Good morning, and welcome to another Monday, in which we celebrate our reading, blogging, and life.  Mailbox Monday is hosted in July by Mrs. Q Book Addict; and Book Journey brings us another edition of What Are You Reading?



This week’s mailbox brought two review books, one contest win, and several books purchased, despite all my vows for restraint.  But what are you going to do when lovely books keep showing their faces (covers)?

Here’s my haul:

1.  The Roots of the Olive Tree, by Courtney Miller Santo (Amazon Vine)

Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women—an unbroken line of daughters—living together in the same house on a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California.

Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest person in the world. An indomitable force, strong in mind and firm in body, she rules Hill House, the family home she shares with her daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin. Though they lead ordinary lives, there is an element of the extraordinary to these women: the eldest two are defying longevity norms. Their unusual lifespans have caught the attention of a geneticist who believes they hold the key to breakthroughs that will revolutionize the aging process for everyone.

But Anna is not interested in unlocking secrets the Keller blood holds. She believes there are some truths that must stay hidden, including certain knowledge about her origins that she has carried for more than a century. Like Anna, each of the Keller women conceals her true self from the others. While they are bound by blood and the house they share, living together has not always been easy. And it is about to become more complicated now that Erin, the youngest, is back, alone and pregnant, after two years abroad with an opera company. Her return and the arrival of the geneticist who has come to study the Keller family ignites explosive emotions that these women have kept buried and uncovers revelations that will shake them all to their roots.

Told from varying viewpoints, Courtney Miller Santo’s compelling and evocative debut novel captures the joys and sorrows of family—the love, secrets, disappointments, jealousies, and forgiveness that tie generations to one another.

2.  The Shadow Queen, by Rebecca Dean (Amazon Vine)

A king would abdicate his throne for her in one of the world’s great love stories – but who was Wallis Simpson?

Born into a poor southern family but taken in by rich relatives, Wallis Simpson was raised as a socialite. Between family conflicts and debutante balls, she and her friends dream of their future husbands, and like millions of girls worldwide, dream of Prince Edward, the heir to the British throne who would someday be king. Beloved author Rebecca Dean imagines the early life of Wallis Simpson, her triumphs and heartbreaks, and the making of the twice divorced, nearly destitute woman who captured a king’s heart and changed the course of history. Set against a background of high society, royal circles, and diplomatic intrigue, The Shadow Queen features one of the most fascinating and controversial women of the 20th century.

3.  One Breath Away, by Heather Gudenkauf

In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Timesbestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.

In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town’s children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

4.  Between The Lines, by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult and her teenage daughter present their first-ever novel for teens, filled with romance, adventure, and humor.What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

5.  Jackie After O, by Tina Cassidy (Contest win from June, at Writing is a Blessing)

Defined in the public eye by her two high-profile marriages, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis faced a personal crossroads on the eve of 1975. Her relationship with Aristotle Onassis was crumbling while his health was rapidly declining. Her children were nearing adulthood, soon to leave her with an empty nest. Both death and scandal were about to strike yet again. But 1975 would also be a time of incredible growth and personal renaissance for Jackie, the year in which she reinvented herself and rediscovered talents and passions she had set aside for her roles as wife and mother.

In Jackie After O, acclaimed author and journalist Tina Cassidy explores this prolific yet incredibly daunting year in the life of Jacqueline Onassis, including her part in the campaign to preserve Grand Central Terminal in New York City; her pursuit of a real career, in the editorial department of Viking Press; the death of her second husband and her fraught relationship with his surviving daughter; and the London bombing that almost took her own daughter’s life. Cassidy has unearthed new information from archives and original interviews, and reveals intimate stories about the projects and interests of Jackie’s earlier years that would lay the foundation for her life beginning in 1975, from an internship at Vogue to her meticulous restoration of the White House when she was First Lady.

Jackie After O is an exciting and original portrayal of the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis through the lens of one remarkable year, a time of reinvention both personal and public, as she shook the world’s expectations and pursued her dreams in middle age.

6.  Keepsake (e-book), by Kristina Riggle

From the critically acclaimed author of Real Life & Liars and Things We Didn’t Say comes a timely and provocative novel that asks: What happens when the things we own become more important than the people we love?

