Friday, December 28, 2018

The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

At 96 and in declining health, Doris looks back on her life as she pages through her address book. Born in Stockholm, her mother sent her out to work as a maid after her father died when she was thirteen. Later, Doris moves to Paris and works as model where she meets the love of her life, Allan. The reader then follows Doris throughout the years as she recounts memories for her grand-niece Jenny who lives in the United States. Doris and Jenny have always had a special relationship and Doris wants Jenny to know all about her past before she passes away. The Red Address Book is a poignant novel, give to readers who enjoy Fredrik Backman.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Kim's life changes the day a stranger finds her in Melbourne and tells her that she really is Sammy Went, who was kidnapped from Kentucky twenty-eight years ago. The individual has a personal interest in the case and his revelation causes Kim to question her upbringing and the love she had for her mother, Carol, who passed away from cancer. Soon, Kim finds herself travelling to the United States and the small town of Manson, where the Wents lived and where Sammy's mother, Molly still resides. In alternating chapters, the story unfolds in both the past and present, as the reader encounters all who were around at the time of the crime, and now, as Kim tries to uncover the truth. The Nowhere Child is a character-centered novel where the action slowly builds into a story that's hard to put down. Similar to Lou Berney's excellent The Long and Faraway Gone and the Bell Elkins mysteries by Julia Keller. I really enjoyed this one.The book will be published next month.

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is consulted when some bones are found at a local dig. The bones turn out to be fairly recent, so the police are called in, lead by DCI Nelson. Ruth and Nelson share a personal history that began many years ago when they met on a case, fell in love, and Ruth gave birth to their daughter, Kate, now 7. All the while, however, Nelson has been married to Michelle. The bones turn out to be from a girl named Margaret Lacey, who went missing during the royal wedding of 1981. When the person who was the prime suspect back then is found murdered, the case gets even murkier. Will Nelson and his colleagues find justice for Margaret? The Stone Circle will be published in May.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford has lead a sheltered life, yet yearns to go to university and find work, despite her parents' disapproval. As World War I begins, she defies her mother, who disowns her, and moves to London. Lilly then gets a job driving an ambulance for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. It's dangerous, physical work near all the fighting. Lilly's work also puts her near her brother's best friend, Robbie, whom she's loved since she was a teenager. Robbie, a surgeon, comes from a poor beginnings and is not considered a suitable match for Lilly, according to her family. Robbie, however, shares Lilly's feelings. Will Robbie and Lilly survive this war that seems to be going on forever and be able to put all the trauma that they have witnessed behind them? This novel is the first of Robson's Great War Trilogy.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie Hope is very excited to be accompanying the Prime Minister to Washington D.C., since she's been away for three years. The United States have just joined the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Churchill's visit will hopefully drum up more support for the war effort. However, Maggie soon finds herself helping Mrs. Roosevelt when her secretary is found dead and later revealed to be murdered. Against the backdrop of the holiday season of 1941, the reader is immersed in the lives of  Maggie and those around her.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Adults by Caroline Hulse

Claire and Matt are divorced, but both want to spend Christmas with their seven-year-old daughter, Scarlett. They decide to go to a resort with Scarlett and their respective partners, Patrick and Alex. Alex is not thrilled with the idea, especially since her friend, Ruby, figures it can only end in disaster. Patrick, meanwhile, is upset because his ex-wife has isolated him from his two children and he hardly gets to see them. Soon after arriving at the Happy Forest holiday park, tensions arise between the four adults, and Scarlet's dislike of Alex by way of her imaginary rabbit, Posey comes to the surface. When one of the adults is injured, the reader is left to wonder, how did things get so out of control? The Adults is great read-alike for the novels of Liane Moriarty.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Professor Chandra is positive this year will be the one that he finally wins the Nobel Prize in Economics. When that fails to happen, he goes further into the funk that started when his wife, Jean, left him for another man and continued when he became estranged from his older daughter, Radha. When Chandra has a heart attack and is ordered to rest, he decides to take a visiting professorship in California, away from his job at Cambridge University.  Being in the U.S. will also allow him to be closer to his younger daughter, Jasmine, who is in high school and is struggling. This "time off" allows Chandra to relax and reflect on his childhood, his marriage, and his relationships with his children. Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss is a humorous journey of one's self-discovery. Perfect for readers who enjoyed Major Pettigrew's Last Stand  and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. So, so much fun, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Chandra. The book will be published in March.

