The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman

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I’ve been approved twice for early copies of Alice Hoffman’s books and both times I nearly did cartwheels around my house. I am a fairly new fan of Hoffman’s but what I have read swept me away into new dimensions. I honestly lose my bearings once I open the pages of her books- it’s as if a gentle hand lifts from the pages and guides me into a new and magical world.

“The Marriage of Opposites” was no exception. Although it took me a chapter to really get a feel for where the book was taking me, it most definitely didn’t disappoint. I will say that there was less of a magical theme, or less than normal, but the storylines were so engaging that I was mesmerized just the same.

There were various timelines (all linear) and the story shifted points-of-view depending on the character but everything revolved around a woman, Rachel Pomié (Petit Pizzarro), and those closest to her. The stories took place primarily in St. Thomas and Paris. Hoffman was successful in turning the atmosphere in St. Thomas to one that was vibrant and magical and I could even smell the salt from the water and hear the water lapping over the sand. Once in Paris it was as though my bones felt cold just reading about the brutal winters.

What impressed me most was how the characters were so developed that Hoffman didn’t skip even the smallest nuances in their personalities as life and experiences slowly molded each personality and left them far from generalized.

I tend to write less what the book is about in my reviews and more of my experience as I don’t like to give too much away, but I will say that I highly recommend this book.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and the author for an advanced copy for an honest review.

I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes

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I was approved for “I Am Pilgrim” as an arc in 2014 and I hate to admit that I am just now getting around to it. I requested far too many books last year and I have several more to catch up on. But as far as this book goes, I’m right in the middle: I neither loved it nor loathed it. As far as the positives, I felt that the writing was engaging and I had no problems creating the author’s world in my mind and was thoroughly entertained. But there were the negatives that kept it from being a winner for me. I felt that it was way too long by about 300 pages…I felt there were characters that didn’t really contribute to the story…I didn’t like the varying POV’s and thought that the story had too many directions. With that being said, the negatives weren’t so strong that it kept me from enjoying the read altogether and I would recommend reading it as many people really loved this one.

Summer of Good Intentions, by Wendy Francis

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The Summer of Good Intentions is an ideal summer read. It is full of ever-changing family dynamics and ailments. It focuses from the POV of three sisters and their families, as well as their mother and father (the parents are separated).

Every summer the family travels from their various homes and head to their summer home in Cape Cod to visit each other and reconnect. This year in particular is more dramatic, heartbreaking, and touching than the times in the past.

There were parts in the book that were summarized when I felt that there should have been more focus and I was surprised that three sisters could get together without one dramatic episode of arguing or jealousy…had that happened then it would have been a bit more realistic for me rather than the illnesses that occurred. Other than that, I did find it to be an enjoyable read. I would recommend as a satisfying summer read.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman

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I loved this story and found it very endearing. It is about Elsa, an almost 8 year old, who gets bullied in school and yet is resilient and very smart for a girl her age. She is best friends with her eccentric, trash talking grandmother. They have a very special and unusual bond and speak their own secret language and speak of a fantasy land that seems to be more of a philosophy wrapped in images and tales.

After her grandmother dies, she leads Elsa on a journey through letters and friends to discover the meaning behind their secret land and along the way she grows closer the ones around her. This is a beautiful story and I highly recommend it.

Spotlight for The Outer Banks House and Return to the Outer Banks House, by Diann Ducharme

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About The Outer Banks House

Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Crown Publishing
Formats: Ebook, Paperback, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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As the wounds of the Civil War are just beginning to heal, one fateful summer would forever alter the course of a young girl’s life.

In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does.

But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby’s father’s Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.

With vivid historical detail and stunning emotional resonance, Diann Ducharme recounts a dramatic story of love, loss, and coming of age at a singular and rapidly changing time in one of America’s most beautiful and storied communities.

Download the Lost Chapter of The Outer Banks House.

