This book begins, " You don't know me, but you'll have seen my face."
Lex is Girl A - the eldest girl in a family in which the children were held captive, tortured and starved. It was Lex who finally escaped - and ended her parents' reign of terror.
Now all grown up and a lawyer, Lex narrates her story as she still struggles with the past - especially now that one of her brothers is getting married and some of her siblings might show up and she needs to see them, because their mother has just died in prison and Lex is the executor and has to dispose of the awful house where it happened.
This story could have gone many ways, but in the end, it just kind of fizzled. The interesting characters were only drawn so far, and their motivations remain somewhat obscure. Eh.
This mystery is all the more mysterious because it is set in Tasmania, off of Australia's southern coast. It was fun for me to picture the beaches and caves and violent storms as one of our daughters was in a friend's wedding there pre-Covid.
In the novel, Kieran, his partner Mia and their daughter Audrey have returned home from Sydney to help Keiran's mom pack up their beach-side home in order to move his father, who has dementia, into a care facility. Kieran gets to see his old mates, but it's also bittersweet as it dredges us the awful days when Kieran's and Sean's older brothers were lost at sea - Olivia's younger sister vanished - all in in the middle of a sudden terrible storm.
And no sooner had the trio arrived than a body of a young artist is found on the beach, plunging the normally quiet seaside village into fear and nostalgia.
I liked this mystery a lot. It had believable characters, an interesting setting, an unsolved mystery, and several plotlines going that kept the whole book interesting enough that I raced home to finish it.
Kirsty, her husband and two daughters have given up their hectic life in London and purchased an old house in Wales with Kirsty's mother and are about to open it as a guesthouse.
But just when they are almost ready to open, Kirsty's estranged cousin and her sickly young daughter show up to stay.
And then vaguely threatening things begin to happen and Kirsty's dream home is beginning to feel like her worst nightmare.
Claire Douglas' first thriller, The Sisters, was a hit and Do Not Disturb will make her many fans happy - and eagerly wanting more.
Lola on Fire has over-the-top female killer action combined with just enough crazy to be darkly funny, as, say, Killing Eve.
Lola needed to kill mobster Jimmy Latzo, and to get to him she had to get through armed guards, attack dogs, and Jimmy himself. And she does it. Almost. Jimmy ends up in a coma from which Lola's sure he will never emerge. But when he does, and vows the most gruesome revenge he can devise, Lola has to bolt, leaving her husband and two young kids behind.
But when, years later, Jimmy's crazy new protegee, Blaire, gets a line on the kids, their unsuspecting lives are shattered.
If you like ‘em violent and vindictive, Lola on Fire is the thriller for you.
Our friend Viola Shipman (aka Wade Rouse) has given us what he gives best - a book about family, and friendships and acceptance in the new novel, The Clover Girls.
Em, V, Liz and Rachel are the original Clover Girls - best friends from summer camp in Northern Michigan in the '80s who will always be there for each other, no matter what.
Although that isn't how it gets played out. A bit of mean girl backstabbing in their final year at camp ensures that they will all go their own ways, and only Em tries to keep in touch with everyone, whether or not they return the favor.
But now Em has written the other three that she is dying and summons them back to Camp Birchwood to scatter her ashes and hopefully let bygones be bygones. She's bought their beloved camp and is leaving it to the three remaining Clover Girls if they can patch up their differences and remember their vows to always be there for each other.
Replete with summer camp traditions, songs and rites of passage, The Clover Girls reminds us of what's really important in the long run.
In the 1870s, Caroline Astor ruled New York (and thus American) society with a firm, gloved hand. If you were invited to her balls and your existence acknowledged by her, you were a Knickerbocker and therefore an accepted member of Society with a capital S.
Alva Vanderbilt found herself among the nouveau riche, and therefore distinctly outside of Society, but she'd do anything to not only be acknowledged, but to take Caroline's place at the pinnacle.
