The Reinvention of Albert Paugh, by Jean Davies Okimoto #review #TLCBookTours

About the book The Reinvention of Albert Paugh The Reinvention of Albert Paugh

Page count: 288 pages

Publisher: Endicott and Hugh Books

Dr. Albert Paugh is flunking retirement. After selling his Vashon Island veterinary practice, he soon finds himself not only lost without his work, but suddenly single. His efforts to carve out a new life, both as a bachelor and a retiree, only leave him feeling like his golden years are fast becoming years of gloom. His regrets pile up until he moves to Baker’s Beach where he gets to know a very special neighbor, learns that friends are the family you choose, and finds a new sense of purpose. The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is a sweet, funny love story about retirees that will delight readers (and dog lovers) of any age.

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is the third book in Jean Davies Okimoto’s Island Trilogy, following The Love Ceiling and Walter’s Muse.

Buy, read, and discuss The Reinvention of Albert Paugh

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About the author, Jean Davis Okimoto Jean Davies Okimoto

Jean Davies Okimoto is an author and playwright whose books and short stories have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Chinese, German, Danish, Korean and Hebrew. She is the recipient  of numerous awards including Smithsonian Notable Book, the American LibraryAssociation Best Book for Young Adults, the Washington Governor’s Award and the International Reading Association Readers Choice Award. Her picture book, Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat was adapted by Shelly Duvall for the HBO and Showtime television series “Bedtime Stories.” Her debut novel for adults The Love Ceiling was a season’s pick by the King County Library System, named to the ABA Indie Next Reading Group List and ebook Fiction Winner in the 2009 Indie Next Generation Awards. She has appeared on CNN, Oprah, and The Today Show. Jeanie, who is also a retired psychotherapist, began writing for adults when she and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004 where they (and their dogs Bert and Willie) are visited by deer families and their six grandchildren.

For more information on Ms. Okimoto, please visit her website at

My Thoughts MissMeliss

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is a quirky and sweet novel, with an idyllic Pacific Northwest island setting and a cast of characters that can charm the pants off you, even while they’re driving you crazy. Reading it is like visiting the village you never knew you wanted to live in.

If I had to pick a word – a single word – to describe the eponymous title character, I would describe Albert as ‘befuddled,’ and while this novel could be considered to be ‘about’ his love of animals, his divorce, his post-retirement lifestyle, in many ways it’s really about Albert clearing away his terminal befuddlement and seeing the world with fresh, new, eyes.

As someone who has watched her parents move through many post-retirement configurations, and as someone who is no longer in any of the ticky-boxes that are anything other than ‘middle aged’ (this despite the fact that I got carded buying wine on Friday) this story felt especially relevant and poignant. We will all wake up one morning and realize our lives are not what we planned or hoped, and that the only people who can change that is ourselves.

Author Jean Davis Okimoto has a knack for characterization – every person (and dog) in this novel felt completely real, from the annoying woman with the corgi to the wife who demands a divorce in the early chapters, and the settings also felt incredibly cinematic.

This is the third book in a trilogy, but I haven’t read the first two. While I’m certain doing so would have given me greater familiarity with Vashon Island and it’s denizens, I did not feel like I was coming into the middle of a story at all.

If you want to read something that will charm the pants off you, and then get you out of your chair to play fetch with the dog in your life, The Reinvention of Albert Paugh would be an excellent choice.

Goes well with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and a cold locally brewed craft beer.

Jean Davies Okimoto’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, August 3rd: Book Dilettante

Wednesday, August 5th: Mama Vicky Says

Monday, August 10th: The Book Wheel

Tuesday, August 11th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 12th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, August 13th: BookNAround

Friday, August 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, August 17th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, August 19th: Life is Story

Monday, August 24th: Joyfully Retired

Wednesday, August 26th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, August 28th: View from the Birdhouse

The Uninvited by Cat Winters (@catwinters) #review #TLCBookTours #TheUninvited

About the book, The Uninvited The Uninvited

• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)

Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the great influenza epidemic of 1918, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

But Ivy’s lifelong gift—or curse—remains. She sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked for and unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918, Ivy sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death in the Great War of Ivy’s other brother, Billy.

Horrified, she leaves home and soon realizes that the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for today, because they could be stricken by nightfall. She even enters into a relationship with the murdered German man’s brother, Daniel Schendel. But as her “uninvited guests” begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once again, and terrifying secrets will unfold.

Buy, read, and discuss The Uninvited

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound  | Goodreads

About the author, Cat Winters Cat Winters

Cat Winters’s debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was released to widespread critical acclaim. The novel has been named a finalist for the 2014 Morris Award, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, and a Booklist 2013 Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth. Winters lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children.

Connect with Cat

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

From the first page there’s a slow, sort of watery feeling to this book, as if you’re seeing everything through a lens coated with vaseline, or looking through pond ripples, are recovering from a deadly fever. Its a feeling that is obviously intentional, as even a few scenes that should be brutal have a touch of unreality to them – not in the sense that they’re not plausible – but in the sense that a sort of dream-state is still lingering.  Partly, this is because protagonist Ivy can see ghosts, and her long-dead grandmother has just visited. This means someone else’s life has been lost.

