Blog Tour: That Summer In Maine @zebriez @HarlequinBooks #NGEW2020

Thank you to Justine Sha and Harlequin Publishing for the advance reader copy of That Summer In Maine in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I am please to be part of this tour!!

What a beautiful novel this turned out to be! The story is told to us by Jane, Hazel’s mom, and Hazel herself. Their dynamic is interesting. Hazel is a 16 year old withdrawn teenage girl living her mom, step dad, and newborn twin brothers. She feels abandoned by her mother and Jane has no clue.

One day out of the blue Hazel gets a message with someone who claims to be her half-sister. She invites her to spend the summer in Maine with her and their father, Silas. Jane hesitantly agrees and goes on a journey within herself and realizes she’s been losing Hazel slowly.

I loved this story. I loved all the characters (even though I wanted to wring the half sister’s neck NUMEROUS times) and loved Silas. I thought there was a LOT of growth with Jane AND Hazel. Jane grew mostly from reading the diary of Susie, the mother of Eve, Hazel’s half sister. She took it upon herself to create her own diary filled with letters her daughter would probably never see to explain herself and the decisions she made. Hazel grew after she realized the life she thought she could have with blood relatives wasn’t quite what it was cracked up to be.

This book had me feeling the lake breeze while mosquitoes buzzed around in the sweet, sticky heat of the summer. I imagined myself sitting next to the fire while the girls and Silas talked. It was so easy to image the scenery, Wolfson did a remarkable job with that!

4 stars.  This is a PERFECT summer read that will have you smiling from ear to ear at the end. Sometimes we all need a happy book and this one delivers just that. You won’t be disappointed if you pick this one up to read!

Author Bio: Brianna Wolfson is a New York native living in San Francisco. Her narrative nonfiction has been featured on Medium, Upworthy and The Moth. She buys a lottery ticket every Friday.

Details

Title: That Summer In Maine

Author: Brianna Wolfson

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher: MIRA

Release Date: June 23, 2020

Find it here on Goodreads

Paris Never Leaves You Blog Tour @StMartinsPress #EllenFeldman #WW2 #Paris #HistoricalFiction #MomsWhoRead #NGEW2020

Thank you to Leah Johanson and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour for Paris Never Leaves You! I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review!

This book is told in two parts, Wartime Paris and 1950s New York. The story is told by Charlotte and we learn what it was like to live in Paris during the Nazi regime. The detail that encompasses this book was unreal and I felt like I had stepped back in time when Charlotte flashes back to those times.

She currently lives in New York with her boss. He was a friend of her father and he took her and her daughter in when they fled from France. The relationship between the two of them is delicate and unique and has you questioning it throughout the whole book. The dynamics were definitely eyebrow raising.

Parts of this book were hard to read and even though this is a work of fiction, the things this book describes absolutely took place. Sometimes it is hard to wrap your head around everything, but that’s the truth in wartime history. This will be a great story to read for those of you who enjoy World War II fiction.

I did find it hard to follow along in parts of the book as suddenly it would jump scenes without a break. Once I figured out what was happening I could get back into the reading, but it did make it a little more difficult for me. There is a romance story line, which is a little odd at first, but everything weaves together and makes much more sense in the end.

4 stars.  The tale this tells of Charlotte and her adventure to safe herself and her daughter is one that I didn’t quite see coming. As a mother, I don’t blame her in the least for what she did and I wish she saw things the same way.

Author Bio
ELLEN FELDMAN, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her novel Terrible Virtue was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.

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Title: Paris Never Leaves You

Author: Ellen Feldman

Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 4, 2020

Find it here on Goodreads

Blog Tour: Sister Dear @HannahMMcKinnon @HarlequinBooks #Thriller #Mystery #PsychologicalThriller #Family #Secrets #MomsWhoRead

Thank you, thank you to Justine Sha with Harlequin Books for the opportunity to be invited to and included in this blog tour! I was presented an advance copy of Sister Dear in exchange for my honest review and opinion. All thoughts expressed are my own. Stay tuned after my review for an excerpt!

