Friday, December 29, 2017

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

In 1986, a headless girl's body is found in the woods near the town of Anderbury amidst a series of violent events. Thirty years later, Ed, now an adult, and his friends from that time--Gav, Hoppo, Mickey, and Nicky--are still haunted by what happened. Told in chapters alternating in the past and present, the reader learns what led up to the girl's murder and Ed's attempts now to uncover who killed her and who was responsible for the other gruesome acts. The Chalk Man is a story of childhood, memory, and evil with a nod to Stephen King.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Winner's Circle by Gail Bowen

Joanne's husband, Zack, and his law partners have always been close, working together and spending time at their vacation homes on Lawyers' Bay. But with Zack now the mayor of Regina, and the group still suffering from some recent tragedies, the future of the law firm is unsteady. When a current employee seems to be targeting the lawyers, things become even more uncertain. Will Joanne and her family and friends be able to come out of the situation relatively unscathed? The Winner's Circle is the latest book in this long-running Canadian mystery series.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

Jessica has been a single mom to ten-year-old William since she split up with William's father, Adam, right after William's birth. Now, it's Jessica's mother's wish for Jessica and William to spend part of the Summer at Adam's resort chateau that he's renovated in France. She insists that William and Adam have to really get to know one another and bond. After a few hiccups, including the presence of Adam's much younger girlfriend, Simone, they begin to spend time together. Still, Jessica's mum, Susan, getting sicker every day, from a disease that has no cure, is always in Jessica's mind. Will she be able to relax, enjoy the beautiful countryside, and put her worries aside for a bit? You Me Everything is a heartfelt novel filled with humor and emotion.  Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes. It will be published in May.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Vanessa can't leave her past behind. Her ex-husband, Richard, has moved on and is engaged to preschool teacher, Nellie, but, Vanessa cannot let Nellie make the same mistake she made by marrying Richard. Richard was controlling and things went on between them that she cannot confess to anyone, even her Aunt Charlotte, with whom she now lives. However, Vanessa appears unstable--drinking too much and hardly able to keep her job. Will Vanessa be able to warn Nellie before her own self-destructive behavior overwhelms her? The Wife Between Us is a portrait of marriage similar to The Girl on the Train, The Last Mrs, Parrish, and the novels of B.A. Paris, although I felt overall it was more simplistic in characterization and execution than those books. It will be published next month.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Senior citizen Arthur visits his wife Nola's grave every day at lunchtime. While there, he looks at the other headstones and speculates about their lives. High school senior Maddy hangs out at the cemetery because she's been ostracized at school and doesn't have a good relationship with her father. When Arthur and Maddie meet, it changes both their lives. They, along with Arthur's next-door neighbor, Lucille, discover that the bonds of friendship can sometimes be stronger than blood. With rich, well-developed characters, Berg has written a heartwarming story similar to Billie Letts and Fannie Flagg. A perfect diversion for the winter season.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Wanted by Robert Crais

Private detective Elvis Cole is hired by Devon Connor to find out if her son, Tyson, is in trouble. After she finds a Rolex, expensive clothes, and lots of cash in his room, Devon worries about what he's done. Elvis soon finds that Tyson and a couple of friends have been robbing wealthy people's houses. Apparently, they have stolen something very valuable to someone, an item that two murderers named Harvey and Stemms will kill for. Will Elvis and his partner, Joe Pike, be able to stay one step ahead of the killers and find what the men are after? The Wanted is the latest book in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series and will be published later this month.  Give to readers who enjoy Thomas Perry.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Hanna, a librarian in the small town of Lissbeg, on the west coast of Ireland, determines that she must renovate the cottage left to her by her Aunt Maggie, because she cannot stand to live with her mother, Mary, anymore. Hanna and her daughter, Jazz, now living in France, had moved back to the area from London three years ago after Hanna discovered her husband, Malcolm, had been cheating on her. With limited funds, since she took no divorce settlement from wealthy Malcolm, Hanna wonders if she has enough money to get the home in shape. Builder Fury O'Shea just might come through for her, despite his unorthodox methods. Hanna also finds herself involved in local government affairs when it appears that some would like to divert money and resources from the Lissbeg area towards touristy areas like Ballyfin and Carrick. Will they succeed in their plan? The Library at the Edge of the World is a cozy story that will appeal to readers of Maeve Binchy, Jenny Colgan, and Gil McNeil.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Federal Agent Aaron Falk and his partner, Carmen Cooper, become involved in the case of a missing woman named Alice Russell. Alice was possibly going to expose financial wrongdoing at BaileyTennants (the company where she was employed), and Falk and Carmen were working with her on the case. In fact, Alice was with a group of BaileyTennants employees on a corporate wilderness retreat when she disappeared. Did Alice's whistleblowing have something to do with her disappearance, or could possibly the son of serial killer Martin Kovac be involved? Force of Nature is the second book in Aaron Falk series and will be published in February.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sunday Silence by Nicci French

