Happy Fall Y'all!
This is my favorite time of year. Pumpkins, mums, Halloween, and cool, crisp mornings. Though I love the lazy days of summer, nothing compares to this time of year. It also happens to be my twenty-sixth anniversary of my twenty-fifth birthday this week. (Yeah, you can do the math).
Since my last blog, a few things have happened. Some might even call them life-changing events. So here goes!
I’m So Excited—First, a little update on my debut novel, WHERE THE GRASS GROWS BLUE. This week, I will be submitting my content edits to my publisher! Yay! (Editing is very different from writing, but I finally found my groove.) Soon, I will have my book launch date, sometime in early 2023! I’ll keep you posted with all the upcoming news.
Bye, Bye, Birdie—It’s official. I’m an empty nester. I moved my last two children into their dorms and waved goodbye back in August. All five kiddos have spread their wings and are off flying. How did I deal with the loneliness and the deafening quiet? I gutted half of my house. Now, I live with furniture scattered about in the wrong places, constant dirt and dust floating through the air, coating everything in sight; and loud banging and sawing noises all day long. My house is a wreck and I’m living in utter chaos. It’s almost like having my children home again! I must say, Harley is not pleased with our new living arrangements, but his favorite chair is still in the same spot, so he’s doing okay for the most part.
On My Own—I’m still doing TikToks, but it’s not the same without my little co-star, my daughter, Ansley. But, what I’ve found is that you can teach an old dog a new trick. Not Harley, of course, but me. I figured out how to be a solo act! Check me out at @Hopegibbs71 and see for yourself. In fact, if you’re not following me on my social media platforms, click on the links for my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages and see what you’re missing! (Sorry for the shameless plug).
The Bucket List—Last week, I traveled to Nantucket for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Two dear friends joined me as we set off to experience the world of Elin Hilderbrand. As I’ve told you in earlier blogs, she is my absolute favorite author, and not only did I fall in love with the island, I met her too. We tried it all: smoked bluefish pâté, sparkling rosé, and Sancerre. I will be writing a blog soon detailing my time there. It’s called A Southern Woman’s Guide to Nantucket. Trust me, three women from Tennessee might have stood out a bit on the tiny New England island. Apparently, we have accents. Who knew?
Finally, I’ve devoured five books this month! As I’ve blogged about before, when I’m not writing and editing, I usually have my nose stuck in a book. There’s nothing more magical than being transported to another world. Check out these incredible works by some fantastic authors.
September Recommendations (Click on the arrows!)
ON GIN LANE by Brooke Lea Foster
WOW! This one blew my socks off. It’s definitely in my top five reads for 2022, and I might have found one of my new favorite authors. ☀️The Hamptons 💙Romance 😳 Mystery 📖 Historical Fiction In 1957, New York City socialite Everleigh Farrows is engaged to the dashing Roland Whittaker. This is "Lee’s" second engagement, so she’s desperate for it to work out. With a wedding planned for fall, Rolly surprises his fiancé by taking her to the Hamptons for the summer. Once there, he presents her with a gift—a hotel called The Everleigh Beach Club. Though she has no aspirations to own a hotel, Lee, being the prototypical 1950’s woman, is determined to make her man happy. She bites her lip and dives head first into their new venture. However, on opening night, after a grand party full of locals and celebrities, the hotel burns down under mysterious circumstances. With Rolly busy rebuilding along with his other extracurricular activities, the tragedy gives Lee the rare opportunity to discover herself by pursuing what really excites her—photography. Soon, she begins working for a famous photographer, Starling Meade. In doing so, she reevaluates her life. Does she want to be a wife and mother, playing tennis in the morning, attending charity luncheons by day and dressing to the nines for dinners in the evening, or does she want to forge her own path by following her dreams of being an independent woman? ON GIN ROAD will have you reflecting on the decisions made by women in that era. This one comes highly recommended.
THE ONE YOU’RE WITH by Lauren K. Denton
First of all, isn’t this the most beautiful cover ever? It's definitely in my top five for the year.
