Sunday, May 16, 2021

Review: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

 

Title: Local Woman Missing
Author: Mary Kubica
Published: May 2021, Park Row Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher via Kathleen Carter Communications

Summary:
People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.


 

My thoughts: Mary Kubica is one of my favorite thriller writers. I have read all of her books and was lucky to meet her at BookExpo in 2014 when she was there signing copies of her debut book, The Good Girl. She continues to craft such addicting, twisty reads and each book gets better and better, with this latest one being her best one yet!

This book immediately grabbed hold of me and never let up. It's the type of book that you just cannot put down because it is so emotionally charged almost from the get-go with everything that is happening. Having the story told from multiple points of view and alternating the timelines from the present to the past, you become more invested in what is going on and I just could not wait until things merged. There were so many thoughts floating around in my head, yet every time the story took a new twist I literally gasped out loud because it wasn't anything I was expecting. This book really takes you on quite a ride, but as the pieces slowly fall into place you just cannot stop reading until it's brilliant ending. And let me just say...that ending was one I had never considered. I loved it!

This story has so many moving parts and it kept me completely engaged The characters come alive on the pages and you become so attached to them that when secrets are revealed about them, you are left utterly shocked.  There is an underlying sense of foreboding right from the beginning and the use of the weather plays an equally important role, too, adding another layer to what is already an atmospheric, tense read.

I highly recommend adding this book to your summer reading list...it is such an addicting read that will have you flipping those pages in record time.


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Friday, May 14, 2021

Review: The Happiest Girl in the World by Alena Dillon (audio)

 

Title: The Happiest Girl in the World
Author: Alena Dillon
Narrator: Frankie Corzo, Mikhaila Aaseng
Published: April 2021, Harper Audio / William Morrow Paperback
Length: 8 hours 56 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio via library / Print via Publisher

Summary:

From the acclaimed author of Mercy House comes a gripping new novel about a young woman’s dreams of Olympic gymnastic gold—and what it takes to reach the top

For Sera Wheeler, the Olympics is the reason for everything. It’s why she trains thirty hours a week, starves herself to under 100 pounds, and pops Advil like Tic Tacs.

For her mother, Charlene,  hungry for glory she never had, it’s why she rises before dawn to drive Sera to practice in a different state, and why the family scrimps, saves, and fractures. It’s why, when Sera’s best friend reports the gymnastics doctor to the authority who selects the Olympic Team, Sera denies what she knows about his treatments, thus preserving favor.

Their friendship shatters. But Sera protected her dream—didn’t she?

Sera doubles down, taping broken toes, numbing torn muscles, and pouring her family’s resources into the sport. Soon she isn’t training for the love of gymnastics. She’s training to make her disloyalty worthwhile. No matter the cost.

The Happiest Girl in the World explores the dark history behind an athlete who stands on the world stage, biting gold. It's about the silence required of the exceptional, a tarnished friendship, and the sacrifices a parent will make for a child, even as a family is torn apart. It’s about the price of greatness.



My thoughts:  I absolutely loved Alena Dillon's debut novel, Mercy House, so as soon as I heard she had a new one coming out, I requested it. She has such a gifted way of telling a story and this latest one is no different. She is now a must-read author for me!

 I am a big fan of gymnastics - it's my favorite sport to watch in the Summer Olympics, so of course I was curious to see how this author was going to tackle the big scandal that headlined the news surrounding this sport. Loosely based on the events that led to the trial against the USA Gymnastics Team Doctor, this book not only explores that, but also takes us into the world of competitive gymnastics and the toll it takes not only on the gymnast but the family and on friendships as well.

This book is eye-opening to say the least. I was never a competitive athlete, nor were my siblings, so I don't have any first-hand experience of this, but this book sure gives us quite the look and all I can say is it is grueling and made me tired just reading about it! I did like how the story alternated between the athlete's point of view and the mother's -- it was certainly interesting getting both perspectives.

