Liz + Lisa's nine favorite novels of January. One person will #win all! #bestbooks #lizandlisa #giveaway #amreading
Is it just us, or are there so many good books out there right now? It was hard to narrow down our list this month--we wish we could include everyone! And we have one copy of each for giveaway. Just leave a comment here or over on our FB page and you'll be entered to win! Contest closes Thursday, May 21 at 5pm PST. xoxo
The scoop: When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.
Our thoughts: Sarah McCoy left us with our chin on the floor. Such a talent!
The scoop: One baby girl. Two strong Southern women. And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make. Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…
Our thoughts: This moving debut has opened our eyes to the fabulousness that is Southern women's fiction!
The scoop: Karen, Melinda, and Joanna have never met until the morning they witness an accident outside a local diner—and rush to help. As a single mom whose sweet-faced boy has become a misguided young man, Karen immediately sets aside her own concerns and moves into action. Emergency first responder Melinda also calmly steps up to the plate, as she does every day; no one would ever suspect the insecurity that threatens her marriage to the man she loves. And blond, beautiful, bohemian Joanna is hiding—from her friends, her family, and, most important, herself. Yet she’s first on the scene. The accident leaves another, mother to be, Maddie, crushed by grief. But rather than retreat, Karen, Melinda, and Joanna open their arms and hearts. During the next nine months they’ll return to the diner over and over. They’ll come to find Maddie. They’ll end up finding themselves—learning what it means to be a mother, lover, wife, and friend. By reaching out and holding on, these four women will unite to show us life can be transformed at the most surprising moments.
Our thoughts: We were completely entangled in this story!
The scoop: Fresh from college, irrepressible Vivian Schuyler defies her wealthy Fifth Avenue family to work at cutthroat Metropolitan magazine. But this is 1964, and the editor dismisses her…until a parcel lands on Vivian’s Greenwich Village doorstep that starts a journey into the life of an aunt she never knew, who might give her just the story she’s been waiting for. In 1912, Violet Schuyler Grant moved to Europe to study physics, and made a disastrous marriage to a philandering fellow scientist. As the continent edges closer to the brink of war, a charismatic British army captain enters her life, drawing her into an audacious gamble that could lead to happiness…or disaster. Fifty years later, Violet’s ultimate fate remains shrouded in mystery. But the more obsessively Vivian investigates her disappearing aunt, the more she realizes all they have in common—and that Violet’s secret life is about to collide with hers.
Our thoughts: Out in paperback now, if you inhale this mesmerizing novel last summer while sitting by the beach (or even if you did) do it this year, girl!
The scoop: A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It's supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother's even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can't imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen's well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.
Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen's own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.
Our thoughts: If you loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed, you'll devour this novel. In the spirit of running from yourself to ultimately find yourself, Center draws you in with every page.
The scoop: Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss. Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told. Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.
Our thoughts: Such an original idea! We gobbled up this debut!
The scoop: Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage. Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years.Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.
Our thoughts: Kim Wright took us on an adventure we never wanted to end!
The scoop: The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and balance that will resonate deeply with all women who struggle with this hot-button issue. Loyal assistant Lucy Cooper works for Katherine Whitney, who seems to have it all: a high-powered job at a multibillion-dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, a successful husband, and two adorable daughters. Now, with the release of her book on work-life balance, Katherine has become a media darling and a hero to working women everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and Lucy is the one holding it all together, causing her own life―and relationship with her boyfriend Nick―to suffer. When Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must decide whether to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her choice will affect the trajectory of both of their lives and lead to opportunities neither one could have imagined.
Our thoughts: A must-read for any woman who's struggled to find balance! (Um, all of us!)
The scoop: Move over Bridget Jones… here comes Mimi Finnegan! Thirty-four year old, Mimi Finnegan is the third of four daughters and in her eyes, by far, the most unremarkable. She has no singular accomplishment that can stand up to any of her sisters. And if that isn’t enough, she is the only single sibling in her family. Mimi’s sisters decide that it’s time she gets serious about husband hunting, so they begin a campaign to find Mr. Right for her. Considering her most recent dating encounters include a night club owner who stuffs bratwurst in his pants and a WASPy trust fund baby, living happily under his mother’s thumb, Mimi is more than ready to meet THE ONE. Enter celebrated British novelist Elliot Fielding. Sexual tension and anger heat up between the duo and it isn’t until Mimi discovers that Elliot is almost engaged to another that she realizes she is head-over-heels in love with him. The journey will make you laugh, cry and want to pull your hair out from frustration! Mimi eventually learns that she is quite remarkable in her own right and never needed to worry that she lived in her sister’s shadows. The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan is the perfect laugh-out-loud, feel good book for any woman who has ever felt that she wasn’t good enough.
Our thoughts: Hilarious. Just the laughs we needed to kick off our summer!
The scoop: After three years of dating and trading nights at their respective New York City apartments, Emma Feit and Nick O'Hare are moving in together. Or they will be, as soon as they find the right place. For two happily-in-love professionals--Nick's a teacher, Emma tutors college-bound teens--with good credit and stellar references, how hard can it be? As it turns out, very--in ways that are completely unexpected. Suddenly Emma is filled with questions about cohabiting, about giving up her freedom--not to mention about who's going to clean the toilet. And while her best friend plans a dream wedding to her wealthy fiancé, and her older brother settles into suburban bliss, Emma must figure out what home means to her--and how on earth to get there.
Our thoughts: A witty and relatable read!