I never thought a book could have me feel all different kinds of emotions for the protagonist until I read this one. What do I mean? Here’s a list of everything I felt for Eleanor, our main character: sorry, angry, upset, crazy, happy, and my list could go on with all of these opposing emotions. What a tale Hannah Mary McKinnon takes us on and what a ride she takes us on with Eleanor!

This story is told through Eleanor. She recently loses her father, the only parent she had a relationship with. She is estranged from her mother and sister and could care less about them. When a secret comes out on her father’s death bed, her life changes.

Eleanor lives a single lifestyle, barely hanging on, and has a problem with binge eating. Her father’s death catapults her and she ends up learning even more about her mother. Her mother comes around and tries to be nice, but all she wants is for Eleanor to give any money her father left her, to her sister. Mind you, her sister didn’t even come to her father’s funeral.

Oh, did I not mention the secret that she found out? Right…well, her father wasn’t her biological father. Nope. And she found out she has a half sister. If you thought her mom and sister were drama…oh no, wait until you meet her real father and see how THAT plays out.

5 stars.  Why? Because my opinion of Eleanor changed SO MUCH throughout this book, it was unreal. The ending made me angry, but weirdly I was ok with it. I’m still angry and upset over the ending, but any other ending really could have been a little more unrealistic. This book just takes you on a wild ride and I loved every minute of it. Such a great job by the author!! You won’t regret picking this one up!

EXCERPT: Chapter 1

The police didn’t believe me.

A jury wouldn’t have, either, if I’d gone on trial, and most definitely not the judge. My attorney had more than a few reservations about my story. Ms. Allerton hadn’t said as much. She didn’t need to. I saw it in her eyes, could tell by the way she shuffled and reshuffled her papers, as if doing so might shake my lies clean off the pages, leaving only the truth behind in her inky, royal blue swirls.

After our first meeting I’d concluded she must’ve known early on—before she shook my hand with her icy fingers—that I was a liar. Before she’d walked into the room in shiny, four-inch heels, she’d no doubt decided she’d heard my excuses, or a variation thereof, from countless clients already. I was yet another person claiming to be innocent. Another criminal who’d remained adamant they’d done nothing wrong, it wasn’t their fault, honest, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary, a wall of impending doom surrounding me.

And still, at the time I’d believed the only reason Ms. Allerton had taken on my case pro-bono was because of the amount of publicity it gave her firm. Reducing my sentence—for there would be one—would amplify her legacy as a hot-shot lawyer. I’d accepted her help. There was no other option. I needed her knowledge, her expertise, saw her as my final hope. I now know her motivations were something else I’d miscalculated. All hope extinguished. Game over.

If I’m being fair, the judgements Ms. Allerton and other people had made about me weren’t completely wrong. I had told lies, some, anyway. While that stripped away part of my claim to innocence, it didn’t mean I was entirely guilty. Not of the things everybody said I’d done. Things I’d had no choice but to confess to, despite that being my biggest lie of all.

But I’ll tell you the truth. The whole truth and nothing but. I’ll start at the beginning, and share everything that happened. Every last detail leading up to one fateful night. The night someone died because of me. The night I lost you, too.

I won’t expect your forgiveness. Our relationship—or lack thereof—will have gone way beyond that point. No. All I can hope for, is that my side of the story will one day help you understand why I did the things I did.

And why I have to do the things I’ve not yet done.

