Berlin Coffee Shop by Gerlis Zillgens, translated by Shamila Cohen #review #quickreview

About the book, Berlin Coffee Shop Berlin Coffee Shop

Follow Sandra and friends as they navigate life, love, and their late-twenties in Germany’s hip Berlin.In this episode, Sandra, a self-employed “finder of things,” is in urgent need of a “real” office. Her parents have suddenly appeared on her doorstep and want to see the workspace they’ve so generously funded. What they don’t know, is that Sandra’s “office” is just a table in Captain’s café, Coffee Shop, and she has used their money for other purposes. Nils brainstorms a quick fix: how about staging her best friend, Claudi’s apartment? There’s just one problem standing in the way: Claudi’s landlord. Things only take a turn for the worse when Captain tosses her and the Doric columns out of the coffee shop. Once again, Nils has a solution: the key to Captain’s storeroom.The Coffee Shop – a cozy café in Germany’s capital, Berlin – just happens to be the best office in the world. From here, Sandra practices her quirky trade as a “finder-of things.” She caters to customers who have lost or want to find something that’s missing from their lives. Doric Colums as an engagement gift? Check. Missing childhood photos? Done. But in her quest to grant other people’s wishes, Sandra suddenly finds herself in search of her own happiness – and of herself. Toss in a dead goose, and it’s the perfect recipe for romantic disaster.

Berlin Coffee Shop is a new digital serial novel for fans of “Sex and the City,” “Friends,” and “How I met your Mother.” The story is told in six parts, as each novella builds upon the next.

Buy, read, and discuss Berlin Coffee Shop

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I downloaded this from NetGalley because I always love to read about coffee shop and cafe culture, and I was immediately hooked on this – part one of a six part ‘digital serial novel.’ I think it’s an innovative use of ebooks, as well as being a great story.

As someone who has been known to take up residence at a favorite table in a cozy cafe, I thought Sandra’s story, and her ‘office’ being just such a table was particularly relevant, and I found the overall story hilariously funny and very plausible for a heightened realty universe.

I haven’t read the subsequent five ‘episodes’ in this series, but the first one was presented in a manner that was quite cinematic. If this isn’t made into an actual tv show, someone should consider making it into a web series, because the characters were engaging, the dialogue (in translation) was snappy, and the premise is fresh and fun.

Goes well with a double cappuccino and a slice of cheesecake.

 

 

Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned, Part 3, by Peter David #quickreview #netgalley

About the book, Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned, Part 3 Star Trek New Frontier: The Returned, Part 3

 

  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (September 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 7, 2015

 

The final installment in a brand-new three-part digital-first Star Trek: New Frontier e-novel from New York Times bestselling author Peter David!

Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun’s search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D’myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun’s determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


My Thoughts

Peter David has long been one of my favorite writers of professional TrekFic – there’s a line he wrote decades ago about human male chest hair being for traction that has stuck with me for decades – so when I saw the last installment of the ebook trilogy in the New Frontier universe on NetGalley earlier this summer, I had to read it.

Very quickly, I realized that my habit of only reading TNG novels meant I had no idea what was going on, so I bought parts I and II of this trilogy and binge-read all three volumes. I was not disappointed. This series is phenomenal, and Peter David’s storytelling reminded my why I love his take on Trek. Captain Mackenzie Calhoun is a great addition to the Star Trek universe, and both his family and his crew (which includes someone I can only describe as a demigod) are people I wish we could see on television.

So good is his writing – and this trilogy in particular – that I didn’t mind a completely unfamiliar set of characters, although, technically, Robin Lefler (whom we met in Season 5 of TNG) was familiar, though this is a much matured Robin, one whose personal laws have had to be adapted to address things like lost love and motherhood.

Like all good Trek stories, The Returned (all three parts) isn’t just about space battles and meeting new aliens. It’s also about loss – the loss of home, the loss of family, the loss of love – and how we cope with it – do we commit acts of revenge, or do we rebuild ourselves, or do we allow ourselves to die a little every day, as we wallow in apathy? In the case of the characters in this trilogy the answer is “a little of everything,” but it all fits together in a way that resounds with emotional truth.

(Plus, there are cool aliens and space battles, after all.)

Goes well with sparkling Altair water and oskoid salad.

