The Necklace by Matt Witten

Matt Witten recently sent me a copy of his upcoming (Sept. 2021) novel, The Necklace. This was a super fast-paced and thrilling story.

Here’s the overview:

The clock ticks down in a heart-pounding crusade for justice

Susan Lentigo’s daughter was murdered twenty years ago—and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer’s execution.

On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent—and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who’s at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.

But the FBI refuses to reopen the case. They—and Susan’s own mother—believe she’s just having an emotional breakdown. Reaching deep, Susan finds an inner strength she never knew she had. With the help of two unlikely allies—a cynical, defiant teenage girl and the retired cop who made the original arrest—Susan battles the FBI to put the real killer behind bars. Will she win justice for the condemned man—and her daughter—at last?

Perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and Harlan Coben

Optioned for film—with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producer

What’s funny is that while I was reading it, I kept thinking it would make a great movie and — voila! — it’s been optioned for film with Leonardo DiCaprio as producer! Can’t wait to catch it on the big screen!

If you follow me, you know I love a suspenseful read that keeps me guessing! Matt was a very gracious and humble person with whom to work and I wish him the best with this new novel and film!

Here’s a bit about Matt himself (via Amazon and also in his own words!):

About the Author

Matt Witten, a graduate of Amherst and Brandeis Universities, is a TV writer, novelist, playwright and screenwriter. His television writing includes such shows as HousePretty Little Liars, and Law & Order. His TV scripts have been nominated for an Emmy and two Edgars, and he has written four mystery novels, winning a Malice Domestic award for best debut novel. He has also written stage plays and for national magazines.

The Necklace has been optioned for film by Appian Way and Cartel Pictures, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producer.

A little about myself: I wrote mystery novels set in upstate New York that were published by Signet. Then I moved to LA and began writing for TV: Law & Order, House, Pretty Little Liars, CSI: Miami, Medium, and other shows. The Necklace is my first novel since I began writing for TV. It’s gotten blurbs from Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, and Meg Gardiner, and it’s been optioned for film by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Secret Diary by Anna Stuart

If you know me, you know I love books about WWII. I think my fascination stems from the fact that my father fought in the Pacific during it and my parents were married when he was home for a few weeks on leave.

I’m happy to be part of the Bookouture blog tour for this historical fiction novel by Anna Stuart. I love all the particulars: current day and past intertwined, old diaries, deciphering secrets of the past. Highly recommended if you enjoy this genre like I do!

Thank you for including me on the tour and for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

Book Description:
Two women. One house. And a wartime secret that spans decades…

Norfolk, 1945: Only a few months ago Nancy Jones was fighting for her country as a gunner girl. Now she’s struggling to adjust to her responsibilities as a gamekeeper’s wife. After a whirlwind romance, Nancy is deeply in love with her handsome husband Joe but there is still so much they don’t know about each other. When a secret from Nancy’s war years threatens to resurface, will the terrible truth about the worst night of her life shatter their new marriage?

Norfolk, 2019: Devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, Lorna Haynes escapes to the beautiful but crumbling Gamekeeper’s Cottage. There, she stumbles upon a locked room. When she enters, it’s like going back in time. A soldier’s uniform hangs on the back of the door, the flowery wallpaper still intact, the spindle of the record player frozen and ready to play. At the back of the room, Lorna discovers a red, leather-bound diary in a hidden compartment of a desk drawer.

As Lorna battles with heartache, she takes comfort in reading the ink-stained words. Turning the pages of the old book, she learns of the incredible bravery of the woman who lived in the house decades before her. And discovers a shocking wartime secret that will change the course of her own life…

Fans of The NightingaleThe Alice Network, and Lilac Girls will love this unforgettable, poignant tale of love, loss and courage during the darkest days of war.

Author Bio:


Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers. You can reach her on Facebook @annastuartauthor or Twitter @annastuartbooks.

Buy Links: (Not associated with BBNB)

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3717o7f

Apple: https://apple.co/3nBgT4n

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2QA0IbN

Google: https://bit.ly/3vxlckc

Death at the Gates by Katie Gayle

I just love the Epiphany “Pip” Bloom series. It’s a cozy series set in England and Pip is always getting herself into tight spots. Do you watch The Modern Miss Fisher on Acorn TV? Pip reminds me of Peregrine (though Peregrine is in Australia) and I picture her like her. Thoroughly enjoyable!

