Tuesday, June 25, 2019

New For July


The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Chandler uses the #MeToo movement as a springboard for her adult fiction debut that mixes women’s social history with a credible murder mystery.  When the CEO of Truviv, a Dallas sportswear company drops dead of a heart attack, General Counsel Ames Garrett is poised to take over.  Slowly, it becomes clear that Garrett has lecherous tendencies, a fact in-house attorney Sloane Glover admits, though she also admits to having an affair with him before she married; when Sloane adds Garrett’s names to a spreadsheet that is circulating amoung the women of Dallas, a who’s-who of sleaze, Sloane teams up with her friends Ardie Valdez, new mom Grace Stanton, and new hire Katherine Bell, into taking action against Garrett.  Chandler includes a compelling murder mystery, as well as the different stories of working moms and the work-life balance, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

Anna Kate has returned to her mother’s hometown of Wicklow, Alabama, to bury her Granny Zee, and to fulfill the terms of Zee’s will which states that Anna Kate must spend a couple months running Zee’s Blackbird Café before it can be sold.  Anna Kate tries to stay to herself the best she can, but she is bombarded by locals and tourists including the blackbird seekers who have come to town to find the elusive bird, and to sample the magical blackbird pie, a recipe Anna Kate cannot quite perfect.  Also, back in town is Natalie and her young daughter Ollie, to face Natalie’s overpowering mother.  As the two women’s stories unfold, they parallel each other at times, and then converge, in a most unusual way and may help explain to Anna Kate why her mother left Wicklow as a young, pregnant woman, and about the car accident that killed her father and broke her mother’s heart.  Quirky and charming, Wicklow and its residents welcome readers as surely as they do Anna Kate and Natalie, and make them their own.  The perfect read on a sultry summer day.

The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson
Every since her father’s death, and the subsequent parade of women accusing the Chicago millionaire of sexual misconduct, Phoebe Miller has all but become a recluse in her home in an exclusive Chicago neighborhood, drinking her days away, arguing with and alienating herself from, her therapist husband Wyatt over her unwillingness to consider adoption after a stillborn son and multiple IVF treatments.  Phoebe notices a rusted-out car stalking her house most days, but can’t bring herself to confront the driver or even call the police.  After Vicki Napier, her 18-year-old son, and husband move in next door, things start to get interesting and downright sordid in Phoebe’s world.  Secrets emerged, secrets stay hidden, a murder occurs, twists and turns abound, making it difficult to know who to trust, even after the last page is turned.  A debut domestic thriller by an author worth watching.



Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
A teenage boy has been breaking into homes and spying on people using their computers in a quiet, upstate New York suburb, learning the secrets of his neighbors.  Robert Pierce’s wife Amanda told him she was going on a weekend shopping trip to New York with a friend and never returns, and the friend knew nothing about the trip.  Robert reports his wife’s absence with little feeling to the police, but someone knows where Amanda might be and why.  Tensions and distrust rises as neighbors try to suss out who has been spying on them and who knows their secrets in this well-paced, clever domestic thriller.



The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
Four investment bankers from the Wall Street firm Stanhope and Sons are called to an after-hours team building exercise which turns out to be an Escape Room in the form of an elevator in a building under construction.  Vincent, Sam, Jules, and Sylvia quickly realize this is not an event organized by their company but by someone with a vendetta, someone who has set the clues to point toward one of their now dead colleagues, Sara Hall.  Told in alternating chapters, the present from within the elevator and the past, narrated by Sara Hall, who is quickly drawn into the excitement of working in high stakes baking, but is not sure it is worth the risk, especially when one member of their team dies.  Sara’s narrative propels the story forward, while the foursome in the elevator slow things down a bit, dragging out their search for clues and their solutions.  All in all, though, this debut thriller from Australian Goldin is worth a read. A Library Reads pick for July.


The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
Edith and her sister Helen grew up on a Minnesota farm during the 1950’s.  Edith married Stanley Magnusson, living a typical life, scrimping to make ends meet, but making pies that people will drive miles and hours to get a taste of.  Helen married Orval Blotz, heir to the failing Blotz Beer brewery, and is determined to make a success out of the business.  Using her inheritance money, the entire proceeds from the farm, something that estranges her from Edith for much of the rest of their lives, Helen tries to kick start the company.  Edith, ponders over, but does not wallow in, how her life might have been different had she had her share of the inheritance.  After Stanley dies, Edith must work two jobs to make ends meet, especially after she takes in her orphaned granddaughter Diana, who has her own ideas as to how to keep Edith afloat.  Through a series of events, Diana finds herself working in a brewery, eventually becoming one of the top brewers in Minnesota.  Told from the points of view of these women, in both flashbacks and present day, the story is charming and touching, never mired down in grief, anger, or despair, and becomes an uplifting tribute to familial love and loyalty. A Library Reads pick for July.  


Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Amy Whey lives a quiet life in Pensacola, Florida, giving diving lessons, mothering her teenage step-daughter Maddie and her new son Oliver, and helping her best friend Charlotte run the neighborhood book club.  But Amy is keeping a secret from everyone including her husband, a secret that is threatened to be revealed when beguiling Angelica Roux attends their book group one night.  Roux seems to enjoy pitting the women against each other as they reveal their deepest, darkest secrets.  When she gets Amy alone, Roux gets Amy to admit to her secret and threatens to tell all about the secret Amy has kept hidden unless Amy gives Roux what Roux wants.  As Amy races to keep her secret without succumbing to a blackmailer she faces her past and learns some startling truths about her present.  Clever, dark, and twisty, this departure from Jackson’s usual fare has enough levity interjected to keep from dragging down the pace of the narrative. A Library Reads Hall of Fame author. 

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
Lippman’s stand alone thriller is set in 1960’s Baltimore when Maddie Schwartz, and the age of 37, decides she has had enough of being a good Jewish housewife, and leaves her husband and son to strike out as a journalist, a long secretly held ambition, a touch job for a woman during this time.  The body of a young black woman, Cleo Sherwood, is found in a fountain, and no one really investigated the death wrote about it, and seems the perfect opportunity to Maddie.  So does stumbling across the body of 11-year-old Tessie Fine, and then corresponding with her killer to learn the truth about her death.  Maddie stumbles across stories and then tromps around in the investigations, not realizing who she is angering or what she is getting herself into, making people reveal things they’d rather keep hidden.  Chapters alternate between Cloe’s ghost, keeping a close eye on Maddie, and the people Maddie runs across in her investigative reporting, people in her other life she wouldn’t have given a second thought to.  Lippman packs as much into a story as she dares without leaving it feeling overstuffed, and always has a few surprises for the last pages.  A Library Reads Hall of Fame author. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Congratulations to...

