The Good Stranger by Dete Meserve ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

REVIEW: The Good Stranger by Dete Meserve was just what I needed. After reading several heavier books, I was happy to sit down with a book that concentrates on the good that can be brought into all our lives with a simple kindness.

At the time I read this book the whole nation was in the middle of a quarantine due to Covid-19. There is a lot of sorrow right now with the deaths we have experienced. There are the deaths of friends and relatives, our jobs, time with our families, activities outside of our homes and basically life as we knew it. We now have a new normal and that is pretty hard to swallow.

As in The Good Stranger we see a lot of kindnesses happening all around us. One woman posted she needed her yard mowed and found someone to do it in a few days but, woke from a nap to find someone came, mowed and left. What a blessing for her. Police are doing drive by happy birthdays, graduating seniors are having drive through graduation parties and the list goes on. Kindness in times of sorrow. 

This book definitely struck a cord with me during our time of self-isolation. I am thankful that we live a a country that is filled with people helping people. That is what this book was about. It warmed my soul. It will warm yours too.

I received this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review. Thank you!

Synopsis: TV reporter Kate Bradley arrives in Manhattan ready to take on a challenging new position as a national news correspondent. When a massive power outage plunges New York City into darkness, the disaster she expected to cover takes an unexpected turn. Someone is leaving thousands of mysterious gifts throughout the city, and the only clue to the giver’s identity is the occasional note from “A Stranger.”

Together with handsome TV series host Scott Jameson, Kate must make sense of these random generous acts, which quickly escalate in scale and capture the attention of viewers across the country. In early-morning stakeouts and late-night surveillance, they crisscross the city hunting down leads, but the elusive Stranger is always one step ahead.

Menacing letters and videos addressed to Kate threaten to derail the investigation, but she’s determined to uncover the identity of the benefactor. The closer Kate gets to the truth, the more clearly she sees that even the smallest act of generosity can bring about powerful change. And it just may take her own selfless act of kindness to solve the feel-good mystery of the year.

The Second Home by Christina Clancy ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Tender and compassionate, incisive and heartbreaking, Christina Clancy’s The Second Home is the story of a family you’ll quickly fall in love with, and won’t soon forget.

After a disastrous summer spent at her family summer home on Cape Cod, seventeen-year-old Ann Gordon was left with a secret that changed her life forever, and created a rift between her sister, Poppy, and their adopted brother, Michael.

Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, leaving Ann and Poppy to decide the fate of the Wellfleet home that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. For Ann, the once-beloved house is tainted with bad memories. Poppy loves the old saltbox, but after years spent chasing waves around the world, she isn’t sure she knows how to stay in one place.

Just when the sisters decide to sell, Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about that long ago summer. Reunited after years apart, these very different siblings must decide if they can continue to be a family—and the house just might be the glue that holds them together.

Told through the shifting perspectives of Ann, Poppy, and Michael, this assured and affecting debut captures the ache of nostalgia for summers past and the powerful draw of the places we return to again and again. It is about second homes, second families, and second chances.

REVIEW: I enjoyed The Second Home by Christina Clancy. It was a good story to pass the time during quarantine. It was entertaining and kept me interested. I love stories that take place at the beach and this one takes place in Cape Cod. 

Clancy has a gentle approach to her writing style in this book. She is not in your face. She just lays out a nice story for your enjoyment. If you like stories about families with history and young love, you will like this one and I would definitely recommend it for your reading pleasure. This book warmed my heart. 

I grew to like her charecters and had several chuckles over Ed and Connie who were the parents of Ann and Poppy. They still had a great love for each other and I admired them. Have you ever had a teacher that was on the hippie side? Now, imagine them as your parents and going to the same high school where they teach.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review. 

Of Literature and Lattes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ by Katherine Reay

Synopsis: Return to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome, where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup and move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.

“In her ode to small towns and second chances, Katherine Reay writes with affection and insight about the finer things in life.” —KAREN DUKESS, author of The Last Book Party

REVIEW: Well done! Of Literature and Lattes is the first book I’ve read by Katherine Reay and it will not be the only one. This book took me back home. I’m not from Winsome, Illinois but, I am from a small town and the feelings that bubbled to the top while I read made me feel like I was back home if only just for a little while.

I loved her characters! They were so wonderfully flawed and it was nice to see them working hard to make wrongs right. As in any good story, there is a lot going on. I delighted in all the little facets of the book and I was sorry to see it come to an end. I definitely felt I had made some new friends and hated to close the book. We will all be fortunate if Ms. Reay returns to Winsome, Illinois. 

She has the voice of a storyteller. I could see the story in my head as I was reading and felt like I left my world behind. It truly is a great book that can take you on a good trip and deposit you on your own couch when it is over.

