Abigail Baskin was celebrating her upcoming wedding at her bachelorette party in wine country when, after a few too many glasses, she meets a charming stranger whom she nicknames "Scottie" and sleeps with him. She regretted her rash act, but with renewed commitment to her relationship with the handsome, rich Bruce Lamb, she enjoyed her idyllic wedding - until she sees Scottie in the bushes outside reception.
The newlyweds left for their honeymoon on remote island off the coast of Maine, and while it was beautiful and luxurious, Abigail began to notice some very odd things - there were more staff than guests, only one other woman, and...Scottie. Again. And after Abigail spotted the only other woman in a bloody nightgown just before she disappears, things start to get really creepy.
Every Vow You Break is a properly disturbing psychological thriller. I really enjoyed Swanson's previous book, Eight Perfect Murders, and I can't wait to read more of his work.
Elizabeth, Veronica, Emily, and Rachel met at Camp Birchwood in 1985, and became the inseparable Clover Girls. Life at summer camp was idyllic, but as so often happens, petty jealousies and differing personalities tore the girls apart and they remained estranged. let But a letter from Emily, who was the only member of the group to try to remain in touch, contained an odd request - that the girls meet at Camp Birchwood one last time, to scatter her ashes and attempt a reconciliation.
Our friend Wade Rouse has written another sentimental story of family and friendship. This one is a surefire reminder of 80s pop culture (for better and for worse) and beautiful childhood summers and the friends with whom we spent them.
Mary Jane was fourteen years old the summer of 1975. She was quiet, loved singing in the church choir, visiting the country club, and helping her mother. She lived in a respectable house in a respectable affluent neighborhood, and was happy to have her first job as a summer nanny for Dr. and Mrs. Cone's precocious five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
The Cones looked respectable, but Mary Jane quickly discovered that their chaotic household was very different from her own rigid one, especially after Dr. Cone cleared his schedule for the arrival of a special patient - a famous rock star trying to dry out, and his equally famous movie star wife.
I loved this book. Mary Jane was a sweet hero, and easy to cheer on as her eyes opened to her own potential.
Once in a while, it's great fun to revisit an old friend. I did that this week with a reread of an Agatha Christie mystery featuring that mild-mannered, brilliant spinster, Miss Marple.
The Mirror Crack'd was a later book for Christie, and times are changing, even in Miss Marple's tiny village of St. Mary Mead. Young families are beginning to move into "The Development" - they want modern, timesaving, affordable houses, and little to do with the fussiness of the past. Even Gossington Hall, formerly owned by Miss Marple's best friend Dolly Bantry (whom we met when a body was found in her library many years ago), is being modernized, and the village is agog with excitement over the new owner - the glamorous American film star, Marina Gregg.
Miss Gregg opens her new home to the villagers during a charity tea, but tragedy strikes when guest Heather Badcock of The Development falls dead after accepting a cocktail meant for Marina. And Miss Marple is determined to piece together the different angles of the story and find out what really happened.
Usually, the personality of the murderer is important in solving a case; not so this time. The Mirror Crack'd, with its haunting conclusion, is one of my favorites.
It's the true start of summer when the new Mary Kay Andrews - The Queen of Beach Reads - releases. She gives us a perfect combination in The Newcomer - she's back to her roots as a mystery author but plunks it into a small Florida gulf coast motel.
Letty Carnahan was concerned about her younger sister. Tanya was beautiful, secretive, and newly estranged from her sleazy real estate broker boyfriend Evan Wingfield. Tanya tells Letty that if anything bad happens to her, Evan is responsible, and she should take their four-year-old daughter Maya and run. And then Letty finds Tanya dead on the floor of her condo, grabs Maya, a "go bag" of cash, and her sister's Mercedes and hightails it out of state.
Now the real story begins. Letty, exhausted and frightened, and with Evan in pursuit, ends up at The Surf, an old but popular motel for snowbird retirees. Planning to rest a bit before moving on, she's drawn in by the kind motel owner Ava - who gives her a job and a place to stay - while avoiding Ava's attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a police officer.