...our Week #4 Prize Winners:

  • AnnM
  • Brenda

Progress So Far

After four weeks, we have 152 members, who have read a total of 424 books!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

This Land Is My Land: a graphic history of big dreams, micronations, and other self-made states

Author: Andy Warner   
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee

A non-fiction graphic novel about 30 self-made places around the world which were created with the dream of finding utopia. Some still exist, some are tourist attractions. Arizona Mystery Castle here I come!

The Keep

Author: Jennifer Egan
Stars: 3
Review by: libraryaimee

Strange plot, strange characters, but everything gets twisted together so expertly at the end that I enjoyed it very much! Unpredictable.

Restoring Grace

Author: Katie FForde   
Stars: 5
Review by: KM

So far, every book from this author has been really well-written, with great character development. Light and warming, yet substantive. British author.

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much

Author: Mark Shaw
Stars: 5
Review by: rgfundamental

I enjoyed all the celebrity references & the historical significance. It is about the mysterious death of Dorothy Kilgallen & her investigating the assassination of JFK.

Britt Marie Was Here

Author: Fredrik Backman   
Stars: 2
Review by: Diane G.

This book was given to me as a birthday gift. I wouldn't have finished it otherwise! I have heard good things about Backman's writing, but found the character development lacking and the pacing of the book slow. I enjoyed the themes of the book and the progress of its main character, but overall, this book wasn't for me.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

Author: Kelli Estes   
Stars: 4
Review by: Miss Lucy

This book came out a few years ago. It's Kelli Estes's debut novel. Mostly the story of a Chinese-American woman from the 19th century, the author intermixes chapters about her with chapters about a modern day white woman, using that device to tell a great story.

A Dog’s Journey

Author: Bruce Cameron   
Stars: 4
Review by: August Mom

A story told from the perspective of a dog with many lives. The connections of caring and showing up when needed in the lives of the humans is inspiring.

Anatomy of an Illness

Author: Norman Cousins   
Stars: 5
Review by: PattiK

I’ve read this book multiple times. I speak about it at every single one of my Alzheimer’s event. I think it’s an important book for all of us to read because it reminds us of the intrinsic nature of our bodies towards health and wholeness and also of the importance of laughter.

Sulfur Springs

Author: William Kent Krueger   
Stars: 5
Review by: Noel

I love the Cork O'Connor series!

From Doon With Death

Author: Ruth Rendell   
Stars: 3
Review by: Lizzy

My introduction to Inspector Wexford. Not too impressed so far. A good mystery, but the main characters were kind of ho-hum.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

Author: Fredrik Backman   
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee

Parenting advice/memoir. Very funny and very true! Would make a great new parent gift.

Where The Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens   
Stars: 5
Review by: stillada

Wonderful.

The Pale Criminal

Author: Phillip Kerr   
Stars: 4
Review by: Chris L

Slick detective mystery full of historical info. Great snapshot of Germany as the Nazis came into power from the average German's point of view.

Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers   
Stars: 3
Review by: Kristen E.

I suggest the audio of this book. It is a mystery that deals with some sensitive topics, but they were handled well. I found the main character, Sadie, very interesting.

Heartburn

Author: Nora Ephron   
Stars: 5
Review by: Liza

I really enjoyed the book, per se, but I listened to an audiobook version narrated by Meryl Streep and it was really excellent.

An Amish Betrayal

Author: R.D. Schedman   
Stars: 4
Review by: Pip 2

This is a Bible story written in Amish style! I can’t wait to read more by this author.

Queen Bee

Author: Dorothy Benton Frank   
Stars: 3
Review by: Pip 2

A low country story about relationships with family and others. At times very funny.

Cravings: Recipes for all the food you want to eat

Author: Chrissy Teigen   
Stars: 4
Review by: Cheryl M.

Chrissy Teigen literally lays everything on the table. Literally. She speaks about food with passion and introduces every recipe with IMHO a charming, LOL funny and often crass note. Chrissy is Thai and American and many of her recipes have an Asian influence - which I loved.  I am working through the book, but everything I have done so far have had great results. Fish Wrapped in Paper - a new family favorite!

Nanaville

Author: Anna Quindlan
Stars: 5
Review by: Judy

If you are a grandmother you will totally enjoy this honest book about having your first grandchild . A small book, but speaks so much about family and relationships.   

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Author: Lisa See   
Stars: 5
Review by: DorCaf

This was a great summer read. I loved the story of the friendship among the women. I also feel like I learned a bit about the Chinese culture during the time when this story takes place.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Curse of the Pharaohs

Author: Elizabeth Peters   
Stars: 3
Review by: Lizzy

Back in Egypt with another murder, along with a cast of comic characters. Also there is a love triangle, some crazy lady channeling some Egyptian goddess, a tomb waiting to be opened while strange situations happen, causing many to believe ancient curses are at work. Emerson even dresses up and puts on a crazy show hoping to root out the murderer. More hoots and laughs than scares in this book.

The Sentence Is Death

Author: Anthony Horowitz   
Stars: 4
Review by: Lizzy

Another enjoyable romp with Hawthorne being Sherlock to Horowitz being Watson. More twists and turns than The Long Way Hole! Two deaths. One definitely a murder. Are they related? Did the haiku predict it? And what a waste of good wine! Can’t wait for the third book!

Before We Were Yours

Author: Lisa Wingate   
Stars: 4
Review by: Grandma I.

Riveting novel of children kidnapped from their parents and "sold" to rich adoptive parents, based on a Tennessee adoption agency that did that for about 30 years.

Save Me the Plums

Author: Ruth Reichl   
Stars: 3
Review by: Katie R

Interesting memoir from the editor of Gourmet. Made me miss the magazine.

Sourdough

Author: Robin Sloan   
Stars: 3
Review by: Katie R

If you enjoy cooking, technology and farmers’ markets, this might be the book for you!

Wuthering Heights

Author: Emily Bronte   
Stars: 5
Review by: Cheryl M.

I so enjoyed this book. That does not mean it is an easy read. You need to find the right edition, editor etc. I had two: I read the Penguin Classics as it was edited by her sister and had great footnotes. I read others to see what authors like Virginia Woolf thought about the book, the writing and the issues. Read it!