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein knows that serial killer Dean Reeve is watching her, but when it appears that he is targeting her family and friends, at times resorting to violence, she wonders how she can protect those she holds dear. She tries to work with both the police and a bit with the media, but the danger to the people close to her is not stopping. How can Frieda put an end to Dean's hold over her life? In this latest book in the Frieda Klein series, the story concentrates on Frieda's relationship with Dean and has a very open ending. I did not find it as satisfying as her novels that add a storyline from another case she's working on in addition to the continuation of the Dean/Frieda dynamic. It will be published in January.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith

When Mr. Polopetsi, a part-time employee of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, hears about a woman named Charity Mompoloki, whom he believes was wrongly fired from an office furniture store, he asks if both Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi will help him get her job back. So, the agency goes about finding out about the owner of the store, the other employees, and Charity herself to find the truth about what actually happened. On a more personal note, Mma Ramotswe gets news that her ex-husband, Note Mokoti, who treated her very badly, is back in town.  She also discovers that there is a woman named Mingie Ramotswe who lives in Lobatse. Mma Ramotswe thought that she knew everyone with the last name Ramotswe who lives in Botswana--can Mingie possibly be a relative? Regular readers of this long-running series will enjoy another visit with Mma Ramotswe and friends.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch's past as a LAPD detective comes back to haunt him when the department's Conviction Integrity Unit lets him know a killer named Preston Borders that Bosch put on death row is probably going to be released because DNA evidence has been found exonerating Borders.  Bosch knows he's guilty, but wonders how is he going to prove it. Bosch also worries about how this case will affect his reputation as a investigator.  He might also find himself as the plaintiff in a lawsuit if Borders is let out. To make Bosch's life even busier, he is working for the San Fernando police department on the case of a double murder at a pharmacy, even though he's "retired." Two Kinds of Truth is another unputdownable read from Connelly. The appearance of Bosch's half brother, Mickey Haller, as part of the storyline adds some needed lightness to the story. Really not to be missed...

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Amber Patterson has decided that she wants to be the next Mrs. Parrish, wife of handsome and wealthy Jackson. Jackson is married to Daphne, so Amber makes it her mission to become Daphne's friend figuring it will be an easy way to insinuate herself into their lives and get to know how best to draw a wedge between the couple. Will Amber be able to keep the secrets of her past hidden while succeeding with her plan to ruin Daphne's life? The Last Mrs. Parrish is an unputdownable novel with several twists while you are waiting to see if Amber will succeed in her mission to destroy the Parrish family.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

In this last book of the Beach Street trilogy, Polly is busy getting ready for the holidays, frantically baking for the Christmas rush at her bakery. When her best friend Kerensa confesses that she had a one night stand while on the outs with her husband, Reuben, it threatens to jeopardize Polly's own relationship with her boyfriend, Huckle. Kerensa is now pregnant and not sure if the father is Reuben, and Huckle is very uncomfortable with keeping Kerensa's secret. Polly is also confronted with possibly meeting the father she never knew, much to her mother's dismay.  As ever, in the small village of Mount Polbearne on the Cornish coast, the support and friendship of the community can usually help solve almost any problem--and, of course, having a puffin named Neil as a pet (as Polly does) can't hurt either.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Witches' Tree by M.C. Beaton

When Margaret Darby is found dead, hanging from a tree, in the village of Sumpton Harcourt, gossip abounds that a local witches' coven is responsible. Private detective Agatha Raisin is hired by Sir Edward Chumble to find the murderer. Agatha and her employees at the agency, along with friend, Charles Fraith, delve into the lives of the residents of the small village and try to determine if there are actually people around practicing witchcraft. Agatha, as usual, puts herself in harm's way on her journey to find the culprit before the police do.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand

In this final book of the series, Hilderbrand wraps up the story of the Quinn family, who own the Winter Street Inn on Nantucket. Patriarch Kelley is dying of brain cancer, and his wife, Mitzi, worries about him and their son, Bart, who is floundering after returning home from being a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. Kelley's other children from his first marriage to successful news anchor, Margaret, are processing the future without their father in their lives, along with trying to find personal happiness. As an added treat for Hilderbrand's many fans, characters from her novel The Rumor are part of the story. Winter Solstice was an enjoyable conclusion to the series.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

When Nap was a senior in high school, his twin brother, Leo, and Leo's girlfriend, Diana, were killed. Nap's girlfriend, Maura, also disappeared at that time, and fifteen years later, Nap, has no idea what happened to her. Nap is still haunted by the past, so when Maura's fingerprints turn up at the scene of a murder that involved one of their high school classmates, he is stunned and determined to delve in the circumstances of the crime to see if it will lead him to Maura. What Nap uncovers could also help him put his questions surrounding Leo's death to rest.  While I always look forward to a new Harlan Coben book, I felt he had written a story very similar to this before, and that Nap and the plot were just not very interesting.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman

Private detective Nils Shapiro is hired to assist the Edina Police Department with a murder investigation. Maggie Somerville has been found dead in her home with bags of vacuum cleaner dust surrounding her, which has ruined the chance of getting any decent evidence from the crime scene. Nils delves into Maggie's personal life--including her ex-husband, boyfriend, and a secret from her past that possibly has a connection to the crime. With a very likable main character that the reader enjoys following as he pursues the case, this is a promising new mystery series.  Suggest to readers who like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna Fox spends her days in her renovated Harlem home spying on her neighbors and watching old film noir movies. Suffering from agoraphobia, she lives on her own with a basement tenant named David. Missing her young daughter and husband, she is also drinking too much wine while taking several different medications. One evening, Anna is convinced that she saw a horrible crime happen to one of her neighbors, but after the police check it out, they find nothing. Despite this fact, Anna pushes forward, unwilling to believe the authorities. Is Anna correct about the incident or has spending so much time alone messed with her sense of reality? The Woman in the Window is a page turner similar to the novels of Paula Hawkins, Ruth Ware, and Peter Swanson. It will be published in January.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Proof of Life by J.A. Jance

Retired with lots of time on his hands, J.P. Beaumont agrees to look into the death of former adversary Maxwell Cole, who recently died in a house fire. A longtime friend of Cole's named Erin Howard had asked Beaumont to look into the circumstances around the fire, because she believes that it wasn't accidental, despite what the authorities are saying. With help from his wife, Mel, and his former contacts in the Seattle Police Department, Beaumont tries to uncover the truth for Erin. Proof of Life is the most recent book in Jance's J.P. Beaumont series and it's always so much fun to spend time with an old acquaintance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

When a sniper takes aim at a wedding, Detective Superintendent Banks and his colleagues wonder about who the targets are and about a possible motive. The clues are few and no one got a good look at the gunman. To try and unmask the killer, the police delve into the lives and pasts of the wedding party and their guests. In this latest book in the long-running series, Robinson puts together an interesting puzzle, and catching up with Banks and his colleagues is always a treat.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Kinsey is hired by the parents of Fritz McCabe to find out who's blackmailing them with a videotape of an assault that Fritz committed years ago. Fritz was actually just released from prison after serving ten years for a murder he committed while in high school. The assault and crime that he was convicted for involve the same set of people, so Kinsey finds herself really looking at both events, since they are interrelated. On a more personal front, Kinsey is on edge and constantly on guard, worried that killer Ned Lowe is after her. In the last book in the series, Ned succeeded in evading the authorities and is still on the run. In Y is for Yesterday, the reader goes between the current events happening in 1989 and those that occurred ten years earlier in 1979 with all the high school characters, including Fritz. While I really enjoyed the present story--following Kinsey as she investigates and gaining insight into her personal life--I found the flashback storyline too leisurely-paced for my liking.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

When widower bookseller Julius Nightingale passes away, the future of the bookshop that he owned for thirty years could be in jeopardy. His daughter, Emilia, has come home to the Cotswold village of Peasebrook, determined to take over, but it appears the store hasn't made money in years. With a local developer putting pressure on Emilia to sell, it will take a lot of hard work and support from her friends and fellow villagers to turn the fortunes of the shop around.  How to Find Love in a Bookshop is a delightful and cozy tale of Emilia's and her supporters' daily lives and loves, wrapped in a small town setting. A great read-alike for Jenny Colgan and Katie Fforde.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Holding by Graham Norton

