlesque show. When her friends, fellow dancer Millie Martin and comedian Henry Weiss, leap after her, the trio finds their way to the bright lights of Hollywood with hopes of making it big in the burgeoning silent film industry.

At first glance, Hollywood in the 1920s is like no other place on earth—iridescent, scandalous, and utterly exhilarating—and the three friends yearn for a life they could only have dreamed of before. But despite the glamour and seduction of Tinseltown, success doesn’t come easy, and nothing can prepare Irene, Millie, and Henry for the poverty, temptation, and heartbreak that lie ahead. With their ambitions challenged by both the men above them and the prejudice surrounding them, their friendship is the only constant through desperate times, as each struggles to find their true calling in an uncertain world. What begins as a quest for fame and fortune soon becomes a collective search for love, acceptance, and fulfillment as they navigate the backlots and stage sets where the illusions of the silver screen are brought to life.

With her “trademark wit and grace” (Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters), Juliette Fay crafts another radiant and fascinating historical novel as thrilling as the bygone era of Hollywood itself.

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One fun thing in this novel is the return of one of the Tumbling Turner sisters from Ms. Fay’s earlier novels! Reviewed here by me:https://drbethnolan.com/2016/06/11/the-tumbling-turner-sisters-by-juliette-fay/

While it took me a few chapters to get into this story, I ended up really enjoying it and loving the characters. I look forward to more great historical fiction from Ms. Fay and I hope to meet her sometime as she lives just a few towns over from me!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

Treading the Uneven Road – a short story collection by L.M. Brown

I received an electronic copy of this wonderful collection of stories from the author a few months ago. They take place in Ireland and are all inter-related.

Description:
The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on.

Me again!! I love Ireland and I love short stories where there is a connecting thread throughout them all. These aren’t all happiness and light, but they do leave you thinking about the characters and wondering about their lives. Brown has the ability to develop character and evoke setting, so that these stories are vividly impressed upon you as you read.

Thank you so much for my review copy! You can find it on Amazon and other online retailers!