Friday, November 23, 2018

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

In this short story collection by Swedish mystery writer Tursten, we meet octogenarian Maude, who lives in a spacious apartment in Gothenburg. A former teacher, she has lived on her own since her older sister, Charlotte, died forty years ago. She spends her time travelling, going to spas, and getting revenge on those whom she thinks have wronged her. The five stories in the book show a completely different type of murderer than the regular mystery reader is used to. A short and light diversion...

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

In 1942, Lale agrees to be the member of his Jewish family handed over to the German government, so that the rest of his family is not sent to a concentration camp. Lale is sent from his home in Slovakia to Auschwitz. Lale speaks many languages, which gives him the advantage of knowing more about what's going on around the camp. Soon, he gets a job as the tattooist responsible for placing ID numbers to prisoners' arms, and this allows him his own room, more food, and the ability to move a little more freely around Auschwitz and Birkenau. It does not shield him, however, from the daily horror, violence, and inhumanity that permeates the camp. Lale's bright spot and hope is meeting Gita, a young woman in the camp who is also from Slovakia. They fall in love and try to see each other weekly. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale, with whom author Morris became friends, and who, over time, allowed her to interview him about his experiences.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith

Mma Ramotswe's good friend, Mma Potokwane, is convinced that Mma Ramotswe should run for the Gaborone City Council. The council is soon to decide whether a new hotel should be built next to a cemetery, an idea that both women oppose. Mma Ramotswe is not keen on the idea of being on the council, but knows from past experience that it is hard to turn down Mma Potokwane. The detective agency, however, is investigating a hit and run in the town of Mochudi that left retired Dr. Marang seriously injured. The case takes on a personal note for Mma Ramotswe, since Dr. Marang knew her father when she was a child. In this latest book of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, the reader spends time with all Mma Ramotswe's friends and family--even the young apprentice, Charlie, who's been a minor character up until now.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Novelist Frances Welty is hoping that time at Tranquillum House will provide her with the rest and relaxation she needs after her latest book has been rejected for publication. The other eight guests are also hoping for time away and a transformative experience, but they worry about the rules--giving up your cell phones and having to eat very healthy food for the ten days they are there. Meanwhile, owner of the spa, Masha Dmitrichenko, and her employees, Yao and Delilah, are set on providing a memorable time for everyone--just not in the way the guests have in mind...

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott

It's been a year since Mariah Dunning's mother has disappeared, and Mariah is stuck in a holding pattern--living with her father, and desperate to know what happened to Beth, her mom. Most people in town, including the police, feel that her father, Craig was involved, and this fact has further ostracized them in the community. When a friend from high school mentions on his true crime blog that another woman named Bethany Curtis went missing six months before Mariah's mother, Mariah decides to delve into Bethany's case. Soon, Mariah finds herself immersed in both Bethany's mother's and husband's lives. Will it turn out that the Beth's vanishings are related? If so, what does that mean for Mariah and her father? The Three Beths is a great read-alike for people who enjoy Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

It's November 1941 and both the British and Americans have intel that the Japanese might be planning some type of attack in Hawaii. The British would be thrilled with an American entry into the war, since their help is desperately needed in fighting Hitler. Meanwhile, in the north of Scotland, Maggie Hope is working--training spies and trying to keep depression at bay after several traumatic events in her personal life. When her good friend, Sarah, falls deathly ill in Edinburgh, Maggie, along Mark Standish from MI-5, works to uncover what happened to Sarah, although some are trying to hide the cause of Sarah's sickness. In this fourth book of the Maggie Hope series, MacNeal frames her book with the imminent attack on Pearl Harbor and moves the personal stories of Maggie and her circle of friends forward.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Well-Behaved Woman: a Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

