A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT by Emma Scott

Companion to the Full Tilt series

PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jill Shalvis

Heartbreaker Bay series #7

UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Woodlands series #5

Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway

Hearts series #5.75

MOONSHADOW by Thea Harrison

Moonshadow series #1

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blog Tour: The Friendship List by Susan Mallery


Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest...only to discover that possibilities are everywhere--especially in the most unexpected of places.


THE FRIENDSHIP LIST by SUSAN MALLERY
Series: standalone
Publication Date: August 4, 2020 
Genre: contemporary romance
Publisher: HQN Books

Purchase:
 Amazon | B&N | BAM | iBooks | Google Play 


Synopsis

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband's shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he's literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they'll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish--everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…




Praise for The Friendship List:

“The Friendship List is a sassy, sensuous tale about two women who discover their femininity for the first time." —New York Journal of Books


“Fans of ReaAnne Thayne and Robyn Carr will enjoy how prolific women's fiction master Mallery orchestrates community connections, friendships, and fulfilling romances.”—Booklist


"Mallery beautifully illustrates the power of female friendship and the importance of reaching for one's dreams. This irresistible, heartfelt story will appeal to romance readers and women's fiction fans alike."—Publishers Weekly


"This engaging story explores the power that lifelong friendship and unconditional love have to help us through life's challenges. Told with a style as authentic as it is entertaining, this book is for the author's many fans as well as those who enjoy Debbie Macomber and Susan Wiggs." —Library Journal


EXCERPT

Chapter One

“I should have married money,” Ellen Fox said glumly. “That would have solved all my problems.”

Unity Leandre, her best friend, practically since birth, raised her eyebrows. “Because that was an option so many times and you kept saying no?”

“It could have been. Maybe. If I’d ever, you know, met a rich guy I liked and wanted to marry.”

“Wouldn’t having him want to marry you be an equally important part of the equation?”

Ellen groaned. “This is not a good time for logic. This is a good time for sympathy. Or giving me a winning lottery ticket. We’ve been friends for years and you’ve never once given me a winning lottery ticket.”

Unity picked up her coffee and smiled. “True, but I did give you my pony rides when we celebrated our eighth birthdays.”

A point she would have to concede, Ellen thought. With their birthdays so close together, they’d often had shared parties. The summer they’d turned eight, Unity’s mom had arranged for pony rides at a nearby farm. Unity had enjoyed herself, but Ellen had fallen in love with scruffy Mr. Peepers, the crabby old pony who carried them around the paddock. At Ellen’s declaration of affection for the pony, Unity had handed over the rest of her ride tickets, content to watch Ellen on Mr. Peepers’s wide back.

“You were wonderful about the pony rides,” Ellen said earnestly, “And I love that you were so generous. But right now I really need a small fortune. Nothing overwhelming. Just a tasteful million or so. In return, I’ll give back the rides on Mr. Peepers.”

Unity reached across the kitchen table and touched Ellen’s arm. “He really wants to go to UCLA?”

Ellen nodded, afraid if she spoke, she would whimper. After sucking in a breath, she managed to say, “He does. Even with a partial scholarship, the price is going to kill me.” She braced herself for the ugly reality. “Out-of-state costs, including room and board, are about sixty-four thousand dollars.” Ellen felt her heart skip a beat and not out of excitement. “A year. A year! I don’t even bring home that much after taxes. Who has that kind of money? It might as well be a million dollars.”

Unity nodded. “Okay, now marrying money makes sense.”

“I don’t have a lot of options.” Ellen pressed her hand to her chest and told herself she wasn’t having a heart attack. “You know I’d do anything for Coop and I’ll figure this out, but those numbers are terrifying. I have to start buying lottery scratchers and get a second job.” She looked at Unity. “How much do you think they make at Starbucks? I could work nights.”

Unity, five inches taller, with long straight blond hair, grabbed her hands. “Last month it was University of Oklahoma and the month before that, he wanted to go to Notre Dame. Cooper has changed his mind a dozen times. Wait until you go look at colleges this summer and he figures out what he really wants, then see who offers the best financial aid before you panic.” Her mouth curved up in a smile. “No offense, Ellen, but I’ve tasted your coffee. You shouldn’t be working anywhere near a Starbucks.”

“Very funny.” Ellen squeezed her hands. “You’re right. He’s barely seventeen. He won’t be a senior until September. I have time. And I’m saving money every month.”

It was how she’d been raised, she thought. To be practical, to take responsibility. If only her parents had thought to mention marrying for money.

“After our road trip, he may decide he wants to go to the University of Washington after all, and that would solve all my problems.”

Not just the money ones, but the loneliness ones, she thought wistfully. Because after eighteen years of them being a team, her nearly grown-up baby boy was going to leave her.

“Stop,” Unity said. “You’re getting sad. I can see it.”

