Greer Macallister has a delicious way of presenting her main character in tasty little bites of information that we can't entirely trust but we want to. Virginia led expeditions through the treacherous West to California. She was tough but had a great partner until he died in an accident. Now, she is summoned by a wealthy woman on the East coast to lead a group of women to the Arctic in search of a missing explorer (their patron's husband) and his ships. She is not very forthcoming about why she choose Virginia nor the women who have already been chosen to accompany her and she insists that her involvement remain anonymous. Every other chapter pivots from Virginia's past to the courtroom where she is on trial for murder. Only a handful came back and as we learn more of the expedition you are kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It has an ending that you won't see coming which is another one of the author's gifts. These fascinating women are based on a montage of true events that make for one incredible historic mystery. Fans of unreliable female narrators, historical mystery and Macallister's other books will find this irresistible. 4 stars
Beth Rivers is a survivor who has run away to remote Alaska after a deranged madman kidnapped her. She refuses to live in fear but he is still out there and that is why only the local police chief as well as the police detective and her mom at home know who and where she is. Beth is starting to make friends in Alaska and is making friends when a frozen body is found and two young girls find their way to her place. Suddenly her mystery writing skills and police upbringing has her knee deep in danger again. Bodies turning up, little or no cell phone service, miles of remote landscape in bone chilling weather and a madman searching for you would be enough to make any sane woman get out.
A enjoyable sequel to the first book with the same nail biting encounters in the wild and stories that mix high tension in a small town that loves to keep secrets. You get enough of the background to make this a standalone read but it will mean much more to you if you read the first book. A great pick for readers of outdoor thrillers with ramped up adventure and small town drama. 4 stars
You have an old whaling town in New York that is currently being overrun by wealthy buyers from the city. People who have lived in Hudson for generations are losing their businesses and homes as well as their past. Antique shops and trendy restaurants have replaced butcher shops and dive bars. You also have three friends who have been reunited and form a love triangle - Dom and his wife Attalah and newly returned from New York City, Ronan. Attalah and Ronan want to take back the town and they begin a hate campaign. Dom, a cop, chooses to look the other way until things get really ugly.
It is a love story of friendships, lovers and flawed families. It is a story of power and hate and how a little spark can burn a whole town down. It is also a ghost story of towns the way they were, of childhood friendships and lovers that have changed and great flying whales in the sky. This will appeal to readers who want solid characters caught in unusual positions and don't mind a glimpse into a fuzzy reality. 4 stars
This story is a delightful hodge-lodge of friendship, quirky characters, intense adventure and a dogged pursuit of living life to the fullest. Margery Benson felt the world was against her but one day she decided to do something for herself and travels to the South Pacific wilds of New Calendonia seaching for the elusive golden beetle. She advertises for an assistant and ends up with Enid Pretty, a free thinking polar opposite of Margery and clearly on the lam. They form an unlikely pair sharing the adventure of a lifetime and form a bond neither thought possible. The story is outlandish and is so much fun as it is a story of bravery and survival in a dangerous part of the world. Each woman will figure out what is really important to them and how important they have become to each other. I wish this book had continued for another 300 pages or more. MISS BENSON'S BEETLE will appeal to readers of historical adventures, female friendships and quirky characters that take over your heart. 5 stars
A stunning collection of average people living in Minneapolis tied together by a slender thread - their connection to a group of passive activists calling themselves "The Sun Collective". They take in everyone - the lost, homeless, bored and curious with their goal of making the world a utopia. Brettigan and his wife are among the lost searching for more meaning in their golden years and the son who disappeared from their lives seemingly overnight. Both feel he is close by and conduct a daily search even if they aren't aware they are doing it but they are coming up empty. Alma has a medical event and when she starts getting advice from their cat and dog as well as getting more cozy with the collective, Brettigan starts to worry. The young couple from the collective seem harmless but much is unknown about Ludlow, a homeless illegal house sitter and his new girlfriend, Christina who is a drug addled bank teller. As all their lives become more intertwined more speculation is made about the members of the Sun Collective and their true intent. Told with snippets of dry Minnesotan humor, THE SUN COLLECTIVE is an interesting look at being lost and found. 4 stars