If you are a fan of gymnastics or even competitive sports, I highly recommend picking this one up. It's quite an addicting story that, while at times difficult to take in, really gives a clear picture of just what goes on for these athletes -- both physically and mentally. My heart kept breaking for these characters and I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction, though there is plenty of nonfiction woven in.


Audio thoughts: I was able to grab the audiobook from the library and really enjoyed listening to it. The narrators, Frankie Corzo and Mikaila Aaseng, did a great job bringing this book to life.


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Review: The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe (audio)


Title: The Summer of Lost and Found
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Series: Beach House Series, #7
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Published: May 2021, Simon & Schuster Audio / Gallery Books
Length: 9 hours 55 minutes / 368 pages
Source: Audio via Simon Schuster Audio / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

Summary:

The New York Times best-selling Beach House series returns with this tender and compassionate novel following the Rutledge family as they face a summer of upheaval and change with perseverance, unity, and a dose of humor, discovering unexpected joys and lessons that will endure long past the season.

The coming of spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, it begins a season of challenge. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her - and for her family - finances, emotions, and health teeter on the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders - is it possible to love two men at the same time?

Love in the time of COVID-19 proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons during this summer than opportunities lost: that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards. In The Summer of Lost and Found, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired fans for decades.

Mary Alice Monroe once again delves into the complexities of family relationships and brings her signature “sensitive and true” (Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times best-selling author) storytelling to this poignant and timely novel of love, courage, and resilience.



My thoughts:  Mary Alice Monroe is not a new author to me, having read and quite enjoyed her Lowcountry Summer series. Somehow, though, I have not gotten around to reading her Beach House series until picking up this latest book, which I did not realize was part of that series. Rest assured to those who are picky about jumping into series - this one, as with all the books in this series - stand on their own!

This book is set during the beginning of the pandemic, and follows the friends and family of Linnea Rutledge as they navigate the challenges and frustrations of quarantine life. It was so easy to relate to what the characters were going through and think back to how we all handled things at the beginning of our own shelter-in-place orders. 

I loved getting to know the characters in this book, especially since they were all new to me. I found that what they were experiencing - the feelings, and at times the hopelessness, of the situation - were so real and relatable. There are many small moments of poignancy throughout this book, as well as some laugh-out-loud moments, too. Living day-in, day-out with only your small pod gets old and of course when you have the affections of two men vyinging for your attention, there are sure to be some interesting moments. 

This was a great story that inspires hope and shows the resiliency of the human spirit. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be going back to read the earlier books in this series. I still cannot believe that I haven't already read them. 


Audio thoughts: When I saw that Cassandra Campbell was narrating this book, I just had to request it...she is one of my favorite narrators and she did such a great job with this audiobook! She really did a great job bringing this story to life and was able to give all the characters unique voices, even with accents when needed and her voice for little Hope was appropriate for a little girl. She infused just the right amount of emotion and tension into her voice as needed and her pacing was just right. 


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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Review: Little Pieces of Me by Alison Hammer

 

Title: Little Pieces of Me
Author: Alison Hammer
Published: April 2021, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher via GetRedPR

Summary:
Following her acclaimed debut novel, You and Me and Us, Alison Hammer offers a deeply moving story of family and identity. When a DNA test reveals a long-buried secret, a woman must look to the past to understand her mother and herself.

When Paige Meyer gets an email from a DNA testing website announcing that her father is a man she never met, she is convinced there must be a mistake. But as she digs deeper into her mother's past and her own feelings of being the odd child out growing up, Paige begins to question everything she thought she knew. Could this be why Paige never felt like she fit in her family, and why her mother always seemed to keep her at an arm's length? And what does it mean for Paige's memories of her father, a man she idolized and whose death she is still grieving? Back in 1975, Betsy Kaplan, Paige's mom, is a straightlaced sophomore at the University of Kansas. When her sweet but boring boyfriend disappoints her, Betsy decides she wants more out of life, and is tired of playing it safe. Enter Andy Abrams, the golden boy on campus with a potentially devastating secret. After their night together has unexpected consequences, Betsy is determined to bury the truth and rebuild a stable life for her unborn child, whatever the cost.

