If you are looking for a sequel to DAISY JONES AND THE SIX you will be disappointed but if you follow professional tennis or even if you are just a weekend warrior of the courts you will be aced by this story. It is about a woman and her coach father who trained her whole life to become number one on the professional tennis circuit. It is also about the ups and downs of having your child/parent relationship being as volatile as your student/coach relationship. Carrie has claimed many titles over her career that ended five years ago with a severe injury. Now at thirty seven she wants to come back and defend her title. To do this will take everything that Carrie has learned , believed and trained for and then some. Her dad has always been her biggest supporter and best coach but even that will be challenged as will her relationship to Bowe an old fling helping her train. The story centers on the extreme physical toll the sport takes but also the emotional and mental game that mean almost as much to winning. This is a powerful sports story, an emotional and heartfelt love story between a father and daughter and proof that if you work hard for something and get a bit of luck on your side anything is possible. Think of it like a Latino version of the Williams family story. 4 stars
Lady Worthing has an annoying neighbor who is given to loud piano music and whose large dogs are a menace to her terrier, Teacup. Thankfully Lord Henderson is usually away at sea like Lord Worthing but he is home when his wife is found murdered next door on Lady Worthing's property. Abigail Worthing can't resist a good mystery or a good cause but sadly this murder took place while she and her cousin were attending a secret abolitionist meeting and Henderson knows this placing them as each other's alibis. Abigail heads straight into solving the murder and more without taking into consideration that she may be flirting with the devil and possibly the killer himself. A new series with solid historical details, a clever murder mystery and a heroine who is not content to sit with her embroidery while the case gets solved around her. 3 1/2 stars
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney
A remote rocky coast, a house cut off from the world by the tide and a dysfunctional family with a capitol D - who knows what will happen when the clocks chime for thee? The Darkers are a messy lot who didn't get along as children and still don't as adults but they have all gathered for what should be Nana's last birthday. Daisy is the favorite of Nana's as she was the one who was pegged to die at an early age. As Nana's clocks chime on the hour and they all wait out the night for the tide to recede, members of the family are being picked off one by one. With chalkboard rhymes and VCR clues to guide them before they can escape will they catch the killer or will the killer catch them? The perfect creepy ode to Agatha Christie's masterpiece told in Alice Feeney's diabolical dark style. A wonderful late night read alone in the candlelight and creaky stairs and a sure bet for Christie fans and readers of haunting gothic murder mysteries.
4 1/2 stars
This book is a sequel to THE MINIATURIST and while you can read this without having read the first book it does help. Thea has been raised by her father, aunt and housekeeper in Amsterdam. She is now of marriageable age but has fallen for a set painter at the theater instead of the suitor her family has chosen. Thea keeps her love affair a secret but someone finds out and begins to send her miniatures and warning notes. The family needs Thea to marry well off due to her father losing his spot in the Guild and of course no one wants a scandal. This is another fine example of a young woman realizing that she has little say in her life choices and the world is not kind to the wrong kind of love affair. Think of it like the Dutch version of Bridgerton. The characters are well developed but the story dragged a bit in the middle. Those who loved the first book will be looking for a return of the miniaturist but she is a bit player in this tale. 3 1/2 stars
There once was a horrible children's mental institution - grossly overcrowded and understaffed where the mentally disabled residents were starved, beaten, abused and made to sit in their own filth without medical care or education. Sounds like something out of a Dickens novel or third world country but this was New York state in the early 1970's.
When Sage discovers her twin sister was committed to the Willowbrook State School years ago and that she is missing she leaves immediately to find her. Her worst nightmare happens when unable to prove who she is and is admitted in her twin's place. Sent to the same hell that her sister Rosemary had been living in for years has Sage fighting to find a way out but she must also escape the serial killer who has been abducting and killing Willowbrook patients. The scariest part of this story is that it is based on true events- Willowbrook State School was real as was the serial killer who worked there. An intense story that will captivate readers of true crime as well as historical thrillers but be prepared for a long night reading with the lights on.
Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen
There once was an island off the coast of South Carolina know for sweet confections marshmallows and tiny blue birds. On this island lived a group of broken people and it would take an energetic young woman trying to connect with her dead mother to help the residents of the Dellawisp condos find their wings. They were all misfits of sorts- good people who life had let down but as soon as Zoey arrived for the summer strangers became neighbors who became friends. The past wouldn't let go of them until they were ready to let go of the past. A ghost story that will warm your heart like the memory of a magical summer vacation. For anyone who needs a lifting story and literary hug and should be paired with cornbread, marshmallows and sweet tea. 4 stars
Girl, Forgotten by Karen Slaughter
What do you do when your father is a serial killer hopefully locked up for life and the reason why you and your mom have been in witness protection? You join the U.S. Marshall program of course. Andrea's first case is guarding a judge who has received death threats but only a couple of people know the other reason she is there and that is to try and link her father to the murder of the judge's daughter years before. Karen Slaughter excels in layered characters and a story within a story. Andrea is tough but she has a good heart as does Bible, her assigned partner. A riveting storyline involving a group of teens, past mistakes and a small town full of secrets to uncover. Her fans will be hoping this one makes it to the screen as well. 4 stars
Margot is a struggling journalist who returns home to care for her beloved uncle struggling with advancing dementia. She got out of the little town expecting to never return but finds herself jumping back in time with the disappearance of a little girl in a nearby town that seems just like the murder of her childhood friend years ago. She senses a story that could kick start her career and to stop what she feels is a serial killer but to do so puts her in deep in danger. The story goes back in time to the original murder to help us connect the dots to the current day. Misdirection, unreliable narrators and the stress of dealing with seeing a loved one slowly drift away has Margot twisted into a million pieces. Can she put them together before the killer finds her. This will appeal to true crime readers with the ties to JonBenet Ramsey's sad story as well as readers searching for an edge of your seat thriller. 4 stars
Warning- this is a very dark thriller and not an easy book to get through as it deals with the manipulation of young women, brainwashing and a lot of sexual and psychological abuse. Because of the volatile subject matter it is a powerful story of how a group of beautiful young women could get pulled down the rabbit hole and brainwashed into joining a cult. A small group of girls go to college and are enthralled by a charismatic man who leads them to ruin with only Shay able to escape. Years pass and Shay is married and living in a well manicured Dallas suburb but she is not happy. When she hears that another one of her friends has been found hanged at the college she leaves to investigate. Joining her old childhood friend who is now a successful true crime podcaster they attempt to infiltrate what looks like the same secret men's club. The deeper Shay gets the more she is sure it is the same man who is behind this along with some very prominent and important men. She puts herself in danger because she believes she failed her friends before but this time she might not make it out. It jumps between real time and Shay's interviews for the podcast of her past life. 3 1/2 stars
Die Around Sundown by Mark Pryor
A new historical series from Austin's own Mark Pryor involving a savvy French police detective caught up in impossible politics between the Nazi regime and hands- tied French police. When Henri Lefort is given the case of a murder of a German officer in the Louvre he is puzzled that the Nazi's aren't handling it instead of the Parisian police. When he is given a week to solve it, not allowed to see the crime scene and given a list of french suspects he knows he might as well hang a sign around his neck that says "scapegoat". The secondary story is the relationship between a female psychiatrist who Henri makes a deal with, that usually involves good red wine, so she can help him get rid of his affliction of oversensitivity of certain sounds. This is a different look at occupied Paris, a taste of an underground action to save priceless art from going to the Fatherland and a clever mystery to engage every armchair detective. I am looking forward to hearing more from Inspector Lefort. 4 stars
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