Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Story of Arthur Truluv

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Arthur Moses is an eighty-five-year-old man who dearly misses his late wife, Nola. His heart aches for her.

So he visits her grave daily, often bringing small gifts or flowers as he eats lunch and reminisces about the life they shared. Along the way, Arthur stops to visit the buried he never knew. You see, Arthur has the striking ability to know their stories, feel their pain, and bask in the peacefulness of this quiet refuge the deceased call home.

It is on one of these soothing, tranquil days, that Arthur spots a young girl from afar. A tentative wave turns into an unlikely friendship between two lonely people. Her name is Maddy, and like Arthur, she enjoys talking to the dearly departed who live in this secluded cemetery. Maddy finds contentment there, away from cruel high school classmates who seem to take pleasure in ostracizing her. She grasps the elusive memory of a mother she knows only from faded photographs, a father who finds difficulty in comforting a daughter he doesn't understand, and an older lover who has discarded her. Maddy is all alone; that is, until she takes a chance on befriending an old, intuitive gentleman who miraculously finds the beauty hidden deep inside her.

Friendship turns into love and admiration, as Maddy and Arthur find that age has no boundaries
when it comes to matters of the heart. Arthur's pesky and persistent neighbor, Lucille, becomes part of this non-traditional family, after losing a love of her own. Together, they find blessings they thought only others were lucky enough to share.

A sweet, poignant story filled with laughter and tears, to lift your spirits this holiday season, reminding us that reaching out to others may bring the greatest joy of all.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Little Broken Things

Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

"I have something for you".

As Quinn reads the cryptic message from her estranged sister, Nora, she's puzzled and confused. And when they meet face to face, her curiosity only deepens.

Cloaked in secrecy, Nora arrives accompanied by a little girl with "cherry-colored curls and stone-colored eyes". She leaves without explanation, asking Quinn to take care of the child until she is able to return. Faced with this overwhelming responsibility, Quinn finds herself drawn to the child she calls Lucy and the circumstances of her birth. Hiding a child proves to be impossible, and it's not long before Lucy's existence becomes known to husband, Walker, and her widowed mother, Liz, who prides herself in being the perfect party hostess in this quiet Minnesota town. Her life as a social icon, however, is about to be change as she faces demons that have haunted her for years.

The reader soon learns about what it was like for two sisters growing up in the Sanford household, the secrets their mother struggles never to reveal, and the high-school friend who goes to any lengths to protect a child from harm. The plot slowly simmers chapter by chapter, page by page, leaving the reader ensconced in an absorbing mystery.

Flawed characters, exquisitely defined by love, ultimately find truth in a story so many mothers will embrace.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Attorney Abby Williams returns to her dismal hometown
of Barrens, Indiana, with one purpose in mind; to expose
the deceitful environmental practices of Optimal Plastics,
the company that residents worship and adore for restoring
hope and prosperity to a place that was slowly dying.

Things haven't changed that much in ten years. High school football still reigns supreme, gun-toting hunters still love the sport, and some of the girls who taunted Abby in school with their
cruel, callous remarks, still live in town, one even holding a
position of power. Painful, bitter memories haunt Abby, including the disappearance of her friend, Kaycee Mitchell, who loved being the center of attention among her posse of followers. But Abby wonders, what if  Kaycee's leaving years ago is all part of the current investigation of a corporate giant reviving a town in need?

One thing is certain...Abby has outstayed her welcome in Barrens. Colleagues working with her on the Optimal investigation begin to question her mental stability. Lonely and afraid, she trusts no one, not even herself, until one explosive night that proves her gut
instincts may have been right along.

Krysten Ritter, actress turned author, writes a thriller debut that has all
the elements for success. Her storytelling takes a flawed, vulnerable character
on a wild, wickedly suspenseful ride into the sordid darkness of  small-town secrets.
Definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Christmas. That mellow time of year when petty differences are cast aside in order to spend quality time with loved ones. But the very British Birch family soon finds out that seven, solid days of suffocating togetherness can bring some very unexpected challenges and surprises.

It's holiday time, and eldest daughter, Dr. Olivia Birch, comes home to the family country estate to recuperate, after treating patients exposed to a deadly virus during her time abroad. Her gift to the family is seven days of quarantine for everyone and anyone unfortunate enough to cross over the threshold of this tired, old home. What she doesn't mention, is her recent, forbidden tryst with another doctor hospitalized with the virus, and the heightened risk she now faces of contracting it, too.

Home hasn't changed all that much since she's been gone. The strained relationship with her father remains, as he struggles with an unfulfilling job as a restaurant critic. The tediousness of being around her pert, sassy, engaged sister, makes her feel like an outsider
in her own family. And her loving, indulgent mother, still desperately
wants to keep the peace, while clinging to what's left of her marriage
and her own identity.

