Friday, May 29, 2020

Dovetail by Karen McQuestion

Release Date - March 10, 2020

Joe Arneson has been having a series of recurrent dreams. These dreams feel too real to be dreams. They leave him shaking and unstable. That's why his dad decides to send Joe to a psychiatric hospital. Joe's not finding the help he needs there, and one day a woman claiming to be his grandmother comes to get him out. He knows his grandmother is dead, but he wants to leave the hospital, too, so he heads off with her to her small Wisconsin town.

In Wisconsin, Joe's offered a job to sort through his grandmother's things before she dies. He learns that the woman really is his grandmother and that his father's lied to him for year. He doesn't understand why. As he goes through old photos, he realizes that his dreams are somehow tied to events of the past. His grandmother's sister Alice died decades ago, and his grandmother needs to reveal the truth of those events and events surrounding the reason his father hates her so much.

Dovetail is a charming story of family secrets. It takes place in the 1980s and goes back to the 1910s. It's a story that revolves around jealousy, family dynamics, and some mystical elements like visions of the past.

Make no mistake, Joe's grandmother Pearl is not a likable character in the past. It's hard to read her chapters and feel any sympathy for her. In fact, you may want to give up. Keep reading though. As secrets are revealed, she never won me over, but it gave me some knowledge that she'd changed her ways and learned from her selfishness.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Release Date - April 14, 2020

Tessa Shepherd's film may have taken the world by storm and freed a seemingly innocent man from prison. Right after his release, he kidnaps the daughter of a law enforcement agent who put him behind bars. He tells police that Tessa holds the keys to the woman's location, and he'll kill her if they don't find her soon. Tessa becomes one of the most hated people on the planet. When reporters show up at her mother's funeral, it's too much. Tessa learns her mom owned a rundown estate home and flees to it.

There, she learns that the manor home is tended to by a couple of elderly women. One wants Tessa and uncover the truth. There's a mystery to solve, but Tessa's lost the confidence to unravel the murder that destroyed a family and turned Fallbrook into crumbling ruins. She also learns that she's the next if she can't figure out where the girl is being held.

There are two mysteries going on in The Caretakers. You have the past and what led to the murders of Tessa's ancestors. There's also the missing young woman and whether Tessa will figure out where she is in time. All of this goes on while Tessa is trying to decide what to do with her life. After helping release a killer, she's not eager to start a new film. It's not like anyone will hire her anyway.

The story flips back from past to present and back. It's easy to keep up with the changes as present is told from Tessa's point of view while the past is told by one of the elderly caretakers. The changes were seamless and kept me engaged.

The mysteries actually had a few surprises. I didn't see some of the twists coming and that was refreshing. If you want a great story for a hot summer's day, you can't go wrong with Eliza Maxwell's latest.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Love Letters from Montmartre by Nicolas Barreau

Release Date - May 12, 2020

This romance is a little different. The heroine passed away from cancer. Before she died, she asked her husband to write her a letter for each year she was alive. With 33 letters to write, Julien finds himself dealing with writer's block. Not a great situation when you're an author whose supposed to have a new book in the works. His romance novels are just not appealing to him after losing the love of his life.

Julien also doesn't want to let his true love down. He gets started, while also being a single parent to his young son, and finds his life is changing in new and emotional ways. These letters just may be what he needs to start anew.

Love Letters From Montmartre is a beautifully written novel. I fell in love with young Arthur. His dad clearly needed to move past his grief, but grief hits everyone differently. I do like that he made the effort for his son. As the letters and magic of anew start to happen, I was enchanted.

Did I find the surprises to be shocking? Not really. From the moment one character appears, I knew exactly where the story was going to go. It wasn't full of drama or twists. It was simply touching and the ideal light romance for the moment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

Release Date - April 28, 2020

Iris Maynard became a single mom when her husband was killed in the line of duty during WWII. Shortly after that, her young daughter died. Iris's attentions turned to her lavish gardens as walls around her house went up. Her grandmother's house turned into a rental that she only allows to get rented to very specific people.

Abby Peterson's husband came home from the Iraq War a shell of the man he was. Abby's the one supporting the family now, but it's clear her husband is struggling to be the father she and her daughter, Lily, need him to be while she's at work.

When her father fails to pick her up from her day camp, Lily ends up befriending Iris. Iris may be a bit reclusive, but the girl's curiosity about the flowers in Iris's yard wins her over. She soon finds herself growing closer to this family. It could be exactly what they all need in order to turn tragedy into new starts for everyone.