Title: Sister Dear

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

Genre(s): Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

Publisher: MIRA for Harlequin

Release Date: May 26, 2020

Find it here on Goodreads

Blog Tour: The Scent Keeper

ScentKeeper

 

What an interesting read.  The first thing I want to say is that if you are part of a book club, this is a MUST READ.  I promise you there is SO much to talk about throughout the book.  My thoughts?  I am very conflicted…

I could not get into this book until Part 2.  The entire first part of this book talks about scented paper and living on a deserted, desolate island where this little girl and her father forage for food.  Mermaids leave surprises in boxes every so often for supplies, but it all centered around a machine that made scents.  They left the paper in bottles and eventually the smells started to fade and it sent the father into a nose dive depression.   I just could not get into this book about scents.  I ended up speed reading most of this book as I really was having a hard time grasping the concept of it.  Toward the end of part 2 and for all of part 3 I did slow the pace of my reading down and really try to understand it.

We get past the scents and eventually the daughter, Emmeline (pronounced like on-the-line…don’t do what myself or her school teacher do and call her Emmelene haha), makes it to civilization and learns a whole new world (complete with a love interest).  Here is where my interest peaked and where she started to learn who she was and sought to seek out where she came from (remember, she was only raised by Dad and had no idea what her last name was or who her mother was).

I also enjoyed how the book ended.  I usually am only a fan of concrete endings, however, I know where Emmeline is going to end up and I really like how she leaves things off…the author did a good job.  For this book, it was the perfect ending.

People may wonder why I even bothered to continue to read this book if I was not enjoying it at first.  Here’s the thing.  Just because I personally do not like something, does not mean that someone else out there won’t.  Despite the fact that I was not into it, the author did a fantastic job at describing the surroundings and I was able to imagine such beautiful scenery.  The writing in this book was top notch, I just didn’t care for the content (at the beginning).  I also feel like this book needed that content at the beginning to create the book that it is.  Bauermeister is very talented, that is very obvious within her writing.

For this reason, I am not rating this book.  What I will do when I most my review to Goodreads and Netgalley, I’m not too sure, but I will figure something out.  This is a stop on The Scent Keeper blog tour and below please find more information about the author and the book.  Included is a sample of the first chapter so you can judge for yourself.  Again, this book turned in to an amazing read and I am happy I read it.  There is SO much to discuss about this book.  If you’ve read it, let’s chat!!

This book is released TOMORROW, May 21, 2019, so look for it at the links below or at your local bookstore!

Scent Keeper - Author Image_credit to Susan Doupé

About the Author:
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
About the Book:
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives. 
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them.  As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Chapter One Excerpt…

THE BEGINNING

Back before there was time, I lived with my father on an island, tucked away in an endless archipelago that reached up out of the cold salt water, hungry for air. Growing up in the midst of the rain and moss and ancient thick-barked trees, it was easy to forget that the vast majority of our island was underwater—descending down two, three, five hundred bone-chilling feet. Forever really, for you could never hold your breath long enough to get to the bottom.

Those islands were a place to run away, although I didn’t understand that at the time. I had nothing to run from and every reason to stay. My father was everything. I’ve heard people say that someone is their “whole world,” their eyes filled with stars. But my father was my world, in a way so literal it can still grab my thoughts, pick them up, and toss them around like driftwood in a storm.

Our cabin was set in a clearing at the center of the island. We were not the first to live there—those islands have a long history of runaways. Almost a century ago there were French fur trappers, with accents that lilted and danced. Loggers with mountainous shoulders, and fishermen who chased silver-backed salmon. Later came the draft dodgers, hiding from war. Hippies, dodging rules. The islands took them all in—the storms and the long, dark winters spat most out again. The beauty there was raw; it could kill as easily as it could astonish.

Our cabin had been built by the truest of runaways. He set up in a place where no one could find him and built his home from trees he felled himself. He spent forty years on the island, clearing space for a garden and planting an orchard. One autumn, however, he simply disappeared. Drowned, it was said. After that the cabin was empty for years until we arrived and found the apple trees, opened the door. Raised the population of the island to two.

