Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson

If you know me, you know I like a suspenseful read that keeps you guessing! I will say that I figured out this one pretty early on, but I enjoyed reading it and especially liked how it went back and forth in time from the past to the present day. It’s the perfect summer read for a little excitement!

Some readers may find content of sexual abuse (not graphic) disturbing.

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

Description

From Catriona McPherson, the Agatha-Award winning author of Quiet Neighbors, comes a clever, spine-tingling standalone Gothic thriller.

Go to My Grave is both a classic ‘country house mystery’ and a thriller. Atmospheric, with mind-bending twists, a narrator who may or may not be reliable, and an ending that will take your breath away and leave you astonished.” —Louise Penny

Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.

But Donna’s guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.

Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”

But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

This spring I listened to the audiobook of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane via Audible and I loved it! I knew Katherine Howe from her awesome YA novel, Conversion, so I knew I’d enjoy another novel by her. Physick Book is the first in a series about women “witches” and their descendants. It was quite intriguing and well-narrated. And I was thrilled that I could immediately pair it with The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, since that continued the story. That said, I don’t think you need to read one in order to read the other — “Daughters” stands alone as a novel in its own right.

Here’s the overview:

Description

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.

Now I’m the type of person who LOVES reading about history and Salem and Katherine Howe has a wealth of information and knowledge, and is a gifted writer, so this was a win for me. I actually had the chance to briefly meet Ms. Howe at BEA several years ago and she was quite gracious and lovely and humble.

Thank you, Net Galley and Henry Holt and Co., for my review copy!

Happy June 25th Pub Day to Ms. Howe!

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

Description

Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

Oh – I loved this beautifully written book about a young woman tracing the secret past of her family. I particularly liked the story of the past, with young, headstrong Naoko who is in love with an American. As always, redemption is a favorite theme of mine and this story was compelling, memorable, and touching.

Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Description (via NG)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The perfect Mother’s Day gift! The million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. Now Lost Roses, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

“Not only a brilliant historical tale, but a love song to all the ways our friendships carry us through the worst of times.”Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often,many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. 

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Praise for Lost Roses

“A charming and vividly rendered historical novel . . . Based on true events, this prequel to Lilac Girls transports.”People

“Inspired by true events, just like its predecessor, and just as well-researched, Lost Roses is a remarkable story and another testament to female strength. This sweeping epic will thrill and delight fans of Lilac Girls and readers of historical fiction alike.”—PopSugar

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I was thrilled to receive this title from Net Galley, as I had loved reading Lilac Girls, for which this book is a prequel. To be honest, it took me a bit to get into it. I did better reading at a stretch because each chapter is the point of view of one of the three main characters, and it kept switching, so if I waited too long, I couldn’t remember what had been happening! However, I settled in and read it over the three day weekend (it is almost 450 pages).

I loved the characters in this book, especially tragic but resilient Sophya. While I feel familiar with the story of the Romanovs, I did not know how much Russian aristocracy (“white Russians”) suffered during WWI. Parts of this story were hard to read and disturbing (due to violence) but the overall historical facts made for really interesting reading (such as American society’s attempt to help displaced Russian women). I loved that this story feeds into the next generation story of Lilac Girls and has Caroline as a young girl. I read that the next prequel will focus on Eliza’s grandmother in the Civil War (and again – the Ferridays are real women!).

If you enjoy WWI stories and stories of strong women, pick up Lost Roses today!

Thank you again for my review e-copy!

Educated by Tara Westover

Since I still have my lengthier than ever commute, I used my Audible credit last month for this novel which I had heard so much about. Everyone has been VERY EFFUSIVE about it, so I assumed that I wouldn’t like it, because I rarely like the things that everyone else raves over (I’m weird like that).

However, I was wrong. This was a fascinating read/listen about an amazing young woman who overcame significant odds to become the person she is today. The description is about education (hence, the title) but there is so much more in this book about family and sibling relationships. Julia Whelan’s narration was spot on perfect and I highly recommend the audiobook. Readers should note that there are some triggers in this story in regards to emotional and physical abuse.

Here’s the overview, which pretty much sums it up!

Number-one New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Boston Globe best seller

Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review

One of President Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of the Year

Bill Gates’s Holiday Reading List

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s Award in Autobiography

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for Best First Book

Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award 

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by: The Washington PostO: The Oprah Magazine Time NPR Good Morning America San Francisco Chronicle The Guardian The Economist Financial TimesNewsday New York Post theSkimm Refinery29 Bloomberg Self Real Simple Town & Country Bustle Paste Publishers Weekly Library Journal LibraryReads BookRiot Pamela Paul, KQED New York Public Library 

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. 

“Beautiful and propulsive…. Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover’s] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?” (Vogue

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.” (The New York Times Book Review)

I Know You by Erik Therme

I had read several of Mr. Therme’s earlier novels (Mortem, Keep Her Close), so I was honored that he offered me an ARC of his new novel via Net Galley.

Here’s the overview:

Description

‘I can help you save your sister. But I need something from you …’

Sisters Bree and Alissa Walker share a special bond. Neglected by their parents, they have always looked out for one another. But one day, sixteen-year-old Alissa goes missing. When Bree discovers her green backpack with all her belongings, abandoned on the steps of their run-down trailer, she knows that something bad has happened …

Then she receives a chilling text message. Someone has Alissa. But Bree will have to give up something very precious in exchange.

Desperate to save Alissa, Bree looks at everyone close to their family. She’s sure that Alissa’s best friend is keeping something back about her little sister and a boy at school, and why has their estranged uncle, who they’ve not seen in years, been hanging around again?

It soon becomes clear that the person behind the message knows a lot about the dark truths within the Walker family and will go to any lengths to get revenge. And as the search for Alissa continues, Bree discovers something about her brother Tyler that she wishes she hadn’t, a dangerous secret, which is also the key to bringing her little sister back home …

A gripping and addictive thriller about family secrets and lies and the lengths people will go to protect them. Perfect for fans of Teresa Driscoll and Louise Jensen. 

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So – to be honest – this novel took me longer to get into than the previous ones I had read by Erik. There was a lot of dialogue and internal thinking, with less emphasis on action and descriptions. I had some trouble picturing things as I read, especially as there were a lot of twists and turns. I wasn’t sure where things were going as I read along, but I liked how they ended up.

Thank you, Mr. Therme, for giving me a chance to review another title of yours!

Treading the Uneven Road – a short story collection by L.M. Brown

I received an electronic copy of this wonderful collection of stories from the author a few months ago. They take place in Ireland and are all inter-related.

Description:
The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on.

Me again!! I love Ireland and I love short stories where there is a connecting thread throughout them all. These aren’t all happiness and light, but they do leave you thinking about the characters and wondering about their lives. Brown has the ability to develop character and evoke setting, so that these stories are vividly impressed upon you as you read.

Thank you so much for my review copy! You can find it on Amazon and other online retailers!