Friday, November 21, 2014

G484 Book Review of Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan

Name of Book: christmas at Tiffany's

Author: Karen Snow

ISBN: 978-0-06-236410-4

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: travel, self discovery, New York, London, Paris, friendships between women, modeling, cooking, elegance, cultures, dating, trauma, 2000s, language of flowers

Year it was published: 2011


What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny--and your true love . . .

Ten years ago, a young and naive Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn't giving up. She's going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she's meant to have . . . and the man she's meant to love.


Unfortunately the story is not character driven, as odd as it seems, and its more compare and contrast between the three cities rather than what and why drives the characters to do what they did.The main characters are Cassie who is best described as blank slate throughout the process. She has been married to a manipulative man and discovered some very ugly truths about his secrets. She is forgiving, loyal and kind to her friends. One of her longings has always been to have a child. Kelly is a New York girl who is obsessed with working out, running out, dieting and partying. She also has her own fashion company of sorts? Anouk is an elegant Parisian woman who has very unconventional viewpoints as well as terrible secrets of her own. I have to admit that she is the most intriguing character and I would have liked to see more of her transformation in the book rather than that of Cassie's. Anouk has her own jewelry business. Suzy is closest to Cassie and she lives in London and has a younger brother named Henry. She is very kind and giving and loves to create happily ever afters for people. To modern day standards, Suzy is the most realistic. While the men did play roles, aside from Henry, none had any memorable scenes and they were designed to be caricatures, at least for me, instead of full fledged characters.


People are adaptable


The story is in third person narrative from Cassie's point of view, although once in a while other characters do speak, but its not very often. The story is also divided into three parts, and it wasn't a boring or an exhausting read at all. The two hefty sections focus on life in New York and Paris, while London barely gets any mention, much to mine disappointment. The story is both safe and predictable, although I do promise that its a cut above an average women's literature book. More focus is on friendships between the women rather than relationships as well as different beauty rituals and thoughts that were used in New York and Paris which I've found pretty fascinating.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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Karen SwanAbout Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna andChristmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.


I have to say that the summary and the story seem to disguise the fact that the story is far more deeper than one expects: I enjoyed reading the book a great deal, especially learning the difference in cultures between that of New York and Paris and how Cassie seems to be attempting to take best from both of them away. The book also focuses a lot on women's friendships and for me was an easy and engaging read, even at more than 500 pages! I did have some minor problems with the book, the first that certain things weren't explained, and that chemistry wasn't really built up between the couples, at least secondary couples as I hoped, and towards the end I was disappointed that I didn't get to know London as well as I got to know Paris and New York.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Karen’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, October 31st: Seaside Book Nook
Monday, November 3rd: Words by Webb
Wednesday, November 5th: Becca Rowan
Tuesday, November 11th: Tina Says …
Thursday, November 13th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 17th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, November 19th: My Bookshelf
Thursday, November 20th: Books in the Burbs
Thursday, November 20th: For the Love of Words
Friday, November 21st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 26th: Spices Latte Reads

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Progress Sheet...Week 44 of 2014

Book Tours to look forward to:

This Dark Road to Mercy-Wiley Cash (November 3rd, 2014 TLC)

Hailed as "mesmerizing" (New York Times Book Review) and "as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird" (Richmond Times-Dispatch), A Land More Kind Than Home made Wiley Cash an instant literary sensation. His resonant new novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, is a tale of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, a story that involves two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.

When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter Quillby and her six-year-old sister, Ruby, are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a little town not far from the Appalachian Mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex–minor league baseball player whom they haven't seen in years, suddenly reappears and steals them away in the middle of the night.

Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and quickly turns up unsettling information linking him to a multimillion-dollar robbery. But Brady isn't the only one hunting him. Also on the trail is Robert Pruitt, a mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, a man determined to find Wade and claim what he believes he is owed.

The combination of Cash's evocative and intimate Southern voice and those of the alternating narrators, Easter, Brady, and Pruitt, brings this soulful story vividly to life. At once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a testament to the unbreakable bonds of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

Venice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna (November 4th, 2014, Italy Book Tours)

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin—a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead—and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead (November 6th, 2014 TLC)

From the author of the runaway bestseller A Train in Winter comes the extraordinary story of a French village that helped save thousands, including many Jewish children, who were pursued by the Gestapo during World War II.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ardèche. Surrounded by pastures and thick forests of oak and pine, the plateau Vivarais lies in one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France, cut off for long stretches of the winter by snow.

During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the area saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, downed Allied airmen and above all Jews. Many of these were children and babies, whose parents had been deported to the death camps in Poland. After the war, Le Chambon became the only village to be listed in its entirety in Yad Vashem's Dictionary of the Just.

Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying parishes came to save so many people has never been fully told. Acclaimed biographer and historian Caroline Moorehead brings to life a story of outstanding courage and determination, and of what could be done when even a small group of people came together to oppose German rule. It is an extraordinary tale of silence and complicity. In a country infamous throughout the four years of occupation for the number of denunciations to the Gestapo of Jews, resisters and escaping prisoners of war, not one single inhabitant of Le Chambon ever broke silence. The story of Le Chambon is one of a village, bound together by a code of honour, born of centuries of religious oppression. And, though it took a conspiracy of silence by the entire population, it happened because of a small number of heroic individuals, many of them women, for whom saving those hunted by the Nazis became more important than their own lives.

Books to be Reviewed:

The Temple is Not My Father by Rasana Atreya (e-book, given by author)

Ensnared by a tradition hundreds of years old, a woman fights for her daughter’s happiness.

From the author of 'Tell A Thousand Lies,' which was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. UK's Glam magazine calls 'Tell A Thousand Lies' on of their 'five favourite tales from India.'

If you like Rohinton Mistry or Shilpi Somaya Gowda,you might like this short story of 40 pages.

The Clever Mill Horse by Jodi Lew-Smith (e-book, December 3rd, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

***Winner of the 2014 James River Writers Indie Novel Contest***

A young woman’s gift could weave together the fabric of a nation...

1810, upstate New York. 21-year-old Ella Kenyon is happiest gliding through the thick woods around her small frontier town, knife in hand, her sharp eyes tracking game. A gift for engineering is in her blood, but she would gladly trade it for more time in the forest. If only her grandfather's dying wish hadn't trapped her into a fight she never wanted: for a flax-milling machine that could rescue both her family and her struggling town. Perhaps making flax—which grows in the North—as profitable as cotton at a time when cotton had yet to become king. If only she wanted it. Torn between what she wants and what she owes to others, no one could envy the choices she has to make. Nor the need to elude a ruthless foe determined to steal the machine.

Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day by Susan Newman (iRead Book Tours December 15th, 2014)

“Little Things Long Remembered,” updated for today’s time-strapped families, offers hundreds of ways to create treasured childhood rituals. Chock full of thoughtful and loving ideas that mean a lot—especially to children.

Chapters are divided into convenient timeframes: Gestures to strengthen family ties that take seconds, activities when you have five minutes, half an hour, or the entire weekend. Plus special circumstance suggestions for when your child is not feeling well or when you travel, for birthdays, major and minor holidays--including a set of Cardinal Rules to insure whatever you do is fun, builds character and celebrates your family.

