Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade + giveaway!


Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade | March 24, 2020

A few rough breaks lead a woman at the end of her leash to journey across the pond to fetch a suprise inheritance–but the dogs she rescues along the way have other ideas.

The plan was simple: Elizabeth would suffer through a quick trip to her late father’s family homestead in the English countryside, try not to think about how she was unjustly fired from her dream job, claim her inheritance, and hop on the next flight back to Silicon Valley where she can get her life back on track.

The plan does not include rescuing an abandoned black and white puppy. Or bonding with her long-lost aunt and uncle, their Border Collie, and their two very opinionated sheep. Or falling for the handsome local who runs the town’s craft brewery. As Elizabeth’s brief visit to Fargrove turns into an extended stay, she discovers that she has more in common with the new puppy than she realized.

From the moment I first heard about this book, I knew it was one I needed to get my hands on. I mean, come on: family secrets, the English countryside, a lost puppy?! Who Rescued Who practically screamed my name – and I’m thrilled to say it lived up to every expectation.

When Elizabeth is perp-walked out of her high profile tech job, she’s suddenly adrift and unsure of where to go. A startling phone call – from an uncle she never knew existed – sends her packing for England where she’s to claim her inheritance. Elizabeth is determined to touch down, collect the cash, and head back home where she’ll take over the techie world. Life, however, has other plans..

A grumpy coffeeshop owner. A handsome local seemingly straight from the pages of a bodice ripper novel. Startling revelations about the man her father really was before he turned his back on his home country. Two very opinionated sheep. As the days somehow turn into weeks and the weeks give way to a month, Elizabeth realizes these new plans the universe has in mind for her might not be so bad after all.

Like the rest of the world, I’m currently cooped up inside my house. Normally this wouldn’t be a major issue – I’m tailor-made for quarantine life. I’m a total homebody, unlike my coworkers, I don’t need constant in person interaction. That said, as the days wear on, I’m finding myself a little less inclined to pick up a gritty murder mystery. Maybe it’s my version of cabin fever or maybe it’s because spring is finally here and the sun has started warming my neck of the woods, but I’m gravitating toward light-hearted, easy reads.

And nothing says light-hearted like a novel set in the English countryside that features a ripped-from-a-romance-novel love interest!

There’s certainly some drama thrown in to keeps things moving (the reason Elizabeth’s father left England and never mentioned his brother, what went down that led to Elizabeth’s termination), but Who Rescued Who is just what it sounds like: an incredibly cozy story set in a picturesque English village full of livestock and puppies and shoddy WiFi. The characters are great, the relationships (familial, romance, friendships) are all excellent, there’s even a hefty dose of art piled on! If you’re going to be shut inside for weeks on end, you could do worse than this book. Who Rescued Who is a lovely, quick read perfect for a much-needed pick me up.

And YOU could win a copy!
ONE lucky winner will receive a copy of Who Rescued Who!
US only, sorry!
The giveaway will end Friday, April 3.
To enter, head over to instagram!

3 mini-reviews for the weekend

Happy Friday! If you’re cooped up inside like I am, I hope you’re doing well – both physically and mentally. Today I wanted to quickly talk about three recent reads; all three are out now if you’re itching for a book for a weekend of social distancing!

And, as always, a huge thank-you to the publishers (Berkley, Atria, and Little Brown) for review copies!

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher | February 25, 2020

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.

Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks–her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.

The author mentioned she took many liberties in writing this novel and it certainly felt like it. There were a few times early on where I wanted to set the book aside, but also a part of me really wanted to read more about the life of Grace Kelly and that’s what kept me going. Overall, however, it felt more fanfiction than a full-fledged novel, especially since the author wasn’t able to access many/any first-hand and personal records – either she was denied permission from the museums, libraries, etc she contacted or items such as letters have become lost to time. She also stated she essentially had to guess at the affairs Grace had with her co-stars (…and it seemed like she had an affair with all but one if I’m remembering correctly).

