The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

October 2018 -Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Review book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, including the apparent delight in hurting others; sometimes Beth is scared of Hannah and what she could be capable of doing.

Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him. As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. (from the publisher)

My take:  How much do we really know about the people in our circle – the really important people? The Lies We Told will have readers wondering! Well-paced and tightly edited (always a good thing) Camilla Way’s mystery/thriller kept me on edge and turning the pages. Just when I was sure I’d figured it out she threw another possibility into the mix. I loved that! And I loved how the answers to my questions were revealed little by little. I’m excited to read what she dreams up next.


About the author:

Camilla Way has been an editor and writer for magazines in the UK and is the author of Watching Edie. Follow her on Twitter @CamillaLWay.

THE LIES WE TOLD has already been drawing comparisons to We Need to Talk about Kevin, it’s been been called “deftly plotted” (Emerald Street), “compelling” (Prima), a “top class psychological thriller” (The Sunday Mirror), and been called readers’ “insomnia buddy” (Stylist).


 

Spotlight: The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series, #5

October 9, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Book Summary:

In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author Ronald. H. Balson, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of The Trust, Karolina’s Twins, Saving Sophie, and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

PRAISE FOR RONALD H. BALSON:

“Weaving together history with mystery, Ronald H. Balson crafts a compelling tale.”Us Weekly on The Trust

“Secrets, friendships, survival, and the Holocaust are woven together in Ronald H. Balson’s haunting Karolina’s Twins.”Family Circle on Karolina’s Twins

Once We Were Brothers tells a great story . . . gripping…”The Chicago Tribune on Once We Were Brothers


Spotlight on: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

 

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

St. Martin’s Griffin;  August 21, 2018

Description:  

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.


About the author:

Rea Frey is an award-winning author of four nonfiction books. She lives in Nashville with her husband and daughter. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel.

Read more at:

reafrey.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/reafrey_author?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reafrey/

photo credit:  Alex Holguin


 

Praise for NOT HER DAUGHTER:

Not Her Daughter is a cleverly constructed novel that will have you questioning everything you believe about right or wrong. Frey skillfully tangles you up in these two women’s lives and never lets up on the tension all the way until the dramatic conclusion. A remarkable portrayal of motherhood, in all its beautiful glory and heart-wrenching despair.” —New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens

“In Not Her Daughter, Frey pulls off a difficult task: balancing a nail-biting plot with a thought-provoking question — is a crime committed with the best intentions still a crime? A chilling, powerful tale of love and sacrifice, of truth and perception, Not Her Daughter will make you miss your bedtime, guaranteed. A stunning debut.” —Kimberly Belle, Internationally Bestselling Author of The Marriage Lie

“NOT HER DAUGHTER is a deft and beautifully written examination of taboo maternal fantasies: Can a kidnapping ever be justified? Can motherhood be undone?  Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question their own code of ethics.”  —Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth

I couldn’t put Rea Frey’s NOT HER DAUGHTER down, and once finished, couldn’t let it go.  So much more than an engrossingly suspenseful novel, it’s a thoughtful exploration on the extremes to which motherhood and love and loss can drive us.  An amazing debut.” —Christina Kovac, author of The Cutaway

“Women who do not embrace motherhood or “bad mothers” are a taboo subject — in both real life and fiction — but Frey tackles it with aplomb in her taut debut, NOT HER DAUGHTER. The story begs the question: who is more mother — the one who gives birth or the one who rescues? The plot twists here are brave, the themes are both poignant and unsettling, and the resolution is deeply resonant. A page-turner with heart!” – New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti

Harrowing and heartfeltNot Her Daughter is a gripping novel about the amazing power of mother love.” —Rebecca Drake, author of Just Between Us

A compelling mix of high wire tension and superb writing. Not Her Daughter will linger in the memory long after the final page has been turned. “—Laura Elliot, author of Guilty, Sleep Sister, and The Betrayal

“Tightly paced and impossible to put downNot Her Daughter is a cleverly written story that challenges what it means to be a mother—or not to be one. A thought-provoking and poignant debut.” —Clarissa Goenawan, author of Rainbirds

Not Her Daughter is an interesting and emotional debut about women stuck in lives they never wanted and the desperate decisions they’ll make to get out. Certain to keep readers turning pages and guessing as to who the real villain is.”—Cate Holahan, USA Today Bestselling Author of The Widower’s Wife and Lies She Told


 

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

  • Title:  Not That I Could Tell
  • Author:  Jessica Strawser
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Publication date:  March 27, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher, NetGalley

Description:  An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.  (publisher)

My take:  It’s a mystery to her neighbors what exactly happened to Kristin and her young twins. The night before all the neighbor women were enjoying a rare night “out” around a backyard fire-pit and the next day Kristin and her kids had disappeared. Each woman will examine her own version of what transpired as they, along with the local PD, try to solve the mystery.