Small parcels of time well spent shape long-lasting memories that are the backbone of family unity...and the glue that holds families together. Every single day offers fertile ground for creating positive recollections. Dig in to find “little things” that will inspire loving remembrances of growing up...and of you.

“Little Things...” is the perfect new baby, Mother or Father’s Day, or any day gift for parents and grandparents.

Welcome to Nursing HELLo by Joel Craig (November 28th, 2014 Pump up your book)

This nurse is not out to save the world. He’s too busy dodging bed pans and urine containers.
What happens when all the jobs for movie star have been filled. The next best thing is to become a registered nurse and that is exactly what Joel Craig did. Here is Joel’s journey through the pitfalls, quicksand, and joy(s) of his profession told in a graphic memoir format. The book begins in the year 2007 with Joel’s story unfolding in chronological order.
Such topics are discussed: dirty needle sticks, intimidating preceptors, job stress, and cursing on the job. Joel has imaginary conversations with rockstar Madonna, who is preparing to play Nurse Ratched on Broadway, who gives him advice along the way. Nursing students and new nurses can learn from Joel’s mistakes and what NOT to do as well as what to do. But they will get a little peek into what it’s like being a new nurse. This is almost like a small shock absorber to make the transition to new nurse not so bumpy.

Glimpsing Heaven: The stories and science of lifer after death by Judy Bachrach (December 5th, 2014 TLC)

If you caught a glimpse of heaven, would you choose to come back to life? Many people alive today have experienced clinical death—a heart that has stopped beating, brain activity that has flat lined—and returned to life with lucid, vivid memories of what occurred while they were dead. Judy Bachrach, investigative journalist and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, presents their astonishing stories here, giving us a rare glimpse of life after death. She consulted the world’s leading scientific and medical experts on death experience to explore whether the science supports the stories—and now, in Glimpsing Heaven, her surprising discovery puts death in a whole new light.

Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones (December 10th, 2014 TLC)

What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

Seldom Come By by Sherryl Caulfield (November 14th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, fifteen year-old Rebeca Crowe’s fascination with icebergs leads her to save a shipwrecked survivor, Samuel Dalton, the nineteen-year old son of a Toronto medical family.

Love sparks in the crystal cave of an iceberg but is thwarted by an unreasonable father and the Great War that drags Samuel and his brother, Matthew, to the Western Front as medical officers. Knowing Rebecca is home safe in Newfoundland brings Samuel great comfort. But as the war moves towards its final harrowing days, they both discover that tragedy and terror can strike anywhere, setting their love on an unforeseen path.

Only when Samuel and Rebecca can fully come to terms with such devastating loss and their impossible choices can their love soar. With an emotional intensity reminiscent of The Bronze Horseman, Seldom Come By, named after an actual place in Newfoundland, is an unforgettable journey across waves and time and the full spectrum of human emotions.

Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan (November 21st, 2014 TLC)

What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny--and your true love . . .

Ten years ago, a young and naive Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn't giving up. She's going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she's meant to have . . . and the man she's meant to love.

Books I'm Reading:

Trust: Pandora's Box by Cristiane Serruya (e-book)

TRUST: PANDORA'S BOX, the last installment of the TRUST TRILOGY, follows Ethan, Alistair and Sophia as each one of them strives to live happily ever after. But a greedy man, who has uncovered the many secrets and wrong deeds committed by Ethan, Alistair and Sophia, realizes they could be worth millions. Many are invited to join his team. Each one has an agenda. Each one has a target. Things get out of control when Pandora's Box is opened and the demons are let loose. With so many enemies out for revenge, what will the future bring to Ethan, Alistair and Sophia? Eventually, wishes and nightmares come true... Will hope survive?
This book is the last installment of the TRUST TRILOGY and contains graphic sex scenes and mild violence. Indicated for mature audiences.

Chapters: 12 out of 38 plus prologue and epilogue

Pages: 150 out of 479

Sons- Pearl S. Buck

Second in the trilogy that began with The Good Earth, Buck's classic and starkly real tale of sons rising against their honored fathers tells of the bitter struggle to the death between the old and the new in China. Revolutions sweep the vast nation, leaving destruction and death in their wake, yet also promising emancipation to China's oppressed millions who are groping for a way to survive in a modern age.

Chapters: 25 out of 29

Pages: 266 out of 313

The Same Sky: A Traveler's Quest for Redemption and Peace by Debbie Yee Lan Wong

After a painful breakup, a young Chinese Canadian packed her bag, a journal and a camera and went on a solo journey through Southeast Asia. Brokenhearted and needing to escape, she embarked on a three-month trip that took her from the ancient Buddhist temples of Tibet, to the heights of the Mt. Everest base camp, through the bustling markets of Laos, and to the peaceful hallways of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Along the way, as she navigated the difficulties of traveling alone, she encountered locals who have lived through war, poverty and political repression. Their moving stories of loss and resilience inspired her to reclaim her independence and rediscover peace and strength after a traumatic event.
A deeply personal story with universal resonance, The Same Sky will appeal to anyone with an interest in Southeast Asia, and particularly to women who have experienced the exhilaration and vulnerability of solo travel. It is the inspiring story of how a young woman at the lowest point of her life began to heal by facing the challenges of traveling alone and opening her heart to people across cultures.

Chapters: 20 out of 24 plus prologue

Pages: 319 out of 402

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton (November 17th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

In the late twelfth century, across the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, brilliant, charismatic Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself the Great, or Genghis, Khan. But it is the women who stand beside him who ensure his triumph....

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, gifted Borte becomes an outsider within her clan. When she seeks comfort in the arms of aristocratic traveler Jamuka, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man who agreed to marry her and then abandoned her long before they could wed.

Temujin will return and make Borte his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new kingdom. Their daughter, the fierce Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, will transform her desire for revenge into an unbreakable loyalty. And Sorkhokhtani, a demure widow, will position her sons to inherit the empire when it begins to fracture from within.

In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, the tiger queens of Genghis Khan come to depend on one another as they fight and love, scheme and sacrifice, all for the good of their family...and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls.

Chapters: 16 out of 27 plus prologue and epilogue, authors note

Pages: 202 out of 462

Us by David Nicholls (November 25th, 2014 TLC)

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

Chapters: 8 out of 180

Pages: 14 out of 392

Botticelli's Bastard by Stephen Maitland-Lewis (November 27th, 2014 Italy Book Tours)

Art restorer Giovanni Fabrizzi is haunted by an unsigned renaissance portrait. Obsessed to learn the truth of its origin, he becomes increasingly convinced the painting could be the work of one of history's greatest artists, which if true, would catapult its value to the stratosphere. But in learning of the painting's past, he is faced with a dilemma. He believes the portrait was stolen during the greatest art heist in history -- the Nazi plunder of European artwork. If true and a surviving relative of the painting's rightful owner were still alive, Giovanni, in all good conscience, would have to give up the potential masterpiece. His obsession with the portrait puts a strain on his new marriage, and his son thinks his father has lost his mind for believing an unremarkable, unsigned painting could be worth anyone's attention. Regardless, Giovanni persists in his quest of discovery and exposes far more truth than he ever wanted to know.

Chapters: 5 out of 19

Pages: 57 out of 265

Death Never Sleeps by E.J. Simon (December 2nd, 2014 iRead Book Tours)

"A story of murder, betrayal and love with twists and turns that as a professional detective even I didn't expect... A Must Read! E.J. Simon is the real deal."

