Luisa "Lu" Brant is following in her father's legal footsteps.  She is the first female State's Attorney for Howard County in Maryland, a role her father held for many years.  Also like her father, Lou is raising two children by herself after her spouse died.  Lu has a lot on her plate as a widowed mother of twins, but she is excited to take on the role and has moved back in with her father in her Wilde Lake childhood home.  She believes it will help with her workload, but she is expecting her new job will be hard.  Her first case involves a woman brutally murdered on New Year's Eve.  As the events surrounding the murder start to unfold, Lu realizes that there might be a connection to an event involving her older brother and his friends that happened decades ago. But Lu's memory of that event and of her entire childhood are challenged with each detail that is revealed. Even though her career is dependent on the truth, Lu realizes that in this case the truth might destroy everything she thought she knew about her family.

Wilde Lake was one of those novels that just draws the reader in with each new page.  There is a real To Kill A Mockingbird vibe to the story, almost like the author was paying homage to one of the best novels ever written. The story is told in alternate timelines, the past, during Lu's childhood and the present.  While Lu had a good childhood, it was far from perfect with the death of her mother just days after she was born. She was a gifted student and was focused on her goal to be a lawyer like her father.  There were many times that I thought that Lu came across as quite arrogant, but I kind of think that she has worked hard to get where she is at, so maybe being arrogant is okay.  It just didn't leave me feeling "connected" to her.   One thing is evident, though.  Lu is damn good at her job.  The more she digs into the events surrounding this woman's death, the more the author draws you into the story. The story is slow to unfold, but the author is quite deliberate in her way of revealing the details of why and who committed this murder.  I wasn't all that surprised by the "big reveal",  but I hadn't really figured it out, either.  I had that "oh, that makes sense" kind of feeling.

Bottom line -  While Wild Lake is one of those mysteries that had my attention, but did not have me on the edge of my seat.  More of an intellectual mystery that you have to see through to the end.

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Riley Griggs has spent summers on the island of Belle Isle, North Carolina her whole life. Her family has held a prominent place on the island for generations and her husband took over her family's business.  It is not uncommon for families that stay on the island for the summer to send somebody of the island during the work week.  They are known as "weekenders". Riley is expecting her husband, Wendell, to join her and their daughter, Maggy, for the first weekend of the season.  Unfortunately, they will be breaking the news to their twelve year old daughter that they will be divorcing. Except Wendell never shows up as expected and the locks on their summer home have been changed and there is a  "foreclosure" sign on the door. But it gets worse, the next morning the Sheriff is at the front door of the home of Riley's mother to tell her that Wendell was murdered. Riley's world has been completely destroyed.  Not only was her husband murdered, but apparently he has lost all of their money, her mother's money, and her brother's money, and the FBI are investigating his business deals.  Riley must spend the summer trying to put her life back together and keep her daughter from spinning out of control. Will she be able to hold it all together? What role will the billionaire from her past have in her summer? But  most of all,who killed Wendell?

Mary Kay Andrews is a beloved summer author.  To me her books signify the beginning of summer and fluffy beach reads.    The Weekenders is a bit of a deviation than other books because I felt it was a little "heavier" than what is normal for her books.  The fact that the main character's husband is murdered in the first chapter should have been the first clue that this isn't her typical book.  Now, don't get me wrong, all of your favorite themes are present.  Like a best friend,  a new love interest, and a puppy dog.  Riley's relationship with her daughter was a major source of contention, too.  Not only is there the normal tween-angst, but there is the fact that Maggy has Juvenile Diabetes.  Her disease adds another level of stress for Riley and rightfully so. There was some scary things that went down because of Maggy's illness that caused me way more anxiety than normal for a fluffy, summer beach read.  The family dynamics between Riley and her mother and brother were unique, too.  Maggy and her mother did not get along at all.  And then there is her brother, Billy, a functioning alcoholic who has a pretty dark secret that he is keeping.  In the end the murder is revealed and things work out just the way they are supposed to work out.

Bottom line - even though Mary Kay Andrews covered some hard hitting topics in her new book, The Weekenders, it is still a wonderful book to throw into your beach bag this summer.

