Happiness for Beginners: A Novel

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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.

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About the author

KATHERINE CENTER is the author of four novels about love and family: The Bright Side of Disaster, Everyone Is Beautiful, Get Lucky, and The Lost Husband. Her books and essays have appeared in Redbook, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, and Real Simple—as well as the anthologies Because I Love Her, CRUSH, and My Parents Were Awesome. Katherine is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. She lives in Houston with her husband and two sweet children.
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Additional Information

Publisher
St. Martin's Griffin
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Published on
Mar 24, 2015
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781466847699
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Action & Adventure
Fiction / Contemporary Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Lanie Coates’s life is spinning out of control. She’s piled everything she owns into a U-Haul and driven with her husband, Peter, and their three little boys from their cozy Texas home to a multiflight walkup in the Northeast. She’s left behind family, friends, and a comfortable life–all so her husband can realize his dream of becoming a professional musician. But somewhere in the eye of her personal hurricane, it hits Lanie that she once had dreams too. If only she could remember what they were.

These days, Lanie always seems to rank herself dead last–and when another mom accidentally criticizes her appearance, it’s the final straw. Fifteen years, three babies, and more pounds than she’s willing to count since the day she said “I do,” Lanie longs desperately to feel like her old self again. It’s time to rise up, fish her moxie out of the diaper pail, and find the woman she was before motherhood capsized her entire existence.

Lanie sets change in motion–joining a gym, signing up for photography classes, and finding a new best friend. But she also creates waves that come to threaten her whole life. In the end, Lanie must figure out once and for all how to find herself without losing everything else in the process.

Katherine Center’s Everyone Is Beautiful is a hugely entertaining, poignant, and charming new novel about what happens after happily ever after: how a woman learns to fall in love with her husband–and her entire life–all over again.


From the Hardcover edition.
‘A perfect story to read now the colder weather is drawing in’ - Book Reviews by Claire Do you believe in ghost stories?

‘I’m coming to find you, ready or not.’

There's not much that scares Annie Graham. Not even the horrors she has witnessed during her years on the police force.

When she agrees to look after her brother's farmhouse, she finds herself drawn to the crumbling old mansion in the woods nearby. But an innocent exploration of the empty ruin and the discovery of the diary of former resident Alice leaves her more than a little spooked. She knows it holds the secrets to a dark past, and she has to find out more.

What was the terrible truth that Alice uncovered? And how could what happened to her over 100 years ago help solve the murders of young women in the town?

Annie needs to stop the serial killer before she becomes his next victim – but the past comes back to haunt her in ways she could never have expected.

A haunting crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Look out for more from Annie Graham

1. The Ghost House

2. The Secrets of the Shadows

3. The Forgotten Cottage

4. The Lake House

5. The Girls in the Woods

What readers are saying about the Annie Graham series

'an atmospheric, spooky read, ideal for the season.' – I Heart Reading

'The Ghost House is the most exciting book I have read in a very long time, and would make an absolutely perfect Halloween read! Amazing début from Helen Phifer and I eagerly await more from her!' – Judging Covers

‘It was an atmospheric, spooky read, ideal for the season.’ – I Heart Reading

‘I was really impressed by this book. ... I was amazed how the author got inside of the mind of the serial killer and really showed you his psychotic thought processes.’ – Edler Park Book Reviews

‘the twists and turns are fascinating.’ – A J Book Review Club

‘The story constantly kept me on the edge of my seat. The Ghost House is a magnificent read and it's perfect for those who have a strong stomach and nerves of steel!’ – Librarian Lavender

“Offers credible descriptions of first-time motherhood, affecting characters and situations and low-key charm.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Stellar . . . Center paints an accurate and humorous view of motherhood.”–Booklist

Jenny Harris always expected that she’d fall in love, get married, and have a baby–in that order. Now, very pregnant and not quite married, she actually doesn’t mind that she and her live-in fiancé, Dean, accidentally started their family a little earlier than planned; she’s happy to have so much to look forward to. But Dean–whom Jenny loves enough to overlook his bad facial hair, his smoking habit, and his total commitment to a cheesy cover band–is acting distant, and not in a pre-wedding-jitters kind of way. The night he runs out for cigarettes and just doesn’t come back, he demotes himself from future husband to sperm donor.

And the very next day, Jenny goes into labor.

