Monthly Archives: July 2021

Book Review: Wish You Were Here- Fabulous New Novel By Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Diana always wanted to be an artist like her father, and has created a definite plan for her life, both personal and professional. After school she became an associate specialist at Sotheby’s in New York. She is on the fast track to success. She and Finn, her boyfriend, are currently living together and she is sure they will be married soon. Finn is a surgical resident and has the same drive and ambition as Diana.

The couple’s plan to go to the Galapagos is the one of the boxes they plan to check off this year. Soon in fact. Even though the trip is expensive, they have decided it is worth it. Of course, that is before a virus begins to plague New York and the rest of the world. Plans begin to disintegrate both personally and globally for the couple. Finn is working double shifts and is afraid to come home and expose Diana. He insists that she needs to go to the Galapagos and he will meet her there once the virus is contained. Reluctantly she decides to go alone.

Once Diana gets to the island, she realizes she cannot leave. Nor can Finn – or anyone else join her. Restaurants and hotels are not open and her luggage has been lost. So begins her journey she never planned to be a part of, but is now required to continue.

From the first pages I was hooked on Jodi Picoult’s story and characters. She is an expert at drawing readers into the story with true to life fiction that grabs you in the first few pages and doesn’t let go until the last words. There is a fabulous twist in the end of Wish You Were Here that will shock and surprise readers. I highly recommend this book to men and women alike – all readers love a masterpiece of fiction and Wish You Were Here is truly one of the best.

Ms. Picoult is one of my favorite authors. She has total mastery of the words and stories she writes that keeps readers anxiously waiting for her next book. She always delivers books that readers will think about long after the last pages are finished. I have met her at book signings, attended book talks and chatted with her at a book fair – and it won’t come as a surprise to most of you – she is charming and quite nice. It is not surprising to hear she has had twelve books that have debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Five of her novels have been made into movies (read the book first – the movies are good but the book is exponentially better).

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Santa Suit – A Charming Romance

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

Ivy Perkins’ dreams of living in a farmhouse situated in a small town have prompted her to purchase one sight unseen. As she approaches her dream home with her dog Punkin and a box of baby chicks, she realizes there may be some flaws in her new house that the pictures sent by the realtor did not show. That is the first sign that she may have bitten off more than she could chew.

Ezra Wheeler, the realtor, is there to welcome her. After helping her open the front door with a quirky lock, they walk into her new home. It is still full of the previous owner’s furniture, clothing and dishes as well as Christmas decorations. Apparently, her new home was renowned for the annual Christmas decorations. The former owners portrayed Mr. and Mrs. Claus every year. Ivy doesn’t have time for Christmas decorations this year. But when she finds the legendary Santa suit with an old note in it from a youngster, she feels something inside of herself telling her to find the child – now adult – that wrote it.

This is a delightful tale of a woman reborn into the life she always dreamt she wanted. The characters are quirky and fun. Ivy is a dreamer, and is determined to make her life and new farmhouse work out. She has to learn to adjust and fit in all the while staying true to herself. With the help of Ezra, the house is shaping up and he is becoming more attractive to Ivy every day.

Mary Kay Andrews has written 24 New York Times best-selling books. The Christmas Suit is destined to be #25. I have read many of her previous novels, enjoying each and every one. Her plots and characters are relatable and fun to read. I highly recommend this author and her newest novel.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: You Can Run – Fabulous Fast Paced Thriller

by Karen Cleveland

You Can Run is a fast-paced thriller that will leave you breathless. Jill Baily was a CIA operative before she had her son, Owen. While still working for the organization, she now sits at a desk vetting new sources. Much different, and safer, she no longer puts herself or her family in danger. Or so she thinks.

Every day during her lunchbreak, she watches the live cam of her son at daycare. But today she is horrified to see he isn’t there. When her cell phone rings and she hears “We have your son” her world collapses. She must do as they say if she ever wants to see Owen again. She is instructed to verify a source without vetting him within three minutes. It is against all of her training, but she will do anything to get her baby back – even though she is compromising the country she vowed to protect.

So begins her life on the run. Terrified to even tell her husband, she insists they move to another state. Her husband goes along with the move, and quietly Jill scrubs her identity. All is well, she has another child and the past is gone but not forgotten. Until the day she sees someone following her and the children. Her world comes crashing down again, but this time she is going to fight for her family with every fiber of her being.

The chilling theme of someone holding an infant hostage ramps up You Can Run to a whole different level. The characters are interesting, scary, intriguing and realistic. Even though Jill is a CIA agent, she is a wife and mother, so she is relatable on many levels. The last few chapters will leave you breathless and unable to stop reading until the end. I loved it.

Karen Cleveland is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, which brings a scary realism to her novels. She has written two previous books, Need to Know and Keep You Close, both of which are New York Times bestsellers. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Need to Know. Thriller fans will love You Can Run as well as the other books she has written.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Art of Betrayal – Tantalizing Twist of History and Mystery

The Art of Betrayal

A Kate Hamilton Mystery

By Connie Berry

The Art of Betrayal is a tantalizing twist of history and mystery. It begins on a beautiful spring day in the small village of Long Barston, in Suffolk, England. Kate Hamilton is minding The Cabinet of Curiosities, the antique shop that she has worked in since arriving from the U.S. An odd customer ventures in with a rare ancient Chinese funerary jar that she wants to sell at auction. Kate’s acceptance of the jar is the catalyst that begins in theft and ends in deception and murder.

While the village is holding an annual fair based upon a folktale, the jar is stolen from the shop in a break-in. Simultaneously the woman who brought it to Kate is murdered during the pageant, uttering one word before collapsing and dying. Leading the theft and murder investigation is Tom, who happens to be the local cop and Kate’s love interest. Because she is an expert in antiquities, she is called upon by the police to catalog the remainder of the treasures in the home of the murdered woman. The arrival of the eccentric dead dowager’s long-lost daughter brings more questions than answers. Something just isn’t adding up, even with Kate and Tom teaming together to solve the case. Will someone else die before they figure it out?

This is the third book in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series. It is the first one I have read. It works well as a standalone novel, I was never confused or “lost” for not having read the previous two in the series. I love the characters. They are interestingly quirky as you might expect in a quaint English town. It is a solid, interesting mystery that had me guessing

who the killer was until the last pages. The history of the antiquities Kate encounters along the way adds another level of interest to the story. I can’t wait to read the previous two books in this series and will be watching for the fourth to debut soon.

Connie Berry’s debut novel, A Dream of Death, was the first Kate Hamilton Mystery, winning the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery award for it. It was also a finalist for the Silver Falchion and Agatha awards. Ms. Berry lives in the U.S. and studied in Germany and the UK. Her love and knowledge of antiques stems from her parents. She says she was “raised by charmingly eccentric high-end antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine art, and travel”.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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