Traveling With T’s Best Books of 2013

Best Books of 2013

It’s that time of the year- the time of year where numerous “Best Books” list are published. And so, it’s time for Traveling With T to publish a list- a list of the books I loved, some books that made me a better reader, and a few honorable mentions.

Best of 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman  

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Lori Nelson Spielman’s debut is heartwarming, loving and and has some thought-provoking moments.  I cried, I laughed, I LOVED. Here is my review. This is 1 of the 2 hands down favorite books of Traveling With T. Read on for #2!

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Kimberly McCreight’s debut, Reconstructing Amelia, was called 2013’s Gone Girl. While many books in the mystery/suspense was compared to Gone Girl- this one probably was most deserving. Dark. Twisty. Kate’s anguish over what happened to Amelia, realizing how she did not know her daughter- and wondering if past sins of hers played a role in Amelia’s death- of if the sin of not being there for Amelia in her time of need was why Amelia is gone. Each character- each section of the book- carefully crafted and wonderful. You, as a reader, might think you have it all figured out- but Kimberly takes twists and turns- and creates a story in unforgettable. Here is my review.

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

When I was emailed a request to review this book, I wasn’t familiar with Susan’s work. But, I had a good feeling from the description and the cover was beautiful. I’m glad I trusted my instincts- because this book is a Southern Lit treasure. Love, finding yourself, feeling nourished, and acceptance are themes of this book- and it truly is a gem. Here is my review.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

I yearn for the latest Kinsey book well ahead of Sue Grafton’s 2 year publishing schedule. I curse the the day I discovered A is for Alibi and thought “Years and years of mass market paperback books will keep me busy for some time.”  It did not. Thus began the waiting game. Each year a Sue book is published- I’m so happy. Kinsey rocks as a character. Seriously. If you like a mystery- Sue Grafton is great.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

My first J. Courtney Sullivan book was a treat. JCS weaves a story of fiction with some real-life truths about how “A Diamond is Forever” came about. Criss-crossing from 4 viewpoints, 4 different time frames- and how a diamond plays a role in all their lives. Here is my review.

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Mia March books just scream “SUMMER” to me. Light, funny- sometimes fluffy- I love to read a Mia book. Finding Colin Firth, her 2nd novel, tells the story of  3 women- women who are each dealing with troubles of their own. To add to the mix, a movie is being filmed- and rumor has it that Colin Firth is in town- which adds to the fun of the book.  Here is my review.

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Thriller. Terrifying at times. Suzanne’s look into the dark side of a marriage is worth a read. Here is my review.

The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

A mother’s love. Love and trust in WWII. Secrets and betrayal. Grief. And much more. Kristina McMorris weaves 2 stories together to make 1 compelling book. Here is my review.

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Magical-realism. That phrase made me hesitant about reading this. But, I did. And I’m so glad. It was so much more than I expected. Don’t let the magical-realism label scare you! Here is my review.

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Haunting and beautifully written. A Southern Lit tale that will stay with you far after the last page is turned. Here is my review.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams– Love, lust, betrayal. Secrets. And a hurricane. Here is my review.

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

honorable mentions for 2013

Books that def require a mention!

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Enjoyable- very enjoyable! Here is my review.

You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Entertaining and enjoyable. A tale of friendship- the highs and lows. Here is my review.

Buried Leads by LynDee Walker

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Photo Credit: Henery Press

Smart. Funny. Nichelle is high-heel loving, Moscato-drinking, and funny as all get out reporter. Enjoyable read! Here is my review.

The Affair by Colette Freedman

the affair

Photo Credit: Amazon

Normally an affair can be seen as pretty black and white issue. But Colette Freedman takes this topic- and paints in shades of grey. By the end, you’re not sure who is right or wrong! Here is my review.

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

A lie. A harmless lie. And a girl turns up missing. But, that is just a section of the story. Page turning- and you are never quite sure who is innocent or guilty. Here is my review.

What do you think? Find any books to read? Did I miss a book you thought was “Best of 2013” worthy? Tell me!

*This list is just my opinion. I fully realize that I may have over-looked a book that should be ranked. My apologies!

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Literary Friday ya’ll…. (plus a feature on little ole me!)

I’ve got my eyes on the lookout for pumpkins and other signs of the fall fast approaching- what about you?

 

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: Giveaway of 2 books (1 is Karen White’s latest, THE TIME BETWEEN!), Claire Danes, news about last week’s AJC Decatur Book Fest, and much more!

