Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Hal (Harriet) Westaway has nowhere to turn. Frightened and alone, she looks over her shoulder
every minute of every day, fearful that it's just a matter of time before that slimy loan shark
returns with his menacing threats. And there is simply no one left to help her.

When her mother was killed tragically three years ago by a hit-and-run driver, Hal's
life changed dramatically. Survival now falls squarely on her shoulders. She opens her kiosk on the pier every morning to a parade of people who watch intently as she slowly turns over the tarot cards, and interprets their meaning. Nervous customers hang on her every word, believing the cards have the power to shape their lives. It's a skill Hal learned as a child from her mother, and she's quite the expert in the tricks of the trade.

When a mysterious letter arrives informing Hal that she is one of the recipients of her late grandmother's estate, she is puzzled and confused. Surely this is a case of mistaken
identity because her grandparents died over twenty years ago. But there is a flutter of hope
in Hal's heart when she reads the official words on paper; this could be the chance to
escape from her problems and along the way, deceive people she doesn't even know. Just a little white lie, you see, only claiming enough money to get through this incredibly rough patch in her life.

So she sets out on her journey to Trepassen, the massive estate of her "grandmother" to
answer the summons requesting her presence at the reading of the will.  All the while, her mother's words echo in her ears. "Don't fall into the trap of believing your own lies..."

As the story continues, the reader is drawn into Ruth Ware's lair of mystery, a feat she accomplishes
so well. Her impeccably written words describe the doom and gloom behind the crumbling
walls of Trepassen, the baffling questions about her peculiar "relatives", the uneasy feelings
about the old, decrepit housekeeper who whispers dire words of warning, the desperate words
etched into glass long ago in her attic room, and the unsettling feeling that someone is always watching her. The fact is, nothing here is what it appears to be. These ancient grounds hold some very disturbing secrets, indeed.

Immerse yourself in this eerie tale that is reminiscent of the renowned Agatha Christie.
Ghostly, addictive, and thoroughly entertaining, this may be the author's best work yet.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Everyone loved fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack. Vibrant and beautiful, with a promising future ahead of
her, she couldn't wait to begin a stress-free summer with her handsome boyfriend. But then
Ellie vanished after a routine visit to the library, and all those hopes and dreams slipped away. Life for the Mack family ended that fateful day.

Ten years after Ellie's mysterious disappearance, police find her discarded remains, along with a faded rucksack and various personal items scattered carelessly near the bones. Somehow, the sad news doesn't surprise Ellie's mother, Laurel. She's been waiting for this day to arrive after her
marriage disintegrated and her two remaining children drifted away, unable to bear seeing the grief in their mother's eyes after losing her favorite child. The dull ache in Laurel's heart will never go away until she knows what happened to her darling Ellie.

Just when she needs to lift her spirits, Laurel meets Floyd, a charming, intriguing stranger in a local cafe. Suddenly, her life takes on new meaning as their relationship grows to the next level. Amazing
how much Floyd reminds Laurel of ex-husband, Paul, in his mannerisms and the way he dresses.
And even more unsettling is how much his precocious daughter, Poppy, looks like her deceased daughter. When Laurel learns of a strange connection between Poppy's mother and Ellie, there's a feeling of dread which incessantly preys on her mind. Coincidence or something far more ominous?

This wickedly good, psychological thriller has all the elements for an addictive, tantalizing
read. A missing teenager, her traumatized, heartbroken mother, the suave gentleman who charms his way into her pathetic life, and the creepy innuendos that something dark and evil is about to be unveiled.

Just wait until you find out what that something is.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Beach House Reunion

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

Nostalgic, warm, and wonderful....just in time for Mother's Day.

Cara Rutledge is home. After years away, it suddenly feels right to return to The Isle of
Palms, where bittersweet memories fill each and every room of the Beach House. It's the place where Cara fell in love with Brett, where she learned to love the sea turtles, where she found peace and solitude after searching for the missing pieces of her life.

Her beloved mother, Lovie, is gone now, but Cara feels her presence when the familiar scent of jasmine fills the salty air.  And Brett's gone, too. The love of her life, taken from her just when the promise of a new tomorrow was on the horizon. Now she's a fifty-some-year old woman with a much-wanted child, feeling frightened and exhilarated at the thought of starting over.

Cara's niece, Linnea, arrives just in time to help her with the overwhelming challenge of raising a child and trying to make a living. But, like her aunt, Linnea must make decisions of her own when it comes to finding that perfect job, now that college days are behind her. There's constant pressure from her controlling father to choose the path he's picked for her rather than the career of her dreams.
And to complicate things, she falls hopelessly in love at a most inopportune time.

Troubles continue to mount upon Cara's return. She's dismayed by her brother's uncontrolled drinking, and the fact that her nephew seems to be headed down the same road of self-destruction. Through it all, Cara draws upon her inner strength to face a whirlwind of problems, just as Lovie did when life seemed insurmountable. She finally acknowledges feelings for a new love, letting go of the treasured memories of the past. There's a blossoming future within Cara's reach when she discovers loss can bring new beginnings.

Those readers who read Monroe's original book, The Beach House (and viewed the movie
recently on Hallmark Channel) will thoroughly enjoy spending time once again with the strong women of the Rutledge family. If you are a new reader, indulge yourself by meeting this memorable cast of characters in the earlier books of this series. By the time you finish, you'll look upon them as good friends.

