We Are The Brennans by Tracey Lange

We Are The Brennan’s

Look at those four leaf clovers on the cover. The luck of the Irish. And here we find a brand new novel filled with the secrets of one Irish Catholic family in New York State.

When Sunday Brennan wakes up in the hospital in Los Angeles, she discovers that she is actually lucky to be alive. You see, she was driving drunk and had a horrific accident. She’s a mess in more ways than one. She calls her older brother, Danny, who lives in New York and he agrees to come and bring her back home to the small town she left in New York. This is no small feat as she left on bad terms five years ago. Left her family and her fiance and went as far away as she could to start a new life. Only one family member knew why and they aren’t talking.

Oh the secrets we keep. The damage they do. Shame is a terrible thing. And there is enough shame in this novel to go around.

Sunday’s brothers all have issues. And her older brother is in way over his head and it has to do with money, or the lack thereof, I should say. His wife has moved out and taken their daughter. She’s fed up. One brother is mentally challenged and hasn’t been himself since she ran away five years ago. And her dad lives in his own world. Then there is Kale, the old fiance. He may be married, but he’s never forgotten the love of his life. You can see where this is going to be a problem.

When a bad man from Sunday’s past shows up shit starts to hit the fan. Secrets start popping up on every corner. And everything becomes clearer now.

Lange writes much like Anita Shreve and Mary Beth Keane. This is her debut novel and it’s going to go through the book roof. I fell for this big hearted family and loved the sense of place in the small town.

Tracey Lange

I will be sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for Lange’s next novel. WE ARE THE BRENNAN’S will be published on August 3 by Celadon Books. Celadon Books is a division of Macmillan Publishing. They publish a small amount of very selective books each year. So far, every single book from Celadan has been a huge winner for me!I thank them from the bottom of my heart for sending my review copy. I loved it.

Stepping Up

It’s almost August. July has flown by. I’m beginning to get my book ducks in a row, or I should say in rows, preparing already for fall book talks. Yes, I know, how can this be? It happens every summer. I think I have so much time and even sneak in some light reading..Well, I’m beginning to read some of the BIG books that are coming this fall. Pulitzer-winning authors are coming out with big, important books….soon.

Oh William!
Oh William!
Harlem Shuffle
Harlem Shuffle
The Magician

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Matrix

Here are five novels coming this fall that are by HUGE authors and will cause all kinds of book chatter. Colson Whitehead has already won two Pulitzers. Anthony Doerr has one. Elizabeth Strout has become a household name and has won a Pulitzer as well. And then throw Lauren Groff and Colm Toibin into the mix and you already have a pretty darn impressive line up. I will be reading them all and reporting back to you. There are also two entire shelves of books coming this fall and even into the New Year that I have to look at. Many look really great. And then add to this the digital review copies that come my way….. Pretty daunting. I love every minute of it.

Meanwhile, I’m working on my “about” page so it will reflect more of who I am today and going forward. There’s a lot going on here on the Maurice On Books turf. It’s all good. Meeting authors. Working with literary agencies, and planning this upcoming book season. It’s going to be the biggest and best one yet.

I’ll be traveling back to the mountains of Asheville this weekend. Then spending the week on Isle of Palm in South Carolina, to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. I am excited. Hoping for good weather. Pushing all thoughts of storms out to sea where they should stay.

When I return I will be visiting libraries and bookstores in our area. Looking for new adventures.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer no matter where you are right now. It’s just so wonderful to be able to travel and see family again.

Cheers until I get back!

I wish you all a great book.

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

Haven Point

Tranquil cover. However, I can almost feel the underlying tension behind the lovely scenery.

HAVEN POINT begins in 1944 when we meet Maren, a blonde beauty from the farm country of Minnesota. Wanting to do her part to help the war effort, she became a cadet nurse and started working at Walter Reed Army Hospital where she worked tirelessly for endless hours each day. She had no time to even contemplate a romance. Until she did. She met Dr. Oliver Demerest whose pedigree family hailed from old Boston. It was during the war and they got married quickly like most people did back then. She had not met Oliver’s family. Oh boy. My mother told me many years ago that you may not realize it but you always marry the entire family. So right. There is something not quite right about Oliver’s mother. And then we meet Oliver’s father. A bully. The entire community of Haven Point is very close-knit and not open to strangers. And Maren was a stranger. You can see where this is going.

a There are three time periods in this book and Hume goes back and forth in time. We meet Annie next who is Oliver and Maren’s daughter. We move to the 1970’s during the Viet Nam War. She’s a spirited and troubled girl from childhood. She rubs her dad the wrong way even though he loves her fiercely. And when she falls for the wrong guy, well, you can only imagine the explosive atmosphere. And it will not end well.

