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Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (2012)

summerlandOn the island of Nantucket, an entire community must learn how to come to grips, and attempt to deal with their sorrow, after a tragic car accident claims the life of a 17-year-old girl and seriously injures her twin brother.

Summerland is the first Elin Hilderbrand novel I have read, and it sure won’t be the last. She has a definite knack for delving into the lives of the major characters. By the end of the story, you really care and feel as though you actually know them. This was a very enjoyable novel – now I see why Hilderbrand is such a popular author!

That Summer by Lauren Willig (2014)

thatsummerThe story is set in London and goes back and forth between 2009 and 1849. In the modern thread, Julia inherits a house and travels from New York to London to clean out the house before selling it. The story switches to 1849, where Imogen lives in the house with her dispassionate husband. Imogen has an affair with the artist painting her portrait – a painting that still hangs in the house in 2009. Modern day Julia pieces together Imogen’s life and finds love in Nicholas, an antiques dealer who helps her with the research.

I really enjoyed That Summer and loved the switching of the characters and the years. Very entertaining – I hope that a movie is made from Lauren Willig’s novel.

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany (2013)

heartlikemineGrace, a career woman in her mid-thirties, enters into a relationship with Victor, a divorced workaholic with two children. After Victor’s ex-wife passes away suddenly under mysterious circumstances, Grace is thrown into all the turmoil that unfolds. Heart Like Mine is narrated by three different females. The character development is really good. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Amy Hatvany.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (2013)

girlyouleftbehindSophie and Liv struggle through tragedies, tough decisions, and community ridicule nearly a century a part. A hauntingly beautiful portrait of Sophie with penetrating eyes painted by her impressionist husband connect the womens' plights across time. Liv feels a deep connection to Sophie and risks everything to keep the painting out of the wrong hands.

Sophie is left behind in occupied France during WWI as her husband goes off to fight. Liv is left behind after her husband's untimely death in 21st century London. Liv meets Paul and finds out he is on the opposing side of her quest to keep Sophie's portrait. Their relationship develops in opposite directions. She is not sure if he can pull her out of her deep depression left by her husband's death, financial ruin, and public criticism, or push her further down.

As Liv finds herself at the end of all hope, Jojo Moyes allows the reader inside the mind of Sophie on the brink of death at the hands of the enemy. In The Girl You Left Behind, parallel narratives converge as the two women continue to struggle. A satisfying epilogue ties up loose ends in both worlds, yet leaves enough for the reader's imagination to wander a bit.

The Blessings by Elise Juska (2014)

blessingsI really enjoyed Elise Juska’s latest novel, which centers on a large, Irish Catholic extended family living in North Philly. Told in alternating points of view by various family members and spanning 15 years, The Blessings is a lovely, sometime heartbreaking, tale of a family and what unites them.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)

From flowers to foster care, from motherhood to mental illness, Vanessa Diffenbaugh takes them all on and creates a very special character by the name of Victoria. She creates the perfect setting for a book about the meaning of flowers - San Francisco! The reader cries for Victoria and roots for her to succeed. She is her own worst enemy. In The Language of Flowers, Diffenbaugh keeps us in suspense until the last minute as to what Victoria's fate will be.

Spotlight: It Takes a Woman

Sometimes it just takes a woman to get everyone going on the right path. Each of these three light romantic stories is about a young woman who moves in, shakes things up, gets every problem straightened out, and, oh yes, finds love along the way.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (1950)
When practical and straightforward Sophy visits her London aunt after a lifetime on the Continent, she finds life in her aunt's house in constant turmoil. All the young people are involved with unsuitable matches, owe money to questionable personages, and in general, are in a constant state of disruption – until Sophy takes charge.

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson (1998)
Young Englishwoman Ellen Carr has always dreamed of living in Austria and cooking wonderful Viennese food. She has her chance when she gets a job as housemother at an alternative school on the outskirts of Vienna. But what an alternative! The children are running wild and the teachers are all eccentric misfits. It is the late 1930s and the world is about to fall apart. Well, Ellen can't do much about that, but she can set everyone else in ship shape order.

Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell (2007)
Leah Pilgrim enjoys watching the comings and goings of the mismatched characters living in the rambling house across the street in her London neighborhood. But across the street Toby, owner of said house, is in despair. He wants to sell up and move away, but how can he abandon his houseful of lonely heart boarders? Leah to the rescue!

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (2010)
A charming and heartwarming  book. I laughed and I cried.  It was well worth the wait.

Check out the author's website for more about the book.

If you like Fannie Flagg's books take a look at our list of  funny mysteries to discover your next favorite read.

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh (2003)
In her first novel, Jennifer Haigh tells of three women who marry the same man, Ken Kimble. Birdie, his first wife, struggles to hold herself together following his desertion. Then he finds Joan, a lonely heiress shaken by personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her chance at happiness. Finally there is Dinah, a beautiful woman who is half his age. Ken Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces and you’re not going to like him very much!

The author makes no judgments, but rather her story is a revelation of the human condition at its best and worst. She deals a steady hand of emotions, but with a deft touch. And as one review put it, “The book raises as many questions as it answers, and in that lies its true significance, a certain authenticity of voice that compels one to read on in spite—or perhaps because of—the contradictions.”

Read an interview with the author about Mrs. Kimble.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (2010)
This is a rather captivating story written by Nicholas Sparks about a young woman who manages to escape from her abusive husband and start a new life in North Carolina. She meets a widower and falls in love with him and his two children. Of course, her deranged husband, who is also a police detective, never gives up searching for her. Good entertaining read!

If you like Nicholas Sparks, check out our list of other books you may enjoy.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

House Rules by Jodi Picoult (2010)
In her latest novel, which is one of her best, a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome is accused of murder. Not only is this book really difficult to put down, you can also learn a great deal about Asperger’s and forensic science. Jodi Picoult sure does her research while creating her novels. Excellent read!

Read an excerpt from the book and visit this bestselling author's website.

Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott (2010)
A 43-year-old, divorced woman’s life becomes entangled with a down-on-their luck family. When their two cars collide and the hospital discovers the mother has cancer, Clara moves the three children, their father and grandmother into her home putting her life into a tailspin. With humor, honesty and tenderness, Endicott tells the story of a woman who finally finds herself through others. The characters are wonderful and I was sad to leave them.

Read the New York Times review and learn more about the author.

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Doran Barbieri

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Doran Barbieri (2009)
Kate Robinson was really lost at the beginning of The Lace Makers of Glenmara – her boyfriend had left her, her mother had passed away, and her fashion line had failed miserably. Overwhelmed by the heartbreak and loss, Kate flees to her ancestral homeland of Ireland. Hoping to break free of old patterns and reinvent herself, she becomes involved in the community of Glenmara. The novel tells of the camaraderie and teamwork between the group of lace makers and of their interwoven histories. Each of the women is affected in some way by Kate’s presence as she becomes a part of this small and isolated community. And of course there is a romance for Kate!

Read an inteview with the author and check out the reading group guide.

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult (2006)
This interesting page-turner explores the deep love between a father and daughter. It also shows the horrible aftereffects following a date-rape.

Read an excerpt and check out the reading group guide at Bookreporter.com and be sure to visit this popular author's website.


Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult (2009)
In this very sad but excellent story, Jodi Picoult tells of the heartache a family suffers in caring for their disabled daughter. It grabs you from the very first chapter. Bring some tissues along.

Read the reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author's website to read an excerpt or a synopsis and find discussion questions.