 

 

Blue, by Kayce Stevens Hughlett (@kaycehughlett) #review @netgalley

About the book, Blue Blue

  • File Size: 1490 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pages
  • Publisher: BQB Publishing (September 10, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 10, 2015

One insecure perfectionist. One guilt-ridden artist. One child-woman who talks to peacocks. A trio of complex heroines on separate journeys toward a single intertwined truth.Imagine living exclusively for others and waking up one day with a chance to start over. The terrifying new beginning reeks of abandonment and betrayal. The choice for Seattle resident Monica lingers between now and then. . .them and her. Izabel’s idyllic existence on Orcas Island is turned upside down during the birth of a friend’s child. Suddenly, pain rips through her own body, and life as she knows it shifts, hinting at a forgotten past and propelling her toward an uncertain future. On another island, young Daisy awakens surrounded by infinite shades of blue. Is she dreaming or has she stepped through the portal into a fantastical land where animals spout philosophy and a gruesome monster plots her destruction? Blue – a subtle psychological mind-bender where each heroine is her own worst enemy. Eccentric. Loveable. Unforgettable.

Buy, read, and discuss Blue

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Goodreads


About the author, Kayce Stevens Hughlett Kayce Stevens Hughlett

Kayce Stevens Hughlett is a soulful and spirited woman. In her roles as psychotherapist, life coach, author, spiritual director, and speaker, she invites us to playfully and fearlessly cross the thresholds toward authentic living. A strong proponent of compassionate care in the world, Kayce’s live and online work focuses on the principle that we must live it to give it. Her early career began with a multi-national accounting firm to be later refined as the path of an artist. She delights in walking alongside others as they explore and unearth their own pathways toward passionate living.

Kayce is a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach and holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. She is the co-author of “Arts Centered Supervision” published in Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Expressive Arts to Spiritual Direction, as well as contributor to other collections and online publications. Kayce is a trained SoulCollage® facilitator, a dedicated supporter of the Soltura Foundation, and co-founder of the Soul Care Institute–a professional development program facilitating the formation, nourishment, and deep inner work of soul care practitioners. Raised in the heartland of Oklahoma, she now resides in Seattle, Washington with her family and muse, Aslan the Cat.

Connect with Kayce

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

My friend Debra mentioned to me that one of her other friends had recently published a novel. “You read a lot,” she said, “you might like it.” I immediately went looking for that novel – Blue – on NetGalley, and was approved for an advance e-copy, which I devoured in one afternoon. Then I ‘met’ the author through our mutual participation in one of Debra’s projects, and asked her if she’d prefer a specific date for the review. She chose August 20th.

Weeks after reading Blue, there are several things that linger with me, the strongest being the use of the color, blue, as the through-connection in this novel which is really the story of three different women, Monica, Izabel, and Daisy.  I’m hesitant to elaborate because I don’t want to spoil anything, but Hughlett showed how good she is with crafting plot and writing nuances with that element.

All three women had distinct personalities, and I really liked the way each interacted with the world on her own (apparent) terms, but also had some kind of secret lurking. I wouldn’t consider this novel an out-and-out mystery, but it definitely had mysterious elements.

I find that it’s easier for me to treat Monica and Izabel’s sections as one unit for purposes of review -these women were both obviously hurting, and obviously seeking things they weren’t ready to admit they needed. I found that their lives were rich and interesting and yet felt incomplete. Each lived in surroundings that completely suited her. With Izabel, I was reminded of the line from the movie The Wedding Date about how every woman has the relationship she wants.

Daisy’s story, on the other hand, was completely surreal with talking animals and a personal island paradise. My vision of her story is blend of Chagall’s art and Lewis Carroll’s stories, except that she was a lot more introspective and interesting than Alice. (Of course, Alice was a child, so…there’s that.)

Overall, I found Hughlett’s writing voice to be engaging and interesting. The opening of the novel confused me a little, but also hooked me, and made me want to figure everything out.  Her characters – even the animals – felt very real. The three central women were especially dimensional.

In anyone else’s hands, the same story would have descended into cheap comedy or depressing sadness. From Kayce Stevens Hughlett’s deft hands comes, instead, a novel that manages to be poignant, compelling, puzzling, engaging, and incredibly readable.

Goes well with lemonade, blueberry pound cake, and fresh fruit, served al fresco in a lush garden.

