Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: May 26, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This was not my favorite of Nancy Thayer but it was still an enjoyable read.

I wished she had focused on Lisa and Mack’s relationship with the kids’ relationships as a secondary storyline. I never got a deep connection with any of the characters as I normally do. In fact, I think this storyline could have been a 2 or 3 book series focusing on Lisa and Mack, Theo and Beth, and Ryder and Juliet.

Girls of Summer is a good book for those lazy days at the pool or beach and you want a light read with a happy ending.

I received a complimentary book from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

 

NetGalley: One life-changing summer on Nantucket brings about exhilarating revelations for a single mother and her two grown children in this sensational novel from New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer.

Lisa Hawley is perfectly satisfied living on her own. Having fully recovered from a brutal divorce nearly two decades earlier, she has successfully raised her kids, Juliet and Theo, seeing them off to college and beyond. As the owner of a popular boutique on Nantucket, she’s built a fulfilling life for herself on the island where she grew up. With her beloved house in desperate need of repair, Lisa calls on Mack Whitney, a friendly—and very handsome—local contractor and fellow single parent, to do the work. The two begin to grow close, and Lisa is stunned to realize that she might be willing to open up again after all . . . despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior.

Juliet and Theo worry that Mack will only break their mother’s heart—and they can’t bear to see her hurt again. Both stuck in ruts of their own, they each hope that a summer on Nantucket will provide them with the clarity they’ve been searching for. When handsome entrepreneur Ryder Hastings moves to the island to expand his environmental nonprofit, Juliet, an MIT-educated web designer, feels an immediate attraction, one her rocky love life history pushes her to deny at first. Meanwhile, free spirit Theo finds his California bliss comes to a brutal halt when a surfing injury forces him back to the East Coast. Upon his return, he has eyes only for Mack’s daughter, Beth, to whom he is bound by an unspeakable tragedy from high school. Can they overcome their past?

As the season unfolds, a storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, forcing Lisa, Juliet, and Theo to decide whether their summer romances are destined for something more profound. Nancy Thayer dazzles again in this delightful tale of family, a reminder that sometimes, finding our way back home can bring us unexpected gifts.

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am absolutely horrified such a person as Georgia Tann existed. The pain suffered for generations is a tragedy. It’s also horrifying to think she was never officially brought to justice.

While I agree some children went on to live extraordinary lives it still doesn’t change how crudely they were adopted. I do believe you should have the right to your adoption records. I do not know much about adoptions but if there is one thing I hope is learned is that adoption facilities should get detailed health information of the families from the families for the children.

My eyes have been opened and my heart hurts for the Georgia Tann kids. Hopefully, nothing like this happens in the USA again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought a new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets by Sarah Miller

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Pages: 294

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I had never heard of the Dionne Quintuplets until I read this book. I finished the book feeling angry and sad. Thinking back on it I think I was angry the entire time I read the book. How as a human did at anytime we think it was ok to look at them like caged animals? Yes, their birth in 1934 was a miracle in itself but to be put on display from almost day one?

Although this book is touted as a Young Adult book it should be read by adults as well. If nothing else, maybe we can all learn not to treat others as commodities but as equals.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Children’s, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: In this riveting, beyond-belief true story from the author of The Borden Murders, meet the five children who captivated the entire world.

When the Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a grand total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne mesmerized the globe, defying medical history with every breath they took. In an effort to protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family–and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Quintland. Here, Sarah Miller reconstructs their unprecedented upbringing with fresh depth and subtlety, bringing to new light their resilience and the indelible bond of their unique sisterhood.

Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 258

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

What do A Christmas Carol and Let it Snow have in common? Cold weather, a precocious child and Scrooge! If you like to read books about a curmudgeonly old man being softened up then this is the book for you.

Let it Snow could easily be read in a weekend but I made this my guilty pleasure after long days of teaching so I took a bit longer. Every night as I closed the book I found myself smiling. The precocious little girl, Wink, is a delight. We all need a Wink in our life at one point. Viewing life through her eyes is a blessing.