Olivia's not the only one being less than truthful. Her mother chooses not
to reveal a dire medical diagnosis until after the holidays, but inadvertently
shares the news with a young, incredibly appealing American she
meets at the airport while waiting for her daughter to arrive. In a matter
of just a few days, this same man reappears at their doorstep. He seems to know
quite a bit about Olivia's sister's fiance, far more than he cares to share with
this group of people who warily watch his every move.

Will the curse of seven endless days and nights, side by side, turn out to be a blessing?

A fabulously festive, family drama with a host of complex, likable characters that
arrive just in time for Christmas.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Without Merit

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

 Merit Voss leads a very unconventional life.

She lives in a converted church that her atheist father, Barnaby Voss, purchased from a local pastor with financial woes. In an attempt to make this house of worship look more like a home, he adds a white picket fence, but decides to leave the marquee out front. Every morning, Merit's brother, Utah, updates the sign with bits of trivia that have nothing to do with The Lord. It continues to give the people in this tiny, Northeast Texas town, something to talk about.

Merit's parents are divorced, but her mother still lives in the basement due to a severe case of social anxiety. Added to the mix is twin sister, Honor, who seems to excel at everything while Merit crawls deeper into her hole of isolation, regularly skipping school, collecting cast-off trophies, and giving her family the silent treatment which no one seems to even notice. Then there's stepmother, Victoria, half-brother, Moby, and the mysterious Sagan, who Merit is wildly attracted to after a passionate kiss that turns out to be a case of mistaken identity. Out of nowhere, Victoria's estranged half-brother, Luck, shows up to make this eccentric family complete.

It's just a matter of time before simmering, pent-up secrets come to a boiling point. Festering wounds are exposed for all to see when Merit airs the family's dirty laundry. A near tragedy finally causes this maladjusted family to realize how close they are to losing one another and the love they share.

While entertaining readers with the antics of an offbeat family, this novel also takes a
candid look at the prevalence of mental illness in our society.  "Depression doesn't
 necessarily mean a person is miserable or suicidal all the time. Indifference is also a sign of depression." Just one of many symptoms too often ignored.

A refreshing novel, so easy to read, with just the right amount of humor, sending a message
of hope to those who suffer.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Blackbird Season

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

There's no explanation for the thousands of dead birds that rain
down from the sky on the baseball field in Mt. Oanoke,
Pennsylvania, a depressed little town still reeling from the
paper mill closing that cost so many people their livelihoods.

Nate Winters is the revered high school baseball coach in Mt. Oanoke.  He and wife, Alecia, seem to be perfectly matched, the ideal couple. Behind closed doors, however, the cracks in the foundation of their marriage are growing deeper. She struggles with the daily needs of their autistic son, Gabe, as her husband spends more and more time away from home. Rumors swirl that Nate is involved with student Lucia Hamm, that white-haired teenager with the ruby red lips. Many believe she's a "witch", responsible for that deluge of blackbirds on this unsuspecting town. When Lucia disappears, colleagues and residents turn on Nate, choosing to believe the gossip and innuendos that paint him as a prime suspect. Bridget, Lucia's creative writing teacher and Alecia's good friend, begins her own investigation, deciphering telltale words in a journal that point to a complicated maze of deception and secrets. What she finds is nothing short of astounding.

This gripping drama has so many layers; a wife consumed with
obligations and insecurities who doesn't quite trust her husband, a teacher overstepping his bounds, teenagers bent on destroying reputations, the ugliness of  social media, and a town on edge, quick to believe the worst about one of their own.

The ending isn't all tied up in a tidy little package. Yes, there's closure, or is there?  Lingering doubts remain about the future of this troubled place with the hypnotic spell.

And that's what makes this novel so very, very good.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fast Falls the Night

Fast Falls the Night by Julia Keller

Welcome back to Acker's Gap, West Virginia.

 In 2012, author Julia Keller created the first book in her series about a place in the hills of Appalachia where good, decent folks struggle every day to survive. These people bleed poverty, despair, and the unbearable fact that finding a way out is easier said than done.

In  A Killing in the Hills, readers are introduced to Bell Elkins, the strong, determined prosecutor who, after some soul-searching, returns to her hometown, hoping she can make a difference. She and her sister, a convicted felon, are haunted by childhood abuse and the hurt and shame that accompanies being a poor, outcast adolescent. It seems that no matter hard you try, success is hard to achieve when the odds are against you."The past always has the last word".

This latest installment takes place in a 24 hour period as Acker's Gap deals with an onslaught of heroin overdoses unlike anything they've ever experienced before. One by one, the victims fall like dominoes as they consume a bad batch of the drug laced with a deadly additive. Along with law enforcement, Bell and her colleagues race to expose and arrest a local who has forfeited a conscience for the almighty buck,  and a chance to escape this forsaken town.

