Monday, April 24th, 2017
I tend to be a rather picky reader, but every now and again, a book just grabs me. Teresa Messineo’s The Fire by Night was one of those books.
Here’s the official blurb:
A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.
In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.
Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.
When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.
World War II seems to be having a fiction renaissance recently. I remember, back in the day, watching the larger than life Winds of War mini-series, going along for the adventure in Shining Through (which, in a roundabout way, provided the inspiration for my own Orchid Affair), sobbing over Mila 18, and, of course, Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift. But then there was rather a gap.
For a chance to win my ARC of Teresa Messineo’s The Fire by Night, here’s your question: what’s your favorite World War II set book or show?
The winner will be announced on Wednesday.
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
The winner of my ARC of The Night the Lights Went Out is…
Sarah! (Of Comment #57.)
Congrats, Sarah! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll put your book in the mail to you.
If you want to learn more about The Night the Lights Went Out or find Karen on tour, just click here.
Stay tuned for a new give away coming up on Monday!
Monday, April 17th, 2017
I seem to be accumulating large piles of advance review copies of books. Some of these haven’t come out yet; some are just out; and others have been out for quite some time (at least if the amount of dust is anything to go by).
Which means… I’m bringing back Monday Give Away!
And what better way to kick it off than with an amazing book by one of my favorite people: Karen White‘s The Night the Lights Went Out, which just came out last week. (You can find a list of Karen’s book tour stops here.)
Here’s the official blurb:
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems….
Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….
If you like Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, you will love The Night the Lights Went Out.
The book spans two time periods: present day Atlanta mom culture and Depression era Georgia.
For a chance to win an ARC of The Night the Lights Went Out, here’s your question: which of those settings intrigues you more?
One person who comments will be chosen at random to receive my ARC of The Night the Lights Went Out. The winner will be announced on Wednesday. And if you see the book in a bookstore or the library in the meantime… snap it up!
Sunday, March 19th, 2017
The winner of the advance copy of Jennifer Robson’s Goodnight from London is…
Congrats, Karen! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you. Congrats, and happy reading!
Thursday, December 15th, 2016
I tend not to base my characters off actors. They pop to life in my head just as they are. Every now and again, I’m lucky enough to stumble across someone on the big or little screen who looks just as I imagined one of my characters– but it doesn’t happen with everyone.
Case in point: Turnip.
I have to confess, all these years later, I still haven’t found the perfect Turnip.
Who do you think should play Turnip in a hypothetical Mistletoe mini-series? (Can’t you just see it? “Mistletoe: the Hallmark Channel/BBC collaboration”.) Is there any actor who strikes you as having that essential Turnip-ness?
To help you out, here’s the first appearance of Turnip on the scene in The Masque of the Black Tulip, Turnip’s very first Pink Carnation appearance.
“Oh, look!” Henrietta leaned confidentially towards him, the embroidered hem of her dress lapping at the toes of his boots, “I do believe you’ve been saved. Mrs. Ponsonby has latched onto Reggie Fitzhugh.”
Miles followed the path of Henrietta’s fan and noted with some relief that the crazy woman had indeed honed in on Turnip Fitzhugh. Turnip wasn’t in the direct line for a title, but his uncle was an earl, and he did have an income of ten thousand pounds a year, enough to make Turnip a very attractive marital prospect for anyone who didn’t mind a complete absence of mental capacity. That, from what Miles had viewed of this year’s crop of debutantes, didn’t look to be a problem. Besides, Turnip was a good chap. Not the sort of man Miles would want to see marrying his sister (there was little danger of that, as Miles’ three half-sisters were all considerably older, and long since leg-shackled), but he had a good hand with his horses, a generous way with his port, and a winning habit of actually paying his gambling debts.
He also had a positive talent for sartorial disaster. He was, Miles noted with mingled amusement and disbelief, dressed entirely a la Carnation, with a huge pink flower in his buttonhole, wreaths of carnations embroidered on his silk stockings, and even—Miles winced—dozens of little carnations twining on vines along the sides of his knee breeches.