“I hate that you know me so well.”

“No, you don’t.”

Ellen sighed. “No, I don’t, but you’re annoying.”

“You’re more annoying.”

They smiled at each other.

Unity stood, all five feet ten of her, and stretched. “I have to get going. You have young minds to mold and I have a backed-up kitchen sink to deal with, followed by a gate repair and something with a vacuum. The message wasn’t clear.” She looked at Ellen. “You going to be okay?”

Ellen nodded. “I’m fine. You’re right. Coop will change his mind fifteen more times. I’ll wait until it’s a sure thing, then have my breakdown.”

“See. You always have a plan.”

They walked to the front door. Ellen’s mind slid back to the ridiculous cost of college.

“Any of those old people you help have money?” she asked. “For the right price, I could be a trophy wife.”

Unity shook her head. “You’re thirty-four. The average resident of Silver Pines is in his seventies.”

“Marrying money would still solve all my problems.”

Unity hugged her, hanging on tight for an extra second. “You’re a freak.”

“I’m a momma bear with a cub.”

“Your cub is six foot three. It’s time to stop worrying.”

“That will never happen.”

“Which is why I love you. Talk later.”

Ellen smiled. “Have a good one. Avoid spiders.”

“Always.”

When Unity had driven away, Ellen returned to the kitchen where she quickly loaded the dishwasher, then packed her lunch. Cooper had left before six. He was doing some end-of-school-year fitness challenge. Something about running and Ellen wasn’t sure what. To be honest, when he went on about his workouts, it was really hard not to tune him out. Especially when she had things like tuition to worry about.

“Not anymore today,” she said out loud. She would worry again in the morning. Unity was right—Cooper was going to keep changing his mind. Their road trip to look at colleges was only a few weeks away. After that they would narrow the list and he would start to apply. Only then would she know the final number and have to figure out how to pay for it.

Until then she had plenty to keep her busy. She was giving pop quizzes in both fourth and sixth periods and she wanted to update her year-end tests for her two algebra classes. She needed to buy groceries and put gas in the car and go by the library to get all her summer reading on the reserve list.

As she finished her morning routine and drove to the high school where she taught, Ellen thought about Cooper and the college issue. While she was afraid she couldn’t afford the tuition, she had to admit it was a great problem to have. Seventeen years ago, she’d been a terrified teenager, about to be a single mom, with nothing between her and living on the streets except incredibly disappointed and angry parents who had been determined to make her see the error of her ways.

Through hard work and determination, she’d managed to pull herself together—raise Cooper, go to college, get a good job, buy a duplex and save money for her kid’s education. Yay her.

But it sure would have been a lot easier if she’d simply married someone with money.

*

“How is it possible to get a C- in Spanish?” Coach Keith Kinne asked, not bothering to keep his voice down. “Half the population in town speaks Spanish. Hell, your sister’s husband is Hispanic.” He glared at the strapping football player standing in front of him. “Luka, you’re an idiot.”

Luka hung his head. “Yes, Coach.”

“Don’t ‘yes, Coach’ me. You knew this was happening—you’ve known for weeks. And did you ask for help? Did you tell me?”

“No, Coach.”

Keith thought about strangling the kid but he wasn’t sure he could physically wrap his hands around the teen’s thick neck. He swore silently, knowing they were where they were and now he had to fix things—like he always did with his students.

“You know the rules,” he pointed out. “To play on any varsity team you have to get a C+ or better in every class. Did you think the rules didn’t apply to you?”

Luka, nearly six-five and two hundred and fifty pounds, slumped even more. “I thought I was doing okay.”

“Really? So you’d been getting better grades on your tests?”

“Not exactly.” He raised his head, his expression miserable. “I thought I could pull up my grade at the last minute.”

“How did that plan work out?”

“No bueno.”

Keith glared at him. “You think this is funny?”

“No, Coach.”

Keith shook his head. “You know there’s not a Spanish summer school class. That means we’re going to have to find an alternative.”

Despite his dark skin, Luka went pale. “Coach, don’t send me away.”

“No one gets sent away.” Sometimes athletes went to other districts that had a different summer curriculum. They stayed with families and focused on their studies.

“I need to stay with my family. My mom understands me.”

“It would be better for all of us if she understood Spanish.” Keith glared at the kid. “I’ll arrange for an online class. You’ll get a tutor. You will report to me twice a week, bringing me updates until you pass the class.” He sharpened his gaze. “With an A.”

Luka took a step back. “Coach, no! An A? I can’t.”

“Not with that attitude.”

“But, Coach.”

“You knew the rules and you broke them. You could have come to me for help early on. You know I’m always here for any of my students, but did you think about that or did you decide you were fine on your own?”

“I decided I was fine on my own,” Luka mumbled.

“Exactly. And deciding on your own is not how teams work. You go it alone and you fail.”

