Anna Hart has suffered a deep loss, setting her adrift in a sea of her own making. Leaving her husband alone with his grief, she flees to Mendocino. The small town is set idyllically on the ocean where she lived with the only foster family that actually cared for her. Sadly, it was also the place that one of her friends disappeared from and was never found.
Tragically, history has repeated itself. This time, more than one young girl has gone missing. Armed with a law enforcement badge as well as her successful career saving children that have been abused Anna joins the local sheriff in the searches. She must face her fears, as well as overcome her personal demons. The underlying anguish of Anna is palpable. Perhaps it is why she is determined to help the missing girls. Maybe she will feel redemption if just one of them is not murdered.
The characters come to life on the pages, along with the emotions the author artfully brings to the story. Often fiction is based upon facts. When the Stars Go Dark, while a work of fiction, weaves in the heartbreakingly true story of the kidnapping of Polly Klaas. Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the novel as she writes about it as well as touching on her journey in the foster care system and being a survivor of child abuse. The setting is based on a town that exists. The year is 1993, before cell phones, DNA and the internet became the norm.
This is the first book I have read by Paula McLain. She is a New York Times bestselling author of several novels as well as a memoir and two collections of poetry. I am certain When the Stars Go Dark will become a bestseller as well. I highly recommend it because the plot is page turning and the prose is often to be savored. Put it on the top of your list of must reads. If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, you will love Paula McLain as they both have the same depth and powerful emotion threaded throughout their novels.
Fern and Rose are twins. But they are as different as night and day. Rose is plump, married and has a job that demands a large portion of her life. Fern on the other hand, is tall, slender and has sensory issues, bordering on autism. She lives on her own, but depends on Rose when life becomes too overwhelming to handle or when she forgets to close the front door when she leaves the house. Fern works at the local library, loving the routine that is essential to her well-being. She meets an interesting man whom she instantly calls Wally due to his hat that resembles the one that is worn by a character in a children’s book. They soon begin a relationship of sorts.
The reader learns from the journal Rose keeps that the girls have a dark past. She writes of the way her substance abusing mother treated the girls. The trauma of the mother who changed moods like her shoes and mistreatment of Fern and Rose is well outlined. She can no longer hurt them, but what’s done is done and it has deeply changed both of the girls forever. But Rose is determined to keep Fern out of trouble by taking charge as if Fern is her daughter, not her twin.
Watching one sister thrive and the other spiraling downward is interestingly portrayed by the author. The characters ebb and flow with and against each other throughout the pages. The anguish is palpable and further deepens an already complex plot. Conversely, the story is easy to read. It is perfection. There is a twist at the end that I did not anticipate, elevating this book to another level. As someone who reads many books, this one will stand out in my mind for a long time.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Hepworth, but will not be the last. Based in Melbourne, Australia, she has written four previous books. The Secrets of Midwives, in 2015 is her best-selling novel. I daresay The Good Sister is destined to become a best-seller as well.
Delta Douglas has an idea to bring more people into the stationery shop that she owns with her close friend Hazel. She has agreed to have Tilly Tay, a famous miniature artist, bring one of her works to the shop. It is a tiny world showcasing the small town’s gold rush history, featuring tiny replications of actual structures from the Old West days.
Unfortunately, Tilly is an eccentric character that quickly irritates the town folks. Shortly after arriving she is arrested for murder. Delta thinks Tilly is quirky, but doesn’t believe she is a killer. Ray Taylor, a man that Delta would love to be more than friends with, agrees with her. He is a retired football player with ties to law enforcement so they quietly begin to investigate the case running under the radar of the cops. Hopefully no one will get hurt if and when the killer catches on to their plan.
This cozy mystery is a fast and fun read. The setting is beautifully brought to life and the characters are interesting. Like most cozy mysteries there is a hint of romance, however difficult it is for the main characters to connect and share their feelings.
Ms. Conroy is a prolific cozy mystery writer, having written several series in addition to this series, the Stationery Shop Mysteries. This is the first book I have read by her and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the second book in the series but reads well as a standalone cozy. I can’t wait to check out her other series.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Forensic psychologist Kate Medina quit her job with the correctional department, fleeing from the job and life she loved after a brutal attack. Settling back in her hometown, Kate finds a job as the psychologist in the high school she and her sister attended. Helping teens has helped her, but the past is never far from her mind.
When one of the girls she is counseling disappears, Kate is determined to help the students deal with the trauma of the event as well as helping the police with the investigation. But digging into the life of the missing girl unwittingly puts her in danger. The lead detective on the case, coincidentally her ex-boyfriend, Roman Aguilar, contacts Kate to see if her counselling sessions hold any clues about the missing student. Kate is compelled to help, but her unresolved feelings for Roman keep getting the way.