The background of each neighbor is examined. This sometimes had me hoping the pace would step up a bit but the author held it steady as the plot unfolded. There were times, interactions at the local school – to name one, when I laughed. Relatable kernels of real life I guess. It really seemed like more of a character study for most of the novel until things revved up near the end. I’m ok with that and smiled as I turned the last page. I enjoyed Jessica Strawser’s style of telling her story and look forward to her next novel.


 

Bel, Book and Scandal by Maggie McConnon

  • Title:  Bel, Book and Scandal
  • Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #3
  • Author:  Maggie McConnon
  • Genre:  Cozy Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  December 2017 – St. Martin’s Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Book, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor—and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy—and whether she may still be alive—is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought. (publisher)

My take:  Belfast McGrath is a chef who left her last gig in disgrace and returned home to work for her parents at Shamrock Manor, cooking for weddings and other events. Being back in the place where she grew up is a challenge rife with memories both good and bad. After a meeting with a prospective client Bel finds a newspaper the client left behind that has a startling photo – Bel’s best friend who was thought to have died now appears to be very much alive. This starts amateur sleuth Bel on a search for her friend.

Maggie McConnon’s mystery was entertaining but not in a laugh out loud way (although I did occasionally). I loved her characters – Bel’s parents and brothers were funny in the same way we may see our own family members as funny, quirky, odd.  In addition to her family were assorted towns-people, old boyfriends, new friends. They all added to my enjoyment and any of them could have been a red herring. I didn’t figure out whodunit until close to the end – and then I wasn’t sure!

Bel, Book and Scandal is the third book in the Belfast McGrath series. I haven’t read the first two but didn’t feel lost because McConnon did a good job of bringing me up to speed in the opening chapters. Recommended to fans of the series and the cozy mystery genre.


About the author:

MAGGIE MCCONNON grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels, beginning with Wedding Bel Blues.

Facebook


Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
iBooks
Powells
IndieBound



 

A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn

  • Title:  A Season To Lie
  • Author:  Emily LIttlejohn
  • Series:  Detective Gemma Monroe #2
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  November 2017 – Minotaur Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On a cold dark night in February, as a blizzard shrieks through Cedar Valley, police officer and new mother Gemma Monroe responds to an anonymous report of a prowler at the local private high school, The Valley Academy. In her idyllic Colorado small town, Gemma expects the call was just a prank by a bored teenager.

But there in the snow lies the savaged body of a man whose presence in town was meant to be a secret. And a disturbing message left by his killer promises more death to come.

This is only the beginning . . .

Nothing is as it seems in Cedar Valley and stories, both fact and fiction, ensnare Gemma as her investigation moves from the halls of an elite academy to the forests that surround Cedar Valley.

Against a backdrop of bleak winter weather, stymied by those who would lie to protect what is dearest to them, Gemma hunts a ruthless killer before he strikes again in A Season to Lie.  (publisher)

My take:  Gemma Monroe, just returned from maternity leave, is very happy to be back at work at the Cedar Valley, CO police department. Her plan to ease back into a doable work schedule takes a turn when the body of a famous author is found at the town’s prestigious academy – in the middle of a blizzard. Tracking down the murderer will take up most of her time and energy. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend (and father of her child) is feeling a little stir-crazy being at home full-time. She’s feeling pressure from all sides.

I got a good sense of Gemma and her co-workers, family and other assorted characters despite jumping into the series on book 2. I enjoyed Emily Littlejohn’s style of telling a story and how she developed her characters. I liked what I read of the small Colorado, B-list ski town and want to learn more about it and the people who live there.  No shortage of red-herrings there and I thought any of them were plausible. That explains why I wasn’t shocked when Gemma discovered the murderer. There were a few loose threads involving those red herrings at the end of the novel that I hope will be carried into the next book in the series.