Normal People

Author: Sally Rooney   
Stars: 4
Review by: Katie R

Really enjoyed this one. The characters were very well developed.

The Favorite Daughter

Author: Kaira Rouda   
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee

A thriller told by a very unreliable narrator!

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven

Author: Mitch Albom   
Stars: 5
Review by: NAndreoli

Just as good as the first!

The Island of the Sea Women

Author: Lisa See   
Stars: 4
Review by: Kristen E.

This is a story of pain , sorrow, anger, anger and grief all rolled into one. This is historical fiction, set on the island of Jeju, South Korea. It centers on the relationship between two women, Mi-ja and Young-sook, from the 1930s to 2008. The characters, relationship and Korean society were so interesting! Overall, I really enjoyed this story. Lisa See always knows how to tell a good story and I learned so much about Korea's history.

The Silent Sister

Author: Diane Chamberlaine  
Stars: 4
Review by: Kristen E.

I listened to the audio book, and I thought it was great!! I guessed part of the ending pretty early on, but the book was still very enjoyable and I kept listening, waiting to hear how it would all turn out.

We'll Always Have Summer

Author: Jenny Han   
Stars: 2
Review by: Kristen E.

I have immensely enjoyed the first two books in Jenny Han's Summer Series. They are a bit fluffy and full of ANGST &DRAMA &produce the occasional 'eye-rolling moment from me ~ but they are also charming & nostalgic & summer-y & somehow authentic. I found this book to be quite the opposite and I wouldn't recommend it. I couldn't stand the characters & what the author did to them, particularly Jeremiah. I was so angry while reading this book but I still had to know what happened!

It's Not Summer Without You

Author: Jenny Han   
Stars: 4
Review by: Kristen E.

I like this series and the characters even if Belly gets on my nerves sometimes. It was nice to see the crew together again somewhat and helping each other grow. As a second book in this trilogy, I thought it was well-done and stood on its own merits.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Author: Jenny Han   
Stars: 4
Review by: Kristen E.

3.5/4 stars. I don't know why her books are so compulsively readable for me. I think it totally takes me back to that age or something. I also really like her characters even though the main characters have been kind of immature.

Elevation

Author: Stephen King   
Stars: 4
Review by: Kristen E.

Stephen King has never really disappointed me. I don't like his gory books, but I love everything else he writes. This one was a particularly strange one, but as always I grew to really enjoy the characters and the story.

Field Notes on Love

Author: Jennifer E. Smith   
Stars: 3
Review by: Kristen E.

I've enjoyed Jennifer Smith's books in the past, but I didn’t make an emotional connection with the story or the characters in this one. It left me feeling like an outside observer. The story arc was kind of predictable, but I'd recommend it for a fun, quick read.

Hillbilly Elegy

Author: J.D. Vance   
Stars: 3
Review by: Kristen E. 

I had mixed feelings about this book. I found the author to be kind of obnoxious at times and sort of condescending. I think he did have some interesting things to point out and I enjoyed the memoir portions, but sometimes I disagreed with him pretty strongly about his more general cultural observations. I also wish he had more solutions to offer.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Author: Michelle McNamara   
Stars: 5
Review by: TaraC

This was the obsession of Michelle McNamara. A must-read for any amateur sleuth or wanna-be Sherlock Holmes. Since its publication, the mystery has been solved, but it takes nothing away from the journey.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris   
Stars: 4
Review by: stillada

Based on a true story. Very disturbing. About the Holocaust. Do not read if this bothers you.

The Pilot's Wife

Author: Anita Shreve   
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF

Kathryn, the pilot's wife, is told the plane her husband was piloting went down and all were killed. So starts the unraveling of the husband she thought she knew. Well written and a very good read.

Congratulations to...

... our Week #3 Prize Winners:
  • BigBison
  • Shannon D.

Progress So Far

141 members read 301 books.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Congratulations to...

... our Week #2 Prize Winners:

  • Mitchie L.
  • Elaine

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

The Black Cat

Author: Martha Grimes   
Stars: 4
Review by: Lizzy

Not only has the dog come back, but now the cat has come back. Actually, 3 black cats. Mungo and the cats made this story enjoyable. And of course, Plant. Jury is getting so boring. Harry Johnson is back. Oh, there are 3 murders of escort girls that Jury needs to find the connection to. Or is Harry just setting him up?

The Library of Lost and Found

Author: Phaedra Patrick
Stars: 4
Review by: Lizzy

Charming tale of a librarian who receives a book signed by her grandmother who had died. Only problem is, she never knew her grandma wrote a book, the book was signed by her grandmother and dated after her death, and they were stories she and her grandmother had made up years ago!  A mystery, a story of family, finding out who Martha really is, a story of hope and love with some quirkiness sprinkled in.

A Piglet Named Mercy

Author: Kate DiCamillo   
Stars: 3
Review by: Lizzy

Cute story, wonderful illustrations. I was waiting for more of a story, but apparently this is connected to a chapter book series of this pig.

Dust

Author: Martha Grimes   
Stars: 3
Review by: Lizzy

Wait. What? What is going on? What happened to the Jury I knew? Not that he was all that great, I always preferred Plant. And this Lu character?!? And the ending? Wait, what end? Well, first you don’t know who did it, second there is also a cliff hanger ending of something that you have no clue why THAT happened?! It was fun seeing Harry Johnson again. Malcolm was fun. Just a bunch of bizarre stuff. I will read the next one because I like my ends tied up!  

Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens
Stars: 5
Review by: Kim P.

I don't know where to begin with this book. Just read it. You won't be disappointed.

A Mother's Goodbye

Author: Kate Hewitt   
Stars: 4
Review by: stillada

I do not Highly Recommend it because it is VERY SAD.

Shelter in Place

Author: Nora Roberts   
Stars: 4
Review by: Momma D

Very timely in light of the many mass shootings of late. It follows the life, after a mass shooting, of several of the survivors and how it has affected their lives.

Dopesick

Author: Beth Macy   
Stars: 5
Review by: Keeread

About the opioid addiction in America, especially in old mine towns. Really opened my eyes to the way drug companies target doctors by giving them freebies, dinners, and trips in exchange for them to prescribe their drug. Also how drug companies hide the truth that opioids are addictive. Told about the science of the brain becoming addictive to the drug and how hard it is to come clean.

A Summer in Paris

Author: Sarah Morgan   
Stars: 5
Review by: Brenda

It's a great summer read.