Inspiration for the story came from the real account of a rash of drug overdoses in Huntington, West Virginia, Keller's hometown. With tormented, unforgettable characters, and page-turning sub-plots, the author tackles a topic that plagues cities and villages across our nation. Whether you choose to start your journey in Acker's Gap with this latest book, or go way back to the beginning, be assured you won't soon forget Bell and the sorrow and hope her stories bring.

Thanks, Julia, for ending this one with so many burning, unanswered questions about what's next for Bell after her sister's shocking revelation. We look forward to the continuing saga about a weary, broken town in "this beautiful heartbreak of a world".  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Glass Houses

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

There is an eerie, hooded figure dressed in black, lurking in the town square of  the quiet little village of Three Pines, Quebec. Perhaps, the people say, it is a prank from the leftover celebration festivities of Halloween. But as time goes on, the ominous, dark shape remains, day into night, never moving, simply staring, and the people begin to whisper and wonder; what evil has permeated their calm, peaceful lives?

The sinister scenario takes a deadly twist when murder takes a life in the dank root cellar of the church basement. Months later, Chief Armand Gamache testifies in court at the trial of the individual arrested for the crime, recalling how his wife found the corpse, dressed in the same cloak as the mysterious form that silently stood watch over their sleepy little town.

 As perspiration drips down his face in the oppressively hot courtroom, Gamache tells the prosecutor that in Spain the "dark thing" was said to be a"Conscience", capable of hunting down and shaming perpetrators of dastardly deeds. The courtroom spectators squirm in their seats. If true, which one of their neighbors is hiding a dreadful secret? The trial continues while Gamache carefully weighs his words, fully aware that his decision to commit perjury puts him on a dangerous precipice that could ruin his career and reputation. Only he and a handful of confidantes are aware of a far greater threat to the world than the frightening body in black.

If you are a Louise Penny fan, the Three Pines series will be quite familiar. If not, then by all means, take this opportunity to become a fan of her writing and meet the quirky, memorable cast of characters she has created. ( Don't forget the informative author notes at the conclusion. ) Penny writes a multi-layered plot dealing with a relevant topic. Deliciously unsettling at times, this one is a bewitchingly good mystery.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Map of the Heart

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

The arrival of a mysterious package takes a widow with an aching
heart on an adventure to France, where secrets from her father's past are waiting to be uncovered.

Camille Adams vows that she and her troubled daughter, Julie, are going to live a quiet, risk-free life in their Delaware coastal town, since a freak accident claimed her beloved husband's life five years ago. She spends days in a darkroom, using her photography skills to develop precious film that clients bring to her in the hopes of capturing memories long forgotten. She's oblivious to Julie's encounter with bullies at school or the significance of her daughter's declining self-esteem, until an alarming incident opens her eyes to reality.

Reluctantly, Camille agrees to leave the security of her tranquil town and  spend the summer with her ailing father and Julie in Provence, the place he called home as a child. The beauty and peacefulness of France begin to heal her broken heart, especially when she's in the presence of a handsome naval officer. Julie is exuberant in her new surroundings, making new friends, and experiencing the thrill of living life without fear.

Slowly and methodically, Camille's father begins to piece together the fragmented parts of what he remembers growing up in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Stepping back in time reveals astonishing facts about his courageous mother, and the sacrifices she made during the dark days of War. By taking a look into what came before, a family finds the strength to face what lies ahead.

An emotional, mellow, romantic story that satisfies the wanderlust in all of us.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Absolutely chilling. Those two words describe the first forty pages of a novel that you will either put aside, unwilling to grasp the frightening details, or one that compels you to continue reading a story of murder, mystery, and revenge.

Twenty-eight years ago, sisters Samantha and Charlotte Quinn witnessed a home invasion by two masked intruders that left their mother dead. But it didn't end there. One girl was brutally shot, the other escaped into the night, bloodied and praying for her survival. Their idealistic, do-gooder attorney father, Rusty, mourns the horrific events, but is he somehow responsible?

Fast forward to the present and a middle school shooting in Pikeville, Georgia where Charlie and her estranged husband practice law. It's the same community where she and Sam grew up and the scars and whispers of that fateful night still linger. Charlie happens to be at the school to retrieve her phone from a regrettable encounter with a history teacher the night before. She finds herself an eyewitness to dead bodies and a young, shivering girl holding a lethal weapon in her hands. Repressed memories of the past mesh with the reality of the moment.

Now the intricate web begins to take shape as the reader learns how all of these happenings relate to one another. It's quite a remarkable task, one that will require the reader to pay close attention. There's all sorts of salacious secrets that combine to make this tale far more than just a typical suspense novel. Amidst the fear and panic, is also a story of empathy and compassion for the survivors.

