An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker

An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker

Published: November 2019 – Thomas & Mercer

Book provided by the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:

An ambitious Stanford graduate, David Adams has begun a fast-track career at Austin’s most prestigious law firm. It’s a personal victory for the rising superstar—a satisfying reversal from his impoverished and despairing childhood. Now he has the life he’s always wanted: an extravagant salary, a high-rise condo, a luxury SUV, and no limit to how far he can go in the eyes of the top partners.

But after the shocking suicide of a fellow associate—one who, in his final hours, offered David an ominous warning—he feels the pull of powerful forces behind the corporation’s enviable trappings. The suicide leads unexpectedly to David’s discovery of a secret enclave of the city’s homeless, where he can’t help but feel an affinity to these outcast souls. Nor can he ignore the feeling that they hold the key to the truth behind a dark conspiracy.

When one of his new street friends is murdered, David’s clear doubts about his employer start shifting into a dark reality. Now torn between two worlds, David must surrender all that he’s achieved to fight for a larger cause of justice—and become his firm’s most dangerous acquisition. (publisher)

My take: David Adams thinks he’s found his dream job. He’s fresh out of law school attorney and star of the group of new hires at the prestigious Austin law firm. He works long hours and finds time to acquire a beautiful girl friend, a high-end vehicle, and a luxury condo. Things are falling into place. And then strange things begin to happen forcing David down an unexpected path as he is pulled into the world of his new friend, Benny.

I thought An Equal Justice seemed like one of those puzzles you have to keep turning to get the moveable parts into a neat cube – except the parts were turning themselves and keeping David wondering what the heck is going on here? Some of the parts are attorneys at the high-powered law firm, homeless people, and a blackmail scheme. I really liked the short chapters that kept me turning the pages to get to the exciting end and had me looking forward to the next book in the David Adams series.


About the author:

Chad Zunker is the author of the bestselling Sam Callahan thriller series: The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, and Hunt the Lion. He studied journalism at the University of Texas, where he was also on the football team. He has worked for some of the country’s most powerful law firms and also has invented baby products that are sold all over the world. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters and is hard at work on the next David Adams legal thriller. For more information on the author and his writing, visit http://www.chadzunker.com.


 

The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr

The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr

A Sullivan’s Crossing Novel: Book 5

Published: January 2020 – Mira

Digital galley courtesy of Mira, NetGalley, Little Bird Publicity

Description:

A summer rental, a new beginning…

Hannah Russell’s carefully crafted plans for her life have been upended without warning. When her best friend died suddenly, Hannah became guardian to a five-year-old named Noah. With no experience at motherhood, she’s terrified she’s not up to the challenge. She and Noah need time to get to know each other, so she decides to rent a country house with stunning views on a lake in rural Colorado.

When they arrive at the house, they are greeted by the owner, a handsome man who promises to stay out of their way. But his clumsy Great Dane, Romeo, has other ideas and Noah immediately bonds with the lovable dog. As Hannah learns to become a mother, Owen Abrams, who is recovering from his own grief, can’t help but be drawn out of his solitude by his guests.

But life throws more challenges at this unlikely trio and they are tested in ways they never thought possible. All three will discover their strengths and, despite their differences, they will fight to become a family. And the people of Sullivan’s Crossing will rally around them to offer all of the support they need. (publisher)

My take:  I loved this story about three people creating a new family. They face plenty of challenges but will learn to trust their instincts in order to move forward. I liked how Robyn Carr let characters from previous books (Cal, Helen and Sully) play important roles in the plot. It was nice to see what was happening in their lives and in the small Colorado mountain town.

This is such an enjoyable series. Every time I finish reading the latest book it’s with the hope that there will be another. That’s my sign of a good read and a great addition to the series. Recommended to fans of the author, stories about family and community, and the Sullivan’s Crossing series.

Note:

I watched the Netflix production of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River a few weeks ago. This is the series that made me a fan of Carr. I loved how the series was brought to life. The casting was great. When I finished the season my mind went to the Sullivan’s Crossing series – I hope Netflix has grabbed the rights. I think it would be fabulous!


Robyn Carr is the author of more than 50 novels, which have sold over 28 million copies worldwide. She has written 11 #1 New York Times bestsellers, and her beloved Virgin River series is currently being adapted by Netflix, with the series set to premiere in late 2019 or early 2020. In 2016, Robyn was awarded the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America.

 

 

 

 


 

Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  September 24, 2019 – HQN

Book courtesy of HQN, NetGalley and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?  (publisher)

My take:  If, like me, readers of the Haven Point series have been wondering about Luke and Elizabeth Hamilton – this is their book!  Her disappearance several years earlier sparked many wild theories among locals, none that placed Luke in a positive light. When Elizabeth comes back to Haven Point she reveals what happened. RaeAnne Thayne gives readers a plausible, emotional story. This novel touches on depression (clinical and postpartum) and my heart went out to Elizabeth and the family she left behind. Coming Home for Christmas is a story of forgiveness and courage – and love. Perfect themes for the season. Recommended to fans of the series, RaeAnne Thayne, and a good Christmas story.