Ari and his family live a very devout life in an Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood until Ari's dad uproots the family to Florida. Life could not be more different for Ari's senior year in the new privileged school he now attends as he makes his way into a new circle of friends and begins to date for the first time. The new group doesn't fret about breaking away from their Orthodox Jewish roots and for the first time Ari is given freedom. But, it comes with a price as he realizes too late. Their activities take on a more reckless and dangerous path led by Evan, the brightest and most erratic of the group. This stunning debut takes a look at old religious views and pits them against peer pressure and the natural tendency by the young to push the boundaries. The Hebrew phrases take a bit of time to master but it is well worth the effort and it further cements to difficult bridge that Ari must straddle in this poignant coming of age story. This is a good match for readers of Chaim Potok and coming of age stories with strong moral dilemmas. 4 1/2 stars
The MAGPIE MURDERS left Susan Ryeland out of the publishing industry and finally done with the dead cantankerous author Alan Conway. But life in Greece is not all she expected so she jumps at the chance to return to London and help find a missing woman in a case that may be connected to one of Alan Conway's books. Susan travels to the luxury hotel to bring out her inner Atticus Pund and solve what happened and possibly clear an incarcerated man from an earlier murder. This is a complicated story within a sophisticated murder mystery and thank goodness you are given the manuscript that Susan rereads searching for clues. I won't lie, I took copius notes reading the Atticus Pund book hoping I would solve the mystery. Family, unruly hotel guests plus way too many secrets and one well staged mystery had me stumped. It is a diabolical name dropping jaunt and nod to all the classic mysteries that will not disappoint Agatha Christie lovers or Anthony Horowitz fans. 4 1/2 stars
Like most apocalyptic stories there are two groups - the leaders and the followers who must work together or perish. After a horrible event known as the Arrest small communities formed going back to the basics as machinery and tech stopped working. Farming, butchering, canning and moving these goods back and forth take up every day. Journeyman now lives in a small coastal town in Maine where his sister and her partner operate a farm and Journeyman has taken on the duties of UPS, mail and Amazon delivering goods and news. Life feels simple and less scary away from the chaos of the outside world until one day when an old friend and coworker shows up in a nuclear powered giant digger. His arrival does not sit well with the town or others that are hunting for him and begins to wedge the town apart. Jonathan Lethem's command of the English language is extraordinary and I found myself happily looking up new vocabulary. I enjoyed the parallel lives that Journeyman, his sister and Todbaum led in the past in Los Angeles and how misplaced Todbaum was dropped into the bucolic farming community. This is less of a science fiction nightmare and more a story of community in crisis. 4 stars
Never underestimate the power of a scheme concocted by a group of young guys in a bar. Chick is hanging out in his neighborhood bar reminiscing and discussing their buddies who are in far off Vietnam. All agree it would be great to buy those guys a beer and Chick does one better. He is a merchant mariner and ex-marine so he hops aboard a supply ship with a bunch of cold beer and thinks he will find everyone on the list and give them a cold beer and thanks. He has incredible good luck in finding most of them (blame it on his Irish roots) and is able to talk his way out of more than one setback (again, blame it on his Irish roots). He finds himself in foxholes, hitching ride after ride from military who are convinced he is CIA and is in Saigon as the V.C. take over the city. The sheer audacity of Chick's story and funnier moments balance nicely against the more horrific scenes of war.
To my great surprise, this memoir full of war stories, testosterone and beer will have a wider audience who will have a greater appreciation for the job that cost so many lives in a war we realized too late that we couldn't win. The audio narration was spot on. 4 1/2 stars
When the Channel Islands were taken over by the Nazis two female artists living in Jersey decided to take on the Nazis headfirst by waging their own war of homemade propaganda and art. It was brave, maybe foolish and it created a great deal of angst for the German command. The author tells this story as if he too couldn't believe how long they kept this up before they were captured and imprisoned. These two women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe told everyone they were sisters but kept a much more dangerous secret - they were longtime lovers. Held in prison they were separated but still managed to communicate in unusual ways. It is an amazing story of the power of underground movement and more of WWII's unsung heroines. It is easy to read and includes photographs throughout to help illustrate just how avant-garde they were. 4 stars
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