Fri
Jun 19 2015 2:00pm

Family and Forgiveness: Women’s Fiction Best Bets for June 2015

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

"I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours.”
Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker

As the dog days of summer approach book readers can rejoice because there is no shortage of new releases.  I know from this list, you’ll find a book for now, and books for later—to ease your anxiety about running out of something to read.

 

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Strengths: Convincing Conflict; Multi-faceted Characters; Authentic family interaction; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Appealing love story with its realistic ending and new beginning.

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of Your Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.

Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Strengths: Fun premise; Pleasing characters; Uplifting ending.
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: A truly entertaining “if I could turn back time” book. Straddles the line perfectly between being lighthearted and thought-provoking.

A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax

Twenty years ago, Emma Michaels, Mackenzie Hayes, and Serena Stockton bonded over their New York City dreams. Then, each summer, they solidified their friendship by spending one week at the lake together, solving their problems over bottles of wine and gallons of ice cream. They kept the tradition for years, until jealousy, lies, and life’s disappointments made them drift apart.

It’s been five years since Emma has seen her friends, an absence designed to keep them from discovering a long-ago betrayal. Now she’s in desperate need of their support. The time has come to reveal her secrets—and hopefully rekindle their connection.

But when a terrible accident keeps Emma from saying her piece, Serena and Mackenzie begin to learn about the past on their own. Now, to heal their friendship and their broken lives, the three women will have to return to the lake that once united them, and discover which relationships are worth holding on to . . .

Strengths: Strong character growth; Appealing female camaraderie; Intriguing secret, HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Compelling look at the strength of friendship.

That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart

That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart

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.

Strengths: Insights into flawed but loved parents; Enticing Characters; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Fulfilling romance

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

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.

Strengths: Flawed but appealing characters; Valiant struggle; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Optimistic and encouraging story of addiction and second chances.

Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri

Situated deep in the Louisiana bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family-the Sorrows-it now sits in ruins, ever since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. Now the ghosts of girls in white dresses shift in and out of view, stuck in time as they live out the past on repeat.

When Frances Green Sorrow is born carrying the “signs” of the so-called chosen one, it is believed she will bring her family back from the brink of obscurity, finally resurrecting the glory of what it once was and setting the Sorrows ghosts free.

But Frances is no savior.

Fleeing from heartbreak, she seeks solace in the seductive chaos of New Orleans, only to end up married too young in an attempt to live an ordinary life. When her marriage falls apart shortly after having a son, she returns home again-alone-just out of reach from the prying eyes of her family. But when her son disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind, exposing her darkest secret in order to find him and discovering the truth of what really happened that fateful year in the process.

Set amidst the colorful charm of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri's The Witch of Bourbon Street is a story of family, redemption, and forgiveness. Because sometimes, the most important person you have to forgive.... is yourself.

Strengths: Imaginative with ethereal and otherworldly elements; Historical aspect; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Captivating ambiance with all the mystique of Louisiana’s history and folklore.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Some women are born with an instinct for knowing how things work-and what to do when they break.

Caroline MacAfee is a skilled carpenter, her daughter Jamie, a talented architect. Together they are the faces of Gut It!, a home renovation series on local public television. Caroline takes pride in her work, and in the way she connects with the show's audience. But when she is told the network wants her daughter to replace her as host-the day after Caroline's fifty-sixth birthday-she is devastated. The fallout couldn't come at a worse time.

For Jamie, life changes overnight when, soon after learning of the host shift, her father and his new wife die in a car accident that orphans their two-year-old son. Accustomed to organization and planning, she is now grappling with a toddler who misses his parents, a fiancé who doesn't want the child, a staggering new attraction, and a work challenge that, if botched, could undermine the future of both MacAfee Homes and Gut It!

For Caroline, hosting Gut It! is part of her identity. Facing its loss, she feels betrayed by her daughter and old in the eyes of the world. Her ex-husband's death thrusts her into the role of caregiver to his aging father. And then there's Dean, a long-time friend, whose efforts to seduce her awaken desires that have been dormant for so long that she feels foreign to herself.

Who am I?Both women ask, as the blueprints they've built their lives around suddenly need revising. While loyalties shift, decisions hover, and new relationships tempt, their challenge comes not only in remaking themselves, but in rebuilding their relationship with each other.

Strengths: Multi-generational characters; Varied types of romantic relationships; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: Romance with perfect backdrop forDo it Yourself or HGTV fans.

The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry

As we like to say in the south,
“Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Ella's life has been completely upended. She's young, beautiful, and deeply in love—until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she'll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers' block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He's on the look-out for a love story. It doesn't matter who it belongs to.

When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It's the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It's an opportunity to live out a fantasy - the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what's a little white lie between strangers?
But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right?

Strengths: Second chance at love; Unique Conflict; Multi-generational characters; HEA,
Measure of Love: Tablespoon     
Introspection Level: Medium      
Thoughts: Thought-provoking look at deception and romantic relationships.

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.

Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.

Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

Strengths: Creative premise; Historical Aspect; Mystic elements; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Pleasing combination of flavors with emotions.

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.
 
But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

Strengths: 1960’s time period; Diverse cast of characters; HEA,
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Captures the ambiance of the 60’s perfectly with its Camelot political premise.

Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert

On the surface, Sloane has the perfect life—an adoring husband, a precocious daughter, and enough financial security to be a stay-at-home mom. Still, she can’t help but feel as though something—or someone—is missing....

Hillary has a successful career and a solid marriage. The only problem is her inability to conceive. And there’s a very specific reason why....