 

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

  • Title:  Best Day Ever
  • Author:  Kaira Rouda
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; Wunderkind PR

Description:  Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life. (publisher)

My take:  Paul is a confident and successful man. He has life figured out and knows he deserves all he has, and more. He’s planned a weekend away with his wife, Mia. She needs a nice getaway – she’s been sick lately with a mystery illness that countless doctors haven’t been able to figure out. He’s certain this vacation is exactly what she needs. It will all start with the best day ever. But what happens when Paul’s plan doesn’t go the way he intends? Kaira Rouda’s novel takes the reader inside the mind of Paul. It’s creepy and disturbing and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I had an idea where everything was heading – and I was right. It was a departure from my usual reads and I enjoyed it. I loved discovering the significance of the eye-catching cover as well. Yes, a creepy good afternoon of reading about someone’s best day ever.


 Check out my Spotlight post for more information about BEST DAY EVER


The Trust by Ronald H. Balson

  • Title:  The Trust
  • Author:  Ronald H. Balson
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  September 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  The newest novel from Ronald H. Balson, the international bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle’s funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm. (publisher)

My take:  Liam Taggart gets more than he bargained for when he returns to Northern Ireland for his beloved uncle’s funeral. He accepts the request to act as trustee for the estate, much to his relatives’ dismay. He will have to untangle a knot of family secrets, old grudges (both political and familial), and nefarious activities before he can return to life with his wife and young son in Chicago.

Ronald H. Balson’s story was interesting and grew in intensity with each chapter building to an exciting climax that was cinematic in scope. The setting and historical circumstances were intriguing as were the characters. I grew quite fond of Inspector McLaughlin and Officer Megan Dooley. I enjoyed this legal thriller and look forward to reading more of Balson’s novels.


About the author:

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of Karolina’s Twins, Saving Sophie and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

 

 

Praise for Ronald H. Balson:

“A heart-wrenching…triumphant story.” —The Chicago Tribune on Karolina’s Twins

“Secrets, friendships, survival, and the Holocaust are woven together in Ronald H. Balson’s haunting Karolina’s Twins.”—Family Circle on Karolina’s Twins

“A new look at an old story…will stay with you long after you have finished it.” —The Huffington Post on Once We Were Brothers

“Uplifting and moving, intelligently written…an unusual insight into human character.” —Library Journal, starred review on Once We Were Brothers

 “A page-turning read filled with despair and anger but with hope, love, and humanity at its core.” —Jewish Book Council on Saving Sophie


Best Intentions by Erika Raskin plus US Giveaway

  • Title:  Best Intentions
  • Author:  Erika Raskin
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  August 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Marti Trailor is a mother of three, a New York congressman’s daughter, and wife to a successful obstetrician. Tired of playing the dutiful stay-at-home mom, she jumps at the opportunity to return to her stalled career as a hospital social worker. The catch? The job is at the same hospital where her husband works, and the doctor is not so keen.

As Marti gets enmeshed in the world of the hospital—long hours, overworked doctors, entrenched and dangerous politics—she witnesses something that she cannot unsee. Marti takes it upon herself to do the right thing. But the right thing comes with unintended consequences, and before she even has time to plead innocence, Marti finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight.

Peeling back the layers of one woman’s precipitous journey from stay-at-home mom to murder trial defendant, Best Intentions is Erika Raskin’s sophomore gem, a domestic mystery set against a captivating emotional backdrop. (publisher)

My take:  Marti is the beleaguered wife of a successful doctor in Richmond. She is almost single-handedly raising their three children and is getting kind of fed up with the whole deal. When she’s offered a job in her chosen profession of social worker at the same hospital where her husband works, she grabs it. He’s less than thrilled but knows better than to try to change her decision. When something happens at the hospital to one of Marti’s clients her life is turned upside down and she finds herself facing a murder charge.

I thought this whodunit was okay but I had a few quibbles:  pacing – it didn’t take off for me until almost half-way in; Marti’s snarky (mostly) inner dialogue got old fast; there are a lot of stereotypes in this novel. Even though I had a good idea of what happened I wanted to see how Erika Raskin wrapped it all up – and I thought she did a decent job. Fans of a mysteries that involve hospital politics, social work, and the law might want to give Best Intentions a try.


