Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Golden State by Stephanie Kegan

Natalie lives in Berkeley with her husband, Eric, and two daughters. She grew up in a well-connected California political family, where she was closest to her brilliant older brother, Bobby. Bobby now lives off the grid, in a cabin in Idaho and isn't in touch with anyone in the family. As someone nicknamed the Cal Bomber is killing and maiming people in the state, Natalie starts to wonder if Bobby might be the perpetrator, based on writings of his and the bomber's that are very similar. Eric encourages her go to the FBI with her suspicions, and she does--getting them to promise to keep her involvement secret. However, they don't and Natalie and her family's lives are thrust into the public eye. The big question becomes whether Bobby is guilty and, if he is, how that will affect his family. Golden State is an emotional story about a family's past and present--and the choices we make and have to accept when things are not in our control. A book to think about even after the last page is turned.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Grace and Riley are childhood sweethearts who secretly marry when she turns 18. Soon, things fall apart and Grace is in hiding in Paris, restoring antiques in a dodgy shop. While there, she learns that Riley and one of his best friends, Alls, have been released from prison three years after committing a robbery in their small Tennessee hometown. Grace happened to be studying in Prague at the time. Could she have played some part in the crime? Unbecoming details Grace's coming of age in Garland, her relationship with Riley, with his family and friends, and her general unease that someone from her past might be coming to find her.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen

In The Stolen Ones, FBI agent Carla Windermere teams with Kirk Stevens of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to crack an international human-trafficking ring. Sisters Irina and Catalina Milosovici leave their home in Romania for a better life in the United States, but the man who arranges their passage has them transported in a shipping container, along with many other young women, to be sex slaves around the country. When Irina escapes and a policeman in Minnesota is shot, it sets in motion a cross-country chase, as Windermere and Stevens try to find the ringleaders and try to save the sisters' (and many other women's) lives.  However, the men in charge have a lot to lose, making them all the more dangerous. This fourth thriller in the Windermere/Stevens series is a great read-alike for Thomas Perry and C.J. Box's stand-alone novels. It will be published next month.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

Neva and her mother, Grace are midwives who share both camaraderie and a passion for their life's work. Neva, though, has always been closer to her father, Robert, and when Neva refuses to tell Grace who the father of the baby she's carrying is, it puts more of a wedge between them. Neva also doesn't want to reveal that information to her grandmother, Floss (a retired midwife), either. Yet, Neva's pregnancy reminds Floss of her own life as a single mother to Grace years ago. In fact, Floss, has been carrying a secret of her own for many years. The Secrets of Midwives explores the bond between mothers and daughters and the joy of childbirth. While I liked it, I didn't feel the depth of enjoyment that I usually feel when reading this type of book. Give this novel to people who enjoy Jo-Ann Mapson and Courtney Miller Santo's The Roots of the Olive Tree.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Emily Coleman leaves her family behind in Manchester and starts a new life in London.  She becomes "Cat"--single, living in a house with many flatmates, and a younger new friend, Angel. What kind of trauma made Emily give up everything that made her happy? Did it have something to do with her unstable twin sister, Caroline, who's always been jealous of Emily? One Step Too Far recounts Cat's life in London and has flashback scenes from Emily's childhood and her marriage to Ben. While the book had me turning the pages to find out Emily's secret, once I knew it, I just had to groan--which makes it a little hard to recommend.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

Linda Wallheim is the mother of five sons (almost all grown) and the wife of a Mormon bishop in Draper, Utah. When a woman named Carrie Helm goes missing and leaves behind her young daughter, Kelly, all of Linda's grief about her own daughter (who died at birth years ago) comes to the forefront. With time on her hands and worries about Kelly's welfare with her father, Jared, and stern grandfather, Alex, Linda finds herself trying to discover what happened to Carrie. Linda also becomes involved in the personal lives of the Torstensen family. The husband, Tobias Torstensen, is dying. While helping Tobias' wife, Anna, with some chores, Linda finds a dress covered with dried blood in a garden shed. Could Tobias have murdered his first wife years ago? In this first mystery, Harrison introduces readers to contemporary Mormon life through a mystery setting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Heart of the Home by Gwen Kirkwood

Avril Gray and Dean Scott have been friends since childhood and are thinking about a life together someday. Avril's mother, Ruth, is dying and Avril wonders who will look after her younger half-brothers, Craig and Callum. In addition, Dean's mother, Grizel, disapproves of Avril, and Dean himself worries that he doesn't have anything to offer Avril, especially since her father is a doctor and she has a university degree. Will Avril and Dean be able to overcome the obstacles between them and marry? In this third book in the series (after Dreams of Home and A Home of Our Own), Kirkwood moves into the mid 1960's with her gentle read. While I enjoyed the story,  I miss getting the points of view of some of the characters who featured prominently in the earlier novels, like Megan and Steven. Still featuring the characters as they move through life would give the series added depth.