Sunday, June 19, 2016

Here's to Us

Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

Here's to one of many addictive beach reads kicking off  the summer of 2016!

Three battling ex-wives unite on the dreamy island of Nantucket to spread the ashes and celebrate the life of a man they all once loved, the irrepressible, Deacon Thorpe.

Deacon's meteoric rise to fame as one of the best known chefs and restaurateurs in the country, is nothing short of astonishing, Considering his renegade childhood days, few people could have imagined this kind of success .But notoriety leaves Deacon restless and alone. He's filled with memories of the father he loved unconditionally; a father who walked out on him years ago after spending"one perfect day" with his son in paradise.

Summoned to the dilapidated island home Duncan loved, the former wives reluctantly agree to meet in order to settle their ex-husband's messy financial affairs. There's first love, Laurel, an idealistic social worker with such natural beauty, Belinda, a conniving Hollywood prima donna and award-winning actress, and Scarlett, the alluring Southern beauty and former nanny.  All so different. But they are soon to find out that they have far more in common with one another than they'd like to admit, including the shocking secrets they never thought they would share. A long weekend in a crowded home, filled with antagonism and distrust...who knows what can happen?

It wouldn't be summer without a visit to the trendy, tranquil island of Nantucket that author Elin Hilderbrand knows so well. This one is perhaps a bit edgier and raw, detailing the pitfalls that often accompany money and fame.

Choosing a high-profile celebrity chef as the protagonist of this novel, is a stroke of genius.The author actually commissioned new recipes from a food writer and blogger, which are sprinkled throughout the novel, making for a unique addition to a satisfying story that ushers in the mellow, lazy days of summer.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I Let You Go

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Savor every chapter of this superbly written suspense novel filled with astonishing twists and turns.

While dodging relentless raindrops, a young mother and her son hurry across the wet pavement, anticipating the warmth that awaits them at home. If only she'd held on a little tighter to his small hand. In an instant, he darts into the path of the recklessly speeding car. Horrified, she hears the screeching tires followed by the deafening crash. As she sobs uncontrollably, holding her lifeless son in her arms, the car speeds away.

Jenna Gray needs to disappear where no one can find her. The remote, rugged coastline of Wales seems as good a place as any. Anguished and alone in a dilapidated cottage, she attempts to heal physically and emotionally from all that she has lost. As she begins to slowly recover in this faraway village, Jenna cautiously opens her heart to romance and friendship. But she soon learns the past has a way of finding you, no matter how hard you try to run away.

Detective Inspector Ray Stevens and protege Kate struggle to solve the tragic case of the hit-and-run driver who killed an innocent child. Pressure from above closes the unsolved file, but it's never truly forgotten. When new leads surface, explosive facts uncover a startling scenario that leaves them scrambling to piece together a complicated puzzle. And time is not on their side.

Not since The Girl on the Train, has a suspense novel earned the title of a true thriller like this one does. As a former UK detective herself, Mackintosh's writing captures the intricacies of a police investigation. She has the ability to write plausible plot twists that will take your breath away.  Along with vividly detailed, descriptive passages, this author's debut book is a delight to read and a scintillating choice for book clubs.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hanging Mary

Hanging Mary by Susan Higginbotham

On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the leader of the Union Army, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant.

One of the bloodiest wars in history was over.

The joyous celebration was tragically marred six days later when a dashing, charismatic actor by the name of John Wilkes Booth assassinated  President Abraham Lincoln.

What most people don't know is the pivotal part a woman by the name of Mary Surratt played in allowing John Wilkes Booth to carry out his hideous plot. That's where this fascinating story begins. It's a true tale of a Confederate sympathizer who unwittingly paid the ultimate price for aiding and abetting a man who used her to carry out a devious plan.

 Mary opens a boarding house after her abusive, alcoholic husband dies. She carefully chooses those individuals with upstanding character to be part of the household, so she is naturally concerned when son Johnny brings home a parade of characters, some being quite unsavory. Mary's well aware of the fact that her son is a courier for the Confederacy, making clandestine "runs" and shielding spies, all for the good of "the cause". She often chooses to look the other way. But when affable Johnny introduces the famous, incredibly charming John Wilkes Booth to the delighted tenants, Mary approves, welcoming him into their home.. He and other Southern loyalists begin to make frequent visits, gradually embroiling Mary in covert plans that eventually result in the horrifying event at Ford's Theater on April 15, 1865.

 The questions remain. Was Mary really a conspirator with Booth and his cronies?  Could Mary have prevented the assassination of the President?

  Mary's portrayal as a loving mother may explain her unyielding allegiance to her sons over her own survival.  Oldest son, Isaac, is fighting for the Confederacy. Johnny is putting himself in increasing danger. Mary conveniently hides facts from the authorities, believing the smooth, assuring words of a talented actor. Even when Johnny flees in her darkest hour, Mary steadfastly stands by her son, sacrificing all in the name of love.

With extraordinary research to back all claims, the author adds her own fictional bits and pieces to a compelling story that's hard to put down. She vividly captures the fervor of a divided country beginning to heal after the Civil War.

 Mary Surratt was the first female to be executed by the United States Federal Government.

Look at the facts, read the riveting story, and decide if her death was justified.