 

2. Jessica McCann posted a lovely post titled What Cupcakes Taught Me About Life and Literature. Read. It’s VERY good!

 

3. This week on Traveling With T, I had several author spotlights: Dana Bate, Denise Swanson, and Emily Liebert.

 

4. Interviews, interviews, interviews: Dana Bate, Denise Swanson, and Emily Liebert.

 

5. I reviewed 2 books this week: Murder of a Stacked Librarian by Denise Swanson and You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert.

 

6. Another AWESOME blogger featured this week: Cindi @ Utah Mom’s Life!

 

7. My #fridayreads: The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillipi Ryan, The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore, and Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand.

 

8. Katherine at Story Matters– one of my AWESOME bloggers mentioned a couple of weeks ago asked to interview me (me!, Little ole me!) In the interview we cover my #literaryconfessions (yes, yes, after asking everyone and their mama their #literaryconfessions- someone turned the tables on me and asked me the question. I confessed freely (even though it might be a bit shameworthy for a bookworm to admit!) Thank you, Katherine for the Spotlight on Tamara Welch, Book Blogger!

 

Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert

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Two girls, best friends. Planned a future together, always vowing to be there for one another. Until one took a different path. Twelve years later, these former best friends meet again. Can they find a way to be friends again? Can they learn to understand what happened twelve years ago?

Katherine- beautiful, driven, and single. Katherine is an executive at Blend Cosmetics, an exclusive brand. Katherine’s days are filled with meetings, parties and more- she’s on the move always. New York City is Katherine’s home and she has a hard time imagining living elsewhere. However, once upon a time she was Kitty- shy, slightly insecure and set on a life with her best friend, Laney, by her side.

Laney, married, has a 12 year old daughter. She runs a spa, Oasis, in town- a job that she loves (besides her boos, that is). Laney’s days consist of family, work and living in Manchester- a town she never dreamed she be living in as an adult. Life has a funny way, though.

Luella Hancock, a kind and older lady who lived on the same street with Kitty and Laney. Luella welcomed both into her house and life- but it was Kitty that she took a bit more of a shine to over the years.  Luella showed both the girls the finer things in life- sparkly dresses, beautiful jewelry and more.

Katherine and Laney both get notifications to meet at an attorney’s office regarding Luella Hancock. Both go, each without the knowledge the other would be there. Both are surprised because they haven’t seen each other in twelve years. Luella, loving both the girls in special ways, leaves her house to them- with the stipulation that both must work together to clean it out and they could sell and split the proceeds. Luella remembers a time when it was Kitty and Laney, best friends forever. She hopes that they might remember this time as well as they clean the house that Luella left them in her will.

Together the two ladies work on the house- but without discussing the past. The past is complicated with broken dreams, promises, and hurt feelings. While Katherine is in Manchester, she realizes that there is more than 1 set of unfinished business left for her to take care of. Can Katherine find a way to explain the past to another person she hurt? Can Laney forgive the past? Can Katherine forgive Laney?

Working on Luella’s house brings back memories of their friendship, of the sisterhood they shared before their lives took different paths. Katherine and Laney are both grown up- but is there still a spark of Kitty and Laney, best friends forever, in there? Or is the past too complicated, too broken to mend?

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

Emily Liebert’s debut novel, You Knew Me When, tells the story of 2 girls, Laney and Kitty, neighbors and best friends. The story is told in alternating perspective- present and past years. Emily Liebert weaves the past and present together to create a story that is about the heart of a women’s friendship.

Funny, charming, and sweet- You Knew Me When is an enjoyable story. A story that hints that friendship never dies, that a person can go home again and that love will happen in it’s perfect timing. Recommended for fans of women’s fiction- this book is a story to give to friends to read and discuss. Book clubs will love discussing this- as there is a little of Laney and Kitty in all of us.

 

*This book was sent to my by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Author Spotlight: Emily Liebert

 

you knew me when

Emily Liebert was here on Monday talking about her debut, You Knew Me When, and she is back today to talk about her #literarycrush, favorite authors, and more! Don’t forget: Traveling With T is giving away a copy of You Knew Me When and the Zoya nail polish set inspired by the book! To enter- simply comment on the Interview With Emily Liebert post!

 

Author Spotlight: Emily Liebert

Emily, who are some of your favorite authors?

Judy Blume, Jennifer Weiner, Jill Kargman, Sarah Pekkanen, Emily Giffin, Elizabeth Noble, and Jane Green.

 

When you are not writing, what do you like to take part in?

I love to travel, cook, and spend as much time as possible with my little “babies” Jaxsyn (4) and Hugo (3).

 

Emily- do you have any #literaryconfessions? 