As we are introduced to Ivy and her family, all reacting to the combined forces of an influenza epidemic that has taken over their small town, and the war that would come to be known as World War I having taken over the planet, that watery feeling pays off. Ivy has had the flu, and when she overhears that her father and brother have murdered the German owner of a local furniture store, she insists she has to leave home. (She is, after all, twenty-five.)

Author Cat Winters has a great feel for tone. Ivy’s walk felt ploddingly long and her arrival at the hotel was such a relief but the other-ness of the story never really left, so much as it was driven back to the corners as Ivy claimed her own agency.

The characters we meet later, especially Lucas, May, and Daniel, are all fascinating studies in extremes – the fervent idealistic patriot, the wounded widow, the immigrant who fees downtrodden – they are archetypes, but they are also so much more. Rich and layered, all the characters in this novel feel like people we all might have been related to, once upon a time. That sense of familiarity makes them seem all the more dimensional. It’s quite a trick.

I felt The Uninvited was well paced, and well plotted. I especially liked the way the twist near the end was handled so subtly. Like M. Night Shyamalan’s vintage work (you know, back when his stuff was good)  the clues are all there, and things that are easily missed on a first read seem painfully obvious once all is revealed.

I’m not sure if this novel is horror or supernatural romance or kind of both…but it was a gripping read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Goes well with homemade apple pie, served warm with vanilla bean ice cream and a cup of strong coffee.

Cat’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 4th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, August 6th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, August 7th: Bibliotica

Monday, August 10th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, August 11th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 12th: Jenn’s Booshelves

Thursday, August 13th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Thursday, August 13th: Sidewalk Shoes

Monday, August 17th: The Reader’s Hollow

Tuesday, August 18th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, August 19th: Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, August 20th: Raven Haired Girl

Friday, August 21st: A Chick Who Reads

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, by Pam Jenoff (@PamJenoff) #review #giveaway @TLCBookTours

About The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (July 28, 2015)

Adelia Montforte begins the summer of 1941 aboard a crowded ship bound for America, utterly alone yet free of Fascist Italy. Whisked away to the seaside by her well-meaning aunt and uncle, she slowly begins to adapt to her new life. That summer, she basks in the noisy affection of the boisterous Irish-Catholic boys next door, and although she adores all four of the Connally brothers, it’s the eldest, Charlie, she pines for. But all hopes for a future together are throttled by the creep of war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.

Needing to distance herself from grief, Addie flees – first to Washington and then London, where the bombs still scream by night – and finds a passion at a prestigious newspaper. More so, she finds a purpose. A voice. And perhaps even a chance to redeem lost time, lost family – and lost love. But the past, never far behind, nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

Buy, read, and discuss The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

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

About the author, Pam Jenoff Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the Quill-nominated internationally bestselling author of The Kommadant’s Girl. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are based on her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Connect with Pam

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

I started reading this book late on a Saturday evening, and had weird dreams that night because I stopped at a particularly poignant scene. I spent the following Sunday immersed in the book, barely coming out of it to eat or give attention to my dogs.

First, I was hooked because I was practically born at the Jersey Shore, where the summer parts of this novel take place, and second, I was hooked because Adelia – Addie – is an Italian Jew, which isn’t something you see a lot in literature. We tend to think of all Jewish refugees as coming from Germany, Russia, and Poland, and forget that Hitler’s regime affected all of Europe.

History aside, I was soon drawn into Addie’s story, and her blend of intelligence and innocence. I really liked the way she began as a naif and ended up a strong woman, largely by her own making, but with the support of others, and while this was absolutely a period piece, and her choices were very much dictated by the constraints of the day, I feel this story would translate equally well to a contemporary setting because it tackles universal themes: growing up, coming of age, the endless battle between head and heart, and the choices we all must make between career and family.

I wasn’t ever in love with the character of Charlie – he seemed just a little weak to me at times, but dark and broody Liam intrigued me from the first. I love the way this boisterous Irish-American family of mostly boys took this Italian-American girl into their hearts, and made her, at times, a friend, a sister, a confidante, etc.

Overall, I found that the language the author used lent the book a lyrical quality reminiscent of my own childhood summers at the shore, where memories are veiled in gauze and you never get too close a look at them. I thought the story was well plotted, with some frustrating plot twists that paid off in the end, and well paced. Some of the descriptions were so cinematic that, at times, I felt like I was reading a Hallmark Channel movie (or maybe Merchant Ivory, but more likely the former). Someone buy the rights to this novel and film it, please?

If you want a summer read that has just enough meat to keep you satisfied, but isn’t so heavy you feel like drowning yourself, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach would be a perfect fit.

Goes well with ham and cheese sandwiches (even though they’re not kosher) wrapped in waxed paper, deviled eggs, and slices of watermelon.