There are allusions to adult relations but nothing in detail so I consider a clean read. No foul language except for maybe a “hell” or two so again a clean read. A Christmas book for the collection.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley:

A Nantucket shopkeeper discovers that Christmas is the perfect occasion to make unexpected friendships . . . to warm the coldest of hearts—and maybe even find love.

Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, unpacking last-minute shipments and decorating for her loyal Christmas shoppers. But when her Scrooge of a landlord, Oscar Bittlesman, raises her rent, it seems nearly impossible for Christina to continue business on the wharf.

Even so, Christina hopes there is a warm heart underneath Oscar’s steely exterior. When she bonds with Wink, his sweet, young granddaughter who frequents the shop, it becomes clear that perhaps he isn’t so cold after all. And with the help of Wink’s uncle, who happens to be a charming and very handsome bachelor, this may be the best Christmas any of them could have ever imagined. Nancy Thayer’s enchanting Nantucket setting provides the perfect backdrop for this holiday love story.

 

All the Flowers in Paris: A Novel by Sarah Jio

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Pages: 291

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Two women are connected across time by the city of Paris, a mysterious stack of love letters, and shocking secrets sweeping from World War II to the present—for readers of Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale.

When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that for years she’s lived a sad, reclusive life in a sprawling apartment on the rue Cler. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and a young child, she vows to piece her life back together—though she can’t help but feel she may be in danger. A budding friendship with the chef of a charming nearby restaurant takes her mind off her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young widow named Céline is trying to build a new life for her daughter while working in her father’s flower shop and hoping to find love again. Then a ruthless German officer discovers her Jewish ancestry and Céline is forced to play a dangerous game to secure the safety of her loved ones. When her worst fears come true, she must fight back in order to save the person she loves most: her daughter.

When Caroline discovers Céline’s letters tucked away in a closet, she realizes that her apartment harbors dark secrets—and that she may have more in common with Céline than she could have ever imagined.

All the Flowers in Paris is an emotionally captivating novel rooted in the resiliency and strength of the human spirit, the steadfastness of a mother’s love, and the many complex layers of the heart—especially its capacity to forgive.

My Review:

I was captivated by Celine’s story. My heart filled with pain and anguish every time I would read her story. The fear she had to face and the decisions she had to live with was heart-wrenching. No matter how many WWII stories I read I never get immune to the pain they suffered. I learn something new every single time. I cannot even begin to comprehend what our ancestors experienced. I pray a time like that never occurs again.

Caroline’s story is equally filled with raw emotion. To wake up one day and not know who you are? Terrifying to say the least. I would probably die of a panic attack. She is a brave woman to trust those around her to find herself again.

Be prepared: have a full box of tissues at your side and don’t have any plans. You will not want to put this book down. It is a powerfully, moving story that will captivate you from beginning to end.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishers, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble

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Pages: 216

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishing

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Willow knows the unknown is scary. Especially when your little brother has been sick for a long time and nobody has been able to figure out why. All Willow wants is for her brother to get better and for her life to go back to normal.

But after a bad stroke of luck, Willow and her family find themselves stranded in an unusual town in the middle of nowhere and their life begins to change in the most unexpected way. Willow soon discovers that the town isn’t just unusual—it’s magical—and the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined.

Will Willow find that this could be the secret to saving her family—or discover that the root of magic could lead them to something greater?

My Review:

Would you want to know what each day would bring before it happened? This is the question Willow must answer when a terrifying accident brings her and her family to Kismet, Maine.

The Root of Magic is a story filled with the wonders of magic, love, and acceptance of yourself and others.

Appropriate for children of ages 8 – 12. There is no foul language and no sex (a first kiss only). It would make a great read-aloud for families. Discussions will abound.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber

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Pages: 321

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Jenna Boltz’s life is at a crossroads. After a messy divorce from her surgeon husband nearly twenty years ago, she raised her two children on her own, juggling motherhood with her beloved job as a Seattle intensive-care nurse. Now that Paul and Allie have gone to college and moved out, Jenna can’t help but wonder what her future holds.

Her best friend, Maureen, is excited about Jenna’s newfound independence. Now is the perfect time to finally book the trip to Paris they’ve been dreaming of since their college days. But when it comes to life’s other great adventure—dating—Jenna still isn’t sure she’s ready to let love in . . . until an unexpected encounter begins to change her mind.