Then we meet Skye who is Annie’s daughter by artificial insemination because Annie decided long before that she would never marry or even have a serious relationship…..This puts us in the 2008 time period.

When Skye returns to Haven Point to scatter her mom’s ashes her grandmother, Maren, opens up and long held secrets begin spewing forth. Not one moment too soon.

I really got into these characters. Hume does a fabulous job letting us know exactly who they each are. And why they make the decisions they have. I felt as if I knew Haven Point inside and out. The quirky people who lived in the stuffy community each held long time grudges. Each were so darn interesting. And then she throws in a scene with a pet monkey and I almost peed my pants. We needed that laughable moment.

Families are all complicated. Each in their own way. Family’s have secrets. All of them do, you know. In this wonderful novel we see fathers and daughters who are like oil and water. We find sons and mothers who disagree vehemently. And we watch as total opposites marry against all odds.

This is a big family drama filled with complex people who you will love and hate. I hope you love the story as much as I have.

I want to mention that the Cadet Nurse Corps was a program cooked up in Washington to address the shortage of home-front nurses High school graduates were fast-tracked through nursing school, with the government picking up the tab for tuition, books, and uniforms.

I borrowed my copy of HAVEN POINT from the local library. I loved it.

Virginia Hume

The Cellist by Daniel Silva

The Cellist

I’m a huge Silva fan. I love Gabriel Allon who is the main character of this long-time series of thrillers. Gabriel is an art restorer whose day job is being the Director of Israel’s Intelligence Service. I love the exotic locales and the sophisticated worlds of classical music and antique art. It’s easy to get lost quickly in the world Daniel Silva concocts.

THE CELLIST begins in London with a murder. A character from the past who once saved Gabriel’s life has been poisoned with a nerve gas. Dare we say it was a Russian deal? Of course it was. And so we are off and running from page one.

Several of Silva’s novels have been about Russia. And so you will recognize some of the Russian characters. Money is king and lots of it. Dirty money and how it’s laundered around the world. It’s definitely something to think about. I found it quite involved and learned an awful lot. It’s actually very simple, yet mostly incomprehensible for most of us everyday folk.

Several beautiful and very talented young women are not only lovely but have brilliant minds. They are very important to the plot.

The usual cast of wonderful characters, the spies I love so much, are not featured as much in this novel. I missed them to tell you the truth.

Moving from London to Amsterdam and then to Geneva, the novel ends in The United States.

I watched a wonderful interview from Daniel Silva’s Facebook page on Sunday afternoon. Daniel’s wife, Jamie Gangel, who works for CNN, did a bang up job. So informative. Just that edge into Silva’s life and the background for the book. In fact, Silva told how the book took an abrupt turn after January 6th’s insurrection. He rewrote the last part of the novel to include the civil disturbance our country is dealing with. Definitely makes this novel more political than any of his other books.

Sadly, there is no time for art restoration in THE CELLIST. Now that Gabriel is the Director those days have definitely gone by the wayside. I miss them, too.

However, having said all of the above, I love all the books. The writing is witty and sophisticated. The characters feel like old friends I get together with one time each year. I always look forward to seeing what they’re up to.

I have to thank Leah from Harper Collins for so generously sending this beautiful finished copy of THE CELLIST. And, of course, I’m already looking forward to the next one….

author
Daniel Silva

The Bookshop Of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

Oh look, yet another bookshop book. I love it! I can’t seem to get enough of them. Now, they do have to be well-written and have plenty of interesting content with quirky characters who are unforgettable.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. This is the first sentence. We find out right away that her husband of twenty years has left her for her friend. And then as if that’s not enough, she’s let go from her office job on Valentine Day. Thea lives in Sussex and is at a loss as to move on.

When Thea finds her distant great uncle has passed away and left her his cottage and vast library of antique books, she is out of Sussex and on the road to a coastal area of Scotland to check it all out.

The few weeks Thea expected to stay in Scotland is going to be longer, that’s for sure. There’s lots for her to do. And she wants to try to sell those books to the nearby bookshop. But the owner is a frosty sort who she just can’t seem to get along with….at first.

Fraser makes this part of Scotland very appealing. I was ready to pack up and go visit as she defined the countryside with such passion.

I love the cover of the book. And I love that Thea is a middle-aged woman. She’s still feeling her way around her life now that she’s alone.

There’s a bit of a mystery. The book owner and his brother, both very handsome, have been feuding most of their adult lives. Why? And will that be satisfied?

Will Thea stay in Scotland? Or will she return to Sussex? You’re going to just have to find out for yourself.

I borrowed my copy of the book from the library. I couldn’t help myself. It’s a super read and I am not indebted to the publisher, Ballentine Books, for a review.

