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:
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.
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.
The beloved New York Times bestselling author tells the poignant love story of caring for her parents in their final years in this beautifully written memoir.
“I’ll Be Seeing You moved me and broadened my understanding of the human condition.”—Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much Is True
Elizabeth Berg’s father was an Army veteran who was a tough man in every way but one: He showed a great deal of love and tenderness to his wife. Berg describes her parents’ marriage as a romance that lasted for nearly seventy years; she grew up watching her father kiss her mother upon leaving home, and kiss her again the instant he came back. His idea of when he should spend time away from her was never.
But then Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help. It was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction—to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them. It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy. The mix of emotions on everyone’s part could make every day feel like walking through a minefield. Then came redemption.
I’ll Be Seeing You charts the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious times, love can heal, transform, and lead to graceful—and grateful—acceptance.
I LOVE Elizabeth Berg’s writing and have read all her books (seriously!). This was a bit of a departure as it’s a memoir about her parents and their care as they became elderly. This is a touching and heartfelt story, and one that sure to resonate with those who have experienced their own parents’ aging and needs. In some way, this story is a story many of us share, those of us who were raised by WWII parents, who saw them live out their years together and then have one become not able to continue to live independently, who struggled with seeing them adjust to the changes that aging brings, who came to see their parents in a whole new light.
Touching and honest, I highly recommend it for those facing a similar situation.
This novel was crazy good – -suspenseful, set in a unique and beautiful place (Norway), and it kept me guessing again and again.
Here’s the overview:
The woods are creeping in on a nanny and two young girls in this chilling modern Gothic thriller.
Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway—in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.
Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady. . . .
Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.
If you like suspenseful thrillers, this is one for you.
The good people at Flatiron Books offered me a copy of Beatrice Colin’s new novel: The Glass House. I absolutely loved this historical fiction novel, centering on two very different sisters-in-law: Antonia and Cicely.
Cicely has come to Scotland with her young daughter in order to wrap up her father-in-law’s estate. Sent from India by her botanist husband, who is trekking around in search of plants, she lands outside of her comfort zone in her husband’s family and the Scottish society and culture of the time (early 1900’s). Cicely is a strong woman and is not about to let anything or anyone stop her from gaining what she needs to make a good life for her daughter. Meanwhile, daughter of the house, Antonia, assumed the estate would be hers. She has sacrificed just about all her earthly wants and desires, hopes and dreams, to care for her father and the manor, and she’s not ready to give it all up. The glass house is the greenhouse on the estate, where delicate seedlings take root; but even seemingly hardy plants can wither and die if not cared for.
Here’s the overview from the publisher:
Beatrice Colin’s The Glass House is a gorgeously transporting novel filled with turn-of-the-century detail and lush blooms, about two women from vastly different worlds
Scotland, 1912. Antonia McCulloch’s life hasn’t gone the way she planned. She and her husband, Malcolm, have drifted apart; her burgeoning art career came to nothing; and when she looks in the mirror, she sees disappointment. But at least she will always have Balmarra, her family’s grand Scottish estate, and its exquisite glass house, filled with exotic plants that can take her far away.
When her estranged brother’s wife, Cicely Pick, arrives unannounced, with her young daughter and enough trunks to last the summer, Antonia is instantly suspicious. What besides an inheritance dispute could have brought her glamorous sister-in-law all the way from India? Still, Cicely introduces excitement and intrigue into Antonia’s life, and, as they get to know one another, Antonia realizes that Cicely has her own burdens to bear. Slowly, a fragile friendship grows between them. But when the secrets each are keeping become too explosive to conceal, the truth threatens their uneasy balance and the course of their entire lives.
If you love a solid historical fiction piece, with strong female protagonists, this is a great choice! Beautifully written, Colin’s writing vividly portrays the Scottish countryside and people of another era.
So many choices in this book that affect others in their outcomes; this book really makes you stop and think how your actions can affect others.
I read that the author has passed away from cancer in 2019, which is heart-breaking. She was only 55. It is nice that her stories live on.
Thank you so much for sharing this novel with me through Net Galley!
I’m thrilled to take part in the Harper-Collins Summer Reads Blog Tour this week with the suspenseful mystery novel: When I Was You.
Here’s the scoop:
YOU meets FATAL ATTRACTION in this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester’s growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.
It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.
But Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.
Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.
I really enjoyed this suspenseful read, and I pretty much had it figured out as well – even the twists. Parts of this book are heart-wrenching, and some readers may find some of the topics to be triggers. However, overall I liked this story a lot and look forward to more titles from Ms. Garza!
Thank you for my e-copy and for making me part of the tour!
Amber Garza is a new author to me!
Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza.
I absolutely loved this kids’ story about a boy with OCD tendencies who connects with his Native American heritage and befriends the unique girl next door.