As the wild-child daughter of old family money, Georgina has never had to accept responsibility for anything. So when she realizes an unexpected life change could tie her down forever, she does exactly what she’s always done: escape.

When these three women unite for a three-week-long summer vacation in beautiful Lake George, New York, even with the idyllic location as their backdrop, the tensions begin to mount. And they quickly discover that no secret can be kept forever....

Strengths: Diverse characters dealing with unique conflicts; Complexity of friendships; Uplifting ending   
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Engrossing story about old and new bonds.

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch.  Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Strengths: Loved characters get their grown-up conclusion; Pleasing premise; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: Entertaining look at the trials and tribulations of being Royal.

If You’re Not the One by Jemma Forte

If You’re Not the One by Jemma Forte

Jennifer Wright is pretty sure her husband doesn't love her anymore. She and Max used to be the perfect couple, but the pressures of work and kids have pulled them in opposite directions. Now, Jen is full of “what if” questions about whether her bland, suburban existence is all she was ever destined for.

When a terrible accident sends Jen into a coma, she is able to see what her life could have been if she had run off to Australia with the handsome, dangerous man she met on vacation in her twenties, or if she had stayed with her workaholic college boyfriend. Would she ever have loved another child as much as she loves her daughters? Could she have become rich? More than anything, Jen wants to do the right thing for her family. But what she discovers may leave her with even more questions about the choices she's made, and no easy answers about what to do next.

Strengths: Novel look at past relationships, Diverse characters, Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Original and surprising scenarios

The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon

Iris Standish has always been the responsible older sibling: the one with the steady marriage, loving family, and sensible job. But all of a sudden, as her carefully-constructed life spins out of her control, a cryptic postcard from her estranged sister Leah arrives at the perfect time: Please Come. Iris seizes her chance to escape to her childhood lakeside home, where Leah is planning her summer wedding to a man their New Hampshire clan has never met.

Against a backdrop of dress fittings, floral arrangements, and rehearsal dinners, Leah hides secrets of her own. And while her sister faces a past that has finally caught up to her, Iris prepares to say good-bye to a future that is suddenly far from certain. As new love beckons and Hampstead Lake shimmers in the background, Iris must decide when to wade in cautiously and when to dive—and, ultimately, how to ferry herself to safe harbors in this enticing novel of second chances and the ties that bind

Strengths: Conflicted familybonds, Genuine sibling roles; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: High
Thoughts: Illustrates that no one has the perfect life, even when it looks like it on the outside.

The Hummingbird Cage by Tamara Dietrich

dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams...

Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee....

On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse.

But her past—and her husband—aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself....

Strengths: Imaginative Shangri-la premise, Gritty solution, Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Excellent glimpse into abusive relationships and strength needed to break free.

Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman

Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman

The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation—instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans' favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn't biting. Intensely private and dating the city’s mayor,

Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years—and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah’s show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.
 
Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she’s clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs, or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever. 

Strengths: Innovative theme, Unexpected enigma, Unique Conflict, Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level:
Thoughts: Appealing concept of forgiveness.

A Place for Us by Harriet Evans

From international bestselling author Harriet Evans, an engrossing new novel about a woman who, on the eve of her eightieth birthday, decides to reveal a secret that may destroy her perfect family.

The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

When Martha, a wife and mother of three, sits down one late summer’s morning to write out the invitations to her eightieth birthday celebration, she knows that what she is planning to reveal at the party could ruin the idyllic life she and her husband David have spent over fifty years building…

But she has to let her family know what she and David have sacrificed. She can’t live a lie any more.

The invitation goes out far and wide, calling her three children and their families back home to Winterfold, their rambling house in the heart of the English countryside. They are Bill, the doctor; Florence, the eccentric academic; and Daisy, the child who never fit in. As the story unfolds, each character reveals the secrets, joys, and tragedies they are wrestling with through the confines of the family. What will happen when Martha finally tells the truth?

Strengths: Surprising Secret, Multi-generational characters, Diverse Conflicts, U.K. setting, Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Amazing the impact one person can make on family dynamics.

A Lady of Good Family by Jeanne Mackin

Raised among wealth and privilege during America’s fabled Gilded Age, a niece of famous novelist Edith Wharton and a friend to literary great Henry James, Beatrix Farrand is expected to marry, and marry well. But as a young woman traveling through Europe with her mother and aunt, she already knows that gardens are her true passion.
 
How this highborn woman with unconventional views escapes the dictates of society to become the most celebrated female landscape designer in the country is the story of her unique determination to create beauty and serenity while remaining true to herself.
 
Beatrix’s journey begins at the age of twenty-three in the Borghese Gardens of Rome, where she meets beguiling Amerigo Massimo, an Italian gentleman of sensitivity and charm—a man unlike any she has known before....

Strengths: Unique time period and settings; Based on life on true character; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Poignant love story set in the early 20th century

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Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: 

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave  
The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke  
A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax  
That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart  
Summer Secrets by Jane Green  
Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri  
Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky  
The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry  
The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig  
Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams  
Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert  
Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot  
If You’re Not the One by Jemma Forte  
The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon  
The Hummingbird Cage by Tamara Dietrich  
Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman  
A Place for Us by Harriet Evans  
A Lady of Good Family by Jeanne Mackin  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Scarlettleigh, blogger

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2 comments
Lee Brewer
1. LeeB.
Wow, thanks for the recommendations. Have already read 800 Grapes (liked it) and You're Not the One (very good). Just picked up The Cake Therapist from the library.
Maggie Boyd
2. maggieboyd66
The Cake Therapist looks really good as does A Week at the Lake. Already read - and enjoyed - Blueprints. Thanks for the recommendations and the great quote you started the blog with.
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