This installment (all are stand alones, too) takes place in a girls’ private school. If you know me, you know I’ve worked in private schools for over 30 years and I love them for book settings! This was a run read. Highly recommended if you enjoy cozies like Her Royal Spyness or Modern Miss Fisher!

Here’s the scoop:

Book Description:
Hurlingham House school is a high-achiever’s heaven, full of happy, hard-working pupils. There’s just the small matter of the dead body on the field… Sounds like a case for Epiphany Bloom!

When Epiphany Bloom’s best friend’s sister Claire is accused of trading exam papers for money, Epiphany agrees to see Ms Peters, the headteacher of Claire’s fiercely competitive school, to provide moral support. Claire has always been a model student and is loudly protesting her innocence: surely it’s all just a misunderstanding.

But when Ms Peters hears about Epiphany’s previous sleuthing exploits, she enlists her help to track down the true culprit!

Taking a job as a PE teacher, Epiphany soon realises she has plenty of suspects for the exam scam mastermind. The broke young teacher with a shady past? The father willing to buy his daughter anything – including grades? The school governor desperate to keep Hurlingham House at the top of the ranks?

Then Epiphany finds one of them dead at the school fair, and it becomes clear someone is taking the cut-throat culture of the school too literally – and when mysterious accidents start happening around her too, it seems the killer knows she’s onto them.

Can Epiphany solve the murder as well as clearing Claire’s name, before she becomes the next victim? This is one test she can’t afford to fail…

A charming and totally addictive cozy mystery with a hilarious and warm-hearted heroine. A must-read for fans of M.C. Beaton, Lee Strauss and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

Author Bio:


Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet.

https://www.facebook.com/KatieGayleWriter
https://twitter.com/KatieGayleBooks

Buy Link:Not associated with BBNB

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3BK4h1u

Thank you for my copy and for making me part of the blog tour!

Castle Shade by Laurie R. King

I just LOVE the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King! Mary Russell is so intelligent and clever, along with being quite plucky, and she gives her husband Sherlock Holmes a run for his money in terms of intellect. The mysteries are always well-plotted but I delight in these books primarily due to the unique and wonderful voice of Mary Russell. If you enjoy women sleuths and/or Sherlock Holmes, do check this series out! Each one is a stand-alone.

I should add that I think Laurie R. King captures Sherlock Holmes better than any other interpreter outside of Sir C-D himself!

Here’s the overview:

A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat—all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure.

The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter of Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania’s young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country’s long-lost provinces, singlehandedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force.

The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thank-you from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children.

The threat is . . . well, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.

When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won’t take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi?

Or, as they are known in the West . . . vampires.

Thanks for my review copy via Net Galley!

Bookouture Blog Tour for A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow

Today I’m part of the Bookouture Blog Tour for Marion Kummerow’s latest novel: A Light in the Window. I recently read Marion’s earlier novel, Not Without My Sister, which is also historical fiction.

This story was fast-paced and at times suspenseful, but I will admit that I liked Marion’s other novel better (not sure exactly why, but I just did. I think I like “sister stories”). I found the info in the afterword really interesting about Ms. Kummerow’s research, etc. This story had suspense, romance, and adventure, all set in Paris in WWII.

Here’s the overview:

Book Description:
Margarete stumbles out of the bombed-out house, the dust settling around her like snow. Mistaking her for the dead officer’s daughter, a guard rushes over to gently ask her if she is all right and whether there’s anything he can do to help her. She glances down at where the hated yellow star had once been, and with barely a pause, she replies “Yes”.

Berlin, 1941: Margarete Rosenbaum is working as a housemaid for a senior Nazi officer when his house is bombed, leaving her the only survivor. But when she’s mistaken for his daughter in the aftermath of the blast, Margarete knows she can make a bid for freedom…

Issued with temporary papers—and with the freedom of not being seen as Jewish—a few hours are all she needs to escape to relative safety. That is, until her former employer’s son, SS officer Wilhelm Huber, tracks her down.

But strangely he doesn’t reveal her true identity right away. Instead he insists she comes and lives with him in Paris, and seems determined to keep her hidden. His only condition: she must continue to pretend to be his sister. Because whoever would suspect a Nazi girl of secretly being a Jew?

His plan seems impossible, and Margarete is terrified they might be found out, not to mention worried about what Wilhelm might want in return. But as the Nazis start rounding up Jews in Paris and the Résistance steps up its activities, putting everyone who opposes the regime in peril, she realizes staying hidden in plain sight may be her only chance of survival…

Can Margarete trust a Nazi officer with the only things she has left though… her safety, her life, even her heart?

