** My favorite 12 novels of 2019 ** My favorite 12 novels of 2019 **

2019 was an eclectic year for readers. Psychological thrillers seemed to be the most popular, but for those of us looking for a little something else, the shelves were full. FYI: These are some of my favorites, listed in alphabetical order.

ASK AGAIN, YES  (Scribner) by Mary Beth Keane

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ASK AGAIN, YES was by far the most compelling novel I read this year. It’s about two families who live next door to each other in the 70’s. Both fathers are rookie cops in the same New York City precinct and live in the suburbs. ASK AGAIN, YES is a domestic novel and what makes it so profound is how Keane creates such well-developed and acutely sensitive characters in such ordinary circumstances –  which turn out to be anything but. A violent act happens between the families and readers follow how they miraculously reconnect. It’ll have you thinking long after you’ve finished the novel and hoping Keane’s next novel is published soon.

THE CHILDFREE SOCIETY CLUB (Self) by Jaclyn Jaeger (Originally pub. 12/18 but not promoted until 2019) 

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What I loved about THE CHILDFREE SOCIETY CLUB is how author, Jaclyn Jaeger wrote a totally unique novel. I mean, doesn’t everyone want to be a parent? Apparently not and for reasons that might surprise you. The writing isn’t outstanding, but the well developed characters and story line touched my heart in many ways. I tried my best to think of another novel that tackles this issue and couldn’t come up with one. If you think of one, please email me.

INVISIBLE AS AIR (HarperCollins) by ZOE FISHMAN 

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Zoe Fishman focuses on an issue ripping apart the heart of our country in INVISIBLE AS AIR – the opioid epidemic. She writes about a family that could be any one of us easily falling into this disease and then trying to cope and possibly, get well. What I appreciated most in Fishman’s novel is how she tackled the subject in such a non-judgmental way. It would be easy to think “this couldn’t happen to my family,” but the truth is, we’re all only a pill away.

KEEPING LUCY (St.MartinsPress)  by T. Greenwood 

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How much would you be willing to sacrifice to help a child you didn’t know? KEEPING LUCY is an emotional roller-coaster to be read with an open heart. A woman gives birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome in the 60’s, and her family institutionalizes her baby without her knowledge. She eventually finds her own voice and courage allowing her to risk everything to get her baby back.  This was a heart-aching novel, that made me mad at the injustices in this world. How much power do you really have? You have to fight for it.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (PenguinRandomHouse) by Celeste Ng 

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LITTLE FIRES EVERWHERE (PenguinRandomHouse) will be turned into a limited series on Hulu March 18th by Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon and I’m so excited. The novel by Celeste Ng takes readers to Shaker Heights, Ohio, which could be your neighborhood. We have the Richardson and the Warren families who come together through odd circumstances and then their families begin to co-mingle. These are ideal ingredients for misunderstandings, jealousy, anger and envy rearing its ugly face. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is a perfect excuse to think your family is “normal” after all.

MONTAUK (St.MartinsPress) by Nicola Harrison

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I was so thrilled to read MONTAUK (St.MartinsPress) written by Nicole Harrison, who I was in writing workshop with. Not only was I completely immersed into 1938, the characters and the landscape are so well developed. Montauk takes place when the country is on the brink of war. Montauk is a place where the wealthy NYC set spend their summers. Harrison explores both women’s inequality and issues of class. I am so looking forward to reading her follow-up.

PARK AVENUE SUMMER (Berkley) by Renee Rosen 

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PARK AVENUE SUMMER (Berkley) by Renee Rosen is just a gem of a novel. It’s loosely based on the life of Helen Gurley Brown, the founder of Cosmospolitan Magazine, in the 60’s. It’s a fictional story of a midwestern gal who comes to the big city and becomes HGB’s assistant. It took me away to another time when women were just coming into their own. It also resonated with how important it is to follow your dreams, despite the inevitable difficulties.

PLASTIC (RareBirdBooks) by Frank Strausser

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PLASTIC (RareBirdBooks) by Frank Strausser is just a fun book that happened to come out in time for Halloween. A young Hollywood “It” girl is disfigured and a well-known Hollywood plastic surgeon is brought in to reconstruct amidst some troubling circumstances. It reminded me of a cross between FX’s old show “Nip Tuck” and E’s “Botched.” Just plain fun, not trying to make some huge statement.

THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE (St.MartinsPress) by Katherine Center

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THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE (St.MartinsPress) by Kathleen Carter is a warm fuzzy of a book. Cassie Hanwell is a woman firefighter always trying to prove herself in a firehouse of men. She comes up against several problems that’ll question whether or not this is the profession for her. It’s one of those heartfelt novels that touches on life, love and in this case, courage.

THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW (St.MartinsPress) by Tracey Garvis Graves

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THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW (St.MartinsPress) by Tracy Garvis Graves … just have a box of Kleenex nearby. What would you do if you had a second chance at first love? I loved how Annika and Jonathan reconnect fully understanding the meaning of true love. It was a old premise told in an entirely unique way. It made me look back at a part of my life growing up.

THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING (LittleA) by Stephanie Jimenez

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THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING is Stephanie Jimenez’ debut novel and it’s an examination of race, class and betrayal. Maria, a Latina girl daily travels from Queens to the Upper East Side of NYC to attend high-school. She’s a scholarship girl trying to find her place in this sea of white privilege.  As Maria and white wealthy Rocky, get closer their jealously and desire to live the other’s life becomes deeper and uglier. THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING could have easily become a YA coming of age novel, but it has more grit to it so that adults and teens will both enjoy.

THE WARTIME SISTERS (St.MartinsPress) by Lynda Cohen Loigman

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THE WARTIME SISTERS is about sisters and I think nothing has more potential for story than stories about sisters. In THE WARTIME SISTERS two sisters must reconcile their past in order to survive. It’s about secrets we keep and those that set us free. The  novel is also about sibling rivalry, betrayal and friendship. THE WARTIME SISTERS is beautifully written and full of of WWII history.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

#Scribner  #HarperCollins   #St.MartinsPress  #LittleA  #RareBirdBooks  #Berkley  #PenguinRandomHouse @MaryBethKeane @JaclynJaeger @ZoeFishman @TGreenwood @CelesteNg @NicolaHarrison @ReneeRosen @FrankStrausser @KatherineCenter @TracyGarvisGraves @StephanieJimenez @LyndaCohenLoigman

 

** A TALE of TWO CHRISTMAS LETTERS by Cathy Gillen Thacker – Spotlight & Giveaway **

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Merry Christmas. Now that you’ve opened all the packages and are stuffed with your holiday feast, why not sit down in a big comfy chair with a romance novel. According to Harlequin Romance, here are some reasons why:

  1. Get rid of stress: That’s right. To do good, its important to feel good. Reading can reduce your stress about 68%.
  2. Girl Power: Romance novels are typically written by and for women. Best genre to celebrate Girl Power in the 21st century!
  3. Recharge: Take some me time. Even as little as ten minutes can re-energize you.
  4. Be Merry: In life and love we all love happily ever afters. In a romance novel, it’s guaranteed.

We’ve been featuring a holiday book and giveaway this season and today we have Cathy Gillen  Thacker’s A TALE of TWO CHRISTMAS LETTERS.(HQNSpecialEd).

letters

Will a single dad and three little girls fulfill her secret Christmas wish?

Rehab nurse Bess Monroe is mortified that she accidentally sent the wrong Christmas letter to her boss! And so now Jack McCabe, widowed surgeon and father of three little girls, offers his friendship to get through the holidays. But their pact soon turns into something more. Can a woman who’s been burned by love open her heart to Jack for the holidays—and maybe forever?

*****

Thanks to Harlequin Romance novels,  we have one copy of A TALE of TWO CHRISTMAS LETTERS  to giveaway. Just tell us your favorite Holiday memory.  We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

MEET ME ON LOVE LANE by Nina Bocci – Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway

MEET ME ON LOVE LANE (GalleryBooks) is the second book in a new rom-com series by USA TODAY bestselling author,  Nina Bocci. Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

The first book in this series is ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE, but MEET ME ON LOVE LANE can be read as a stand-alone.

Nina was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions:

1. Love is in the air in Nina Bocci’s novels. Nina, tell us why you love writing about love? Who doesn’t love, love? I think we all hope to find a connection with what we read and love is one of those emotions that everyone, I hope at least, wants to experience. For me, writing about love brings me joy so my hope is that it does the same for those that read it.

2.I Love the series title, “hopeless romantics.” Are we all Hopeless romantics? I think in our heart of hearts everyone is a hopeless, or hopeful, romantic. We want to see the best in people and have everything work out as it should. I think having love and romance in our hearts and minds at all times just makes us happier. Who doesn’t want to be happier. 😉
3. Your covers are delightful. Do you help in the creation? I wish! That’s all the Gallery Art Department and the wildly talented folks there. I’ve never been great at seeing a vision for a cover. Thankfully, they’re amazing at it!
4. Who would you cast in the movie of “Meet Me On Love Lane?” Oh, boy. Well, for me Henry and Charlotte are very much Chris Evans and Emma Watson 
5. Any Holiday messages? I hope everyone has the most magical of holidays filled with the people you love.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Nina Bocci

Nina Bocci is a USA TODAY bestselling novelist who loves reading and writing about swoony, relatable heroes and smart, witty heroines. If it’s set in a small town, even better. You can always find her chatting on social media about her massive, crazy Italian family, and her favorite person in the world, her son.