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Quinn Collins wakes up one morning after a night out to find her roommate, Esther Vaughn, has gone missing.  Her window was left wide open in chilly Chicago and there is nothing to be found except a cryptic letter addressed to "My Dearest".   Quinn isn't worried at first, but as the hours pass the weirdness gets exponentially worse.  Like Esther was in the process of changing her name to Jane.  Or she had lined up interviews for a new roommate.  And then there is the former roommate who died under mysterious circumstances.  As the evidence mounts Quinn is convinced that somebody is out to kill her.   Could it be Esther? Or something much more sinister?

In Michigan, eighteen year old Alex goes to his job at the local diner.  Just as he has everyday for years. Part of his job includes taking meals to the recluse who lives across the street. It was while doing that Alex spies a woman who catches his eye, Pearl.  There is something about her that is enigmatic and alluring.  When he discovers that she is squatting in the abandoned house across the street he decides to seek her out.  As their relationship develops Alex starts to get the feeling that there is more to her than meets the eye.  Will he be able to piece everything together before it is too late?

Don't You Cry is a fast paced novel that is told from the two very different perspectives of Quinn and Alex.  Quinn is a young professional in the city and Alex is a poor boy living in rural Michigan. Their connection doesn't reveal itself until the very last pages of the book, and honestly it is a little bit of a let down.  Given the build-up,  I think I was expecting something a little more explosive.  I was more engaged in Quinn's part of the story, my favorite thing about the Quinn part of the story was her relationship with her colleague, Ben.  They had the kind of chemistry that was worthy of it's own story.  On the other hand, Alex's part of the story had a haunted house and classic ghost story. On their own, the stories are unique and mysterious, but the way the stories intersects is a little lacking.  In the end the secrets are revealed and they are nothing like what you expected.

Bottom line - Mary Kubica made a huge splash with her first novel, The Good Girl, but has been struggling to meet the high expectations set by her first novel.  Don't You Cry was a valiant effort that was *almost* there, but fell just a little short with the conclusion.  Don't give up on Mary Kubica, though, as a talented author Don't You Cry is still worth the read.

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It is that time of year again when the beach books start to hit the shelves. You know, those books that take place in locations that make you wish you didn't live in a land-locked flyover state and put you in a "summer" state of mind.

I haven't read a lot of books by Mary Alice Monroe, but A Lowcountry Wedding had one of those covers that just spoke to me.  The Muir sisters have been through a lot over the last few years, but now they are ready to celebrate in the joy of marriage as Harper and Carson are planning their weddings.   Carson and Blake are struggling to find a compromise on Carson's career, you throw in her recovery as an alcoholic, and you can question whether they are ready to get married.  Harper and Taylor seem to have things figured out a littler more, until the suggestion is made that Taylor signs a prenup.  After all, Harper is the owner of not one, but two, family estates.  With them making their home at Sea Breeze, it is understandable that Taylor may feel a little threatened. Then Mamaw introduces the sisters to an "old family friend", Atticus.   The sisters take to Atticus right away, something about him is comforting and familiar.   But when a long hidden secret is revealed it threatens to disrupt the peaceful balance that the Muir family has established.  Will things get resolved in time for Harper and Carson's weddings?

It was pretty obvious from the beginning that A Lowcountry Wedding was part of a series that I had not read yet. The author does a good job of giving you just enough backstory so that you aren't completely lost, but it is also enough to make you want to know more.   Like Carson being an alcoholic.  I bet that story was a doozy.  The story primarily centers on the sisters and their various "issues" leading up to their weddings.    Their relationships with their love interests aren't really explored a lot, but I am going to assume they are sufficiently covered in earlier books. The family dynamic shifted a bit when Atticus came into the picture as an "old family friend", but I really enjoyed his presence.  As a minister you could tell that he was torn between doing the right thing and old insecurities.    In true "beach book" fashion everything turned out the way it was supposed to, giving it that "happy ever after" feeling.

Bottom line - A Lowcountry Wedding was a great book to kick off "Beach Book" season. Set among the beautiful Lowcountry backdrop you get everything you need to put you in a "summer" state of mind - including a dolphin as a supporting character.

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After thirteen years former police officer, Adrian Wall, is getting out of prison.  He was in prison for a crime he didn't commit, but he is shocked to discover the teenage son of the woman he is accused of killing is waiting for him with a gun.