VITO COLUCCI, JR., author of the true crime book, "Rogue Town, A City Under the Stranglehold of Organized Crime"

"This reader white-knuckled her way from start to finish. Simon is a master at the game of suspense. A page-turner at its best that left me begging for more."

JUDITH MARKS-WHITE, author of "Seducing Harry" and "Bachelor Degree"

"DEATH NEVER SLEEPS... will make you ponder the technology suturing our lives. You will also question where life ends, and where death begins."

MARK RUBINSTEIN, author of "Mad Dog House" and "Love Gone Mad"


The problem with Alex Nicholas is that he won't stay dead.

Alex Nicholas was the consummate Queens bookie: fast cars and even faster women, and friends in all the wrong places. As an illegal sports betting and loan shark king in New York City, Alex was fearless-until the night his luck ran out and someone leveled the silver barrel of an automatic on him and pulled the trigger.

Michael Nicholas was everything his brother Alex was not: a powerful, married straight-arrow corporate CEO living the American Dream. Their two worlds collide when Michael discovers his brother's secret laptop.

As Michael crosses the globe to find his brother's murder, can he avoid his brother's fate? And can the information contained in the laptop help Alex reach out to help Michael-from beyond the grave.

Chapters: 5 out of 68

Pages: 19 out of 385

The War Nurse by R.V. Doon (December 4th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

A historical family saga and epic romance set during World War II.

The War Nurse is a heart-rending story of two Americans, Katarina Stahl, a civilian nurse, and Jack Gallagher, a surgeon, caught in the Philippines on a goodwill medical mission, when war interrupts their newfound love. As the situation becomes dire, Katarina in an impulsive move frees a German doctor accused of spying; a haunting mistake, that sets off a chain of tragic events for her German-born parents in New York.

Now, pregnant with Jack’s child, Katarina begins a journey into depraved darkness as Manila descends into occupation and chaos. The horrific choices she has to make to avoid internment and starvation distances her from Jack. Three years of hell pass, and she has earned her nickname, war nurse, but can she regain the love of her life?

Chapters: 3 out of 45

Pages: 19 out of 372

The Beautiful American by Jeanne MacKin (France Book Tours December 8th, 2014)

From Paris in the 1920s to London after the Blitz, two women find that a secret from their past reverberates through years of joy and sorrow....

As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women.

Chapters: 4 out of 22 plus prologue and epilogue

Pages: 44 out of 352

The Oblate’s Confession by William Peak (December 9th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

England, the 7th century. Petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms make war upon one another and their Celtic neighbors. Christianity is a new force in the land, one whose hold remains tenuous at best. Power shifts back and forth uneasily between two forms of the new faith: a mystical Celtic Catholicism and a newer, more disciplined form of Catholicism emanating from Rome. Pagan rites as yet survive in the surrounding hills and mountains. Plague sweeps across the countryside unpredictably, its path marked by death and destruction.

In keeping with a practice common at the time, an Anglo-Saxon warrior donates his youngest child to the monastery of Redestone, in effect sentencing the boy to spend the rest of his life as a monk. This gift-child, called an oblate, will grow up in the abbey knowing little of his family or the expectations his natural father will someday place upon him, his existence haunted by vague memories of a former life and the questions those memories provoke.

Who is his father, the distant chieftain who sired him or the bishop he prays for daily? And to which father, natural or spiritual, will he owe allegiance when, at length, he is called upon to ally himself with one and destroy the other? These are the dilemmas the child faces. The answers will emerge from the years he spends in spiritual apprenticeship to a hermit who lives on the nearby mountain of Modra nect – and his choices will echo across a lifetime.

Chapters: 5 out of 40

Pages: 23 out of 398

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Chapters: 12 out of 37

Pages: 96 out of 333

What a lady needs for christmas by Grace Burrowes

The Best Gifts are the Unexpected Ones...

To escape a scandal, Lady Joan Flynn flees her family's estate in the Scottish Highlands. She needs a husband by Christmas, or the holidays will ring in nothing but ruin.

Practical, ambitious mill owner Dante Hartwell offers to marry Joan, because a wellborn wife is his best chance of gaining access to aristocratic investors.

As Christmas—and trouble—draw nearer, Dante and Joan's marriage of convenience blossoms into unexpected intimacy, for true love often hides beneath the most unassuming holiday wrapping...

Chapters: 8 out of 18

Pages: 150 out of 398

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya von Bremzen (Blogging for Books)

A James Beard Award-winning writer captures life under the Red socialist banner in this wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir of feasts, famines, and three generations

     Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, naively joyous, and melancholy—and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return.
     Now Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past. To bring that past to life, Anya and her mother decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience. Through these meals, and through the tales of three generations of her family, Anya tells the intimate yet epic story of life in the USSR. Wildly inventive and slyly witty, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses.

Chapters: 6 out of 10 plus prologue

Pages: 147 out of 298

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez 

A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel's recovery-the piece of the American Dream on which they've pinned all their hopes-will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles. At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamà fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she's sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America. Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.

Chapters: 4 out of N/A

Pages: 24 out of 286

The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters by Ō. no Yasumaro, Basil Hall Chamberlain 

Written by imperial command in the eighth century, The Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) is Japan's classic of classics,the oldest connected literary work and the fundamental scripture of Shinto. Accepted as fact until quite recently, it is a key to the historical roots of the Japanese people-their early life and the development of their character and institutions- as well as a lively mixture of legend and history, genealogy, and poetry. It stands as one of hte greatest monuments of Japanese literature because it preserves more faithfully than any other book the mythology, manners, language, and traditions of Japan. It provides, furthermore, a vivd account of a nation in the making. The work opens "when chaos had begun to condense, but force and form were not yet manifest, and there was nought named, nought done..."It recounts the mythological creation of Japan by the divine brother and sister Izanami and Izanagi, tales of the Sun Goddess and other deities, the divine origin of Jimmu the first emperor, and the histories of subsequent reigns. Epic material is complemented by a fresh bucolic vein expressed in songs and poetry.

This famous translation by the British scholar Basil Hall Chamberlain, who "taught Japanese and Japan to the Japanese," is enhanced by notes on the text and an extensive introduction discussing early Japanese society, as well as the Kojili and its background. Important for its wealth of information, the Kojiki is indispensable to anyone interested in things Japanese. This compendium of early Japanese life provides a panorama of Japan during its formation.

Chapters: 4 out of 180?

Pages: 22 out of 413

Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War by Ruth W. Crocker 

A secret is revealed long after the battlefield death of a beloved and courageous army officer. His young widow, in an act of love, is inspired to climb to the treacherous north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps to find solace. She discovers years later that those who survived the war - his comrades devoted to keeping his memory alive - would bring the ultimate healing into her life. A compelling true story with a surprising revelation for those who seek to understand the sources of resilience and emotional transformation following heartbreaking loss, demonstrating the tenacious will of the human spirit to heal.

Chapters: 3 out of 9

Pages: 47 out of 279

Bitter Greens-Kate Forsyth

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

Chapters: 3 out of N/A

Pages: 32 out of 492

Future Readings:

My Whispers of Horror: Letters Telling Women's True Tales from Ex-USSR Nations by Brine Books Publishing, Olga Brine, Chris Brine (e-book)

"If he hits me, then he must love me."

