Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review: The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

Title: The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author: Hester Fox
Published: September 2019, Graydon House
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Maine, 1846. Gideon Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife's death, so he moves to Pale Harbor, Maine, where there is a vacancy for a new minister. Gideon and his late wife had always dreamed of building their own church, and Pale Harbor is the perfect opportunity.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town of Pale Harbor. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople know that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a widow who lives with a spinster maid in the decaying Castle Carver on the edge of town. Sophronia is a recluse, rumored to be a witch who killed her husband.

When Gideon meets her, he knows the charming, beautiful woman cannot be guilty of anything. Together, Gideon and Sophronia realize that the mysterious events have one thing in common: they all contain an element from the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And when the events escalate to murder, Gideon and Sophronia must find the real killer, before it's too late for them both.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Hester Fox and if this book is anything to judge by, it will certainly not be the last book I read by her! I was immediately captivated by the writing of this and know that I will be definitely picking up her other book, The Witch of Willow Hall, very soon.

I loved the gothic vibe of this book. Add in all the Poe references and it made for the perfect fall book, especially as it was set in a spooky harbor town! There are a few murders that take place and it seems our murderer has a bit of an Edgar Allen Poe obsession. Now, it's been a while since I've read any Poe, but I'm feeling like I might need to revisit some of his work soon!

This book has some really interesting characters, which helped to keep me engaged in the book - an accused witch, a new minister in town who preaches transcendentalism and a cast of others. I thought I had figured out who was behind everything rather early, but I was proven wrong, which made for an even better reveal once it was finally made.

This book oozes atmosphere. It is dark and mysterious and will appeal to fans of gothic mysteries. It is the perfect read to cozy up with on a fall night!


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

Title: The Stranger Inside
Author: Lisa Unger
Published: September 2019, Park Row
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Even good people are drawn to do evil things...

Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend's house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice--and killed him in cold blood.

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends' abductor force Rain to revisit memories she's worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can't Rain just let it go?

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them.

My thoughts: I have been a fan of Lisa Unger's books for quite some time now, having read many of her books, and I love that she still manages to surprise me with the depth of her writing. She writes such dark and intense books that are so addicting and this latest one is no exception.

Right from the start, I was pulled into this one. It's twisty and suspenseful and has you questioning everything that is happening. It also makes you think. This is a story of survival, but is also about justice. I loved the vigilante justice element to this story and it really makes you wonder just how often this happens in the real world. 

This is the type of story that you think you know what is going on, but you really don't. The twists are deftly played and just pull you in deeper and deeper. It really is a brilliantly crafted thriller that keeps you turning those pages to see just how things end up. 

I loved that we got to go into the minds of both the victim and the killer. Each point of view was so expertly crafted, at times chilling as through flashbacks, we are taken back to the incident that put everything in motion. This one definitely gets inside your head and you won't stop thinking about it until you reach that last page!

I loved this book. It's definitely a binge-worthy, dark read with a fantastic, twisted ending that I highly recommend.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier

Title: The Second Chance Supper Club
Author: Nicole Meier
Published: September 2019, Lake Union Publishing
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Source: Publisher via GetRed PR

Two estranged sisters reunite in an emotional novel of family, forgiveness, lost hope, and new beginnings.

They had a forever bond, until a sudden tragedy thrust them apart. Now, each at a crossroad in her own life, two sisters’ paths are about to intersect.

Broadcast journalist Julia Frank has it all: a career, an ambitious fiancé, and the hard-won respect of her peers. Until a ruinous decision destroys her reputation, puts her job at risk, and sends her reeling toward the only soul left to turn to: her estranged sister, Ginny.

The owner of a clandestine supper club hidden in the Arizona desert, Ginny Frank has a lot on her plate. The last thing she wants is more drama—or the burden of nursing her younger sister’s wounded ego. But family is family. Besides, Ginny can use the help in more ways than one, and she’s going to make sure Julia pulls her weight.

As a tenuous reunion reopens old wounds, Julia and Ginny have no choice but to confront the pain and betrayals of the past. Will working to keep the secret supper club running be just what they need to find common ground and a path toward forgiveness, or will the increasing stress push them even further apart?