Dig

Author: A.S. King   
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee

A YA novel by a critically acclaimed YA author. Summaries of her novels always make the book sound unappealing, but I have loved the two I have read by her. Weird and intricately plotted, this book makes you look harder at yourself and your family relationships.

Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys   
Stars: 5
Review by: MCG

This story is heartbreaking and uplifting and hopeful. I wish the ending had been a little bit more developed, simply because I wanted more of the story. Very well written and one of those books that I just couldn't put down- except to catch my breath.

Depth of Winter

Author: Craig Johnson   
Stars: 4
Review by: Noel

I'm a fan of the Longmire series, but this one was not my favorite.

March Violets

Author: Philip Kerr   
Stars: 3
Review by: Chris L

First book in the Bernie Gunther series. Takes place in pre-WWII Germany. Detective tries to solve missing persons mysteries while skirting Nazis. Interesting snapshot of Germany in the 1930's.

Factfulness

Author: Hans Rosling   
Stars: 4
Review by: Grandma I.

Thought provoking insight to help us understand the world and its progress and problems better using available data.

Y is for Yesterday

Author: Sue Grafton
Stars: 4
Review by: mystery lover

I like the book. Wish she wasn't jinxed by a review from another author (back cover on several of Grafton's books).

Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama
Stars: 5
Review by: DorCaf

Where do I start...the writing is tremendous. It is inviting and welcoming to young adult and adult readers of all ages and levels. The story she tells is honest and inspirational. She is an amazing person who responded to a higher calling. Yet, along the way she seems to manage to never forget where she came from and what is really important in life. A great book!

The Sun Does Shine

Author: Anthony Ray Hinton   
Stars: 4
Review by: DorCaf

The only reason I gave this book 4 stars is the writing which was just okay. The story deserves 5 stars. This man spent 30 years on death row...and he was clearly innocent. Yet, he emerged from his incarceration in a positive state of mind--simply amazing. This is a story about how he kept his humanity on death row and a story about our truly messed up legal system. I strongly recommend reading this inspirational story.

Safe Haven

Author: Nicholas Sparks   
Stars: 3
Review by: BKF

Not his best book. The writing was somewhat repetitive. A story about a woman who runs away from a very difficult life, wanting to start anew under an assumed name in a very small, backwoods town, always looking over her shoulder praying she'll not be found.

An O'Brien Family Christmas

Author: Sherryl Woods   
Stars: 4
Review by: Raritangal

One of a series adapted by Hallmark for TV (Chesapeake Shores). Fast , fun read.

The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller
Stars: 2
Review by: Kim P.

The love of Achilles and his partner Patroclus during the Trojan War.

Ballparks - Then and Now

Author: Eric Enders   
Stars: 5
Review by: BigBison

Great pictures of long gone ballparks. I learned a lot.

Fun Home

Author: Alison Bechdel   
Stars: 4
Review by: line82

I wanted to read this because North Hunterdon HS banned it. I do not believe it should be banned.

Glory Over Everything

Author: Kathleen Grissom
Stars: 4
Review by: stillada

Both of this author's books were really good. They should be read in order.

Greeks Bearing Gifts

Author: Philip Kerr   
Stars: 4
Review by: Chris L

Detective Bernie Gunther hunts war criminals in post WWII Greece. Entertaining & somewhat historically educational.

Educated

Author: Tara Westover   
Stars: 5
Review by: BKF

Unbelievable! It's amazing the author ever made it through childhood growing up in the family that was hers!! A very well written memoir.

Daisy Jones and the Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid   
Stars: 5
Review by: Kristen E.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is officially one of my favorite authors. I've read two of her books and they both had awesome characters and were compulsively readable. This one was set in the mid sixties – late seventies. It absolutely transports readers to the most iconic age of rock n’ roll. The characters are what really make this book amazing though. They were so deep and real in all their imperfections and relationship. I just loved it! What a great read!

The Lost Man

Author: Jane Harper   
Stars: 5
Review by: Kristen E.

The Lost Man is set in the dry heat &isolation of the Australian outback. When Cameron Bright is found dead in the dirt, having dehydrated nine miles away from his parked car, it looks like it could be a bizarre suicide. The setting was such a huge part of the story it was almost a character in & of itself. Although the story was very character driven, it was a page-turner which is unusual for most thriller/mysteries. I highly recommend it!

The Home for Unwanted Girls

Author: Joanna Goodman
Stars: 3
Review by: Auntping

It was slow getting started. But it picked up speed. Another book where women's choices are limited. Would have like to have more followup at the end as this was historical fiction sorta.

Daddy Love

Author: Joyce Carol Oates   
Stars: 2
Review by: Auntping

Not an easy subject. If you are going to talk New Jersey make sure your facts are on point. There is no hospital in Clinton, NJ. Thought she only grazed the surface of the subject.

The Other Einstien

Author: Marie Benedict   
Stars: 4
Review by: Auntping

I am always amazed at the rights that women now take for granted. This book is about Einstein's wife and her struggle for an education, acceptance, and recognition in a male dominated field.

Cari Mora

Author: Thomas Harris   
Stars: 4
Review by: Judy

Thomas Harris wrote another good book not as scary as Silence of The Lambs, but it is violent. I think if you like the genre you will enjoy reading this book.

Amity And Prosperity: One family and the fracturing of America

Author: Eliza Griswold   
Stars: 3
Review by: BertaP

The horrible impact on one family in Pennsylvania of fracking and their years long battle with the company and the government.

Stony The Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow

Author: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.   
Stars: 4
Review by: BertaP

Such an important book to read. Made me aware of the horrible and systematic campaign by society and our government to denigrate African-Americans by means of ads, propaganda, books, movies, and legislation.

The Great Believers

Author: Rebecca Makkai
Stars: 5
Review by: BertaP

Set in Chicago beginning in the 80's. A very touching account of the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the gay community before it was recognized by the general medical organizations. A novel.

Save Me The Plums

Author: Ruth Reichl
Stars: 4
Review by: BertaP

Fun memoir about her years as the editor of Gourmet magazine.

Happiness

Author: Aminatta Forna
Stars: 5
Review by: BertaP

This was may favorite book of the year. Loved the protagonists and their interactions.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Author: Liane Moriarty
Stars: 4
Review by:Cheryl M.