I don’t know, I really wanted to be wowed by this one, but in the end it was just a lot of name-dropping (at one point Grace even lends a shoulder to a newly-engaged Diana Spencer and bestows advice) and almost 400 pages of a heartbroken Grace. Even after literally marrying into royalty and becoming a princess she still couldn’t live up to her father’s expectations. After a series of failed relationships, she met Rainier and found in him an understanding partner…for a year or two. Her one true love was acting and the theater and even that was taken from her. Just a sad tale all around.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle | March 10, 2020

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked where she sees herself in five years at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

One of the first books I read in 2020 was Colleen Oakley’s You Were There Too, another novel dealing with a dream-man. Because of this, I couldn’t help but compare the two – I’m pleased to say I enjoyed In Five Years far more and, for whatever reason, I did not expect this one to be a sci-fi, time travel novel, whereas I did with You Were There Too (and was disappointed because of it).

I do not want to give anything away here, but at one point Dannie says “I saw what was coming, but I did not see what it would mean.” and just…wow. From page one the book leads the reader to believe one story will happen, yet once things get rolling it turns into a much different story, one I enthusiastically sunk into and truly could not put down! While not the book I expected, I enjoyed this one so much.

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes | March 3, 2020

Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, he feels as if he is constantly swimming in whiteness. Most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbed the “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. Quiet, obedient.

When an incident with “King” Alan leads to Donte’s arrest and suspension, he knows the only way to get even is to beat the king of the school at his own game: fencing. With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on Middlefield Prep’s fencing team and maybe learn something about himself along the way.

I’ve mentioned more than once that Black Brother, Black Brother was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. At only 230 pages, this novel packs a hefty punch: bullying, racism, classism. It’s assumed that Donte is to blame for any incidents that occur at his private, privileged school – all because of the color of his skin. At one point he’s actually arrested. The officers barely give his (black) mother a passing glance (despite the fact that she’s a highly educated lawyer), but when his blue-eyed, blonde-hair dad walks in, well it’s all clearly just a misunderstanding and boys will be boys dontcha know.

There was a LOT going on within these pages but I felt all these heavy issues got swept away a bit at the end. All prettied up. I felt the same with Maybe He Just Likes You, a Middle Grade #MeToo novel; at the end of that book it seems like months worth of sexual harassment is forgiven and that the main character will go on to be friends with one of her tormentors. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that’s the case with Black Brother, Black Brother, but it ended in a way that was far lighter in tone than I had expected, given the way the book had been presented up to that point.

Still, I’m so glad I got to read this book and highly recommend it: it’s a powerful, hard-hitting novel that can be read in a single sitting and features a sport I’ve rarely come across in fiction: fencing!

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn
Pub. Date: March 10, 2020
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l’Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.

Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper–and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore’s high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family–and it’s up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it’s too late for all of them.
Genre: Historical Mystery

When Veronica and Stoker are summoned by Lady Wellie, they are surprised to be greeted by the Princess of Wales herself, personally begging them for their help. Her darling son, Prince Albert Victor, has become rather taken with a certain woman, the owner of an exclusive private club. Worse, he has given Madame Aurore an extremely expensive gift, one that can easily be traced back to the crown. Should scandal break, the match the Princess had in mind for her son would be ruined.

As if frequenting an upscale brothel wasn’t concerning enough, Victoria and Stoker learn Lady Wellie’s true reason for calling on them: Jack the Ripper has been terrorizing the city and she believes the prince himself may be the killer. To protect the prince’s reputation, the pair agree to visit Club de l’Etoile in disguise. But when the jewel is stolen – and a body is discovered – they realize they’re in for far more than they bargained for.

A Murderous Relation jumps right into the action, something I always enjoy. Though Raybourn references events in previous novels, she does so in such a clever way: she includes footnotes stating the book being mentioned! Series writers, take note.

After four books, Victoria and Stoker have finally admitted their feelings for the other…and spend the duration of the fifth book going out of their way to avoid acting on those feelings. Fans of slow burn romances (extreme slow burn romances) will be absolutely thrilled here, and while I have grown to adore these two, my patience was beginning to wear a bit thin!