"I am a cow and I am a bull. I am a woman and I am a man."

"If you don't find an ideal man by your age... it doesn't mean that you like girls. Don't worry, you can find a man! You will not be an old maid."

"That was also when these police officers, who were meant to protect the public, became my pimps."

What can be more deep and personal than reading what a woman wrote of her experiences? Cases such as domestic violence, forced prostitution, rape, and more. You won't be able to tear your eyes away as you read their quiet whispers of horror, while trying to understand why this still happens in other cultures today. Having these real women explain to the world what happened to them will help to raise awareness on why we still need to fight and stand up for them.

Much of the world is still stuck within sadistic patriarchal standards that oppresses women. And for a woman to survive in such a culture she must have enormous strength to defend her own or her children's lives from violence and oppression. Read what these brave women wish to confess.

Chapters: 22 plus Foreword

Pages: 139

Death Logs In by E.J. Simon (December 12th, 2014 iRead Book Tours)

Some of the most powerful people in the world want to kill Michael Nicholas. Only his brother, Alex can save him - the problem is that Alex is dead.

It's been almost a year since Alex Nicholas, a Queens based underworld Boss, was gunned down. After Alex’s brutal murder, Michael inherited not only his brother’s business – but his enemies. Michael is now a key player in a world he once feared. By day, he is the head of a Fortune 500 company by night, the CEO of Tartarus, one of the worlds largest illegal gambling operations.

Before his death, Alex invested heavily in breakthrough artificial intelligence software so that he could live forever. It worked. In his virtual form, Alex can communicate with Michael and monitor information - and people - in ways the NSA would envy.

It is Alex who discovers Michael’s life is in danger. He detects plots that reach from the darkest corners of Queens, to the highest officials in the Vatican - and they all want Michael dead.

Michael is now in a race to save his life, but he is never alone - Alex is there to help him navigate through this maze of life and death. Also protecting Michael from the forces closing in around him is Sindy Steele, a beautiful - and lethal bodyguard.

How far is Michael willing to go to save his own life – and that of his family? Guided only by a familiar face on a computer screen, will the information Alex discovers allow Michael to go from being the hunted to the hunter?

Chapters: 93

Pages: 341

Noah's Wife by T.K Thorne (December 17th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

ForeWord Review's BOOK OF THE YEAR for Historical Fiction (2009) Noah built an ark, but this story has never been told! Noah's wife is Na'amah, a brilliant young girl with a form of autism (now) known as Aspergers. Na'amah wishes only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey--a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother, the love of two men, and a disaster that threatens her world.

Chapters: 53 plus prologue and postscript

Pages: 334

Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons by Mary S. Black (December 18th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

Deer Cloud is painting the stories of the gods when tragedy changes his life. He is called to walk the shaman path and bring the buffalo through his visionary power. The evil Stone Face will do anything to thwart Deer Cloud’s growing strength. Jumping Rabbit, a lusty female shaman, decides to mentor him and ends up taking him to bed. She introduces him to a powerful spirit plant to counter the effects of the dangerous wolf flower. When buffalo are spotted, Stone Face challenges Deer Cloud to call the beasts with his new power. With Jumping Rabbit’s help, Deer Cloud changes Rain Bringer society forever.

This book brings to life people who lived over 4,000 years ago in the southwest Texas canyonlands known as the Lower Pecos, near the confluence of the Devils and Pecos rivers with the Rio Grande. These ancient people painted over 300 currently known rock art murals, some of which can be viewed today. Archaeologists have also found evidence of a huge bison jump in a small canyon in that region that points to a catastrophic event in the lives of these people so long ago. This book is based on extensive research and is the first novel to examine these events.

Chapters: 27 plus author's note

Pages: 207

I, James by Mike Hartner (January 29th, 2015 Pump up your books)

James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11.
Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land.
Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires?

Chapters: 30 plus prologue

Pages: 223

Kato and the Fountain of Wrinkles by Rhys Ella (January 30th, 2015 Pump Up YOur Books)

For famous animal actor Kato Rhyan, being named “Cutest Pug Alive” by Pooch Magazine was cool (all right, really cool).  But for him, acting isn’t about fame, it’s a part of him buried deep within his soul; and he’s not about to let anything stand in his way of becoming the first animal to win an Oscar for Best Actor, even if it means taking on a role that requires a wrinkly dog’s worst nightmare – Botox injections.
But before the injection process begins, it’s discovered that the Fountain of Wrinkles — located in his beautiful hometown of Callia Rugas — has been contaminated by Botox, jeopardizing the lives of crinkly canines everywhere and setting off a chain of events that force him to bid farewell to his dream and set foot on an adventure of a lifetime in search of the antidote to restore the Fountain.
But as with any good Hollywood tale, the story that seems so apparent is not always the one that unfolds.  The twists and turns that follow are sure to keep you guessing and laughing.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 281

The Little Restaurant by Wang Anyi

Wang Anyi's short stories in the little restaurant illuminate the emotional and intellectual complexity of hte lives of the multiple generations caught up in China. Some of her short stories describe the lives of young students caught up in the Cultural Revolution who were sent away to rural communities across China to be educated and tempered in a hardscrabble existence; other stories revolve around the seemingly quiet lives of ordinary citizens in the city of Shanghai. In simple language and with an eye for detail, she describes their simple physical existence and their complex interior lives. Her descriptions are often reliastic, affectionate and vivd yet somehow they remain evocative and haunting. Creating poetry out of the ordinary and the mundane, these stories are at once both stark and deeply lyrical.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 364

A Pair of Jade Frogs by Ye Xin

Youyun is an "educated youth" sent to work as a teacher in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. One day a group of thugs try to arrest one of his students and he intervenes to stop them. He discovers they are looking for a mysterious "national treasure" they believe the girl's father is hiding. Youyun is gradually drawn in to the mystery and ends up in possession of the "treasure," a pair of exquisite jade frogs.

His plans to return to city life and develop his career are then further complicated when he begins a passionate relationship with Renping, a beautiful local girl who attends his classes. The possession of hte frogs leads to the possibility of Youyun settling down with her, but things do not work out hte way he expects them to.

This novel is a vivid portryal of a young man struggling for fulfilment and self-respect in the middle of immense political turmoil.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 186

Forty Roses by Sun Yong

Within the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution families were destroed, friendships disbanded and budding relationships never given a chance to bloom. Over two decades later two families now have a chance to mend bridges that were destroyed in the past. Former friends must now put their histories behind them, while those relationships lost in the confusion of the past may havea  chance to reignite. Has time taken too much away? Can people be the same after twenty years? Can love buried deep be reborn? Can the mistakes of hte past now be corrected? Six students of the Cultural Revolution now have the rare opportunity to change their destinies.

Chapters: 30

Pages: 286

Goodbye, Xu hu! by Zhao Changtian

Goodbye, Xu hu!

Twenty years ago he served in the People's Liberation Army, where he met his first love, the energetic and charming Xu hu. In those two decades both their paths diverged until a chance meeting in a restaurant in SHanghai. As the man recalls his time as a young soldier he wonders whether he and Xu hu can rekindle the flame of their past.