My thoughts: Last year I read The Girl Made of Clay by Nicole Meier and really enjoyed it. And I knew after finishing that book that I would be reading more of this author. As much as I love my psychological thrillers and mysteries, sometimes it's nice to take a break from them and read something different and that's exactly what this is. This book delves into family relationships and forgiveness as well as new beginnings.

I love books about sisters and their relationships. Maybe it's because I have two sisters, but I always find these type of books to be so interesting. And I felt this book was really relatable, that the relationships that Nicole Meier gives us between Julia and Ginny was spot on. I've seen how death can tear sibling relationships apart, so I got that, but I loved that when something so terrible happens in your life, the one person you turn to is your sister. Once Julia headed out to Arizona, I liked that it took time for her and Ginny to repair their relationship, that it didn't happen overnight. 

I also loved the foodie aspect of this book. I'm just getting into cooking myself - my husband is the real cook in this house - so I love books that talk about cooking. And I was drooling over all the meals that Ginny was cooking up. But how cool is the idea of a secret supper club? Oh how I would love to attend one of them! 

This book was such a delight to read, full of heartwarming moments that will have you shedding a tear or two at times, laughing and possibly even wanting to start cooking yourself - or at the very least, it will leave you hungry! It's a great read for anyone who enjoys women's fiction.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Published: August 2019, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she's seen her fair share of them, and she's excellent at dealing with other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it's an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie's old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren't exactly thrilled to have a "lady" on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn't seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can't think about that. Because she doesn't fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don't date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping...but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she's worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center's Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

My thoughts: Katherine Center has been a favorite author of mine for a while. I had read quite a few of her earlier books and then I hadn't read anything by her for a while, until her most recent two releases...and for the life of me I can't figure out why I stopped reading her. She creates such real, relatable characters and is able to infuse humor into her stories at just the right time while still giving us little moments of truth.

I really enjoyed this story. I loved that we get a strong female character working in a non-traditional role. But she comes with a lot of baggage and this had forced her to put up walls that are going to require a lot to come down. And the biggest lesson she needs to learn is to forgive. Not only does she need to learn to forgive herself, but she also needs to be able to forgive others and I know this is something most people, myself included, struggle with.

This book gives so much food for thought, as most of Katherine Center's books do. The characters are instantly likeable and you will find yourself caring for and rooting for them. It makes you realize that being a little vulnerable now and again isn't such a bad thing. 

Katherine Center is definitely an author I know I can count on. Her books all have little bits of wisdom peppered throughout and leave you with food for thought along with a great story to get lost in and I can't recommend them enough! If you haven't picked this one up yet, I definitely encourage you to do so!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Cover Reveal: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I am so excited to help Kristy Woodsen Harvey spread the news today about her newest book - and share the cover!!! I have adored Kristy's previous books and I am so excited to read this one...Kristy writes from the heart and that definitely comes across in her writing! 

This book will be released April 28, 2020, but if you pre-order between now (September 13th) and September 20th, Kristy is donating 100% of the profits to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. See the pre-order links below.

Title: Feels Like Falling
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Published: April 2020, Gallery Books
Format: Paperback, 400 pages

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand) and the bestselling author of the Peachtree Bluff series comes an odd couple tale of friendship that asks just how much our past choices define our happiness.

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her evangelical husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a busted Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn, but when the one that got away comes back, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wittiest, and wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.


Short & Sweet Review: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson

Title: The 17th Suspect
Author: James Patterson
Series: Women's Murder Club, #17
Published: April 2018, Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover, 351 pages
Source: Personal copy

In this #1 NYT bestseller, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer puts her life on the line to protect San Francisco from a shrewd and unpredictable killer.
When a series of shootings exposes San Francisco to a mysterious killer, a reluctant woman decides to put her trust in Sergeant Lindsay Boxer. The confidential informant's tip leads Lindsay to a disturbing conclusion: something has gone horribly wrong inside the police department.

The hunt for the killer lures Lindsay out of her jurisdiction and impacts her in dangerous ways. She suffers unsettling medical symptoms, and her friends in the Women's Murder Club warn her against taking the crimes to heart. But with lives at stake, the detective can't help but follow the case into terrifying terrain.

A decorated officer, loving wife, devoted mother, and loyal friend, Lindsay has always acted with unwavering integrity. But now she is confronting a killer who is determined to undermine it all.