"Here we meet Frances - a wonderful and human character who just needs a break from the lemons that life has handed her recently. She is one of nine strangers at a remote health resort for a 10 day transformative experience. Each are there for vastly different reasons." I'm wishing I was there.... until..well - you read the book. Sorry I just hate spoiling the fun which goes to the last page! I so feel I want to say more but I hate spoiling the fun for everyone. This is well worth the read!

Congratulations to...

... our Week #1 Prize Winners:

  • DebbyK
  • stillada


The Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman
Stars: 4
Review by: Kim P.

Living on a remote island in a lighthouse and suffering many miscarriages, a couple find a dead body and a very much alive new born baby floating adrift in a row boat.  What should they do? Report it to the police or just keep the baby as their own?

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

The Game of Thrones (Book 1)

Author: George R R Martin
Stars: 5
Review by: Kim P.

Season 1 of the show. I enjoyed the book. Will continue with the series.

All Your Perfects

Author: Colleen Hoover
Stars: 4
Review by: Brenda

This book is a love story about a couple who has trouble having a baby, and what it can do to the relationship and marriage. Through everything they end up realizing that they can make it through and save their marriage by writing love letters to each other to remind them of how much love they have for each other even though they cannot have children.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Start Your Summer Reading List...

With these books coming in June:

The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte
Even though she has never really felt she has “the gift”, upon getting her degree in English Claire Hathaway decides to follow in her mother and grandmother’s footsteps and gives readings, fake to be sure, at Mystical Haven in Sedona, Arizona.  Distanced from her mother, not only geographically, her father’s final stroke and subsequent death brings Claire back to Pennsylvania and her mother, a reunion that awakens Claire’s physic abilities.  A chance meeting of Rena and her daughter Stephanie on the plane home sets Claire on an entirely new course.  Rena and Stephanie are going to see a doctor in Arizona who Rena hopes will bring her young daughter relief from her undiagnosed, lifelong chronic illness. Chapters are told in alternating voices and sympathies switch between Claire and Rena.  This is not an easy thriller, but the characters are so complex and the contrasts to stark it is worth the effort.




And don't miss author Ellen LaCorte at the Headquarters Library on Tuesday July 30th at 7 pm.  Click here to sign-up: http://hclibrary.evanced.info/signup/Calendar 
Those People by Louise Candlish
British author Candlish is not quite as successful with her second domestic suspense novel as she was with her first Our House.  The South London street Lowland Way has created an enclave of sorts: Ralph and his wife Naomi live next door to his brother Finn and sister-in-law Tess and have combined their backyards to make a park-like play space for their combined children.  With Naomi at the helm, the neighbors clear the street of cars on Sunday allowing children to play freely, safe from traffic.  When Darren inherits number one from his aunt, and he and his girlfriend Jodie move in, the neighborhood takes a decidedly unpleasant turn: the couple plays loud music late into the night, disturbing Ant and Em, their next-door neighbors, young parents who are already stressed.  The demolition of a wall and other DYI projects along with a used car repair and sales lot further mar the property and prompt bad reviews of their neighbor across the street Sissy’s B&B website.  At first, the neighbors try to reason with Darren, but soon they lose patience and start to look for alternative ways to “get rid” or their new neighbors.  The story begins by being told in flashbacks, starting eight weeks prior to a scaffolding collapse with tragic results.  Each part is introduced by a different neighbor and their views of the situation leading up to the day of the accident and moving forward with the investigation from there.  The characters, who consider themselves civilized aren’t quite so, and the pace of the plot doesn’t pick up until the actual incident occurs.  An ending that leaves things a bit unsettled may appeal to some, but may frustrate others.  

The First Mistake by Sandie Jones
The second novel from the best-selling author of The Other Woman, a a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, starts off a bit slowly, but then gains momentum with the reveals in the second two-thirds of the book.  Alice and her second husband Nathan run the company AT Designs, which Alice founded with her first husband, now deceased, Tom.  The pair have the opportunity to purchase land in Japan and build and design an apartment building, but Alice has misgivings, especially now that she thinks Nathan is having an affair.  As she confides in her best friend Beth, Alice learns things connected to Tom that she is having trouble believing, things that make her question everything about her life and choices to date.  The tension grows as the twists and revelations keep coming at a rapid pace rewarding readers who persevere. 

The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda
In the seaside town of Littleport, Maine, year-round residents rarely mix with summer vacationers.  Native Avery Greer and wealthy summer resident Sadie Loman are the exceptions.  In high school the two became best friends, Avery eventually taking a job managing the Loman’s summer rental properties for the family company.  At an end of the season house party, Avery waits for her friend who never shows.  Sadie’s body is found washed up on the shore and the police question all of the party attendees until a suicide note is found. While the police are satisfied, Avery is not, and something niggles at her during the winter; the follow summer there are petty break-ins and occurrences at various Loman properties and Avery begins to investigate on her own: Avery has a bit of a bad girl reputation from her late teen age years, but the more she investigates the more questions she has, not only about Sadie’s death, but also about the accident that killed her parents, and about her own past.  As twisty as the rocky shore roads along the beach, the surprises do not stop, even until the last page.

The Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg
When Finn Hunt lands a job as nanny to Arizona Senator Jim Martin’s granddaughter Amabel, she thinks it’s too good to be true.  Philip Martin, heir apparent to his father’s seat and his wife Marina welcome Finn into their home and lives, and don’t ask too many questions about her past, which is fine with Finn as she’d rather not talk about it; four-year-old Amabel adores Finn, and she has started a relationship with one of Senator Martin’s top aides.  Things start to go wrong when Amabel points out a young woman, Iris, who appears to be following them and then threatens to reveal a secret that would ruin the Senator’s chance for reelection and Philip’s for his own run.  Even after a tragic accident that ends her employment with the Martins, Finn continues to investigate Iris and her claims, putting not only herself in some unbelievable situations, but in real danger.  When Finn’s carefully cultivated and curated world begins to collapse and she realizes it was all a mirage, she realizes she is on her own with no one to help her.  While some of Finn’s motives are unbelievable and part of the plot disturbing, this domestic thriller is still worth a read.

After the End by Clare Mackinstosh
In a departure form her usual thrillers, Mackintosh writes a story that is very personal to her: Max and Pip Adams have a two-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor; after many treatments and surgeries, the parents are facing the fact that it is unlikely that Dylan will live more than a few months.  Max has found an experimental proton therapy available in the United States, but Pip does not want Max to suffer more than he has, possibly prolonging his life only a few years, the quality of his life not guaranteed.  Because the pair cannot agree on a course of treatment, the court must step in and make a recommendation as to what it considers in the best interest of Dylan.  The second part of the book alternates chapters between Max and Pip, each telling the story as if the verdict went in their favor.  Dylan’s doctor Leila Khalili weighs in, but does not give away the true nature of the verdict, nor what she would have done if the child and decision had been hers.  This painful subject is handled delicately, if somewhat awkwardly, as the two narratives diverge and readers must decide which outcome they most prefer. 

