The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth ~ 4⭐

Genre: Domestic Suspense ~ Releases: April 13, 2021

REVIEW: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth was an enjoyable book. It kept me interested from the beginning until the end. I had trouble figuring out who the “good” Sister was. Was it Rose or was it Fern? We find out at the end but, I’m not going to ruin it for you. 

This book was missing a little something for me. I’m not sure what it was. I don’t know if I was expecting a few more twists or if the sense of impending doom wasn’t strong enough. It was just barely there under the surface.

I did like the character development. I liked Fern but,  her sister took too much control of her life. Fern has sensory perception problems and I loved her thought processes. Wally is Fern’s boyfriend. He was fabulous. All in all it was a good story and worth the time to read it. I’m not sorry I did and would recommend it. 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher and Netgalley for a fair and honest review. Thank you! 

SYNOPSIS: Sally Hepworth, the author of The Mother-In-Law delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

The Menu by Steven Manchester ~ 5⭐

Genre: Christian Romance ~ Released: June 16, 2020

REVIEW: How can you possibly read a book with tears pouring out of your eyes and your nose running with snot? It’s not easy. That is exactly what happened to me while trying to read The Menu by Steven Manchester. I gave this book 5 stars but would gladly give it more. 

This book brought me closer to my faith. Not my religion but, my faith. I love his descriptions of our eternal journey and how we enter life on earth and return back to our home with God, the father. This book was so beautifully written! 

The main character was Phinn and I could sympathize and relate to his journey. His wife was Maddy and boy was she a sweetheart! There were other great characters that I enjoyed. I found the story plausible and believable. I can’t tell you how much this book meant to me and how much I love it. 

If you read The Shack and loved it, you need to read this one too. They are not exactly alike but, you could say they are in the same family. I don’t reread books but, I may have to make an exception with this one. There is a lot to absorb. 

I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  

SYNOPSIS: From New England’s Storyteller Steven Manchester comes a soul-awakening novel about love, faith and family. During Phinn Reed’s romantic quest, he discovers that even through great suffering and loss, he is never alone—not ever—and that we are all eternally connected.

“If you liked The Shack, then The Menu is a must read!” – John Lansing, Bestselling Author

Phinn Reed enters the world with God’s promise of finding his soul mate. With heaven’s memories erased, his romantic quest teaches him that the heart often sees clearer than the eyes—and that not everyone has ordered the same items from The Menu. This inspirational novel is heartfelt evidence that love stories come in many different forms.

Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney ~ 5⭐

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction ~ Releases: April 6, 2021

REVIEW: Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was quite a thought provoking book. It really made me stop and think. Does something that happened years ago really define a relationship or is it just a blip on the radar?

When Flora married Julian she thought they had a love that would hold them together forever. Once their daughter graduates and is heading off to college, Flora stumbles a across something that makes her question her marriage and her relationship with her best friend. It made me stop and think about my relationship and what I would do in the same circumstance. I always thought I knew what I would do and now I’m not so sure. I loved this book for that very reason. It made me think and question what I thought I knew. I wasn’t able to read this story and just move along to the next book. 

Most of the characters were multifaceted. The story was told at times from each characters viewpoint. I loved the symbolism of Julian cutting down the tree. You’ll have to read the book to figure that out and as I think about it there were more symbols used throughout the story. 

Overall, this was a great book. It is one that will make you think. It is well worth your time to read Good Company because…it is! 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher and Netgalley for a fair and honest review. Thank you! 

SYNOPSIS: Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.

Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?

With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s signature tenderness, humor, and insight, Good Company tells a bighearted story of the lifelong relationships that both wound and heal us. 

Riptides, Wrath and Murder by A.M. Ialacci ~ 5⭐

Genre: Mystery ~ Releases: March 30, 2021

REVIEW: Riptides, Wrath and Murder is the 3rd installment of the Crystal Coast Case Series by A.M. Ialacci. I love this series. It is such a delight to read.