Giveaway Giveaway: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

One reader (must live in US or Canada) will win a copy of the book The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, and a limited edition beach bag (no beach required). To enter: Comment on this post telling me about a summer romance you had.  Generic comments will be discarded. Alternative entry: Find my tweet about this book review in my feed (@melysse) and retweet it, making sure to let me know.

Entries close at 11:59 PM US Central time on Tuesday, August 11th. Winner will be notified by email (or twitter) before being announced on this blog. Winner’s name and mailing address will be forwarded to the publicist for this author for fulfillment.

One entry and one tweet per person will be counted.

Pam Jenoff’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 27th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, July 28th: Raven Haired Girl – review and guest post

Tuesday, July 28th: The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, July 29th: Bewitched Bookworms – excerpt #1

Thursday, July 30th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt #2

Saturday, August 1st: Romantic Historical Reviews – excerpt #3

Monday, August 3rd: Just One More Chapter

Monday, August 3rd: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, August 4th: The Romance Dish

Wednesday, August 5th: Bibliotica

Thursday, August 6th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Monday, August 10th: Read Love Blog – author guest post

Tuesday, August 11th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Wednesday, August 12th: Let Them Read Books – Q&A or guest post

Friday, August 14th: Written Love Reviews

Monday, August 17th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, August 17th: Luxury Reading – guest post

Tuesday, August 18th: A Novel Review

Wednesday, August 19th: Savvy Verse and Wit

Thursday, August 20th: A Literary Vacation

Friday, August 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings – Review and Q&A

Monday, August 24th: One Curvy Blogger

Tuesday, August 25th: The Reading Date

Wednesday, August 26th: Time 2 Read

Thursday, August 27th: Life is Story

Friday, August 28th: Bookshelf Fantasies

TBD: Lavish Bookshelf


Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt (@KateHewitt1) #review

About the book, Rainy Day Sisters Rainy Day Sisters

  • Series: A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (August 4, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author presents a heartfelt novel about two sisters struggling toward new lives and loves.

Welcome to Hartley-by-the-Sea in England’s beautiful Lake District, where two sisters who meet as strangers find small miracles tucked into the corners of every day….

When Lucy Bagshaw’s life in Boston falls apart, thanks to a scathing editorial written by her famous artist mother, she accepts her half sister Juliet’s invitation to stay with her in a charming seaside village in northern England. Lucy is expecting quaint cottages and cream teas, but instead finds that her sister is an aloof host, the weather is wet, windy, and cold, and her new boss, Alex Kincaid, is a disapproving widower who only hired her as a favor to Juliet.

Despite the invitation she offered, Juliet is startled by the way Lucy catapults into her orderly life. As Juliet faces her own struggles with both her distant mother and her desire for a child, her sister’s irrepressible optimism begins to take hold. With the help of quirky villagers, these hesitant rainy day sisters begin to forge a new understanding…and find in each other the love of family that makes all the difference.

Buy, Read, and discuss Rainy Day Sisters

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

About the author, Kate Hewitt Kate Hewitt

Kate Hewitt is the bestselling author of over 40 novels of romance and women’s fiction, including The Emigrants Trilogy set in Scotland and North America, the Hartley-by-the-Sea series set in the Lake District, and Tales From Goswell written as Katharine Swartz.

She lives in England’s Lake District with her husband and five children. You can read about her experience as an ex-pat living in a tiny village on her blog,

Connect with Kate

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

Rainy Day Sisters showed up in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, sent by the publisher. At first, I was confused: had I signed up to do a tour of this novel? But no, it was just the publicist picking bloggers she thought might read/review. Well, this publicist chose wisely, because it’s exactly the kind of book I would pick to devour over afternoon coffee. It’s the kind of book I’d have been attracted to on the ‘new in trade paperback’ table at Barnes and Noble, if I ever went to physical bookstores anymore. (I MISS spending rainy weekends browsing through bookstores, finally ending up in the cafe, sharing a table with my husband as we each sink into a new read…sorry, I digress.)

In any case, this novel was full of delight. Lucy shows up on the doorstep of her sister’s  – well, basically it’s a B&B – invited, but lost in the world. She’s an artist whose career was just tanked by her own mother, and her sister, Juliet, has invited her to come get a fresh start in her quaint English village.

At first, I was annoyed by both sisters – Lucy seemed to choose to be helpless and Juliet was far too prickly, but as I got to know the characters better, I realized they were much more than those initial impressions. Lucy is creative, plucky, outgoing and optimistic. Juliet is methodical, more introverted, almost compulsively organized. Together, they make a formidable pair as they work from being relative strangers to becoming true sisters, and also experience love, friendship, and belonging in the village itself.

Author Hewitt has a knack for dialogue, description and characterization, and I felt a really strong sense of place. The plot was well-paced and the story enjoyable. I would happily read more of her work, and even more happily spend a week or so in Hartley-by-the-Sea.

Goes well with hot tea, warm scones, and clotted cream, obviously.