THE APPEAL by JANICE HALLETT

The Appeal

IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS
SOMEONE WAS MURDERED.
SOMEONE WENT TO PRISON.
AND EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.
CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

When your boss dumps a ton of emails, texts, and police records on your desk and asks you to go through it and see if there is something that points to the wrong person being in prison, it’s a daunting task. They also must communicate with said boss in emails.

So, yes this book is written entirely out of emails. This is going to be one of those books that you either love or didn’t finish. It is a debut novel, but I found myself not caring about any of the characters at all because we didn’t “know” them. I was just not invested in the outcome at all.

You may like it if you give it a read.

NetGalley/January 25, 2022, Atria

How to Love your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

How to Love Your Neighbor

Girl on her own struggling with an absent mother and an almost degree in interior design, inherits beach house from unknown grandparents.

Rich developer next door keeps asking her to sell. She is keeping the house and the back and forth between them is predictable and you knew it was going to end up with her in his bed and her designing his house and poof, problems solved.

Not a fan of romance if it’s the struggling girl meets rich bachelor type.

NetGalley/ January 18th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Griffin

JOAN IS OKAY by WEIKE WANG

Joan Is Okay

Joan is Chinese-American. At 36, a doctor at NYU. She has met her parents expectations and she works all the time. Taking all the shifts she can.

She thinks a lot and a lot of this story is played out in her head. There were not a lot of ups and downs. The book was interesting to a point and then it was just flat. It felt like a disconnect with the character.

After reading it, I wasn’t interested in reading it again. It just didn’t feel personal at all.

NetGalley/January 18th, 2022 by Random House

SUCH A PRETTY SMILE by KRISTI DEMEESTER

Such a Pretty Smile

I finished this book in one sitting. With the lights on and the doors locked.

This is for all the women who don’t want to sit still and look pretty. For the women and girls who have been patronized and marginalized by men.

Told by two rather unreliable narrators. Caroline and her daughter Lila. In 2004 Caroline is living in New Orleans. Girls have been disappearing and the bodies are found mutilated with horrific bites and scratches that leave the media calling the killer The Cur. All are young girls who won’t sit still and look pretty. The ones who refuse to be put in a box. They are opinionated and will not conform to what society wants them to be.

Caroline is having a hard time sleeping. She hears packs of dogs everywhere and loses time. Her fiance’ is also an artist and rather a jerk. Caroline has begun sculpting and the sculptures are disturbing but also gallery-worthy. With her father who is dying and a husband who is a narcissist, she has a lot of stress. Her doctor is patronizing and tells her to take a pill and it will be fine. It is not fine. Not fine at all.

Jump to 2019 and Caroline and her daughter Lila are living close to Atlanta where Caroline is now teaching and sculpting. But she is still haunted by whatever is in her past. And now girls are disappearing and found dead in the same manner as before.

Lila is hiding who and what she is from everyone. Her father and his wife in New Orleans, the school psychologist, and her mother. She feels like there is something inside of her, snarling and begging to be let out, but when she does, it backfires horribly.

I am not going any further with this story because you really need to experience it for yourself. Let me just say it has been a long time since I was this terrified for an entire book!

I can’t wait to see what comes next for this author. Look out, Stephen King!

NetGalley/ January 18th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press





OUR KIND of PEOPLE by Carol Wallace

Our Kind of People

Welcome to the Gilded Age in New York City. The war is over and the elite of the city are getting back to balls and debuts and other pursuits. In Helen Wilcox’s case, it means finding suitable matches for her two daughters on a shoestring budget.

While Helen comes from money, She has married for love. And boy were those people snobby and just plain mean.

But it is 1874 and the times were different. Classes were important and old money trumped the new money. So how will Helen find suitable men for her two daughters? Her husband has dreams of an elevated rail in NYC. It’s a genius idea but it will take a lot of money! When it lead to financial ruin, Helen is questioning her husband’s dream but not his love for her or hers for him.

And as their fortunes change, they along with daughters Jemima and Alice must take a hard look at the world as it is, not as it was and think long and hard about what they want.

To Marry an English Lord was written by Wallace. The inspiration for Downton Abbey so if you are missing it or Bridgerton, this should hold you until Mr. Fellowes brings us more! And thank goodness he will bring The Gilded Age to life!

NetGalley/January 11th, 2022 by G P Putman’s Sons

RECKLESS GIRLS by RACHEL HAWKINS

Reckless Girls

Remember The Wife Upstairs? Well, Ms. Hawkins is back with another movie worthy book!

It took me a bit to warm up to Lux and Nico. Okay, I never liked Nico. Lux was a very sympathetic character. So let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Lux has spent a few years caring for her dying mother. Her parents divorced long ago and her father found a new family. She has a lot of bad energy about that. After her mother dies, she is adrift. Having nothing and no prospects,she is at her lowest when she meets Nico.

Nico is a rich and troubled playboy who is about surface deep. When he asks Lux to go to Maui with him aboard his boat she jumps at the chance. And you just know she should not do this.

,In Maui Nico is approached by two young women who offer a lot of money to be taken to Meroe Island. Yes, it is as creepy as the name implies. Supposedly used during WWII and the subject of a lot of suspicious stories, this island is anything but inviting.

