Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger

Widower Charlie Goldwyn works long hours at a high-pressure law firm hoping to make partner soon. One evening, at an office cocktail party after having too many drinks, he gives a speech that costs him his job. Being unemployed gives Charlie time to spend with his five-year-old son, Caleb, whom he hasn't seen a lot of because of his demanding career. It also allows Charlie to reflect more about his relationship with his late wife Mira, who passed away two years ago in a plane crash. Over time, Charlie begins to see that being a workaholic was maybe not the best thing for him, but when he's offered a new job will he accept it or make a change? This Was Not the Plan is a heartfelt, sometimes humorous, tale about fatherhood, love, and family. A great read-alike for Jennifer Weiner and Edward Hardy's Keeper and Kid.  It will be published in February.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell

Carl Martin has inherited a house from his father in a very desirable area of London. As a novelist, he needs a bit of extra income, so decides to rent out part of the home. At first, things go well with tenant Dermot McKinnon--but when Dermot starts to blackmail him, Carl finds himself in a terrible bind that affects both his work and his relationship with his girlfriend, Nicola. Carl's life then starts to unravel in ways he could not possibly imagine... Dark Corners will be published in October.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Rachel and Andy are just eight when they first meet, but feel an instant connection, even though their backgrounds are very different.  Rachel has a bad heart and lives with her upper-middle class family in Florida, while Andy is bi-racial and calls a struggling neighborhood in Philadelphia home. Over the years, as they grow up, their emotional bond sometimes wavers--living in different cities and seeing each other occasionally. Still, Rachel and Andy haven't completely forgotten about each other, either. Will they eventually reunite and find happiness together?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Roberta works at a bookshop and, while sorting through some of her grandmother's books, she comes across a letter that throws her family's history into doubt. It seems to imply that Roberta's grandparents were never married and that her grandfather, Jan Pietrykowski, died later than she was told. Roberta is shaken by the news, but feels that she cannot ask her father about it because he's in ill health, and her grandmother Dorothea, at 110, slips in and out of lucidity. Interspersed with Roberta's contemporary story is that of Dorothea's and Jan's during World War II. What happened all those years ago between them? Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase was an enjoyable read that is similar to Lauren Willig's stand-alone novels.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay

David Harwood has moved back to his hometown of Promise Falls with his son, Ethan, and finds himself embroiled in his extended family's problems. While dropping off some meals for his cousin, Marla (who delivered a stillborn baby about a year ago), he discovers that she's taking care of a baby boy, whom, she says, an angel dropped off at her door. Knowing Marla's fragile mental state, he attempts to learn more from her about the situation and is able to trace a baby stroller that was dropped off with the baby to a local family. When Marla and David go to the family's home, they discover a woman has been murdered there. Because she has the child, Marla becomes the chief suspect. David promises his aunt Agnes, Marla's mother, that he will look into the case. Despite believing in Marla's innocence, David has no idea that he's putting himself in danger. With this novel, Barclay returns to the town of Promise Falls, which was featured in some of his earlier novels. Broken Promise is slated to be the first book of a trilogy set there, which might explain why several plot points were left unresolved at the end. Unfortunately, I didn't find the novel as satisfying as Barclay's best work, like Trust Your Eyes.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

In Kitchens of the Great Midwest, the reader is first introduced to Eva Thorvald as a baby. Throughout the novel we see Eva grow to adulthood to become one of the most sought after chefs in the world. Each chapter is named for a particular food that is important to someone associated with Eva. The chapters themselves read like intertwined short stories that sometimes are only tangentially related to Eva. Please don't let what I've described dissuade you from reading this first novel. It's a love letter to food, the Midwest, and family--with many characters so vividly-drawn you cannot help but fall in love with it. A book to savor and think about long after you finish...