I couldn’t wait to begin this book to see what her characters were up to. They’re people who truly care for one another. Allie is the main character who is a private investigator and has a brother on the autism spectrum named Ryan. Ryan has a girlfriend named Frankie with autism as well. They’re so cute! Allie has boyfriend named Mike. She is friends with the Police Chief named Charlie and his wife Shelia. These are all people I would like in my life. 

I’m looking forward to more installments of this series. Is you like mysteries, intrigue and likable everyday characters, this book is for you. Grab yourself a copy, a cup of coffee and curl up in your favorite reading spot because you’re in for a treat! 

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

SYNOPSIS: She wanted sun and surf. The waves gave her a wet corpse. It’s been all work and no play for PI Allie Fox since moving to coastal North Carolina, and she’s in desperate need of a relaxing day at the beach. When a dead man washes up on the sand, Allie can’t help but examine the body. Everyone says local surfer Ebbie Watkins was a nice guy, and the police are ready to call it an accident. But Allie isn’t convinced. Then Ebbie’s estranged son hires her to take the case, and she begins to unravel the victim’s darker side, uncovering a trail of bitterness, deceit, and wrath. Allie tracks down every lead only to come up empty. When she is attacked, she must face her own vulnerability in order to find the killer in their midst before he strikes again. Riptides, Wrath, and Murder continues the story of the Crystal Coast Case series. If you like Melinda Leigh, Lisa Gray, or Claire McGowan, you’ll love A. M. Ialacci’s gripping story of sun-drenched murder.

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon ~ 4⭐

Genre: Horror Fiction ~ Releases: April 6, 2021

REVIEW: I just finished The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon last night. For some reason I didn’t realize that the genre is Horror Fiction. I don’t usually read horror but, I have to admit this book was really good. I spent the whole day reading because my allergies were bothering me and this book held my interests and entertained me. Can’t ask for better than that! 

The characters were flawed and believable. There were so many good ones in this story. I especially liked the Dr and his wife who grew to believe in the healing power of the springs. 

It does cover a couple different time periods which I loved. The current time period takes place over the week Jax was home for the death of her sister Lexie. It wasn’t so much of a horror it scared you out of your wits but it was believable. I liked that and I could fall into the folk lore about the swimming pool fed by a natural spring. 

If you like horror stories (or not) that can make you believe, you might want to take a chance on this one. I recommend stepping into the unknown with The Drowning Kind. 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher and Netgalley for a fair and honest review. Thank you for the experience. 

SYNOPSIS: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly ~ 5⭐

Genre: Historical Fiction ~ Release date: March 30, 2021

REVIEW: If you love true Historical Fiction, you will definitely enjoy Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly. This was a truly amazing piece of work. The research that went into this book was above and beyond what you might expect. 

Have you ever been blown away by a book, read the author notes at the end and come away with more appreciation for the book? I have and this is one of them. The first book in the series called Lilac Girls was the same way for me. It is one thing to read a novel you know is based on historical facts and whole new experience when you find out the characters existed and their letters and family history were a huge part of the story. 

Martha Hall Kelly did a fabulous job putting her research together to give us a story that entertains, teaches and inspires us to learn more. I have highlighted in her notes books that I want to go back and read. I’m not sure I’ve done that with any other book. 

I found the time period of the Civil War interesting and heartbreaking. She told of life in the slave community so vividly it made me cry. Then there were cities that continued on as if a war was not being fought on our homeland. That was mind boggling! 

I highly recommend Sunflower Sisters. You have to read the book to find out where the Sunflowers came from. I will never look at them the same. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author and Netgalley for a fair and honest review. Thank you! 

SYNOPSIS: Martha Hall Kelly’s million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced readers to Caroline Ferriday. Now, in Sunflower Sisters, Kelly tells the story of Ferriday’s ancestor Georgeanna Woolsey, a Union nurse during the Civil War whose calling leads her to cross paths with Jemma, a young enslaved girl who is sold off and conscripted into the army, and Anne-May Wilson, a Southern plantation mistress whose husband enlists.

Georgeanna “Georgey” Woolsey isn’t meant for the world of lavish parties and the demure attitudes of women of her stature. So when war ignites the nation, Georgey follows her passion for nursing during a time when doctors considered women on the battlefront a bother. In proving them wrong, she and her sister Eliza venture from New York to Washington, D.C., to Gettysburg and witness the unparalleled horrors of slavery as they become involved in the war effort.