About the author:

Erika Raskin’s debut novel, Close, was nominated for a Teen Choice Book of the Year award. Her work has appeared on public radio and publications including The Washington Post, Salon, and Washingtonian Magazine. She was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a panelist at the Virginia Festival of the Book.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends August 23, 2017


Spotlight/US Giveaway: Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

Description: 

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


About the author:

Adam Mitzner is a practicing attorney in a Manhattan law firm and the author of several acclaimed novels.  Suspense Magazine named A Conflict of Interest one of the best books of 2012, and in 2014, the American Bar Association nominated A Case of Redemption for a Silver Gavel Award. He and his family live in New York City.

http://www.adammitzner.com


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends June 23, 2017


The Ridge by John Rector

  • Title:  The Ridge
  • Author:  John Rector
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  284
  • Published:  April 2017 – Thomas & Mercer
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  With its manicured lawns, pastel houses, and quiet, tree-lined streets, Willow Ridge seems to be the perfect place for Megan and Tyler Stokes to start a new chapter in their lives together. But soon after settling in, Megan begins to notice cracks in the neighborhood’s bright suburban facade—cracks that reveal a darker secret hidden just beneath the surface.

After an angry encounter with a neighbor takes a horrifying turn, Megan’s waking nightmare truly begins—growing ever more chilling and bizarre with each shocking twist. Suddenly forced to question everything around her, Megan finds herself trapped between the specter of madness and the shadow of something far worse. Her only hope is to expose the community’s pretty lies and discover the truth about what is really going on in Willow Ridge—a truth so devastating that her life will never be the same. (publisher)

My take:  While thrillers aren’t my go-to genre I was intrigued by the blurb and thought it would be a good read for my vacation. My instincts proved correct. The Ridge was a fast-paced novel that had me remembering The Stepford Wives (was even joked about by a couple of characters).

There’s something different about the town of Willow Ridge. When Megan and her husband move there for his job she can’t wait to move back to Chicago. But she agrees to give it a year. When she begins to notice odd things about her neighbors she may not be able to keep her promise. I couldn’t blame her!

I won’t share any more except to say if you like a short mystery/thriller with light sci-fi overtones you’ll want to look for The Ridge. It was a perfect poolside read.


About the author:

John Rector is the bestselling author of the novels The Ridge, The Cold Kiss, The Grove, Already Gone, Out of the Black, and Ruthless. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and has won several awards, including the International Thriller Award for his novella, Lost Things.

He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.


 

The Sisters of Blue Mountain by Karen Katchur

  • Title:  The Sisters of Blue Mountain
  • Author:  Karen Katchur
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  April 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  The Sisters of Blue Mountain is the story of Linnet and Myna. The sisters have been estranged for several years but are brought together when an unusual event occurs in their hometown.

Myna is a college professor in Florida and Linnet runs a B&B in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The inn is situated near a waterway that snow geese frequent on their migration each year. It’s a tourist draw that brings many people to the inn. This year something odd happened with the geese that has a profound effect on the town and the local businesses, including Linnet’s inn. At the same time, Myna comes home to see her relatives and to take a break from a relationship in Florida. The sisters will need to deal with some unfinished business that comes to light when a certain reporter comes to investigate the snow geese incident.

I thought The Sisters of Blue Mountain was an interesting mystery that grew to include more than the case of the snow geese. Linnet and Myna have secrets and are forced to come to terms with the truth. There’s also a murder that needs to be solved. Karen Katchur packed a lot into a few pages that seemed to turn themselves after a while. As you would expect all is wrapped up neatly by the last page. I enjoyed this unique mystery and look forward to reading more from the author.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire

The Halo Effect: A Novel

by Anne D. LeClaire

Lake Union Publishing – April 1, 2017 – 348 pages

Trade Paperback Original: 9781503943186 – $14.95

eBook: B01K4TXXH8 – $4.99


In this tour de force, a father, shaken by tragedy, tries to avenge his daughter’s murder—and restore his family’s shattered life.

It was supposed to be a typical October evening for renowned portrait artist Will Light. Over dinner of lamb tagine, his wife, Sophie, would share news about chorus rehearsals for the upcoming holiday concert, and their teenage daughter, Lucy, would chatter about French club and field hockey. Only Lucy never came home. Her body was found, days later, in the woods.

The Eastern Seaboard town of Port Fortune used to be Will’s comfort. Now, there’s no safe harbor for him. Not even when Father Gervase asks Will to paint portraits of saints for the new cathedral. Using the townspeople as models, Will sees in each face only a mask of the darkness of evil. And he just might be painting his daughter’s killer.

