Monday, April 24, 2017

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

In 1938, Marianne von Lingenfels makes a promise to watch over the families of German resistors. As the war comes to an end, she finds herself taking in Benita and her son, Martin, and Ania and her two sons, Anselm and Wolfgang, at the family's run-down castle. The three women struggle to survive on their own as they come to terms with the enormous toll the war has taken on them. Taking place over almost sixty years, the novel explores the lives of everyday Germans during the war, a view that hasn't really been explored at length in popular fiction. An absorbing read that would be great for discussion. Give to people who enjoyed Lilac Girls and other female-centered World War II fiction.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Murder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan

While painting a watercolor at Gwrych Castle, Penny Brannigan discovers the dead body of local resident, John Hardwick. Hardwick and others had been working on the gardens of the long-vacant and crumbling estate. Not knowing if he died of natural causes or more sinister means, the police have their hands full when human bones are discovered on the property. Penny and her friend, recently retired DCI Gareth Davies, are fascinated with the history of the castle and find themselves involved in both cases. I always look forward to reading the newest book in the Penny Brannigan series because of the characters and the small town setting of Llanelen, Wales.

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

After a particularly bad break-up, Paul takes his editor's advice and heads to Tuscany to finish his latest cookbook. After arriving, he discovers that his rental car is nowhere to be found. Left without a vehicle and desperate, Paul agrees to rent a bulldozer for his stay in Italy. While staying in the village of Montalcino, he interacts with the locals and tries to mend his broken heart. My Italian Bulldozer is a light and humorous read similar in feel to McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

Six months: no falling in love, no dating anyone that we both know and no talking about it with each other. That's the agreement that married couple Lucy and Owen decide upon. Living in an upscale Hudson Valley community with their son, Wyatt, they are secure in their marriage, yet are intrigued about the possibilities of being involved with someone else. When both Lucy and Owen start exploring their options, they find their relationship changing in ways they never expected.  The Arrangement is a highly entertaining yet believable novel similar to Tom Perrotta and Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman

A former colleague of retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn asks her to come to Florida and assist on an appeal for Marcus Creighton, who's soon to be executed for the murders of his family, although his children's bodies were never found. Brigid agrees to help her friend, Laura Coleman with the case. A native Floridian, Brigid will also be able to spend time with her elderly father, who's in the hospital and not doing well. Brigid and Laura have an uphill battle to save Creighton's life by searching for old evidence and seeing if any mistakes were made with the original case. Laura, though, appears to be a little too close to Creighton for Brigid's liking. In addition to all this, they are also trying to figure out what really happened to the Creighton children all those years ago.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Knife Creek by Paul Doiron

In the heat of a Maine summer, game warden Mike Bowditch, along with his girlfriend, Stacey, discovers a baby buried loosely in the ground. Both Mike and Stacey are extremely upset and wonder what lead to the baby's death. The only clues are the initials K.C. carved into a nearby tree and the clothes the child was wearing. Even though it's out of his jurisdiction, Mike continues to be haunted by what he saw, and finds himself involved in the investigation. In this latest book of the Mike Bowditch series, Doiron crafts a mystery that's extremely hard to put down. It has a great setting, a compelling story, and a main character with supporting characters that are interesting and believable. A top-notch series that deserves to mentioned as one of the best being written today. It will be published in June.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth

When Alice Stanhope is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she tries to stay strong for her teenage daughter, Zoe, who has severe social anxiety. Alice and Zoe have been each other's only family for many years, although with her diagnosis, Alice needs extra support from Kate (a nurse) and the hospital's social worker, Sonja. Alice keeps the news of her cancer from Zoe, but when she has complications, mother and daughter find that Kate is a godsend. Kate, though, is going through issues in her own life--mainly the sadness with not being able to carry a baby to term. Sonja, meanwhile, is hiding her own secret that her husband, George, abuses her. The Mother's Promise explores all these women's lives in detail and, while I enjoyed the story, there was a plot point near the end of the novel that I thought was unnecessary.