Tears filled Luka’s eyes. “Yes, Coach.”

Keith pointed to the door. Luka shuffled out. Keith sank into his chair. He’d been hard on the kid, but he needed to get the message across. Grades mattered. He was willing to help whenever he could, but he had to be told what was going on. He had a feeling Luka thought because he was a star athlete he was going to get special treatment. Maybe somewhere else, but not here. Forcing Luka to get an A sent a message to everyone who wanted to play varsity sports.

He’d barely turned to his computer when one of the freshman boys stuck his head in the office. “Coach Kinne! Coach Kinne! There’s a girl crying in the weight room.”

Keith silently groaned as he got up and jogged to the weight room, hoping he was about to deal with something simple like a broken arm or a concussion. He knew what to do for those kinds of things. Anything that was more emotional, honest to God, terrified him.

He walked into the weight room and found a group of guys huddled together. A petite, dark-haired girl he didn’t know sat on a bench at the far end, her hands covering her face, her sobs audible in the uneasy silence.

He looked at the guys. “She hurt?”

They shifted their weight and shook their heads. Damn. So it wasn’t physical. Why didn’t things ever go his way?

“Any of you responsible for whatever it is?” he asked.

More shaken heads with a couple of guys ducking out.

Keith pointed to the door so the rest of them left, then returned his attention to the crying girl. She was small and looked young. Maybe fifteen. Not one of his daughter’s friends or a school athlete—he knew all of them.

He approached the teen, trying to look friendly rather than menacing, then sat on a nearby bench.

“Hey,” he said softly. “I’m Coach Kinne.”

She sniffed. Her eyes were red, her skin pale. “I know who you are.”

“What’s going on?” Don’t be pregnant, don’t be pregnant, he chanted silently.

More tears spilled over. “I’m pregnant. The father is Dylan, only he says he’s not, and I can’t tell my m-mom because she’ll be so mad and he said he l-loved me.”

And just like that Keith watched his Monday fall directly into the crapper.

*

Keith left work exactly at three fifteen. He would be returning to his office to finish up paperwork, supervise a couple of workouts and review final grades for athletes hovering on the edge of academic problems. But first, he had pressing personal business.

He drove the two short miles to his house, walked inside and headed directly for his seventeen-year-old daughter’s room.

Lissa looked up from her laptop when he entered, her smile fading as she figured out he was in a mood. Despite the attitude, she was a beauty. Long dark hair, big brown eyes. Dammit all to hell—why couldn’t he have an ugly daughter who no guy would look at twice?

“Hi, Dad,” she said, sounding wary. “What’s up?”

“Spot check.”

She rolled her eyes. “Seriously? There is something wrong with you. I heard what happened at school today. I’m not dumb enough to date a guy like Dylan who would tell a tree stump he loved it if it would have sex with him. I’m not sleeping with anyone and I’m not pregnant. I told you—I’m not ready to have sex, as in I’m still a virgin. You’re obsessed. Would you feel better if I wore a chastity belt?”

“Yes, but you won’t. I’ve asked.”

“Da-ad. Why are you like this? Pregnancy isn’t the worst thing that could happen. I could be sick and dying. Wouldn’t that be terrible?”

“You can’t win this argument with logic. I’m irrational. I accept that. But I’m also the parent, so you have to deal with me being irrational.”

He pointed to her bathroom. She sighed the long-suffering sigh of those cursed with impossible fathers and got up. He followed her to the doorway and watched as she pulled the small plastic container out of the bathroom drawer and opened it.

Relief eased the tension in his body. Pills were missing. The right number of pills.

“You are a nightmare father,” his daughter said, shoving the pills back in the drawer. “I can’t wait until I’m eighteen and I can get the shot instead of having to take birth control pills. Then you’ll only bug me every few months.”

“I can’t wait, either.”

“It’s not like I even have a boyfriend.”

“You could be talking to someone online.”

Her annoyance faded as she smiled at him. “Dad, only one of us in this house does the online dating thing and it’s not me.”

“I don’t online date.”

“Fine. You pick up women online, then go off and have sex with them for the weekend. It’s gross. You should fall in love with someone you’re not embarrassed to bring home to meet me.”

“I’m not embarrassed. I just don’t want complications.”

“But you do want to have sex. It’s yucky.”

“Then why are we talking about it?” He pulled her close and hugged her, then kissed the top of her head. “Sorry, Lissa. I can’t help worrying about you.”

She looked up at him. “Dad, I’m taking my pills every day, not that it matters because I’m not having sex. I’m not. I’ve barely kissed a guy. Having you as my father makes it really difficult to date. Guys don’t want to mess with you and risk being beat up.”

“Good.”

She smiled even as she hit him in the arm. “You’re repressing my emotional growth.”

“Just don’t get pregnant.”