I’m finding myself at a loss for words here, something I didn’t expect would even happen when discussing this series. Veronica is a lepidopterist and the illegitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales! Stoker is a grumpy natural historian! Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets! The majority of this novel takes place in a high-class brothel! There’s royal scandal! The book opens with a tortoise wedding, y’all. Yet somehow, this 300-page book felt much longer and several times I set the book aside after my attention was pulled elsewhere. I really don’t know where A Murderous Relation went wrong.

Despite having pages bursting with royal scandal and murder, A Murderous Relation curiously fell flat. I’m so disheartened to say I wasn’t nearly as invested in this one as I had hoped, even though there was so much in this one that appealed to me individually. As a whole, however, it didn’t work and more than once my attention waned. That said, I’m still so enchanted with this series and will absolutely be back for the next book!

my latest library haul

If you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, you might remember last year when I first started doing my latest library haul posts. I’m a little ashamed to admit I ultimately forgot about them (whoops!), but my hauls certainly didn’t slow.

As I type this I have two more waiting for me at the library AND an audio on hold. Until the next haul, here’s what I currently have checked out!

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben

Sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron’s prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Trying to unravel the truth about a family’s tragedy, a woman’s secret, and a man’s lies, Myron is up against the dark side of his business where image and talent make you rich, but the truth can get you killed.

The first Myron Bolitar novel was the March pick for the #HarlanCobenThereReadThat bookstagram book club. …and it was awful. I’m SO glad this wasn’t my first Coben novel because there’s no way I would continue to read his books if this was my intro.

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chen

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

A cozy series set in a noodle shop. Yep, sign me up.

And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder

Kate McGuire’s life was sweet in Manhattan before she lost her restaurant job and fiance both. But sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and soon she finds herself starting from scratch in the island town of Coral Cay, Florida. It has everything she’s looking for: sunny beaches, friendly locals, and a Help Wanted sign in the bakery shop window. Once she convinces the shop’s crusty owner Sam Hepplewhite to hire her, Kate can’t tie on her apron fast enough. Little does she know that trouble, like warm dough, is on the rise. . .

Stewart Lord is a real estate developer with a taste for a different type of dough: the green kind. He knows that he could make a killing by purchasing the Cookie House from Sam, who flat-out refuses to sell. But when Stewart turns up the heat on Sam–then turns up dead after eating a fresh batch of Sam’s cinnamon rolls–all eyes focus on the town’s beloved bakery. When the police arrest Sam for murder, Kate must somehow prove that her curmudgeonly boss is innocent. Enlisting the help of a team of lovable locals, Kate sets out to catch the real culprit with his hand in the cookie jar…before someone else gets burned.

I have an ARC of the sequel and decided to read them back-to-back.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

I’m on something of a Tessa Dare kick. I had already requested a few of her other titles when I saw a blogger rec this one – and when she mentioned how funny it is I knew I had to grab it.

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?
● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

These last two are part of Tessa’s Castles Ever After series. Over the weekend I shared my TBR stack for March and it included Romancing the Duke, the first in the series. I had such a great time reading that one and can’t wait to read these next two!

TBR stack: March hopefuls

I’m normally not one for monthly TBR lists; apart from ARCs I know I want (need!) to get to that month, I tend to grab whatever looks good to me on any given day. Still, there are always books in the back of my mind that sound great or really stick out for me, but I never seem to find the time for them.

Earlier this week I picked a few reads that I’m determined to make time for this March!

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.

When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.

But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can—in a whisper, in song, in broken English—until she is heard.

I was gifted a copy (along with a cute tote!) from the publisher and have been meaning to dive into this one, a novel that’s one of the buzziest books of 2020!

The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray

It is 2059, and the world has crashed. Forty years ago, a solar catastrophe began to slow the planet’s rotation to a stop. Now one half of the globe is permanently sunlit, the other half trapped in an endless night. The United States has colonized the southern half of Great Britain–lucky enough to find itself in the narrow habitable region left between frozen darkness and scorching sunlight–where both nations have managed to survive the ensuing chaos by isolating themselves from the rest of the world.