As the investigation unfolds, it is evident that the missing student is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a sinister group behind the missing girl’s disappearance that involves sex trafficking, kidnapping and murder. Will Kate and Roman find those responsible before one or both of them die? And, as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, her father is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This results in a visit from her long absent sister, who grudgingly appears at the family home when she hears he is sick.
Complicit is a fast-paced thriller and full of twists and turns that exposes the underbelly of human trafficking that is happening in the United States today. I literally could not put it down. The realistic characters and realization that these events could be pulled from today’s headlines is chilling. I loved the plot and characters, each of them fully developed and their transition thorough the pages was realistic and believable.
I highly recommend Complicit. Ms. Rivers, in addition to being an outstanding author, is the Director for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and has worked with law inforcement on cases much like this work of fiction. By bringing the issue of human trafficking to light, she is helping others speak up and hopefully get the help they need. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.
Julie Holliday is certain her husband Dan is cheating on her. Again. She is still in love with him, and prays that he will stop his philandering, but time and time again she finds evidence that he is involved with other women. She begins to plan her escape. Heartbroken, she sells her beloved bakery and slowly liquidates her rental properties.
Leaving the man she has loved since they were young is not easy, but she cuts all ties with friends and family so that he cannot find her. Driving without a destination, she comes upon a small town in Rhode Island and soon makes it her home. Using her savings to purchase a large home, she finds a local handyman to help her renovate it. He is like a father to her. The transformation to an inn makes Julie happy, but never brings her peace. She is still in love with the man she left behind.
Still Crazy is a book of hope and rejuvenation. The characters grow and mature throughout the novel. The setting is ideal. The serenity of a small New England town is the perfect backdrop for healing a heartache and building a new life.
This is the first novel by Judy Prescott Marshall. She is the sauthor of a sef-help non-fiction book: Be Strong Enough. Still Crazy is the first book in a series, the second, The Inn in Rhode Island, will be at your local bookstores soon. I recommend Still Crazy to fans of Hallmark movies and books as well as onyone who enjoys a strong woman’s story of survival.
Have you always envied beautiful handknits made by others? The Beginner’s Knitting Manual is perfectly written for you. Knitting is a rewarding and fun activity that can be easily learned by going step-by-step through this book.
The very first chapter, Getting Started, will discuss the tools you will need. Needles, yarn, and other notions such as a tape measure, scissors and stitch markers are a few of the inexpensive items you can purchase online or at any craft store.
After you assemble the tools, you will learn how to hold the needle, keep tension to create your knit items and begin your practice work. Learning the two basic stitches, knit and purl will enable you to create many other stitches which are just variations of those two. Start small, items such as scarves and potholders. Then branch out to some of the beautiful patterns in the last chapters. The sky is the limit once you have learned the basics of knitting.
The Beginner’s Knitting Manual is also for seasoned knitters who might want to branch out. There is a comprehensive chapter on Fair Isle colorwork. Maybe you have always wanted to give it a go – here is your chance to learn that technique step-by-step.
I highly recommend The Beginner’s Knitting Manual for anyone who wants to learn to knit or already knits. The tutorials and patterns are interesting and highly detailed with pictures as well as instructions. Patterns include a baby blanket, mittens, socks and more.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Marco, Sandro and Elisabetta’s carefree lives as teenagers is about to change. Still in high school, one dreams of becoming a writer, one dreams of becoming a scholar and the other dreams of becoming more than the cyclist his father wants him to become. The love triangle between the three creates a bit of tension and a lot of playful flirting. But it is 1937, and unbeknownst to them, Italy is on the verge of war. This will dash their dreams and take away everything, even loved ones, in a tragic turn of fate.
Survival is paramount. It is growing harder to find essentials as the war begins. While Marco and Elizabetta are struggling, things are exponentially harder for Sandro. He and his family are Jewish. When the Nazis arrive, many in their community will lose their jobs, homes and lives. The three friends are thrust apart by the war and by the choices they have made. At the beginning of the novel, the reader knows that at least one of them has survived. But what about the other two? You must read it to find out.
The plot is an engaging mix of true history and fiction. It reads like a novel, fast-paced and very interesting. But the underlying chill of the war, death and devastation is very real both in life and on the page. It is very sobering.
The characters are interesting and not always likeable, but I feel that is the author’s intent. Life doesn’t always have a happily ever after, but the characters growth and changes during the course of the war are realistic. The ending is very satisfying, staying with the reader long after the last pages are read.