The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer
In their second outing, Detective Chief Inspector Greg Carver and Detective Sergeant Ruth Lake are searching for the Ferryman, a serial killer whom they believe is involved in the disappearances, and presumed murders, of over a dozen men in the Liverpool area.  After an episode of the reality television series “Fact or Fable?” the Ferryman ratchets things up, calling the pair to a gruesome “art installation” that is sections of human brains sealed within Plexiglas.  The Ferryman begins using social media to gain follows and fans, and uses an unsuspecting young man who thinks he is just as clever, to promote his agenda.  The plot is twisty and turny, the characters complex as Carver struggles with his recovery from the duo’s last case, and as Lake faces her past head on, finding what she hopes is not a connection to the Ferryman.  There are some graphic and disturbing scenes, but readers who like their police procedurals on the gritty side will find much to enjoy. 

The Shallows by Matt Goldman
Wise-cracking, yet practical minded retired cop, now private investigator, Niles Shapiro is back in his third outing.  The Minnesota PI has been hired to look into the death of attorney Todd Rabinowitz by Todd’s widow Robin: also by Todd’s law firm, and also by the Greater Lake Minnetonka Police Department, currently without a chief.  Ethics being more the concern of Shap’s partner in the firm and best friend, Anders Ellegaard, he does what he can to satisfy everyone, but when a bomb goes off in the law office, the FBI also wants Shap to consult and he has to cry uncle.  Two more deaths and the fumbling police department are satisfied they’ve solved the crime and more on.  Shap, not as much.   Shap is convinced that Karen Tressler, Congressional candidate and client of Halferin and Silver, Todd’s former law firm, is somehow at the center of all this or at least in up to her next.  Complications in his personal life and the late summer heat and humidity in Minnesota at to Shap’s stress level, but also add character and atmosphere to this series with a complicated plot and a clever PI.

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsoon
This Swedish author making his U.S. debut examines the timeless question: How far would a parent go to save their child? Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell has a history of a violent temper, but everyone in her world is still shocked when she is arrested for the murder of her lover, fifteen years her senior.  Her father Adam, a pastor, struggles with his faith as he provides Stella an alibi that is not accurate; her strong-willed mother Ulrika is an attorney and appears distanced from her family, but during the courtroom scenes it becomes clear how fiercely she loves her family. The narrative is told in three parts, Adam, Stella, and Ulrika, each in the first person, all coming together to crate a complete picture of a family not only in distress, but one that bands together to protect its own.  For fans of Jodi Picoult.


Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker
Dr. Robert Hall has just been feted as Sag Harbor’s Citizen of the Year, his beautiful wife Elizabeth by his side, along with his college-aged son Jonah who is spending the summer with his father and step-mother.  Also spending the summer is Jonah’s college roommate Nick, who is quite handsome, and in Robert’s opinion shares a mutual attraction with Elizabeth.  Robert’s senses are always heightened to affairs, as are Elizabeth’s, as the two were previously married to other people, a fact they feel their neighbors hold against them.  Jonah is having his own struggles as he tries to reintegrate into his father’s life, while at the same time he befriends a younger high school classmate who all but ruined her life and the life of the man whose family she babysat, with an accusation she later recanted.  A surprising twist leads to more shocking events uncovered in this sultry summer mystery with a touch of Gothic.

Montauk by Nicola Harrison
Beatrice Bordeaux, newly married into New York City’s high society, is spending the summer of 1938 in Montauk with the other wealthy wives while the husbands spend their weeks in the city at work, taking the train out on the weekends.  From rural Pennsylvania, Beatrice is having some difficulties adjusting to the entitled life, and her inability to conceive a child, and finds herself spending much of her time away from the other wives, falling in love with the natural beauty and the ocean, and intrigued by the locals and their community.  Bea strikes up a friendship with the laundress Elizabeth and finds herself drawn to Tom, the local lighthouse keeper.  Though she has all the creature comforts she could want, Bea has a sadness in her past she keeps hidden, and finds she cannot forgive her husband’s affairs as easily as some of the other wives forgive their husbands’ their dalliances.  Bea tries to live in both worlds, she tells herself successfully, until the events cause her worlds to collide, revealing secrets, changing everything for everyone.

The Sentence is Death by Daniel Horowitz
The second mystery in which author Daniel Horowitz is the main character, after The Word is Murder, finds him following fired Scotland Yard detective, now PI Daniel Hawthorne who is following behind the police, investigating the death of divorce attorney Richard Pryce who was recently publicly threatened by the ex-wife of one of his clients, and then killed in the same manner, an expensive bottle of wine to the head.  Seems open and shut, but not to Hawthorne and Horowitz who don’t dismiss the subtler clues at the crime scene.  As the pair considers the possibility that this could be connected to Pryce’s college spelunking buddies, one who died tragically during a trip, and another who just died in an accident at King’s Cross Station, the suspects pile up, and the clues take on a different meaning.  Traditional mystery fans will enjoy the dry wit of this unusual pair.

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland
This follow up to the author’s best-selling Need to Know pulls no punches.  Chief of Internal Investigations at the FBI in Washington, D.C., Steph Maddox is tough as nails---except where her son Zach is concerned. She is certain she knows all there is to know about her seventeen-year-old son until she finds a gun in his closet and her former FBI lover shows up on her doorstep to warn Steph that the FBI is opening a file on Zach as a possible member of a domestic terror cell.  When Steph confronts Zach, he denies everything with such vehemence and disbelief that she is startled: either he’s a really good actor or liar or he’s telling the truth.   Steph chooses to believe he’s telling the truth but can’t figure out who he has been set up by or why and begins the covert investigation of a lifetime, not sure who to trust and just how close they are to her and her family.  This fast-paced, complicated plot will appeal to procedural thriller fans who like humanized characters struggling with moral dilemmas.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

New Books for May


After the Party by Cressida Connolly
Phyllis Forrester and her family have been living in Belgium after World War I.  She is very happy to be returning to Sussex, England with her husband Hugh, and their three pre-teenage children, where she will be close to her sister Patricia, and her aristocratic family and friends, and her more easy-going sister Nina, who runs a summer camp, for which she asks Phyllis’s help in running.  As the threat of another war with Germany looms, Nina introduces Phyllis and Hugh to local political advocates involved in the Party Peace Campaign, setting off a string of activities and events that end with Phyllis’s arrest. Sections of the narrative include Phyllis’s reflections upon being released from jail interspersed among the events of 1938 England. 