Karin Slaughter has the ability to make her readers clamor for cold-bloodied terror, putting her latest release on the current New York Times best sellers. Take a look to see if you agree.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Teenage sisters, Emma and Cass Tanner, disappear from home in the middle of the night. Authorities find their abandoned car on the beach, keys in a purse, shoes aimlessly rolling in the surf.

Three years later, only Cass returns, with a harrowing story of isolation and mental abuse at the hands of a controlling man and woman on a remote island off the coast of Maine. She gives investigators a detailed description of their captors, the surroundings, and the circumstance that led her and Emma to find themselves at the mercy of strangers. Her pleas are deafening; find the island, and you'll find Emma.

To understand this story, one has to examine the dynamics of a dysfunctional family living on the threshold of catastrophe. Emma and Cass are the children of Owen and Judy Tanner. He's a wounded, pot-smoking, sad man whose vain, narcissistic wife left him for a more powerful, wealthy man by the name of Jonathan Martin. Owen  has a caring son, Witt, by his first marriage before he was seduced by the cunning, insecure Judy. And Jonathan has a son, Hunter, a calculating loser who secretly enjoys defying his father every opportunity he gets.

If you are dizzy already with this complicated entourage, then prepare to meet even more characters in a plot designed to make the reader question each and every one of them, which is part of the appeal.  Forensic psychologist, Dr. Abby Winter, is called in with her partner to asses the mystery, and finds herself ensconced once again in the case she couldn't solve years ago. Not to mention, the unsettling memories of growing up in a similar scenario hits way too close to home.

You may need to read a few pages again and again for clarification, but anyone with an interest in the study of classic narcissism will devour this one.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Watch Me Disappear

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

"Maybe this is why they say love is blind. Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.".

It's been a year since Billie Flanagan presumably died while hiking alone on treacherous Desolation Trail in Northern California. Daughter, Olive, and husband, Jonathan mourn
her passing, but without a body, it's hard to find closure, especially when Olive begins to experience unexplained "visions" of her mother. Is this a result of an overactive imagination, a brain abnormality, a child simply missing her mother, or something far more sinister?

Jonathan's best friend is the bottle, as he fights financial woes and struggles to write a memoir about his loving wife; their whirlwind romance, her often unexplained absences, and the highs and lows of a relationship that's always been teetering on the edge of dangerous. He's worried about Olive, the awkward distance developing between them, her detachment from school, and her insistence that Billie is trying to send a message. And then, as he digs deeper into his wife's past, a startling revelation begins to take shape about a woman he thought he knew so well. Is she lurking in the shadows, peppering him with clues, watching him squirm, or is she in trouble, reaching out to the one person who can help her? So many questions that beg to be answered.

This thriller has all the elements to make for a tantalizing movie and that's exactly what The Gotham Group plans to do. There's nothing better than teasing your audience until the end, and this suspense novel, with a touch of the supernatural, does just that. Enticing.......

Friday, August 4, 2017

Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye,Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Reeling from her fiance's recent rejection, Ruth Young decides it's a good time to return home to help her mother. It seems that her father, a once esteemed history professor, is exhibiting the early stages of Alzheimer's. It's only for a year, she tells herself, feeling bittersweet about the move. At thirty years of age, she's disappointed in herself, her poor choices, and a future that looks awfully dim.

So restless Ruth quits her job as a sonogram technician, packs any valuable possessions, and sets off for an adventure to a place she once knew so well. But coming home isn't easy, especially when you find that things are far worse than imagined.

Ruth reflects on just about everything as the days go by. Her observations are astute, humorous, and tender. Like how her father's former students act out a charade in order to make him feel valued, even though he no longer has the ability to teach. Or how her mother handles a heartbreaking betrayal of trust from a husband riddled with imperfections. Or how her brother can't quite seem to forgive and forget the drunken tirades of a father out of control. And when she reads her father's insightful notes, written during those early years of discovery, they reveal a man bursting with pride and joy for his daughter. Ruth realizes their bond is forever strong, even though her father's misty memories are now beginning to disappear.

This could be a pain-filled story. Instead, it's a diary of love and laughter. A quick read that will leave you smiling, content, and satisfied.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

It's the 1920s, and for many couples, the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage is the answer to their fervent prayers of having a child. Georgia Tann, the operator and touted savior, promises happiness in exchange for a great deal of money. She's mastered the art of manipulation when it comes to matters of the heart.

Tann was an all-powerful, conniving, ruthless individual who ran this institution with cold, calculating cruelness. Poor, innocent children were snatched off the streets, and taken from hospital wards and mental institutions. Under the guise of helping parents in time of need, Georgia and her associates preyed upon the vulnerable and naive, who never fully understood that their signature virtually made loved ones disappear. To make matters worse, a corrupt judge and a Memphis mayor perpetuated this shameful period in history until as late as 1950.

