Monday, December 29, 2014

Dreams of Home by Gwen Kirkwood

After serving in World War II, Steven Caraford wants nothing more than to be a farmer like his father, Eddy. However, his half-brother, Fred nurses a lifelong jealousy and hatred for Steven and would like nothing more than to see him fail in his endeavors. Steven has a lot of support from his parents, neighbors and friends--like Megan Oliphant, the sister of his best friend (who died during the war). Will Steven fulfill his ambition of being in charge of a farm and also win Megan's love? Dreams of Home is the first book in this family saga series and is filled with details of the everyday life on a farm in the late 1940's in Scotland. It's a gentle read, perfect for those who enjoy heartwarming stories.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody

In 1922, presumed widow Kate Shackleton craves her independence, even though her mother would like her to stop private investigating and concentrate on more feminine pursuits. Kate agrees to help an old friend, Tabitha Braithwaite, find out what happened to her father, Joshua. He disappeared six years ago after it appeared that he attempted suicide. Kate and her assistant, Sykes, immerse themselves into both the public and private lives of the people from the local mill (Joshua was the owner), in order to find out what happened to him.  As questions are asked, danger descends upon those involved. Dying in the Wool is the first book in the Kate Shackleton series. It's a good choice for those who enjoy the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear and the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos

Fifteen years ago, Melanie Denison was Meg Miller, a young girl whose father, Ramsey, murdered her mother, Allison. After the crime, Meg was put into the witness protection program and taken to West Virginia to live with her uncle and aunt. Now, at nineteen, Melanie is beginning to chafe at all the restrictions placed on her by her family and decides to go back to the town of Silver Bay, New Jersey, where she was born. She wants to stop looking over her shoulder all the time and finally know the real story of what happened all those years ago. If she can find her father, Ramsey, who's been on the run since then, that's even better. In his second novel, Kardos takes the reader back in the past, before the crime happened, into the minds of both Ramsey and Allison, and we discover that the truth and what Melanie believes may be two very different things.  It will be published in February.

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

Alice and her husband, Jake, own a very successful BBQ restaurant in Austin. They long for a child, despite having had to return a baby they were close to adopting back to his birth mother. While in Honduras, eleven-year-old Carla scours her town's garbage dump and tries to keep herself and her younger brother safe from violence and the perils two children face living on their own. In alternating chapters, The Same Sky tells the stories of Alice and Carla and how their personal lives happen to intersect. It's a journey of sadness and heartache, but ultimately of hope. I've read all of Amanda Eyre Ward's books and she's finally gotten her groove back with this one. As good as her first two novels, Sleep Toward Heaven and How to Be Lost. It's also a great read-alike for Jodi Picoult and Carla Buckley. It will be published in February.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

When the bones of a man are found hidden away in a building about to be torn down in Edinburgh, DCI Karen Pirie--as head of the Historic Case Unit--is put in charge. With help from a friend who's a forensic anthropologist, they are able to determine that the person died between five and ten years ago. In Oxford, professor Maggie Blake still misses her boyfriend, Dimitar Petrovic, who left her eight years ago--which was about the time someone started carrying out vigilante justice by murdering Serbian men involved in atrocities during the Balkan War. Is Petrovic, a Croatian, the one who's been avenging the violence against his people or was it his skeleton up of the roof of the old building? In this mystery, Val McDermid brings back detective Karen Pirie from her book, A Darker Domain, to explore and unravel the mystery of Dimitar Petrovic's life.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes

Claudia Morgan-Brown is soon to have her first child when she hires nanny Zoe Harper. Claudia lives with her two young stepsons and husband, James, who is away weeks at a time with his job in the Navy. However, Zoe is not who she seems and is spying on the family. The reader also knows that she's planning leaving her job when the baby is born. Meanwhile, married detectives Lorraine and Adam are investigating a series of murders of pregnant women around Birmingham. As the story progresses, the reader wonders if Claudia will be next or if the police will be able to stop the brutal deaths.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar

Kate Parker has suffered two tragedies in her life--the death of her parents on her wedding day and then the murder of her husband, Hugo. She is now a shadow of her former self and struggles to live a normal life with her son, Jack. Worried about his safety, she is obsessed with the statistical probabilities of all the things that could go wrong in their lives. Her relationship with her in-laws and sister-in-law (Hugo's family) is also disintegrating. However, hope comes when she meets a man named Jago Martin, who slowly helps Kate face her fears and start living again.  Will Kate get the happiness she deserves--or just more sorrow? A good read-alike for Erin Kelly.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Ted Severson meets a stranger, Lily Kintner, in an airport bar, whereupon he vents his anger at his wife, Miranda's infidelity and says he wants to "kill her." Lily then encourages Ted to go ahead and murder Miranda--in fact, Lily will even help him. What follows is an exploration of jealousy, attraction, and greed wrapped in a suspenseful contemporary noir. Despite a few implausibilities, Swanson has written a novel that is unpredictable and keeps the reader guessing until the end. It will be published in February.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan

William Heming owns a successful real estate agency. In his spare time he likes to spy on those that he's done business with over the last seventeen years.  His hobby is made much easier by the fact that he's made copies of the house keys from the residences that he's sold. When a dead body is found in one of Heming's client's homes, it might just lead to his undoing...  A Pleasure and a Calling explores Heming's life from childhood to the present in all it's dreadful detail.  It will be published in January.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Amory Ames spends her days alone in her country house while her husband, Milo, travels to Monte Carlo and the Riviera without her. She wonders if she made the wrong decision in marrying Milo, who is known as a playboy. When her old friend (and ex-fiancee) Gil Trent asks for Amory's help in convincing his sister Emmeline to break off her relationship with Rupert Howe (a man very much like Milo), she agrees and they travel to the seaside Brightwell Hotel. Soon, however, Rupert is murdered, probably pushed over a cliff. Several people knew of Gil's intense dislike for Rupert, which makes him the prime suspect. Amory knows he's innocent and decides she must do all she can to clear his name. When Milo arrives, the tension between Amory, Gil, and Milo intensifies. Will Amory be able to help Gil, despite being an emotional muddle? Murder at the Brightwell is a historical mystery (set in 1932) that will appeal to readers who enjoy Tasha Alexander, Deanna Raybourn, and the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn, making good on a promise to her just-deceased sister-in-law, Marylin, lets Marylin's daughter, Gemma-Kate, live with her and her husband, Carlo, as Gemma-Kate prepares to attend the University of Arizona.  When one of Brigid's dogs is poisoned and she starts feeling sick herself, Brigid wonders if something is really wrong with her health or if someone is trying to make her seriously ill. Could her current state also have something to do with her investigation into the death of teenager Joseph Neilsen?  In this second novel in the Brigid Quinn series, Masterman writes a page turner that should appeal to readers who enjoy Sue Grafton.  It will be published in January.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton

Policeman Hamish Macbeth again finds himself juggling several murder investigations, despite being stationed in the small Scottish village of Lochdubh.  This time, a local couple, who recently moved to town are found murdered along with Liz Bentley, who had a hard time telling the truth. Hamish tries to solve the crimes, even after being warned by his superiors to not get involved and knowing that, if he succeeds, it might mean a career away from his beloved Lochdubh.  It will be published in February.

The Murder Man by Tony Parsons

After a transfer from the anti-terrorism unit to homicide, DC Max Wolfe is immediately involved in the investigation into the grisly murder of investment banker Hugo Buck. When a homeless man is killed soon after in the same way, it seems there's a serial killer on the loose who specifically targeted both men.  What is the connection between the victims and will there be more deaths before Max and his colleague, DCI Mallory discover the identity of the killer? In this first book in the Max Wolfe series, author Parsons creates an interesting main character who struggles to raise his five-year-old daughter, Scout, on his own, while mourning the loss of his wife. He is also able to craft a puzzle that keeps you guessing until the end. A good read-alike for those who enjoy the Mark Tartaglia series by Elena Forbes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstol

Lance Hansen, a police officer who works for the U.S. Forest Service on Lake Superior in Minnesota, discovers a young Norwegian man, incoherent and bleeding, with his best friend dead nearby. The murder case is quickly passed to the local police, then to the FBI who are working with a cop from Norway named Eirik Nyland. Lance remains intrigued by the crime, as people are wondering if it's the first murder ever in Cook County. As the keeper of the local history files, Lance is reminded of the disappearance of Swamper Caribou, an Ojibwe who went missing near the current crime scene over 100 years ago. Could the two cases be connected? Lance is also troubled by the behaviors of someone in his own family. In this first book of the Minnesota Trilogy, Sundstol writes a leisurely-paced mystery filled with local lore, an interesting setting, and flawed characters. For readers who enjoy Paul Doiron, C.J. Box, and William Kent Krueger.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

With their marriage unraveling because of their inability to have a child, Hannah and Will move to the small village of Tornley. Their new home, Tornley Hall, needs a lot of work to get it ready for a visit in two weeks time from Barbara, who will help decide if they will be able to adopt a child. Soon, more cracks soon form in Hannah and Will's relationship, as Will spends his time in London working and Hannah finds herself involved with mysterious happenings in the house, nasty neighbors, and buried secrets. A page turner similar to Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster and Hold My Hand by Serena Mackesy.

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is paired with newbie detective Lucia Soto to investigate the murder of mariachi musician Orlando Merced. Merced was shot ten years ago, but only recently died--the bullet had been lodged in his spine since the shooting. Bosch and Soto delve into the original investigation of the case and try to find who would've wanted Merced dead. Bosch also becomes involved in another cold case, the Bonnie Brae fire of 1993, in which nine people lost their lives. Soto was one of the children who survived the fire and, now, having become an LAPD detective, has secretly been looking at the old files to find out who was responsible. The Burning Room shows Connelly is still in top form after all these years, giving the reader an engaging mystery and characters you really care about. It will be published in November.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo

Lizzie and her step-cousins, Elyse and Isobel, have been like sisters to each other since they were children. Now, all three find themselves floundering as they near thirty. Lizzie, a professional soccer player, has torn her ACL for the third time and worries that she's past her peak. She also has a distant, frosty relationship with her mother, who has kept the identity of Lizzie's father a secret. Elyse, meanwhile, is nursing a broken heart when she learns that her younger sister is marrying Landon, the love of Elyse's life. Isobel is finding the transition from child television star to adulthood difficult, even though she has a possible new career (her father taught her home renovation skills as she was growing up). The "Triplins" find themselves living together in Lizzie's grandmother's quirky-yet-rundown house in Memphis as they try to move to the next phases of their lives. I really loved Santo's first novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree and was hoping that Three Story House would be equally good. Unfortunately, I just didn't connect emotionally as deeply with the characters and story as I did in her debut.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Personal by Lee Child

Someone has tried to assassinate the president of France from such a great distance that there are very few suspects in the whole world. Jack Reacher is asked to assist on the case because one of the possible shooters is someone he put in prison years ago, but is now free. Soon, Reacher realizes that the suspect, John Kott, wants revenge against Reacher for putting him in prison. Will Reacher, with the help of the State Department's Casey Nice, be able to unravel the truth about who the guilty man is before anyone else comes to harm? While I always enjoy touching base with the character of Reacher, the plot of this novel, set mostly in Europe with a bit of international espionage, didn't really appeal to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Malice by Keigo Higashino

When writer Kunihiko Hidaka is found murdered in his home, detective Kyoichiro Kaga immediately suspects Hidaka's friend, Osamu Nonoguchi is the killer--but can he prove it? Malice details the cat-and-mouse game between the two, as Kaga delves into the friendship between Hidaka and Nonoguchi and his attempts to get Nonoguchi to confess. The mystery is an interesting puzzle that keeps you guessing until the end. It will be published in October.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

In this latest mystery in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are hired by Mr. Sengupta to find out if the woman that he's taken into his home really has amnesia or if she's faking for some reason. Mma Makutsi is also starting a new business venture, The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe. While she has the funds to set up the restaurant and hire staff, she is not so experienced in what it takes to run a successful restaurant. In addition, the detective agency gets it's third employee, Charlie, whom Mma Ramotswe takes under her wing when he's let go from Tlokweng Speedy Motors, her husband's business right next door. Will Charlie's being young and having a completely different work ethic from the ladies make him a good fit for the agency? In typical fashion, McCall Smith focuses on the relationships between the characters with a bit of mystery thrown in.  It will be published in October.