But they could use the money to repair the boat and the girls, who say they are college friends, seem friendly, so on they go.

On arrival they find they aren’t alone. Meet Eliza and her boyfriend,Jake. They have a beautiful boat and plenty of booze and food. Very quickly they become close. Until someone else arrives and threatens to break up their idyllic vacation. And when he and his boat disappear they are relieved. And that is when everything goes awry.

Everyone here has secrets. Some deadly. No one is really who they say they are. And some of them are more than willing to kill to keep them.

This was a twisty, mind screw! And I loved every page of it!

NetGalley/January 4th, 2022 by St. Martin’s

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by ELLY GRIFFITHS

The Midnight Hour (Brighton Mysteries)

The Brighton Mysteries

Elly Griffiths is also the author of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series,which is one of my favorites.

It’s 1965 in Brighton. Emma and Sam have set up their Detective Agency and have their first big case. Impresario Bert Billington is found dead. When the results return and they learn he was poisoned, his wife, Verity Malone, who was also a theater performer, hires Emma and Sam to find out who did this and keep her name out of it.

Lucky for Emma they have Max Mephisto on the inside to push for information. Interestingly he is in town filming Dracula along with Verity’s son, Seth.

There were so many people who looked guilty! You could tell they were all hiding something, but does that something have anything to do with the case? I am most definitely happy I was not an adult woman in the ’60s. I remember my mother reading The Feminine Mystique and finding it and reading it myself. I didn’t understand most of it,but I knew I did not want to be one of those wives.

I especially enjoyed when Emma would just pop her little boy on her hip and go interview suspects. Although eventually Edgar stepped up and pulled some weight.

I also enjoyed seeing Meg become bolder.

This is Cozy with a Bite! And I loved it!

NetGalley/ November 2nd, 2021 Mariner (formerly HMH)









THE BALLERINAS by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

The Ballerinas

Three friends meet in the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet as teens. Delphine, the narrator of the story, Lindsay and Margaux. The story bounces between then and now.

Fourteen years ago, Delphine gave up her soloist spot at the POB to go to St. Petersburg. She also held a secret that could undo all of their lives. Now, Delphine is back in Paris. 36 years old and now a choreographer, hoping to work at the Palais Garnier Opera House, choreographing a ballet that will not only cement her career but to also make amends to her friends. But Paris has changed. Her friends have changed. And her secret may not be a secret after all.

This was an excellent look at the life of a ballerina. The sacrifices, the injuries, the all-consuming passion for the dance. How much of your life you lose when you wake up one morning too old to be a prima and yet it’s all you know. The complex relationships of the dancers. Are they friends or competitors?

This book lays bare the ugly side of ballet and dance. The fierce drive to be perfect, the loved ones lost along the way, casualties of a single-minded passion.

Really good book with a twist!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

 

UNSAFE HAVEN by LUCY BURDETTE

Unsafe Haven

A chance meeting on the New York subway leads to the destinies of two very different women becoming intertwined with terrifying consequences in this nerve-jangling thriller.

Addie is sixteen, pregnant, and trying to escape a situation that unfortunately a lot of runaway girls are tricked into. Trying desperately to get to what she thinks is her savior, Rafe. And as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, she’s about to give birth in the subway toilets.

Terrified and not knowing what to do she stumbles out to the subway platform with baby and placenta wrapped in a coat.

Elizabeth Brown should be getting married but that isn’t happening now. Time to go home to lick her wounds and return wedding gifts. As she walks up from the subway a young girl runs to her and thrusts the baby into Elizabeth’s arms with just a whispered,” I can’t take care of her” and then runs.

Elizabeth is a med student and to say she is shocked is an understatement. She finds a phone number in the pocket of the coat and calls it. Something she will soon come to regret. Addie isn’t running from one person, they all want that baby and murder may be the way to get her.

This was an excellent transition from Burdette’s cozy mysteries! She has amped up the suspense and left us biting our fingernails and reading past our bedtimes! Well worth it!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by Severn House Publishers

Personally, I am a big fan of Lucy’s Key West Food Critic Cozy Mystery Series. Who knew she had a darker side? Very well done and I hope we see more!


WISH YOU WERE HERE by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here

Diana is making a name for herself in the art world. She has her life planned and is on track to be married by thirty, have kids, move to the burbs and she isn’t even engaged! Her boyfriend, Finn, is busy being a surgical resident in New York City.

Days before her birthday they will leave for a vacation to the Galapagos. Everything is moving along fine.

But the night before they leave, Finn tells her he can’t go. There is some type of highly contagious virus sweeping through the country and he can’t leave. He wants her to go. She wants to stay but in the end she goes.

On arrival, the island is shut down. Quarantine. With no internet, phone service or mail service, she is completely alone. Her only link to Finn is an occasional email and she writes on postcards she found in her apartment on the island. 

She makes friends with a local teenage girl and ends up making friends with the entire family and she is awfully attracted to the girls father, Gabriel. Alone, she is looking at every choice she has made and wondering if when she returns she will still be the same.

There isn’t a lot I can say about the rest without spoiling all of your fun. I can say this is a beautiful, timely, and heartbreaking story of love, resilience, and adapting to overcome your circumstances.

I cried throughout the book and I think I needed that.

Well Done!

NetGalley/November 30th, 2021  Ballentine