When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits a sexy essay to the “Become a Jetsetter” contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist who can’t seem to find a bride; and Regan, a harried mother who took it all wrong when Charlotte bought her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young and she was a single mother who meant everything to them. When she wins the cruise, the family packs all their baggage—literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso. As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the Perkins family is forced to confront the defining choices in their lives. Can four lost adults find the peace they’ve been seeking by reconciling their childhood aches and coming back to each other?
In the vein of The Nest and The Vacationers, Ward has created a delicious and intelligent novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood to cruise—we can only hope—toward joy.
I devoured this book, read it in under a day. I found the language the characters used to be a bit immature and stilted at times, but overall it was well done and fast paced. Most of it felt like a typical family drama, but there were a few surprises thrown in that I really enjoyed. The characters were all very unique and I wouldn’t say this book was predictable at all.
Author: Kate Noble Publisher: BooksGoSocial Pages: 24 On Sale: October 20 2020 Genre: Children, Christmas, Fantasy Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
A beautiful, unique rhyming verse Christmas story. Duffy the Dragon helps Santa one icy Christmas Eve. This lovely story book is a perfect Christmas gift for 3-8 year olds that has been purchased and sent to almost every country on the planet.
Grandparents, parents and other people with younger children in their lives love to give this unique Christmas tale as a great Christmas gift.
This book may have actually been published in 2006, but NetGalley just gave me a copy of it. I thought this story was really cute. It may have been a little predictable, but it is very whimsical and a pleasure to read. I enjoyed how it included his recipe in the back, I would definitely consider picking up this book as a gift.
Author: Russ Willms Publisher: Orca Book Publishers Pages: 32 On Sale: February 16 2021 Genre: Children’s, Animals, Humor Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
Elephants do not belong in trees. It’s not natural. It makes other animals uncomfortable. This is the story of Larry, an elephant who wanted to live in a tree. This is a story about being the new kid and being a little bit different (okay, A LOT different). A story about acceptance and making friends. When Larry decides he wants to live in the big bushy tree in the middle of the wide-open field, the current residents, Bird, Squirrel and Monkey, are not very welcoming. They throw nuts at him and peck at his head; they tell him to leave and are downright rude. But Larry persists–why can’t he live in the tree? When his new home is threatened by something much bigger than all the animals combined, Larry shows everyone that he cares just as much about the tree as they do.
This story was adorable. The artwork was very simple as was the language, but it was still able to portray the silliness and humor very well. I know a couple girls who would love this story and the ridiculousness of the elephant in the tree. Great for children and adults.
Author: Catherine Rayner Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books Pages: 17 On Sale: August 20 2020 Genre: Children’s, Animals Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
A dreamy bedtime book from award-winner Catherine Rayner about a wakeful lion who is desperate to get some sleep.
Arlo the lion is exhausted. He just can’t drop off, no matter what he tries. It’s either too hot, or too cold, too loud or too quiet, and his wriggly family aren’t helping either! Will poor Arlo ever get some rest? Perhaps his new friend Owl will have some good ideas to help him fall asleep.
Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep is a beautifully illustrated story with a gentle mindfulness message from Kate Greenaway Medal winner Catherine Rayner – perfect for bedtime and especially helpful for little ones who have trouble going to sleep.
I really enjoyed this story. It was short and simple and great for kids. I’m not a parent, but I can imagine the songs being perfect for helping children find ways to relax and fall asleep. The artwork is a really unusual style, at first I wasn’t sure but it definitely grew on me and I loved the scenery when they’re imagining where they’d like to be.
Author: Amanda Cox Publisher: Fleming H Revell Company Pages: 384 On Sale: September 8 2020 Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Christian Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.
Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.
In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
I don’t seek out Christian Fiction, but this book was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it was until I read other reviews. The characters were all very detailed and unique, and the dual-timeline was really well done as well. It varies between Harvey finding a baby in 1994 and coming to terms with being loved and wanted, and present day Ivy coming home to a funeral after leaving an abusive relationship. The book mentions a lot of hardships and struggles that some people may find triggering, but I felt they were well handled and acknowledged. The characters showed a lot of strength and realism and it was clear that Amanda Cox understands people and has done her research.
Author: Jaime Jo Wright Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Pages: 352 On Sale: September 1 2020 Genre: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Historical Fiction Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
1928 The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.
Present Day The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.
I was not familiar with Jaime Jo Wright’s work before this, but I will definitely be seeking her out. This story was split between 1928 and present day and each story was very well written and could easily have stood on its own instead of being combined. I enjoyed the mystery of the circus and the trials they were going through with the protestors, I also found The Watchman to be extremely creepy in a Scarecrow sort of way. The present day story had a single mom struggling to balance work & her son, on top of a ghost story and mystery of her own. Overall I really enjoyed both halves and how they came together.
Author: Ling Zhang Publisher: Amazon Crossing Pages: 304 On Sale: October 1 2020 Genre: Historical, Fiction, Cultural, WWII Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
The eagerly awaited English translation of award-winning author Zhang Ling’s epic and intimate novel about the devastation of war, forgiveness, redemption, and the enduring power of love.
On the day of the historic 1945 Jewel Voice Broadcast—in which Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II—three men, flush with jubilation, made a pact. After their deaths, each year on the anniversary of the broadcast, their souls would return to the Chinese village of their younger days. It’s where they had fought—and survived—a war that shook the world and changed their own lives in unimaginable ways. Now, seventy years later, the pledge is being fulfilled by American missionary Pastor Billy, brash gunner’s mate Ian Ferguson, and local soldier Liu Zhaohu.
All that’s missing is Ah Yan—also known as Swallow—the girl each man loved, each in his own profound way.
As they unravel their personal stories of the war, and of the woman who touched them so deeply during that unforgiving time, the story of Ah Yan’s life begins to take shape, woven into view by their memories. A woman who had suffered unspeakable atrocities, and yet found the grace and dignity to survive, she’d been the one to bring them together. And it is her spark of humanity, still burning brightly, that gives these ghosts of the past the courage to look back on everything they endured and remember the woman they lost.
I was really impressed with the way this book was written. Set in China during World War 2 it introduced us to many different characters, and it did a very good job at keeping them all separate. The book switched perspective every few chapters and invited us into someone else’s viewpoint and background and often this can get confusing or tangled, but I didn’t find that in this case. I’m using this for the “A Book That Leaves You Thinking” part of my 2020 reading challenge because it’s not a story you can move on from quickly. Each character goes through a lot of trials and it was really interesting to learn how they handled each one and the repercussions from them years later.