Trish isn’t perfect. She’s divorced and raising two kids—so of course her house isn’t pristine. But she’s got all the important things right and she’s convinced herself that she has it all under control. That is, until the day her youngest son gets hurt and Child Protective Services comes calling. It’s at that moment when Trish is forced to consider the one thing she’s always hoped wasn’t true: that she’s living out her mother’s life as a compulsive hoarder.

The last person Trish ever wanted to turn to for help is her sister, Mary—meticulous, perfect Mary, whose house is always spotless . . . and who moved away from their mother to live somewhere else, just like Trish’s oldest child has. But now, working together to get Trish’s disaster of a home into livable shape, two very different sisters are about to uncover more than just piles of junk, as years of secrets, resentments, obsessions, and pain are finally brought into the light.

7.  The Other Woman’s House, by Sophie Hannah

The latest gripping psychological thriller from the internationally bestselling author of The Wrong Mother and The Cradle in the Grave

Featuring the return of detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse, Sophie Hannah’s latest novel offers the spine-tingling thrills her ever-increasing fan base adores.

It’s past midnight, but Connie Bowskill can’t sleep. To pass the time, she logs on to a real estate website in search of a particular house, one she is obsessed with for reasons she’s too scared to even admit to herself. As she clicks through the virtual tour, she comes across a scene from a nightmare: a woman lying facedown on the living room floor in a pool of blood. But when she returns to show her husband, there is no body, no blood—just a perfectly ordinary room. With plot twists that will keep readers up all night, The Other Woman’s House is another unforgettable story by a new master of the crime novel.



Now for the part of the week when we celebrate our reading, blogging, and life.

During the past week, I enjoyed a family get-together, and here are some photos at my Saturday Snapshot post.

I also got a laptop…so excuse any typos you might see, as I’m still trying to master the keyboard!

Here’s what I posted this week:





Read/Reviewed Kiss Crush Collide, by Christina Meredith

Read/Reviewed Valley Fever, by Sunny Frazier, et. al.

Read/Reviewed The Investigation of Ariel Warning, by Robert Malich

Read/Reviewed Wallflower in Bloom (e-book), by Claire Cook

What’s Up Next? (Click titles/covers for more info)

1.  Terminal Ambition, by Kate McGuinness

2.  My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, by Sissy Spacek

3.  The Last Summer of Her Other Life, by Jean Reynolds Page

4.  XO (Kathryn Dance) (e-book), by Jeffery Deaver


And that’s my week!  This week, I also plan to practice, practice PRACTICE on my new laptop until I master that keyboard!

Come on by and share your week….


    • I am excited about that one, too, Jess…and I used to live in the area that is the setting for the book, so that will enhance my enjoyment.

      Thanks for visiting, Jess, and enjoy your week.


  1. The Roots of the Olive Tree sounds great and I adore the cover of The Shadow Queen. Hope you enjoy One Breath Away as much as I did … I’ve loved all three of Heather Gudenkauf’s books. Looking forward to your thoughts on Between the Lines … what an awesome line up of books!
    Happy reading 🙂


  2. I’ve read Between the Lines and thought it was great fun! All of your books look good to me and I’m excited about a couple of them since the authors are coming here. Enjoy!


  3. Wow, Laurel, you had a busy week. The Other Woman’s House sounds like a read gripper. Have a fun, safe 4th and as always, happy reading!


  4. So many good books! Roots of the Olive Tree and the Other Woman’s House sound intriguing, and I’d like to read The Shadow Queen to find out more about Wallis Simpson. Between the Lines sounds a bit way out, but Jodi Picoult never writes a dud!

    Have a happy reading week! xx


    • I hope you’re right about that, Nise (the keyboard); I do think it’s getting easier, but I make a lot of typos and I’m always having to go back and correct…lol

      I don’t usually read the new mailbox books right away because of all the others waiting their turn, but I may have to make an exception with One Breath.


    • Oh, I agree, Patty…I’m almost finished with The Last Summer of Her Other Life, and it’s really good! I finished Terminal Ambition yesterday. Next I’ll start on the Sissy Spacek book….thanks for visiting, Patty.


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