It’s summer and I’m picking and choosing my reading material carefully. This is a lighter read. Just what I need right now. Lots of more literary books coming quickly down the pike, and right in my direction. I’ll be blogging about that list soon.

Cheers!

The Islanders by Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May

The Islanders

lt’s unusual for me to blog about a children’s book. So you have to know how very special THE ISLANDERS is. It’s written with middle school readers in mind. But it’s really for everyone who loves a good story with lots of heart. And it takes place on a real island: Dewees Island just off Isle of Palm in South Carolina.

I’ve long been a fan of Mary Alice Monroe. Anyone who reads my blog already knows this. So when I heard about this book I was intrigued, especially when I discovered where it takes place and what it’s about. And one more plus is that Mary Alice’s longtime assistant, Angela May, co-authored this winner.

So what’s it about? Jake is eleven and not looking forward to this summer. You see his mom is shipping him off to spend the summer with his grandmother, Honey. Honey lives on Dewees Island. The island can only be reached via boat. There are no cars nor any paved roads. And his grandmother doesn’t believe in the internet let alone video games. Jake’s dad has been critically wounded in Afghanistan and his mom will be taking care of him. It’s serious and Jake is scared.

Jake has no idea of the adventures that are coming his way. He isn’t on the island any time at all before he meets up with two kids his own age: Lovie is an island girl who drives her own boat and Macon is on the island with his mom for the summer because she needs peace and quiet as she awaits the birth of Macon’s sibling.

Honey is still grieving the death of her husband and she’s let things slide around the house. Her house sure needs some love. And Jake may just be what is needed to lift her spirits.

Dewees Island is a nature preserve so you know there is lots of wildlife. Mary Alice brings the sea turtles into the story in a big way. How they are introduced to the new kids is just wonderful. And she manages to give us so much good knowledge. You’re learning so much without feeling like you’re being taught.

Friendship has healing powers. These three kids each have their own issues. As they come to know and trust one another I fell in love with them all.

Most kids are so involved with their phones and computers and video games these days. Eyes glued to screens. It’s refreshing to read about kids being outside and experiencing adventures. That’s what they should be doing.

Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May

I hope Mary Alice and Angela continue this and make it into a series. I would look forward to that!

My finished copy arrived from Aladdin a division of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed every single page!

Me With Kristin Harmel at Copperfish Books

Me With Kristin Harmel.

Here I am with lovely Kristin Harmel. We’re at Copperfish Books celebrating her newest historical novel, THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS.

I’ve known Kristin for years. I fell in love with her wonderful writing and am just over the moon for her success throughout the years. It is all well-deserved. She works tirelessly and does scads of research for each book. In fact, she told the audience yesterday that she has to be reined in by her editor with the word count. I love this. You will always be sure you have a fabulous read when you pick up any of her many books.

Donna Williams of Gene’s Books on Sanibel, asked Kristin what she’s working on now. Her manuscript is due in November. Oh boy. Takes place in Paris and the tidbit of info she provided whet my appetite already. Her books typically pub in July. Kristin’s deep knowledge of France and especially Paris bring so much to her novels. I am already excited.

It was great seeing all my bookselling friends at Copperfish. It was also great to see and speak to so many customers who came out for the event. It’s wonderful to be able to see and be with people safely once again.

I look forward to attending more in person events soon!

Dodging A Storm Called Elsa

What was I reading as Tropical Storm Elsa skipped along our coastline, too close for comfort?

The Bookshop of Second Chances

When a storm is aiming toward my house, actually pointed straight in my direction, I don’t concentrate well. So I chose a little book called THE BOOKSHOP OF SECOND CHANCES to help keep me from freaking out. I didn’t know what to expect because the author is a first time one. But I loved that it takes place in Scotland and is associated with a lot of rare books and a bookshop. It’s well-written and am I’m almost halfway through. Review will follow soon.

The Islanders

Look what arrived from Aladdin? THE ISLANDERS is a novel written for middle grade readers. The authors are Mary Alice Monroe and her long-time assistant Angela May. I was thrilled when I heard they were collaborating on this awesome book for young people. First of all I love Mary Alice Monroe and everything she writes. Secondly, I know that Angela May is a very talented and able writer herself, and, thirdly, I love their setting. I have only read the first two chapters but it is a quick and delightful read and my review will be popping up soon!

Another book that arrived as a review copy is THE BITTER TASTE OF MURDER by Camilla Trinchieri. You will remember I recently wrote about the first mystery in this series: MURDER IN CHIANTI where I fell in love with the location and the quirky characters. This second in the series will be available for your reading pleasure in August. And my review will post then.