Praise for The Outer Banks House

“…There’s real darkness on the edge of this romance that hurls the lovers toward tragedy, as if the price to re-enter the innocence of Eden might afford Abby nothing but despair. This 2010 debut novel and portrayal of the historical Outer Banks offers a terrific option for beach reading; it’s the sort of novel that can be charming without requiring an abundance of character complexity and depth. Abby’s evolution ultimately parallels the positive aspects of how the South reconciled to change after the Civil War, a change that required a culture of ignorance to wash out to sea.”
— Style Weekly Review

“It’s 1868, and the natives of North Carolina’s Outer Banks think the Sinclairs’ summer residence on the beach at Nags Head is right peculiar. Seventeen-year-old Abigail Sinclair is enlisted by her parents to teach Ben Whimble, her father’s fishing guide, to read. Abby is being courted by medical student Hector Newman and is appalled at the dirty and perpetually barefoot Ben. But Abby is also restless and slowly sees in Ben more than just a willing pupil. Ben might be getting sweet on his teacher as well, but her father has involved him in a matter that doesn’t sit right with the Banker, knowing that freedmen and runaway slaves have long lived contentedly out on Roanoke Island. It’s just three years since the end of the war, and for some, that isn’t long enough. VERDICT First novelist Ducharme has laced her novel with the sounds and the smells of the North Carolina shoreline. Racism and Southern tradition run along parallel paths in this affecting debut, where gentlemen can be less than honorable and enslavement doesn’t always involve chains. Highly recommended for fans of Southern fiction.” – Bette-Lee Fox — Library Journal, Starred Review

“A heart-felt and engrossing novel about the coming of age of two very different young people in the South just after the Civil War: a curious upper-class girl from an almost bankrupt plantation and a handsome young barefoot fisherman “made of sand and seawater” who comes to her to learn to read. What they learn from each other about tolerance and caring in those turbulent times will change their lives forever. A beautiful sense of this place by the sea, of a country in conflict, of death and redemption, and of new love.” – Stephanie Cowell, Author of CLAUDE & CAMILLE:

“The Outer Banks House is a beautifully written and deeply moving story of a sheltered young woman’s awakening to life, love and the injustice of discrimination against former slaves. In theme and impact, shades of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn; in the evocative setting and fresh voice, a unique novel all its own.” – Karen Harper — Author of THE QUEEN’S GOVERNESS

Buy The Outer Banks House

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Crown Publishing


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About Return to the Outer Banks House

Publication Date: December 10, 2014
Kill Devil Publishing
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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She was the spirited daughter of a North Carolina plantation owner, and he was a poor fisherman who she tutored on the porch of her family’s Nags Head cottage. When we last saw Abigail Sinclair and Ben Whimble at the close of The Outer Banks House, they’d overcome their differences in life stations and defied convention to begin their new life together.

But now it’s seven years later, and Return to the Outer Banks House finds the couple married and in hard times—riddled by poverty, miscarriages, and weakened family ties. The strong bonds that once held them together have eroded over time, and their marriage threatens to unravel, particularly when relationships from the past and ambitions for the future find their way into the mismatched couple’s present predicament.

Can their love survive? Or are the challenges they face insurmountable? Return to the Outer Banks House carries readers back to 1875 to answer these questions and explore the ebb and flow of a rocky marriage set against the enchanting North Carolina shoreline. Replete with history, intrigue, and plenty of maritime drama, it’s an evocative tale of struggle in the Reconstruction-era South.

Praise for Return to the Outer Banks House

“…Set between 1875 and ’76, Ducharme’s story—this being the sequel to The Outer Banks House (2010)—is about love and its many faces, from young and reckless to unrequited. Specifically, she explores the unlikely passion that forms between smart, affluent Abigail Sinclair and uneducated, penniless Benjamin Whimble. The people of this tightknit island community on the Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina, are connected by their collective poverty and abiding love for the sea. Outsiders are generally unwelcome…” – Kirkus Reviews

Buy Return to the Outer Banks House

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About the Author

Diann was born in Indiana in 1971, but she spent the majority of her childhood in Newport News, Virginia. She majored in English literature at the University of Virginia, but she never wrote creatively until, after the birth of her second child in 2003, she sat down to write The Outer Banks House. She soon followed up with her second book, Chasing Eternity, and in 2015 the sequel to her first novel, Return to the Outer Banks House.

