The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Perfect Son by Lauren North

Published: August 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description: When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie’s eighth birthday, she’s sure of these things: She’s been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her. 

After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that’s what matters.

But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won’t listen, Tess’s world falls apart. To save her son, she must piece together what happened between Mark’s death and Jamie’s birthday, but the truth might just be too much for her to bear. (publisher)

My take:  Tess Clarke’s husband died recently and she’s grateful to have their 8 year old son Jamie as she deals with grief and the accompanying depression. She makes a new friend in the grief counselor who soon takes on the role of running interference for Tess from people who don’t seem to have her best interest in mind. And then mysterious phone calls and people begin to make Tess wonder if she can trust anyone. I felt the same way and read with my jaw clenched most of the time. Despite my sore jaw I found the story addictive in a ‘just one more chapter’ way. I liked The Perfect Son but was looking for a little more from the ending. I realize that’s just personal preference so check out other reviews. Still, I’m glad I read it and would definitely read the author’s next book. The Perfect Son is Lauren North’s debut novel.


About the author:

Lauren North studied psychology before moving to London, where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. The Perfect Son is her first novel, and she’s working on her second.


Praise for The Perfect Son:

“North offers an intimate, unbalancing mix of grief, paranoia, gaslighting, maternal protectiveness, and profound compassion.” – STARRED review from Publishers Weekly

“A powerful, unpredictable debut thriller about a mother’s attempt to reassemble her life from the shards of tragedy. Lauren North’s skillful narrative casts everyone as a suspect and keeps the reader guessing until the final, emotion-packed pages.” – David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of Layover

“A heart-rending evocation of grief that packs a devious punch. It left me reeling.” – Lesley Kara, author of the international bestseller The Rumor

“As satisfyingly intriguing and page-turning as you could possibly want. An emotional read – the end is a shocker!” – Emma Curtis, author of When I Find You

“Beautifully written psychological suspense about the power of love after a life-changing loss. A sense of impending doom and foreboding gripped me from the first page….The ending is stunning and powerful.” – Mary Torjussen, author of The Girl I Used to Be

“A captivating, suspenseful thriller that draws you in – with a twist that will take your breath away.” – T.M. Logan, author of Lies


 

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; June 4, 2019

Book provided by the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description:

Ten years ago the unthinkable happened. Lena Donohue experienced the ultimate betrayal by her sister—and on her wedding day, no less. A betrayal so profound and painful that the only way she knew how to survive it was to run, something she hasn’t stopped doing since. Now, having reinvented herself as a travel writer based in New York, it feels like she might be able to avoid her past forever. But of course, history has a way of returning to the present.

When her father’s health begins to fail, Lena must return to her hometown of Watersend, SC, where she has no choice but to put aside her own heartbreak and work with her estranged sister and younger brother to prepare for the worst. As Alzheimer’s rapidly claims their father’s precious memories, the siblings find themselves in a race against time to learn all they can about his life before it’s too late. But things take an unexpected turn when they stumble upon a life-shattering secret from his past that none of them could have predicted. (publisher)

My take:   I’ve read a few novels that touched on Alzheimer’s disease but none made me feel like I did while reading The Favorite Daughter. That may be because I’m now going through what the Donohue siblings experienced. I can tell you it is spot on. My siblings and I have had the same conversations, almost word for word! So I credit Patti Callahan Henry for getting it right.

The Favorite Daughter is an honest look at a terrible disease. More than that, it’s about memories and how we all remember differently. It’s about how our past shapes us. It’s about being willing to forgive. And it’s about home – where it is and who it is.  Recommended.

About the author:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include The Bookshop at Water’s EndThe Idea of LoveDriftwood SummerThe Art of Keeping Secrets, and Between the Tides.

 


 

Why Kill The Innocent by C.S. Harris

Why Kill The Innocent by C.S. Harris

Published February 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback

Book provided by the publisher

Description:  London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose’s ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife Hero refuse to allow Jane’s murderer to escape justice.

Untangling the secrets of Jane’s world leads Sebastian into a maze of dangerous treachery where each player has his or her own unsavory agenda and no one can be trusted. As the Thames freezes over and the people of London pour onto the ice for a Frost Fair, Sebastian and Hero find their investigation circling back to the palace and building to a chilling crescendo of deceit and death . . . (publisher)

My take:  Hero Devlin and her friend Alexi Sauvage are on their way home from visiting a young woman whose story will be integral to the article Hero is writing. The weather is frigid, the worst winter they’ve had in memory, and they are anxious to step into the carriage that awaits them at the end of a lane. Hero suddenly trips on what turns out to be the body of a young woman. When Hero discovers her identity she becomes intent on learning how she ended up on this small lane in a part of town that people of her sort wouldn’t be expected to be found. Hero and her husband Sebastian St. Cyr will make solving this mystery their primary focus but it won’t be easy. Palace interference, politics, family rivalries, and the winter of 1814 will put obstacles in their way as they grow closer to the truth.