Ms. Scottoline has skillfully taken us back into these dark times in Italy. She has carefully researched, bringing the reader into the events that happen with her realistic characters. Be sure to read her author’s note at the end of the book. There she differentiates between fiction and fact in the novel. Most of the characters are fiction. She states: “But much of what transpires in these pages is true to the past”. It is heart wrenching to read about Jewish families being rounded up and sent to Auschwitz like cattle, especially knowing that this is history, not fiction. But it is also a story that must be told so it is never forgotten or repeated.
I am a huge fan of Lisa Scottoline, having read many of her books. She is the best-selling, award winning author of over 30 books, and is known for her fabulous legal thrillers. There is a reason she is the beloved of many. Eternal is different than her other books, but is not to be missed; I highly recommend it.
The newly formed task force, MCU2 (Major Crime Unit), is in charge of keeping a visiting Health Ministry virologist, Dr. Nicholas Veda, and his date safe while they are in the UK. Now they are both missing. Did they slip away or is this a kidnapping? Dr. Veda and his date disappeared from the Opera House in London without a trace, leaving Chief Inspector John C. Wayne of the MCU2 in a bad situation. Wayne and his team have to find Veda before his disappearance becomes an international incident. Not to mention could easily blow up all hopes of anyone in authority taking MCU2 seriously.
Wayne has assembled his squad carefully, recently adding Canadian Charles Burns to his roster. Even though Burns is a Training Specialist in his previous job, he is told to watch and listen, but not to involve himself in discussions or missions other than just observing. His resolve lasts a New York minute when Burns could not help but insert himself into the mission. Soon bullets are flying, the CIA becomes involved and Burns is playing a huge role in attempting to find Veda.
If you are a fan of James Bond, you will love Charles Burns. He doesn’t have the luck Bond has with ladies, nor the gadgets, but does have the quick thinking, fast action of Ian Fleming’s beloved secret agent.
This fast-paced thriller is full of page-turning action. The twists and turns take the reader on a breathtaking ride. I read it in a few days, because putting it down during the action was impossible. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers, action and plot twists. It is exciting to know this is the first book in a series, so readers will see Burns and Wayne again.
Rookie FBI Special Agent Corrie Swanson is assigned a case involving someone trying to dig up relics from a ghost town in a remote region of New Mexico. She is dispatched to meet up with the local sheriff, Homer Watts, who has been wounded in a shootout with the looter. The biggest concern is the dead body that was dug up along with the relics – one of them is extraordinary.
Corrie calls in Nora Kelly, a senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute to help sort out the relics associated with the body, which just may have been a long-ago murder. Before long, Corrie and Nora discover more than they have bargained for. More than a few people will go to any length to keep anyone from discovering the secrets held by the corpse.
This fast-paced thriller kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The characters are interesting, each of them brings his or her own special knowledge to the table. Corrie is growing as an FBI agent, but not without making mistakes along the way. It was fun to have a guest appearance from one of Preston and Child’s other series pop up unexpectedly.
I am a huge fan of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s writing. The fast-paced, intriguing thrillers are their specialty, and this series is one to follow and enjoy. The Scorpion’s Tail is the second book in the Nora Kelly & Corrie Swanson Series. I suggest reading the first book in the series (Old Bones), which was excellent as well, but it isn’t absolutely necessary as The Scorpion’s Tail reads as a standalone novel. I enjoyed both of them immensely.
Spence and Pru live a quiet life. He is an accomplished Shakespeare professor at Columbia in New York. She once aspired to become a lawyer, but after meeting Spence, she forfeited that life for becoming the professor’s wife and the mother of his daughter. Pru was also an orthodox Jew, that lapsed when she left home.
Spence has a son, Arlo, from a previous relationship. Arlo visited a few times each year, but never lived with them longer than a week or two. Living a nomadic life with his mother, he had recently been living in a commune in Delaware. His mother’s greatest aspiration was to poop in every state. At fifteen, Arlo chose to live with his father and Pru. Life was different from the nomadic life he lived with his mother, most notably schooling, or lack thereof. That was about to change, even if Arlo had learning disabilities – it did not matter if he liked it or not.
As time goes on, Pru realizes Spence is becoming forgetful. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not unexpected. It is devastating nonetheless. Everyone’s life changed along with Spence as he deteriorated. The question is, will Pru and this children, Sarah and Arlo be able to hold on to the fragile family structure they have built or will it collapse?
Morningside Heights is interesting and true to life. Having had members of my family stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, I understand the tumultuous path the characters must travel. The characters are interesting and I love the way Henkin allows Arlo to grow and change over the course of the book.
This is the first book I have read by Joshua Henkin. He is the author of multiple short stories as well as several novels. One of which, The World Without You, is the 2012 winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for American Jewish Fiction.