In the months that follow, Jenny plunges into a life she never anticipated: single motherhood. At least with the sleep deprivation, sore boobs, and fits of crying (both hers and the baby’s), there’s not much time to dwell on her broken heart. And things start looking up. She learns how to do everything one-handed, makes friends in a mommy group, and even manages to give dating tips to her sweet, clueless father–who’s trying to court her sassy mother again, fifteen years after their divorce. She also gets to know a handsome, helpful neighbor–with a knack for soothing babies–who invites her out dancing. But Dean is never far from Jenny’s thoughts or, it turns out, her doorstep, and in the end Jenny must choose between the old life she thought she wanted and the new life she’s been lucky to find.

A spirited debut novel with a terrifically appealing voice, a fantastic sense of humor, and a lot of heart, The Bright Side of Disaster reminds us that sometimes it takes the worst-case scenario to show us the best in everything.


From the Hardcover edition.
From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.

Praise for How to Walk Away:

"A heartbreak of a novel that celebrates resilience and strength." —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost

"If you just read one book this year, read How to Walk Away." —Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

"Warm, witty, and wonderfully observed." —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love

"Sympathetic and refreshing!" —Elinor Lipman, bestselling author of The Family Man

"I can't think of a blurb good enough for this novel...poignant, funny, heartbreaking." —Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy

From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best—a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

Praise for How to Walk Away:

"A heartbreak of a novel that celebrates resilience and strength." —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost

"If you just read one book this year, read How to Walk Away." —Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

"Warm, witty, and wonderfully observed." —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love

"Sympathetic and refreshing!" —Elinor Lipman, bestselling author of The Family Man

"I can't think of a blurb good enough for this novel...poignant, funny, heartbreaking." —Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin, this tender and heartwarming novel explores the trials of losing what matters most—and how there’s always more than we can imagine left to find.
 
Dear Libby, It occurs to me that you and your two children have been living with your mother for—Dear Lord!—two whole years, and I’m writing to see if you'd like to be rescued.
 
The letter comes out of the blue, and just in time for Libby Moran, who—after the sudden death of her husband, Danny—went to stay with her hypercritical mother. Now her crazy Aunt Jean has offered Libby an escape: a job and a place to live on her farm in the Texas Hill Country. Before she can talk herself out of it, Libby is packing the minivan, grabbing the kids, and hitting the road.
 
Life on Aunt Jean’s goat farm is both more wonderful and more mysterious than Libby could have imagined. Beyond the animals and the strenuous work, there is quiet—deep, country quiet. But there is also a shaggy, gruff (though purportedly handsome, under all that hair) farm manager with a tragic home life, a formerly famous feed-store clerk who claims she can contact Danny “on the other side,” and the eccentric aunt Libby never really knew but who turns out to be exactly what she’s been looking for. And despite everything she’s lost, Libby soon realizes how much more she’s found. She hasn’t just traded one kind of crazy for another: She may actually have found the place to bring her little family—and herself—back to life.

Praise for The Lost Husband
 
“A sweet tale about creating the family you need.”—People

“A heartwarming novel that explores the trials of losing what matters most.”—USA Today
 
“[Katherine] Center writes endearingly of love and family in her fourth novel, with lessons about loss, gain, standing up for oneself, and accepting that your best is good enough. Fans of well-crafted romantic women’s fiction won’t be disappointed.”—Booklist

“A novel about family, love and forgiveness . . . heart-rending and heartwarming.”—Kirkus Reviews


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Lanie Coates’s life is spinning out of control. She’s piled everything she owns into a U-Haul and driven with her husband, Peter, and their three little boys from their cozy Texas home to a multiflight walkup in the Northeast. She’s left behind family, friends, and a comfortable life–all so her husband can realize his dream of becoming a professional musician. But somewhere in the eye of her personal hurricane, it hits Lanie that she once had dreams too. If only she could remember what they were.

These days, Lanie always seems to rank herself dead last–and when another mom accidentally criticizes her appearance, it’s the final straw. Fifteen years, three babies, and more pounds than she’s willing to count since the day she said “I do,” Lanie longs desperately to feel like her old self again. It’s time to rise up, fish her moxie out of the diaper pail, and find the woman she was before motherhood capsized her entire existence.

Lanie sets change in motion–joining a gym, signing up for photography classes, and finding a new best friend. But she also creates waves that come to threaten her whole life. In the end, Lanie must figure out once and for all how to find herself without losing everything else in the process.

Katherine Center’s Everyone Is Beautiful is a hugely entertaining, poignant, and charming new novel about what happens after happily ever after: how a woman learns to fall in love with her husband–and her entire life–all over again.


From the Hardcover edition.
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