Alva Smith's family's declining fortunes have ruled out marrying for love. With the help of friend Consuelo Yznaga, Alva settles on rich William Vanderbilt and they soon marry. The Vanderbilts are happy for the union, because the Smith's standing in society is long-established and could help elevate the Vanderbilt name. A Well-Behaved Woman chronicles Alva's life over thirty-five years, from newlywed and mother as she navigates upper-class hierarchy in  New York, through her efforts to find a good marriage match for her daughter, ultimately showing how Alva finds love and happiness for herself.  A fascinating novel that had me intrigued and researching the Vanderbilt family.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Toby Hennessy lives a charmed life. He's wealthy with a great girlfriend, Melissa, and everything has always gone his way. But one evening he's attacked in his home by two men and suffers a brain injury. He has a hard time remembering things from the past and also physically isn't the same. Not able to go back to work, Toby decides to go live at Ivy House, the Hennessy family house for many generations--now occupied by Toby's Uncle Hugo, who dying from cancer, with only months to live. Since Toby and his cousins, Susanna and Leon, have spent a lot of time with Hugo since they were very young, Toby figures it would be a good diversion from his own issues. When a skull is found in an old tree on the Ivy House property, Toby's life is thrown even more into disarray...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson

When journalist Ruby Sutton is offered a job in London working at Picture Weekly, she jumps at the chance. Having no family or close friends tying her down, leaving New York City even while the war is heating up in Europe in the summer of 1940 seems like a great opportunity.  Ruby fits in great with editor, Kaz, and photographer Mary, but a few others are not happy about her being in the position. She also finds herself developing a bond with Captain Bennett who is doing secret work for the English government. Bennett also introduces her to his godmother, Vanessa, and her two daughters, Viola and Beatrice, who become like family to Ruby. Goodnight from London traces Ruby's journey through World War II in England. Filled with details of daily life and real historical events happening throughout the country, the novel is an engaging read.

Friday, October 5, 2018

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear

In the spring of 1940, London pub owner Phil Coombes asks Maisie Dobbs to look into the whereabouts of his youngest son, Joe. Joe has been travelling around the country with a painting company fireproofing buildings for the Royal Air Force. Phil reports that Joe has been feeling sick lately and has headaches, so Maisie wonders if the paint might have been making him ill. On a personal front, Maisie's best friend (Priscilla) and Billy (Maisie's long-time employee) worry about their sons who have already gone off to war or aching to enlist. Maisie, too, has heartache of her own as she attempts to adopt Anna, the young girl who has been entrusted to her care. To Die But Once is another satisfying mystery in the Maisie Dobbs series.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

After serving as an MP in Afghanistan, Mercy Carr has moved back home to Vermont to try and recover from losing her fiancee, Martinez, while deployed. Mercy lives with Martinez's dog, Elvis, who worked by his side and was with him when he died. While out walking with Elvis on the 4th of July weekend, Mercy discovers a baby abandoned in the forest. Game warden Troy arrives at the scene and they realize that they knew each other as teenagers. In fact, Mercy recalls that she had a huge crush on the older Troy. Mercy then finds herself entwined in the case of the baby and a series of murders, even though she's been warned to stay out of it by Troy and other law enforcement officers. A Borrowing of Bones is a debut for those who enjoy mysteries featuring dogs and the outdoors.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis

In 1947, an accident between two cabs brings Eleanor Moskowitz into the world of Patricia Bellamy and her family. Eleanor is Jewish and has just left a position at a prestigious school in Manhattan when Patricia offers her a job teaching her daughter, Margaux. Margaux had polio, has trouble walking and has been very reluctant to go back to school, hence the tutor. Margaux takes an immediate shine to Eleanor, but in the upper class New York society, Eleanor is encouraged to keep her religion a secret. Things get even more complicated when Eleanor falls for Patricia's older brother, Tom, and Patricia's husband, Wynn, becomes increasingly angry about Eleanor's presence. Told through the eyes of Eleanor and Patricia, Not Our Kind explores the two women's very different lives in a time of change.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White

