I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Anastasia Romanov and her family died in a firing squad in 1918 after being imprisoned didn't they?
Anna Anderson is fished out of the water delirious and claiming to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia but she couldn't be could she? The story goes back and forth from the Romanov's cruel treatment after the overthrown government and then to the story of Anna who seems to go between mental hospital to live thanks to the kindness of strangers and friends who support her claim to the Romanov legacy. Anna's description of the treatment of her family is brutal and violent and instead of being relieved to have survived she seems petty and churlish with her friends and caretakers. Shocker ending and one of the best author's notes I have read in some time. Fight the urge to peek at the ending and you will be rewarded.
Charlie and his girlfriend are actors and have just broken up over something stupid. To avoid the press and to get his head together, Charlie runs away to a tropical isle only to get kidnapped. As his situation goes from bad to worse he tries to understand how he got himself into this situation and how he messed up the best thing in his life - Josie. Josie meanwhile is miserable without Charlie and begins to hang out with actor friends only to find her public life getting a little too close. This is a character story that blurs the line between actors playing a part and how well they do at playing at real life. Funny, sad and scary all in one, you will see the reality shine through the Hollywood facade.
The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury
Tracy has always felt better outside in the Alaskan wilderness than indoors in the cabin. She can hunt and survive just about anything except denying the hunger inside her. Her mom understands this strange affliction of her daughter's and tries to help Tracy by giving her simple rules to live by. The most important being - never make a human bleed. After Tracy is attacked in the woods she thinks she almost killed the stranger who attacked her and now fears his return. Then there are these new feelings toward Jesse the curious young drifter who her dad has hired and her ambitions to compete in the Junior Iditarod. This glorious hybrid is a combination of the wild beauty of Alaska, the harsh landscape and lifestyle of the people who live there and a bit of supernatural hyper-awareness that Tracy feels after succumbing to the hunger and filling the need for blood. This coming of age story in an unforgiving land will stay with you well after the last page.
Granny Mae is a no-nonsense North Carolinian mountain woman who dabbles in homemade remedies, says what she means and does what she feels like. She has raised her grandson, Rory who has returned from the war a crippled soul wishing he could leave the family bootleg business and chase his true passion - stock car racing. There always seems to be a feud brewing between the powerful families on the mountain and Rory having set his cap for a girl clearly off limits is adding fuel to the fire. Beautiful language against the harsh life and interesting family dynamics on the mountain. Quietly peaceful and violent at the same time but always powerful.
Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Worthy of a place near the great gothic classics, " The Broken Girls" creates an eerie environment from the first page and then keeps the suspense going until the secret of the haunted school is revealed. In rural Vermont deep in the forest sits the ruin of what used to be an all girls boarding school. Reporter Fiona Sheridan can't believe it when she hears that a wealthy investor has purchased the school and intends to re-open it as a boarding school even after Fiona's sister was found dead on the property and another body is found in a well. She is like a starving dog with a bone and will risk her relationship with a local cop (whose family won't accept her for her part in getting the presumed guilty boyfriend sent to jail) and her own safety as she tries to find out the real truth of what happened. The story then flips back to the 1950's as one of a group of friends at the school goes missing and no one seems to care. These girls were broken both emotionally and physically. From the first pages of a scary walk to the school at night to the heart-pounding conclusion, you will be up all night reading.
Mary is a likeable character even though her life is pretty common. It is a small town, a one train a week town, but Mary and her dad offer a needed service since they operate the only mortuary. Small towns offer security since you know everyone and their history but that also means that everyone in the small town knows all about you as well. Mary is quiet but sincere and her relationship with Robert is magical. This is not a page burner but one that should be read slowly so you can digest the beautiful picture of rural American life.
Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney
Amber is in a coma. Her sister and husband Paul are worried sick about her and Amber wants to come awake but can't. Did Paul cause the accident? Is he having an affair? Was she having an affair? Is she really in a coma? So many twists and turns and hidden identities that you need to keep a notepad nearby to keep it all straight. The story bounces between current day and diary entries from childhood. Why can't we figure out what happened to Amber? Because, Amber sometimes lies.
This is a one sitting thriller with a roller coaster ending that will leave you speechless.
A crumbling country estate falls into a young widow's hands in 1865 after her husband's unexpected death. Strange things begin to happen to Elsie almost immediately and seem to center around the lifelike cutouts that Elsie found in a locked room. Soon everyone, servants and family alike ,are spooked and it begins to look like Elsie is losing her mind. It all seems to feed back to the original occupants of the manor who first brought the silent companion cutouts into the estate in the 1600's and the hold they had over the youngest occupant. Laura Purcell does a masterful job of balancing the old story with the horrors of the current inhabitants, steadily increasing the tension and sense of foreboding. This deliciously creepy Gothic ghost story will have you jumping at shadows and things that go bump in the night.
Lilly did not have an easy life after her parents died and she was raised by her strict aunt and too familiar uncle. The only escape she had was dance and her benefactor, the man who felt responsible for the car accident that took away her family. It wasn't too much of a stretch when she ran off to dance in Las Vegas. This was the height of Vegas glamour with all the shine - The Rat Pack, the never ending lights of the strip and the non-stop party life. So Lilly had to make some hard decisions about what kind of dancing she was going to do. It was not the dance future that Lilly had envisioned but it was one that Ruby Wilde would make famous. Hard hitting, this book does not sugarcoat her experiences and bad choices nor does it make a judgement on the tough choices that she and others like her made. Wonderful historical fiction that makes you feel the lights of the stage, the noise from the casino and the feeling that young lives were made or broken in an instant.
Cassie is the epitome of an unreliable witness so when she wakes up next to a very dead man after a drunken binge blackout she knows she can't go to the authorities. What she does do, well meaning or not, is throw more suspicion on herself with every move. The FBI is onto her, her flight attendant co-workers don't trust her and even her sister won't trust her alone with the kids. The reason her date that night was killed remains a mystery and whoever killed him is sure to come after Cassie to shut her up. You will find yourself shaking your head at all the mistakes Cassie makes but then rooting for her to come out of it intact. There is also the undeniable feeling that any one of us could find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cassie has to hit bottom before she can find her way back to the surface. Heartfelt and human, this is one thriller to jump headfirst into.
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