No Explanation is Necessary

Lao Wei on the surface appeared to be an ordinary hospital janitor. However, after a chance sighting at a subway station a writer learns that this simple janitor is much more than he appears to be. After returning to the hospital the writer learns of Lao Wei's past, his triumphs and failures and his loss. Lao Wei has the power to change his current circumstances, but can he regain everything? Including that which was most important to him?

Chapters: 18

Pages: 205

The Elephant by Chen Cun

Tormented by memories of his former lover and the sudden appearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Lin Yi, the author embarks on a stunning narrative journey; a voyeuristic quest across the African wilderness through the eyes of an elephant. Tracking his character's development from birth to adulthood against his own emotional maturation, the writer becomes a victim to his own imagination as he struggles to deal with the intellectual and physical challenges of growing old.

The elephant is an intimate exploration of genre and narrative technique through one writer's destructive obsession with his fictional world. Set simultaneously in Shanghai and Africa, the writer's relationship with his literary creations challenges our conventional understanding of composition, truth and characterization while exposing the psychosomatic consequences of unobstructed imagination.

Chapters: 14

Pages: 176

Folk Song by Li Xiao

Folk Song

In a dusty farm by the Five Horses River, a mysterious stranger named Ma Wu appears seeking work. The farmhands begrudgingly take him in while the Mistress of the farm looks for ways to make him useful. For the Mistress, her biggest headache on the farm has been on the young girl Hong Gu, who is pregnant with the Master's child. Trying to find an end to the humiliating gossip amongst the farmhands, the Mistress forces Ma Wu to marry Hong Gu. Just when the Mistress thinks that she has dealt with this ornery problem, a terrible crisis erupts on the farm when the bandits attack. Soon, a series of revelations and betrayals take place, and the farmhands find that their lives will never be the same again.

"Sunny Red" Melons

A young boy's life ahs been shaped around the legend of his dead father, who disappeared from the family farm with "Sunny Red" melons on his shoulder when the boy was only one-month old. WHat happened to the boy's father? Was he killed by a jealous neighbor? Was he murdered by the bandits? THe question goes unanswered year after year, although the boy's mother stubbornly believes that her former suitor, Uncle Laifu, was the person responsible for murder. As the young boy grows up, he begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together and discovers that answers proves to be much more elusive and complicated.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 214

The Messenger's Letter by Sun Ganlu

THe Messenger Letter is a poetic novella that defies categorization. Taking its inspiration from the surreal imagery of writers such as Franz Kafka, the story describes the Messenger's epic attempt to deliver his letter in the strange and sinister Whispering City, where he encounters the mysterious six-fingered people. In The Messenger's Letter, the author explores the twin themes of trust and and doubht with dark humor and conviction. THe story reveals itself as an intricate puzzle with no easy answers and is a sustained meditation on the absurdities of existence. THe Messenger's Letter has won widespread acclaim for its bold and unconventional style.

Remembering the Lady of Qin is the story of a young boy growing up in matriarchal family in Shanghai. The boy's mother and grandmother offer the emotional security he craves as a child, but it is a chance meeting with a headstrong and attractive family friend that starts the young man on a passionate and turbulent journey. THe story is a coming of age drama, where the boy's intellectual longing to write and develop as an artist is spurred on by a mysterious and seductive woman, who is at once so close, and yet always unfathomable and unattainable.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 164

Ah, Blue Bird by Lu Xing'er

In Ah, Blue Bird, Lu Xing'er, one of China's most prolific writers, focuses her penetrating gaze on the life of the educated urban youth during and after the Cultural Revolution. She studies the difficulty of coming of age at a time when even the most personal was political by examining both the hidden motivations and the public aspiratyions of those caught in the politics of the day. This tale tells the story of a woman caught between duty to herself, to her country and to her husband. Her convictions are tested as she tries to survive in a complex emotional and physical climate when she finds herself separated from her husband and forced to make difficult decisions about their future together.

Chapters: 27

Pages: 342

His One and Only by Wang Xiaoyu

His one and only tells the story of XUan Zhigao, a boy from a poor family in Anhui Province. After his mother forces him to marry an older girl while he is still an adolescent, Xuan Zhigao flees his home. Years later, he sets up his own factory in Suzhou, and marries the daughter of a local strongman to help strengthen his status as a "boss" in the city. WHen the upheavals of war lead him to Shanghai, he falls in love with a local woman and secretly makes her his third wife. Xuan Zhigao is eventually driven to a breakdown as the pressure of supporting three families takes its toll.

In His One and Only, Wang Xiaoyu provides a shocking but compelling picture of life in CHina before and after the advent of the communist government in 1949. THe novel offers a rare insight into the minds of the men and women who lived through those unstable years, and is unflinching in its portrayal of gender issues and social change. It is a fascinating depiction of a China that no longer exists.

Chapters: 26 plus conclusion

Pages: 315

When a Baby is CHeng Naishan

The early sixties of hte last century saw the exodus of Shanghai's educated youth to the wilderness of Northwestern China. They were mainly engaged in farming there, working in appaling conditions. Tang Dawei, a high school student from a wealthy family, volunteers to go in order to flee the merciless criticism and unbearable social pressure that follow an "incident." Dawei settles down in the Gobi Desert, where he goes through countless hardships and ordeals to transform himself into a "tough guy". However, China's open door policy, of the early eighties, brings about dramatic changes in his life. After achieving academic success and professional recognition, he is eventually vindicated.

His dramatic life experience is interwoven with three relationships he gets involved in. The first relationship is with his first love, Xiaomei, who is a pretty but rather dependent girl destined to lead a comfortable but dull life; the second one is with his wife, Spring Flower, who is a peasant girl struggling alongside him with incredible courage, tenacity and love; and the third one is with Xiao'an, a young engineer, who under his guidance, breaks loose from the shackles imposed on her and embarks on a new independent life.

Chapters: 4

Pages: 171

Dissipation by Tang Ying

Dissipation is thes tory of Su Xiahui, a young woman desperate to create a better life for herself. Leaving behind her friends and family in Shanghai, she travels to Malaysia where her wealthy aunt and seemingly ideal husband offer her a chance to fulfill her dreams. But when her mother is taken ill ten years later, Xiaohui finally returns home. SHe finds herself in a bewildering city, infused with the images of a life she thought she had left behind. When loneliness leads her back to her former lover, her tenuous relationships with those around her are severely tested.

Dissipation asks a crucial question: Should we try to recreate the past? In heartbreaking, beautiful language the novel describes the experience of going back. Xiaohui finds herself facing unexpected extremes of emotion and desire.

In Dissipaton, Tang Ying writes in startling terms about the life of women in Shanghai. While most stories about the city often focus on its illustrious past, Tang Ying skillfully describes life as it is experienced today. In this novel she presents an intimate portrait of a woman's life, caught up in a rapidly shifting world.

Chapters: 6

Pages: 208

Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.

Chapters: 45

Pages: 270

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

Perhaps Willa Cather's most autobiographical work, The Song of the Lark charts the story of a young woman's awakening as an artist against the backdrop of the western landscape. Thea Kronborg, an aspiring singer, struggles to escape from the confines her small Colorado town to the world of possibility in the Metropolitan Opera House. In classic Cather style, The Song of the Lark is the beautiful, unforgettable story of American determination and its inextricable connection to the land.