When Paige can't get answers from her mother, she goes looking for the only other person who was there that night. The more she learns about what happened, the more she sees her unflappable, distant mother as a real person faced with an impossible choice. But will it be enough to mend their broken relationship?

Told in dual timelines, Little Pieces of Me examines identity and how the way we define ourselves changes (or not) through our life experiences.


 

My thoughts:  This is the first book I've read by Alison Hammer but it definitely won't be the last. It was such a captivating story that kept me engaged from start to finish.

This is the type of book that takes you on quite the emotional rollercoaster. It is filled with such lighthearted scenes one moment, only to have you tearing up at a poignant one the next. And crafting the story as it is, using the dual narrative and multiple points of view, it slowly builds in such a way that you become totally immersed in all the characters' lives.

I loved how the book moved back and forth from the present to the past because it allowed us as the reader to slowly put the pieces together. In the present, we have Paige's point of view and we see how she is handling this startling piece of news. In the past, we have both Betsy and Andy's points of view. I loved getting to know these characters and seeing just how complex they are all, especially Betsy and Andy. Very slowly, bits of the puzzle start of come together and we learn why things happened the way they did. Secrets are revealed and it allows us to understand the characters' actions.

This book really grabbed my heart and left a mark. It's one of those books that you can't stop thinking about long after you finish reading the last page. It's a story that takes on the meaning of family, while also looking at complicated relationships and the impact of long-buried secrets. It would make such a great bookclub pick as there is so much to unpack and discuss. I still need to read Alison Hammer's debut novel, You and Me and Us, which I plan to do soon, and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for whatever else this talented author writes in the future!


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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Review: Twice a Daughter by Julie Ryan McGue

 

Title: Twice a Daughter
Author: Julie Ryan McGue
Published: May 2021, She Writes Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 282 pages
Source: Booksforward PR

Summary:
Julie is adopted. She is also a twin. Because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and their adoption papers―which becomes an issue for Julie when, at forty-eight years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues.

To launch the probe into her closed adoption, Julie first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over, and make a pact: Julie will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren't happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents―and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background.

Julie's search for her birth relatives spans years and involves a search agency, a PI, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker, and a genealogist. By journey's end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest―one that unearths secrets, lies, and family members that are literally right next door.


 

My thoughts:  Nonfiction is a genre I don't read a lot of but I find that memoirs helps to bridge that gap. Being able to get an inside glimpse into someone's life and get a new perspective is always so eye-opening and while I might think I don't have anything in common with the author, I always end up finding something that resonates with me.

As soon as I saw this book by Julie Ryan McGue I just knew I wanted to read it. While the adoption story was intriguing, it was more the issue of not having a medical history that really drew me to this story. I come from a large family and know how important it is to know everyone's medical history and keep passing it down the line, so I can only imagine the frustration that Julie must have felt in not being able to access hers.

After a health scare, Julie realizes that she needs her complete medical history and she and her twin sister embark on a search for their birth parents. I admired Julie's tenacity in not giving up her search for her birth parents after hitting road block after road block. It highlights the stark contrast in the adoption laws regarding the right to know their birth details versus the rights of privacy on the side of the birth parents. There were hard conversations to have with her adoptive parents and support wasn't always there. Luckily Julie and her sister made a great team and her husband and her kids were always there for her.

This book was such an eye-opening read and I appreciated just how open and honest the author was each step of the way with how she was feeling - it is definitely written from the heart. If you enjoy reading memoirs, I highly suggest picking this one up.