A totally heartbreaking and unputdownable story about how far someone would go to save one life, that fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See will adore.

Thank you for my e-galley and for making me part of the tour!

Author Bio:

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family.

Inspired by the true story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime, she started writing historical fiction, set during World War II. Her books are filled with raw emotions, fierce loyalty and resilience. She loves to put her characters through the mangle, making them reach deep within to find the strength to face moral dilemma, take difficult decisions or fight for what is right. And she never forgets to include humor and undying love in her books, because ultimately love is what makes the world go round.

The Therapist by B.A. Paris

Just out this week is the latest from B.A. Pairs – a suspenseful thriller that kept me up all night reading so that I can finish it in one sitting!

Here’s the overview:

Description

The multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapista powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

I have to say that I think I’ve read all her novels and have liked some more than others (loved Behind Closed Doors!). I liked this one a lot!

Let me know what you think…and thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for my review copy!

All Things that Deserve to Perish by Dana Mack

The good folks at Books Forward sent me a copy of this historical fiction novel, centering on a young woman coming of age in Germany at the turn of the century. This is a time period and an area of Europe that I’m not overly familiar with, so I found this book so interesting. The social mores and rules, the role of women, the views on religion (especially Judaism), were all new ground for me. Lisi’s story is interesting, but also sad in some ways. Mack’s writing is flowing and clearly well-researched.

Thank you for sending me a review e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

The year is 1896, and Elisabeth (‘Lisi’) von Schwabacher, the gifted daughter of a Jewish banker, returns home to Berlin from three years of piano study in Vienna. Though her thoughts are far from matrimony, she is pursued by two noblemen impressed as much by her stunning wealth as by her prodigious intellect and musical talent. Awakened to sudden improvements in the opportunities open to women, Lisi balks at her mother’s expectation that she will contract a brilliant marriage and settle down to a life as a wife and mother. In a bid to emancipate herself once and for all from that unwelcome fate, she resolves to have an affair with one of her aristocratic suitors — an escapade that, given her rigid social milieu, has tragic consequences.All Things That Deserve to Perish is a novel that penetrates the constrained condition of women in Wilhelmine Germany, as well as the particular social challenges faced by German Jews, who suffered invidious discrimination long before Hitler’s seizure of power. It is also a compassionate rumination on the distractions of sexual love, and the unbearable strains of a life devoted to art.

About the Author:

Dana is the author of two non-fiction books: The Assault on Parenthood: How Our Culture Undermines the Family (Simon & Schuster; Encounter Paperbacks) and The Book of Marriage: The Wisest Answers to the Toughest Questions (Eerdmans). An historian, journalist and musician, Ms. Mack’s articles on music, history, culture, family issues, and education have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Commentary Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New Criterion, the Washington Post, USA Today, and many other publications. All Things That Deserve To Perish is her first novel.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

I enjoy Sally Hepworth’s writing, so I was excited to get her latest novel The Good Sister from Net Galley. I enjoyed the story, which has some twists to it. To be honest, even if it wasn’t a mystery and just a straightforward story, I would have enjoyed it as I loved the character of Fern – a neurodiverse librarian who meets a young man as unique as she is and falls in love. For me, Fern’s story was enough for an entire novel – suspense wasn’t needed!

This was yet another book that I couldn’t put down and read straight through!

Here’s the overview:

Description

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A stunningly clever thriller made doubly suspenseful by not one, but two unreliable narrators.” 
 People

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


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

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

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

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

Bookouture Blog Tour for THE SHUT AWAY SISTERS by Suzanne Goldring

Today I’m part of the tour for this WWI historical fiction story about two sisters who live out their lives quietly in the house where they were born. They seem fairly quiet and ordinary, but, through diaries we come to know them and their lives, hopes, and lost dreams.

I really liked this one, though it was sad. This story is told in two parts: current day and 1917-22. I much preferred the story and characters from the past. I think they reminded me a bit of a relative I had that would have been the same age who also lived her life with her sibling in the house where she grew up. Who knows what stories she left behind that we have yet to uncover?

Thank you for my copy and for making me part of the tour! I always enjoy books from Bookouture!