In 1915, wealthy Caroline Hochstetter is sailing to Europe with her husband, Gilbert, on the Lusitania, even though there is danger that  the ship could be sunk by a German U-boat. Also on the ship is a young woman named Tess, who is working in tandem with her older sister, Ginny, to secretly copy an unfinished waltz by Strauss that is owned by the Hochstetters. Tess comes into contact with an old friend of Caroline's, Robert Langford, while observing Caroline on the voyage. Robert has been in love with Caroline since they first met and Caroline has feelings for him, too, but she also loves Gilbert, even though Gilbert has been distant lately and feels it's  his duty to shield Caroline from his business dealings and any unpleasantness going on in the world. Meanwhile, in present time American writer Sarah Blake is desperate for a good idea for a new book. She decides to travel to England to contact Robert Langford's great-grandson, John, to see if she can look at the Langford family archives. Sarah's great-grandfather, Patrick, was a steward on the Lusitania and Sarah has a watch that was given to Patrick from Robert all those years ago. In The Glass Ocean, the reader learns what happened to Caroline, Tess, and Robert on that fateful crossing through their eyes and from the contemporary research of Sarah and John. An enjoyable read for those who like historical fiction.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Summer at the Garden Cafe by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Hanna has succeeded in saving the library in Lissbeg from being closed, and also was instrumental in having the medieval manuscript, The Carrick Psalter, displayed in a brand new exhibition. However, she's afraid to start a relationship with Brian Morton, even though they both have feelings for each other. Her daughter, Jazz, meanwhile, is finding it hard to get behind the wheel of a car after a serious car accident. In this second book of the Finfarran Peninsula series, the reader gets to catch up with a lot of the people Hanna and Jazz hold dear including Mary, Hanna's mother, Conor McCarthy (Hanna's co-worker at the library), Aideen (Conor's girlfriend, who's also a chef), and a lot of the people who frequent the cafe near the library. While I really enjoyed the first book in the series, this one was a miss for me. Not enough plot, and the characters seemed not to be able to make up their minds about anything.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Frances Price lives on the Upper East Side with her grown son, Malcolm. When she's told that the family's estate is bankrupt, she and Malcolm decamp to Paris, staying in a friend's apartment. French Exit recounts the satiric adventures of mother and son and their cat, Small Frank, in the City of Light. The reader meets both eccentric old friends and new in this tale full of biting humor, emotion, and excess. Perfect for readers of Michael Dahlie and John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal

Now working as a spy for the Special Operations Executive, Maggie Hope's mission is to go to Nazi-occupied Berlin to deliver radio crystals to the resistance and then to bug a high-ranking Nazi's office. Maggie agrees to take the assignment, but when the Nazi is her mother, Clara (whom she thought had died when she was very young but recently learned that was still alive), the job becomes even more perilous. Interspersed with Maggie's story is that of her half-sister Elise (whom Maggie doesn't know exists) and that of her life as a nurse in Berlin. Elise doesn't share her mother's views, and when she finds out what really is happening with the children after they leave her care, she is propelled to action. This third novel of the Maggie Hope series continues the stories of Maggie and her friends, and immerses the reader in life in London and Berlin during World War II.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

In 1941, all of Britain is on edge, worried about German spies and a possible invasion. The Suttons of Farleigh in Kent have had a big portion of their stately home taken over by the army. When a man falls from the sky and dies because his parachute hasn't opened, some in the area have suspicions that he was a German spy who wanted to pass a message to someone local. Friends Lady Pamela Sutton and Ben Cresswell (the vicar's son) have both been working for the government on secret projects, and soon find themselves involved in the case. Ben has been in love with Pamela since they were children, but her heart is with Ben's best friend--wealthy pilot Jeremy Prescott. Will Pamela and Ben be able to uncover a German sympathizer? In Farleigh Field, the reader is immersed in the everyday lives of ordinary Britons during World War II. A perfect read for those who enjoy the Maggie Hope mysteries by Susan Elia MacNeal.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Kit Owens dreams of a prestigious career as a scientist. When the project of her boss, Dr. Severin, is funded, Kit is hopeful that she will win one of the two spots on the team. However, when old friend and sort-of rival Diane Fleming joins the lab, Kit knows her chances have gotten slimmer. Seeing Diane again brings back memories of when Kit and Diane first met as teenagers and Diane shared an awful personal secret with Kit--a confidence that Kit wishes never happened and that has haunted her ever since. Soon, Kit finds her future entwined in Diane's in the worst way possible. Give Me Your Hand is a dark story of competition and success.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Little Comfort by Edwin Hill

On leave from her job as a librarian at Harvard, Hester Thursby agrees to help Lila Blaine find her brother, Sam. Sam and his friend, Gabe, ran away as teenagers more than twelve years ago. Lila periodically has gotten postcards from all over the country, so she believes Sam is still alive. It doesn't take long for Hester to find Sam and Gabe, but they really want to be left alone. Sam thrives on assuming new identities wherever he goes, finding wealthy marks to live off of, but leaving violence in his wake when things don't work out. Gabe has been a willing partner to Sam all these years, but something happens to Gabe to make him possibly question his loyalty to Sam. What will Sam and Gabe do when their plans and secret identities unravel once again? Little Comfort is a debut novel that is leisurely-paced at the beginning (hence the set-up), but soon you are immersed in the characters and the story and can't wait to see what happens next. A great read-alike for Peter Swanson.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis

When retired actress Poppy Harmon finds out that her recently deceased husband left her bankrupt, she wonders what type of job would be suitable for her. After a little thought, she decides to open the Desert Flowers Detective Agency with her best friends Iris, and Violet. They find that no one wants to hire three women in their sixties, so they recruit Matt, who is Poppy's daughter's boyfriend (and a very good looking actor) to join their team. With the addition of Violet's twelve-year-old grandson, Wyatt, in charge of all the computer (i.e. hacking) work, they are good to go. Their first case is finding out who is responsible for a series of burglaries at a local retirement community. With lots of humor and very vivid characters, this is a perfect read for those who love cozy mysteries.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

In this final book of the Schuyler Sisters trilogy, it's 1966 and Pepper is in Florida, having just sold a vintage Mercedes to Annabelle Dommerich. The sale, Pepper hopes, will give her the financial freedom to have her baby on her own, and leave behind her former lover--a senator. She is trying to keep a low profile, so he can't find her. Pepper is intrigued by Annabelle and why she would pay so much money for a car. Annabelle, in turn, finds that Pepper reminds her of her younger self, back in 1930's France. At the time, Annabelle fell hard for Stefan, but all of Europe was beginning to destabilize with Hitler's rise to power. With Stefan being a German Jew, the outlook for their relationship was even more dire. Along the Infinite Sea recounts the storylines of Pepper and Annabelle in alternating chapters. A satisfying end to the trilogy.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Let Me Be Like Water by S.K. Perry

After the death of her boyfriend, Sam, Holly moves from London to Brighton to try and move forward with her life. Immersed in grief and her memories of Sam and their life together, she is finding day-to-day life hard. After arriving in Brighton, she meets retired magician Frank, who introduces her to his friends of varying ages. Spending time with new friends, some whom have been through similar tragedies, allows Holly to find bit of joy amid her sorrow. Let Me Be Like Water explores Holly's life in the year after Sam's death as she starts anew.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

When Englishwoman Tina Hopgood was a child, a Danish archaeologist, Professor Glob, dedicated a book he wrote to Tina and her friends. Tina and her best friend, Bella, always vowed they would visit the museum in Denmark where the Tollund Man (one of Professor Glob's finds) is housed. Fifty years later, Tina has still not visited, and Bella has passed away from cancer. Tina decides to write to Glob, yet finds he has also died. She gets a letter from the curator of the museum, Anders Larsen, instead. Meet Me at the Museum features the correspondence between Tina and Anders as they find themselves confiding in each other their deepest thoughts and feelings, even though they live far apart. As their friendship grows, one wonders will Tina and Anders finally meet? A great read-alike for Letters from Skye and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

In 1928, illustrator Clara Darden is teaching at the Grand Central School of Art, but is not taken as seriously as her male colleagues. With only five students, she is worried she might be fired. Still, Clara is confident about her work and dreams of the day she sees commercial success. Forward to 1974, Virginia Clay finds herself working at the information booth at Grand Central Terminal because she needs a job after an acrimonious divorce. One day, she happens upon the long-shuttered school and is intrigued. Her interest is further piqued when she uncovers a painting behind a cabinet. On an impulse she takes it home, figuring no one will miss it and she can hang it in her apartment--but, it turns out, someone does. In addition, with the razing of Grand Central a distinct possibility, Virginia begins to see the terminal in a whole new light. In The Masterpiece, Fiona Davis tells the engaging story of two women against the backdrop of two different decades amid the setting of Grand Central. While the book starts slowly, it picks up as you get to know the characters more, especially Virginia. A great read-alike for the novels of B.A. Shapiro and Beatriz Williams.