Detective Elizabeth Black is currently suspended pending investigation for shooting two kidnappers eighteen times. The young woman she rescued has seemed to have bonded with her in a way that can only happen after surviving a traumatic experience. Liz's partner, Beckett,  is sure there is more to the story than Liz is telling and the haunted look in both of their eyes indicates that he is right.

A young woman is found brutally murdered on the alter of an old, abandoned church.  The same church Liz attended regularly as the daughter of the preacher.  The small North Carolina city is an edge with certainty that Adrian Wall had something to do with her death.  Much like thirteen years ago, Liz is sure that he is innocent.  But somebody in their community is a murderer.  Will they be able to find out who before it is too late?

In pure brilliant fashion, John Hart, has created a masterpiece with Redemption Road. There is so much going on in this little town that it is almost hard to keep up.  There is a serial killer on the loose, maniac rapists, rampant drug abuse, and more.  Elizabeth Black is a wonderful heroine.  She reluctantly collects lost souls like others collect trinkets.  They cling to the strength that she projects.  Gideon, the son of the woman that Adrian was accused of killing.  And now Channing, the young woman she rescued from the basement.  John Hart uses his words to paint a descriptive picture of this small, southern town brimming with a brutality usually reserved for urban areas.  Her residents all vying for redemption as if it were a contest only won by few.   Lines like, "The soft, warm day ate her alive."  make it very clear that the author has a very unique gift.    I thought I had things figured out, but Hart would then leave me questioning my suspicions with his crazy twists.  In the end, I was right, but it takes some emotionally draining chapters for all to be revealed.


Bottom line, I have been waiting for a new John Hart novel for a long time.  The wait for Redemption Road was well worth it.

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Sophie Bernstein never expected that her fiance would leave her at the altar, but he did.  She was humiliated in front of her family, friends, and colleagues in the culinary industry.  As one of the best pastry chef's in Chicago, Sophie's humiliation is very much public and her fall from grace is of epic proportions.  She finds herself holed up in her grandmother's house licking her wounds and laying low until the smoke clears.  To help pay-down the monstrous credit card debt she incurred while planning the wedding of her dreams she takes a part-time job at a small neighborhood bakery.   The gentle old man who owns the bakery is good for Sophie and it helps keep her mind off her fall from culinary grace.  Even though his son, Mark, is skeptical of Sophie's intentions, she wants nothing more than to help Herman. At the bakery she stumbles across a potential career path that puts her wedding planning skills to work for her and will help payoff those credit cards.  It is through "Wedding Girl" that Sophie meets "Jake" and through their emails Sophie starts to feel a fondness that she never expected to feel after being left at the altar.  But after a few missed encounters she isn't sure that Jake is the guy for her.

Wedding Girl was a fun and relaxing read.  Sophie is the kind of girl that I would love hang out with on a Saturday night watching old movies, drinking booze, and eating yummy food.   From the very first pages you know that Sophie is going to be a great character,  she handled being left at the altar with such grace, that you can't help but just want to be her best friend.  Sophie's grandmother, Bubbles, is such a kick in the pants that you wish you could hang out in her kitchen. Then she has two besties, Jean and Ruth, that are fun, too.  The scene of Jean's birthday was laugh out loud funny. And the boys - I don't want to give anything away, but there is a scene when Sophie goes to a wine tasting that I just knew what "twist" was coming. I was right, but I don't think it was meant to be a huge secret, given the character's penchant for old classic movies.   Obviously in a foodie book like Wedding Girl there are some yummy recipes, but they are all saved for the back of the book to not interfere with the flow of the story.

Bottom line, with elements that are reminiscent of old Nora Ephron movies you are guaranteed to fall in love with Sophie, her family, and her friends.  As expected with most Chick Lit novels, the heroine gets her "happy ever after" and you are giddy with excitement for her.