Connect with Nina

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thanks to TLC Book Tours we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us what you love about rom-com’s? There must be a ba-zillion answers. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

** WYOMING HEART by Diana Palmer – Interview & Giveaway **

7-han

Hello December. Nothing is better than climbing into a comfy chair, with a cuppa and reading a holiday romance novel. According the Harlequin Romance novels, here are some reasons why:

  1. Get rid of stress: That’s right. To do good, its important to feel good. Reading can reduce your stress about 68%.
  2. Girl Power: Romance novels are typically written by and for women. Best genre to celebrate Girl Power in the 21st century!
  3. Recharge: Take some me time. Even as little as ten minutes can re-energize you.
  4. Be Merry: In life and love we all love happily ever afters. In a romance novel, it’s guaranteed.

We’re featuring a holiday book and giveaway every Friday leading up to Christmas and Hanukah. Today we have book nine in Diana Palmer’s, Wyoming Men series, WYOMING HEART. (HQN).

wyoming

True love is in store for one gruff cowboy in New York Times bestselling author Diana Palmer’s new Wyoming Men romance. 

Cort Grier is no ordinary rancher. Despite his vast wealth, he still works the land with his own bare hands, unlike his troublesome new neighbor, Mina Michaels. Fiery, beautiful Mina infuriates and entrances Cort, awakening feelings he’d thought long buried. But he knows falling for a city girl can lead only to heartbreak…

Bestselling author Mina hardly expects to meet a man like the ones in her novels. But roguishly handsome Cort is an alpha hero through and through, from his stubborn streak to the fierce way this rugged cowboy protects his heart. When one sizzling kiss leads to another, can Mina convince Cort to open his world to her—now and forever?

*****

diana

New York Times bestselling author Diana Palmer, AKA Susan Spaeth Kyle, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia, the eldest daughter of William and Eloise Spaeth. She and her younger sister, Dannis, were raised in Chamblee, where Susan graduated from Chamblee High School in 1964. The family moved to Cornelia, Georgia, in 1965. Susan married James Kyle in 1972. They have a son, Blayne, who is married to the former Christina Clayton. They are both graduates of Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. They live in Tennessee and have a daughter, Selena Marie Kyle, born in February, 2009.

In 1991, Susan returned to college and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia, in 1995. She continues to work on her master’s degree in history as time permits. Her first novel as Diana Palmer was published in 1979. She has over 115 novels in print. She has written historical novels as well as contemporary romance, and has produced science fiction, with her novel THE MORCAI BATTALION appearing in hardcover in 2007.

Susan’s hobbies are gardening, knitting, crocheting, astronomy, archaeology, and animals. She has dogs, cats, birds and lizards. She enjoys getting mail from her readers, but is slow to answer it.

http://www.dianapalmer.com

Thanks to Harlequin Romance novels,  we have one copy of WYOMING HEART to giveaway. Just tell us your favorite Holiday memory.  We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

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STAY by Catherine Ryan Hyde – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY

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Lucky us…… Just in time for Christmas and the Holiday season, a Catherine Ryan Hyde novel. This time, STAY (LakeUnionPublishing) is a story about the power of friendship and kindness.

In the summer of 1969, fourteen-year-old Lucas Painter carries a huge weight on his shoulders. His brother is fighting in Vietnam. His embattled parents are locked in a never-ending war. And his best friend, Connor, is struggling with his own family issues. To find relief from the chaos, Lucas takes long, meandering walks, and one day he veers into the woods.

There he discovers an isolated cabin and two huge dogs. Frightened, he runs. And the dogs run with him. Lucas finds unusual peace in running with the dogs, and eventually he meets their owner, Zoe Dinsmore. Closed off and haunted by a tragic past, Zoe has given up. She doesn’t want to be saved. She wants out. But Lucas doesn’t want her to go, and he sees an opportunity to bring more than one friend back into the light. It’s either the best or worst idea he’s ever had, but Lucas isn’t giving up on Zoe or Connor.

Their unexpected connection might be the saving grace that Zoe thought she’d lost, that Connor needs, and that Lucas has been running toward.

STAY is a warm fuzzy for you to park yourself on a comfy sofa with a cuppa to enjoy!

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association (ALA) for its Best Book for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in over thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015.