“You need to find a more positive message. How about ‘be your best self?’”

“That, too. Gotta go.”

“I’m having dinner with Jessie tonight. Remember?”

“No problem. Be home by ten.”

He got back in his truck but before starting the engine, he quickly texted Ellen. I need a couple of beers and a friendly ear. You around tonight?

The response came quickly. Only if you bring fried chicken. I have beer and ice cream.

You’re on. See you at six.

Excerpted from The Friendship List by Susan Mallery, Copyright © 2020 by Susan Mallery, Inc.. Published by HQN.





About the Author

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations," and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She's passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Cover Reveal: Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig


A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.


BAND OF SISTERS by LAUREN WILLIG
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow

Goodreads


Pre-order here:
Amazon | B&N | BAM | Google Play | Kobo



Synopsis:

A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.

Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.

Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.

With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?



About the Author

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of nineteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her "Pink Carnation" series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Release Blast: Varsity Tiebreaker by Ginger Scott


We're celebrating the release of Varsity Tiebreaker!  Take a peek inside the book and one-click yours today!


Varsity Tiebreaker (The Varsity Series Book 2) by Ginger Scott
Cover Designer: Ginger Scott

PURCHASE HERE
Varsity Tiebreaker
Amazon US https://amzn.to/2zluA2u
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/30zRPQ9
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2WKCHyi
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2Bnapmc


Varsity Tiebreaker
Book 2 in The Varsity Series by Ginger Scott

Abby Cortez is a girl with goals, on the verge of turning eighteen and on the brink of stardom. Falling in love isn't just something she doesn't have time for, it's something she doesn't really believe in. Her rule? Date but never, ever fall.

Tory "Salvatore" D'Angelo loves falling in love...just not for real. The star basketball player at Allensville Public High gives his heart away one girl at a time then takes it back when he's ready to move on. No serious feelings, no serious pain.

They’re both good plans until Abby’s jaded heart gets all tangled up with Tory’s hopeless one. A friendly rivalry grows into friendship, and long talks start to blur the lines.
Just one problem—Abby’s current boyfriend is Tory’s twin brother, Hayden.

This is book 2 in The Varsity Series by Ginger Scott. You can start this series of stand-alone mature YA sports romances now with Varsity Heartbreaker. Book 3, Varsity Rulebreaker, releases in October.

Excerpt – Varsity Tiebreaker by Ginger Scott


Tory D’Angelo

I’m not sure if she realizes she’s trembling, but she is, so to stop her from digging any deeper in a place so public and so filled with the fumes of microwave pizza and Coke machines, I reach forward and rest my hand on top of hers. We both freeze immediately, and I’m pretty sure my palm is already sweating. Her gaze lifts to meet mine, but I don’t let go of her hand just yet. I don’t make this touch a big deal, even though it sort of is. That’s not why I did it, and I don’t want to cheapen it. With our eyes locked on one another, I let the air fill with the touch of silence just long enough for a ragged, emotional breath to fall from her lips.

“You have every right to feel the way you do,” I say.

“And how’s that?” she fires back. Her hand shifts under mine, but she doesn’t pull it away.

“You feel like your dad sees a business opportunity where he should see his daughter.”

She swallows and keeps her gaze on mine for a beat before finally leaning back, pulling her hand away and glancing off to her side. With a snort sniffle, she runs the sleeve of my brother’s hoodie across her eyes, erasing the tiny break that she let herself have.

I’m suddenly not hungry. I don’t think I have ever not been hungry, but I couldn’t eat the rest of my burrito now if I were forced at gunpoint. It’s not that I feel sick, but more that I feel…envious. I was fooling myself thinking that Abby was a passing crush I could dismiss easily. Two months of riding shotgun with her through all things June and Lucas was just long enough for me to get hooked on having her around. But while it’s my advice she’s listening to right now, it’s my brother’s fucking sweatshirt she’s dabbing her tears with.

“So, see you at the game?” I know my move to leave is abrupt, especially after she just bared part of her soul. If I stay, though, I’m going to say things I don’t mean just out of sheer self-preservation. This is precisely why I don’t do relationships, I just do flirting and hookups. Feelings…well, they fucking feel.

“What, did you change your mind and suddenly decide that nine-eighty bare-minimum wasn’t good enough?” Her nose wrinkles after her insult, but I think I get where it’s coming from. She just hit me with a major share, and now I’m bailing. Better to lash out. Her and I aren’t so different.

“Something like that,” I say, holding up my lunch trash as a wave goodbye.

Abby’s face shifts slightly, her wrinkled mouth and dimmed eyes morphing from the snarky expression that accompanies her tease to the look of a girl who just lost her brand new balloon to the sky.