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Christine and Marcus Nilsson are desperate to have a baby.  They have done everything and now, after using a donor, they are pregnant. Christine is taking an early maternity leave from her teaching job to prepare for their bundle of joy.  News breaks that a serial killer targeting nurses has been captured.  Everything about the accused matches up with their selected donor.  Donor 3319.  Marcus and Christine are rocked when they realize the implications. Christine could be carrying a child fathered by a serial killer.  They both deal with that information in different ways.  Marcus wants to sue the sperm bank and Christine heads off to the prison to meet donor 3319.  The whole thing has put a strain on their marriage, but Christine isn't so sure that "he" killed all of those nurses and sets out to prove the innocence of Donor  3319 and will the Nilsson's be able to come to grips that their "Most Wanted" baby may have the genetics of a serial killer?

Normally I love Lisa Scottoline and her novels, however, I did not think that Most Wanted was her best work.   Christine and Marcus are both likable people on their own, but they did not work as a couple.  Marcus was a bit of a jerk and Christine was keeping secrets that no wife should keep. How could a marriage like that be successful?  Christine goes from being a teacher, to being on an early maternity leave, to becoming a paralegal with no legal training at all, it was just weird.  It seemed a bit far-fetched, which is unusual for this author.  I don't think I hate it more when a story just doesn't seem to flow very well or aspects of the story doesn't seem realistic.  I didn't ever find myself engrossed in the story or on the edge of my seat with anticipation and again, that is unusual for this author.  I did stick it out and read the whole story because sometimes you just have to know if he did it or not.   The end didn't really surprise me, but it wasn't want I was expecting either.

Bottom line - even though I wasn't all that excited with Most Wanted, Lisa Scottoline is an author that I respect and will always read.

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Claire, Jessie, and Gabriela have been friends for years and years.   Claire is a real estate agent trying to salvage her relationship with her daughter.  Jessie is devastated to find out that her ex-husband is getting married to his girlfriend, and Gabriela is a successful author who feels empty because she doesn't have the family she always wanted.  The three women have been celebrating their birthdays for years and this year they are going to Las Vegas.  This year each of them have regrets on the cusp of their fiftieth birthday.  It is when they stumble across a magician who can send them all back to the year they turned forty.  Jessie is desperate to prevent a mistake she made with her husband that led to their divorce.  Gabriela wants to have a child at all costs.  And Claire is just going along for the ride, but maybe she can get her mother to have her cough checked out earlier than last time.  The three women discover that going back in time is not as easy as they had hoped.  I mean that smart phones hadn't even been invented yet.  As the three women try to change their course of history they start to realize that everything happens for a reason.  But will they stay in the year they turned forty or will they return to the future and the year they turn fifty?

The Year We Turned Forty was a fun "what if" kind of book.   I am in the year that I turned forty, so it was easy to relate to what the women were going through in "the past."  As far as I am concerned they all made pretty significant mistakes the year they turned forty.  For Jessie and Claire it was the first time around and I think Gabriela made some pretty significant mistakes the second time they turned forty.  I think of the three women Claire changed the most the second time around, especially concerning her daughter.  She grew a spine and didn't let her daughter continue to walk all over her.  It was fun to see how the women had to adjust when going ten years into the past.  All of the things that hadn't been invented yet and all of the events that hadn't happened yet.  In the end the three women learned a lot about themselves and their relationships.  Everything wrapped up nice and neat with the "happy ever after" vibe.

Bottom line - We all have those "what if" dreams about a time in our past.  The Year We Turned Forty turned those dreams into a fun reality for three dynamic characters.   The whole concept of going back to a year in our past is an interesting one and could generate a lot of fun with a group of girlfriends and a few bottles of wine.

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I have a literary confession.  Promise that you won't hate me?  I have never read Jane Austen.  (I will wait while you pick your jaw up)  She has always been on my "Must Read" list and I have multiple copies of her work, but I never have gotten around to reading them.   I know that remakes of Austen's works have always been poorly received, but I was thrilled to get a chance to read Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Liz and her older sister, Jane Bennett`return to the family home in Cincinnati when their father has a health scare.  The sprawling family home, Pemberly,  looks more rundown than ever, their mother has her head in the sand, and their younger sisters are high maintenance divas who thinks that somebody else will solve all their problems.  While attending a Fourth of July bash Jane meets the handsome Chip Bingley, a reality television star fresh off of the hottest dating show, Eligible and they hit it off immediately.   His childhood best friend, Fiztwilliam Darcy, is with him at the barbecue and the sparks between him and Liz really fly, but she is too enamored with her married flame to pay attention to Darcy.   As Jane and Chip's relationship takes off,  Liz is left to be the responsible sister. She discovers that her family is in serious financial trouble and tries to convince her parents to sell the house and her younger sisters to grow up.  Will Liz be able to save the Bennett family from their own destructive ways?