As Will navigates his rage and heartbreak, Sophie tries to move on; Father Gervase becomes an unexpected ally; and Rain, Lucy’s best friend, shrouds herself in a near-silent fugue. Their paths collide in a series of inextricably linked, dark, dangerous moments that could lead to their undoing…or to their redemption.


About the Author:  Bestselling author Anne D. LeClaire has written eight novels, including Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, and Leaving Eden, as well as her critically acclaimed memoir, Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence. Known for her exquisite and lyrical writing, the former op-ed columnist has been published in Redbook, the Boston Globe, Yoga Journal, and the New York Times.

A Distinguished Fellow at the Ragdale Foundation, LeClaire teaches creative-writing workshops around the globe. She is also a dynamic speaker—leading popular seminars and workshops exploring silence, creativity, and deep listening. LeClaire has been a visiting lecturer at Mt. Holyoke College, the University of Tennessee, and Columbia College and was a featured presenter at the Lincoln Center.

A former reporter, print journalist, radio broadcaster, and private pilot, LeClaire lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where she leads silent retreats, practices yoga, and plays the washboard.

www.anneleclaire.com


Praise for The Halo Effect

“The terms ‘literary’ and ‘page turner’ dovetail beautifully in Anne D. LeClaire’s new novel. The Halo Effect is a must-read for LeClaire’s faithful fans and a sit-up-and-take-notice book for those who have yet to discover this talented, truth-seeking storyteller who asks the big questions as she observes the small but intricate details that make us human.” – Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author

The Halo Effect is a wonderful hybrid: a compelling murder mystery and a thoughtful meditation on longing and loss. I was fascinated by the book’s saints – and sinners.” – Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls

“The people of Port Fortune are irrevocably changed by the murder of teenager Lucy Light, and Anne LeClaire’s generous spirit illuminates their flaws, struggles, and personal triumphs as they search for truth and meaning. After I finished reading The Halo Effect, I sat thinking for a long time about the people in this beautiful novel, so much like the ones I know and love.” – Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer

“I wasn’t ready for this one. As a fan of Anne LeClaire’s work I knew that her writing would be of its usual excellence, watchful, luminous, and moving, but in The Halo Effect she has also drawn a New England community in its exact contours by placing it under the revealing pressure of tragedy. Th result is a mystery at once literate, intimate, and almost intolerably suspenseful – reminiscent of Louis Penny at her best.” – Charles Finch, author of the bestselling Charles Lenox mystery novels.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

Giveaway ends April 8, 2017 


I See You by Clare Mackintosh

  • i-see-youTitle:  I See You
  • Author:  Clare Mackintosh
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
 
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 
 
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 
 
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…  (publisher)

My take:  The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book.

I agree with the Advance Praise below. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.



Advance praise for I SEE YOU:

A deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”—Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Wonderfully sinister. Had me looking over my shoulder.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

 “Mackintosh scripts a hair-raising ride all the scarier because its premise—that our predictable routines make us easy targets—is sadly so plausible.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he steadily thickening paranoia will leave readers questioning their comfortable routines…a well-crafted blend of calculated malevolence, cunning plot twists, and redemption that will appeal to fans of Sophie Hannah, Ruth Rendell, and Ruth Ware.”Booklist, starred review

 Packed with suspense, twists, and turns[Mackintosh’s] meticulous detail to investigative accuracy and talent in weaving a thrilling tale set her work apart from others in the field.”Kirkus


 

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  • jane steele (putnam)Title:  Jane Steele
  • Author:  Lyndsay Faye
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Mystery
  • Pages:  422
  • Published:  March 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Reader, I murdered him.  So begins Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until she escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents – the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose connection with Mr. Thornfield appears far more complicated and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul, and secrets – without revealing her own murderous past?

Inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.  (book flap)

My take:  Well, Readers, I loved it! Jane Steele is way outside of my normal reading zone but I was intrigued when offered a copy for review so I accepted. I’m so glad I did because it was such a fun read. It’s filled with drama, adventure, class differences, love and mystery culminating in an exciting denouement that seemed only fitting for Jane’s story.

There are references, subtle and pointed, to Jane Eyre (Jane Steele’s favorite book) that will hopefully make fans of the Brontë novel smile. It has been decades since I read it but now I’m tempted to do a reread. Thank you, Lyndsay Faye!