 

 

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Marty Wingate #review @netgalley #comingsoon

About the book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  • Publisher: Alibi (August 4, 2015)
  • Pages: 288

Perfect for fans of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, Marty Wingate’s enchanting Potting Shed Mystery series heads to Scotland as Pru Parke plans her wedding . . . all while a vengeful murderer is poised to strike again.

After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru’s colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.

Pru can’t help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police’s many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru’s overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer—unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.

Buy, read, and discuss Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Marty Wingate Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed mysteries are planned.


My Thoughts

This is the third in Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed Mystery series, and the first I didn’t get via TLC Book Stores, but direct from Alibi through NetGalley. I love the series – solid mysteries with just enough romance to keep things interesting, but this one didn’t wow me as much as the first two, and I think it was because Pru spent so much time doing research, and so little time doing actual gardening. In past novels, I was treated to descriptions of lush gardens, so vividly represented by the author’s text that at times I could feel the wet ground beneath my feet, and smell the fresh soil or sweet blossoms. In this novel, there isn’t as much of that, and I found that the gardening, indeed the gardens, had become additional characters.

Aside from that, this is a lovely novel, the perfect read for a cozy rainy weekend, or even a lazy evening in the tub. I enjoyed visiting with Pru and Christopher again, and seeing the evolution of their relationship, but I also enjoyed meeting some new friends – Madame Fiona, the dressmaker, and Marcus, Pru’s old friend from back home (and her ex) – stand out. We also got to see her friend Jo once more, and I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed the interaction of the two women.

The mystery itself was solid as ever. I’m sorry we didn’t get more scenes in the Botanic Gardens, but I was kept guessing whodunnit through most of the novel, and was happy with the resolution of the puzzle. Pru’s detection skills were absolutely on point, and I felt the jeopardy she was in growing throughout the story.

Three books in, spending time with a Potting Shed Mystery is as satisfying as spending the afternoon with a group of friends at a favorite pub. Comfortably familiar but with no shortage of new stories to share. I’m looking forward to book four.

Goes well with Split pea soup with ham, and cheddar bread fresh from the oven.

That Chesapeake Summer, by Mariah Stewart #review #ChesapeakeDiaries @NetGalley

About the book, That Chesapeake Summer That Chesapeake Summer

  • Series: The Chesapeake Diaries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (June 23, 2015)

From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the latest book in her celebrated Chesapeake Diaries, a small-town romance series in the tradition of Barbara Freethy, Susan Mallery, and Robyn Carr.

Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship. But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie. Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth—which may be in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting her most recent book tour short, Jamie books a room at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point, just outside St. Dennis.

The death of Daniel Sinclair’s father forced him to take over the family inn, and his wife’s death left him a single parent of two children, so there’s little room for anything else in his life. His lovely new guest is intriguing, though, and he’s curious about the secret she’s clearly hiding. But in the end, Jamie and Dan could discover the greatest truth of all: that the search for one thing just might lead to the find of a lifetime—if you keep your heart open.

Buy, read, and discuss That Chesapeake Summer

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Goodreads


About the author, Mariah Stewart Mariah Stewart

MARIAH STEWART is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.

Connect with Mariah

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts MissMeliss

My last visit to Mariah Stewart’s fictional bayside town of St. Dennis, MD was in February, 2014, when I reviewed At the River’s Edge which, I think, was book seven or eight in the series. I enjoyed that book (and its predecessors) so much that I couldn’t refuse to be part of a blog tour for the latest installation.

As someone who has always loved staying in boutique inns and bed-and-breakfasts, and who has also fantasized about running one, I really loved that so much of this novel, That Chesapeake Summer centered around an inn.

I really loved how delicately the loss (off-screen) of Jamie’s mother was handled, and how close the rest of her family was. I would have loved to make her a pot of tea and a tray of scones and assure her that writer’s block is only ever temporary and that everything would eventually work out.  I also really liked the character of Daniel, and his interaction with his children was very real, and never strayed into saccharine, the way so many scenes with children can.

I’ve spent enough time in the virtual village of St. Dennis that by now I recognize familiar faces and old haunts, and Stewart, as ever, manages to balance old characters and new with poise and grace. The women always feel like distinct people, the men never feel like cookie-cutter romance novel heroes, but have dimension, and the town, of course, is the one we wish we could all live in, if only for a summer.

If I could check into the Inn at Sinclair’s Point for a week or two, I’d leave tomorrow.

Goes well with Eggs Benedict served on Maryland Crab Cakes instead of English Muffins, and freshly brewed coffee.