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

When LAPD detective Renee Ballard finds Harry Bosch going through a colleague's file drawer, she learns that he's privately looking into the murder nine years ago of a teenager named Daisy Clayton. Since the crime is still unsolved, Bosch is investigating as a favor to Daisy's mother, Elizabeth. Ballard is intrigued by the case and agrees to help Bosch go through all the old material and also look at other crimes and criminal activity around that time. Ballard is also busy with other cases that arise as she works the night shift in Los Angeles, while Bosch finds himself entangled with a local gang. Dark Sacred Night showcases the Ballard/Bosch partnership, which looks like it might turn into a series of its own. It will be published in October.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

In this second book of the Maggie Hope series, Maggie is sent to Windsor Castle by MI-5. Her mission is to help protect Princess Elizabeth, but she will also be working as Elizabeth's math tutor. The British authorities feel the princess might be in danger, since she is next in line to the throne. Soon after Maggie arrives, one of the Ladies-in-Waiting is murdered and she wonders who among the castle employees is loyal to the Nazis. Princess Elizabeth's Spy is another enjoyable entry in this mystery series, with lots of details about life at Windsor Castle during World War II.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman

In the late 1970's Helen Abell is in charge of maintaining CIA safe houses in Berlin, where, one evening, she overhears and records two conversations which will have repercussions over thirty years later. In the present, her daughter, Anna, is stunned when Helen and her husband are killed by their son, Willard. She ends up hiring investigator Henry Mattick to help her uncover if Willard is really a murderer. In the process, Anna learns of Helen's past. Henry, however, has secrets of his own that might compromise his ability to aid Anna. Their inquiries uncover details of Helen's life with the CIA, which they slowly realize probably caused the disintegration of Helen's family. Safe Houses is a spy novel that reminded me of the books of Laura Lippman. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the characters and how the plot unfolded.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker

Thirty-year-old Hannah is just about to graduate from business school and has landed a coveted job in New York. But when she and her boyfriend, Ethan, spend the weekend in Sonoma, Hannah finds herself under the spell of the area, specifically the small, historic winery of Bellosguardo--so much so that she decides to stay in town and take a job at the winery while Ethan goes to New York without her. Hannah immerses herself in life at Bellosguardo, getting to know how the wines are made and connecting with the owners, Everett and Linda and their dog, Tannen. Sparks also fly when Hannah meets their son, William, but he is headed to New York himself for graduate school. The Shortest Way Home is a charming debut novel about one woman's journey to discovering herself and what really makes her happy. A great read-alike for Judith Ryan Hendricks and Christina Baker Kline's The Way Life Should Be. Absolutely one of the most satisfying books I've read this year.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

In 1939, private detective Maisie Dobbs is asked to look into the murder of Belgian refugee Frederick Addens. Addens came to England during World War I and had assimilated into British life - marrying, having two children, and working as a railway engineer. Who could have wanted him dead? When the murder of another Belgian is discovered, Maisie wonders if the men knew each other, and goes about tracing their lives in both countries. Meanwhile, with war just being declared, Londoners and the rest of the country are preparing for the unknown - sending their children to the countryside, enjoying a few luxuries before rationing goes into effect, and worrying about those loved ones who are of age to fight. Maisie and her family and friends are bracing for the heartache that is bound to be on its way. In This Grave Hour is a heartfelt portrait of life in England at the beginning of World War II.

Day of the Dead by Nicci French

In this last book in the Frieda Klein series, Frieda is in hiding and has broken off contact with her friends and family because serial killer Dean Reeve has been terrorizing her and those she loves. However, a series of murders are happening around London, and they appear to be committed by Dean. Frieda knows it's inevitable that she and Dean will have a final showdown, and only one of them will probably come out alive. To make matters worse, Frieda's life is interrupted even more when criminology student Lola Hayes finds her and also becomes one of Dean's targets. In order to protect Lola, Frieda lets Lola join her in lying low. Will Lola cause Frieda to lose focus and put both their lives in jeopardy? Day of the Dead is a satisfying end to the series, but I will miss my annual catch up with Frieda and her friends.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

In 1940, American-raised Maggie Hope has returned to her birthplace of England to sell her grandmother's home, but with no one wanting to buy it and a war on, she decides to stay and gets a job at No. 10 Downing Street as a secretary. Maggie is overqualified for the position with a college degree from Wellesley and acceptance to the PhD program at M.I.T. Because of her intellect, she finds herself working closely with Prime Minister Churchill and involved in combating both the IRA and the Nazis. Being back in England also allows Maggie time to reflect on her parents, who died in a car accident when she was very young. Eventually, it becomes clear that those around her are keeping secrets about her past. In this series debut, MacNeal writes a mystery full of historical detail about daily life in London during World War II, along with creating an engaging and interesting main character.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