When Jenna’s elderly mother breaks her hip, Dr. Rowan Lancaster saves the day. Despite his silent, stoic exterior, Rowan is immediately smitten with Jenna. And even though Jenna is hesitant about becoming involved with another surgeon, she has to admit that she’s more than a little intrigued. But when Jenna’s children approach her with shocking news, she realizes that she needs to have faith in love and embrace the unexpected—before the life, she has always dreamed of passes her by.

My Review:

Debbie Macomber is my “go-to” comfort author. I know I am guaranteed when I pick up one of her books I will read a story filled with love and friendship. Window on the Bay was no exception.

The friendship between Jenna and Maureen was what every female relationship should strive for: no jealousy and cheering one another on in life. I am lucky to have two such friendships.

This is a perfect read to share with your teenage daughter as it is a clean read (no sex, only kissing) and no foul language.

I received a copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 305

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Published: July 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Keely Green always dreamed of leaving the beautiful shores of Nantucket to become a writer. Now she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, attending glamorous cocktail parties and mingling with the literary elite. Keely is also dating a charming, perfectly fine pediatric surgeon who looks good on paper but isn’t “the one.” She just can’t bear to break it off—until he declares his desire to settle down. Then Keely’s editor rejects her latest novel. With her personal and professional lives suddenly in shambles, Keely longs for the soothing island way of life.

Growing up, Keely and her best friend, Isabelle, were inseparable. Nothing could come between them—except, as it turned out, Keely’s high school boyfriend, Tommy. Returning home would mean facing Isabelle’s bitter betrayal and seeing for herself the family Tommy and Isabelle have created, the life that might have been Keely’s.

But when Keely’s mother falls into a deep depression, Keely knows what she must do, even though she is reluctant to face her estranged friend. And encountering Isabelle’s older brother, Sebastian—Keely’s longtime crush—only complicates things.

In one incredible summer, Keely must confront the mistakes of the past if she has any chance of finding true happiness in the place she will always call home. Nancy Thayer shines yet again in this uplifting tale of forgiveness and self-discovery.

My Review: Nancy Thayer has joined the cast of my MUST read authors for summer. She joins Mary Alice Monroe, Elin Hildebrand, and Dorothea Benton Frank. It doesn’t feel like summer until I read these authors. Thayer has written another hit. I found myself ignoring everything around me as I read. The heartache Keely felt many times throughout the book tugged at my heartstrings and I wanted to jump into the book and try to fix it for her.

The descriptions of Nantucket make the reader feel as if they are there playing in ocean waves, eating yummy food in the summer sunshine and listening to families excitement on vacation. You will be wishing you could hop on the next flight out.

If you haven’t read Nancy Thayer then start with Surfside Sisters. You will thank me when you are finished.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Publishing – Ballantine through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

 

A Daughter’s Truth by Laura Bradford

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Emma Lapp tries to be the perfect daughter, to earn the loving embrace of her family and her Amish community in Pennsylvania. Yet she can’t quite win her mother’s smile—or her forgiveness for a transgression Emma can’t quite place . . .

Emma knows she’s a reminder of her mother’s greatest sorrow, having been born on the same day Mamm lost her beloved sister. The one bright spot has been the odd trinkets anonymously left at her aunt’s grave each year on Emma’s birthday—gifts Emma secretly hides because they upset her parents. But the day she turns 22, a locket bears a surprise that sends her on an unexpected journey . . .

Searching for answers, Emma travels to the English world and finds a kinship as intriguing as it is forbidden. But is this newfound connection enough to leave behind the future she’d expected? The answers are as mysterious, and as devastating, as the truth that divides Emma from the only family, and the only life, she’s ever known . . .

My Review: I just finished A Daughter’s Truth for the second time! It has been a long time a book has made me feel so deeply. It is right up there with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah as one of my most precious books.

As you read A Daughter’s Truth you can feel every emotion Bradford put into her characters. The angst Emma feels as she learns the truth and explores her father’s world is heartbreaking.

Read with the understanding you won’t be able to put the book down.

I received a complimentary copy from Kensington through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

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Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Children’s through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.