The pace was good and kept me turning the pages as I learned quite a bit about that particular winter. Harris’s detailed settings brought me into each scene – from the palace to the Frost Fair on the frozen Thames to the drawing-room in Hero and Sebastian’s home. I enjoyed dipping into this series for the first time. Why Kill The Innocent is book thirteen but I didn’t feel lost. I realize I’ve missed a good deal of main character development which has me adding previous books to my list. Recommended to fans of the author and historical mysteries.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Why Kill The Innocent by C.S. Harris

Why Kill the Innocent by C.S. Harris

Berkley Trade Paperback; February 26, 2019; $16

Description:  WHY KILL THE INNOCENT transports readers to 1814, during the height of a frigid London winter. Lady Devlin literally stumbles upon trouble when she trips over a cadaver on a snowy city street. She soon discovers that the body belongs to beautiful young musician Jane Ambrose, the piano instructor of the royal Princess Charlotte. Ambrose’s death stirs fear within the palace, and any investigation into the matter is quickly dismissed. But Sebastian and Hero, determined to fight for justice, search all of London for Ambrose’s murderer. As the winter air turns bitterly cold, the brooding and contemplative Sebastian finds a chilling number of potential suspects, all with ample reason to kill the brilliant musician. Which of them forced Ambrose to take her final bow?


About the author:

Candice Proctor, aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham, is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty novels including the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series written under the name C.S. Harris, the C.S. Graham thriller series co-written with Steven Harris, and seven historical romances. She is also the author of a nonfiction historical study of women in the French Revolution. Her books are available worldwide and have been translated into over twenty languages.

A former academic with a PhD in European history, Candice also worked as an archaeologist on a variety of sites including a Hudson’s Bay Company Fort in San Juan Island, a Cherokee village in Tennessee, a prehistoric kill site in Victoria, Australia, and a Roman cemetery and medieval manor house in Winchester, England. She loves to travel and has spent much of her life abroad, living in Spain, Greece, England, France, Jordan, and Australia. She now makes her home in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, retired Army officer Steve Harris, and an ever-expanding number of cats.


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Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

February 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint

Book provided by Berkley

Description:  Liam Jones was the love of Juliet’s life. He was her brother’s best friend, then her best friend, then the father of her little boy. In those shining weeks after Zac was born, she had never been happier and neither had Liam.
 
And then one night, Liam disappeared without a trace.
 
Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson collects facts: octopuses have three hearts, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. But no one will tell him what happened to his father and where he went.
 
When Juliet, inadvertently admits that his father is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides he is going to find him and deliver his mom the happily ever after she deserves.

But Liam left for a reason, and as Zac searches for clues of his father, Juliet begins to rebuild what shattered so many years ago.
 
An unforgettable, heart-stopping story of the secrets we keep and of love in all of its many forms. (publisher)

My take:  Ten-year-old Zac loves to learn facts – about everything. His favorite book is a tome of facts. Lately he’s been wanting to discover the facts about his father. He and his best friend Teagan make it their mission to get answers to questions he’s asked (in his mind) for a long time. Little by little he’ll learn the true facts from various sources – but at what cost?

Katy Regan’s novel really tugged at my heartstrings.  I couldn’t help but cheer for Zac and Teagan – wanted to reach through the pages and hug them. Their individual stories are heartbreaking yet hopeful. The inner strength and resilience they show is remarkable. One might expect those qualities from adults but these children shine in the novel.

This is a story about facts and truth and how the same truth is usually different for everyone. We hang on to the truth that helps us get by – but sometimes that’s not enough. As serious as that sounds, there are many moments of levity. I really liked this novel and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction about living with grief and overcoming difficult circumstances.


 

Paperback release: The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; February 5, 2019

Description:  Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events during her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance at a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend. (publisher)

My take:  Kimmery Martin’s debut novel is the story of two friends, betrayal, and the possibility of forgiveness. Zadie and Emma meet in medical school and become dependable friends as they experience the ins and outs of their medical training.

There are highs and lows that I imagine only people who’ve worked in a hospital or shared the common bond of med school can truly understand. Martin’s descriptive writing kept me interested, especially when I didn’t have a clue if what was happening during procedures, etc. was realistic. Given her real life experience as an ER doctor I trusted and went along with the story. I was completely engaged in what transpired in the hospital setting and on a personal level with Zadie and Emma.

I think fans of medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy will enjoy The Queen of Hearts. I look forward to Kimmery Martin’s next novel.