Miles groaned. “Someone needs to kidnap his tailor.”
Moving along to Mistletoe, I give you the scene where our heroine, Arabella, first meets Turnip– in all his Turnip-y glory.
It was highly unlikely that any gentlemen of large fortune and undiscriminating taste would rush forward to bowl her over.
And that was when a large form careened into her, sending her stumbling into the doorframe, while something small, round, and compact managed to land heavily on her left foot before rolling along its way.
“Oooof!” Arabella said cleverly, flailing her arms for balance.
This was not an auspicious beginning to her career as a dignified instructress of young ladies.
A pair of sturdy hands caught her by the shoulders before she could go over, hauling her back up to her feet. He overshot by a bit. Arabella found herself dangling in mid-air for a moment before her feet landed once again on the wooden floor.
“I say, frightfully sorry!” her unseen assailant and rescuer was babbling. “Deuced ungentlemanly of me—ought to have been watching where I was going.”
Arabella’s bonnet had been knocked askew in the fracas. She was above the average height, but this man was even taller. With her bonnet brim in the way, all she could see was a stretch of brightly patterned waistcoat, a masterpiece of fine fabric and poor taste.
Arabella didn’t know whether to laugh or bang her head against the elaborate carnations on her assailant’s waistcoat. Everyone knew about Turnip Fitzhugh’s waistcoats.
And to think, only a moment ago, she had complaining about not being bowled over by men of large fortune and undiscriminating taste.
She had just never meant it quite that literally.
And that’s our Turnip.
Name your top Turnip picks– and I’ll pick one person who comments to receive a copy of the UK edition of The Mischief of the Mistletoe.
Monday, December 12th, 2016
Over on Facebook, the Read A Romance Month page is holding a holiday give away extravaganza, with a different package of books up for grabs every day. Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and I are joining in the fun over there by offering up three copies of The Forgotten Room plus one copy each of our own backlist books. Three prizes, two books each.
To enter, just head over to the Read A Romance Month Facebook page and comment on that post. The contest is open until December 14th. Happy reading!
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
The winner of the signed copy of The Mischief of the Mistletoe is…
… Heather! (Of Comment #4.)
Congrats, Heather! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.
More fun coming up soon!
Monday, December 5th, 2016
Happy December! In honor of the season, today’s give away will be… a signed copy of The Mischief of the Mistletoe!
Here’s the official blurb:
Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh—often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation—has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle”, the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?
For a chance to win a copy of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, here’s your question: what’s your favorite holiday read?
The winner will be announced on Wednesday.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
The winner of Ann Leary’s The Children is…
… Maria! (Of Comment #14.)
Congrats, Maria! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll put your book in the mail to you.
Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe, happy Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 21st, 2016
There’s been a bit of a give away gap– apologies! To make it up to you, I have a particularly good one for you today: a hardcover copy of Ann Leary’s The Children.
Here’s the official blurb:
From New York Times bestselling author Ann Leary comes the captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.
Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother’s home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, and the generations of Whitmans before him. While Charlotte and her sister, Sally, grew up at “Lakeside,” their stepbrothers, Spin and Perry, were welcomed as weekend guests. Now the grown boys own the estate, which Joan occupies by their grace―and a provision in the family trust. When Spin, the youngest and favorite of all the children, brings his fiancé home for the summer, the entire family is intrigued. The beautiful and accomplished Laurel Atwood breathes new life into this often comically rarefied world. But as the wedding draws near, and flaws surface in the family’s polite veneer, an array of simmering resentments and unfortunate truths is exposed.
With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family, as they are forced to grapple with the assets and liabilities – both material and psychological – left behind by their wonderfully flawed patriarch.
What could be more appropriate for Thanksgiving week than a book about a dysfunctional family?
For a chance to win a hardcover copy of Ann Leary’s The Children, here’s your question:
— What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? (Edible or otherwise.)
Happy holiday, all! Winners will be announced on Wednesday.