Having not read Pride and Prejudice, I can only judge Eligible on it's own merits.  I have to be honest that I really, really enjoyed reading this book.   I loved Liz and her intelligent wit, I loved Jane and her optimistic outlook,  and  I absolutely loved Mr. Bennett.  I found myself laughing at his dry wit and devotion to his family.   Darcy is the kind of character you would expect him to be, serious, focused, and perfect for Liz.  This delicious and, often times, hysterical retelling of a beloved classic covers a lot of ground that some might deem political,  the state of health care, anorexia, IVF for single women, transgender rights, and more. But the topics are touched on in a way that flows with humor and grace.  In the end there is definitely a "happy ever after", but not until there is much strife.

Bottom line - I know I am long overdue to read the works of Jane Austen, but based on the enjoyment I got from reading Eligible that I am in for a real treat.

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For years the Plum siblings have been waiting for the day they would receive the inheritance they have designated "The Nest".  Their father set it up so that they would receive their money on the fortieth birthday of the youngest sibling, Melody.  They all have made some sketchy financial decisions with the belief that "The Nest" will be there to bail them out of trouble.  Melody has mixed feelings about turning forty. With twin daughters heading off to college and a crazy-high mortgage she desperately needs that inheritance to keep her family afloat.  Jack needs that inheritance to pay back a HELOC that he took out to keep his business afloat, and did so without his husband knowing. He needs that money to pay back the loan before it destroys his marriage.   Bea needs the inheritance to fund her dwindling writing career.  And then there is Leo, unknown to the siblings, they all gave up "The Nest" to pay off a young girl who was severely injured in an accident that was caused by Leo's excessive drug and alcohol use.  The Plum siblings have never really been close, but the shocking revelation that their nest has dwindled is enough to bring them together against a common foe, Leo.  Will the siblings be able to get the restitution from Leo that they desperately need?  And if Leo can't pay them back,  will they be able to get their lives together without "The Nest" they have been waiting for all these years?


As a woman with a lot of siblings, I thoroughly enjoyed The Nest.  The dynamics in this family are based on decades of dysfunction and years of animosity.  One would argue that Leo is the most messed up of the group.  He has arrogantly lived a life of excess and was on the verge of divorce when he took that poor waitress on a fateful drive in his Ferrari.  All of the Plum siblings are relieved that Leo wasn't injured, but none of them are shocked that it happened. But they ARE shocked when they realize that he has cost them their nest egg.  I think of all the Plum siblings, it was Stephanie, Leo's sometime love interest that was my favorite.  She had been connected to the Plum family for many years, but she was a little more "together" than the others.  My next favorite was probably Melody.  I could easily relate to her and her sense of inferiority with the other moms at school.  She tried to pretend to be a part of them and knowing the nest was coming gave her courage to try to fit in with them.  Besides the Plum siblings we get to hear the story of Nora and Louisa, Melody's daughters.  We also get to know Matilda, the young lady injured in the accident, and others.  It really gives the story a kind of depth that leaves the reader completely invested in these people.  In the end, "The Nest"  (or lack of) brought the siblings together in a way that nothing ever had before and that is enough to warm even the coldest of hearts.

Bottom line - The Nest is a delightfully funny and entertaining read.  The Plum siblings are endearing in a pretentious, yet genuine way that you are night likely to forget anytime soon.

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Naomi Bowes is just eleven years old when she follows her father into the woods late one night. She thought she was going to find where her father had hid her birthday gift, instead she finds a young, battered woman locked in a cage.  That night Naomi's world is shattered when she discovers that her father is one of the most prolific serial killers in recent memory.  Her mother changes their last name and moves Naomi and her brother Mason to New York to live with their uncles in an effort to provide some normalcy.  But her mother is so destroyed by what her father does that it proves to be too much and once again Naomi is in the middle of tragic circumstances.