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I am slowly getting caught up in this series...I only have a few more and then I will be up-to-date! This is definitely one of my favorite of all the James Patterson series I read - more for the characters than anything else and I have no shame in admitting that!

In this installment, we have Lindsay and Yuki who take center stage, which is becoming more and more the case - that the books tend to focus on one or two of the women as opposed to giving all four of them equal time. But anyway, both Lindsay and Yuki become embroiled in cases that were actually quite interesting. Lindsay finds herself involved in a case  of the murders of homeless people, the only problem is that the case is outside her jurisdiction. Yuki finds herself heading up the prosecution of a woman accused of raping a male colleague at gunpoint. 

But it was more than the cases that kept me flipping the pages. It was what was going on in the characters' personal lives that kept me engaged. Both Lindsay and Yuki had issues that they were dealing with and while some were resolved during the book, some were left hanging and I can't wait to see how it play out in the next book. This is why I love reading become involved in the characters lives and they people you care about.

Books in this series:

1.   1st to Die                                    13.   Unlucky 13
     2.   2nd Chance                               14.   14th Deadly Sin
     3.   3rd Degree                                15.    15th Affair
     4.   4th of July                                 15.5   The Trial
     5.   The 5th Horseman                   16.    16th Seduction
     6.   The 6th Target                          16.5   The Medical Examiner
     7.   7th Heaven                                 17.    The 17th Suspect   
     8.   The 8th Confession                  18.   The 18th Abduction
     9.   The 9th Judgment               19.   The 19th Christmas - due out Oct 2019
    10.  10th Anniversary
    11.   11th Hour
    12.   12th of Never       

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Short & Sweet Review: Mind Game by Iris Johansen

Title: Mind Game
Author: Iris Johansen
Series: Eve Duncan, #22
Published: October 2017, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Library

With Iris Johansen’s trademark adventure, intrigue, and explosive energy, Mind Game is a propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down.

Scotland holds a treasure that Jane MacGuire has been hunting for years. But as she scours the Highlands in search of it, she’s plagued by dreams of a girl in danger—dreams she can’t ignore no matter how hard she tries. Who is this girl, and what is she trying to tell Jane? And will Jane figure it out before it’s too late—for her and the mysterious young woman?

Things are further complicated when Seth Caleb comes back into Jane’s life. Their history is volatile to say the least. This time Jane finds herself pulled unexpectedly into his world as she fights to save him. But Caleb isn’t the only person sweeping her up into startling developments. When Eve Duncan surprises Jane with news of her own, Jane comes face to face with stunning changes in the lives of those she loves most.

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: It's been a while since I picked up an Iris Johansen book, but it is a series that I do love and so I decided it was one I was going to make a priority to get caught up on..and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed this one, especially since it had so many familiar faces in it!

One of the things I love about this series is that no matter how long it's been since the last book, you quickly get right back into the fray with the characters. Once I started flipping the pages, I remembered everything I loved about them - it all came right back to me what was going on with them, like it had only been yesterday that I read the last book, not a few years ago! 

This book is primarily Jane's story and I'm not mad about that at all. I love her character and this one really explores her relationship with Seth Caleb.It was interesting to see them working together as they don't necessarily always get along. The use of unconventional tactics was used, which was quite interesting. And we got to meet Seth's sister, which is how Jane got wrapped up in working with Seth in the first place! We also get to the bottom of the whole mystery surround Cira's lost treasure, a story line that has been ongoing for quite a while. 

I am looking forward to continuing on with this series...especially since there were some major developments concerning Eve and Joe! And I loved that we got to see all my favorite characters gathered together in one spot...I do love these characters and can't wait to see what the next book holds for them!

Books in this series:

     1.   The Face of Deception               16.   Taking Eve
     2.   The Killing Game                       17.   Hunting Eve
     3.   The Search                                   18.   Silencing Eve
     4.   Body of Lies                                 19.   Shadow Play                           
     4.5   Dead Aim                                   20.   Hide Away
     5.   Blind Alley                                   21.   Night & Day
     6.   Countdown                                  22.   Mind Game
     7.   Stalemate                                     23.   Shattered Mirror
     8.   Quicksand                                    24.  Dark Tribute
     9.   Blood Game                             25.   Smokescreen
   10.   Eight Days to Live
    11.   Chasing the Night        

   12.   Eve
   13.   Quinn
   14.   Bonnie
   15.   Sleep No More

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Review: The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan

Title: The Nanny
Author: Gilly Macmillan
Published: September 2019, William Morrow
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.