If I don’t like a book after two chapters, I give up on it. I used to push myself to finish every book I started and then I realized it was a waste of my time. Oh, and I’ve never read Twilight, any of the Harry Potter books, or Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

What is your favorite movie of 2013?

I rarely ever watch movies. There’s a confession! The last movie I saw was Monsters University (with my kids) and before that it was The Social Network. So that gives you a sense! I don’t have the patience to sit in one spot for that long without chatting. Even when my husband and I try to watch a movie at home, I’m walking around doing other things. It drives him crazy!

 

Do you have a #literarycrush?  

Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables—one of my ALL TIME favorite books!

 

Emily- what is your vision of a perfect day?

Cuddling with my kids and my husband in the morning, bringing in bagels for breakfast, and then heading to the beach to go boating with friends, followed by a great, casual dinner. I’m a big foodie. Of course, a little shopping couldn’t hurt!

 

Do you, Emily, have a favorite opening line from a book?

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 

What are some books that you will always make room for on the shelves?

Anne of Green Gables, Summer Sisters,  Little Earthquakes, The Help

 

*Special thanks to Emily Liebert for agreeing to this Author Spotlight!

 

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Emily Liebert was born and raised in New York City, attended the Horace Mann School and Smith College, where she graduated with a B.A. in English Language & Literature.

After college, Emily landed her first job as an Executive Assistant at ABC News, where she honed her organizational skills and helped produce television specials for Peter Jennings Reporting. To this day, she is a whiz with “To Do” lists.

Since childhood, Emily’s had a passion for writing, so when the opportunity to become Editor-in-Chief of The WAG—a luxury lifestyle magazine covering Westchester and Fairfield Counties—presented itself, she jumped at the chance. During Emily’s five-year tenure, she wrote hundreds of articles, including celebrity profiles, travel, fashion, and beauty.

Ready for her next adventure, Emily became a full-time freelance writer, penning lifestyle pieces for media outlets such as, The Huffington Post, Oprah.com, Elite TravelerRobb ReportGotham, and Cottages & Gardens.

In 2009, Emily edited Kerry Kennedy’s New York Times bestseller Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning.

The following year, Emily published her first book, Facebook Fairytales, which was featured at the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair, and Emily was one of 20 guests of honor—among Elizabeth Kostova, Russell Banks, and Lisa See—at the renowned Literary Feast 2010, a privilege reserved for best-selling and buzz-worthy authors.

Shortly thereafter, Emily was hired by Microsoft as the spokesperson for Bing’s partnership with Facebook and appeared in 30+ television and radio spots for the brand, which garnered exceptional ratings.

In 2012, Emily wrote her debut novel, You Knew Me When, which will publish on September 3, 2013. Her second novel will publish in September 2014, both with Penguin Group USA.

Emily is featured often in the press, by outlets such as: NBC’s Today ShowThe Rachael Ray ShowAnderson, FOX News, NBC’s LXTV, Oprah Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalWoman’s DayThe New York PostThe New York Daily NewsThe Chicago TribuneBoston Herald, and Celebrity Parents Magazine.

When Emily’s not writing, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and cozying up with a good book. She’s been known to ride on a Harley Davidson. And she does a mean Running Man. Emily lives with her husband, Lewis, and their two delicious little boys, Jaxsyn and Hugo, in the suburbs of New York City, where she moved kicking and screaming for fear that there would be no Chinese food delivery at 3 a.m.

 

Emily’s links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Instagram.

 

 

Tuesday Mashup

Hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Mine was filled with family, sun and fun, bbq-ing, and laughs! Plus, some good book-ish time!

 

#giveaways

Traveling With T is giving away Emily Liebert’s YOU KNEW ME WHEN + a set of Zoya nail polish specifically created for the book. Book + nail polish set = #winning. Trust me- you WANT this. You really do 🙂

Happy Pub Day to Emily Liebert, by the way! Run, do not walk to nearest book store to get this book. Funny, sweet, and enjoyable- YOU KNEW ME WHEN is a great book to end the summer with and ease into the fall months!

 

Socrates’ Book Reviews is also giving away a copy of YOU KNEW ME WHEN!

 

Doing Dewey is giving away a copy of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist! **ENDS TODAY!

 

Book Club News

Book Lovers Unite is back at Jen S’s blog, Book-alicious Mama for September. Astor Place Vintage is the book- and here is the reading schedule! * Note: We’ll be back at Traveling With T for October- and I have 2 books that I’m trying to decide between- but rest assured, they will be good!