It is now nearly twenty years later and after years of wandering Naomi has fallen in love with a house on the opposite side of the country of her memories.  The community of Sunrise Cove has welcomed her with open arms.  Especially the local mechanic, Xander Keaton.  Naomi tries to resit Xander, but his fully stocked library, love of dogs, and excellent taste in music make him hard to resist. Life would be perfect except for the fact that somebody has started to terrorize the little community in the same way that Naomi's father did all those years ago.  As members of the community start turning up dead the coincidences are now considered the work of a copy-cat.  Will Naomi be able to catch a serial killer for the second time in her life before he comes after her?


I admit it.  I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed The Obsession. The last few books I have read by Nora Roberts were disappointing to me.  I was hooked from the very beginning with The Obsession.  Naomi and Xander are great characters and they work well together.  Naomi is such a strong character who has been through so much, but I loved how her experiences only made her stronger.  I loved her relationship with her brother, Mason, who also happens to be an FBI agent and her relationship with her uncles was also fun to watch.  The kind of stability they provided was crucial in Naomi growing up "normal".   It took me a while to figure out the copycat, but once Mason revealed a few details, I figured it out, but it was late in the story. And of course, it always makes me happy when an author can stump me.

Bottom line - The Obsession is a prime example of why Nora Roberts is one of he most successful romance writers of all time.  Well developed characters, an engaging mystery, and a steamy love story will captivate the most picky of readers.

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The Miller family has lived in Miller's Valley for many generations.  Mimi Miller is the youngest child, and only daughter, of the current generation of Miller's living on the family farm that has been passed down from generation to generation.    As Mimi grows up she shares her observations of a family clinging to tradition in the way that only the young can do.  Her mother was a nurse and her father was a farmer that did odd jobs to help keep the family afloat.  Mimi's two brothers were considerably older and therefor not really her peers, but she knew they were her brothers no matter what happened.  Ed was grown and gone before Mimi was even old enough to realize big brothers should be role models and Tom shocked the family when he enlisted in the Marines.  The time he spent in Vietnam changed him and damaged him in ways that none of them can understand.  Also living on the family farm is Mimi's Aunt Ruth, a quirky woman who won't leave the safety of her little house for nothing, not even when Mimi's father had a stroke practically in front of her.    For all of the strange dynamics of the Miller family there is one thing that remains true - family is everything.   Despite disappointments, painful truths, and evolving political climates, family is everything.  That is proven time and time again and even more as the family struggles to hold on to the land that has sustained decades of Millers.

Miller's Valley is told in that slow and steady way that makes you feel as if you are sitting on the sidelines of Mimi's life.  The book is set in a bygone era that leaves the reader a bit nostalgic as they long for their Miller's Valley in their life.    Mimi is a reliable character if there ever was one and she is quite easy to like.  She is hard-working and loyal to a fault.  Even when she struggles to understand the people she is supposed to love no matter what. Even though Mimi's brothers have gone off in the world, Mimi knows that they will always find their way home.  Her family have been around the area for so long that the town is actually named after them.  That kind of legacy is hard to ignore and also hard live down in a small town.  The whole small agricultural town reminded me a lot of my own hometown and this line struck such a chord with me - "But no one ever leaves the town where they grew up, not really, not even if they go."  It is very safe for me to say that "home" is very much a part of me and I left "home" twenty years ago.   We do get to watch Mimi grow up and we get to watch her deal with grown-up subjects like abortion, PTSD, and taking care of her family when they can't care for themselves.  Because that is what family does.

Bottom line - Miller's Valley is a beautiful book that draws much power from the simplicity of the story.  There is much here to be discussed, especially if you grew up in a small, rural community.  You will easily draw parallels and it will leave you longing for the home that will always hold your heart.

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We go back to Promise Falls just a few days after the truth was revealed about the mysterious baby in Broken Promise.  The residents of Promise Falls are feeling nostalgic as they settle in to watch the final movie at the local drive-in movie theater that is to close it's gates.   Just as the patrons are settling in their world is shattered by an explosion and the screen topples onto two cars parked in front.  Four people are dead.  The one car held a couple of kids who had borrowed a convertible.  The other victims, Adam Chalmers and his young wife Merriam, were parked in the classic Jag.  Private Detective, Cal Weaver, gets involved when Adam Chalmer's daughter calls him for help.  Somebody had broken into her father's house after his death was announced and she wants to find out what they took.  In the course of his investigation Cal discovers a dark secret that starts in the secret bedroom found at the Chalmers' house, but continues with some of Promise Falls most prestigious residents.   But what is the connection between that secret bedroom and the continued events that involve the number twenty-three?