This compelling, historical fictional story introduces readers to Avery Stafford, a feisty Southern lawyer who returns home to her privileged roots. Her beloved grandmother has strong memories hidden in the crevices of her mind about a spirited, poverty-stricken family that once lived on the Mississippi River. Avery is determined to dig deep into the past, even if it ruins the family's pristine reputation.

As a result of this true scandal, Tennessee adopted new, reformed adoption laws in 1951.

"For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn't. May your stories not be forgotten". 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor leads a simple life. After the daily grind of a menial job, she looks forward to the Friday evening ritual of pizza, Chianti, and plenty of vodka. Weekends are spent dreaming about a local musician she's never met, but loves from afar. And if someone at work or on the street, happens to stare at the hideous scars on her face, she understands. It doesn't bother her at all.

Things seem to change when she meets Raymond, the unkempt, geeky IT guy from work. By chance, they save an elderly man's life and become fast friends. Eleanor gradually ventures out of her sparse apartment, accepting luncheon "dates" with Raymond, boldly changing her drab appearance, and even socializing with total strangers.

What Eleanor doesn't share are the dreaded Wednesday night phone conversations with "Mummy". She doesn't like to talk about her painful childhood memories. Maybe her therapist can unlock the past she's tried so hard to forget. In any case, those painkillers she's been accumulating may eventually take care of the problem.

If a novel can be labeled a comedic love story, then this one falls into that category. Readers will laugh at Eleanor's hilarious, innermost musings about life in general. But expect to shed a few tears interspersed with the laughter, as Eleanor learns that she deserves a life filled with friendship and perhaps, even love. This character will capture your heart.

What a pleasure it will be to meet Eleanor when this novel becomes a movie for all the world to see.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Identicals

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

It's Nantucket versus Martha's Vineyard in this refreshing, truly entertaining story about estranged identical twins and the deep bond they share.

Tabitha and Harper Frost are separated as teenagers when their parents divorce and take each girl to a different island to live.

 The unlucky draw has Tabitha growing up on Nantucket with her famous, fashion designer mother. Polished and refined, she curses the everyday headache of running the financially strapped, stuffy boutique that caters to her mother's sophisticated, but somewhat passe designs. And then there's her rebellious daughter, Ainsley, who engages in self-destructive behavior, when all she really longs for is attention and a home-cooked meal.

Harper spends her life on Martha's Vineyard with their likable, easygoing father, finding that being carefree and irresponsible has dire consequences. People tend to gossip when you sleep with an admired married doctor and get caught delivering illegal drugs.

A series of circumstances force the now grown women to switch islands, essentially trading lives. Preconceptions they have of one another has taken a toll on the friendship they once shared. The root of their animosity dates back to a tragedy that occurred many years ago. Maybe it's time to shed the blame and become sisters once again.

What a delight this novel is...Hilderbrand cleverly meshes the twin islands with twin sisters for a thoroughly engaging story. Told with warmth and humor, readers will enjoy meeting memorable characters whose lives effortlessly intertwine. It's fun just anticipating what the next chapter will bring. Scandal, teenage angst, heartache, forgiveness..this one has it all.

 For those of you looking for the ever-popular beach read, put this selection on your summer list.
Outrageously good.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

Kit and Laura are eclipse chasers; that rare breed of people who travel to the far ends of the Earth to witness the magic of astronomy.

Their love is still new when they travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. It's here that Laura stumbles across what appears to be a brutal assault on a young woman. Horrified, she describes the scene to Kit who arrives moments later. He unsuccessfully pursues the assailant, who eventually turns himself into the police, fervently professing his innocence. But Laura knows what she saw and is determined to vindicate the girl who was violated, even if it means telling a little white lie at the trial.

What Kit and Laura don't expect, is to find the victim at their doorstep, months later. Her neediness becomes obsessive until one dangerous night that makes Laura question if she's trusted the wrong person all along.

Fifteen years later, Laura and Kit have changed their identities, making sure they leave no digital footprints behind. Kit leaves to view another eclipse, while Laura remains at home, awaiting the birth of twins. It's become a way of life to always look over their shoulders for the appearance of a familiar face from the past. And when that face finally surfaces, truth and fiction collide, revealing a long trail of calculated deception.

Tormented characters, intent on survival, do whatever it takes to win. Author Erin Kelly takes the reader on a wild ride of emotions in this one, and the result is thoroughly intoxicating.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Secrets in Summer

Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

 Thirty-year old divorcee, Darcy Cotterill, finds that true friendship comes in all shapes and sizes during one memorable summer on the tranquil island of Nantucket.

Darcy leads a fulfilling life. Rescued many years ago from a dysfunctional family, she inherits her late grandmother's home, allowing her to live year-round on this little piece of paradise. Having a dream job as the assistant director of the children's library and spending time with a good-looking, mysterious carpenter, only adds to her contentment.