When human bones are unearthed on a local building site, their discovery affects many in the small Irish village of Duneen. Most wonder if the skeleton belongs to Tommy Burke, who supposedly left town twenty years ago. His fiance at the time, Brid, got in a fight with another young woman named Evelyn, who had a crush on Tommy, around the time that he disappeared.  Do either of them know anything about what happened? Local Sergeant P.J. Collins, overweight and with not much experience in major crimes, pushes forward to try and solve the case. Holding is the first novel by talk show host Graham Norton and displays a great sense of place for a small town, and highlights the everyday lives of some of the townspeople whose lives are upended by the uncovering.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dead on Arrival by Matt Richtel

Disgraced infectious disease physician, Lyle Martin, is on a flight to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where almost all the passengers (except Martin, the pilot and co-pilot and one other passenger) appear to have died. Everyone on the ground seems to have perished too. After getting out of the plane and investigating, Lyle discovers they are still alive, but unable to move. Is the cause of their condition a virus or something else? The survivors from the airplane attempt to uncover the truth in this creepy technothriller.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

It's near closing time at the zoo and regulars Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are heading towards the exit when Joan realizes that someone is shooting people. Terrified and desperate to protect her son, Joan heads back into the zoo to find a safe hiding place, but soon, Joan realizes there are at least two people who have no problem killing anything they see. She also wonders how long it will take for the authorities to come and rescue them. Taking place over a few hours, Fierce Kingdom is a page turner that shows the unbreakable bond mothers have towards their children.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

William South lives a solitary life as a local policeman and birdwatcher on the Kentish coast. He is also someone who got away with murder when he was young growing up in Northern Ireland. Because of his earlier crime, he has avoided similar cases in his job, but when asked to assist the new Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, he finds himself involved in the murder case of his neighbor and friend, Bob Rayner. The crime hits William close to home because of his past and his friendship with Bob. As the investigation unfolds, it seems that William's former life may be catching up with him... The Birdwatcher is an engrossing read for those who enjoy British police procedurals.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Taking a shortcut home on a isolated road during a rainy evening, Cass, sees a woman in a car that looks like it's broken down. After deciding not to come to her aid, the next morning, Cass discovers that the woman was found dead in her vehicle. Cass's guilt about not calling emergency services begins to eat away at her.  She also starts to get phone calls several times a day where no one appears to be on the line. With memories of her own mother's early onset dementia close in her mind, Cass wonders if that's what happening to her, especially because she seems to be forgetting things. As Cass descends farther into paranoia and absentmindedness, one wonders whether Cass is really ill or is something more sinister going on. The Breakdown is a psychological tale that meanders a bit for most of the book, but the last hundred pages are worth waiting for.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

LAPD detective Renee Ballard has been relegated to the late shift after accusing a superior of sexual harassment. Working 11pm-7am, Renee always has to pass the cases she and her partner work on to other detectives, which is frustrating. When an opportunity arises to investigate an assault that left the victim near death, she decides to work on it off-hours. Renee is also peripherally involved in the investigation of a club shooting that left five dead. Soon enough, Renee realizes that working "the late show" might give her the challenge she's looking for.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo

When she was young, Kate worshiped neighbor Joseph King. They lost touch after he moved away following his father's death, when both Kate and Joseph were teenagers.  Now, she gets word that he has escaped from prison, where he is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, Naomi. Joseph's children now live with Rebecca and Daniel Beachy, Naomi's sister and her husband, so Kate decides to notify them of Joseph's breakout, since they are Amish and don't have a phone. Kate finds herself caught in the middle when Joseph arrives at the Beachy's while she's there and takes his children hostage. Joseph also tells Kate that he did not kill Naomi and asks for her help in finding the her killer. Kate decides to look into the case, putting both her career and life on the line.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Nikki grew up in a traditional Sikh household in London. Working in a pub, she's been a disappointment to her family ever since she dropped out of law school and moved out of the family home. When the opportunity arises to teach a class on writing to some women at the local Punjabi community center, she decides to take the job. While Nikki thought she would be teaching creative writing, it turns out the class is made up of widows who are not adept in writing the English language. When the students find a book of erotica among Nikki's things, they decide to spend class time transcribing the racy stories of the members of the class. Soon, the stories are spread all over London, but with this fact comes the danger of the conservative men in the community discovering what's being going on. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows gives the reader a glimpse into a community that has been underrepresented in popular fiction.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Camino Island by John Grisham