Ellen Hopper is a scientist living on a frostbitten rig in the cold Atlantic. She wants nothing more to do with her country after its slide into casual violence and brutal authoritarianism. Yet when two government officials arrive, demanding she return to London to see her dying college mentor, she accepts–and begins to unravel a secret that threatens not only the nation’s fragile balance, but the future of the whole human race.

Another novel received from the publisher. Back in 2012 I read Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles, also a novel about a future where the Earth has stopped rotating, and it ended up being one of my top reads of the year. VERY curious about this new one!!

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give.

Back in November (!) I received this ARC and it’s been whispering in my ear ever since. It’s being compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove, two books wildly beloved by the book community, and there’s a dog. What more could a reader ask for?

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Y’all, I’m cringing right now. I’ve had this ARC since August. Pitched as a Macbeth retelling for the #MeToo era, Foul is Fair is a book that’s been making waves on Instagram – and one that I am 100% convinced will be a VERY fast read!

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

An April release that has me itching to dive in. A YA historical fiction novel set in Korea?! YES PLEASE!

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, he feels as if he is constantly swimming in whiteness. Most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbed the “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. Quiet, obedient.

When an incident with “King” Alan leads to Donte’s arrest and suspension, he knows the only way to get even is to beat the king of the school at his own game: fencing. With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on Middlefield Prep’s fencing team and maybe learn something about himself along the way.

Black Brother, Black Brother might be slim, but it is going to pack a huge punch and is one of my most anticipated reads of 2020!

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed? This one.

I grabbed the first three books in this series from my library and have already read this one, so score! One book down, six to go in this list! I’m a big fan of historical romance, but this one features a character I’ve never come across before: a hero who’s blind. This one was such a fast read and so good – I’m looking forward to reading the others!

March Releases I Can’t Wait to Read!

Y’ALL, March is looking to be a fantastic month for books! I had the hardest time narrowing down my picks and I STILL ended up with nearly an entire month’s worth!

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes | March 3
Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, he feels as if he is constantly swimming in whiteness. Most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbed the “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. Quiet, obedient.

When an incident with “King” Alan leads to Donte’s arrest and suspension, he knows the only way to get even is to beat the king of the school at his own game: fencing. With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on Middlefield Prep’s fencing team and maybe learn something about himself along the way.

A HUGE thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for an advance copy!

These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card | March 3
Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend. And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.

These Ghosts Are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.

Rebel Cinderella by Adam Hochschild | March 3
Rose Pastor arrived in New York City in 1903, a Jewish refugee from Russia who had worked in cigar factories since the age of eleven. Two years later, she captured headlines across the globe when she married James Graham Phelps Stokes, scion of one of the legendary 400 families of New York high society. Together, this unusual couple joined the burgeoning Socialist Party and, over the next dozen years, moved among the liveliest group of activists and dreamers this country has ever seen. Their friends and houseguests included Emma Goldman, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, John Reed, Margaret Sanger, Jack London, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Rose stirred audiences to tears and led strikes of restaurant waiters and garment workers. She campaigned alongside the country’s earliest feminists to publicly defy laws against distributing information about birth control, earning her notoriety as “one of the dangerous influences of the country” from President Woodrow Wilson. But in a way no one foresaw, her too-short life would end in the same abject poverty with which it began.

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park | March 3
Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn | March 3
1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon surprisingly becomes her refuge.

2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient. But she has no idea of the far-reaching consequences her decision will bring.

Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler | March 10
In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he’s made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn’t want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

A HUGE thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy!

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle | March 10
When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

A HUGE thank you to Atria for an advance copy!

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn | March 10
Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l’Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break. Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper–and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore’s high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family–and it’s up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it’s too late for all of them.

A HUGE thank you to Berkley for an advance copy!

Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer J. Chow | March 10
Mimi Lee hoped to give Los Angeles animal lovers something to talk about with her pet grooming shop, Hollywoof. She never imagined that the first cat she said hello to would talk back or be quite so, well, catty—especially about those disastrous dates Mimi’s mother keeps setting up.