More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch ReviewMichigan Quarterly ReviewVirginia Quarterly ReviewPloughsharesGlimmer Train, and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in The Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Connect with Catherine

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us about how your Holiday season is going. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

OLIVE, AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout – Review & Giveaway

olive

I was late to the whole OLIVE KITTERIDGE (2008) thing – the pulitzer prize winning novel, and the HBO limited series. The novel, OLIVE, AGAIN (RandomHouse) picks up where OLIVE KITTERIDGE left off. It’s also had its share of success and can be read as a standalone. I ‘m so happy I picked it up. It’s been named one of the best books of 2019 by just about everyone, but I didn’t know what to expect. I fell in love with Olive, although she’d probably find it nonsense that I found her interesting.

Olive is a curmudgeon in her eighties; exactly the practical, say what’s one her mind never considering the other person, but in a good way woman, I’d expect in Maine. Huh? Exactly. She’s the type of person you’d never think you’d like because she’s a prickly gossip and can easily get under one’s skin. She’s honest to a fault and has no filter, which is difficult for people to experience. But at the same time, she’s really a loving person, who shows it in ways we’re unaccustomed.

Her husband has died and she’s single in the small town of Crosby, Maine. In the novel, we see her relationship with another 80-year widower grow, eventually into marriage “for practical reasons.” Throughout the novel, we watch Olive perform acts of kindness and love without expecting anything back. She goes through life trying to fully understand how she fits in, while helping others discover the same about themselves.

OLIVE, AGAIN is a collection of thirteen interconnected stories. A teenager processes losing her father, Olive helps give birth to a baby in the back of a car, without thinking twice about what she’s doing. A lawyer doesn’t want her inheritance, because of how the money was made and a nurse shares a secret crush. Olive is there with each character, sometimes directly, others not so much. Strout wrote OLIVE, AGAIN because the character was still very much alive in her head and wouldn’t leave her – even after all the hoopla about the Pulizer and the HBO series. It’s the kind of thing, you’d expect from Olive.

I dare say I learned something about myself after spending some time with Olive. Empathy should be freely given. We should try as much as possible to be available to others. The book shares elements of altruism which I found healing. When it comes down to it, its not so easy to go through this thing called life. We all need a little help.

****

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Elizabeth Strout was born in Portland, Maine, and grew up in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire.  From a young age she was drawn to writing things down, keeping notebooks that recorded the quotidian details of her days.  She was also drawn to books, and spent hours of her youth in the local library lingering among the stacks of fiction.  During the summer months of her childhood she played outdoors, either with her brother, or, more often, alone, and this is where she developed her deep and abiding love of the physical world: the seaweed covered rocks along the coast of Maine, and the woods of New Hampshire with its hidden wildflowers.

During her adolescent years, Strout continued writing avidly, having conceived of herself as a writer from early on.  She read biographies of writers, and was already studying – on her own – the way American writers, in particular, told their stories.  Poetry was something she read and memorized; by the age of sixteen was sending out stories to magazines.  Her first story was published when she was twenty-six.

Strout attended Bates College, graduating with a degree in English in 1977.  Two years later, she went to Syracuse University College of Law, where she received a law degree along with a Certificate in Gerontology.  She worked briefly for Legal Services, before moving to New York City, where she became an adjunct in the English Department of Borough of Manhattan Community College.  By this time she was publishing more stories in literary magazines and Redbook and Seventeen.  Juggling the needs that came with raising a family and her teaching schedule, she found a few hours each day to work on her writing.

“Aren’t we lucky?” my words.

We have one copy of OLIVE, AGAIN to giveaway. Just tell us your best personal feature. For instance, I’m incredibly loyal. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

** A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Sarah Morgan – Interview & Giveaway **

7-han

Hello December. Nothing is better than climbing into a comfy chair, with a cuppa and reading a holiday romance novel. According to Harlequin Romance, here are some reasons why:

  1. Embrace the Holiday spirit:  It’s uplifting, inspiring and good entertainment.
  2. Get rid of stress: That’s right. To do good, its important to feel good. Reading can reduce stress about 68%.
  3. Girl Power: Romance novels are typically written by and for women. Best genre to celebrate Girl Power in the 21st century!
  4. Recharge: Take some me time. Even as little as ten minutes can re-energize you.
  5. Be Merry: In life and love we all love happily ever afters. In a romance novel, it’s guaranteed.

We’re featuring a holiday book and giveaway every Friday leading up to Christmas. Today we have Sarah Morgan’s, A WEDDING IN DECEMBER. (HQN).

wedding

This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

*****

Thanks to Harlequin Romance novels,  we have one copy of A WEDDING IN DECEMBER  to giveaway. Just tell us your favorite Holiday memory.  We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

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