How to Forget by Kate Mulgrew

The award-winning actress details her return to her hometown of Dubuque, Iowa to care for her parents, each terminally ill.  Her father has lung cancer, her mother atypical Alzheimer’s disease.  This is an exquisitely written homage to her parents, people who were perfect in their imperfections, people who put all they had into each other and their families, a fact not lost on their daughter.  No detail is too intimate for Mulgrew to share, and interwoven into the narrative is her story, the story of how her parents supported her career decision, even when they didn’t, and how she dropped everything to return to their sides.  Book groups will find a lot to discuss, as will families facing similar crises.  


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
In 1936 Appalachia, 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter is content to deliver books to people on mule back as part of the WPA funded Pack Horse Library Project.  She is certain no one will marry her anyway, as she has a rare condition known in Kentucky as blue skin.  Cussy’s father wants to ensure his daughter is taken care of, and marries her off to an older man, Charlie Frazier, who dies on their wedding night.  Which is find by Cussy because she would not be able to continue her work as a librarian if she were married.  To save herself from being stalked by an angry relative of Frazier’s, Cussy submits to a local doctor’s tests to learn the cause of her genetic disorder.  This slice of life from Depression-era Appalachia, and the indomitable spirit of Cussy, and her belief that books and reading can solve many, if not all, of life’s problems will appeal to a wide array of readers and offers much for book group discussions.



Biloxi by Mary Miller
Sixty-three-year-old, divorced retiree Louis McDonald with his host of medical problems often feels he has nothing left to live for.  A chance spotting of a “Free Dogs” sign proves to be the impetus for Louis to rethink the non-direction his life has been taking.  Now with a companion to kick around with, Louis finds himself more aware and alert of his surroundings, often seeing things through Layla (his new dog’s name) eyes, confirming the thought that people need someone, or something else to look after and care for, in addition to themselves, to put things into perspective.  Miller doesn’t let Louis off easily, and many readers may not like him, especially at first, but soon, there are glimmers of hope, and maybe, just maybe, readers will catch a glimpse of themselves in Louis and look for their own “Layla”.



The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
The follow-up to this sister-duo’s debut novel is a complicated, ambitious, and not always successful domestic suspense, but there is still enough here to enjoy.  Surgeon Kate English is from one of Baltimore’s elite families.  Her entire circle is shocked by Kate’s mother’s brutal murder.  In a moment of grief, Kate reaches out to her best friend from school, Blaire, who was as close to Kate as a sister, until an argument at Kate’s wedding tore them apart.  And Blaire may have been right about Kate’s decision to marry as she has asked her husband Simon to leave their house suspecting he is having an affaire with his co-worker and longtime family friend Sabrina.  Immediately after her mother’s funeral, Kate begins receiving scary texts “You think you’re sad now, just wait.  By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today.” and gruesome thing are left around the house, such as three dead mice with their eyeballs gouged out and a disturbing nursery rhyme.  There are a lot of strands to this thriller, yet the authors tie it all together in the end.  Fans of the genre will enjoy, readers who loved The Last Mrs. Parrish may be a little disappointed.



The Night Before by Wendy Walker
Sisters Rosie and Laura Lochner chose much different paths after an incident one evening in high school left Rosie under a cloud of suspicion of violence, and possibly murder.  Rosie remained in their hometown, Branston, Connecticut, and married their childhood friend Joe, the two staying good friends with Gabe who completed the foursome growing up.  After a terrible break-up in Manhattan, Laura returns home to the sanctuary of her sister where she meets a man online, Jonathan Fields, has a date, but does not return home from the date.  Frantic, Rosie and Gabe begin to search for Laura, following her footsteps from the night before.  Told in two separate timelines, from Laura’s point of view the night of the date, and from Rosie’s, the search for Laura the morning and day after the date, interspersed with short sessions from Laura’s New York City psychiatrist’s appointments, the story effectively unfolds, as both Laura and Rosie learn that Jonathan Fields is not who he claims to be, in the back of Rosie’s mind always is Laura’s violent past.  This twisty plot where mis-directions abound will keep readers guessing until the final reveals.

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene
Leaving their two-year-old daughter in the care her grandmother seemed the most natural thing in the world, but a tragic accident changed everything for the journalist and his wife Stacy in this heart-breaking memoir.  Greta was sitting on a bench on Manhattan’s Upper West Side when a piece of the building fell, rendering Greta unconscious.  She stayed alive for a day, and then Jayson and Stacy were faced with the unimaginable decision of keeping her alive another day or so in order that her organs could be harvested for donation, a choice they choose to make.  During the next two years, Jayson explores his grief, his anger, and his disbelief over this loss; he finds himself unable to make any sort of sense out of his tragedy.  While the pain of this couple is palpable and almost unbearable at times, the hope with which they continue to live is uplifting and inspiring.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

April Showers

...not only bring May flowers, but they also give you plenty of time to laze inside and read a good book!



Like Lions by Brian Panowich
In the follow up to the debut Bull Mountain, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs is struggling with the aftermath of not only taking down his brothers’ illegal mountain enterprises, but killing them as well.  As Burroughs deals with the guilt o this, he is also trying to be a good husband and a new father at almost forty years old.  Wanting nothing to do with the empire his brother built, he finds himself drawn back in as another family wants to take over the operations and use Bull Mountain as a safe and protected thoroughfare for their drug trade.  Dangerous, violent, and heart-breaking all at once, readers may suspect what is coming, but the final sentence of the book offers big impact, shifting the kaleidoscope, making all the difference

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

This attempted homage to Agatha’s Christie’s And Then There Were None falls a little short, but  provides some frightening moments, and enough tension for a quick light read.  Miriam Macy has fallen far: her husband has left her and is remarried to their daughter’s dance teacher; she has lost her job, and has been involved in some incidents that cause the police to call her on a regular basis.  Miriam is not the least bit surprised when the forty-five year old receives an e-mail to participate in a reality television show: she and six other people, a promiscuous widow, an ex-policeman, an obnoxious attorney, a chef with a drug problem, a financial advisor, and a nurse with no bedside manner, receive invitations to fly to Mexico, from where they will be transported to a remote island to vie for a grand prize.  Miriam is glad to be away from her daily woes, her arguments with her husband and his new wife, and the text her seventeen-year-old daughter sent her: I hate you.  Once on the island, though, there seems to be no reality show, the only thing the group has in common is they’ve all used attorney Phillip Omeke.  As each of her fellow “contestants” begin to die, Miriam stops thinking about herself, winning the prize, and survival.  A backstory that is slowly revealed provides some context and a bit of interest to this otherwise lackluster thriller, but doesn’t make Miriam any more likable as a character.

