The real life disappearance of Agatha Christie inspired this re-mystified telling. A twisted tale of lovers, deceit and good old fashioned mystery that invites armchair detectives to understand what may have happened and solve a few murders along the way. The famous author is not about to get dumped quietly by her husband and takes off with only her abandoned car to tell the tale. Meanwhile our narrator, the mysterious Nan O'Dea who is Christie's mistress, gives us her viewpoint of the search and the small resort spa where she is hiding out. She and her past may be the key to all of this.
Prepare to be pulled into this strange escapade of murder, mayhem and sweet revenge full of smart women not content to be pawns in their lives any longer. For fans of Agatha Christie, clever mysteries and stories where justice is served. Dear reader, this is your cup of tea. 4 1/2 stars
I Must Betray You by Ruth Sepetys
Another riveting and powerful story of oppressed teens forced to make sacrifices and decisions few in the world would ever have to make. Romania in 1989 under Communist rule by a dictator who has bled the country and its people dry both in withholding their freedom, fuel and food replacing them with fear. Young Cristian sees his parent's lives spent at work or in lines for supplies, his older sister growing old before her time and his grandfather who is a vocal rebel but is dying because of a lack of medicine. Family, loyalty and the struggle to obtain something we have always taken for granted - freedom. Young adult that pulls no punches and is the perfect crossover for adults and older middle grade readers. 4 stars
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
Eleanor has died twice before the getting the disease that will finally take her. Before she goes she makes a recording and leaves a black cake for her children hoping that sharing her story will heal the rift between the two siblings. Told in a rich narrative of an incredible life beginning in the islands, to the British Isles to California we see the pull of the water, the pull away from others making decisions for you and friendships that stand the test of time and distance. The secret of the black cake recipe is much like their family's secret heritage - it is rich, mysterious with a bit of tangy sadness to balance the sweetness. Told in present day by the each siblings along with alternating chapters of Eleanor's story this is amazing historical fiction of a rich cultural heritage as well as a deep dive into family relationships. This author writes like a seasoned pro and not like this is her debut novel. I am eagerly anticipating more from her in the future. For fans of THE VANISHING HALF, ISLAND QUEEN and family sagas. 4 1/2 stars
Nell is born with large birthmarks covering her body and is used to the ridicule and horror from people but is not prepared for her dad selling her to a circus as one of the wonders. She actually thrives there as the star attraction even though she is owned by the maniacal Jasper and loved by his quiet brother Toby. As Jasper's hunger for fame rises as fast as their debt and a little girl's fate is held in her hands something drastic will happen. This is a beautifully written story of the Victorian fascination with oddities and those poor souls who were treated less than human as well as a story of love, community, star crossed lovers and broken people. For fans of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and those of us who in our hearts want to run away and join the circus. 4 stars
Three brothers try to navigate the shark infested waters of the family restaurant during the holidays with their tyrannical dad. Big Chao bullies each of the boys but Dagou the most. Dagou has stayed home working at the restaurant hoping that his dad will finally acknowledge him as the one who should inherit the business. His other brothers have left - Ming for a successful business in New York and James off to med school. When Big Chao is found dead fingers point to Dagou but he is not the only one who hated their mean spirited father. Deep family drama, failed relationships, a rich cultural heritage and a big murder to solve - welcome to the Chao family. Another fine example of American immigrants trying to find their way and the plight of the next generation to succeed in spite of their parents. 4 stars
Asking For A Friend by Andy Osho
Three friends who are unlucky in love try to find their best mates the man of their dreams one date at a time. It started after Simi's last disaster relationship and progressed to the three of them only dating those men who were found for them by one of the other two friends. This idea worked on some level but eventually their old habits came through. Loved the witty banter and great female friendship but as with most romcoms I didn't believe this method could work long term. Fun, flirty and a fast paced read. I bet there will be more than a few friends who will try this. 3 1/2 stars
Finlay, romance writer and accidental assassin for hire is still reeling from her first adventure when it looks like she lands right back in her another. Checking the women's forum site once again proves to be a problem when she sees that someone has taken out a contract on her ex-husband. While she understands there are many who would like to do him harm, he is still her kids father so she and her babysitter and partner in crime Vero must figure out the who, why, when and where before the deed is done. As usual everything these two do brings more trouble to their doorstep as well as Finlay's cop sister, the hunky detective and the Russian mob. Madcap, funny and equally insane adventures outside the law make for the best amateur detective crime fixer since Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum. Fun murder and mayhem the likes of Evanovitch and Hiaasen. 4 stars
The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson
There is a new mosquito borne virus out there taking seemingly nice calm people and changing them into vicious brutal killers of whomever is in front of them. Labeled "the Violence", it isn't that different from what Chelsea and her daughters experience on a daily basis from her abusive husband. A golden opportunity turns into an escape the likes of Thelma and Louise. Chelsea has the virus and not trusting herself around her girls she leaves them with her emotionally distant mother. Her journey will lead her to a safe haven and a life she never could have planned.
While women are not the only ones who are victims of abuse this is a horror story for all those manipulative and controlling men out there and a perfect story of revenge and bravery on the part of the women in the story. Jump on the wild carpet ride for a peek behind all those perfect homes and the perfect families until The Violence comes calling. Four and a half girl squeals of delight for this quirky horror tale.
Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
Claudia leads a very private life outside the walls of the Boston women's health clinic where she has worked for years. Her days are filled with turmoil and the growing stress of anti-abortion protestors and her relationships aren't going anywhere so she heads to the only person who can help - her pot dealer Timmy. When she is there she is autonomous and can relax in a way that only hanging out with a stranger can do. The protestors are getting riled up by Victor Prine who has spent much of his adult life planting anti-abortion signs on his truck routes and stirring up everyone online with posted photos of clinic users and propaganda. We feel for these flawed and broken characters - good, bad or otherwise. Claudia, Timmy and his other clients, even the horrible Victor share one common trait - the hunger for a human connection. This will resonate with readers who like to tackle current day issues as well as those who favor a deep dive into the human psyche. I listened to the audio of this which was narrated brilliantly. 4 1/2 stars
A handful of girls in foster care and others are forever joined by their ties to a serial killer. Ansel Parker wasn't always a killer and he wasn't always at death's door but now as he faces his last hours on death row he looks back at the choices he made or didn't make. We follow the detective desperately trying to prove his guilt and stop him, the victims and their families, his abused mother who ran off leaving him and his infant brother alone and the prison guard who may be his last hope. Amidst the violence is quiet reflection and while justice is served we can't help but feel it isn't enough. This is a chilling look at what we are all secretly fascinated by - what makes a killer and the horrible fear of wondering if we would recognize them if we walked by them on the street. Readers of true crime, psychopath killers, crime docudramas as well as GREEN MILE and DEAD MAN WALKING will be fully engrossed in the story all the way to the last page. 4 1/2 stars
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