Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich

Photographer Scott accompanies his wife, Elise, to the Hamptons to be with her father, Victor, who only has a few months to live. While Elise spends her time at the hospital, Scott becomes intrigued with the house next door to Victor's. It's winter and Scott doesn't really have a lot to do during the day. Soon, Scott is breaking into the house and trying to piece together a story about the owner's lives. Elise becomes involved, too, and their lives will never be the same again...  Give to people who enjoy Gone Girl , The Silent Wife, and Peter Swanson.

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Maya Burkett is an army veteran and recent widow raising her two-year-old daughter, Lily, on her own.  A friend of Maya's gives her a secret nanny cam so Maya can make sure her daughter is being taken care of while Maya is not at home.  One day, as Maya is looking at the footage, she's stunned to see her dead husband, Joe, with Lily. Can Joe really still be alive or is someone playing games with her? Maya is further puzzled when the police confess that the gun that was used to kill Joe was also the one used in her sister Claire's death four months ago. Not sure who she can trust, Maya knows she must find the answers she needs in order to move on. In Fool Me Once, Coben has written another thriller that will keep you turning the pages late in the night.  It will be published in March.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

A job as the cook at a home for people with dementia is exactly what Eve Bennett needs to keep her daughter in her current school and to help her finances. Soon, Eve becomes involved in the residents' lives, especially Anna, who is only 38 and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Eve sees how Anna is emotionally attached to the only other person her age in the facility, Luke.  Eve, though, doesn't agree with the decision to keep Luke and Anna apart because she can see how much they mean to each other. Eve also has to cope with her own life changes, such as being newly single and the disapproval of many in the town for her husband's illegal financial activities. The Things We Keep was enjoyable, but is lacking the depth of character offered by similar authors, like Jo-Ann Mapson, Lisa Genova, and Elin Hilderbrand.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

On the eve of World War I, Beatrice Nash secures a job as the Latin teacher in the Sussex town of Rye. As a child, Beatrice traveled the world with her father, who was a professor and writer. Following his recent death, she now has to make her own way in the world. Local resident Agatha Kent, who helped Beatrice obtain the position, takes her under her wing. Agatha is aunt to Hugh Grange (who is training to be a doctor) and his cousin, Daniel Bookham (a poet).  The Summer Before the War follows these four characters and the villagers as the war changes their lives forever. Another memorable read from Simonson, although at times the book was very leisurely-paced. It will be published in March.

My Favorite Books of 2015

The books I enjoyed most last year include two first novels and a couple of mysteries.

In alphabetical order by author:

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Even after twenty novels featuring Harry Bosch, I still get excited when a new one comes out. He is one author that continues to produce great reads year after year.

The Precipice by Paul Doiron

I know I should probably include new authors on my list of favorites, but this is Doiron's third appearance on my yearly list.  Yes, the mystery series is that good.

Golden State by Stephanie Kegan

Kegan's take on the question of "What would you do if you found out your brother was the Unabomber?" was a compelling story of family relationships.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

A first novel with wonderful descriptions of food, quirky characters, and a memorable story.

American Housewife by Helen Ellis

In this short story collection, Ellis delves into the lives of many different women with a dark, satiric air. My favorite two stories are "The Wainscoting War" where two women duel by e-mail about how to decorate the common area outside their apartments, and "The Fitter" where the main character waxes ecstatic about her husband's talents finding the perfect bra fit for his clients.  Before I started reading the collection, I had high expectations because I had read Ellis' novel Eating the Cheshire Cat that she wrote many years ago and because this book was named a LibraryReads pick.  However, I found most of the other stories in this small volume to be repetitive and slight.