The second book in the Schulyer Sisters trilogy focuses on oldest sister, Tiny. Tiny is married to Frank Hardcastle, who is running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Massachusetts. While Tiny loves Frank, their marriage has been tested by her recent miscarriage and more importantly by her deep love for Frank's cousin, Caspian. Caspian and Tiny met two years ago when she was engaged to Frank and neither knew of the family connection. Tiny Little Thing tells the story of the last couple of years of Tiny's life in alternating chapters. Will Tiny be a loyal candidate's wife and stay with Frank or follow her heart to Caspian? An enjoyable read--and interesting to see another sister's point of view.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo

When Daniel Gingerich is found dead in his family's barn and the fire department determines that it was arson, police chief Kate Burkholder wonders who would want the Amish teen dead. Even though he was on Rumspringa and could break some of the rules, he had a girlfriend that he was going to marry. With some investigating, Kate finds out that Daniel had an evil streak and preyed on young women his age. Did someone plan the ultimate revenge on Daniel for all his wrongdoings? A so-so read for me because the mystery feels like a retread of previous books.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

In Anne Tyler's latest novel, the reader encounters Willa Drake at four times throughout her life. In 1967, she's eleven-years-old and processing why her mother has left home. In 1977, Willa's about to become engaged to her college boyfriend, Derek, while in 1997, she's just entering widowhood. The majority of the book, however, takes place in the present, when she's contacted by a neighbor of one of her son's ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend, Denise, has just been accidentally shot in the leg, and there is no one to watch her daughter, Cheryl. In a spur of the moment decision, Willa and her husband, Peter, head out to Baltimore from their home in Tucson to take care of Cheryl while Denise recovers. Willa, it turns out, is really at loose ends and discovers that she needed by Cheryl and Denise. She is also enjoying meeting all the neighbors that live on Dorcas Road, but Peter is perplexed by Willa's actions and considers the whole trip a burden. Clock Dance is a character study of Willa explored through her everyday life. An enjoyable read similar to Stewart O'Nan's wonderful Emily Alone.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

When the police tell Jack Blake's girlfriend, Aisling, that he committed suicide, she has a hard time believing that Jack would take his own life. His older sister, Maude, who left Ireland twenty years ago, is even more convinced that Jake was murdered. Detective Cormac Reilly, who first encountered the siblings when their mother, Hilaria, died of a drug overdose, now works old cases and is asked to take another look at Hilaria's death. As a newcomer from Dublin, he is finding the office politics of the Galway police station puzzling and feels that someone is trying to keep him off-track with his investigation. Could the deaths of Jack and Hilaria be connected, and is either one of them a murder? In this first book of the Cormac Reilly series, McTiernan writes a mystery with characters that the reader finds interesting and cares about. Reviews have said that the author is similar to Tana French, which is an apt comparison.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

In 1964, wealthy Vivian Schuyler lives in New York City, working at a magazine in a lowly position rather than taking the usual route of marriage. One day, she picks up a package from the post office and discovers it's a large suitcase from a great aunt that she never knew. Violet, Vivian's aunt, was a scientist who disappeared in Europe on the eve of World War I while accused of murdering her husband, Walter. Thinking this will make a great story, Vivian begins to delve into the magazines archives and asks her relatives what they know about Violet. She is also trying to come to terms with her feelings for a doctor named Paul that she has just met. In The Secret Life of Violet Grant, the reader travels between Vivian's and Violet's storylines in this portrait of two women who bucked the traditional norms of their times. This is also the first book of the Schuyler Sisters trilogy. For readers who enjoy historical fiction with strong romantic subplots.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Finn's girlfriend, Layla, disappeared twelve years ago while they were on vacation in France. Now he's engaged to Layla's older sister, Ellen, whom he met more recently. When an elderly former neighbor says he's seen Layla and Ellen finds a Russian doll that is very similar to one she lost as a child outside their home, Finn begins to think that maybe Layla is still alive. He also begins to panic because he wasn't forthright with the authorities when Layla went missing. So the question becomes whether Finn has something to fear, or if someone just toying with him. In addition, will Layla soon turn up? A so-so read, not as satisfying as B.A. Paris' previous two novels.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