Renee Rosen's newest novel, The Social Graces, tells their story, and that of New York's Gilded Age, with her trademark blend of historical accuracy and vividly imagined scenes which put the reader right there in the midst of balls costing far more to throw than an average American made in their lifetimes - filled with women who thought nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a gown they'd only wear once; arranged marriages with an eye to wealth, and status building and opulent homes and "cottages" the likes of which no longer exist.
The Social Graces transports the reader as all great historical fiction does - to a time and place that now exists only in the imagination.
This debut novel is one of my favorites so far this year. Set on the Natchez Trace in the 1920s, the book tells the tale of Matilda, whose family are sharecroppers in a very segregated Mississippi, and Ada, who grew up in an impoverished white family on the edge of the swamp. The landscape itself is a character in the book - its forbidding atmosphere and challenging topography shaping the lives of the people who live there.
When Ada, who returns from an ill-fated attempt to escape her mean-spirited father after the death of her mother, finds the house on stilts at the swamp's edge empty, she hopes her father is gone for good. Unfortunately, that's not to be and his return bodes a terrible price to pay for her disobedience.
Matilda, who also longs for a different kind of life in the North, is looking for a way to get out and send her family enough money to escape the dispiriting cycle of sharecropping for amoral white men.
When both girls' dreams are crushed, they are unexpectedly thrown together. The book is the story of their fragile connection amidst a harsh landscape and harsher realities. It's amazing that this surefooted novel is Mustian's debut. Read it now!
What a fun surprise to read a new book and discover that it takes place in Boyne City, of all places.
The author, who now lives in Maryland, is a former resident of London, The Hague...and Boyne City, where her protagonist Jane is the new second grade teacher who promptly falls for the town Lothario. Jane sees Duncan's ex-girlfriends everywhere, and realizes that his ex-wife, Aggie, still has Duncan go over to mow her grass.
Jimmy Duncan's co-worker, Frieda, is a mandolin-playing music instructor, Gary is Aggie's unusual current husband. And together they and the other quirky characters shop at Glen's, get ice cream at Kilwins, go to the beach to watch the sunset and make Boyne City come to life on the pages.
By turns funny and poignant, Early Morning Riser is already a hit. Head on in for your copy.
You've gotta hand it to Chris Bohjalian - he's a versatile guy. Set in Boston in 1662, Hour of the Witch tells the story of Mary Deerfield, wife of a prominent mill owner. Thomas, her husband, physically and emotionally abuses her until she gets to the end of her rope and goes to the Court of Assistants looking for a divorce.
But two three-tined forks, symbols of the Devil, have been found in Mary's dooryard, and events soon spiral out of control.
Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant, a book recently turned into a popular HBO Max limited series, delves into the collective madness that was the American witch hunt.
If you are a fan of Puritan-era tales, stories of witch burnings, or just a good story with very likeable and unlikeable characters, you'll find yourself grimacing at some of the choices young Mary makes in her quest to escape her brutal husband, and cheering her along the entire way.
I don't know much about the lives of Black communities in the 1930s in Georgia, but I do know that Angela Jackson-Brown has written an interesting story with characters I grew to love who lived and loved and suffered at the hands of white people in the Colored Town section of Parsons, outside of Atlanta.
Opal Pruitt and her granny work for Miss Peggy at her big house, cooking and cleaning. Miss Birdie, Opal's grandma, grew up with Miss Peggy, and Opal herself grew up with Peggy's grandson Jimmy Earl. But no matter how close those friendships might be, there is no forgetting that Miss Peggy and Jimmy Earl are white, and Opal and her grandmother are not.
Replete with a visit from the KKK, a local hoodoo woman and a budding romance, When Stars Rain Down is both a good story and a reminder that, while much has changed, much has remained the same in the last eight or nine decades in rural America.
This book ends on an emotional, two-tissue note, further driving home that people everywhere are more alike than different.