When Marshmallow exposes local breeder Russ Nolan for mistreating Chihuahuas, Mimi steals some of her cat’s attitude to tell Russ off. The next day the police show up at Hollywoof. Russ has been found dead, and Mimi’s shouting match with him has secured her top billing as the main suspect.

Hoping to clear her name and save the pups Russ left behind, Mimi enlists help from her dreamy lawyer neighbor Josh. But even with Josh on board, it’ll take Mimi and Marshmallow a lot of sleuthing and more than a little sass to get back to the pet-grooming life—and off the murder scene.

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton | March 10
Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.

But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.

A HUGE thank you to Berkley for an advance copy!

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth | March 10
Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal, and shocking consequences…

Blue Skies by Anne Bustard | March 17
Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them. Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own.

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there.

When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo. But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban | March 17
What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel | March 17
For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold. Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes. Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score. Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim | March 17
On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian | March 17
The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin’s arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road.

As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin’s prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?

The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben | March 17
The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.

Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn’t know where he comes from, and he’s back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.

When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein–with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection–asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case’s impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb. Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in, and where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

The Women in the Mirror by Rebecca James | March 17
For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond.

In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity.

In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage.

Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade | March 24
The plan was simple: Elizabeth would suffer through a quick trip to her late father’s family homestead in the English countryside, try not to think about how she was unjustly fired from her dream job, claim her inheritance, and hop on the next flight back to Silicon Valley where she can get her life back on track.

The plan does not include rescuing an abandoned black and white puppy. Or bonding with her long-lost aunt and uncle, their Border Collie, and their two very opinionated sheep. Or falling for the handsome local who runs the town’s craft brewery. As Elizabeth’s brief visit to Fargrove turns into an extended stay, she discovers that she has more in common with the new puppy than she realized.

A HUGE thank you to Berkley for an advance copy!

The Other Madisons by Bettye Kearse | March 24
For thousands of years, West African griots (men) and griottes (women) have recited the stories of their people. Without this tradition Bettye Kearse would not have known that she is a descendant of President James Madison and his slave, and half-sister, Coreen. In 1990, Bettye became the eighth-generation griotte for her family. Their credo—“Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president”—was intended to be a source of pride, but for her, it echoed with abuses of slavery, including rape and incest.

Confronting those abuses, Bettye embarked on a journey of discovery—of her ancestors, the nation, and herself. She learned that wherever African slaves walked, recorded history silenced their voices and buried their footsteps: beside a slave-holding fortress in Ghana; below a federal building in New York City; and under a brick walkway at James Madison’s Virginia plantation. When Bettye tried to confirm the information her ancestors had passed down, she encountered obstacles at every turn. Part personal quest, part testimony, part historical correction, The Other Madisons is the saga of an extraordinary American family told by a griotte in search of the whole story.

The Pomeranian Always Barks Twice by Alex Erickson | March 31
Sadly, Timothy Fuller is too old and infirm to continue caring for his beloved Pomeranian, Stewie, who is also elderly. But finding Stewie a new home has been challenging. Fortunately, Liz Denton and her son, Ben, are on the case. With two beagles and a calico currently residing under their roof, they’re always ready to provide care in an emergency.

But a rival rescue group is already there when they show up at the Fuller house–along with a nurse and Mr. Fuller’s sour-faced son. After an unpleasant argument, they reschedule the pickup for later. But by the time she gets back, Stewie is an orphan. Mr. Fuller has been found with a knife in his back. And Ben, who’d stopped off to visit one of Mr. Fuller’s neighbors, has been collared. Now solving the mystery is Liz’s only hope for rescuing her own son . . .

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel | March 31
Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

The Woman of a Thousand Names by Alexandra Lapierre | March 31
Born into Russian aristocracy, wealth, and security, Moura never had any reason to worry. But in the upheaval of the Bolshevik Revolution, her entire world crumbles. As her family and friends are being persecuted by Vladimir Lenin’s ruthless police, she falls into a passionate affair with British secret agent Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart. But when he’s abruptly and mysteriously deported from Russia, Moura is left alone and vulnerable.