 

Want a different type of read for September? Maybe something non-fiction? You are in luck! The Book Wheel and Love at First Book have Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg as their book choice! I remember quite a buzz about this book when it was first released and I know Allison and Rebecca will have great comments to guide the discussion along- so if it’s been on your TBR list- check them out!

 

Did you miss out on The Perfume Collector online discussion last week at She Reads? Good news! I extended it a week due to Labor Day madness! So get over there while we discuss the nitty gritty of the book!

 

Twitter chats

I’m co-hosting a Literary New England chat with Cindy of Literary New England- Sept 25th! The book will be Hank Phillipi Ryan’s latest, The Wrong Girl! A little bird told me that there will be giveaways and other good things- so don’t miss out! Details: Sept 25th, 8pmEST, use #LNEchat as hashtag!

 

Other Book-ish news:

Happy pub day to BOTH Denise Swanson author of Murder of a Stacked Librarian AND Emily Liebert You Knew Me When!

 

She Reads will announce their September selection next Monday! It’s going to be good (but I can’t reveal what it’ll be!)

 

 

Interview with Emily Liebert, author of You Knew Me When

you knew me when

Emily Liebert, debut author of You Knew Me When, has stopped by to talk today about her book- and to make someone very happy: She’s graciously offered to give away a book and the Zoya nail polish that was created especially for this book! A great book AND pretty nail polish- oh be still my heart!

Interview with Emily Liebert, author of You Knew Me When

What was the inspiration for You Knew Me When?

I’ve always been interested in female friendships and how bonds can be severed and mended over time. When I was younger, I had a best friend who promptly dumped me as soon as I started dating my first serious boyfriend. We reconnected years later, but it was never the same.

Emily- the role of an author is changing. At one point, before social media, an author did not have Facebook or Twitter. Now, most authors have, at the minimum, those 2 services.  In your opinion, why is social media so important for authors? Is it more or less important for debut authors?

Social media plays a major role in publicity for most authors and especially for debut authors. It’s the fastest and most efficient way of targeting a large group of people all at the same time. And, if you’re posting information via a fan page, even better—you know you already have a captive audience. For obvious reasons, Facebook was integral in promoting my first book—Facebook Fairytales. Now, with my debut novel, I regularly use Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I’m also getting into Instragram. Social media is also an excellent tool in the way of networking. I’ve met so many professionals through these various outlets who’ve helped me along the way and vice-versa. I’ve long maintained that there seems to be a generosity of the human spirit via social media that doesn’t necessarily exist in the “real world.”

How long did it take to write You Knew Me When?

I’m fast! So it took me about five months. I just finished writing my second novel in about four months. Of course, that’s only for a first draft. After that, there’s an editing process which takes a couple of months.

How involved were you in the choosing of the cover for You Knew Me When?

 I’ve been so fortunate that my fabulous publisher, Penguin, has allowed me to be a part of the process every step of the way. When it came time to design the cover, my editor and I brainstormed and came up with two directions we thought would work. Then she took our ideas to Penguin’s talented designers and they ran with one of our concepts. When I first saw the cover, I was blown away by how they transformed our nugget of an idea into something so vibrant and eye-catching. Right now, we’re in the process of discussing ideas for the cover of my second novel—so fun!

Do you have a writing space? Or a writing routine?

Oh yes! I have a routine for everything and writing is no exception. I work out of a home office which is far removed from the main area of the house—I have two little boys (ages 3 and 4), so it would be difficult to concentrate if my office was right near, say, their playroom. It’s really the best of both worlds. Working from home allows me the time to write in privacy and—at the same time—take lots of breaks to have meals with my kids, play with them, and pick them up at school and camp. I like to think of myself as a full time author and a full time mom, even though I have help in place! When I’m in working mode, I usually write for about four hours/day—in the morning and early afternoon. The rest of my working time is spent on publicity, partnerships, conference calls and all the other things (outside of writing) that go with publishing a book! If I get a lot of writing done Monday-Thursday, sometimes I’ll give myself Friday off from writing to give my brain time to “think.”

You Knew Me When is a debut novel.  Do you have advice for other writers who have debut novels releasing soon? Did someone give you advice that really helped during this time?

My advice is to be your own best publicist and to hire one, if you have the means. I have an excellent in-house publicist at Penguin, but one person can’t do everything, especially when they have other books to concentrate on. So I hired an independent publicist for five months surrounding the launch. And I pound the pavement every day devising ways to get the book in front of as many eyes as possible. You can write a masterpiece, but if no one knows it exists, you’re in trouble! I also tell debut authors that you have to stay passionate and believe in yourself. This is not the time to be modest! I’ve had so much great advice from friends and colleagues—including my dear friend Kerry Kennedy whom I worked with on her book, Being Catholic Now. She gave me a wonderful quote for the cover of You Knew Me When. My literary agent, Alyssa Reuben, has offered invaluable advice along the way, as has my editor, Kerry Donovan. My author friend Jill Kargman has been a huge supporter as well.