Here’s the overview:
Perfect for fans of Rain Reign, this middle-grade novel The Brave is about a boy with an OCD issue and his move to a reservation to live with his biological mother.
Collin can’t help himself—he has a unique condition that finds him counting every letter spoken to him. It’s a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies, and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father.
When Collin asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he’s never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition.
Collin’s quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda’s help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.
This novel is marketed as a “middle grade” book, which to me means grades 4-8. I’d aim this book for Middle School as it has some serious themes in it: parental rejection, divorce, death, mental health, etc. In a way it reminded me of one of my favorite books for kids: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.
This was such a touching and honest read, and I couldn’t help but love Collin and Orenda. The ending made me cry. This is one that is definitely going on our MS Summer Choices for next year!
Thank you for my e-copy via Net Galley!
Here’s a bit on James Bird – an author who is new to me:
James bird is a Native American author from the Ojibwe tribe. He was born and raised in Southern California and began his writing career penning screenplays and directing films (Eat Spirit Eat, From Above, Honeyglue, We Are Boats). He met his wife, New York Times Bestselling Author Adriana Mather at a nightclub in Hollywood and together they moved to the east coast, where they both write books, rescue animals, and raise their son, Wolf. His favorite food is rice crispy treats and his favorite color is green. His goals in life are to be a great dad, one day open a vegan diner, and write enough books to fill up a bookshelf.
I’m thrilled to be part of the Harlequin Summer Reads blog tour for The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards. This was a riveting read of WWII Resistance, centering on two main characters, mother and daughter Lillian and Genevieve. Living in France, both of them were pulled into anti-Nazi activities, risking and often losing much of what they held dear. I couldn’t put it down! Ms. Robards is a new author to me, but I loved her writing and will look for her other novels.
Here’s the overview:
For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.
In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.
Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can’t be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets.
Max is in Paris, currently living under a cover identity as a show business impresario whose star attraction is Genevieve Dumont. Young, beautiful Genevieve is the toast of Europe, an icon of the glittering entertainment world that the Nazis celebrate so that the arts can be seen to be thriving in the occupied territories under their rule.
What no one knows about Genevieve is that she is Lillian and Paul de Rocheford’s younger daughter. Her feelings toward her family are bitter since they were estranged twelve years ago. But when she finds out from Max just what his new assignment entails, old, long-buried feelings are rekindled and she knows that no matter what she can’t allow her mother to be killed, not by the Nazis and not by Max. She secretly establishes contact with those in the Resistance who can help her. Through them she is able to contact her sister Emmy, and the sisters put aside their estrangement to work together to rescue their mother.
It all hinges on a command performance that Genevieve is to give for a Gestapo General in the Bavarian town where her mother and the others are imprisoned. While Genevieve sings and the show goes on, a daring rescue is underway that involves terrible danger, heartbreaking choices, and the realization that some ties, like the love between a mother and her daughters and between sisters, are forever.
Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty novels and one novella. She is the winner of six Silver Pen awards and numerous other awards.
I’m happy to finally be able to share a great summer read by one of my fave authors: B.A. Paris’ The Dilemma. I received this book months ago from St. Martin’s Press via Net Galley. (thank you!!).
In this novel, two people are keeping secrets in order to keep others blindly happy, but their worlds are about to come tumbling down. Don’t want to say more and give anything away!
This story was a bit different from B.A. Paris’ last ones. I loved the suspense of her earlier works and the intensity. This is more a story with psychological suspense, but it’s heart-breaking, and it touches on the base elements of family life and relationships. I really liked it and read it in one evening because I couldn’t put it down.
Knowing the truth will destroy her. Keeping it secret will destroy him.
It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But Livia is secretly glad Marnie won’t be there.
Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.
Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for Livia: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the party. But before Marnie arrives, Adam hears some terrible news. Now he too is faced with a dilemma: Does he share what he’s learned with his wife? Is hiding the truth the same as telling a lie? And how far are Adam and Livia willing to go to protect the ones they love―and give each other a last few hours of happiness?
This book published today – June 30, 2020. It’s a great summer read!
I’m thrilled to take part in the Harlequin Summer Reads tour with Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle. This was a suspenseful read and just perfect for the summer!
Here’s the overview:
When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned. At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two. As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.
Me again! If you follow me, you know I love a good, suspenseful read and I’m always particularly excited if I don’t “figure it all out” in the first half of the book! I did not figure this one out early and I enjoyed Ms. Belle’s writing, pacing, and plot-line.
Highly recommended for a fast, suspenseful read that is great for poolside!
Thank you for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!
About the Author: Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
From the Tour (please note that purchasing links are NOT affiliated with BBNB but have been sent from Harlequin):