 

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Review: An Invincible Summer by Mariah Stewart (audio)

 

Title: An Invincible Summer
Author: Mariah Stewart
Series: Wyndham Beach, #1
Narrator: Kate Marcin
Published: May 2021, Brilliance Audio / Montlake
Length: 10 hours 52 minutes / 378 pages
Source: Audio: ALC via Brilliance Publishing / Print: ARC Paperback via Amazon Publishing

Summary:

An endearing novel of friendship, forgiveness, and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart.

It was a lifetime ago that recently widowed Maggie Flynn was in Wyndham Beach. Now, on the occasion of her fortieth high school reunion, she returns to her hometown on the Massachusetts coast, picking up right where she left off with dear friends Lydia and Emma. But seeing Brett Crawford again stirs other emotions. Once, they were the town’s golden couple destined for one another. He shared Maggie’s dreams - and eventually, a shattering secret that drove them apart. 

Buying her old family home and resettling in Wyndham Beach means a chance to start over for Maggie and her two daughters, but it also means facing her rekindled feelings for her first love and finally confronting - and embracing - the past in ways she never thought possible. Maggie won’t be alone. With her family and friends around her, she can weather this stormy turning point in her life and open her heart to the future. As for that dream shared and lost years ago? If Maggie can forgive herself, it still might come true.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Mariah Stewart and I'm so glad I decided to pick this one up. And of course, I'm equally excited that this is the start of a new series...you all know how much I love my series!

While I will always be a fan of thrillers and psychological suspense, I do enjoy picking up those lighter reads from time to time and this one was perfect for that. But it's not just a fluff read...there is some substance here and that I really appreciated. I loved that the main character, Maggie, is a woman in her 50s. As someone who is her in 40s, I get tired of reading about characters that are way younger than me, so I appreciate when an author gives us a middle-aged character, where I can get her perspective and see the world from her viewpoint for a time.

I am also a huge fan of family secrets and family drama and of course this book has that. That little bit of mystery really kept me engaged and I loved the way it was woven into the threads of this story. Friendship and second chance love were big themes in this book and I enjoyed seeing how both played out.

All in all this was a really enjoyable read and very relatable on many levels. I think this book is a great read for summer beaching reading and I definitely recommend adding it to your summer reading list! And I will definitely be eager to see what happens next in the series.


Audio thoughts: This was an enjoyable book to listen to and I thought the narrator did a great job. Kate Marcin is a new-to-me narrator but I found that she really brought this book to life with her voices and her pacing. I really hope that she will be the narrator for the next book as I like to see consistency with narrators whenever possible.

 

Books in this series: 

  1. An Invincible Summer
  2. Goodbye Again - due out February 2022 

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Review: You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

 

Title: You Will Remember Me
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Published: May 2021, MIRA Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary:
Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can't remember who he is. Everything--his identity, his life, his loved ones--has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he's been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he'd purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?


Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.


 

My thoughts:  This is the third book I've read by Hannah Mary McKinnon and I am just blown away by her writing. Each book just gets better and better and I find that after I finish one it immediately becomes my new favorite! This latest one was a most anticipated read for this month and it absolutely delivers in every way!

I love a good twisty thriller, and this one is just so brilliantly crafted it completely sucks you in. It's dark and wickedly diabolical, filled with obsession, manipulation and just the right amount of devious behavior from our flawed characters. Told from three points of view, it immediately becomes clear that not all is as it seems. There is definitely something off with the characters and each seems to be hiding something in their pasts. 

I also love when books explore memory loss, which the author does with our man from the beach. While this isn't new ground, the way it's handled is just so clever that is keeps from being the same old tired pattern we've seen countless times before. This coupled with just the right amount of twists and turns really keeps you on edge as the story slowly starts to unfold.

This is the type of book that once you start reading it, you will not be able to put down, so make sure to have a clear chunk of time ahead of you when you pick it up. I totally binge-read this one in an afternoon as I just had to know how it was all going to play out and let me just say...I definitely did not see that ending coming! I cannot recommend this book enough. Be sure to add it to your summer reading list...you won't be disappointed!