In the South, Jemma is enslaved on the Peeler Plantation in Maryland, where she lives with her mother and father. Her sister, Patience, is enslaved on the plantation next door, and both live in fear of LeBaron, an abusive overseer who tracks their every move. When Jemma is sold by the cruel plantation mistress Anne-May at the same time the Union army comes through, she sees a chance to finally escape—but only by abandoning the family she loves.

Anne-May is left behind to run Peeler Plantation when her husband joins the Union army and her cherished brother enlists with the Confederates. In charge of the household, she uses the opportunity to follow her own ambitions and is drawn into a secret Southern network of spies, finally exposing herself to the fate she deserves.

Inspired by true accounts, Sunflower Sisters provides a vivid, detailed look at the Civil War experience, from the barbaric and inhumane plantations, to a war-torn New York City, to the horrors of the battlefield. It’s a sweeping story of women caught in a country on the brink of collapse, in a society grappling with nationalism and unthinkable racial cruelty, a story still so relevant today.

The Vines by Shelley Nolden ~ 4⭐

Genre: Historical Fiction ~ Releases: March 23, 2021

REVIEW: The Vines is the debut novel by Shelley Nolden. It is an interesting book in many ways. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. Overall, it was a worthwhile read. I actually acquired more respect for her work after I read her author notes at the back of the book. It is also at the end that we find out there is a sequel in the works!

I loved learning the history of North Brother Island and Riverside Hospital’s 125 plus year residency there. The story visits many time periods and flips back and forth between them throughout the book. The author did a lot of research for this book and it shines through.

The main characters in the book are fictional but, many of the secondary characters are taken from the real people who lived and worked there throughout the years. I didn’t care for the Gettler men who seemed to pass down their position of head doctor to the next generation in the family. I liked Cora and admired her ability to survive the many medical experiments and long, harsh years she has and will spend there. For some reason I had a harder time connecting with the fictional characters than the real ones. 

If you like history, old buildings, medical research and a little mystery then this book is for you. It will be a stellar debut for for Shelley Nolden!

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher and Netgalley for a fair and honest review. Thank you! 

SYNOPSIS: In the shadows of New York City lies forbidden North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned by contagions and the doctors who torment her.
When Finn, a young urban explorer, arrives on the island and glimpses an enigmatic beauty through the foliage, intrigue turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past–and his own family’s dark secrets. By unraveling these mysteries, will he be able to save Cora? Will Cora meet the same tragic ending as the thousands who’ve already perished on the island? 
The Vines intertwines North Brother Island’s horrific and elusive history with a captivating tale of love, betrayal, survival, and loss.

The Waking Place by Emerald O’Brien ~ 5⭐

Genre: Phycological Thriller ~ Releases: March 18, 2021

REVIEW: Mind Blowing! The Waking Place by Emerald O’Brien really blew my mind. I don’t know what I was thinking. I do know what kind of books she writes! When I started this book, I was lulled into thinking it was going to be different. I thought it was going to be a story about a niece caring for her great uncle who was diagnosed with dementia. Boy, was I wrong! It was partly that but, so much more happened. I’m still thinking about it! 

Her characters were so well developed and the story line was planned to perfection. Like I said, I was lulled into complacency and the first twist gave me whiplash. Then they just kept coming. I found myself racing to the end of the book. I have to say it didn’t end as I thought it would. This book is UNPREDICTABLE! 

If you like suspense, twists and turns and a book that will keep you guessing until the last page, you’re gonna love this book. Go ahead and pre-order your copy now. Then clear your schedule because you won’t go anywhere until you’re finished reading The Waking Place. 

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

SYNOPSIS: From the author of Follow Her Home and What She Found comes a heart-clenching and atmospheric psychological suspense novel that will keep readers guessing until the final page.

Givers must set limits, for takers have none.

When Lane moves in with her beloved uncle Donnie after his dementia diagnosis, she drops everything to take care of him. After her sister arrives unexpectedly, Lane is hopeful for more help. Instead, she watches as Cece leads a carefree life despite their uncle’s rapid deterioration, and resentment begins to fester.