“That hoodie…” I say as I walk backward, pointing toward the center of her chest. “Looks good on you.” I leave things there with a tight-lipped smile and a nod, a truce of sorts, not that Abby even knew we were in a battle. Hell, we weren’t. I’m the only one in a conflict, and it’s with my own damn self.

I manage to turn my back to her and toss my trash out without pausing to get one more little jab in to fully take things back to our version of normal. I think for now, I’d like to leave things nice. I wasn’t counting on her wanting to leave things that way, too, though.

“I’ll be sure to cheer for you, even if I’m wearing Hayden’s number,” she shouts.

I spin on my feet and give her a thumbs up, but keep moving away from her because if I turn around, I’ll keep trying to win her over. And she’s not mine to be won.



PURCHASE NOW


Varsity Heartbreaker
Amazon US —> https://amzn.to/3aSWik0
Amazon UK —> https://amzn.to/2XwPRi4
Amazon AU —> https://amzn.to/2TL6VzP
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★☆★Read FREE w/Kindle Unlimited★☆★

PREORDER
Varsity Rulebreakerhttps://amzn.to/3bgh7pN


About the Author:


Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns.

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils).

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Review: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel


Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the international bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.


THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES by KRISTIN HARMEL
Series: Standalone
Publication date: July 21, 2020
Published by: Gallery
Genre:  WW2 historical fiction

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SYNOPSIS

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.


Purchase your copy now!
Amazon |  B&N | BAM | IndieBound 



Praise for The Book of Lost Names:

“Set against all the danger and drama of WWII Paris, this heartfelt novel will keep you turning the pages until the very last word.”
– New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe

 "Reminiscent of The Nightingale and The Map of the Heart, Kristin Harmel's THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE is an emotional, heart-breaking, inspiring tribute to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of love."
– NYTimes bestselling author Mariah Stewart

"The strong and courageous inhabitants of THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE occupied all my time until the tender and powerful final pages. Beautifully written, Kristin Harmel’s latest is an unforgettable exploration of love and hope during the darkest of moments."
– Amy E. Reichert, author of The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go

“Harmel writes a poignant novel based loosely on the true story of an American woman who helped on the Comet Line, which rescued hundreds of airmen and soldiers. This compelling story celebrates hope and bravery in the face of evil.”
– Booklist

"Harmel injects new life into a well-worn story in this hopeful three-voiced tale about the struggle to find normalcy amid the horrors of WWII... Harmel’s emotionally fraught story hammers home the message that each person has a unique opportunity to stand against injustice. This is a celebration of those, like Ruby, who found the courage to face life head-on."
– Publishers Weekly

 "This book of historical fiction is also a surprising story of love, courage, and the resiliency of the human spirit....[Harmel] manages to draw her audience in, even to the point of unexpected tears at the story’s end.."
– Jewish Book Council

“Harmel’s latest novel overlaps somewhat with recent book club favorites Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls… recommended for fans of World War II historical fiction.”
– Library Journal

"Richly detailed and yet fast-paced, Harmel’s story flows at remarkable depth, as ordinary citizens rise to the challenge of extraordinary circumstances in occupied France. A fascinating exploration of the escape routes set up for downed Allied pilots, readers will be swept up in this heart-wrenching drama."
– Juliette Fay, author of The Tumbling Turner Sisters

"A story of courage and love in unimaginable circumstances."
– bestselling author Barbara Taylor Sissel

"A heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism centered on a female forger who risks everything to help Jewish children escape Nazi-occupied France."
– People (20 Best Books to Read this Summer)

“With meticulous research and an assured hand, Kristin Harmel once again spotlights French Resistance figures of the Second World War, unique heroes whose bravery and immeasurable sacrifices are too often lost to history. THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is a fascinating, heartrending page-turner that, like the real-life forgers who inspired the novel, should never be forgotten. A riveting historical tale that I devoured in a single sitting.”
– Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday

“Harmel brilliantly imagines the life of a young Polish-French Jewish woman during the depths of WWII...Harmel movingly illustrates Eva’s courage to risk her own life for others, and all of the characters are portrayed with realistic compassion. This thoughtful work will touch readers with its testament to the endurance of hope."
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)






ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Harmel is the #1 international bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES, THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into numerous languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews with the likes of Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, OutKast, Justin Timberlake, and Patrick Dempsey. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features—tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of those features—the story of Holocaust-survivor-turned-philanthropist Henri Landwirth (whom both Walter Cronkite and John Glenn told Kristin was the most amazing person they’d ever known)—partially inspired Kristin’s 2012 novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, which was a bestseller all over the world.