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Review: Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan (audio)

 

Title: Her Three Lives
Author: Cate Holahan
Narrator: Chris Ciulla, Kylah Williams
Published: April 2021, Hachette Audio / Grand Central Publishing
Length: 9 hours 47 minutes / 339 pages
Source: Audio: ALC via Libro.fm  / Print - Paperback via Publisher

Summary:

Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today best-selling author Cate Holahan's new stand-alone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.

Her public life Jade Thompson has it all. She’s an up-and-coming social media influencer, and she has a beautiful new home and a successful architect for a fiancé. But there’s trouble behind the scenes. To Greg’s children, his divorce from their mother and his new life can only mean a big mid-life crisis. To Jade, his suburban Connecticut upbringing isn’t an easy match with her Caribbean roots.

Her private life A savage home invasion leaves Greg house-bound with a traumatic brain injury and glued to the live feeds from his ubiquitous security cameras. As the police investigate the crime and Greg’s frustration and rage grows, Jade begins to wonder what he may know about their attackers. And whether they are coming back.

Her secret life As Greg watches Jade’s comings and goings, he becomes convinced that her behavior is suspicious and that she’s hiding a big secret. The more he sees, the more he wonders whether the break-in was really a random burglary. And whether he’s worth more to Jade if he were dead than alive.



My thoughts: I first discovered Cate Holahan when I read Lies She Told, which I absolutely loved. I knew after reading that book that I would be reading whatever else she read and so far I haven't been disappointed.

I loved how unsettling this book becomes after the brutal home invasion. Even though there aren't a lot of characters we meet, I found I was suspicious of everyone and kept changing my mind as to who was ultimately responsible. And that's a good thing...every time I thought I had it worked out, something new would pop up. And yet I was still a bit taken back by the ending...I hadn't quite worked it out. But that's all good - I like being surprised!

I love how paranoid the characters become, especially Greg. The break-in really makes him go into overdrive and at times, it seemed like he was taking it to the extreme. But never having been in his shoes, it's hard to judge. And of course, because he and Jade weren't really communicating, I can't really say I blame him because if they had only talked, some of his paranoia could have been alleviated. 

I love a book where there are characters I don't necessary like and that is definitely true here. The characters in this book aren't really likeable but I found myself completely captivated by what was going on and I needed to see what the resolution would be.  

This is a complex, twisted book filled with secrets and paranoia. It is definitely a fun, popcorn type of read where you can totally just binge it in a day. I definitely enjoy Cate Holahan's writing and will be eager to see what she brings us next!


Audio thoughts: I had the opportunity to listen to this book and I'm glad I did - it was a fun, binge-worthy listen. Both narrators were new-to-me and I thought they did a great job bringing this story to life. Their pacing and intonation were spot on and I thought they both were able to infuse just the right amount of emotion and tension into their voices as needed. I really enjoyed listening to this book!


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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Review: The Whispering Dead by Darcy Coates

 

Title: The Whispering Dead
Author: Darcy Coates
Series: Gravekeeper, #1
Published: May 2021, Poisoned Pen Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 256 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary:
USA Today bestseller and rising queen of atmospheric horror Darcy Coates returns with a ghost story that will haunt you long after the final page. She hears them whispering...

Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper's cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.

The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time... and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, Keira digs into the spirit's past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.

But the past is not as simple as it seems, and Keira's time is running out. Tangled in a dangerous web, she has to find a way to free the spirit... even if it means offering her own life in return.


 

My thoughts:  This is the first book I've read by Darcy Coates and it will definitely not be the last. And I'm so excited that it also happens to be the first in a new series...what a homerun for me! 

There is nothing I love more than stumbling onto new series, especially right at the beginning and I could not be happier with this one. While it is categorized as horror, which is a genre I don't read a lot in, I felt that this was relatively light in that area, but still had some pretty spooky, creepy undertones just the same. Being set in a graveyard definitely makes for some eerie vibes and the ability of our main protagonist, Keira, to talk with and see ghosts definitely adds an extra element of creepiness.