 The summer months bring in the usual onslaught of tourists, but she never imagined that her ex-husband and his new gorgeous wife and vulnerable, teenage stepdaughter would move in next door. Living on the other side, is a feisty, wise, elderly woman and her suave grandson. Darcy grows fond of them all, including a stressed out young mother with three rambunctious boys and a husband with a roving eye. Somehow, these new acquaintances become far more than just neighbors. In three short months, this motley crew of mismatched women share secrets and dreams, finding they are surprisingly alike in many ways.

If visiting Nantucket is on your bucket list (it's on mine), then close your eyes and travel there vicariously without spending a penny. Walk down the cobblestone streets and envision the sandy beaches. Author Nancy Thayer introduces the reader to a place she knows so well. As in any good beach read, there's desire and passion, but ultimately, this engaging plot speaks of lasting friendship, long after the season ends.

A smooth, savory slice of summer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Light We Lost

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Perhaps it was fate that brought Lucy and Gabe together on that crystal clear morning in September. Two typical college students finding an instant attraction to one another.

But this wasn't just any day in September; it was September 11, 2001, and as they watched the Twin Towers fall, their lives and those of all Americans changed. "There's something about death that makes people want to live". And this young couple was determined to do just that. They vowed to make the world a better place after witnessing pure, unadulterated evil.

Lucy and Gabe's love story begins that day. They float in and out of each other's lives over the years. She becomes a producer and writer of children's television, he travels to dangerous parts of the world as a renowned photographer. The canvas of their lives includes marriage, children, contentment, disappointments, self-doubt, and wistful longings, until one defining moment changes everything that came before.

This particular love story will tug at your heart like no other. Is it fate that writes the story of our lives or is it choice that creates our destiny?  You may be angry with these extraordinary characters at the decisions they make, or joyous at their celebration of life. You may even write your own ending.

  But, most assuredly, you'll remember Lucy and Gabe, long after the last page turns.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Forever Summer

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

The cover says it all...summer! Picturesque Cape Cod, with its rocky, sandy coast and brilliant blue skies, is the perfect setting for a story of  blossoming love, family turmoil, and well-kept secrets.

Marin Bishop's fall from grace is swift and certain. One day a polished attorney with a promising future and a pedigree fiance, the next day, she's relegated to office gossip about a scandalous affair. She dreads telling her parents that her life is in shambles, since they seem to have achieved marital bliss after thirty years. But in the days ahead, Marin is about to discover that losing her job and identity is just the beginning of a series of unexpected surprises and shocking revelations.

Suddenly, Marin finds herself in trendy Provincetown, Massachusetts meeting family she never knew existed. Four ladies and an array of quirky characters spend an unforgettable summer learning how to accept one another's flaws and shortcomings, realizing that life is too short to do anything but live in the moment. Marin unlocks a passion she never knew she had, sees loved ones in a whole new light, and opens her heart to taking chances on a future filled with hope and happiness.

Usher in the new season with this delightful, breezy, refreshing novel. You'll wish indeed, that summer could go on forever.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Anything Is Possible

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

I'm in awe each time I read one of Elizabeth Strout's novels; such moving, insightful words that effortlessly flow page after page to the delight of her readers. Her latest collection of short stories is no exception.

You'll meet a janitor who lost his home in a sweeping fire, but didn't lose faith in humanity.  Reaching out to a troubled soul, he dares to unlock a secret that somehow,  just by revealing it to a lonely neighbor, transforms his view of the world and the existence of a higher power.

Then there are the sisters who choose different paths as adults. One, trading her dignity and self-respect for a guaranteed life of wealth and affluence. The other, finding words of wisdom in the pages of a book that give her the courage to ask for forgiveness after her hurtful words, spoken in anger, shatter a defiant teenager.

And a successful, weary grandfather who can't fathom the "ungraspable concept of time going by". An unlikely encounter with a has-been, eccentric actor opens his eyes to facing painful memories with a new perspective, while at the same time, facing a brush with death.

These stories and more are told flawlessly by the author of Olive Kitteridge, The Burgess Boys, and My Name is Lucy Barton.  The main character in the latter one is effortlessly weaved into the nine stories throughout this latest release. Readers can easily follow along, even if they haven't read that particular book, although I highly recommend taking the time to check it out. Lucy is now a successful author, having escaped the confines of her small town, Amgash, Illinois, where many of these rich characters still live, haunted by past sins, and the shame of poverty.

 Stout's interpretation of life is at times hopeful, other times, overwhelmingly sad. But in the end, it's her thought-provoking words and signature prose that make her novels a pleasure to read.

Friday, April 21, 2017

One Perfect Lie

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

Sometimes the lie you tell is so perfect, so real, so appealing, you almost believe it  yourself.