In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz—where her assignments included flying to London three times to interview the cast of the Harry Potter films. She has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows--and even stumbled into a role as an extra in the 2003 American Idol movie while awaiting an interview with Kelly Clarkson.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She travels frequently to France for book research (and—let’s be honest—for the pastries and wine) and writes a book a year for Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

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REVIEW

The Book of Lost NamesThe Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


Right now, WW2 is a heavy topic to take on for me, but somehow it's been exactly what I needed. The Book of Lost Names brings you to a very dark time in the history of the world, but it's also an open window to the resilience of the human spirit. It took an army of courageous people outside of military forces who were willing to risk immediate execution to save the lives of strangers. Many of these people are unsung heroes, their sacrifices forgotten as time moves on. This novel is inspired by real life forgotten heroes fighting quietly behind the scenes in the resistance's network. Forgery played an essential role in smuggling refugees out of danger, which required a great deal of talent to successfully pull off. Eva Traube never thought her natural artistic skill would play an important role in her life until she realized that with a swipe of her pen she could save thousands.

When Eva flees Paris with her mother to the free zone in Aurignon, her only plans were to make her way as fast as possible to Switzerland where the two of them would be safe. Fate had other ideas. Once they arrive at a boarding house, tired and hungry, they soon discover allies in desperate need of her skills. Tentatively at first, she agrees to help a man named Rémy forge paperwork that will fool the Nazis. Not only does she do impeccable work, but she finds a way to increase production to maximize how many people receive help. Once she joins the effort, she must admit to herself that her conscience won't let her turn her back on the helpless. What was once a temporary job turns permanent. Orphaned children were being smuggled in and housed with caregivers in the city before it was safe to move on. How could she have lived with herself afterwards if she had selfishly ignored what she was capable of contributing to those who had lost everything like herself?

    Loss would forever be etched on the child like a tattoo; it might fade over time, but it would never be erased.

Eva was a softhearted, gentle woman who acted far beyond her years as she did what had to be done without complaint. She may have fallen into the network by chance, but she eventually believed that she was put there for a reason.

After many months when she meets some of the orphans in hiding, it occurs to her that these children will never remember where they came from if there is no record of their real names. And so the book of lost names is created. In an old, dusty religious text, she and Rémy devise a secret code that will allow them to keep a record of these lost souls. The Nazis were trying to erase not only an entire race of people, but their history right along with them. Often she worried that she was forgetting her own family and religion as she worked alongside Christians in a Catholic church. She couldn't help but feel bitter and lack the will to continue Jewish traditions and prayer while the world burned around her. Honestly, I completely sympathized and understood where she was coming from. Unfortunately, her mother chose to frequently enforce the idea that could do no right.

Eva hardly recognized the woman before her, the woman trembling with anger, the woman whose decision to hold on to a past that would never return had made her into something cold and unfamiliar.

This brings me to my one issue with the story. Eva's mother was a thorn in her side that I found so hard to tolerate. Every single scene she was in made me either want to strangle her or slap her. From the moment she discovered that her husband had been taken by the Nazis in Paris, she dragged her feet and made an impossible situation worse. In such harrowing, devastating conditions, I should have felt some shred of sympathy for her, but instead I could do nothing but despise her. A mother should always do their best to protect their children from emotional and physical harm, but she did the opposite. Not only insulting every single thing she did and said, but placing blame on Eva for events that were beyond her control. There was no redeeming her in the end as I had lost all respect for this woman who needed to be babysat and admonished constantly like a child. My issue wasn't solely that the character was unlikable, but the fact that she was only unlikable. There were no shades of grey to soften the harshness of her, no vulnerable side to make her feel fleshed out to the fullest.

The romance between Rémy and Eva blossomed tenderly among the ugliness around them. I adored both of them separately, and desperately wanted them to find their happy ending together. They complimented each other beautifully; he was mischievous and she was solemn. She arrived soft-spoken and broken, and he showed her what confidence and courage looked like. Both had a fierce loyalty to those they loved that nothing could alter. In the present time POV, you really see how strong she became as a woman, yet she was essentially the same. She was still an intelligent, proud woman who never lost her love of the written word. The problem was, she she didn't allow those closest to her to understand the true depth of her character, or how the war shaped her entire life.

I thought I might feel heartbroken for all she had lost by the end, but after finishing all I felt was peace. It wasn't a cookie cutter happy ending, but it was raw, it was real, and it was beautiful. Any fan of tumultuous, wartime historical fiction with plenty of suspense should give this book a chance. It explores the often overlooked forgers of the time as well as the Nazis' role in looting priceless books. As a book lover myself I appreciated the clever way they were integrated into the central storyline. In summary, I can't recommend this book enough. It was filled with heart, faith, and enduring hope which is so necessary in a book with such heavy themes. It's an absolute must read!


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Review: Shielded by KayLynn Flanders


For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes a thrilling new fantasy about a kingdom ravaged by war, and the princess who might be the key to saving not only those closest to her, but the kingdom itself, if she reveals the very secret that could destroy her.


