A Cold War saga of friends, comrades and all the relationships in between. Valery is starving to death in a Siberian prison camp when he is pulled out of his cell, cleaned up and dropped off at a research facility in the middle of nowhere. He is in this city built on top of an old nuclear site to study the effects of exposure to long term radiation. While he can't believe his good fortune and a chance for a second life he becomes all too aware of the dangers of where he is and the village around him. In a strange twist he develops a deep relationship to the one person he should fear - a KGB agent who is in charge of watching over the scientists. When your world is built on lies, fear and secrets how can he trust is anything he sees or hears. It is a quietly intimate story set in the middle of a house of horrors with the added bonus of an octopus who stole my heart.
A Russian classic spy story the likes of Ken Follett or CHILD 44 and others by Tom Rob Smith.
Abby works at an inn that borders a maze of hiking trails that snake through the North Carolina mountains. Over the past decade the town has gained a sad reputation with a handful of tourists going missing. In this little town where everyone knows everyone and their business it is hard to keep secrets hidden. When the brother of one of the latest missing comes to town looking for answers he stirs up the hornet's nest and peaks Abby's attention. As she goes looking for answers Abby gets deeper into the wilderness and might not like what she finds at the end of the trail. A tense thriller that blends the beauty and solitude of the mountains with the vastness and isolation should you find yourself lost and in trouble. Megan Miranda expertly leads us into the dark wiping away our trail at every flip of the page. 4 stars
Gilded Age New York was full of sensational journalism and there were plenty of scandals to catch a reader's eye - torrid love affairs, crooked politicians, swindlers and women's rights that would barely make a major headline today filled the many daily newspapers of the city. One case covered many of the hot topics, that of the supposed marriage of one of Alexander Hamilton's descendants and his fortune seeking, swindler wife. Robert Ray Hamilton was not the oldest son but his decision to marry well beneath him to his lover who tried to pass off a baby as his kept the wedding out of the society pages. When a cat fight broke out between his wife Evangeline and the baby's nurse which resulted in a stabbing, Robert filed for divorce. Once Eva was in jail charged with the stabbing it didn't take long for the court to discover that she was still married to her friend's son and multiple babies were purchased. In the end Robert fled New York for adventure in Wyoming and died there in a suspicious accident while Eva proclaimed her innocence to the end and still fought for part of the Hamilton estate. This book has it all - seduction, corruption and a big dose of scandal which will appeal to those historical buffs, readers of Caleb Carr and viewers of The Gilded Age who wanted more of the seedy side.
3 1/2 stars
Sugar and Salt by Susan Wings
A young woman from Texas with a gift for BBQ and comfort food finds love with a divorced dad who is heir to a bakery dynasty in San Francisco. The romance portion is pretty much as expected but once Margot (formally Margie) shares her past the story takes a darker and more topical turn. Margot was the victim of a sexual assault and fought back only to have her side of the story twisted and freedom taken away. No spoilers but there were other complications that helped make her decision to leave Texas that much easier. Just like it takes both sugar and salt to provide a tasty balance, this is a sweet summer romance and a spicy past that touches on timely and tough subjects. An added treat are the recipes and cocktails at the end of the book.
3 1/2 stars
Savannah may be the Grand Dame of the South but this story is about its less than shiny underbelly exposed in the shadow of the stately homes of respectable families and mossy oaks. The Musgroves are an eclectic bunch - a blend of color, background and profession but they reluctantly come home when Morgana the matriarch commands. She has brought them to her side to help with the family detective agency finding a missing woman and who set up their client. As they dig deeper the more dangerous it all becomes but Jaq won't give up without finding her friend. Dark secrets, demanding family obligations, old feuds, corruption, crime and lots of delving into the history of Savannah you don't see on the tours. A wonderful mix of characters some well meaning and some just meaning to stay in the shadows this will appeal to readers of Pat Conroy, Greg Iles and MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. An added bonus is at the end where the author shares more of the actual events. This would be epic on the small screen! 4 1/2 stars
Just Like Home by Sarah Galley
Vera is home to pack up the house and settle her dying mother's affairs. Their relationship has always been strained due to the fact that Vera was always "daddy's girl" and daddy died in prison after being convicted of multiple murders. Vera is trying hard to get past her past and the house that daddy lovingly built that is now home to a freak show. The current paranormal artist in residence and Vera don't get along and she just wants to get this done and get out as soon as mom is gone. Old ghosts, voices in the dark and nightmares return to haunt her nights as old memories surface. Just like Shirley Jackson's Hill House, Crowder House might not let her go. A creepy ghost story, haunted house and mass murder - who needs more to keep you up reading all night. It will take more thank snapping your fingers to make the monster under the bed go away. 4 stars
A dark mystery in a gothic setting in Mexico with horror undertones is once again the theme of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest. This time she is revisiting the tale of Doctor Moreau and his experiments.
Doctor Moreau is working on a bizarre set of experiments in his remote Yucatan hacienda. With only his daughter, an outcast majordomo, and a handful of servants (mostly hybrid) the doctor maintains a peaceful and secretive existence deep in the jungle. Carlota loves her home and would happily stay there forever but the doctor has run out of funding from his patron which means marrying Carlota off to the wealthy family is the only option. What Carlota sees as a love match could mean disaster and soon the truth about the hybrids and the reason for their existence comes into the light. Class systems and racial tension between the landowners and the indigenous people fighting back adds much to the classic horror story. Her many fans as well as lovers of revisited classics will find much to enjoy with this book.A dark mystery in a gothic setting in Mexico with horror undertones is once again the theme of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest. This time she is revisiting the tale of Doctor Moreau and his experiments.
As the only child of Puerto Rican/ American parents Elena is used to running interference between her parents before and after the divorce. She keeps them both at bay until her mother calls begging Elena to go to Puerto Rico and find her missing dad. Hurricane Maria has made life on the island difficult but Elena manages to get somewhat settled in the house that her family owns and she will inherit. As she tracks down her dad whereabouts she meets more of the family and begins to understand her dad's past and the problems he faced and is facing now. This will appeal to readers of family drama especially those of blended cultures.
3 1/2 stars
War has broken out in Europe and all over America families are sending their loved ones "over there" to fight in the Great War. A group of patriotic young women want to do their part and respond to a unique opportunity for telephone operators who speak French to participate in the first military program of its kind. The women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps "manned" the switchboard connecting calls from the military headquarters in various locations to the frontlines. They not only acted professionally being trusted not to repeat sensitive information but performed much faster and with greater accuracy than their male counterparts. While exposed to much of the same dangers as the men, that of gas, bombs and the first deadly influenza epidemic, they were expected to act like the military but were denied military benefits after their service was finished. Many of them were awarded high military honors for their contribution and won the respect of General Pershing himself. A wonderful addition to the hidden stories of heroic women during war and a sure bet for Chiaverini's and historical fiction fans. 4 stars
A nail biter that flips identities and blame faster than you can turn the page. Paris Peralta is found at her wealthy husband's side covered in blood. She is arrested and maintains she did not kill him but it looks bad and what she is most concerned with is if they find out about her past before she became Paris. Abused from early in her childhood by her mother and countless men, Joey became tough to survive until she got a chance to escape and start again. Drew grew up with Joey and was crushed when she died. Years pass until while working on a new episode for his true crime podcast he sees a familiar face in the news and starts digging. Social media makes it almost impossible for her to stay in the shadows and hide what happened in the dark and threatens to unravel all her plans. Excellent pacing and a clever victim you don't want to believe is a monster, this survivor story will appeal to fans of B.A. Paris, Lucy Foley and Alice Feeney.
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