When writing You Knew Me When– did you, Emily, ever think about the book potentially being made into a movie? Do you have a dream cast in mind?

I always think big! So, yes, I have thought about it in great detail. Not only that, but there are producers/production companies currently reading the book. As it happens, I do have a dream cast in mind! I’d love to see Emily Blunt in the role of Katherine, Kate Hudson in the role of Laney, Helen Mirren in the role of Luella, and Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of Grant. Don’t worry, if they’re not available, I have plenty of other names!

How did you create the characters in You Knew Me When? Do you have a favorite character?

I based them on people I know. (So watch out!) It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say Katherine. I see a lot of myself in her and also a lot of things I’d like to change about myself in her!

If you were asked to inscribe You Knew Me When at a book signing with your favorite line from the book- what would it be?

“Every woman needs a best friend or a sister.”

Will you be going on a book signing tour with You Knew Me When?

Yes! I already have 10 appearances lined up—from multiple stops in New York to Vermont to Connecticut to California for the launch at Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles! And there will be many more to come. They can all be found on the events page of my website: http://www.emilyliebert.com/events/

Emily- what are you working on next? Can you reveal any hints about your next book?

I have a second novel coming out in September 2014! I just finished writing the first draft and sent it to my editor. This book is also about friendship and about finding happiness. The characters and plot are very different, but the themes of love and relationships remain the same.

*Special thanks to Emily Liebert for agreeing to be interviewed!

 

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Emily Liebert is an award-winning author, New York Times bestselling editor, and TV personality.

Liebert’s debut novel, You Knew Me When, will publish on September 3, 2013 and a second novel to follow will publish in September 2014, both with Penguin Group USA.

Her first book, Facebook Fairytales, is available across the globe.

Liebert has been featured by: NBC’s Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Anderson, FOX News, NBC’s LXTV, Oprah Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, and Celebrity Parents Magazine, among many others.

She has also served as a spokesperson for Microsoft, appearing on TV and radio stations nationwide.

 

If you liked my interview- be sure and come back on Wednesday for an Author Spotlight! If you’ve read You Knew Me When– drop by and tell Emily you LOVED it! Here’s the info: website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GoodreadsInstagram and Pinterest.

Giveaway information: Simply comment on this post- make sure to include your email address- you may use the AT and DOT. Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!) Giveaway begins September 2nd and ends September 9th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be announced September 10th.

 

Look for my review of You Knew Me When to be posted this week!

3 books that make me happy September is almost here!

 

Normally, September approaches and I’m not a happy camper. The days are getting a bit shorter. The pool is getting ready to be closed down.  Kids are back to school.  And on and on….

However this September, there are 3 books that are making me count down the days!

 

murder of stacked librarianMurder of a Stacked Librarian by Denise Swanson  (September 3rd)

In Denise Swanson’s latest, Skye is getting married. Maybe. With wedding plans still needing completing, a groom that is too busy to help, and May being suspiciously tight-lipped about things- Skye wonders if she’ll be ready to walk down the aisle- and if she is, will the groom be there? Or will he still be at work at the police station?

Murder, shenanigans, and other things happen in Scumble River. Visit this small town for fun, nice mystery and good characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you knew me when   You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert  (September 3rd)

Kitty and Laney. Best friends. Laney has a plan for their future- going to college together, then moving to NYC. But life happens and changes the plan.

Years later, Katherine is now living in NYC, head of cosmetics line, Blend. Katherine is a workaholic- but she loves her life. Then Katherine gets a letter that brings her back home- back to face her old best friend, Laney. A person she has not spoken to in 12 years.

Can the old friends find common ground? And what happened 12 years ago?

 

 

 

 

 

w is for wasted

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton (September 10th)

 

Sue Grafton’s latest book has Kinsey Millhone digging into the lives of 2 dead men- one she knew and one she’d never met until she saw him in the morgue.

Kinsey wonders several things, and as she looks into the case- she knows she could be opening a box that is best left closed. But Kinsey wouldn’t be Kinsey if she did not get to the bottom of the mystery.

Join in on the latest adventures of Kinsey!

 

 

 

 

Need more book recommendations? Bookmagnet has several that are VERY good sounding!