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on:  cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 60 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website a http://www.raeannethayne.com


 

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

Published:  August 2019 – Lake Union

Book courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.

When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.

Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance… (publisher)

My take:  Julia Kydd sails from England to New York with the sole purpose of claiming her inheritance upon her 25th birthday. That evolves into a fight with her half-brother that keeps her in New York longer than she’d expected. They strike a deal – a bet, really – in which the winnings (the inheritance) will go to the victor. I won’t spoil by revealing more. What I can say is that fans of historical mysteries, a post WWI New York City setting, and snappy writing of the era will probably enjoy Relative Fortunes as much as I did. I’ll be watching for the second book in the Julia Kidd series.


About the author:

Marlowe Benn (who also writes as Megan Benton) was nominated for UCLA’s 2013 Kirkwood Prize for fiction. Her poetry has appeared in the Chicago Review and other outlets, and her history of American book culture between the wars, Beauty and the Book, was published by Yale University Press in 2000.


 

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

Published July 9, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Book courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Lifestyle journalist Ella Skye remembers every celebrity she interviewed, every politician she charmed between the sheets, and every socialite who eyed her with envy. The chance meeting with her husband, Damien; their rapid free fall into love; and their low-key, intimate wedding are all locked in her memory. But what she can’t remember is the tragic car accident that ripped her unborn child from her. Ella can’t even recall being pregnant.

Hoping to find the memories of a lost pregnancy that’s left her husband devastated and their home empty, Ella begins delving into her past when she’s assigned an exclusive story about Nathan Donovan, a retired celebrity adventurer who seems to know more about her than she does him. To unravel the mystery of her selective memory loss, Ella follows Nathan from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada to the frozen slopes of southeast Alaska. There she discovers the people she trusts most aren’t the only ones keeping secrets from her—she’s hiding them from herself. Ella quickly learns that some truths are best left forgotten. (publisher)

My take:  So this is one of those books where I was glad I didn’t know much going in. I decided early on it would be best to just go along for the ride with this steamy story – and what a crazy ride it was. There are beautiful, rich people behaving badly. They’ve lost their moral compass – assuming they every possessed one. There’s the selective memory loss theme that seemed so far-fetched but I was willing to get on board with because Kerry Lonsdale also made it appear kind of plausible. Last Summer was an addictive book that I read quickly and recommend if you like twisty, steamy and unbelievably crazy plots. Given the epilogue, I wonder if Ella’s story will continue.


About the author:

Kerry Lonsdale is the Wall Street Journal, Amazon Charts, and #1 Amazon Kindle bestselling author of the Everything series—Everything We Keep, Everything We Left Behind, and Everything We Give—as well as All the Breaking Waves. She resides in Northern California with her husband and two children. Learn more about Kerry at http://www.kerrylonsdale.com


 

False Step by Victoria Helen Stone

False Step by Victoria Helen Stone

Pub. Date:  July 1, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Review galley from the publisher, Little Bird Publicity, and NetGalley

Description:  Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.

For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.

In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.

But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared. (publisher)

My take:  Veronica has maintained the appearance of a happy family life but really she’s tired of the charade. She can’t reveal the truth because of the pain it would cause her daughter – the same pain she herself felt growing up in a home that lacked the security of loving parents. Veronica also has a secret she knows would devastate her daughter if discovered. When her husband becomes an instant celebrity after rescuing a lost child Veronica starts to notice things that just don’t seem right. Soon her life is running out of her control and she doesn’t know who to trust. Questionable decisions by Veronica lead her to a dramatic denouement that confirmed my early suspicions of what happened.  I was a little disappointed by that because I like being shocked or surprised by the “who done it” in a suspense novel. I might be in the minority in that regard. False Step is a very quick read making it a perfect beach book or a while away the afternoon on the front porch read.


About the author:

Victoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, now writes dark suspense from her home in Utah. Her novels include the bestselling and critically-acclaimed Jane Doe; Evelyn, After; and Half Past.


 

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Published: May 21, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Review copy from the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description: Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to. (publisher)

My take:  On the day that seventeen-year-old Raymond’s closest (and only) friend moves to California he meets Mrs. Gutermann in the hallway of their New York apartment building. She’s in her nineties and is blind. She’s been waiting for the man who helps her with errands, etc. for several weeks. He doesn’t answer his phone and she’s worried. She asks anyone who passes her in the building if they’ve seen Luis Velez. One thing leads to another and Raymond finds himself on a quest to find out what happened to Luis. Along the way he’ll find a new friend or two – especially in Mrs. G.  I loved their relationship – how it grew and the impact it had on both of them. Truly special. They have things to learn from each other. On a larger scale I liked how the novel (and all of the books I’ve read by this author) makes the point that if people would act out of kindness and empathy the world would be a better place. I’m so glad I had the chance to read this book.

There are discussion questions included.


About the author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow Book List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories, California Shorts, and New York Times bestseller Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories. She is the founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, spoken at Cornell University twice, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at http://www.catherineryanhyde.com.