I appreciated the author’s historical afterward which points the reader to other books that helped to inform Jane Steele’s plot lines. Recommended to fans of Victorian novels, historical mysteries, Jane Eyre, and a good adventure. I’d also recommend Jane Steele to book clubs who want to shake things up a bit 🙂

Note: In addition to reading this book I used an Audible credit so I could keep listening when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance is perfection. Highly recommended!


 

More Praise for JANE STEELE:

 

“Let’s be honest here.  When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of Jane Steele, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do.  Also, to show what a good sport I am.  I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip.

I loved this book!  The language rings true, the period details are correct.  Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds.

The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime.  If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction.  As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”

—Sue Grafton

 

“Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest.

Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye’s other novels Jane Steele demands attention.”

—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer

 

Jane Steele is lethal good fun!  In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools.

The result is a darkly humorous, elegantly crafted story of an ‘accidental’ vigilante. A delicious read.”

—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

 

“From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words ‘reader, I murdered him,’ you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light.

But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine.

Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what’s already one of my favorite thrillers of the year.”

—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers:Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s

 

“Enchanting.  Jane Steele is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of

‘reader, I murdered him’ to its final pages.  Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet.’

—Maria Konnikova, New York Times-bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

 

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

  • the secret sister (7:28)Title:  The Secret Sister
  • Series:  Fairham Island #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Mystery
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why? 

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago. 

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk… 

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister. 

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?  (publisher)

My take:  It’s alway fun to get in on the first book in a series when it first publishes. 

I loved the gothic tone of The Secret Sister. There’s the rich family with the cold, detached matriarch, the mansion on the hill, and the mystery that no one wants to talk about. Youngest daughter Maisey is determined to find out what happened to (what appears to be) her older sister.  Her brother Keith has been blamed for her disappearance and that has affected his life to the point that he finds his only relief in drugs. He doesn’t think he can handle having it all dredged up again so he’s not thrilled that Maisey is asking questions.

Thank goodness Maisey has Rafe and his young daughter to help keep her sane. They knew each other briefly when they were younger. Now, more than ten years later, life has given them both new perspective and they appreciate their possible second chance. Rafe wants to help Maisey find out what happened to the girl in the photographs. I thought they had great chemistry and I loved the interactions between Maisey and Laney, Rafe’s daughter.

I was satisfied (and a little surprised) with how the mystery was solved. If you like a contemporary romance wrapped around a mystery I think you’ll enjoy The Secret Sister. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next book in the Fairham Island series.

Lucky Catch by Deborah Coonts

  • LuckyCatch_Final(5)Title:  Lucky Catch
  • Series:  Lucky O’Toole #5
  • Author:  Deborah Coonts
  • Published:  August 2014 – Cool Gus Publishing
  • Source:  Publicist

Synopsis:  Trouble always comes in threes. At least that’s what Lucky O’Toole, the VP of Customer Relations for Las Vegas’ primo Strip casino/hotel, the Babylon, has heard for years from her mother. So, tonight, when Teddie, her former lover shows up at her office unannounced and very unexpected, her father offers Teddie a job at the Babylon, she is called to deal with a pig in residence at one of the hotels most exclusive and opulent suites, and Lucky’s current lover, Jean-Charles Bouclet stops answering his phone leaving Lucky to handle his five-year-old son, Lucky figures she has tonight’s compliment of chaos covered.

As usual, she is a tad optimistic.

With a cadre of celebrity chefs with the maturity of teenagers in Vegas for a televised cook-off, a prized Alba truffle in the Babylon’s care, and her mother’s pregnancy racing toward the inevitable, what could go wrong?

When the truffle is stolen from the walk-in in Jean-Charles’ gourmet burger joint at the Babylon and a young chef apparently killed with a smoking gun is found in Jean-Charles’ food truck on the back lot, trouble takes a sinister turn.

And Jean-Charles still isn’t answering his phone.

Another body is discovered. This one stuffed in an oven at Jean-Charles’ eponymous restaurant and set to broil.

Desperate to put a lid on the body count and more than frantic over her AWOL lover, Lucky uses her Vegas contacts to search in places and in ways the police wouldn’t or couldn’t. Teddie insists on riding shotgun. Lucky hasn’t the time nor the resolve to say no. She’s never been able to resist Teddie … not really. With danger dogging their heels, Lucky finds herself falling once again under his spell as they traverse Vegas, being drawn deeper and deeper into the highly competitive world of high-end eateries and the battle for the very rare, most highly prized gourmet foodstuffs.

