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Atonement (2007) R

atonementIn 1935 England, 13-year-old Briony witnesses her sister and a young man interact and misinterprets it. Later she tells a lie about a rape and Robbie, the son of a family servant, is sent to prison. Her older sister Cecelia loves Robbie, but the lie changes their lives forever and the consequences are devastating. Three years later, England is at war and the two lovers try to reunite.

Atonement has an excellent cast. Kiera Knightley (Cecelia) has never been better, and James McAvoy (Robbie) is perfect as the wronged lover and soldier. Saoirse Ronan plays Briony. The war scenes are realistic, and the story based on the novel by Ian McEwan is superb.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (2016)

cornerbookshopWhen librarian Nina is made redundant, she decides to follow her dream of owning a bookstore. With a gift for connecting people to the right book, she buys a van, which she christens "Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After." However, making her business work is not an easy task. With limited resources, she moves from where she lives in Birmingham to northern Scotland, because it seems that the people there have a real need for a bookstore and her mobile one is even a better idea, because she can travel to lots of small towns. Soon, she finds herself becoming part of a community--and maybe even finding love.

Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner is a charming novel filled with quirky characters, friendship, and romance.

I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015) PG-13

seeyouinmydreamsBlythe Danner portrays widow Carol Petersen, who is grieving multiple losses. She survives her daily struggles with a little help from her friends (played by Martin Starr, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb, and Rhea Perlman). In I’ll See You in My Dreams, 70ish Danner creates a very warm and realistic character in this first leading role of her career. She proves "tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot (2016)

boyisbackTake one part Meg Cabot’s (of The Princess Diaries fame) brand of romantic comedy and one part modern epistolary novel and you get a delightfully endearing story. Told through phone chats, social media messages, journals, and emails, The Boy is Back follows high school sweethearts Becky and Reed as they reconnect after a decade apart. Mix in a wacky family, small town shenanigans, and a few misunderstandings for a sweet and breezy read.

And if you’re a fan of epistolary novels, check out our list.

Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick (2009)

sunflowersThe relationship of the eccentric painter Vincent van Gogh and a young prostitute Rachel begins in the French city of Arles where van Gogh has escaped from Paris to explore a new movement in painting. His never ending search for the perfect model leads him to Rachel and their love for each other grows more intense and tormented as van Gogh struggles with the demons in his soul and mind.

The letters between van Gogh and his brother in Paris reveal many of the known truths of this deeply gifted artist and his life story. A recent trip to the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was a fascinating comparison of the book, Vincent's artwork, and his love for a young prostitute looking for her own escape.

Check out Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick today.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller (2016)

citybakerWhen renowned pastry chef Olivia Rawlings sets a banquet hall on fire with her Baked Alaska dessert, she decides that it is time to move on and find another job and another life. The safest place she can think of is Guthrie, Vermont, where her best friend Hannah lives.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is delightful and fun to read. Olivia comes to realize that the small town offers her a sense of belonging and purpose. This sweet story from debut author Louise Miller is filled to the brim with yummy desserts and warm feelings. A treat!

Stay tuned for other foodie fiction – a featurette is coming from Jennifer later this month.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen (2016)

9womenIn this charming romantic comedy, the central character is this season’s hottest little black dress. Told from various points of view, Nine Women, One Dress shares the stories of an ensemble of New Yorkers whose lives are touched by the “it” dress. Despite jumping from character to character (men and women), the engaging story flows smoothly and keeps you invested in all of the lives we visit. Jane L. Rosen’s debut is a delightfully lighthearted read.

Spotlight: Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh

angelsbloodWouldn’t it be weird if angels and vampires were a part of our daily life? Just try to picture angels launching off skyscrapers and gliding through the air with wings as many colors as you can imagine, their feathers softly floating down for a small child to add to her collection.

For the characters of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, this is completely normal, average even! But what does a guild hunter do? The series namesake comes from humans who hunt down rogue vampires to protect ordinary citizens going about their day. The plot primarily revolves around the adventures of Elena, a guild hunter, and Raphael, the archangel in charge of North America. However, some books also branch out to develop other important characters without Elena and Raphael being the focus. This keeps the stories fresh and the overarching plot (that spans several books, though each individual book does have its own ending, no worries!) moving.