Childhood sweethearts, Edie and Mac Swan, seem to be living the perfect life. Both have successful careers; he’s a well-loved pediatrician while she's an interior decorator. They have two well-adjusted children and a beautiful home. They are pillars of their community right outside Mobile, Alabama. On the day of Mac’s fortieth birthday, as Edie prepares a surprise party for her husband, Mac is visited by a pregnant teenage girl who has an uncanny resemblance to him... his long-lost daughter.
Now, Mac and Edie not only have to navigate a new addition into their home and the disruptions to their children’s lives, but they must confront some startling secrets from their pasts. Specifically, that one summer, almost twenty years ago, when they broke up and went their separate ways for three months. That’s when Mac met the spunky Kat while working at Sunset Marina in Orange Beach, while Edie spent her time in New York as an intern, grappling with her own feelings for Graham, who happens to be Mac’s best friend, and who’s intertwined with the couple back in Alabama. Will their marriage survive all these revelations?
This story is told from two points of view: Edie’s and Mac’s, both in the present day, along with flashbacks from the summer of 2000. If you are a fan of Southern women's fiction, you’ll fall in love with this one.
*I especially loved the references to Orange Beach’s iconic spots, especially the Flora-Bama bar, which is a must if you ever find yourself in the quaint beach town. The Bushwacker is their signature drink.
OTHER BIRDS by Sarah Addison Allen
"Stories aren’t fiction. Stories are fabric. They’re the white sheets we drape over our ghosts so we can see them." Zoey Hennessey leaves her home in Tulsa and moves to Mallow Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, and into the charming apartment complex called The Dellawisp. She has inherited a unit from her late mother. Zoey hopes living there before starting college in the fall will not only be healing but will give her a deeper connection to her mother. Instead, she finds a group of eclectic residents, each with their own secrets, traumas, and ghosts. OTHER BIRDS is a quintessential Sarah Allen Addison novel, full of magical realism, mystery, second chances, and mischievous birds. If you enjoy her previous works as much as I do, I think you will love this one as well. An enchanting southern tale with a twist.
MY SECRET TO KEEP by Barbara Conrey
In the late 1940’s, sixteen-year-old Maggie Bryan’s world has turned upside down. Not only has she lost the love of her life in a tragic accident, but her parents have disowned her, throwing her out of their house when she announces she’s pregnant. Left with no options, she moves across the country to live with her brother to await the birth of her child. Although there is a strong bond between the siblings, it’s not an ideal place to live. Maggie’s abrasive sister-in-law is enraged by the presence of an unmarried teenager in her midst. At every turn, she treats her young guest with as much cruelty as she can muster. But Maggie’s challenging home life isn’t the only thing that weighs her down. The residents of her newly adopted town have a frigid and judgmental attitude toward the newcomer as well. However, Maggie refuses to give in to despair and instead works hard to change her circumstances. Determined to make a better life for her unborn child, she secures employment and returns to school at night to complete her GED. That’s when she meets Anne, a person whose generosity, friendship, and—most importantly—love will alter her life forever. Told through Maggie’s voice, MY SECRET TO KEEP spans four decades. There are several twists along the way, including a big one near the end. This is a compelling read that will immediately capture your attention and will tug at your heart. I should caution you. I recommend having a tissue nearby at all times. Trust me, you will need it. A gripping story. Beautifully written, poignant and meaningful. *This is a prequel to NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE. Though it can stand alone, I recommend reading both.
SUMMER LOVE by Nancy Thayer
SUMMER LOVE is told in two different timelines, alternating between chapters, This Summer and That Summer, which I loved. We begin the book in the past when four college graduates, Shelia, Ariel, Wyatt, and Nick, move to Nantucket for summer work and one last chance to live in the moment before settling down. By chance, they become roommates, though they’re complete strangers, in the basement of a hotel that’s being renovated. That summer, they have adventures, fall in love, and make decisions that will change their lives forever.
Fast forward to the present. They all return to the island with their children at the invitation of Nick, who now owns the same hotel they lived in during that special season. Now, it’s their children’s turn to discover the magic of Nantucket for themselves.
This is a light and easy read. I loved the premise, and it kept me engaged.
Until next time...