Chapters: 61 plus Preface and epilogue

Pages: 417

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

The story of Antonia Shimerda is told by one of her friends from childhood, Jim Burden, an orphaned boy from Virginia. Though he leaves the prairie, Jim never forgets the Bohemian girl who so profoundly influenced his life. An immigrant child of immigrant parents, Antonia's girlhood is spent working to help her parents wrest a living from the untamed land. Though in later years she suffers betrayal and desertion, through all the hardships of her life she preserves a valor of spirit that no hardship can daunt or break. When Jim Burden sees her again after many years, he finds her "a rich mine of life", a figure who has turned adversity into a particular kind of triumph in the true spirit of the pioneer.

Chapters: 45 plus Introduction

Pages: 289

My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin

Jana McBurney-Lin's debut novel My Half of the Sky introduces Li Hui, a modern young Chinese woman of marriageable age who has recently graduated from Xiamen University. Her goal is to realize Mao's words: Women hold up half of the sky. Li Hui struggles with finding love and acting with honor. Guidance and advice come from all corners of her world as well as different and conflicing generational, historical and cultural values. Everyone wants something different for and from her, particularly her parents who mourn their lack of a son while attempting to marry Li to their greatest advantage. In fact most everyone has a selfish investment in what Li Hui will do and whom she might marry. Does this sound like Jane Austen writing about the dilemmas facing young women in China today? You bet. This original and insightful work is in the best traditions of classic novels that explore people caught in the crucible of change in complex cultures. The rewards are rich for the reader, including intriguing insights into folk tales and conventional wisdom of a culture of which few of us have an intimate and timely knowledge.

Chapters: 70

Pages: 482

The Three Kingdoms: The Sacred Oath Vol I by Luo Guanzhong

This exciting new translation will appeal to modern readers who find the twists and turns of Game of Thrones so compelling.

The Three Kingdoms is an epic Chinese novel written over six centuries ago. It recounts in vivid historical detail the turbulent years at the close of the Han Dynasty, when China broke into three competing kingdoms and over half the population were either killed or driven from their homes. Part myth, part fact, readers will experience the loyalty and treachery, the brotherhood and rivalry of China's legendary heroes and villains during the most tumultuous period in Chinese history.

Considered the greatest work in classic Chinese literature, The Three Kingdoms is read by millions throughout Asia today. Seen not just as a great work of art, many Chinese view it as a guide to success in life and business as well as a work that offers great moral clarity—while many foreigners read it to gain insights into Chinese society and culture. From the saga of The Three Kingdoms, readers will learn how great warriors motivate their troops and enhance their influence, while disguising their weaknesses and turning the strengths of others against them.

This first volume in a trilogy introduces Liu Bei and his sworn brothers-in-arms Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, whose allegiance is sorely tested in a society that is in flux where each group is fighting for its survival against the other.

Chapters: 35

Pages: 414

The Three Kingdoms: The Sleeping Dragon Vol II by Luo Guanzhong

This exciting new translation will appeal to modern readers who find the twists and turns of Game of Thrones so compelling.

The Three Kingdoms is an epic Chinese novel written over six centuries ago. It recounts in vivid historical detail the turbulent years at the close of the Han Dynasty, when China broke into three competing kingdoms and over half the population were either killed or driven from their homes. Part myth, part fact, readers will experience the loyalty and treachery, the brotherhood and rivalry of China's legendary heroes and villains during the most tumultuous period in Chinese history.

Considered the greatest work in classic Chinese literature, The Three Kingdoms is read by millions throughout Asia today. Seen not just as a great work of art, many Chinese view it as a guide to success in life and business as well as a work that offers great moral clarity—while many foreigners read it to gain insights into Chinese society and culture. From the saga of The Three Kingdoms, readers will learn how great warriors motivate their troops and enhance their influence, while disguising their weaknesses and turning the strengths of others against them.

This second volume introduces Liu Bei's greatest ally, his advisor Zhuge Lian—a master strategist whose clever strategies allows Liu Bei to claim many victories in the never-ending battle for dominance during the Warring States period in Chinese history.

Chapters: 74

Pages: 447

The Three Kingdoms: Welcome The Tiger Vol III by Luo Guanzhong

This exciting new translation will appeal to modern readers who find the twists and turns of Game of Thrones so compelling.

The Three Kingdoms is an epic Chinese novel written over six centuries ago. It recounts in vivid historical detail the turbulent years at the close of the Han Dynasty, when China broke into three competing kingdoms and over half the population were either killed or driven from their homes. Part myth, part fact, readers will experience the loyalty and treachery, the brotherhood and rivalry of China's legendary heroes and villains during the most tumultuous period in Chinese history.

Considered the greatest work in classic Chinese literature, The Three Kingdoms is read by millions throughout Asia today. Seen not just as a great work of art, many Chinese view it as a guide to success in life and business as well as a work that offers great moral clarity—while many foreigners read it to gain insights into Chinese society and culture. From the saga of The Three Kingdoms, readers will learn how great warriors motivate their troops and enhance their influence, while disguising their weaknesses and turning the strengths of others against them.

This third volume concludes the tale of Liu Bei and his sworn brothers-in-arms, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, whose loyalty and fidelity are sorely tested in a society at war for its very survival.

Chapters: 120

Pages: 510

The Captive Queen-Danny Saunders

Political schemes, religious partisanship and unbridled love shake the Royal Court of Scotland at the end of the Stuart dynasty.

Witness to sordid murders, spy for Her Majesty among the Protestants of the infamous preacher John Knox, forced to give up her one true love, thrown out onto the streets then ruthlessly attacked by a drunkard, Charlotte Gray will do everything in her power to remain the sovereign’s lady-in-waiting.

As for the Queen of Scots, she faces turmoil of a completely different kind: prisoner in a castle under the command of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Mary Stuart learns that she is the victim of a vast conspiracy and that her English counterpart has ordered her imminent execution.

Despite their hardships, Mary and Charlotte will keep their dignity throughout the storm. The two women will finally find serenity, one in the arms of a man and the other in the arms of God.

Interwoven with historical facts of the era, the thrilling The Captive Queen saga is worthy of the greatest royal intrigues that still fascinate us several centuries later.

Chapters: 15 plus foreword

Pages: 311

The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia H. Long 

History, love, and faith combine in a gripping novel set in early 1700’s Mexico. In this second passionate and thrilling story of the Castillo family, the daughter of a secret Jew is caught between love and the burdens of a despised and threatened religion. The Enlightenment is making slow in-roads, but Consuelo’s world is still under the dark cloud of the Inquisition. Forced to choose between protecting her ailing mother and the love of dashing Juan Carlos Castillo, Consuelo’s personal dilemma reflects the conflicts of history as they unfold in 1711 Mexico. A rich, romantic story illuminating the timeless complexities of family, faith, and love.

Chapters 10 plus prologue and historical post script,

Pages: 234

The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

The epic story of the queen who founded the Tudor dynasty, told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory.

When her own first child is tragically still-born, the young Mette is pressed into service as a wet-nurse at the court of the mad king, Charles VI of France. Her young charge is the princess, Catherine de Valois, caught up in the turbulence and chaos of life at court.

Mette and the child forge a bond, one that transcends Mette’s lowly position.
But as Catherine approaches womanhood, her unique position seals her fate as a pawn between two powerful dynasties. Her brother, The Dauphin and the dark and sinister, Duke of Burgundy will both use Catherine to further the cause of France.