Would somebody really kill for a truffle?

In a heartbeat.

And when Lucky’s path crosses the killer’s… will her goose be cooked?  (publisher)

My take:  I was so happy to be given a chance to read the latest Lucky O’Toole mystery. Deborah Coonts is back  with a new Vegas mystery featuring our favorite amateur sleuth, Lucky O’Toole. This time Lucky ‘s current beau goes missing – and at the same time the prized truffle due to be used in a cooking competition at the resort seems to be lost.

And then two dead bodies found on the premises of The Babylon Resort need to be dealt with. Finding out whodunit is just one of the items on Lucky’s list of things to do. She also has to deal with a pig in one of the resort’s exclusive bungalows; some curious RFID tags; and people who are not whom they appear to be – and that’s just the top of the list.

As usual, I enjoyed my visit to Lucky O’Toole’s Las Vegas. The setting is mostly high-end and the characters are all sorts of people. Lucky is still questioning her relationship with her current man while maybe second-guessing her last one. The cast of regulars in her world make appearances in Lucky Catch and help to solve the mystery. I liked it all and look forward to the next book in the series. Recommended to fans of fun mysteries. Lucky Catch is part of a series. It can stand on its own. You don’t have to read the series in order but that’s what I’d recommend!

He’s Gone: A Novel by Deb Caletti

He's Gone

  • Title:  He’s Gone
  • Author:  Deb Caletti
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Mystery
  • Published:  May 2013 – Bantam
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Synopsis:  “What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”
The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.  (publisher)

My brief take:  He’s Gone is a compelling narrative by a woman whose husband has gone missing. It’s the story of when they meet until that day she can’t find him. It’s a smooth, psychological portrayal by, what some might think, an unreliable narrator.

Deb Caletti certainly kept me wondering and guessing about what happened to Dani’s husband! I liked He’s Gone and will definitely look for more of Caletti’s books.

Audiobook: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

ordinary grace (audio)

  • Title:  Ordinary Grace (audiobook)
  • Author:  William Kent Krueger
  • Narrator:  Rich Orlow
  • Genre:  Fiction; Mystery
  • Published:  Recorded Books – March 2013
  • Source:  purchased

Synopsis:  New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. 
Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.
Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.  (publisher)

My brief take:  I highly recommend the audiobook edition of this novel. The narration by Rich Orlow is superb.

Just read the synopsis above. If that doesn’t grab you, well, never mind. I think it will. And, in the end, you’ll probably be glad you read (or listened to) it. I don’t want to say much more than what I posted on Goodreads:

. . .  A coming of age novel where ordinary grace meets the awful grace of God in a small town in Minnesota during one summer in the early 1960s.

It’s one of my 2013 Favorites.

A Question of Honor by Charles Todd

a question of honor

  • Title:  A Question of Honor: A Bess Crawford Mystery
  • Author:  Charles Todd
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Published:  August 2013 – Wm Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  I want to begin by saying the Bess Crawford series has become one of my favorites. I like the WWI era, the (mostly) British characters, and the mysteries that Bess seems obligated to solve. I recommend reading the series in order because bits and pieces of Bess’s past are added with each book.

In the newest book, A Question of Honor, we go back to 1908 India when her father, a colonel in the British army, was stationed there. Something occurs back in England  involving one of his regiment that could ultimately hurt the colonel’s reputation as well as leave a black mark on the entire regiment. At that time Bess was fifteen and not privy to any details of what had happened.

Fast-forward to 1918 and we find 25-year-old Bess working as a Sister (British nurse) on the front in France.  One day a dying Indian Sergeant frantically tells Bess something that leads to reopening the unsolved case from 1908. One thing leads to another and Bess is once again working to solve a mystery during her time off back in England.

Bess gets help tracking clues from her father’s assistant Major Simon Brandon as well as her parents. I’ve enjoyed these characters throughout the series. Major Brandon remains a man of mystery with just enough information revealed in this story to make me want to know still more about him. I also hope that he and Bess will realize at some point how perfect they are for one another. I liked the supporting characters, one being Rudyard Kipling, and how they factored into the mystery. The settings of India, France and England were easy to visualize from the detailed descriptions. The case is solved, of course, and I thought it interesting and believable.

If you enjoy British mysteries and this particular era you’ll want to read A Question of Honor.