On the morning of the wedding, maid of honor Merritt Monaco is found drowned at the Nantucket estate Summerland, owned by popular author Greer Garrison Winbury and her husband, Tag. Their younger son, Benji, was due to marry Celeste Otis in lavish nuptials that Greer had overseen and organized. With everyone in a state of shock, Chief of Police Ed Kapenash is treating the death as suspicious and goes about interviewing all the family members staying at the house. In The Perfect Couple, the reader follows the investigation and explores the backstories of the characters, leading up to the present time, most notably through the eyes of Greer, Celeste, and Celeste's mother, Karen, who is battling cancer. In this latest novel by Hilderbrand, she mixes it up a bit by having a murder frame the story, but it still contains all the elements that readers love about her novels--the setting, a focus on interpersonal relationships, and descriptions of the daily lives of wealthy islanders.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Broken Ice by Matt Goldman

P.I. Nils Shapiro and his partner, Anders Ellegaard, are hired by wealthy businessman, Roger Engstrom, to find his teenage daughter, Linnea. She went missing while in St. Paul to watch a hockey tournament. One of Linnea's classmates, Haley Housh, disappeared around the same time and was found dead in a local cave. Could their vanishings be connected, even though they weren't friends? In fact, Shapiro becomes even more determined to solve both cases when he is shot with an arrow while at the cave crime scene. In this second book in the Nils Shapiro series, Goldman writes a mystery that will appeal to fans of Robert Crais' Elvis Cole.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

In this sequel to The Cafe by the Sea, Flora is enjoying how much pleasure her cafe brings to the residents of Mure, but is worried about her business staying afloat financially. She also wishes her boyfriend, Joel, would spend more time at home rather than flying around the globe in his job as an overworked lawyer, to island millionaire, Colton. Her best friend, schoolteacher Lorna, meanwhile is fond of the local doctor Syrian refugee, Saif, who wonders constantly about the fate of his wife and two young boys back home. While these two storylines dominant The Endless Beach, the reader gets to catch up on the lives of all the residents in this cozy tale.

Friday, June 15, 2018

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

In 1870, Captain Jefferson Kidd is asked to return ten-year-old Johanna Leonberger to her aunt and uncle. Four years ago, Johanna was kidnapped by the Kiowa tribe, the rest of her immediate family brutally murdered. Now, the Kiowa have traded her to the U.S. Army for blankets and silverware. However, Johanna doesn't remember anything or anyone from her life before she was taken. Taking a journey fraught with danger and dealing with the unpredictability of Johanna is quite a challenge for the 71-year-old Captain Kidd, but slowly, during the long trip through the middle of Texas, they bond, and Kidd is able to teach Johanna some aspects of how the white people live. With lots of details of daily life at the time and a descriptive setting, News of the World is an intriguing tale. Give to people who enjoyed Jim Fergus' One Thousand White Women and Nancy Turner's These Is My Words.

P is for Peril by Sue Grafton

Kinsey is hired by Fiona Purcell whose ex-husband, Dow, disappeared two months ago. Dow is now married to the much younger Crystal which upsets Fiona to no end. Fiona doesn't believe the police are doing a good job, so that's why she has hired a private detective. Dow is the medical director at a senior living residence called Pacific Meadows. After a little investigating, Kinsey finds out that the facility is under investigation for Medicaid fraud. Could Dow have disappeared with loads of money or did he come to a sinister end? Suspects and motives abound for Kinsey. In addition, she's found the perfect office to move into, but is the place too good to be true? What a satisfying book, made all the more bittersweet by Grafton's death last year.

Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

In 1969, famous actress Miranda Schulyer returns to Winthrop Island after an eighteen year absence. In 1951, as an eighteen-year-old, she first visited the island when her mother was about to marry wealthy Hugh Fisher. On the island, Miranda was introduced to an opulent lifestyle as a summer resident living at Greyfriars, the Fisher estate. During that fateful summer, Joseph Vargas was sent to prison for murdering Hugh--and now Joseph has escaped from prison. Everyone is wondering where he is, especially the authorities and Miranda, who fell in love with Joseph all those years ago and has maintained his innocence. In the Summer Wives, forty years of the lives of the Vargas' and the Fishers are explored as the reader gets to know both families' secrets. Now, with Joseph on the run, will Miranda be reunited with the true love of her life?