Now, she must find new paths for her survival, even if it means shedding her past and taking on new identities. Some will praise her tenderness and undying loyalty. Others will denounce her lies. But all will agree on one point: Moura embodies Life. Life at all cost.

Set against the volatile landscape of 20th-century Russia, The Woman of a Thousand Names brings history to vivid life in a captivating tale about an extraordinary woman caught in the waves of change—with only her wits to save her.

A HUGE thank you to Atria for an advance copy!

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon | March 31
It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As Lucienne Carlier she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: the white mouse. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly Madam Andre. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–will become.

A HUGE thank you to Doubleday for an advance copy!

Music From Another World by Robin Talley | March 31
It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

A HUGE thank you to Inkyard Press for an advance copy!

What Stars are Made of by Sarah Allen | March 31
Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is great at science, being optimistic, and talking to her famous, accomplished friends (okay, maybe that last one is only in her head). She’s not great at playing piano, sitting still, or figuring out how to say the right thing at the right time in real life. Libby was born with Turner Syndrome, and that makes some things hard. But she has lots of people who love her, and that makes her pretty lucky.

When her big sister Nonny tells her she’s pregnant, Libby is thrilled—but worried. Nonny and her husband are in a financial black hole, and Libby knows that babies aren’t always born healthy. So she strikes a deal with the universe: She’ll enter a contest with a project about Cecelia Payne, the first person to discover what stars are made of. If she wins the grand prize and gives all that money to Nonny’s family, then the baby will be perfect. Does she have what it takes to care for the sister that has always cared for her? And what will it take for the universe to notice?

currently.


my latest stack of bookmail

WATCHING I know bookstagram is obsessing over these Harry Potter ASMR rooms and, yeah, they’re okay, but I’ve found myself reaching for videos from New Bliss (a train journey! an ancient library!) and The Guild of Ambience (haunted forest! potion shop!). This weekend was especially nice: Matt was doing his own thing with his gaming buddies so it was just me curled up with the pups. I put a few videos on for background noise and spent hours deep inside a good book.

LISTENING TO I really ought to update my podcast series from last year – since then I’ve added SEVERAL to my rotation. At the moment though, I’ve got an audiobook going: The Mental Floss History of the World. Light and fun, perfect for days at work!

LOVING Stitchfix recently came out with a new feature Shop My Looks, a constantly refreshing page showing different outfits (including purses, shoes, scarves, dresses, tops, pants, and blazers) based on items you’ve bought. I. Am. Obsessed. I’ve already bought a few things, have saved a TON to pinterest, and am always visiting and revisiting the page to see what new goodies await!

LOOKING FORWARD TO Two good friends and I recently formed a book club using Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 Reading Challenge as our guide. Our first pick Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (a book published the decade you were born) was a massive dud – and a DNF for all of us. Wednesday we’re getting together and I have a feeling this one will go MUCH better: we’re discussing Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone (a debut). Have you read it??

READING I just finished two: You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Coe, a biography on George Washington; and The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown, a Middle Grade novel featuring ghosts and the segregated South.

EATING I recently made a big batch of Making Thyme for Health’s Best Ever Quinoa Chili. I wouldn’t say it was the best ever, but definitely tasty and made enough for a week’s worth of lunches. I’m also back on the Misfits Market train – I’m set up for Tuesday deliveries to coincide with one of the days I work from home instead of the office and am looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s box brings. They recently added a new marketplace feature where you can choose add-ons (soup mixes, veggies, fruits) and I impulse-added mushrooms called hen of the woods.

WEARING I’ve been living in my Amazon slippers that are featured in pretty much every single photo on Instagram.

ENJOYING The weather! It reached the mid 50s today and that plus the sun made for a gorgeous day. Last year a group of coworkers and I put a daily walk on our calendars for whoever was in the office and wasn’t too busy. Obviously once winter arrived those walks stopped, but a few of us did some loops around the grounds today and it put me in such a springtime mood!!