Catherine is powerless to stop them, but with the French defeat at the Battle of Agincourt, the tables turn and suddenly her currency has never been higher. But can Mette protect Catherine from forces at court who seek to harm her or will her loyalty to Catherine place her in even greater danger?


Pages: 559

Madame Picasso by Anne Girard 

The mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can't help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso's life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

Chapters: 35 plus author's note

Pages: 414

Tower of Tears by Rhoda D'Ettore

"If God be good, Mr. Landon shall burn in the eternal flames of hell. If God be bad, he shall suffer much worse."

Despair. Love. Abuse. Murder. Mystery. Tragedy.

In 1820, Jane McClusky sets out for Philadelphia from Ireland with her toddler son, hoping for a better life. Her husband remains in Ireland, trying to save money for his voyage, while she resides with cousins she has never met. Jane must meet the challenges of crossing the Atlantic, residing with virtual strangers, and working a factory job in a new land.

She soon faces tragedy, betrayal, and heart ache. The New World was not what she expected it to be.

Each book of this series will follow different generations of the McClusky family as they become Americanized, while facing such events as the Potato Famine, the US Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution.

Chapters: 69 plus prologue and epilogue


Ballroom by Alice Simpson

Told in interconnecting stories, Ballroom is a beautifully crafted debut novel—reminiscent of the works of Elizabeth Strout and Jennifer Haigh—about a group of strangers united by a desire to escape their complicated lives, if only for a few hours each week, in a faded New York City dance hall

Time has eroded the glamour of the Ballroom, but at the end of the 1990s, a small crowd of loyal patrons still makes its way past the floor-to-ceiling columns which frame the once grand hall each Sunday evening. Sweeping across the worn parquet floor under a peeling indigo ceiling, these men and women succumb to the magic of the music, looking for love and connection, eager to erase the drab reality of their complicated lives.

Nearly forty and still single, Sarah Dreyfus is desperate for love and sure she’ll find it with debonair Gabriel Katz, a dazzling peacock who dances to distract himself from his crumbling marriage. Tired of the bachelor life, Joseph believes that his yearning for a wife and family will be fulfilled—if only he can get Sarah to notice him. Besotted with beautiful young Maria Rodriguez, elderly dance instructor Harry Korn knows they can find happiness together. Maria, one of the Ballroom’s stars, has a dream of her own, a passion her broken-hearted father refuses to accept or understand.

As the rhythms of the Ballroom ebb and flow through these characters’ hearts, their fates come together in touching, unexpected ways.

Chapters: 47

Pages: 281

A Matter of Mercy by Lynne Hugo

Caroline Marcum thought she'd escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past-and his prison term-behind him to return home to take over his father's oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor'easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline's lives intersect once again. When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust-and love. Inspired by an actual lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends. And where it begins.

Chapters: 30 plus author's note

Pages: 263

The Story Hour: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar 

From the critically beloved, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Us, whom the New York Times Book Review calls a "perceptive and . . . piercing writer," comes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, family, secrets, forgiveness, and second chances

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn't need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.

Chapters: 42

Pages: 317

Accidents of Marriage-Randy Susan Meyers

Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the destruction left in the wake of spouse’s verbal fury. Ben never meant to hurt Maddy. He never imagined his recklessness would lead to tragedy.

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the damaging effects of a spouse’s emotional abuse.

Chapters: 39

Pages: 352

Beyond Hollywood Strip by Shamron Moore 

Callie Lambert is the hottest starlet in Hollywood. With a hit TV show under her belt, the tabloid-targeted actress--christened one of “The 20 Most Tantalizing Angelenos”--leads a charmed life, hobnobbing with fashionistas in Paris and industry bigwigs in Los Angeles . She's sexy, sassy, and unsinkable....and currently unemployed.

Beyond Hollywood Strip offers an inside look into the realities of being famous and beautiful, following Callie as she navigates the seedy underbelly of the entertainment industry. Juggling hunky ex-boyfriends, battling lawsuits from rival actresses, staying one step ahead of the press, organizing a charity event to honor her murdered friend…Callie’s got it all under control. But when she receives a mysterious letter from a young woman claiming to be her long-lost sister, Callie’s world begins to crack around the edges and all bets are off.

An ode to the literary popcorn of Jacqueline Susann, Beyond Hollywood Strip is a steamy, action-packed ride down Sunset Boulevard. Better buckle your seat belt…it’s going to be bumpy...

Chapters: 69

Pages: 394

Becoming Josephine-Heather Webb

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Chapters: N/A plus author's note

Pages: 306

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier's letters home.

Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.

Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

Chapters: 37 plus prologue and author's note

Pages: 301

Living Reed: A Novel of Korea-Pearl S. Buck

The Living Reed follows four generations of one family, the Kims, beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family in Korea. When Japan invades and the queen is killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding. In the ensuing years, he and his family take part in the secret war against the Japanese occupation.
Pearl S. Buck's epic tells the history of Korea through the lives of one family. She paints an amazing portrait of the country, and makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty through her beautifully drawn characters.

Chapters: 3 plus epilogue and historical note

Pages: 478

A House Divided-Pearl S. Buck

"A House Divided," the third volume of the trilogy that began with "The Good Earth" and "Sons," is a powerful portrayal of China in the midst of revolution. Wang Yuan is caught between the opposing ideas of different generations. After 6 years abroad, Yuan returns to China in the middle of a peasant uprising. His cousin is a captain in the revolutionary army, his sister has scandalized the family by her premarital pregnancy, and his warlord father continues to cling to his traditional ideals. It is through Yuan's efforts that a kind of peace is restored to the family

Chapters: 4

Pages: 343

The Heike Story-Eiji Yoshikawa

Kyoto in the twelfth century was a magnificent city, but crime, disorder, and lust were rampant. The people were abused by the nobility, while the armed Buddhist monks terrorized court and commoner alike. In despair, the Emperor called upon the Heike and Genji clans to quell civil disturbances. Although the clans succeeded, they quarreled over the spoils of war and plunged the country into a century of warfare.This novel describes the rise to power of Kiyomori of the Heike clan during this turbulent time. From a youth sunk in poverty, Kiyomori eventually rose to become the Emperor's Chief Councillor. Although he was a gentle, enlightened man, he left a trail of bloodshed and ruin in his wake. The strange twists of Kiyomori's fate are the core of this epic novel.The Heike Story is a modern translation of a Japanese classic. Its exotic atmosphere, narrative power, pageantry, and poetry will enthrall English readers and provide an entertaining introduction to an important source of Japanese culture.

Chapters: 50 plus On the Historical Background  and foreword

Pages: 547

The Golden Lotus Volume 1: Jin Ping Mei-Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng

A saga of ruthless ambition, murder, and lust, this classic novel—admired in its own time for its literary qualities and biting indictment of the immorality and cruelty of its age—lays bare the rivalries within a wealthy family while chronicling its rise and fall.

This edition features a new introduction by Robert Hegel of Washington University, and contains the complete text as translated by Clement Egerton with the assistance of Shu Qingchun, who as Lao She became one of the most prominent Chinese writers of the twentieth century.