To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie

Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, recently returned from paternity leave, has been demoted to the Holborn Police Station from Scotland Yard. When a young man dies while setting off a bomb in the St. Pancras underground, Duncan and his team try to discover his identity and motive.  On the home front, Duncan and his wife, DI Gemma James, wrestle with disappointing their three children, who want to keep all five kittens that the stray cat they've found gave birth to. In To Dwell in Darkness, the personal lives of Duncan, Gemma, their children, and colleagues Doug and Melody are given equal footing to the mystery. It will be published next month.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin
In 1875, heiress Charlotte Baird is not looking for love when she meets Captain Bay Middleton. She is more interested in photography than being married off. However, Bay takes an interest in Charlotte's hobby and seems to like her for more than her substantial fortune. She reciprocates his feelings, but knows that her brother Fred will disapprove of Bay as her choice for a husband. When married Sisi, Empress of Austria, asks Bay to assist her in various hunts in the English countryside, he accepts and is swayed by her beauty and the same passion he shares for riding. In this triangle of love and possible scandal, someone is bound to be left hurt and unhappy. Author Daisy Goodwin spins an engaging fictional tale about the real-life Sisi that is hard to put down.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

It's Christmastime on Nantucket and the Quinn family are not looking forward to the holiday party at the family's Winter Street Inn. Owner Kelley has just walked in on his wife, Mitzi, passionately kissing Santa (aka George), whom they hire every year for their holiday party. When Mitzi reveals that they've been having an affair for the past twelve years, Kelley is stunned. Now, more than ever, he would like to sell the inn and get relief from the financial pressure he's been under. His grown daughter, Ava, despairs that her boyfriend, Nathaniel, hasn't proposed and doesn't love her as much as he should. Eldest son, Patrick, is being investigated for insider trading. Ava and Patrick's mother, Margaret, is Kelley's ex-wife, and a successful national news anchor, yet at times she regrets that she was not present enough for her children's childhoods. Finally, there is also another son, Kevin--a bartender--who has been keeping his relationship with his French girlfriend, Isabelle secret. In typical Hilderbrand style, the reader gets a front row seat to the feelings and emotions of all the members of the family as they unite and support each other in their times of need. It will be published in October.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Murder of Harriet Krohn by Karin Fossum

Charlo Torp is a compulsive gambler who's made a mess of his life.  His teenage daughter, Julie, won't talk to him, he mourns the death of his wife from leukemia, and he lives in fear because his gambling debts have grown into a large amount of money. Charlo thinks he's found a way to turn his life around-- rob elderly Harriet Krohn. However, his idea doesn't go as he planned and Harriet ends up dead. Charlo pays off his debts, buys Julie the horse she always wanted, and even finds employment, but he can't get the guilt about Harriet out of his mind or the thought that Inspector Sejer is probably on his trail. Will the authorities be able to prove that Charlo was the killer? In this seventh book of the Inspector Sejer series, the investigation takes a back seat to Charlo's own story of culpability and love. It will be published in November.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Secret Place by Tana French

It's a year after teenager Chris Harper was murdered on the grounds of St. Kilda's girl's school in Dublin. St. Kilda's student Holly Mackey, comes to police detective Stephen Moran with a postcard that was left on a bulletin board that says, "I know who killed him" (meaning Chris). While Stephen wasn't a detective on the case last year, he gets himself partnered with original detective Antoinette Conway. Moran and Conway go the private school to re-interview a handful of girls, hoping to glean some new information that will lead to finding Chris' killer. Interspersed with their investigation is the story of the months leading up to Chris' death and the stories of the girls who were possibly involved. I had extremely high hopes for this novel because I so enjoyed French's last book, Broken Harbor, but this was a disappointing read for me. I just didn't really care about any of the characters (the high school girls or the detectives) and the mystery did not engage me. It will be published in September.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