Mariah Stewart’s Blog Tour Summer Hat

►6/22:                 Harlequin Junkies

►6/23:                 USA Today’s Happy Ever After

►6/24:                 Reviews from the Heart

►6/25:                 Booked on a Feeling

►6/26:                 From L.A. to LA

►6/27:                 From the TBR Pile

►6/28:                 Abigail Books Addiction

►6/29:                 Romancing the Book

►6/30:                 Bibliotica

►7/1:                   Four Chicks Flipping Pages

►7/2:                   The Lovely Books

►7/3:                   Sara’s Organized Chaos

►7/6:                   Reviews by Crystal

►7/8:                   Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

►7/9:                   Bookfan

►7/10:                 Emily-Jane’s Book Corner

►7/13:                 Literary Gossip

►7/19:                 Ramblings from this Chick

►7/26:                 Svetlana’s Reads

 

 

Paris Time Capsule, by Ella Carey #review @NetGalley @AmazonPub

About the book, Paris Time Capsule Paris Time Capsule

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 26, 2015)

New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

Buy, read, and discuss Paris Time Capsule

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Goodreads


About the author, Ella Carey Ella Carey

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music and English. Carey’s work has been published in the Review of Australian Fiction. She lives with her two children and two Italian greyhounds in Australia.

Connect with Ella

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts

When I’m looking for a novel to read, the three things that always capture my attention are the beach, coffee, and the city of Paris. I saw Paris Time Capsule when I was browsing NetGalley titles, and downloaded it, and I’m really glad I did, because it’s a delightful story – part historical mystery, part contemporary romance, and made more magical by being set in the City of Light.

Author Ella Carey crafted this piece with a delicate hand – the characters never seem over-the-top, the descriptions of places and things are just vivid enough to let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks, and the plot has just enough twists and turns to keep you satisfied without being frustrated.

Cat very quickly grew into someone I’d have wanted to meet for coffee: engaging, fresh, and very real. Loic, the man who might be the real inheritor of the Paris apartment the story is build around, is the kind of guy any woman would fall in love with, the perfect blend of sex appeal and mystique, and his mother was a delightful breath of fresh air. The supporting characters – Cat’s fiance in America, her wedding planner, and all the people Cat and Loic talk to during their investigation all felt like people you would run into, as well.

Of course, the apartment itself becomes as much a character as any of the humans, and I felt like I was there, blowing away the dust, peeking at the old papers, cataloguing each artifact of a life long gone.

Paris Time Capsule is the perfect novel for a rainy afternoon, or an early summer morning, or just any time when you want to go antiquing but don’t want to leave your chair.

Goes well with a pot of coffee and a chocolate croissant.

 

The Summer of Good Intentions, by Wendy Francis #quickreview #netgalley

About the book, The Summer of Good Intentions The Summer of Good Intentions

 

  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2015

 

Cape Cod summers are supposed to remain reassuringly the same, but everything falls apart when three sisters and their families come together for their annual summer vacation—and they are carrying more secrets than suitcases.

Maggie is the oldest. She feels responsible for managing the summer house and making sure everything is as it always has been. But she’s hurt that her parents’ recent divorce has destroyed the family’s comfortable summer routines, and her own kids seem to be growing up at high speed. Is it too late to have another baby?

Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job but isn’t as passionate about her marriage. She’s not sure she can find the courage to tell Maggie what she’s done—much less talk to her husband about it.

Virgie is the youngest, her dad’s favorite. She’s always been the career girl, but now there’s a man in her life. Her television job on the west coast is beyond stressful, and it’s taking its toll on her—emotionally and physically. She’s counting on this vacation to erase the symptoms she’s not talking about.

The Herington girls are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house. When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce. Still, everyone manages to navigate the challenges of living grown-up lives in close quarters, until an accident reveals a new secret that brings everyone together in heartbreak…and then healing.

Poignant, compelling, and so real that you could shake the sand out of the pages, The Summer of Good Intentions is by a rising star who aims her fiction square at the heart of readers who love Elin Hilderbrand, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Mary Kay Andrews.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


My Thoughts

I’m an only child, so novels that involve multiple generations of families converging on a single location for an extended period of time always fascinate me, and that’s one of the reasons I requested this novel from NetGalley. The other is that I love ‘beach’ books, and I love all the authors referenced in the description.