How lucky her fans will be if Mary Alice Monroe chooses to continue the story about what happens next at The Beach House in sweet, sultry South Carolina.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Quebec, 1950. Sixteen-year-old Maggie is pregnant by Gabriel, a poor, French farm boy. Her
English-speaking father and judgmental, uncouth mother, send her away to toil on the farm of a jovial aunt and lecherous uncle until the baby is born. Adoption plans go awry, and the sickly, little girl, called Elodie, is sent to an orphanage. She knows little of the outside world beyond these walls, always surrounded by nuns who watch her every move. Little does she know that these are the good days, unaware of the torture that awaits her.

Heartbroken and naive, Maggie goes on with life, diligently working in her father's successful seed  store and eventually finding contentment with a successful businessman. She dreams of a reunion with the child she was forced to abandon years ago. Elodie's life takes a dramatic turn for the worse when the Canadian government turns Catholic orphanages into homes for the mentally ill, all in the name of making money. Overnight, children are put into psychiatric facilities, with no one caring  about their rights. Socially awkward, with visible scars of inhumane treatment, resilient Elodie learns to fend for herself. She has dreams of her own; reuniting with the mother she's never known.

This novel, based on the author's own mother's recollections of dark times, tells a story of  the sharp divide between the English and French cultures in 1950s Quebec and Montreal. Children born out of sin were cast aside and subjected to abhorrent conditions in the very institutions that were meant to protect them. It's a captivating tale full of disturbing images, but one that will ultimately make you believe that anything's possible, as long as you have hope.

Friday, April 13, 2018

A Nantucket Wedding

A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer

Blended families unite on this tranquil island for their parents'
upcoming nuptials, but soon discover there's a whole lot of chaos
and surprises waiting for them in paradise.

Alison never thought she'd find love again after her husband died.
All that changes when she meets charismatic David at a cocktail
party, sparking an attraction and passion she hasn't felt since she
was young. With this handsome, successful man by her side, she
begins to plan their spectacular wedding at his idyllic summer
home on Nantucket. But their grown children have to meet one
another before wedded bliss has a chance, and that's where the
drama begins.

When sisters Jane and Felicity arrive to help plan their mother's
wedding, their stormy relationship slowly dissolves as they share their innermost insecurities about marriage and children. Perhaps it's time for lovely Felicity to stand up to a husband who chides her for not understanding his needs. Maybe Jane has the right to change her mind about a decision she and her obstinate husband
made long ago. And how does a vulnerable woman resist
the flirtations of her soon-to-be step brother? David's determined
daughter questions a will that leaves her newfound siblings some serious
money, while struggling to find a place in her father's empire. It's anyone's
guess as to how they will survive the tumultuous ride ahead.

Usher in the season of beach reads and romance with this fun, delectable story
about forgiveness, second chances, and starting over. A great choice to kick-off
sunny days ahead, cool ocean breezes, and cobalt blue skies, if only
in your dreams.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sometimes I Lie

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Amber Reynolds hears the voices of the never-ending parade of doctors and nurses who enter her hospital room, but she doesn't see them. Pungent, antiseptic smells surround her. A coma has paralyzed her body, but her mind is wildly racing.

She remembers the rage she felt every day working for her demeaning boss at a radio station. She recalls her husband's suspicious nights spent away from home, fueling the nagging realization he might not love her anymore. She remembers feeling apprehensive and uneasy after meeting an old flame for an innocent drink. Her memory begins to piece together the circumstances that happened before her accident, and who might have been behind the wheel of a car, out of control.

Now she hears her husband's cozy conversations with her manipulative sister at her bedside. Are they whispering secrets, assuming she can't hear? And who is the mysterious stranger that sneaks into her hospital room late at night, that makes her heart race with panic and fear?

Disturbing, childhood reflections continue to haunt her; memories of a fire's fury, hidden diaries, violent arguments, and the friend who was always by her side. Separating the lies from the truth is sometimes impossible, even for a child.

This psychological thriller takes the reader on a long walk through a complicated maze before  reaching the stunning ending. Take the time to reread passages to mentally sort out the dizzying
array of events and people who play a role in the life of Amber Reynolds.

Then breathe, and do it again.

Then breathe, and do it again.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Emma and Zadie have weathered the most challenging of times, yet still remain steadfast friends.
The grueling days of medical school are behind them. Life now consists of finding balance between career and family, often navigating that slippery slope between raising children and finding time to unwind. But there's a festering wound beneath the surface of their friendship, a wound that's about to be ripped open, a wound that may never heal.

Aloof, brooding, and brilliant, Emma is a trauma surgeon with a husband who adores her; he's the antithesis of what everyone expects to see on the arm of this beautiful woman. Patients adore delightful Zadie. As a pediatric cardiologist, she radiates a zest for life at work and home with her successful husband and four rambunctious children. What Emma and Zadie don't talk about in their busy lives is the traumatic event that occurred during their third year of medical school. And they certainly don't speak of Dr. Nick Xenokostas, the charming, wildly attractive surgeon who had such a profound impact on their lives many years ago. Surprisingly, Nick has accepted a position in town working in Emma's practice, and his presence is hard to ignore. Harboring all sorts of secrets, the good doctor feels bound and determined to reveal sins of the past. And one of these women will go to extraordinary lengths to keep him from doing just that, feverishly anticipating the dire consequences that are sure to follow.

Exactly how much duplicity can a friendship withstand? This story, clearly written by an emergency  room physician, examines the heart...the one that steadily beats to keep us alive and the one that can be easily broken by deceit and lies. Pack this debut novel in your bag for that relaxing, upcoming spring break. You'll laugh, cry,  and be thoroughly entertained by a tale that explores how vulnerable we all are when it comes to matters of the heart.