SHIELDED by KAYLYNN FLANDERS
Series: Shielded #1
Publication date: July 21, 2020
Published by: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA fantasy

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SYNOPSIS

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It's losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn's--her brother's--magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong--the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it's too late--for her and for her entire kingdom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KayLynn Flanders is a graduate of Brigham Young University, with a degree in English Language and a minor in editing. When she’s not writing, she spends her time playing volleyball, reading, and traveling. She lives in Utah with her family, and thinks there’s nothing better than a spur-of-the-moment road trip.
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REVIEW


Shielded (Shielded, #1)Shielded by KayLynn Flanders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was everything I look for in a fantasy and more. This is such an exciting debut from new author, KayLynn Flanders! I can't get over the quality of the plot and characterization in this novel. I've read many books by seasoned authors that weren't even close to this caliber. I was particularly impressed with Jennesara, the main protagonist, and the way the intricate world was introduced without a dry and boring info dump. As the first in a series, many times you see the pace suffer for a good chunk in the beginning in order to explain the setting and often large groups of characters. That wasn't the case here, as I was engrossed immediately and thoroughly absorbed until turning the last page.

The book begins briefly in the heroine's home of Hálenborg as she's on the verge of turning seventeen. Her father has secretly betrothed her the prince of a neighboring kingdom in order to bolster their weakened defenses. There has been unrest at their borders from a mysterious source, and an alliance between Hálenborg and Turian would be beneficial to both kingdoms. Her father isn't cold or uncaring in trading his daughter for the good of his country, but unfortunately Jenna is not given more warning than a day before she must set out for her new home. Knowing how the marriage will not only help her family, but her people, she agrees without protest to do her duty. Her brother Ren sets out on the journey with her with his own mission, both armed with ancient magic artifacts gifted by their father for protection.

I loved the sibling relationship between Ren and Jenna. Her magical ability of feeling her loved ones' emotions through a "tether" gave her a special connection and closeness. The bond they had felt like that of twins and/or best friends. Her magical ability was different from many others I've read before. She could reach out mentally through their link no matter how far away they were to check on them. The downside was that she couldn't communicate her own back, and if the person died, she would feel pain from disconnecting to them. Jenna grew up hiding her ability in order to prevent any disputes over her brother being the rightful heir to the throne. Typically only the firstborn inherits magical powers, and it wasn't explained yet why this occurred. This is one point I'm looking forward to solving, possibly in the next book of the series. (It's unclear if this will be a duology or trilogy at this point.)

On the way to Turia, Jenna comes face to face with the kingdom's mysterious enemy and what she discovers is chilling. Not only does she have the fight of her life in front of her, she's unprepared and untrained to even attempt to take them on. She must escape completely alone, in a deadly, magical forest that plays tricks on your mind. She proves her courage time and again when faced with impossible challenges. All this while suffering hunger, pain, and trying to survive in unfamiliar territory. This is a strong heroine that anyone would find it easy to root for and love.

Throughout the story, you're gradually fed pieces of information about the history of the three kingdoms, their politics and players, and how a surprising power play effects all three. You learn the history of the banished mages, the Black Library, and a revenge plot that's been brewing for centuries. Jenna must keep her identity a secret in order to learn who she can trust in Turia as she hunts down answers about the enemy. Prince Enzo, his sisters, and grandmother have such a close relationship that she can't help but gravitate towards them. She tries to keep her distance emotionally, but she can't help but start to feel at home with them. There's a subtle romance that occurs, but it doesn't overtake the plot at any point. The focus was always on the fantasy while still satisfying this romance reader's heart.

Overall, Shielded delivered the goods, and I cannot wait to continue with the next installment. Of course there was a bit of a cliffhanger as you would expect, but it's not horribly suspenseful. I'm looking forward to seeing Jenna learn how to harness and practice her abilities further as she grows more confident in her power. We've only touched the surface in discovering what she is capable of, and I have a feeling that it's going to be thrilling to see her magic mature. If you're looking for a fantasy that will keep you feverishly turning the pages long into the night, look no further. Your next fantasy read is right here.


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Monday, July 20, 2020

Blog Tour with Excerpt and Giveaway: Come Home to Deep River by Jackie Ashenden


First in a bold, sexy new small-town Alaska contemporary romance series from Jackie Ashenden



COME HOME TO DEEP RIVER by JACKIE ASHENDEN
Series: Alaska Homecoming #1
Publication Date: July 28, 2020 
Genre: contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

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Synopsis

Coming home was the easy part. Facing her will take everything he’s got…

Silas Quinn hasn’t been back to Deep River, Alaska, in years, not since he joined the army. He left behind the best friend he’d ever had. But he knew Hope Dawson was meant for bigger things than Deep River—and he—had to offer. What he didn’t know was that when he left, he took Hope’s dreams right along with him…

Then tragedy strikes and sends Silas home, and the entire town is thrown into chaos when they learn what brought him back—he’s inherited ownership of the town and the newly discovered oil reserves under it!