If you love a good fast-paced paranormal romance with plenty of action, this is the series for you! Start with Angel’s Blood.

Penelope (2006) PG

penelopeA darling contemporary fantasy, Penelope is the story of a girl affected by a family curse. Due to a great-grandfather's perfidy, Penelope (Christina Ricci) is born with a pig snout. Legend says only love from one of her own kind can break the curse, and so her mother (Catherine O'Hara) arranges introductions to a string of blue bloods as potential husbands.

Enter Max (James McAvoy). He and Penelope connect, yet something's not quite right. Penelope flees home, embarking on her first adventure at the age of 25. This charming modern fairy tale isn't always what it seems.

Married to the Mob (1988) R

marriedtomobIn this gangster comedy, Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer) is unhappily married to mobster Frank de Marco (Alec Baldwin). When she finds herself unexpectedly widowed, Angela grabs her young son and runs away to lose herself in the big city. Somewhat bumbling FBI agent Mike Downey (Matthew Modine) goes undercover as he tries to bring big mob boss Tony Russo (Dean Stockwell) to justice. He becomes involved with the lovely young widow. Funny and sweet, you’ll be rooting for Angela all the way in Married to the Mob.

The Lady Eve (1941)

ladyeveThis screwball comedy from the golden age of movies is the story of a backward scientist who falls in love twice with the same woman. Picked up by an ocean liner on his way home from a scientific expedition in South America, Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), heir of the Pike’s Ale Pikes, falls under the charms of shipboard card sharps, one of them the beautiful Jean (Barbara Stanwyck). Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by the beautiful Jean, he proposes, only to find out Jean’s true background and break off the engagement.

Bent on revenge, Jean shows up in Connecticut, now sporting an English accent and presenting herself as the Lady Eve. Smitten all over again, young Charles does exactly what Jean had planned—falls in love with her all over again. Unluckily for Jean and her plans, though, she kind of loves the backward boy.

The sparkling classic The Lady Eve was directed by the brilliant Preston Sturges.

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (2016)

missbridgertonWith her trademark humor and snappy dialogue, Julia Quinn introduces readers to a new generation of Bridgertons--and launches a new series with Because of Miss Bridgerton. Neighbors Billie Bridgerton and George Rokesby have bickered their entire lives. But when Billie needs rescuing after her impulsive actions land her on the roof of an abandoned farmhouse, something changes... You'll relish the journey in this sparkling, delightful historical romance.

Curious about those other Bridgertons? We own (in print and ebook) the witty novels featuring each of the eight siblings.

Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme (2014)

missingreelsCeinwen Reilly is a transplant to the Big Apple where her minimum wage job at a vintage clothing shop funds her classic movie habit and her propensity for dressing like a 1920s film star. When she gets wind of a long missing silent movie directed by a mysterious, long forgotten German director and starring her elderly downstairs neighbor, Ceinwin becomes determined to track down the missing reels.

If you love old movies and romances with Englishmen named Matthew, this is the book for you. If not, many of the allusions to old movies might leave you bewildered. Interested? Find a copy of Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme today.

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean (2015)

roguenottakenSophie Talbot doesn't suffer fools...which backfires when her impulsive action involving her degenerate brother-in-law (a duke) and a fish pond is witnessed by all of society. Thwarting her escape is the rakish Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley, who thinks she's trying to trap him into marriage. What follows is a crazy adventure across England with witty repartee and unexpected discoveries. Plus, (truly) dark secrets are revealed in The Rogue Not Taken. Prepare to fall in love with Sarah MacLean in this series starter.

Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

emmaJuliet Stevenson's delightful rendition of this classic was the perfect way to experience Jane Austen. Her command of the many characters and their quirks brought out the humor and heart in Austen's words.

Check out the audio version of Emma in Hoopla, or read a print copy. And if you already know (and love) Emma, check out Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy. I think you’ll see a few endearing similarities between Emma and Sophy.