Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

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Pages: 400

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: January 14, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Wow, what a story told by two main characters 78 years apart. I was so captivated that I read 60% of the book in one day. Every moment I could I was stealing time to read a few pages here and there until I could sit down with the book and read until the end.

As I read, I would forget that both Anna Dale and Morgan were only in their early twenties’ They both seemed so much older. They both experienced such tragedies at a young age that forever changed their futures. I don’t think I had that much bravery at their age.

Big Lies in a Small Town has a few triggers for sensitive readers. It deals with mental illness, alcoholism, rape, suicide, and foul language (the F word). Everything pertained to the story and made it the excellent book it is.

This book is available from your favorite retailer on January 14, 2020. I am already getting it for my mama to read.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am absolutely horrified such a person as Georgia Tann existed. The pain suffered for generations is a tragedy. It’s also horrifying to think she was never officially brought to justice.

While I agree some children went on to live extraordinary lives it still doesn’t change how crudely they were adopted. I do believe you should have the right to your adoption records. I do not know much about adoptions but if there is one thing I hope is learned is that adoption facilities should get detailed health information of the families from the families for the children.

My eyes have been opened and my heart hurts for the Georgia Tann kids. Hopefully, nothing like this happens in the USA again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought a new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas (A Year-Around Christmas Mystery #2) by Vicki Delany

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Pages: 299

Publisher: Berkley

Published: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I had forgot how much I enjoyed the town of Rudolph and am happy I took a second visit.

Merry is a delight as an amateur sleuth. She doesn’t mind seeming like a fool if it means finding the killer. Her love for her family and friends is a great asset to the stories. One of the characteristics I like best is she doesn’t let her love triangle go on too long.

This is the perfect book to get you in the holiday spirit even though there is the small issue of a murder. I was kept guessing until the killer was revealed.

Bookbub: A grinch is spoiling the holiday cheer and causing fear in the second Year-Round Christmas mystery from the author of Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen…

It’s Christmastime three hundred sixty-five days a year in Rudolph, New York, and as Christmas Day approaches, shop owner Merry Wilkinson is enjoying a rare evening off at the Yuletide Inn when she runs into owners Grace and Jack Olsen. With Jack’s health failing, Merry is relieved to hear that his son Gord will be taking over the day-to-day running of the Inn.

But then Gord reveals that his new plans have no room for Christmas at the Inn, and Merry and the other shopkeepers start to fret about the effect a bland franchise hotel could have on their livelihoods.

When Gord is found stabbed to death, there’s an entire town of potential suspects—and it’s up to Merry to find whoever brought homicide home for the holidays…

 

 

 

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

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Pages: 422

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A thrilling psychological read that will keep you up late into the night. When you get to the last 15-20 chapters, make sure you can finish in one sitting. I had to wait to finish and it was agonizing!

Campbell does a great job alternating the first-person accounts between Caroline and Aiden. One minute you feel sorry for Caroline and the next Aiden. You don’t know who to believe until the very end.

This the perfect vacation book as you won’t want to put it down.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Parade’s “10 Books Written by Women We Can’t-Wait to Read in 2019” | She Reads’ “Most Anticipated Thrillers of Summer 2019” | Pure Wow’s “The Best Beach Reads of Summer 2019” | CrimeReads’ “The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer”

From bestselling author Michele Campbell comes A Stranger on the Beach, an edge-of-your-seat story of passion and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?

Murder, She Uncovered by Peg Cochran

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Pages: 284

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Why did I wait so long to read this??? I could not put it down. It kept me guessing the entire time.

Elizabeth’s character grabs you immediately and you feel like you’ve known her forever. I was surprised how independent and strong she was given it is 1938 in the book. The more the book progressed the more her confidence grew.

I am already lobbying for Santa to bring me a kindle gift card so I can get books one and three. I want to see how it started and where Elizabeth’s character is going. Definitely, a must-read series for those who love historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: An intrepid 1930s Manhattan socialite uncovers deadly secrets during an assignment to the Hamptons in this riveting historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Rhys Bowen.

Westhampton, 1938. To the dismay of her well-to-do family, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams is quickly establishing herself as a seasoned photographer over at the Daily Trumpet. Growing more confident in her decision to pursue a career, Elizabeth is thrilled when she and her reporter sidekick, Ralph Kaminsky, are sent to Long Island to cover the story of a young maid found dead in one of the glamourous summer homes in the devastating aftermath of the Great New England Hurricane—also known as the Long Island Express.

At first, it’s assumed that the young woman was caught in the terrible storm, but when a suspicious wound is found on the side of her head, the police suspect murder. The maid’s death becomes even more tragic when it’s discovered she was pregnant, and with Elizabeth and Kaminsky at the scene of the crime, the Daily Trumpet scoops all the other papers in town.

The young woman’s boyfriend emerges as the likeliest suspect. But as Elizabeth follows the story, she begins to wonder whether someone in the household of the maid’s employers might be responsible—someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth about the baby’s paternity hidden. . . .

Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 258

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

What do A Christmas Carol and Let it Snow have in common? Cold weather, a precocious child and Scrooge! If you like to read books about a curmudgeonly old man being softened up then this is the book for you.

Let it Snow could easily be read in a weekend but I made this my guilty pleasure after long days of teaching so I took a bit longer. Every night as I closed the book I found myself smiling. The precocious little girl, Wink, is a delight. We all need a Wink in our life at one point. Viewing life through her eyes is a blessing.