I really liked Keira and am excited to explore more of her character. We are definitely left with a lot of questions about her, but being that this is just the beginning of a series, it makes sense that we aren't given all the answers in this first book. I also hope that we see more of some of the characters that were introduced in this first installment.

I am glad I took a chance on this book...and am curious to see where the series goes next. As I wait for the next book to come out in this series, I will definitely be checking out her other books...she is quite a prolific writer and has some backlist! Have you read any of her books yet?



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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Most Anticipated Releases of the Month: May 2021

 


Back again with my five most anticipated releases coming out this month. With so many releases this month, it was hard to select just five books, but these are the ones that really stand out in my mind for some reason - either because I have loved the author's previous books or it's a debut novel and sounds amazing. As I've done before, if I've already read the book, I will link my review. And if I plan to listen to the book, I will indicate the audio publisher.

So here without further ado are the five books I am most excited about that will be published in May:

 


 
THE GIRL WHO DIED by Ragnar Jonassen
Pub Date: May 5th, Minotaur Books '

Summary:
Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World

Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track.

But Skálar isn't just one of Iceland's most isolated villages, it is home to less than a dozen people. Una's only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm's length.

As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space - the site of a local legendary haunting - drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar's past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that's been kept secret for generations.
 
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THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR by Pam Jenoff
Pub date: May 4th, Park Row Books / Harlequin Audio
 
Summary:
1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.
 
 
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THE PLOT by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Pub Date: May 11th, Celadon Books
 
Summary: 
Hailed as breathtakingly suspenseful, Jean Hanff Korelitz's The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he's teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what's left of his self-respect; he hasn't written--let alone published--anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn't need Jake's help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker's first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that--a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker's predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his "sure thing" of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?
 
 
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LOCAL WOMAN MISSING by Mary Kubica
Pub date: May 18th, Park Row Books
 
Summary: 
People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
 
 
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YOU WILL REMEMBER ME by Hannah Mary McKinnon
Pub Date: May 25th, MIRA Books
 
Summary:
Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can't remember who he is. Everything--his identity, his life, his loved ones--has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he's been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he'd purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.
 
 
 
 
Do any of these sound good? Let me know!
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Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

 

Title: The Dead Husband
Author: Carter Wilson
Published: May 2021, Poisoned Pen Press
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary:
A murderer, a victim, and a witness... but no one in this house is innocent

Twenty years ago an unspeakable tragedy rocked Rose Yates's small, affluent hometown... and only Rose and her family know the truth about what happened.

Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she seems to have it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead.

As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn't as happy as she'd led everyone to believe, and worse, she's connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won't let her or her family escape justice this time around.

Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home, hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can't trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her.

From USA Today bestselling author Carter Wilson comes a story of deception, hereditary sin, and what we'll do to protect our own.


 

My thoughts: I first discovered Carter Wilson when I read Mister Tender's Girl a few years ago, which I absolutely loved!!! I knew after reading that one I would be reading anything he wrote. I love how different each of his books are, proving that he doesn't right the same old thing each time.

This latest one is a dark, twisted story that really keeps you on edge all the way through. I loved how the book moved back and forth from the present day to the past, where something ominous happened, but you aren't quite sure what. Whatever it was that happened has been driving Rose in everything she does, and after the death of her husband, she feels she needs to lay these ghosts to rest finally. In addition to that, we also have the detective's point of view, in the present, who is investigating the death of Rose's husband because he just doesn't think things add up.

I loved how this book was laid out, slowly giving us pieces of information in both the present and the past to keep us hooked. And with Rose being a writer, she of course falls under suspicion, especially when it comes to be known that her books tend to mirror real life. 

This book is full of secrets, crazy family drama and such dark undertones that it really hooks you right off the bat. It's an unsettling read for sure, but if you like a tense, twisted thriller, this is definitely the book for you!