Hope gave up on ever getting out of Deep River. Her mom needed her, then her grandfather died and left her the local hangout to run. Now Si is back in town, stirring up old feelings—including her anger at being left behind. His return brings Hope an offer that can change her life. Love, or adventure, are almost within reach—but she can’t have both…





EXCERPT

Flying into Deep River, Alaska, took a special kind of grit. The airstrip was a narrow bit of gravel to the side of soaring mountains, with a river running along one edge, and there was always some kind of crosswind happening that would challenge even the most experienced pilot.

It wasn’t a forgiving landing, and there was no room for error.

Luckily, Silas Quinn hadn’t made an error in all the time he’d spent flying around the wilds of the Alaskan backcountry, and he wasn’t about to make one now.

Particularly not when he was flying into the hometown he’d left thirteen years earlier and hadn’t been back to since.

Especially not when he was coming back to what would probably turn out to be the most hostile reception since Mike Flint had once said at a town meeting that he thought the idea of a luxury motel on the side of the Deep River would be good and why didn’t they build one.

Considering the reason Si was here was fifty million times worse than the idea of a luxury motel, the response he was likely to get once he’d broken the news would probably be more than the one month of cold-shouldering that Mike had gotten.

Si would be lucky if the town didn’t kill him.

That was if this damn airstrip didn’t kill him first.

The clouds were lowering, and the rain was coming down hard, and the wind was a problem, but with his friend Caleb’s death still fresh, Si was in no mood to let the elements have their way with him.

He’d survived three tours in Afghanistan.

He’d survive this, even if it killed him.

He kept his nerve and brought the tiny plane down, the wheels bouncing on the gravel as he rolled up just shy of the lone hangar that housed Deep River’s entire aviation industry.

As the spin of the Cessna’s propellers began to wind down, Si sat in the cockpit trying to handle the rush of emotions that he had known would grip him the second he touched down. The usual mixture of grief, anger, and longing that Deep River always instilled whenever he thought of his hometown.

There was a special poignancy to it today though. Because Caleb was only a few weeks dead and the shock of the will was still ringing through Si’s entire being like a hammer strike.

Deep River was an anomaly. The entire town was privately owned and had been since the gold rush days, when town founder Jacob West had bought up all the land around the Deep River and declared it a haven for the misfits and rogues who didn’t fit in anywhere in normal society. He’d leased out the land to anyone who wanted to join him, getting them to pay him whatever they could afford in terms of a nominal rent, and in return, they could have a plot of land to call their own and do whatever they wanted with it.

The People’s Republic of Deep River, some called it.

Most just called it home.

Even over a hundred years later, the town was still owned by the Wests.

And that was the difficulty. Caleb was the oldest West and had inherited the town after his father, Jared West, had died five years earlier. And he’d ran the place since then—or at least he had until his unexpected death in a plane crash while running supplies up to a remote settlement in the north.

But that hadn’t been the end to the shocks that Si and his two other friends, Damon and Zeke, had had to endure in the past few weeks.

First, there had been finding out that Caleb had left the entire town to them in his will. And second, oil had been discovered within Deep River’s city limits—oil that the town had no idea was underneath their land.

Oil that, once they knew about it, was going to turn the entire place upside down.

Heavy stuff for three ex-military guys who had nothing to their names but a small company doing adventure tours for tourists, transport runs for hunters, and supply runs for everyone else in the Alaskan bush.

Si stared out at the rain beyond the windshield of the plane.

It hid everything from view, which was probably just as well. He hadn’t wanted to come back here, not considering what he’d been trying to leave behind, but it hadn’t made any sense for either Damon or Zeke to be the advance party.

This was his hometown. He was the one who knew Deep River and the people in it. And he was the one who’d been closest to Caleb.

Therefore, it made sense for him to be the one to break the happy news that firstly, the fact that he, Damon, and Zeke were the new owners. And secondly, there was oil in them thar hills.

Some men might have kept the oil a secret and kept all the riches for themselves too, but Si wasn’t that kind of man, and neither were his friends.

He’d been brought up in Deep River, an extreme environment where everyone learned to rely on each other since that could be all that stood between you and a very uncomfortable death. There was no time for petty grievances—though to be fair, there were a lot of those as well. But when push came to shove, the town pulled together. Because fundamentally, they were all the same. They’d all come here because they didn’t fit anywhere else, because they were escaping something, because they liked the quiet and the isolation and the return to nature.

Because they just plain old liked it.

Si let out a breath.

And now he was going to give them news that was going to blow it all apart.

***

Excerpted from Come Home to Deep River by Jackie Ashenden. © 2020 by Jackie Ashenden. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.


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About the Author

Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. She used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes and kick-ass heroines. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

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