There are allusions to adult relations but nothing in detail so I consider a clean read. No foul language except for maybe a “hell” or two so again a clean read. A Christmas book for the collection.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley:

A Nantucket shopkeeper discovers that Christmas is the perfect occasion to make unexpected friendships . . . to warm the coldest of hearts—and maybe even find love.

Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, unpacking last-minute shipments and decorating for her loyal Christmas shoppers. But when her Scrooge of a landlord, Oscar Bittlesman, raises her rent, it seems nearly impossible for Christina to continue business on the wharf.

Even so, Christina hopes there is a warm heart underneath Oscar’s steely exterior. When she bonds with Wink, his sweet, young granddaughter who frequents the shop, it becomes clear that perhaps he isn’t so cold after all. And with the help of Wink’s uncle, who happens to be a charming and very handsome bachelor, this may be the best Christmas any of them could have ever imagined. Nancy Thayer’s enchanting Nantucket setting provides the perfect backdrop for this holiday love story.

 

Verse and Vengeance (A Magical Bookshop #4) by Amanda Flower

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Pages: 260

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: December 10, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review:

My favorite of the series so far.

A fast-paced read with plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing until the end. Verse and Vengeance had me stumped on the killer right up to the reveal. I thought I was pretty good at guessing the killers but I was proved wrong.

Even after four books, I’m still intrigued by a magical bookstore. I’ve often wished I could visit Violet and her store to see what book it would pick for me.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the paranormal or magical world but love cozies you have to give this series a try. I’ll think you will be surprised how fast you will fall in love with Cascade Springs.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

Nogged Off (A Maine Clambake 4.5) by Barbara Ross

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Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 29, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This was my first visit to Busman’s Harbor, Maine and I am hooked. I have already downloaded several books from the series to my Kindle. Fingers crossed the first one can be used during this most recent round of Book Bingo.

Nogged Off takes place the week before Christmas and starts when Julia goes to NYC to get the rest of her belongings from the apartment she has sublet to Imogen. From the minute Julia enters everything she thought was planned out goes to stink.

The ride is wild and the conclusion is anything but Christmassy.

If you have questioned entering the world of the Maine Clambake series or if this is your first time hearing of the series, Nogged Off is the perfect entry. Bonus: two cookie recipes included in the novella.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Previously published in the collection Egg Nog Murder.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and Julia Snowden’s escape from New York has just hit a snag. Fresh off accidentally poisoning half her colleagues with her “Killer Eggnog,” Julia’s would-be subletter, Imogen Geinkes, is now jobless and homeless—leading Julia to invite the young woman home for the holidays in Maine. But when they unload the rental truck in Busman’s Harbor, they find something that wasn’t on anyone’s packing list: the body of Imogen’s former boyfriend.

Suddenly, the wordplay in Imogen’s name—“I’m a jinx”—isn’t so adorable. But for all the calamities that follow in Imogen’s wake, Julia’s certain she’s no killer. As Julia digs into the case, the appearance of the ex’s brother—his identical twin—doubles the confusion. Has Imogene been double-crossed by an evil twin? Was the eggnog “accident” no accident at all? If Julia doesn’t unwrap the murderer’s true identity soon, one of the twelve days of Christmas could be her last . . .

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

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Pages: 364

Publisher: Berkley

Published: June 4, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home—until she learns of her dad’s failing health.

Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

My Review:

A beautifully written story on a horrible disease. I could not imagine losing bits and pieces of my dad daily. I have a hard enough time dealing with normal memory loss as he ages.

Be prepared to be shocked, happy and then crying so hard the pages in your book become water-logged.

A must-read in 2019 new releases!

Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 305

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Published: July 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Keely Green always dreamed of leaving the beautiful shores of Nantucket to become a writer. Now she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, attending glamorous cocktail parties and mingling with the literary elite. Keely is also dating a charming, perfectly fine pediatric surgeon who looks good on paper but isn’t “the one.” She just can’t bear to break it off—until he declares his desire to settle down. Then Keely’s editor rejects her latest novel. With her personal and professional lives suddenly in shambles, Keely longs for the soothing island way of life.

Growing up, Keely and her best friend, Isabelle, were inseparable. Nothing could come between them—except, as it turned out, Keely’s high school boyfriend, Tommy. Returning home would mean facing Isabelle’s bitter betrayal and seeing for herself the family Tommy and Isabelle have created, the life that might have been Keely’s.

But when Keely’s mother falls into a deep depression, Keely knows what she must do, even though she is reluctant to face her estranged friend. And encountering Isabelle’s older brother, Sebastian—Keely’s longtime crush—only complicates things.

In one incredible summer, Keely must confront the mistakes of the past if she has any chance of finding true happiness in the place she will always call home. Nancy Thayer shines yet again in this uplifting tale of forgiveness and self-discovery.

My Review: Nancy Thayer has joined the cast of my MUST read authors for summer. She joins Mary Alice Monroe, Elin Hildebrand, and Dorothea Benton Frank. It doesn’t feel like summer until I read these authors. Thayer has written another hit. I found myself ignoring everything around me as I read. The heartache Keely felt many times throughout the book tugged at my heartstrings and I wanted to jump into the book and try to fix it for her.

The descriptions of Nantucket make the reader feel as if they are there playing in ocean waves, eating yummy food in the summer sunshine and listening to families excitement on vacation. You will be wishing you could hop on the next flight out.

If you haven’t read Nancy Thayer then start with Surfside Sisters. You will thank me when you are finished.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Publishing – Ballantine through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.