Linwood Barclay is such a skilled novelist.  He immerses his readers in the quaint little town with dark and scandalous secrets, Promise Falls.  By now I feel like I am familiar with the residents and dynamics of this community.  From the disgraced former mayor trying to launch a comeback to Detective Duckworth, these are people that I feel I have gotten to know fairly well.  But they all are residents of this weird little town! I had kind of figured out the "whodunit" aspect of this installment and I have started to piece together the connections between the women being attacked at the college and the events at the Chalmers' home.  But the book ends on a serious cliffhanger, leaving me wondering if I am way off in my guesses.

Bottom line - while it is not necessary to have read Broken Promise first, it sure would be helpful to fully understand the dynamics of Promise Falls.  Either way, Linwood Barclay does an amazing job of leading his readers down an intriguing path of scandal and mystery.  A fun read if you love a good mystery.

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Annabel Ford, Piper Whitley, and Mackenzie Mead are three women at different places in their lives who have forged a friendship over a weekly exercise and the requisite trip to the next door cafe after their sessions.  The three women are at different places in their lives.   Piper's boyfriend, Todd, just moved in with her and her young daughter,  Fern.  But when her Fern's dad reappears it threatens their new-found domestic bliss.   Mackenzie and her husband, Trevor, have been married a while and are desperate to start their family.  Will their relationship crumble under the stress of infertility?  Annabel has her world rocked when her husband tells her that she wants a divorce.  Will she be left to raise their twin sons alone? Some Women tackles some heavy topics, but the heart of the story is the relationship between these three unlikely friends.

Some Women is one of those feel-good  novels that will leave you wanting what they have.  Not their romantic relationships, but their friendship.  One thing I noticed, though, was that in terms of time, their friendships were relatively new, yet there was a bond between the three of them that couldn't be broken. Not everyone is as quick to make friends as Anabel, Mackenzie, and Piper, so I think it gives a little bit of hope that your "people" are out there waiting to be found.   I was surprised by which romantic relationships were able to withstand the kind of stress we all face in our own relationships.  Over the course of the book all three women changed for the better, too.  I think Annabel probably changed the most and definitely for the better. I had a hard time even liking her at the beginning of the book. \  Some Women was a quick read, but definitely a fun read.

Bottom line - Some Women is a great friendship novel to read with your friends and discuss over a bottle of wine.

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Frank Mercy is an ex-pat in Australia when a tsunami hits Brisbane and kills his wife, their unborn son, and nearly her entire family.  Even though he is stunned by grief, Frank, an ex-cop, sets of to help.  He ends up rescuing a young boy, Ian.  Frank knows that Ian is special and adopts him as his own and quickly moves back to the states, hoping to put everything about Brisbane behind them. Back in the states Frank and Ian settle back into life with his family.  Frank is working and training horses and even tries to fall in love again with an equestrian named Claudia comes into their lives.  At times Ian's telepathic gift makes it difficult to fly under the radar, but at times it is most welcomed.  Frank realizes that Ian's brother was left behind in Brisbane and soon their family is complete.  Ian's gift isn't always a good thing, though,and they Mercy family undertakes a battle with evil men in order to keep Ian safe and their family together. Will they be successful or will the truth about Ian and Collin be revealed?

Two If By Sea is an epic novel that takes the reader all over the world.  From Australia to the Midwest to the English countryside.  Frank is a good guy. That is evident by his desire to go help people after the Tsunami when he just lost his whole world. He makes keeping Ian safe his whole world.  He is reluctant to let Claudia in, but it is clear that she is a good woman who wants to be part of their little family.  I also really loved little Ian and his innocent ways.   Having said all of that, I didn't really love the book.  It started off in a way that captivated the reader, but it lost something once Frank and Ian went back to the states.  I didn't find myself invested in any of the characters, well maybe Ian a little. I think the author was going for that ethereal or mystical feel, but it didn't translate very well for me. I don't really know what it was that prevented me from really liking the book, but the lack of emotional investment had something to do with it, I think.  The end of the book ended in a manner that was predictable and expected, but I did finish it out.