I want to thank the publisher and Katherine Reay for the opportunity to read an early copy.I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review.

The Dream Job ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ by Kiersten Modglin

Synopsis: The next psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Good Neighbors…

Autumn Sanderson goes by Lark now.
No one in her new life can know who she was.
No one from her old life can know where she is now.

Drowning in debt, Lark is desperate to land a job–any job. When she finds herself at an interview for a mysterious company offering her an exorbitant salary, she jumps at the chance.

But things aren’t quite what they seem…

She soon learns of the company’s peculiar hiring process. Locked in a luxury cabin with five strangers who go only by their code names, Lark begins to question exactly what it is she signed up for.

The company, riddled with secrets and led by a cryptic boss known only as Mr. X, has strange rules and even stranger challenges for their candidates. After each day’s competition, the candidates gather around the dinner table to eat, drink, and spill their darkest secrets.

When Lark sees something she shouldn’t, she begins to ask questions, but soon gets a warning to stop. It’s obvious she’s in danger, but why? What does the company want? How much can she trust the others in the house? Trapped in the remote house with no technology allowed, Lark realizes she must take drastic measures to find out the truth.

The job of her dreams may cost her life…

Review: Wowie! What a book. I have heard a lot about Kiersten Modglin and I’m here to tell you none of it was overkill especially when it comes to The Dream Job. This was such a great book. It was so fun to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat and flipping those pages as fast as I could. 

On the surface it looked like a very benign story but, you kept getting a stronger and stronger feeling there was something sinister going on underneath. She was a master at building the suspense.  I won’t even hint at the ending but, this book totally blew my mind! I’ll leave you to read it for yourself. Take my word for it, I’ve never read a book as unique as this one.

If you like psychological suspense, do yourself a favor and read The Dream Job. This is my first book by Kiersten Modglin and I will be reading more. She is a very prolific author so, I’ve gotta get going….I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review.

Where the Truth Hides ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐by Liane Carmen

Synopsis: Buried secrets can be deadly.

Becky Morgan has a life most women would envy until a car accident lands her in the hospital. She insists she’s fine, but it quickly becomes clear she’s changed. She’s forgetful, paranoid, short-tempered. Her husband wants to write off her change in personality to the IVF hormones she’s taking in an attempt to get pregnant.

Becky’s best friend, Jules Dalton, is a gorgeous, single woman, with a habit of sabotaging relationships. When Jules loses the man who could have been “the one,” she confronts the realization that being adopted at birth is contributing to her trust issues. She’s obsessed with finding out why she was given up and turns to DNA testing in hopes her matches will lead to her birth parents.

As Jules dives into her DNA results, Becky’s life soon becomes one she doesn’t recognize. Those closest to her are accusing her of things she simply can’t explain or remember. She’s terrified of losing everything: her career, her marriage, and her dream of becoming a mother.

Desperate to put the pieces of her shattered life back together, Becky needs her best friend more than ever. What she doesn’t realize is that Jules knows something that could explain everything away.

Becky has a dark past she’s unaware of. A darkness that’s coming for her.

Review: Where The Truth Hides by Liane Carmen is probably one of the best debut novels I’ve read. It kept me interested and totally entertained. I couldn’t lay it down and go to sleep. I was compelled to find out how it ended and boy was it a great ending!

This book has it all. She takes you through IVF treatment for conceiving a child, a mom with dementia and DNA research to name a few. There are several facets to the story and all of them are interesting. The DNA side of the story was particularly interesting. I found her story line plausible and easy to follow. I was constantly trying to figure out what was happening in the background. I just knew it was something but, I couldn’t put my finger on it. 

If you love a good story with a lot going on, likeabe characters, learning a little along the way, you will love this book. It was interesting, informative and just plain fun to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review. 

The First Emma ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ by Camille de Maio

Synopsis: Camille Di Maio’s fifth novel THE FIRST EMMA is inspired by the true story of Emma Koehler, whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses–both also named Emma–and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.

Review: Bravo! I just finished reading The First Emma by Camille De Maio and boy, what an amazing book it was. If you like historical fiction, you just have to pick up a copy of this book. I read everything cover to cover. I find it sad that personal documents and history about Emma Koehler are not in existence today. In spite of that Camille De Maio was able to craft a believable story of her life.

This book was so rich with with background. The description of Emma’s home, the Perle brewery, the little theater, San Antonio and even Baltimore. They were almost like characters in themselves. It brought an all around appeal to the story.

This story took place in a time in our history when women were delegated to the home and not the boardroom. It took a special woman indeed to bring the brewery through prohibition and the great depression. I believe Emma Koehler would’ve been a force all her own in that time period. She had to have been a woman to look up to.

Thank you Camille de Maio for bringing us such a beautiful and inspiring story of a magnificent woman.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review.