The Bitter Taste of Murder

You may be asking me what I’m doing with my time now that I’m no longer working at Copperfish. Well, I am busier than ever. And it’s not all just reading all day every day. There is much to do to prepare for the upcoming fall and winter speaking engagements. There are publishers to email, authors to be in touch with, book clubs to contact, and stacks and stacks of books to wade through so that I can prepare to bring you only the best of the best books going forward. Plus, I’m branching out and coming up with new “stuff” to talk about and places to visit. I’m having a blast and looking forward to seeing all of you in the coming months.

I’m also planning on another trip in a few weeks. This one will be to Isle of Palm in South Carolina, just off the coast of Charleston. My daughter will be celebrating her fiftieth birthday and we will be spending that week at her beach house on the island. How fun is that!!! May even be hooking up with favorite authors. Maybe.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer. You will not even begin to believe how many amazing books are coming out this fall. I will be able to present them to you right here on the blog, pretty darn soon.

Cheers!The Book Guru of Southwest Florida.

The Forest Of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel has done it again. She has managed to bring us yet another real page-turner. Last year we fell in love with THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES which went on to become a New York Times Best Seller. This year Harmel is back with a compelling tale of the harrowing experience one young woman makes while giving so much of herself to help save Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust.

Yona was born to a wealthy German family. She was named Inge at birth. When she was barely two she was kidnapped by Jerusza, a clairvoyant who lived in the forest outside the city. She was only trying to save the baby from bad people. Jerusza teaches Yona how to survive in the forest. These scenes are almost unbelievable and very precise. If you pay attention to the detail you will also be able to survive in a forest. I don’t say this lightly. When the old woman dies at the advanced age of one hundred, Yona is left to live alone. And although she’s always been cautioned, indeed even threatened against it, when she comes across a group of Jews who have fled persecution, she throws caution to the wind and lets her guard down. Way down. She teaches this group how to live through the brutal winter. And in so doing she falls in love… A bad move.

Kristin Harmel always does very extensive research. She has outdone herself here. She interviews a Holocaust survivor and his wife and delves deeply into his family and their story. Its actually stunning! It will bring you to your knees.

As the story becomes a runaway tale and the Nazis are quick on the footsteps of the fleeing group of Jews, this staggering novel becomes flat out terrifying.

Kristin Harmel has become one of our most accomplished historical fiction novelists. I am proud to have been a big fan from the get-go when I discovered her THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING. And if you have not read it yet, you simply MUST.

My review copy of THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS arrived from Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. It’s another game changer in the historical novel genre. A must-read!

Kristin Harmel

Kristin will be appearing at Copperfish Books on Saturday afternoon. Punta Gorda, Florida. From 4-6.

Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy

Shoulder Season

Christina Clancy wrote the very successful novel, THE SECOND HOME, last year. I loved it and have been eager for this new novel.

SHOULDER SEASON takes place in the 1980’s in a small town in Wisconsin. As unlikely as it seems, Hugh Hefner built a Playboy Resort on a large tract of land on Lake Geneva. He really did and Clancy has certainly done her homework.

Sherri Taylor is nineteen years old when she’s left orphaned when both her parents die within a short period of time. What will she do with her life now that she’s alone? It’s 1981 and Hugh Hefner has just built a Playboy Resort on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It’s very close to Sherri’s tiny hometown of East Troy which she considers to be nowheresville. Seems like such an unlikely spot for such a prestigious and world-renowned club. It is and Sherri is a very unlikely young woman. She’s naive and so vulnerable. We watch as Sherri becomes Bunny Sherri and succumbs to all the trappings of the job. We see Sherri dragged into the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

I remember being intrigued with Playboy magazine years ago. It was such a taboo. Looking back now I can see how “safe” it really was back then. The whole Playboy Bunny world was shrouded in secrecy and seemed so decadent. Well, it was. Clancy has gone beyond the norm in her research and brings us a novel with a lot of heart and a lot of reality. We get to go behind the secret world of the Playboy Bunny. Even into what they called the Bunny Hutch where the girls lived and were surrounded by fencing to keep the men out and the girls in. It was not all fun and games. Far from it, most of the young women were intelligent and using the experience to get to the next level in their lives. We know right from the prologue in 2019 that this is not just a novel, it’s truly a tragedy. But we do not find out why until way into the story. You will keep turning the pages as you manage the wild ride Sherri is on as she maneuvers through these tender years filled with towering ups and spiraling downs. And we feel Sherri’s pain as she truly discovers real love….

A coming -of-age story like no other. Christina Clancy will have you in the palm of her writing hands as you finish this superb summer novel.

Christina Clancy

My review copy arrived from the very generous publishing people at St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s just super. Add it to your vacation reads. You don’t want to miss this one!