Bottom line -While  Two If By Sea didn't exactly resonate for me like I had hoped, I am still very much a Jacquelyn Mitchard fan and would encourage you to check it out.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, even when it comes to books, right?

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George Clare and his young wife Catherine have bought the perfect farmhouse and moved to the picturesque community of Chosen, New York.  George has taken as job as a Art History Professor at the local college while Catherine stays home with their young daughter, Franny.  The solitude of the farm has only magnified the problems of their marriage. George loses himself in his work and young coeds.  Catherine finds solace in a friendship with one of the young men who used to live in their home.  Until one day George arrives home from work to find that Catherine has been brutally murdered.  George is the prime suspect, but his family gets him and Franny out of there before the small town police can find enough evidence to arrest him.  The murder goes unsolved and the house stands empty.  Decades have passed and the farmhouse has finally sold.  Franny returns to the farmhouse to clear it out and face the demons of her past.  Will she be able reconcile her past and find out who killed her mother?

All Things Cease to Appear is part mystery and part ghost story and completely engrossing.   The farmhouse where George and Catherine moved to in Chosen had a dark history. As the reader, you are given all of the details of the home's history and it is very dark.  The darkness creeped into Catherine and the ghosts of the house soon were her only companions.  Catherine was the kind of woman that everybody liked and George, well George was a complete psychopath.  He gave the heebie-jeebies to most every  grown woman he encountered.   The story mostly takes place during the time that George and Catherine lived in the house, but you do find out how they met and how Catherine came to be pregnant and how they came to Chosen.  You are also well aware of George's psychopathic tendencies and the first time he really exhibits those tendencies it shocks you, because up to that point he was just a jerk, but the shock only adds to the reader's involvement in the story.  You aren't sure if those tendencies are what killed his wife, but you have your suspicions.  The author gives you enough information to speculate, but not enough for you to be sure.  It truly leaves the reader on the edge of their seat.  You are left wondering right up until the last few pages of the book, but then there is no doubt as to who killed Catherine.

Bottom line - All Things Cease to Appear is one of those Gothic novels that will haunt you. Mystery, suspense, and a haunted house.  You can't get better than that in an afternoon read.

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Emma, Serena, and Mackenzie have been friends for over twenty years.  They met when they moved to New York to attend NYU,  A lot has happened over the last twenty years.  Mackenzie married her college boyfriend, Adam, and moved to Indiana to run a community theater.  Moving out to the hinterlands was was Mackenzie's way to deal with the fact that she can't have children.  Emma got pregnant ended up raising her daughter by herself.  Serena got a job playing a caricature of her southern self on a the most popular animated comedy show ever. She uses humor to hide the fact that her heart was broken twenty years ago and dates only men who are married.  It has been five years since Emma called a halt to their yearly trips to her lake house with no explanation.  Both Mackenzie and Serena are hesitant, but excited to resume their friendship and to hang out with their goddaughter who is on the verge of turning sixteen.  Their Week at the Lake was put on hold though when Emma is in a life threatening accident.  Serena and Mackenzie rush to her side and commit themselves to helping Emma get better no matter what. As days turn into weeks and months the three women have to deal with their own demons.  Serena has to come to terms with her broken heart, Mackenzie comes to realize that her marriage is not as solid as she once thought, and Emma has to reveal the truth about her daughter's father.  Can their friendship survive the secrets revealed while they spend A Week at the Lake?

I am really starting to enjoy Wendy Wax and her friendship themed novels.    The three women in A Week at the Lake were familiar to me.  I could see bits of my own friends in each of the three women.  I loved how even though they had gone radio silent they were willing to drop everything to be there for Emma in her time of need.  Their relationship with Zoe was another enjoyable thing about this book.  Both of her fairy godmothers would have gone to the ends of the earth for her.  I think Serena and her sassiness was my favorite character, even though I disagreed with her penchant for dating married men,  There were many things about the book that were predictable, like the truth about Zoe's father, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the read.

Bottom line - Spring Break is like the "Pre-Season" for Summer Reading and Wendy Wax is a good way to get yourself into shape.  A Week at the Lake is a the perfect book to read during those lazy afternoons on break.

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