Book Description:
Two ordinary sisters. A long and brutal war. A heroic sacrifice…

London, 1915. As German bombs rain down on the East End of London and hungry children queue for rations in the blistering cold, fifteen-year-old Florrie is forced to grow up fast. With her father fighting in the muddy trenches, Florrie turns to her older sister Edith for comfort. But the war has changed Edith. She has grown quiet, with dark shadows under her eyes, and has started leaving the house at night in secret. When Florrie follows her sister through the dark and winding streets of London, she is shocked by what she discovers. But she knows she must keep her sister’s secret for the sake of their family, even if she herself must pay the ultimate price…

Years later Kate, running from her broken relationship, is sorting through her dead aunt Florrie’s house, which she shared with her sister Edith. As she sits on the threadbare carpets, looking at photos of Florrie during the war, she notices the change in her aunt – from carefree young girl with a hopeful smile to a hollow-cheeked young woman, with dark sad eyes.

Determined to put her family’s ghosts to rest, Kate must unearth the secret past of her two aunts. Why is there a hidden locked room in the little house they shared? What is the story behind the abandoned wedding dress wrapped in tissue and tied up with a ribbon? And when Kate discovers the tragic secrets that have bound her family together, will she ever be able to move on?

A heartbreaking historical novel of war, tragedy and the sacrifices we make for those we love. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Victoria Hislop will be hooked by The Shut-Away Sisters.

Author Bio:
Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Whether she is working in her thatched cottage in Hampshire or her seaside home in North Cornwall, Suzanne finds inspiration in the secrets hidden by everyday life.

https://suzannegoldring.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/suzannegoldringauthor
https://twitter.com/suzannegoldring

Buy Links: (not associated with BBNB)

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3vKLDSY

Apple: https://apple.co/3czVrZZ

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3wdnzcP

Google: https://bit.ly/3rAf5ZS

For My Ears: Twice a Daughter – A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging by Julie McGue

The good people of Books Forward recently sent me an audiobook of Julie McGue’s memoir chronicling her search for her biological parents.

Here’s the overview:

Michigan City, IN – Julie Ryan McGue is adopted. And she is also a twin. But because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and the names of their birth parents — which becomes pertinent for Julie when, at 48 years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues. McGue’s poignant and hopeful debut memoir, “Twice a Daughter,” (May 11, 2021, She Writes Press) chronicles the complex search for her uncharted family history.

To launch the probe into her closed adoption, McGue first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over and make a pact: McGue 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.

The quest for her birth relatives spans five years and involves a search agency, a private investigator, 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.

McGue earnestly writes about discovering who you are and where you come from, all while trying to make sense of it all. In sharing her unconventional journey through life, which involves new family, exploration and acceptance, this heavy-hearted history considers personal identity and all the complicated and captivating moments that encapsulate one’s life.

Me again!! This was an interesting one, with even a touch of “truth is stranger than fiction” to it. However, what I found so interesting in this book was the author’s drive to find her biological parents. She was an adult who was raised in a family where she was loved. She had a wonderful husband and family and an active life. But her sense of identity was tightly wound up in the fact that she was adopted at birth and even though she started the search for health reasons, she was not willing to stop even after she received medical histories, etc. It was important for her to find her actual birth parents and any possible half siblings; and she wasn’t going to stop before she did.

Also interesting to me was that, while her twin was invested in the process, this seemed to be truly Julie’s journey. It made me ponder the concept of identity and how we come to define who we are and those things that shape us. In one poignant moment she discovers through DNA testing that she is not Irish (at all) and yet for her whole life she has identified as Irish as her adoptive family was a large Irish family and she had physical features that appeared “Irish”. It does make one wonder how we come to develop who we are and what has the power to add or take away from that knowledge.

An interesting read! Thank you for sending me the audiobook, which was engaging during my drives!

Here’s some background on Julie:

JULIE RYAN McGUE is an author, a domestic adoptee and an identical twin. She writes extensively about finding out who you are, where you belong and making sense of it.

Julie’s debut memoir “Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging” (She Writes Press) comes out in May 2021. It’s the story of her five-year search for birth relatives. Her weekly blogs That Girl, This Life and her monthly column at The Beacher focus on identity, family and life’s quirky moments. 

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Julie received a BA from Indiana University in psychology. She earned a MM in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University. She has served multiple terms on the Board of the Midwest Adoption Center and is an active member of the American Adoption Congress.

Married for over 35 years, Julie and her husband split their time between Northwest Indiana and Sarasota, Florida. She’s the mother of four adult children and has three grandsons. If she’s not at her computer, she’s on the tennis court or out exploring with her Nikon. Julie is currently working on a collection of personal essays. For more information, visit her website, juliemcgueauthor.com