As one sister grows bitter, the other harbours a dark secret. Cece’s wild and spontaneous life is far from what it appears…

Fearing for Donnie’s safety as he begins trying to leave the house after dark, Lane forces herself into a reckless pattern of sleepless nights. But a mistake leads to a series of disturbing events and a big decision for Lane.

When Uncle Donnie’s menacing son gets word his father will be placed in long-term care, he returns to his childhood home with questionable motives.

And after a terrible accident, Lane is forced to turn to a sister she no longer trusts to hide the evidence, crossing lines they never thought possible.

This family’s secrets are to die for…
But will they have to kill to keep them?

A Boob’s Life: How America’s obsession shaped me…and you by Leslie Lehr ~ 4⭐

Genres: Feminist Theory/Memoir ~ Released: March 2, 2021

REVIEW: I don’t usually read memoirs or nonfiction so, reading A Boob’s Life by Leslie Lehr was a huge step out of my comfort zone. If you know me, you know I don’t easily leave my comfort zone. This book was worth it!

Leslie tells us about her relationship with her breasts. Some of her story is going to be familiar with all of us. Oh, how we wanted to grow up and have boobies! Most girls couldn’t wait for that to happen. She elects to have augmentation and later is diagnosed with cancer. I found her and her family’s story very interesting. 

Her research was phenomenal. She dug up some pretty interesting facts about women’s issues and breasts. I didn’t realize breast cancer rates were as high as they are and the rate increases with age. That alone makes me want to keep up with mammogram screenings. That is one big plus with her story.

She does discuss how her relationship with her breasts developed and a lot about how society sees them. I’m just not sure I ever gave them that much thought in my lifetime. 

If you like memoirs, you probably will like this book. It gives you a lot to think about and probably should be read by most young women.

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

SYNOPSIS: A Boob’s Life explores the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part with vulnerable, witty frankness and true nuggets of American culture that will resonate with everyone who has breasts—or loves them.

Author Leslie Lehr wants to talk about boobs. She’s gone from size AA to DDD and everything between, from puberty to motherhood, enhancement to cancer, and beyond. And she’s not alone—these are classic life stages for women today.

At turns funny and heartbreaking, A Boob’s Life explores both the joys and hazards inherent to living in a woman’s body. Lehr deftly blends her personal narrative with national history, starting in the 1960s with the women’s liberation movement and moving to the current feminist dialogue and what it means to be a woman. Her insightful and clever writing analyzes how America’s obsession with the female form has affected her own life’s journey and the psyche of all women today.

From her prize-winning fiction to her viral New York Times Modern Love essay, exploring the challenges facing contemporary women has been Lehr’s life-long passion. A Boob’s Life, her first project since breast cancer treatment, continues this mission, taking readers on a wildly informative, deeply personal, and utterly relatable journey. No matter your gender, you’ll never view this sexy and sacred body part the same way again.

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs ~ 5⭐

Genres: Historical & Friendship Fiction ~ Released July 7, 2020

REVIEW: I was offered the opportunity to listen to the audio version of The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs. I haven’t listened to an audio book since I retired and I have to say I truly enjoyed it. I was lost for hours in another world in my head. I forgot to plan for dinner and live my own life. Honestly, this was such a good story and the narrator was fabulous.

I immediately fell in love with Natalie and her grandfather Andrew who was suffering from dementia. He was such a sweet man. Then there was the good looking handy man and his cute little daughter. Oh! There was the bookstore that resided in a building owned by Andrew’s family that was actually a few other businesses through the years. 

This was a lovely story filled with history of family and San Francisco. Natalie experienced a few romantic relationships on her way to finding true love and happiness. If you like romance and historical fiction, I think you will love this book as much as I did. 

SYNOPSIS: In this thought-provoking, wise and emotionally rich novel, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs explores the meaning of happiness, trust, and faith in oneself as she asks  the question, “If you had to start over, what would you do and who would you be?” 

There is a book for everything . . . 

Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worrying about.

In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.

But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.

After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.

To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.