Novelist Mercer Mann is broke and suffering from writer's block. When she's approached with an offer to move to the town of Santa Rosa in Florida and get close to bookstore owner Bruce Cable, she is apprehensive, but agrees because she will be finally be out of debt. The authorities are interested in Cable because they believe he is in possession of the five original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels that were stolen from the Princeton University library. The plan is for Mercer to befriend Cable and find out where he is hiding the novels, so they can be returned to the archives. Does Cable really have the manuscripts...and if he does, will Mercer succeed in her task? In Mercer Mann, Grisham has created an extremely likable character, which is one of his trademarks. The story of the theft of the manuscripts is also interesting.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

Identical twins Harper and Tabitha Frost haven't spoken in fourteen years. Tabitha lives with her teenage daughter, Ainsley, on Nantucket, while Harper lives on Martha's Vineyard. When they were in college, their parents, Eleanor and Billy, divorced and agreed that each would be responsible for and finishing raising one twin. Harper, close with Billy, has gotten in trouble with law and has a bad reputation on Martha's Vineyard, which hasn't been helped by her affair with Billy's doctor, Reed Zimmer. Tabitha, meanwhile, manages a boutique on Nantucket that features clothes that Eleanor has designed. When Billy passes away and Eleanor breaks her hip, the sisters are forced to see each other and work together as a family. While I usually enjoy Hilderbrand's books, this one was a miss for me. The characters of Harper, Tabitha, and Ainsley aren't very likable and fleshed out. In addition, Eleanor is only seventy-one years old, but the author has characterized her as old and rigid, which seems a bit too easy and stereotypical, especially since I know so many women who are so vital at that age.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Working as a paralegal in London, Flora MacKenzie, is glad to be away from her hometown of Mure in far north Scotland. Infatuated with her American boss, Joel, she is stunned to find herself working with him back in Mure. One of the firm's big name clients, Colton Rogers, is building a luxurious property on the island, but its beautiful views are going to be blocked by a wind farm. Colton wants a local's help (i.e. Flora) to stop the project. To her surprise, Flora finds herself warming to the beauty of Mure, as well as the father and brothers that she left behind. At the same time, she might be finding love. The Cafe by the Sea is a charming novel filled with quirky characters and lots of heart. Perfect for readers of Gil McNeil.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dark Saturday by Nicci French

Even though she's made a promise to herself to stay away from crime cases, psychotherapist Frieda Klein agrees to meet Hannah Docherty, who was convicted of brutally murdering her stepfather, mother, and younger brother over ten years ago. Committed to a psychiatric hospital, Hannah has spent much of her time in solitary confinement. When Frieda visits her, Hannah is unresponsive, and in bad shape physically. While Frieda isn't sure of Hannah's guilt, she feels compelled to try and help Hannah because of the state she is in. Soon, Frieda is delving into the murder files, rankling the authorities and people close to the deceased. Frieda also worries that Dean Reeve (introduced in the first book in the series, Blue Monday), whom the police have declared dead, is out there keeping tabs on her. In Dark Saturday, French continues the story of Frieda and her circle of family and friends, while leading the reader through a gruesome psychological puzzle. It will be published next month.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Liv and Nora, who are first cousins, decide to go on a Christmas cruise to Latin America with their families. They take their four children, aged six to eleven, ashore for a zip-line tour, while their husbands go golfing. Then, the kids get separated from Liv and Nora, who become frantic with worry. In a foreign country with limited diplomatic help, Liv and Nora, who speak no Spanish, hope they get their children back safely. Do Not Become Alarmed is a fast-paced tale told from the point of view of the children and their parents and is a great read-alike for Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay. A sure bet summer read.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Living in New York with her boyfriend, Jeff, Quincy has tried to put her past behind her. When she was in college, she was the only survivor of the Pine Cottage massacre, in which five of her friends were killed. With that incident, she became known in the media as one of "The Final Girls." Two other women, Lisa Milner and Samantha Boyd, suffered similar tragedies before her and are also part of the trio. When Lisa is found dead in her home with a preliminary verdict of suicide and Quincy discovers that Lisa sent her an e-mail about wanting to talk just before she died, Quincy wonders if Lisa really did kill herself. Then, Samantha shows up at Quincy's door, forcing her to really think about her past and who she is as a person. Will facing what happened at Pine Cottage allow Quincy to finally heal or be her destruction? Final Girls is a fast-paced tale similar in writing style to the mysteries of Linda Castillo. It will be published next month.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton

In this second book of the Nick Mason series, Nick is still indebted to criminal Darius Cole and is tasked with eliminating the witnesses who put Cole in prison. Cole figures if everyone who testified against him is dead, he will walk out of prison a free man, but both the authorities and the man Mason replaced as Cole's henchman are onto him. With Cole continuing to threaten to harm those Mason holds dear, will Mason switch sides?  While I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Second Life of Nick Mason, this book's plot was slight and not as satisfying.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Even though teenager Ginny Moon has found a stable home life with her Forever Mom and Dad, she yearns to be reunited with her mother (Gloria) and Baby Doll. In fact, Ginny cannot stop thinking about Baby Doll and whether she's OK, since Ginny was once responsible for looking after her. This, despite the fact that Ginny herself was only nine years old when, four years ago, Ginny was taken away from Gloria because of neglect. With single-minded determination, Ginny makes it her goal, no matter what the cost, to be with Baby Doll again. Told through the eyes of Ginny, who has autism, Ginny Moon is a touching, humorous, and true-to-life view of how someone with autism sees the world. Ginny Moon is a character that readers won't soon forget...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant lives a solitary existence working in an office with weekly phone calls to her mother. When she and a new co-worker, Raymond, help an older man named Sammy who has fallen in the street, she finds herself drawn into both Raymond's and Sammy's lives. Growing up in foster homes and having suffered trauma when she was young, she has a hard time not being judgmental, but slowly she begins to be touched by her new friends' kindness and concern for her. Eleanor has also developed somewhat of a crush on the lead singer of a band. She sets out to make herself over to win his affections. Will Eleanor come out of her shell, be able to put her past behind her and find happiness?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

What could have led Rachel, a journalist, to shoot her husband? In Since We Fell, the reader learns that Rachel has major trust issues after her mother passed away without revealing who Rachel's father is. Rachel also suffers from post-traumatic stress after witnessing horrible events while reporting in Haiti. When Rachel begins to suspect that her husband has not been entirely truthful to her, her investigative instincts go into overdrive and lead her down a path she couldn't possibly have imagined. While the book begins slowly and is leisurely-paced for at least the first third, soon you are engrossed in Rachel's story and can't put it down. The relationship between Rachel and her husband is very reminiscent of the marriage in Gone Girl and readers of the novels of Peter Swanson will find much to love here.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The residents of Beartown live for hockey.  They are hoping that, if the town's junior team wins their match at the national tournament, it might be a turnaround for their economically depressed small town. In the novel, the reader gets to meet many of Beartown's inhabitants--the players, their parents, coaches, and the people who work for the club and are on the board. Then something happens that threatens to destroy the town's dreams, and individuals have to choose sides. No one comes out of the experience unchanged. In Beartown, Backman immerses you in the setting of a diverse Sweden, ugly at times, but hopeful as well.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

When the Conti's babysitter cancels, Anne and Marco decide that they can still go to dinner next door. They will take turns every half hour checking on their six-month-old daughter, Cora, After leaving the party at 1 a.m., they arrive home to find their daughter missing. The police investigation into Cora's abduction finds an open front door and a motion detector light on their back door that has been tampered with. Who would have kidnapped Cora? Was it for a large ransom from the baby's wealthy grandparents, or for another reason? The Couple Next Door explores the secrets that Anne and Marco might be keeping from each other, in addition to their fight to get Cora back. I thought that the novel was an ok read. If you enjoy this type of domestic suspense, The Other Child by Lucy Atkins and Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie are two of this genre that are hard to put down.

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.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Forty years ago, Anthony Peardew's fiancee passed away. Since that day, he has picked up things that people have left behind or lost, such as a puzzle piece or an umbrella, cataloged them and then devoted a room in his house to the possessions. After Anthony dies, his housekeeper and secretary, Laura, is given his home in his will. She is also tasked with reuniting the items that Anthony has collected back to their owners. Laura is slowly regaining her sense of self after a divorce and has feelings for Anthony's gardener, Freddy. Will she be up to the task? The Keeper of Lost Things is a story of interesting characters and how their lives intertwine. Give this heartwarming tale to readers who enjoy the author Helen Simonson.