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
Historical fiction written in a memoir style as Violeta recounts her 100 year old life from the Spanish Flu epidemic through the COVID pandemic. It is an adventurous, lush life of privilege , disease, hard work, social unrest, politics and crime from South America to North America. Isabel Allende's female characters are always a force of nature and Violeta is no exception as she learns to follow her heart instead of what her family and society expect of her. We see how disease, poverty and politics shape and destroy a country through the rich characters. Some of it feels very autobiographical and all of it heartfelt. This will be a sure bet for readers of Lisa See or Amy Tan and the many fans of Isabel Allende. 4 stars
There are friends you will keep secrets for, friends that will always have your back and a shoulder to cry on. But, will they kill for you or stay silent if you do? Owen and Luna have been best friends ever since college. They have been there for each other through bad breakups , awkward family , missing girlfriends and even live as adults in the same town. When Owen's wife turns up murdered all those questions surface about their friendship and the past. A taunt thriller that has us guessing who the good guys/bad guys or just unlucky guys are all the way to the last page. Fans of those murderous female authors like B.A. Paris, Lisa Jewel and Lucy Foley should jump right in. 4 stars
An Italian family saga full of hope, jealousy, fierce love and just as fierce abandonment as seen through the eyes of Marco Carrera. Called the hummingbird due to his small stature and graceful agility as a child, Marco seems to take things in stride as he tries to find love, happiness and approval from his family and others. After a series of tragedies beginning with the death of his sister, Marco tries to be there for everyone navigating the rough waters as husband, father, lover, professional doctor and son not as a trained sailor but more like a guy in a lifeboat with only one oar. It is an introspective novel of a man's journey to get it right and to see his mission - to raise his granddaughter proclaimed to be the "man of the future" even though she happens to be a woman. The audio sounds beautiful (there is nothing like hearing Italian names and places in my mind) but I admit to becoming a bit lost in the back and forth of years and the minute details that I didn't find relevant. I am chalking it up to a translation issue and audio versus reading the book and that didn't take away my enjoyment of the beautiful writing. 3 1/2 stars
Twin timelines center around the mansion home and art library of the the Frick family. By 1920's standards Helen Frick is an outcast who is hindered by her obsession with winning praise from her overbearing father and wanting to do something more important than marrying and producing heirs. When Lillian Carter shows up (on the lam) and becomes Helen's personal secretary the two couldn't have been more different. Time brings them closer together until a failed arranged romance, hastened death and theft disrupt all their lives. Jump to the 1970's when a storm brings together a young model and an intern at the Frick Library who to pass the time begin unlocking the secrets that the building has kept hidden all those years. Always a delight to see some of New York's secret treasures brought to life with real and imagined stories. Fiona Davis is a master at dropping the reader into an exciting time period and wrapping them up in a mystery with characters we can connect with. The author has included notes and books to further your knowledge of the Frick Library. Readers of historical fiction and a love of New York City will snap this one up. 4 stars
Imagine you are in space in charge of a small crew about to be laid off when you discover a huge luxury space liner that has been lost for years. Suddenly, you are a treasure hunter looking at one heck of a cushy retirement. Things are looking up until you go aboard. Titanic meets The Haunting of Hill House meets one really bad hallucinogenic trip. Claire barely escapes only to find herself suspected of killing her entire crew. To prove that she is not a killer (she hopes), that the ghosts on board the ship are real and that there might still be survivors she goes back to the carnage. Top marks to this sci-fi horror tale that keeps you guessing and questioning Claire's sanity right up to the last page. Is she a killer? Is she hallucinating? What really happened on board The Aurora? Can she make back out of there alive a second time? Fans of classic haunted house stories as well as sci-fi space drama will find much to love here!
A blending of the world of the Nutcracker Ballet and Victorian England's debutante society. Marietta wants to become a ballerina not be married off to the sinister Herr Drosselmeier like a prized filly. She finds herself trapped in the magical world of Everwood within Drosselmeier's Nutcracker stage. There she becomes the evil king's plaything forced to dance for hours and then imprisoned with two other young women. A revolution is in the works and it will take all their magic as well as the help of a handsome Captain to free Marietta and the others. This is also a tale of women standing up against tyrannical men who hold their future in their hands. For fans of those other worlds filled with magic like Caraval, Night Circus and Narnia. 3 1/2 stars
Historical fiction highlighting another woman whose insight and contributions were undermined by the men around her. Rosalind Franklin was devoted first to science and then to her family. Her Jewish family after the war felt it was their duty to give back to the Jewish people and their London community and didn't understand why Rosalind did not make this her first priority as well. Rosalind felt that her work unlocking secrets of chemistry and the structure of DNA would be her way of giving back to the world. She worked tirelessly, authored some brilliant papers and was well respected yet did not get nearly any of the credit that other more established male scientists did for her work in discovering the structure of DNA. She opened up Pandora's Box of biological secrets yet kept her own life boxed up tight. A brilliant account of a strong minded woman who challenged society's restrictions by one of the most acclaimed historical fiction authors.
Her many fans will enjoy this as will those readers who are searching for contributions made by behind the scenes women in the sciences. 4 stars
Liesl finds herself as acting head of the rare book library at a large university when her boss is felled and left in a coma after a heart attack. The timing couldn't be worse as they are planning for a huge event to honor a recent priceless manuscript and her day gets much worse when it is discovered missing from the safe. Playing amateur detective, resisting the charms of an old suitor, massaging the egos of the university head and wealthy donors is tough enough but Liesl must dissect the private lives of her colleagues to find the thief. Swimming in the shark infested waters of academia with stolen manuscripts, missing persons and counterfeits should be more than enough for a great mystery so I didn't quite get the secondary themes of early depression detection, her musing about her wonderful daughter or questioning
the strength of her marriage. If you are a fan of any book about books or are interested in the underbelly of rare book acquisitions than this will be of interest to you. 3 1/2 stars
A teen boy and his dad disappear from a camping trip where only the dad returns raving about aliens.
Years pass and the wound hasn't healed especially since their dad died searching for the missing Jakob and mom has dementia needing constant care. Suddenly Jakob is back home on a mission to save his space fleet from obliteration but only his little sister believes him. This is more of a family/sibling drama than science fiction as very little time is devoted to the space war or his life off Earth. I could imagine the pain from losing their dad and the older sister's sense of being the only adult in the room trying to take care of their mom on her own but I really never felt any warmth towards Jakob. 3 1/2 stars
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