Chapters: 53 plus Introductions, notes and The Golden Lotus

Pages: 640

The Golden Lotus Volume 2: Jin Ping Mei-Lanling Xiaoxiaosheng

A saga of ruthless ambition, murder, and lust, this classic novel—admired in its own time for its literary qualities and biting indictment of the immorality and cruelty of its age—lays bare the rivalries within a wealthy family while chronicling its rise and fall.

This edition features a new introduction by Robert Hegel of Washington University, and contains the complete text as translated by Clement Egerton with the assistance of Shu Qingchun, who as Lao She became one of the most prominent Chinese writers of the twentieth century.

Chapters: 100

Pages: 640

The Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan by Helen Craig McCullough

This celebrated literary classic has delighted generations of Japanese. In its pages, the Western reader will find a vivid contemporary description of the fourteenth-century intrigues and battles that led to the destruction of the Hojo family, the military overlords of the nation, and made it possible for the Emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1339), one of Japan's most remarkable sovereigns, to reassert the power of the throne. Go-Daigo's first hesistant attempts to overthrow the Hojo, the early defeats suffered by his supporters, his dethronement and exile, the legendary exploits of his generals, the growing strength of his arms, and his ultimate return to the throne are all recounted in engrossing detail.

THe book's anonymous authors diversify their narrative through skillful use of the rich treasure house of the Chinese dynastic histories, the verse of the Six Dynasties and T'ang, and the Confucian teachings underlying the strict warrior code of loyalty and filial piety. They write with a deep sense of hte inevitability of karma-determined fater and the impermanence of man and his works, but the virile spirti of the age is reflected in their praise of valor and military prowess, their taste for descriptions of hte trappings of war, and their frequent ireverent asides.

Chapters: 12 plus preface

Pages: 387

Empress of Canton by Juliann Troi 

China, 1923: An ancient land, once gloriously majestic, is now a nation torn and bleeding, slowly being blown to pieces by revolution. Ruthless warlords have overthrown the divine Imperial system and claimed dominion, carving the country up to satisfy their own selfish designs. Political intrigue and betrayal are the only rulers now. Caught between two warring factions during an invasion of Canton and taken prisoner, Kathryn Hopewell's life hangs in the balance. Witness to the proceedings, Ty Wang must make an impossible choice: to save Kathryn will cost him his life, to let her die could mean the death of his beloved homeland. Bound together by a love as strong as it is forbidden, Ty and Kathryn must overcome impossible odds and boldly embrace a great and terrible purpose that could ultimately change the fate of a nation ... and destroy them both. Look for the exciting continuation of The Dragonfly Saga in book 2, Green Pearl. A native of Oklahoma, Juliann Troi is proud of her Okie heritage. "Perhaps we aren't so worldly and cosmopolitan as our coastal cousins, but we've fielded our share of great athletes, entertainers, even astronauts ... and now me, a wannabe great writer. I love learning new things and thoroughly enjoy the pursuit of knowledge. My favorite thing in the whole world is taking that knowledge and turning it into a great story."

Chapters: 12

Pages: 313

Green Pearl by Juliann Troi

Green Pearl, Book 2 of the thrilling Dragonfly Saga, finds Ty and Kathryn enjoying a blissful honeymoon in Shaoguan, unaware that they've been betrayed . All at once, their peace is shattered by bitter jealousy and attempts on Kathryn's life.The couple is forced to flee in a desperate attempt to stay a step ahead of General Cheng and the would-be assassins. They seek refuge with a woman from Ty's past whose secret threatens to tear their young marriage apart.

Before they can secure safe passage Cheng's men appear unexpectedly at the house where they are hiding. Fearing that Ty has been captured or worse, Kathryn escapes and goes on without him. Alone and hunted, she must somehow find a way to get to off the mainland alive and in time to stop her father from starting a war.

Chapters: 19

Pages: 312

The Legendary Adventures of the Pirate Queens by James Grant Goldin

If you think you have troubles, consider Mary Read, an Englishwoman circa 1718: Forced to disguise herself as “Martin Read,” a sailor, she’s in love with another sailor – a man who has no idea his best friend is a woman. To make matters worse, they’re both captured by pirates. To make matters worse yet, one of the pirates is a woman – Anne Bonny, Southern belle turned scourge of the Caribbean – who takes a very strong liking to “Martin Read.” If that isn’t bad enough, Anne Bonny’s lover, Captain “Calico Jack” Rackam, is getting jealous. Mary’s life becomes a whirlwind of intrigue, imprisonment, deadly duels and unwanted sexual advances that are inappropriate even by the rather loose standards of 18th-century pirates. And there are other problems: the new Governor of the Bahamas wants to put an end to Anne Bonny’s career, and a vicious enemy from Calico Jack’s past is out for a bloody revenge. The only way out of all these various predicaments is for Mary Read and Anne Bonny to team up – to join swords and put their trust in each other. Based on a true story, THE LEGENDARY ADVENTURES OF THE PIRATE QUEENS combines drama and comedy to tell the tale of two women who in ordinary times would never have met – and yet did meet, and went on to become the most fearsome pair of sea-faring hellions in the West Indies.

Chapters: 20

Pages: 282

The Prodigal by Michael C. Hurley

Pride, betrayal, forgiveness . . . and the eternal sea. The Prodigal tells the mystical tale of four people on Ocracoke Island whose destiny is tied to an abandoned schooner, thought to have been lost at sea more than a century ago, that one day drifts ashore. Marcus O'Reilly, a renegade Catholic priest, must confront his inner demons. Ibrahim Joseph, a Bahamian fugitive, must face his past. Aidan Sharpe, a fallen lawyer, struggles with self-doubt and his growing affection for Molly McGregor, a fearless towboat captain who cannot find the courage to love. They will all be drawn into a 2,000-year-old mystery that unfolds with the reappearance of the ship.

Chapters: 36 plus prologue

Pages: 346

What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age by Renee Rosen

In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair.

The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night.…

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.

But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

Chapters: 49 plus epilogue and author's note

Pages: 425

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about the choices we make, how they shape our lives, and how they can change them forever.Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: Everything is about to change.It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and--just like that--her life turns upside down. When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she'd never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 274

Land of Dreams: A Novel by Kate Kerrigan

Set in 1940s Los Angeles, the compelling final installment in New York Times bestselling author Ellie Hogan’s sweeping immigrant trilogy begun in Ellis Island and City of Hope—a story of family, love, danger, and ambition in Hollywood during World War II.

Irish immigrant Ellie Hogan has finally achieved the American Dream. But her comfortable bohemian life on Fire Island, New York, is shattered when her eldest adopted son, Leo, runs away, lured by the promise of fortune and fame in Hollywood. Determined to keep her family intact, Ellie follows him west, uprooting her youngest son and long-time friend Bridie.

In Los Angeles, Ellie creates a fashionable new home among the city’s celebrities, artists, and movie moguls. She is also drawn into intense new friendships, including talented film composer Stan, a man far different from any she has ever met, and Suri, a beautiful Japanese woman and kindred spirit, who opens Ellie’s eyes to the injustices of her country.

While Leo is dazzled by Hollywood’s glitz, Ellie quickly sees that the golden glamour masks a world of vanity and greed. Though she tries to navigate them around the dangers of their new home, she will not be able protect them from an even more terrifying threat: war.

Chapters: 34 plus prologue and epilogue

Pages: 314