This novel was both gripping and poignant – it opens with Maggie opening the house for the summer, and finding out that her recently-divorced father is slipping a bit – not taking care of himself – perhaps becoming unable to care for himself. The other two sisters are a bit less defined but this book is the classic example of three sisters forming a sort of mirror of the larger family, reflective, but also distinct, as each has her own angle, her own perspective.

I really liked that each sister had her own arc, and that their kids were allowed to be fully-fledged characters. I thought author Wendy Francis did a great job at creating dimensional characters who felt like people I might know.

Goes well with egg salad sandwiches and fresh lemonade.

 

Death By Coffee, by Alex Erickson (@AEricksonbooks) #review @NetGalley

About the book Death by Coffee Death by Coffee

  • Series: Bookstore Cafe Mysteries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (May 26, 2015)

When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore café in their new town of Pine Hills, they decide to call it “Death by Coffee,” after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits…

On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts…but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?

Fortunately, Krissy’s love of puzzles and mysteries leads her not only to Officer Paul Dalton, but also to many of her new neighbors, who aren’t terribly upset that the book is closed on Brendon. But one of them is a killer, and Krissy needs to read between the lies if she wants to save her new store—and live to see how this story ends…

Buy, read, and discuss Death by Coffee

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Alex Erickson

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

Connect with Alex

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Every so often, I search NetGalley for books with ‘beach’ or ‘coffee’ in the titles or descriptions, because when I’m looking for escapist reading, that’s what I like to read about most.

Last month, such a search led me to Death by Coffee, the first entry in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series by Alex Erickson, and it was as if this book had been written for me. The only thing that would have made it better is if Krissy’s pet was a stubborn dog instead of an evil cat, but what’s a fictional pet among friends, right?

I didn’t have a chance to dive into the novel until last weekend, but it was the perfect thing to read on a weekend when it was too hot to do anything but move from one air conditioned room to the next and maybe out to the pool and back. (Actually, it would also be the perfect thing to read on a rainy weekend, or a humid Thursday afternoon, or even a slow Tuesday night, but…I digress.)

I loved the concept of two women opening a bookstore/cafe as a way to escape from their existing lives and also make a living. I was immediately engaged in Krissy’s story – daughter of a famous mystery novelist, reeling from a romance gone wrong – these are common tropes that could feel cliche in another writer’s hands, but author Alex Erickson makes his main character so real, so vulnerable, that I couldn’t help but root for her. I wanted her business to do well. I wanted her to fall for the hunky cop (and have him fall for her as well.) More importantly, I wanted her to solve the murder of Brendon Lawyer.

While there was an element of Death by Coffee that was obviously setting up an entire series of books, I knew that going in, so it didn’t feel like there was too much backstory, or too much exposition. Erickson did a masterful job in creating a small town and the citizens who live in it, some apparently normal, others decidedly not, and I was strongly reminded of many of the small towns I’ve either lived in or visited over the years.

If you love books, coffee, and cozy mysteries, you will, as I did, find yourself hooked on Death by Coffee.

Goes well with: a grande flat white and a chocolate chip cookie. Obviously.

The Canterbury Sisters, by Kim Wright (@Kim_Wright_W) #review @NetGalley

About the book, The Canterbury Sisters The Canterbury Sisters

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (May 19, 2015)

In the vein of Jojo Moyes and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a warm and touching novel about a woman who embarks on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral after losing her mother, sharing life lessons—in the best Chaucer tradition—with eight other women along the way.

Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage.

Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years.

Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.

Buy, read, and discuss The Canterbury Sisters

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Kim Wright Kim Wright

Kim Wright is the author of Love in Mid Air, The Unexpected Waltz, and The Canterbury Sisters. Loving dogs, wine, travel, mediation and ballroom dance.

Connect with Kim

Twitter | Goodreads


My Thoughts

My first introduction to Kim Wright’s work was years ago, when I reviewed Love in Mid Air, just before my 40th birthday. Five years later, and just a couple months before I reach 45, I requested this title from NetGalley, and was delighted to be approved.

Wright’s writing style has matured a little (as have we all) in the five years since I first began reading her; she was great before, now, she’s damned near perfect. As is The Canterbury Sisters.

I took a class in Chaucer when I was in college, and, of course, I’d read his unfinished novel The Canterbury Tales before that, as all well-rounded readers should do, so I wasn’t surprised when the diverse group of women on the “Broads Abroad” trip to walk the Canterbury Trail agreed to take turns telling stories. What did surprise me – pleasantly so – was how distinct each woman was, and how their stories were both specific to each character, but universal to all women.