Everybody at Central Valley High School loves the new government teacher, Chris Brennan. With his good looks and affable personality, it doesn't take long for him to blend in with the local community and students, who view him as a friend. His added responsibilities as the assistant baseball coach fit precisely into his well-executed plan. Yes, Chris Brennan, you see, is a phony, an impostor, and a master in the art of manipulation. The last step in his elaborate scheme is to pick the most vulnerable, trusting young male student athlete who will unwittingly help him. But Chris underestimates how dangerous it can be to hide behind lies. A wave of murder and destruction awaits him and an unsuspecting public.

Scottoline delivers a powerful, fast-paced story that her fans have come to expect. Mixed within the heart of the story are current topics on teenage rebellion, social media, and corruption. The author adds valuable insight and research into every novel she writes,  and she does it well.

 Cautiously trust those you meet....remember,  some people know how to tell that one perfect lie.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Fair warning, readers....please, please don't reveal the ending of this book!

His kiss still lingers on her lips. David. She can't forget the charming, attractive stranger she met last night while out-on-the-town, alone. Being a divorced, single mom gives Louise little opportunity to socialize, let alone make a sizzling connection with a mysterious man.

Next day, as Louise heads into her part-time job with a prestigious psychiatric practice, she can't stop smiling. Maybe her dull, boring life is about to take a turn. When she sees her new boss from across the room, she instantly recognizes him as the man she met the night before; Dr. David Martin, married, and even more handsome in daylight. Before he spots her, a panicky Louise runs. She can't look into those piercing, brilliant blue eyes of his, without remembering one smoldering kiss.

Distracted and reeling from this revelation, Louise literally bumps into Adele, who looks oh, so familiar. The unsuspecting wife. Her lovely photo graces a frame on David's desk. The chance encounter is the beginning of a deep friendship between two needy ladies. But it isn't long before Louise witnesses the signs of a troubled marriage between her new friend and her new secret lover. Caught in the middle, she's unable to escape the lair of duplicity that surrounds them all. If only she had walked away from the good doctor and his wife when she had the chance.

Some readers will love this novel. Some readers will hate it. But whatever you decide, you'll be talking about the ending, and I think author Sarah Pinborough had exactly that in mind.

Happy April Fool's Day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Never Let You go

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

It's been almost twelve years since Lindsey Nash and daughter, Sophie, fled in the night to escape a life filled with domestic abuse. Ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to prison and for a few years, Lindsey dared to dream of a life without him.

But now Andrew has been released, and the familiar cycle of terror begins again. Lindsey feels the presence of anonymous eyes constantly watching her from the shadows. Frightening home invasions make her question everyone around her. She's losing control of her needy daughter, while living in fear. Andrew insists he's a changed man, incapable of hurting her, but Lindsey has heard false promises before from this charismatic charmer she fell in love with as a teenager. Why would she believe him now?

The author captures the trauma, secrecy, and stigma of spousal abuse with pinpoint accuracy. A remote small-town in snow-covered Vancouver is the ideal setting to tell a story of obsession and retaliation. Intense suspense builds chapter by chapter, culminating in an unanticipated ending. As in two of her previously reviewed novels (Those Girls and Always Watching), Chevy Stevens seems to have a knack for writing chilling scenarios guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Girl in Disguise

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

Kate Warne knows the streets of 1856 Chicago are no place for a lady, but she's run out of options. Without a husband and a dwindling bank account, this may be her last chance for survival. So, on that hot, sultry day, she walks into the famed Pinkerton National Detective Agency, determined to persuade the intimidating Allan Pinkerton himself to hire her as the first female private investigator in the country. And she succeeds.

Follow this fascinating story of a remarkable woman in history who hid behind a shroud of mystery. As a woman operative, Kate battled male colleagues for recognition while facing danger around every corner. With her keen mind and flair for the dramatic, she managed to outsmart swindlers and hardened criminals alike. Her key part in thwarting an early assassination attempt of Abraham Lincoln is just one of many tales readers will relish. The author adds her own imaginative take on this real life lady who became the master of disguise.

Author Greer Macallister's name is now synonymous with captivating historical fiction novels. I knew when I reviewed The Magician's Lie in January, 2015, that her next release would be on my list of must reads. Loyal fans will not be disappointed as they decide, who really was the elusive Kate Warne?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper

Sweltering Heat. Drought. Despair. Murder.

Federal agent Aaron Falk returns to his Australian childhood home with apprehension. Times are bad here. Parched land, withering crops, vicious gossip. He and his father were run out of Kiewarra twenty years ago, suspects in the gruesome drowning death of sixteen-year-old Ellie Deacon. Aaron thought those dark, shameful memories were safely tucked away, until that cryptic message arrived from the father of a boy he once called his best friend. He dreads what awaits him in a place best forgotten.