My thoughts: Ever since reading Gilly Macmillan's debut novel, What She Knew, back in 2015, I knew this was an author I was going to follow and read everything she wrote...and so far she has not let me down! I love that she has her books with familiar characters - DI Jim Clemo  - and then she has her stand-alones, and each and every one stands out as having just enough twists and turns to keep you engaged without going over the top and they are also brilliantly crafted, and this latest one is no exception!

I loved that this book is a slow-burn. Do not go into this book excepting a fast-paced thriller or you will be sorely disappointed. This one is all character-driven and I loved that! I also loved that nothing is as it seems and that the characters are not particularly likeable. But that just seems to make the book all the more interesting when I don't love the characters - I'm more driven to find out why the characters are that way...what makes them unlikeable, why are they that way, what are their motivations? And believe me...they all have their motivations for the way they are acting!

This book is driven on secrets and motivations and it really drives the book, especially once the skull is found. I loved the way the story was told, alternating between the different points of view. There are the two main protagonists - the mother and daughter - but there is also the detective who is determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious skull and then there is a mysterious narrator who is just outright suspicious...who is she and how is she connected to this family? 

There is such a gothic feel to this book and the tension builds all the way through. It's suspenseful and something is always happening - maybe not big, but there are little things going on with the characters that you need to be watching out for. It's a complex thriller that kept me engaged from start to end and while I did guess a few things, I definitely did not guess everything. This is definitely one where you aren't sure who to trust...and I love books like that! 

Gilly Macmillan proves once again that she is at the top of her game. She is definitely an author I know I can trust to give me a gripping, entertaining read. Is this one on your list? If not, you need to add it!


Monday, September 09, 2019

Review: Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Title: Mrs. Everything
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: June 2019, Atria Books
Format: Hardcopy, 480 pages
Source: Personal copy

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

My thoughts: I have to admit, if it weren't for the Barnes and Noble book club selecting this as their book club pick I probably would not have read this. I do not have a good track record with Jennifer Weiner's books, so I passed on getting this book at BookExpo and did not even attempt to request this from the publisher. That being said, I did get a copy to read for book club and I'm glad I did because I did enjoy it.

This is a very different book from Jennifer Weiner's other books. It isn't some glib, chick-lit book, but rather a deep exploration of what it is to be a woman from the 1950s to now. This is a generational saga - the type of story I absolutely love - but one that covers so much ground. There are so many different layers to this book, so many aspects that beg to be discussed, but at the same time, I'm loathe to point it all out here. This is a book that you need to discover for yourself so as to not ruin anything.

This isn't a book to rush through, but rather one to take in and savor. It's one that will stay with you long after you finish that last page, the characters, the relationships, the themes. What I particularly love is the relationship between the sisters. Having two, I am always drawn to these types of books and I felt that in this book, it was pretty realistic. There were ups and downs between the two, there were times when there was a big wall between them, but they also had each other's backs when needed and were there for each other when it really mattered and that love for a sister, that bond is one of the strongest you will ever find.

I enjoyed this book and am glad I gave it a chance. It's definitely the type that will have you thinking about the roles you as a woman play in society as well as the relationships you have. Have you read it yet? If you did, what did you think? If not, do you plan on reading it?


Friday, September 06, 2019

Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Published: June 2019, Celadon Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another.

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

My thoughts:  I love family dramas and I love books that constantly keep me thinking. This one hits the marks on both of these, keeping you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out just where things will end up.

Just how far will you go to protect your family? That's the question this family is forced to grapple with when their daughter is accused of murder. And the way the story is laid out really allows you to stand in each person's shoes as they wrestle with the unthinkable. Did she do it or not? And if she far do they go to protect her?

I loved the way the story is crafted because all the way until the very end you really are not sure just what happened that fateful night. The story is broken into three parts, each part narrated by the three members of the family. It is in these three sections that we learn about each of them - secrets from their past, how they are dealing with the crime and some actions they took along the way. 