Of course, I was most interested in Che, because she’s the POV character, and it’s her through eyes that we meet the other women in her group – a group she remains on the fringes of, throughout the novel, as she deals, not just with the walk itself, but with the recent loss of her free-spirited, feminist mother (who, actually, reminded me a lot of my own mother, but only in a good way), and the fact that her longtime lover has dumped her. On top of it, she managed to leave her phone somewhere, which just increases her sense of isolation. (And, I confess, I was twitching on her behalf, tech-addict that I am.)

While the novel is peppered with interesting tidbits about Chaucer, Beckett, Canterbury, etc., it is absolutely a contemporary story, one where there are few male characters, except at the periphery of things. It’s not specifically women’s fiction (and I do so hate that term), but it’s fiction of and about women, and I found it refreshing that there was no goal of finding true romance. If anything, all these characters were on a mission to find peace, love, and happiness with, and within, themselves.

The Canterbury Sisters made me wish I were better at making women-friends, and gave me a deeper appreciation for the women – friends and relatives – already in my life.

Goes well with a hearty peasant’s pie and a glass of hard cider.

Summer Secrets, by Jane Green (@JaneGreen) #review @NetGalley @StMartinsPress

About the book, Summer Secrets Summer Secrets

  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (June 23, 2015)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • When a shocking family secret is revealed, twenty-something journalist Cat Coombs finds herself falling into a dark spiral. Wild, glamorous nights out in London and raging hangovers the next day become her norm, leading to a terrible mistake one night while visiting family in America, on the island of Nantucket. It’s a mistake for which she can’t forgive herself. When she returns home, she confronts the unavoidable reality of her life and knows it’s time to grow up. But she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to earn the forgiveness of the people she hurt.

    As the years pass, Cat grows into her forties, a struggling single mother, coping with a new-found sobriety and determined to finally make amends. Traveling back to her past, to the family she left behind on Nantucket all those years ago, she may be able to earn their forgiveness, but in doing so she may risk losing the very people she loves the most.

    Told with Jane Green’s keen eye for detailing the emotional landscape of the heart, Summer Secrets is at once a compelling drama and a beautifully rendered portrait of relationships, betrayals, and forgiveness; about accepting the things we cannot change, finding the courage to change the things we can, and being strong enough to weather the storms.

    Buy, read, and discuss Summer Secrets

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


    About the author, Jane Green Jane Green

    Jane Green is a bestselling author of popular novels. She has been featured in People, Newsweek, USA Today, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Connecticut with her family.

    Connect with Jane

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


    My Thoughts

    For the longest time, Jane Green has been known for writing witty, engaging novels about women in their thirties undergoing major life changes. Sure, she deviates from that formula once in a while, but I’ve been reading her stuff since I was in my thirties, and she’s a go-to author when you want a beach read that’s deep enough to keep you interested, but not so heavy that your head starts to hurt.

    Summer Secrets, which I read as an ARC from NetGalley, is no different, though it is a little bit darker than some of Green’s previous novels, mostly because the main character is an alcoholic.

    What I especially liked is that even the minor characters felt like real people. Cat is a flawed (deeply flawed) protagonist, and there were times when I wanted to shake her and order her to make better choices, but having known enough addicts, I know it would not have helped, but even the people she works with, seen in brief exchanges in the office, or going for drinks after work, have their moments. Her teenaged daughter, as well, was suitable moody and mercurial, the way actual teens tend to be.

    I also liked that Green was pretty accurate with the addictive personality, and didn’t offer a magical ‘fix’ to Cat’s problem. She had to work – and work hard – to get from the place she started at the beginning of the novel, to the place where she ended.

    The dual settings of London and Nantucket, I thought, worked well in juxtaposition, and the shifting time periods, while a little bit confusing at the start of the book, really helped show Cat’s growth, albeit in a non-linear fashion.

    I don’t know if Ms. Green plans to continue making her plots as meaty as this one was – yes, it was still a romance, deep down, but still… – but if she does, I applaud it. I’ve always enjoyed her work, but I thought Summer Secrets offered the best blend of summer escapism and smart, contemporary fiction.

    Goes well withBoardwalk fries and lemonade, eaten while sitting on the beach.