 Now he stares at three cold caskets, trying to wrap his mind around the thought that Luke Hadler, the mate he once idolized, may have murdered his wife and young son before turning the gun on himself. There's a nagging uneasiness in this town, impossible to shake, and somehow,  Aaron knows the past is rearing its ugly head once again, with danger and hostility around every corner.

Immerse yourself in the rich imagery and complex characters so artfully created by a skilled author the U.S. will soon embrace. Visualize this novel coming to life on the screen; actress Reese Witherspoon has already acquired the film rights for an intensely riveting story about small-town people teetering on the brink of losing it all. Readers may meet Aaron again in a second book, already in progress.

Mystery, thrills, and suspense in a dazzling debut.

Monday, February 6, 2017


Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Wade's mind is slowly slipping away. The onset of early dementia is robbing him of memories, some joyful, others excruciatingly sad.

Despite Wade's violent episodes, Ann loves her husband unconditionally, unabashedly, with a pureness that only she understands. It's this devotion that inspires her to envision the story behind tragic events that tore Wade's first family apart so many years ago on a hot, dusty, Idaho day.

Wade's ex-wife, Jenny, rots in a prison cell, convicted of murdering their six-year old daughter, May. Older sister, June, vanished after witnessing the horrific deed, her whereabouts still a mystery.  What could prompt a loving mother to commit such a hideous crime? Wade is adrift in his own world, retreating deeper each day into a place Ann cannot enter. So she must begin her lonely quest for answers. In her darkest days, Ann reminds herself, " he has lost his daughters, but he has also lost the memory of losing them".

With her beautiful, melodic prose, Ruskovich's flowing passages are a marvel to read. The clues to this mystery are intricately woven in the author's poetic words. Forgiveness is power, redemption is within our reach. Sorrow is losing the memory of ever having loved at all.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

There was a time in the 1930s when her name was synonymous with success. She penned catchy, witty ads for R. H. Macy's, soared to new heights as the country's highest-paid female copywriter in advertising, and became a published poet.

But that was then; Lillian is now an eighty-four-year-old elderly woman (or maybe eighty-five, a woman has the prerogative to lie about her age, after all.) She prepares to celebrate New Year's Eve, 1984, with a friend, but first it's time to take a walk down memory lane, stopping by the old haunts that defined her life, now forgotten, in New York City. Probably not a wise decision with the recent violent crime, but then Lillian has never backed away from a challenge, and she's not about to begin now. So she dons a fedora, paints her lips with her trademark Orange Fire, and steps back in time to venture out on perhaps what will be her most memorable journey of all.

 The author found inspiration to write about the real Margaret Fishback (who we know as Lillian Boxfish) after impeccable research of her personal papers. Truly a pioneer in the advertising world during the years of the Great Depression, Fishback's extraordinary fictional life began to take shape over time, and the result is quite captivating.

Told with compassion, humor, and a deep understanding of growing old, I highly recommend taking a walk with glad I did.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Marriage Lie

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

A devoted wife discovers the extraordinary, calculated deviousness of the man she married....

It's been seven years since Iris Griffith committed her love and allegiance to husband, Will.  He still makes her heart flutter each time their eyes meet, and if luck is on their side, a child may soon add to their happiness.

The tranquility of life is abruptly shattered when Iris learns that Will has perished in a tragic plane crash outside of Seattle. Distressing, yes, except for the fact that Will couldn't possibly have been on that flight. He was headed to Orlando for a business conference that day. She even has the shiny brochure highlighting his credentials as the keynote speaker, right next to the photo of his handsome face. Panic gives way to fear as Iris is about to learn where the truth ends and the stunning lies begin.

Written with the precision that suspense lovers long for, this thriller's unexpected twists and turns make Belle's newest release a must read. Decipher the clues and enjoy one tantalizing tale.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Small Admissions

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

It's that time of year again, when anxious parents play the waiting game to hear if their precious darlings are accepted into Hudson Day School, one of Manhattan's finest private educational institutions.

Kate Pearson didn't exactly envision herself in the admissions department of an elite New York school, but when your world is shattered by the likes of a charming French lover, and your sister is hovering over your every move, a steady paycheck is most appealing. So she begins the tedious interviews with a selection of twelve-year-olds; some worthy of entering the hallowed halls of Hudson, and others who are the offspring of overbearing, obnoxious, status-seeking parents who need to satisfy their own egos with an acceptance letter.

Surprisingly amidst this chaos, Kate's life begins to change. While dodging the drama ( and secrets) surrounding her best friends, and heeding the advice of her misunderstood, bohemian parents, Kate discovers she has the talent, the heart, and the drive to make a difference.

The author's experience as an admissions counselor adds to the realistic view of this particular world of academia. Refreshing, enlightening, and often uproariously funny, this new release ushers in the New Year with a little bit of levity.