I don’t remember arriving on the island myself; I was too young. I only remember living there. I remember the paths that wandered through those watchful trees, the odor of the dirt beneath our feet, as dark and complicated as fairy tales. I remember our one-room cabin, the big chair by the woodstove, and our collection of stories and science books. I remember the smell of wood smoke and pine pitch in my father’s beard as he read to me at night, and the ghostly aroma of the runaway’s pipe tobacco, an olfactory reminder that had sunk into the walls and never quite disappeared. I remember the way the rain seemed to talk to the roof as I fell asleep, and how the fire would snap and tell it to be quiet.

Most of all, I remember the drawers.

My father had begun building them when we moved into the cabin, and when he was done they lined our walls from floor to ceiling. The drawers were small things, their polished wooden fronts no bigger than my child-sized hands. They surrounded us like the forest and islands outside our door.

Each drawer contained a single small bottle, and inside each bottle was a piece of paper, rolled around itself like a secret. The glass stoppers of the bottles were sealed with different colored waxes—red in the top rows, green for those below. My father almost never opened the bottles.

“We need to keep them safe,” he said.

But I could hear the papers whispering inside the drawers.

Come find me.

“Please?” I’d ask, again and again.

Finally, he agreed. He took out a leather book filled with numbers and carefully added one to the list. Then he turned to the wall of drawers, pondering his choice.

“Up there,” I said, pointing up high to where the red-wax bottles lived. Stories always begin at the top of a page.

My father had built a ladder that slid along the wall, and I watched him climb it almost to the ceiling, reaching into a drawer and drawing out its bottle. When he was back on the ground, he carefully broke the seal. I could hear glass scritching against glass as he pulled out the stopper, then the rustle of the paper as he unrolled it into a plain, white square. He leaned in close, inhaling, then wrote another number in the book.

I meant to stay still, but I leaned forward, too. My father looked up and smiled, holding out the paper.

“Here,” he said. “Breathe in, but not too much. Let the smell introduce itself.”

I did as he said. I kept my chest tight and my breath shallow. I could feel the tendrils of a fragrance tickling the inside of my nose, slipping into the curls of my black hair. I could smell campfires made from a wood I didn’t recognize; dirt more parched than any I had ever known; moisture, ready to burst from clouds in a sky I’d never seen. It smelled like waiting.

“Now, breathe in deeply,” my father said.

I inhaled, and fell into the fragrance like Alice down the rabbit hole.

 

– – –

 

Later, after the bottle had been stoppered and sealed and put back in its drawer, I turned to my father. I could still smell the last of the fragrance lingering in the air.

“Tell me its story,” I asked him. “Please.”

“All right, little lark,” he said. He sat in the big chair and I nestled in next to him. The fire crackled in the woodstove; the world outside was still.

“Once upon a time, Emmeline . . .” he began, and his voice rolled around the rhyme of it as if the words were made of chocolate.

Once upon a time, Emmeline, there was a beautiful queen who was trapped in a great white castle. None of the big, bold knights could save her. “Bring me a smell that will break the walls,” she asked a brave young boy named Jack . . .

I listened, while the scents found their hiding places in the cracks in the floorboards, and the words of the story, and the rest of my life.

Busy, busy, busy!

WOW!  The classes I was taking ended up sucking me in and taking me away from the fun things I like to…like read and then write about it!  With this school year wrapping up and winding down I am looking forward to endless days of reading….haha, I have kids, that won’t happen either!  In all seriousness, my classes are OVER and I’m ready to take back some me time!! WOO HOO!!

Since we last spoke I have read 6 more books…yikes…that’s 6 books I need to review!

My Goodreads Challenge is currently at 17 out of 52 books.  According to them I am only 1 book behind schedule!

Here’s a preview at the books to come reviewed shortly…

Between Hello and Goodbye by Jody ClarkThe Empty Beach by Jody ClarkThe Guest Book by Sarah BlakeThe Mother-in-Law by Sally HepworthSaving Meghan by D.J.  PalmerLittle Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly

There are some pretty good books in that mix!!!  Make sure you come back on Monday, May 20th to catch The Scent Keeper blog tour HERE!

What have you all been up to lately?