This book will make you question everyone. I loved that because I truly did not know what really happened. Just as I thought I had it figured out, another secret would be revealed. Everyone had ulterior motives and everyone had their secrets and this made for some really good family and courtroom drama. This book is just as much about the trial as it is about the family dynamics which is what kept me hooked.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It's a unique family drama/legal thriller that will appeal to a wide range of readers. And I definitely cannot wait to see what comes next from this author - he is definitely one to watch!


Short & Sweet Review: The Medical Examiner by James Patterson

Title: The Medical Examiner
Author: James Patterson
Series: The Women's Murder Club, #16.5
Published: August 2017, BookShots
Format: Paperback, 144 pages
Source: Personal copy

Two bodies arrived at the morgue. One was still breathing.

A woman checks into a hotel room and entertains a man who is not her husband. A shooter blows away the lover and wounds the millionairess, leaving her for dead. Is it the perfect case for the Women's Murder Club – or just the most twisted?

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I really enjoy these in-between novellas that are part of The Women's Murder Club and like that they don't necessarily include the whole team, as is the case here. They are lightning-speed quick cases that keep you hooked the whole time, focused on just the one case and usually end up with most of the threads tied off.

In this particular installment, Lindsay is off on a much-needed vacation. I liked that we got some much needed attention on our other gals - it seems that as much as this is called "The Women's Murder Club," a lot of the attention does tend to focus on least with the last few books. 

This book was a bit twisted - a body is brought to the morgue, yet it's not exactly dead...and Claire is forced to figure out what happened. We learn about a condition called catalepsy and Claire and Cindy end up becoming sleuths to get to the bottom of what has happened to this woman. 

I actually would have loved this particular BookShots to have been was a really interesting case, but it did work as a short one. In true Patterson form, the short chapters had this one zipping along. 

Books in this series:

1.   1st to Die                                    13.   Unlucky 13
     2.   2nd Chance                               14.   14th Deadly Sin
     3.   3rd Degree                                15.    15th Affair
     4.   4th of July                                 15.5   The Trial
     5.   The 5th Horseman                   16.    16th Seduction
     6.   The 6th Target                          16.5   The Medical Examiner
     7.   7th Heaven                                 17.    The 17th Suspect   
     8.   The 8th Confession                  18.   The 18th Abduction
     9.   The 9th Judgment               19.   The 19th Christmas - due out Oct 2019
    10.  10th Anniversary
    11.   11th Hour
    12.   12th of Never      

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Review: The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Title: The Secrets We Kept
Author: Lara Prescott
Published: September 2019, Knopf Publishing Group
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world--using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally's tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.

The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story—the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara—with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak's country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature—told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.

My thoughts: I was fortunate to pick this book up last Spring during BookExpo. It was one of the books featured during the Adult Editor's Buzz Panel and one that I was most excited to pick up. There was a lot of buzz around it back then and that excitement has only grown, especially now that Reese Witherspoon has just announced that this book is her September book club pick. This book is definitely worth all the hype it is getting and then some!

I must first admit that I have never seen or read Doctor Zhivago...but I don't think that this in any way detracted from my enjoyment of this book. In fact, not knowing that story made me all the more curious as to how that part of the story plays out because I honestly did not know. I didn't know the history surrounding the publication of the book. It was all new to me and I loved every minute of it. And now, I definitely have the movie at the top of my priority list!

This book captured my attention from the get-go and never let up. I loved how the book moved back and forth from the East to the West. In the East, we meet Boris and Olga, his lover and muse, and we learn all about his desperation to write a masterpiece about the cultural revolution happening in his country. In the West, we meet the typists of the CIA. Pulled out of the typing pool, Sally and Irina are given the mission of smuggling the manuscript of Doctor Zhivago back into the USSR and to help it make its way around the world. 

Usually when a book moves back and forth like this with two different story lines, one tends to be stronger than the other or hold more interest, but that was absolutely not the case this time. I felt both were equally strong and both captured my interest the entire time. I was equally invested in both story lines, wanting to know what was next for all the characters involved. And I loved how at the start of each chapter, the original code name for the character would be crossed out and a new name would appear, depending on what was happening...I thought this was quite clever!

I read this book in two sittings - I just couldn't put it down! I absolutely loved it and will definitely be recommending it to everyone. And I will certainly be keeping an eye out for what comes next from Lara Prescott - as a debut novel, this one was phenomenal!!! 

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