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Review: A Caller's Game by J.D. Barker (audio)

 

Title: A Caller's Game
Author: J.D. Barker
Narrator: Brian Hutchinson, Mia Barron
Published: March 2021, Recorded Books
Length: 12 hours 25 minutes
Source: Netgalley

Summary:

Die Hard meets Talk Radio in this heart-pounding, relentlessly fast-paced thriller from the New York Times best-selling author of The Fourth Monkey - master of suspense, J.D. Barker. 

“I’m going to offer you a choice.” 

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what’s on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she’s distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles. 

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer’s advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past. 

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly - events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact - all decisions have consequences.   



My thoughts: J.D. Barker has been on my list to read for quite some time now and I got a taste for his writing when I picked up a book he co-wrote with James Patterson earlier this year, The Coast-to-Coast Murders. So when I saw this audiobook available on Netgalley, I immediately requested it...and I'm so glad I did. It was quite the thrilling read and now I'll definitely be adding the rest of J.D. Barker's books to my shelf!

This book grabbed me from the get-go and never let up. Talk about a book that keeps you guessing...this one was non-stop on that front. I never knew what to expect next and I absolutely loved that! It is one adrenaline-filled read that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you desperately try to work out what is going on and what might possibly come next.

What I found most incredible is that even though there is someone killing all these people, for some crazy reason, you end up feeling bad for them. It's so hard to even put into words how that even happens, but you end up feeling for the guy...or maybe that's just my empathy coming into play.

I'm so glad I grabbed this one. It really kept me going and I am now a fan of this author. I did find out there is going to be another collab between J.D. and James Patterson, out in August, but in the meantime, I'll be trying to squeeze in J.D.'s 4MK Thriller series. If you are a fan of fast-moving, action-packed thrillers, I highly recommend this one. 


Audio thoughts: This was a great book to listen to...both narrators did an excellent job with their parts and really brought this audio to life. The pacing and intonation was spot on and they both infused just the right amount of tension and emotion into their voices as needed. I loved listening to this one and found I just could not put it down until I finished it!


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Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Review: The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews (audio)

 

Title: The Newcomer
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Published: May 2021, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 14 hours 30 minutes / 448 pages
Source: Audio via Macmillan Audio / Print - ARC Paperback via Kathleen Carter Communications

Summary:
Mary Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads delivers her next page-turner for the summer with The Newcomer.

In trouble and on the run...

After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”

With a trunkful of emotional baggage...

So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.

The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling...

And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn—or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.


 

My thoughts: I'm still relatively new to Mary Kay Andrews' books, this being only the third one I've read, but I'm finding that she can definitely be counted on for the kick-off to some great summer reading. Her books are just fun, binge-able reads that keep you hooked from start to finish!

This book had so many elements that I love when it comes to summer binge reading - family drama, a good romance, and a little mystery. The characters were so well drawn that they pulled me in right away and I became totally invested in what was going on. I'm always up for a good, messy family drama, and even with the one sister being dead, this one was full of interesting drama and intrigue. What had Letty's sister gotten herself involved in before she was killed?

The highlight for me with this book was definitely the characters. The bad guys were definitely made out to be awful and stand out like a sore thumb. But it's the rest of the cast that really shines. From the quirky residents at the inn to Joe and his mother and sister, to Letty and the adorable Maya, who absolutely steals every scene she is in - each one has such a distinct personality and I just loved getting to know them all.

I loved how things were revealed at just the right time throughout the book. We would find out these big secrets, allowing us to put the pieces together a little at a time. It really helped to move the book forward, and for a long book, it does move at a quick pace. This really is a great escape read and I think would really make such a great beach read this summer. I know I have a few other Mary Kay Andrews books I need to read and I only hope they are as entertaining and thrilling as this one!


Audio thoughts: This book translated so well onto audio with Kathleen McInerney's fabulous narration. She really did a great job with the voices, especially little Maya's, and I had such a great time listening to this one. Her pacing and intonation were spot on and she made this book a fun one to listen to. 


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