California by Edan Lepucki

Twentysomethings Cal and Frida have been living alone in the forest following the collapse of American society. After leaving their home in Los Angeles, they spend their days tending to their vegetables and foraging for food with only each other for company. When Frida discovers that she's pregnant, she and Cal realize that they must travel to the Spikes, a local collective that might let them join and help ensure that their baby is born safely. Instead they find that it provides them with more questions than answers and a level of uneasiness and distrust.  Have Cal and Frida made the right decision leaving the home they made for themselves?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Owen's Daughter by Jo-Ann Mapson

Skye Elliot is just out of rehab, determined to reunite with her four-year-old daughter, Gracie.  Skye's father, Owen, picks her up after she's completed her treatment and, even though she's thrilled to see him, he hasn't been in her life for over ten years. Owen is also starting a new life--recently released from prison and hoping to be a good father to Skye. He also still holds very dear the memory of his relationship with Margaret (the subject of Mapson's Blue Rodeo) in Blue Dog, New Mexico. Margaret, meanwhile, is living in Santa Fe, painting and learning to cope with a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. In Owen's Daughter, Mapson lets us in on the lives and innermost thoughts and feelings of Skye, Owen, and Margaret, as well as the family and friends that surround them.  With the southwest setting and Mapson's wonderful characterizations, Owen's Daughter is a pure pleasure to read.

An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell

In this short novel, Kurt Wallander is debating whether to move to the country from his home in Ystad. When he goes to look at a home that he really likes, he finds a skeletal hand in the garden, which, of course, sours him on the property. Wallander then finds himself leading the investigation into who was possibly buried in the garden years ago. An Event in Autumn takes place in between Before the Frost and The Troubled Man. I thoroughly enjoyed another adventure with Wallander and hold out hope that maybe Mankell will someday continue the series with Wallander's daughter, Linda, as the main character.  It will be published next month.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton

In the English village of Winter Parva, baker Bert Simple is murdered during a pantomime performance. Private detective Agatha Raisin is hired by Gareth Craven, whom the press have fingered as the killer. He wants Agatha to help clear his name by finding the real culprit. Will the fact that Agatha is sidetracked by her quest to find love and companionship mean that the guilty person goes free? The Blood of an Englishman will be published in September.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Living alone, Maud is descending into dementia. Despite having her daughter, Helen, nearby, and a caregiver that looks in on her every day, Maud is a danger to herself and others. She spends her time thinking about her older sister, Sukey, who disappeared over fifty years ago, and her current good friend, Elizabeth, whom she believes something bad has happened to. In her first novel, Healey writes a novel that is more about living with dementia than psychological suspense (which is what I was expecting). A read-alike for Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

That Summer by Lauren Willig

Julia Conley left England as a child after her mother was killed in a car accident. Growing up in the United States, she and her father never spoke about what happened. When Julia is left an old home by her just-deceased great aunt, she decides to travel to Herne Hill outside London. With the house overgrown and in need of repairs, Julia slowly goes through its contents. When she discovers a hidden painting that looks to be by one of the Pre-Raphaelites, Julia finds herself deep in a mystery of love, secrets, and betrayal. Helping her with the project is Nick, one of her cousin's friends. Are his motives honest or is he hoping to come away with some riches himself?  That Summer, with its past and present story lines, is an enjoyable summer read.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

When Lydia, a teenager, disappears and is found drowned in a lake, her family wonders about the circumstances of her death.  It's 1977 in Ohio and her parents have suffered prejudice since they married.  Mom Marilyn--blond and Caucasian--gave up her dreams of being a doctor when she married Chinese-American James Lee. James was denied his aspirations of being an American history professor at Harvard because of his race. Lydia was the favored middle child, the one that both Marilyn and James pinned their success on. Marilyn wanted Lydia to become a doctor, while James wanted her to be popular and have all the friends that he never had. Eldest son Nath and younger daughter, Hannah, are left with their own complicated emotions as their sister's passing causes their parents to confront the choices that they've made in their lives. Everything I Never Told You is a beautifully written debut novel that explores the issues of prejudice, individuality and family ties. It would be a great novel for a book discussion.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton

Kinsey is hired by wealthy Nord Lafferty to escort his daughter, Reba, back home after she's released from prison. Kinsey finds herself liking Reba and wanting her to succeed on the outside, so Kinsey spends time with her. Soon, however, Kinsey is embroiled in Reba's relationship with shady businessman Alan "Beck" Beckwith. In fact, Reba had taken the fall for Beck because she was in love with him. When the U.S. government asks for Kinsey's help in getting Reba to help them go after Beckwith, Kinsey is apprehensive. Will the situation end with justice served or in tragedy?

Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

LAPD detective Lou Norton is still haunted by the disappearance of her older sister twenty-five years ago. When she's called to a crime scene where teenager Monique Dawson was murdered, she realizes that there is a connection to her sister, namely successful businessman Napoleon Chase and she becomes even more determined to solve the current case. Will problems in her marriage and the memories of her sister derail her plans?  A mystery that's perfect for people who enjoy Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Malorie lives near Detroit with her two young children in an abandoned neighborhood. However, she has no idea what really lurks beyond her house because everyone has to wear blindfolds whenever they go out. Four years ago, people mysteriously began committing suicide after seeing some unknown creature. Back then, Malorie found a safe shelter with some other people, but now she and the children are on their own. Malorie decides to make a harrowing journey to what she believes is a safe haven, but to get there she must, along with the kids, row sightless for twenty miles down a river... Bird Box is a fast-paced story of fright, survival, and hope.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas

Eliza Spooner's husband Will is fighting for the north in the Civil War. For the Christmas of 1864, she makes him a quilt that a fellow soldier will deliver to him.  But soon after, Eliza gets word that Will has been killed in the fighting. A Quilt for Christmas follows Eliza's life over the next year as she takes in fellow war widow (Missouri Ann and her daughter, Nance), bonds with the women in her small quilting circle and finds both solace and sorrow in her memories of Will and their life together. The novel is a prequel to Dallas' The Persian Pickle Club and features the grandmothers of the women in that earlier book. A gentle and heartwarming read. It will be published in October.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A horrible act of violence occurs at the Pirriwee Public School's trivia night fundraiser for parents. In the novel, the reader follows the lives of the parents and children starting six months before that fateful evening. Single mother Jane, and her son Ziggy have just moved to town and are ostracized almost immediately by most of the mothers when Ziggy is tagged as the kindergarten bully. Madeline befriends Jane, yet is going through turmoil in her own family when her teenage daughter, Abigail moves in with her dad, Nathan (Madeline's ex-husband). Madeline also has to face Nathan's seemingly perfect wife, Bonnie every day, since their daughters are in the same kindergarten class. Their friend, Celeste seems to have the perfect life with her wealthy husband, Perry, but she is hiding being the victim of domestic abuse. In Big Little Lies, Moriarty explores the lives of these three women, letting us in on their innermost thoughts and feelings. She does a fabulous job of keeping the reader guessing about the events of parents' night. Also, there was one great shock at the end of the book that had me gasping out loud.  Another page-turning read from Moriarty. It will be published next month.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Good Year for the Roses by Gil McNeil

When Molly's Aunt Helena passes away, she inherits Harrington Hall, a rundown old manor with beautiful gardens. Moving to back to her hometown of Devon with her three sons, she's definitely in the mood for a change after her divorce.  Is living with her Uncle Bertie and Betty (his crazy parrot) while trying to raise her sons on her own and doing renovations on the hall going to be too much for her to handle?  A Good Year for the Roses is a delightful story filled with humor, friendship, and the bonds of family. Perfect for readers who enjoy Jojo Moyes' contemporary novels.  It will be published in July.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Dabney Kimball Beech lives and breathes Nantucket. With the exception of going to Harvard, she's pretty much spent her whole life there, refusing to move to Thailand with her childhood love, Clen, after college. She raised their daughter, Agnes, on her own, until she married economics professor, Box. While happy with Box all these years, Clen has always been the love of her life. When Dabney gets an e-mail from Clen telling her that he's coming back to Nantucket, she's stunned, since she hasn't seen him in over twenty-five years. Keeping Clen's arrival secret from everyone, Dabney also hasn't been feeling well lately and wonders what's wrong. Combining the lifelong love story of Dabney and Clen with accounts of Dabney's matchmaking abilities for more than forty couples, The Matchmaker packs an emotional wallop. Make sure to have tissues handy...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd

Annie Delancey has a successful specialty cake business, three grown children, and has been married to her husband, Richard, for almost thirty years. When she receives a letter that Daniel, the son she gave up for adoption thirty-five years ago, wants to meet her, it throws her life into an emotional tailspin, even though it's welcome news. Richard knew about Annie's past, but she never told her children that they have an older half-sibling. Her two daughters, Marsha and Lucy, are fine with the news, but son, Ed, feels his place in the family is threatened, now that he's not the only son. Soon, Daniel's presence and Annie's desire to make up for lost time puts a strain on her marriage. Annie's complicated relationship with her mother, Eleanor, is also pushed to the forefront, because Eleanor was the one that pushed Annie into adoption. Will Annie be able to bring all those that she loves together?  Give to readers who enjoy Joanna Trollope. Tangled Lives will be published in July.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Jess Thomas' and Ed Nicholls' paths really don't cross, even though she cleans his vacation home.  When Ed sees Jess and her kids (teenager Nicky and math whiz Tanzie) on the side of the road after a disastrous traffic stop, he agrees to drive the family to Scotland so Tanzie can participate in a math exam in hopes of getting enough money to supplement her scholarship to a private school. The family's huge dog Norman is with them, and the car can't go more than 40 miles per hour (because Tanzie gets carsick), so everyone gets to know each other quite intimately, especially Jess and Ed.  Ed, however, is facing the possibility of prison time for insider trading and is upset about his father's imminent death from cancer. Told through the eyes of Jess, Ed, Nicky, and Tanzie, the reader feels every emotion of these characters and roots for everyone's lives to have a happy ending.  It will be published in July.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

Over thirty years ago, an Amish family suffered a horrible tragedy: burglars broke into their home, killed the father, kidnapped the mother and left her for dead. All but one of the children died when the house went up in flames (teen Billy Hochstetler was the only child to survive).  Now, it seems someone is taking revenge, murdering one by one the people who committed the crime. Painters Mill police chief Kate Burkholder delves into the old case and tries to coax information out of those who know the current victims, but finds that people want to keep their secrets buried. While I enjoyed this sixth book in the Kate Burkholder series, I deduced the murderer early on, which took away a bit from the story. The Dead Will Tell will be published in July.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron

Mike Bowditch has left the Maine Warden Service and now works as a fishing guide for tourists. When his mentor and friend, Kathy Frost, is shot and left in a coma, Mike wonders if someone was taking revenge for Kathy killing a young war veteran in self-defense--or if the motive lies somewhere else. While Mike's persistence in pursuing who was responsible for Kathy's injuries is admirable, his recklessness might get him killed. In this fifth book of the series, the backdrop of the Maine outdoors is on full display. It's another great read by Doiron.  The Bone Orchard will be published in July.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Cara Kryzik owns Bloom, a flower shop in Savannah, Georgia and is trying to keep her business afloat. With several high-profile weddings on her schedule, she hopes she will be finally able to pay off the money her father lent her. Living above the shop with her dog, Poppy, she is also trying to put the betrayal by her ex-husband in the past. When Poppy is mistakenly dognapped by Jack Finnerty, anger turns to passion. Then, when a rival florist makes it clear that he's trying to put Cara out of business and a client's family heirloom goes missing, it might turn out to be more than Cara can handle. With Andrews' trademark southern charm, a strong romance and the backdrop of life in a flower shop, this one's a winner. Save the Date will be published in June.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Stranger on the Train by Abbie Taylor

Single mother Emma is exhausted caring for her one-year-old son, Ritchie. When he is kidnapped by a woman that helped Emma with him on the London underground, Emma has a hard time convincing the authorities about the truth of what happened--they wonder if Emma harmed Ritchie and is making up lies to cover up her crime. However, Emma has an ally in Rafe, who believes she's telling the truth. Will Emma, with Rafe's help, be able to find Ritchie and bring him home?  Recommend The Stranger on the Train to readers who've enjoyed Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie and Lullaby by Claire Seeber. It will be published in May.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay

Scarlett Parker flees Florida for London when she becomes famous on the internet for throwing cake at her married lover. She and her cousin, Viv, each own half of Mim's Whims, a hat shop in Notting Hill Gate. The business was left to them by their aunt, Mim. Upon arriving in London, Scarlett finds that Viv is missing, so Scarlett has to manage the shop herself, with help from Harrison Wentworth (who handles the finances for their endeavor) and Fee (an apprentice that Viv took on). When Scarlett finds customer Lady Ellis stabbed to death wearing only one of the shop's hats, the situation gets even more desperate, leading to a break-in at Mim's Whims and the realization by Scarlett that she has to find Lady Ellis' killer. Cloche and Dagger is a book filled with colorful characters, but the mystery aspect of the novel is not as well developed as I would've liked.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Return to Prior's Ford by Evelyn Hood

In this sixth novel in the series, the reader is transported back to the tiny town of Prior's Ford to share in the everyday lives of its inhabitants. The Ralston-Kerrs have been successful in transforming the overgrown gardens of their old estate, Linn Hall, back to its former glory, but should they renovate their home and other buildings to bring even more visitors and income?  While the changes to Tarbethill Farm are positive, Ewan cannot forget the past and Alison's role in the plans. Will he be able to move forward or lose Alison for good? In addition, a new resident--retired professor Malcolm Finlay--provides work for local writer Helen Campbell, but does he have secrets like the past two residents of his home, Thatcher's Cottage? This latest book is a warm-hearted story that transports the reader to life in a small Scottish village.

Mystery in Prior's Ford by Evelyn Hood

In the small Scottish village of Prior's Ford, everyone patronizes the local pub, the Neurotic Cuckoo, and are there for each other in their times of need. Clarissa Ramsay frets about the villagers' opinions of her dating a man twenty years her junior. Ginny Whitelaw loves her job as a gardener at Linn Hall, the local big estate, but secretly harbors romantic feelings for Lewis Ralston-Kerr, who, with his parents, is trying to draw tourists to the hall. Meanwhile, the owners of Tarbethill Farm--Ewan McNair and his mother, Jess--are reluctantly considering changes in how they farm and use their land in order to be more profitable and have more of a personal life.  Despite the bucolic setting, there is a murderer among the townspeople, which is where new resident, policeman Neil White comes in. In this fifth book of the Prior's Ford series (and first to be published in the States), Hood writes a cozy, gentle read focusing on the characters and their daily lives. A great read-alike for Rebecca Shaw and Ann Purser.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Invisible City by Julia Dahl

Rebekah Roberts is a stringer reporter for the New York Tribune. Growing up in Florida and raised by her father, she is scarred by the absence of her Hasidic mother, who left when Rebekah was a baby. Her parents never married and met while Rebekah's mother was questioning her faith. When Rebekah is at the scene where a ultra-Orthodox woman is found dead at a scrap yard, she finds herself trying to understand a faith she doesn't know that well. She is also working on the case with a policeman named Saul who knew both her parents all those years ago. Saul wants justice for the murdered woman, Rivka Mendelssohn, but believes that the police are not investigating thoroughly and leaving it to the Hasidic community to dictate what's done, such as not performing an autopsy on Rivka. Will Rebekah be able to put her personal issues aside and put her journalist skills to good use? Invisible City is the first book in the Rebekah Roberts series and features an intriguing main character along with interesting story. Give to readers who enjoy the Kate Burkholder books by Linda Castillo. It will be published in May.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

George Foss lives a pretty ordinary life as an accountant at a literary magazine and at 40, has never married or had children. When he glimpses his college girlfriend, Liana, at a bar, it throws him off-balance because throughout the last twenty years he's had moments where he thought he had seen her, but it was not the case. Liana cast a spell over George all those years ago and it hasn't dissipated. Despite knowing that she's possibly a murderer and is wanted by the police, he agrees to meet up with her. Liana wants George's help in returning money that she stole from a wealthy businessman she was seeing. George agrees to aid Liana, but finds himself deeply involved in violence and murder. A fast-paced, unputdownable thrill ride. It's like a noirish Harlan Coben/Linwood Barclay.