Diann has vacationed on the Outer Banks since the age of three. She even married her husband of 10 years, Sean Ducharme, in Duck, North Carolina, immediately after a stubborn Hurricane Bonnie churned through the Outer Banks. Conveniently, the family beach house in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina provided shelter while she conducted research for her historical fiction novels.

She has three beach-loving children and a border collie named Toby, who enjoys his sprints along the shore. The family lives in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, counting down the months until summer.

For more information visit Diann Ducharme’s website. You can also follow Diann on her blogTwitter, and Goodreads.

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The Outer Banks Series Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, May 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, May 27
Review (Book One) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, May 28
Review (Book One) at In a Minute

Friday, May 29
Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, May 30
Spotlight at Becky on Books

Sunday, May 31
Review (Book One) at Book Nerd

Monday, June 1
Review (Book Two) at Let them Read Books
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, June 2
Review (Book One) at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, June 3
Review (Book Two) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, June 4
Spotlight & Giveaway (Book One) at View from the Birdhouse

Friday, June 5
Review (Both Books) at Bibliotica

Sunday, June 7
Review (Book One) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 8
Review (Book One) at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Curling Up With A Good Book

Tuesday, June 9
Review & Giveaway (Book One) at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 10
Review (Both Books) at Unshelfish
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, June 11
Review (Book Two) at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, June 12
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, June 14
Review (Book Two) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 15
Review & Giveaway (Both Books) at Genre Queen

Tuesday, June 16
Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, June 17
Review (Both Books) at Luxury Reading

Thursday, June 18
Review (Book One) at Books and Benches
Interview at Layered Pages

Friday, June 19
Spotlight at Build a Bookshelf
Review (Book Two) at Ageless Pages Reviews

House-Breaking, by Dan Pope

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I really enjoyed this book as it sucked me right into its pages.  It had the feel of the movie, “Traffic” where you experience the same time frame from various characters who are somehow all connected during a particular space and time.  The book is broken down in parts from their points-of-view.  I found each characters viewpoint to be engaging and at times I had trouble putting the book down.  The book is not very long and is just in time for the perfect summer read.

Thank you NetGalley, Dan Pope, and Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy.

What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman

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I remember buying this book last year and knowing that it was going to be one of my reads for 2014, but somehow it got lost in the shuffle. I recently came across it again and I am glad that I jumped in. (There are no spoilers here)

Basically this book alternates between two women: one in the late 1920’s and the other in 1995. Clara is a teenager in the 20’s who comes from a prestigious family: her father owned half of the largest bank in Manhattan and her mother was an heiress who had a lot of money. Because her father controlled her and her brother’s life, in attempts to secure his money, her brother committed suicide. But being a family of power and virtue (and by virtue, I really mean denial), the parents chose to not see what happened as a suicide and once Clara conveys this to them when she has been told that she can no longer see the man she is in love with, she is stigmatized as insane, because again her parents chose to deflect any guilt or wrongdoing from their stances and blame anyone who challenges them. As a result, she is sent to a home for the mentally ill and from there a state run insane asylum-Willard.

Izzy, short for Isabelle, has been in foster care since she was a child. She is fortunate enough to live with a family who truly cares for her and her well-being. Somehow they are in charge of digging through some old suitcases at Willard (where Clara stayed) that were left behind. That’s when Izzy comes across the story of Clara and wants to find out more. She seems to be attached to this because her own mother was institutionalized for killing her father. She never knew why and her attachment to Clara, she hopes, will give her some insight and peace of mind.

This is an interesting story and I was hooked almost immediately. The author is fantastic at visual writing because I could see the setting and actions so clear in my mind. She set up the scene just enough without going overboard and pulling me out of the story. She is also great at writing dialogue that seemed natural and flowed along without being distracting. The best however, was how she could set up scenes that were so intense that I was on the edge of my seat. But be warned that if you are looking for a warm and fuzzy type of read that you should not expect to find that here. This reads as real life would have been in the late 20’s and early 30’s, women weren’t always treated as well as today and it has the potential to really piss you off. It did me, but I like a book that stirs me up yet makes me appreciate how lucky I am today and respect those who paved the way for our rights on this side of the world. This made me more aware that there are other woman out there in other countries who aren’t as lucky and I can only hope that they too will see change in the near future.