The Newcomer has intrigue, romance, a beautiful setting, and a cast of fun characters - in fact, everything that makes a "beach read" so much fun.
The fight between Knickerbocker Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt, of the new money industrialists was legendary and helped fuel the glittery excess of the Gilded Age. The Mrs. Astor was the queen of society. Her parties were exclusive and her reason for living - besides adoring her children - was to make sure that Society kept out the likes of Alma Vanderbilt and her upstart friends, even though they had lots more money. And Alma didn't plan to sit back and be kept from those galas and a box seat at the Academy of Music. She'd throw bigger and better parties and mastermind the new Metropolitan Opera. But despite Mrs. Astor's determination to the contrary, Society and times do change, and all those extravagant parties and those who threw them couldn't continue to outdo each other forever.
Renee Rosen did a masterful job of taking two powerful - and perhaps somewhat unsympathetic - women and not only humanizing them but making us even like and admire them. The chapters vacillate between Mrs. Astor's and Mrs. Vanderbilt's stories, but the addition of a third main 'character' - Society itself - was very interesting and helped with understanding the time period. I loved this book.
I discovered Agatha Christie's mysteries in junior high, but I don't think I heard the story of her strange disappearance until maybe college. And I'm fascinated by the fact that no one connected to her ever spoke about what happened.
Marie Benedict has found her niche in writing about famous women about whom we know little, and she tackles Christie's story in The Mystery of Mrs. Christie. Christie's car was found abandoned near a lake, with only her fur coat and a small dressing case left in it. The chapters alternate between "The Manuscript," in which Christie writes of her meeting and relationship with her husband Archie, and "Day One (for example) After the Disappearance," in which we have Archie's story of the police investigation. Was Archie involved in her disappearance? Did Agatha pose a publicity stunt? Did she have a mental breakdown?
We'll probably never know. But Benedict certainly makes the speculation fun.
Like many of you, I've spent the last year dabbling in more frequent cooking and baking and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Fast has been an integral part of those experiments.
It contains over 2000 recipes, but also sections on a well-stocked pantry, substitutions of ingredients, and techniques and tips to ensure a delicious dish. The speed of each dish is included, and most take between 15 and 45 minutes. Each recipe includes notes on ingredient variations and 'what to serve with' ideas; Bittman also includes ways to add homemade ingredients - by making your own stock, for example - or quicker, by using shortcuts.
This book has certainly upped my cooking game. But I'm going to need How to Bake Everything next. Because my baking is sad. Please don't ask.
Poet Amanda Gorman has a much-anticipated upcoming book of poetry titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, but when she presented her poem so eloquently at the inauguration, the world couldn't wait until September 9th.
This little book with its yellow and red cover - reminiscent of Gorman's cheerful coat and hat - is the result. The poem that inspired the nation is preceded by Oprah Winfrey's forward, and this little book would make a wonderful graduation gift - or a pick-me-up for anyone who needs words of hope and encouragement.
Seventeen-year-old Opal Pruitt enjoys working alongside her grandmother, cooking and cleaning for Miss Peggy. She has a close-knit family, neighbors who look out for each other, and a romantic interest in Cedric Perkins, the preacher's son. She's looking forward to the 1936 Founder's Day celebration. But she also feels in her bones that a storm is brewing and hopes that it won't interfere with Founder's Day and her upcoming birthday.
The storm arrives in the Parsons, Georgia area of Colored Town in the form of the Ku Klux Klan, who are riding through Opal's neighborhood determined to terrorize its citizens - and maybe worse.
I loved every character in When Stars Rain Down - with obvious exceptions - and Jackson-Brown's writing of the terror and confusion and hope of Opal's story is powerful. She will be discussing the book with author Katrina Kittle in a Facebook event hosted by Saturn Booksellers. Information is on our website and we hope you'll join us. I can't wait.