Cape May by Chip Cheek
In September 1957, newlyweds Henry and Effie come to Cape May from Georgia for their honeymoon.  Cape May is not how Effie remembers it from her summers as a child and the pair plan to leave early until they meet Clara and her friends.  This sophisticated, sensual group of people unleashes feelings in both Effie and Henry that they never could have imagined.  What happens in during the following week changes Effie, Henry, and the course of their marriage forever, in this novel that explores what love is: what it means to be loved, to love, as well as faithfulness and fidelity, and innocence lost. Smart and sexy, with sophisticated, eloquent prose; plenty for book groups to discuss.

Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault by Cathy Guisewite

For thirty-four years, the award winning comic strip “Cathy” entertained readers with the ups and downs, perils, joys and heartbreaks of single womanhood.  In this collection of essays of varying lengths, Guisewite turns her pen to words and to her life as she talks about the decision to adopt her daughter as a single mother, her brief marriage, and what it’s like to age somewhat less than gracefully, facing indignities such as your feet growing a full size seemingly overnight, facing a closet full of clothes in which nothing fits, and trying on clothes in a dressing room, a tiny, young, attractive woman standing watch.  She also addresses the struggles of being part of the sandwich generation as she tries to help her aging parents who  don’t want nor think they need her help.  In the vein of Nora Ephron or Erma Bombeck, but with a voice all her own, this collection will become beloved to longtime fans of “Cathy”.

The Editor by Steven Rowley
When James Smale’s first novel is purchased by Doubleday, he is over the moon; when the young gay fifty thingswriter realizes his editor is to be none other than Jackie O. he cannot contain himself.  Growing up, James’s mother adored the Kennedy’s, though James had a difficult relationship with both his parents.  This becomes apparently obvious to Mrs. Onassis as she reads James’s novel and all but sends him home to reconcile with his mother and, with a little luck, find a new ending to his novel.  Once home, James uncovers family secrets that will not only rewrite the ending to his novel, but to his entire life.  Rowley mines the depths of family relationships, especially mothers and sons, and uses Jackie O. as a touchstone for James as he works his way through his new reality.  A fun portrayal of the former first lady turned editor caps off what could be a maudlin story and keeps it from becoming bogged down in family drama.


Under the Table by Stephanie Evanovich
Zoey Sullivan has left Ohio and her unhappy marriage to start over in Manhattan living with her little sister while she gets her catering business started.  A job catering a dinner party for wealthy computer nerd from St. Croix, Tristan Malloy will help her bottom line and open up new opportunities, Zoe hopes.  What she doesn’t expect is to fall into such an easy friendship with Tristan who is good looking, but dorky and could use some help with his social graces as well.   Zoey offers to give him a makeover, not realizing that as he is turning into the new man about town, she is falling hard for him.  This light, romantic, reverse Pygmalion story is perfect fare for the start of spring.

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Chloe Taylor seems to have it all: a handsome husband who is a partner in a prestigious Manhattan law firm, a step-son who seems to have it together, and a career at a print magazine that most women would kill for in the current digital age.  Chloe has an interesting backstory, however: she is the younger sister of her husband Adam’s ex-wife Nicky, who is the mother of Chloe’s step-son Ethan.  Chloe and Nicky have been estranged for over fourteen years, but the murder of Adam at the couple’s East Hampton beach brings Nicky, who is still Ethan’s legal parent, to Manhattan and back in the forefront of Chloe’s life.  Nicky has gotten her life together in the past decade, but is still a bit of a flake, in Chloe’s opinion, but when Ethan is arrested for the murder of his father, Nicky springs into action as only a mother can, and has a legal right to do so, in many cases.  With their love and concern for Ethan as their common ground, the two sisters find their way back to each other, but as they do, secrets hidden for many years begin to emerge, shifting the kaleidoscope, revealing an entirely different picture.  Well written, though with only one outcome, fans Lisa Scottoline, and of family dramas and legal battles will enjoy this standalone novel. 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Miracle Creek, Virginia has almost nothing going for it.  Korean immigrants Pak and Young Yoo have immigrated there from Seoul with their daughter Mary and operated a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that offers therapeutic relief from conditions ranging from infertility to autism.  A fire in one of the oxygen tanks causes a fatal explosion killing on of the patient’s mothers and one of the young boys, Henry, who was being treated for autism.  One year later, Henry’s mother is on trial for the fire and seems resigned to the fact that she will be convicted, and at times reveals herself to be relieved that her son has died. As the trial unfolds, the patients who were present that evening and the Yoos begin to tell their stories to each other and to the court creating a much different picture of what occurred that evening.  Kim’s debut is rich in characterization and complex plot, but she deftly weaves all loose ends together, no matter how far-fetched or coincidental incidents seem at the time, into such a complex picture, expressing the malleability of the truth, what it means to be a parent, especially a mother, and what it means to be a stranger in a strange land, even when it is the land of your birth.

The Light Years by Chris Rush
Growing up in a privileged Catholic family in New Jersey with an alcoholic father and a mother who is rather vague where her seven children were concerned, artist, designer Chris was in the middle and spent much of his pre-teen years trying to figure out where he fit in.  He knew he was not like his other brothers, his sixteen-year-old sister Donna became a kindred spirit, introducing him to a world of drugs and the freer, alternative lifestyle of the late sixties. Chris is sent to an all-boys Catholic boarding school after he hears his father say he might be “queer” and is bullied, and then expelled.  His next “art” boarding school suits him better, but again, it is not for him.  He travels across the United States to be with Donna in Tucson, but ends up having to hitchhike and almost ends up dead.  Chris focuses on his pre-teen and teenage years in this honest, raw memoir, which is sometimes very uncomfortable as he bounces from school to school, from family to sister, in search of his true self, and a place to call home and in which he can be himself and comfortable as himself.