I shed many tears reading this touching story. The setting is gorgeous and had me wanting to be part of this quaint lakeside town. Iris's gardens had me longing for my own lilacs and roses to bloom. I was so drawn to all of the characters and was sad to see my time on the shores of Lake Michigan come to an end.

The Heirloom Garden should be number one on your list for summer reading. It's touching and vivid. It's hard not to feel like you're part of the town.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Release Date - May 12, 2020

Detective Maggie Kennedy O'Keefe found the body of her best friend, Eve, when she was a teen. Decades later, Maggie's a detective in the town where she grew up and ready to switch to desk work for the remaining weeks of her pregnancy. Teens exploring the cave where Eve died have found her boot. The new evidence brings new light to this cold case, and Maggie asks for the chance to bring closure for her friend's mother and sister.

As she starts going over old interviews and diving into many secrets held by those closest to her, Maggie could be putting her life in danger. There's a killer out there who will do anything to keep the murder from being solved.

I loved this mystery. You have a good range of possible suspects, and I was pretty sure I knew who it was from early on, but I proved to be overthinking it. It's not often that I get tripped up, but Heather Gudenkauf managed to do so. I love being surprised.

This is the type of mystery/suspense that will keep you up. While I didn't always agree with Maggie's decisions, I still bonded with her. I have a parent with Alzheimer's, so I know her family's struggle with her dad, who was the detective who investigated many years ago. I loved how his fragmented memories also played a part in the case.

As secrets are revealed, it's clear there's a lot more to this case than you'd imagine. Past and present are revealed through Eve's voice in the past and Maggie and Eve's sister heading up the present. It's a great summer read for those lazy afternoons when nothing is pressing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Release Date - May 19, 2020

Single mom Brooke is back living with her mom and dealing with her mom's non-stop criticism. Nothing Brooke does is good enough. She doesn't spend enough time with her two-year-old daughter Etta. She's too busy working. She has a junker car.

Fed up, Brooke decides to take Etta to the movies for the evening. Once again, her mom has something negative to say and pushes Brooke to at least take her newer luxury sedan since she's going out after dark.

On the way back home, Brooke and Etta are the victims of a carjacking. Brooke is pulled from her mom's car, and Etta remains in in the car in her car seat. Police are called and a desperate race to find Etta begins.

In another neighborhood, Etta's found by a homeless teen. Molly learns of some homeless teen's plans to hold Etta for ransom, so she does everything she can to keep the toddler safe. If she can just make it through the night, she'll be able to get someone to call police for help.

The only criticism I have is that the story started so well and then came off as a little rushed. There's a lot covered in terms of homelessness, single moms, LGBTQ, and foster care. I wish some of those aspects had been fleshed out a little more. At times, it just seemed like things were too quickly wrapped up.

I fell in love with Catherine Ryan Hyde's writing back when Pay It Forward came out. I've read many books since and have enjoyed each one. Brave Girl, Quiet Girl takes a look at the plight of homeless teenagers and the struggles of a single mom. I enjoyed watching Molly and Brooke connect and start to build a tentative relationship. Did I ever like Brooke's mom? No. She was a despicable person from the start and didn't learn much at all.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Bridesmaids by Zara Stoneley

Release Date - April 26, 2019

I love the cover of Bridesmaids. This romantic comedy follows Jane. Her best friend, Rachel, is engaged and has a surprise in place. Their old circle of friends will be gathering to take their roles as bridemaids, and Jane is going to be in charge of keeping everything on schedule.

Jane has a secret she's been keeping from Rachel. It's one that has her on edge as she's not convinced Rachel is making the right move. If only the groom-to-be would come clean, Jane would feel so much better about everything.

Maddie and Sally are going to be issues. They're in love with the same man, but Sally went out and married him after Maddie took a break from him. Getting those two to see eye to eye isn't going to be easy.

Beth is a new mom and one of the group that Jane feels most comfortable being around. The problem is that even Beth is keeping a secret about her baby's father.

Add to the already tough situations to Beth's friendship with her male roommate. She's known him for ages and she's getting kind of tired of hearing about his dream woman. The closer she becomes to him, the more this mystery woman gets to her. She's starting to see him in a new light and his mystery trips up north and avoidance of her calls threaten to push her over the brink.

It took me a bit to get into Bridesmaids. I should have stopped ages ago, but something in it made me want to keep trying. I'm glad I did. Once I got through the first several chapters, I was hooked and couldn't stop reading. I had to see how it played out.

The Road to Christmas: A Sweet Holiday Romance Novel by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 20, 2022  Sit down and explore the holiday season through four sets of eyes in Sheila Roberts' latest holiday...