‘Upgrade’ by Blake Crouch is a thrilling sci-fi novel about the future

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch’s newest novel, “Upgrade,” doesn’t start with a bang but rather a slow, uphill journey that draws us in gradually. But don’t relax, because before Chapter 2 begins, the action ratchets up, and by the end of the second chapter, you’ll find you want to keep reading to find out what happens next — quickly. That level of excitement and wonder continues to the very last page. Crouch is a master at creating stories about fantastic events and the people who are affected by them. There are few real bad guys in this story; instead, there are characters who, because of their arrogance, believe they can save the world.

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‘Dead Against Her’ by Melinda Leigh is a gripping mystery novel

Dead Against her by Melinda Leigh

The fifth novel in the Bree Taggert series by Melinda Leigh, “Dead Against Her,” is just as riveting and touching as the first ones. They feature Bree Taggert, a tough female sheriff in a rural upstate New York community who was born in the county to an abusive father. She became a detective, and, when her sister was murdered, returned to her roots to raise her sister’s children with the help of her now retired former partner.

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‘Dreaming of Flight’ by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a brilliant and touching story of love and loss

Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Fans of Catherine Ryan Hyde will adore her new novel featuring, as protagonist, an eleven-year-old boy named Stewie. Stewie’s life has been tough. His parents died when he was a baby, his older brother Theo has cerebral palsy, and his sister Stacey is raising them alone on her salary as a nurse. She works nights, and while she loves her brothers dearly, she has little extra time to parent.

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‘A Rip Through Time’ by Kelley Armstrong is a time travel mystery in Victorian Scotland

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

After ending her fabulous “Rockton” series, prolific author Kelley Armstrong presents us with “A Rip Through Time,” a mystery boasting a different twist. Instead of exploring a unique location, we follow a modern police detective who is flung back in time to the Victorian Era, into the body of a housemaid in Edinburgh, Scotland. When Vancouver detective Mallory Atkinson is out jogging in Edinburgh while taking a break from visiting her dying grandmother, she is brutally attacked. She wakes up days later; but in what seems like a never-ending nightmare, she realizes that she is in the body of a maid and that she has been somehow transported back 150 years in time.

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‘Dark Objects’ by Simon Toyne

Dark Objects by Simon Toyne

Veteran bestselling author Simon Toyne brings us several twists in his new murder mystery, “Dark Objects.” Pay attention because there’s a lot going on in this clever story that includes gruesome murders, mysterious clues, dead people with no background, and an expert on crime who herself was a victim of horrible violence. While the crimes and the mysteries around them are fascinating, equally riveting are the two main characters.

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‘Our Last Days in Barcelona’ by Chanel Cleeton is a great summer read/book club choice

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

Fans of Chanel Cleeton’s historical fiction have gotten to know the families in her novels, and with “Our Last Days in Barcelona,” we revisit some of her characters while we meet new ones in a dual narrative that is set in mid-1930s and the early 1960s. In the earlier timeline, Alicia, the mother of the Perez sisters, has fled to Barcelona from Cuba with her young daughter to stay with her parents after finding out about her husband’s infidelity. Yet when that daughter, Isabel, travels to Barcelona in search of her sister Beatriz in 1964, she sees a photo of her mother, herself, and an unknown man at a cafe in Barcelona. Strangely, her mother, when questioned, adamantly insists that they have never been to Barcelona. We also meet Rosa, a Perez cousin, whose own situation mirrors the personal quandaries that both Alicia and Isabel face.

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‘The Summer Place’ by Jennifer Weiner is a return to Cape Cod, where a family must reconcile secrets of the past

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Reading Jennifer Weiner’s books about idyllic summers spent on Cape Cod makes one yearn to pack up and head for the nearest beach. The sky is almost always blue, the water is clear, and the salty aroma in the air only serves to make readers hungry for a lobster roll or an ice cream cone, just like the ones in which the characters in the book indulge. In her latest novel, “The Summer Place,” we meet the Danhauser family and assorted relatives. The heart of the book is the story about three generations of women, grandmother/mother Veronica Levy (Ronnie); Sarah Weinberg Danhauser, her daughter; and Ruby, Sarah’s husband’s daughter from a previous marriage. Ruby and her boyfriend Gabe have decided to get married, and they are having the wedding at Ronnie’s beautiful beach-side home on the Cape.

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‘Aurora’ by David Koepp is a survival story and fabulous character study about how we deal with adversity

Aurora by David Koepp

I’ll be honest—I love a good survival story. That’s why I was excited to read “Aurora” by David Koepp. It’s about a huge CME, a coronal mass ejection, hitting Earth and disrupting our electrical grid. That causes complete blackouts—no heat, no cell phones, no lights, no communications. But what Koepp really gives us in this action-filled novel is much more than a survival story. He writes a story about characters with backstories and how the adversity that they face changes them. There are really two main characters, Aubrey and her brother Thomas, and it’s fascinating how they grow and change over the course of the novel, each learning from and contributing to the character development of the other.

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‘Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra’ by Stuart Gibbs is the next foray into the brilliant and exciting world of a young genius

Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra
by Stuart Gibbs

“Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra” by Stuart Gibbs is exactly the kind of middle grade fiction that teachers adore. And there are so many reasons to adore this clever and well-written adventure. The main character, Charlie, is a wonderful main character. She’s smart, adventurous, has high morals, admits her physical failings, and has a bit of an attitude. In short, she’s like many of the kids who will enjoy this series.

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‘Holy Chow’ by David Rosenfelt is the latest tail-wagging murder mystery with the affable Andy Carpenter

Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Not everyone in the fictional world of wanna-be-retired attorney Andy Carpenter loves him. But IRL (in real life), author David Rosenfelt’s fans adore the irascible, humorous, and self-deprecating lawyer whose dialogue literally makes us LOL (laugh out loud). “Holy Chow” is the latest in a long series of Rosenfelt novels about Andy Carpenter and his motley crew of investigators. As the series has continued, the cast of supporting characters has grown. In addition to Andy’s wife Laurie, who acts as his investigator, there is retired cop Corey Douglas and his K-9 Simon Garfunkel. They, in fact, star in their own kick-off series titled “K Team,” the “K” referencing the amazing Simon, as he is known for short.

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‘Nightwork’ by Nora Roberts is a new action-filled romance

Nightwork by Nora Roberts

In her latest fiction, “Nightwork,” prolific author Nora Roberts presents a romance that is filled with action. The main character, Harry Booth, grows up learning to steal because his mother is dying of cancer and can’t pay the bills. Before he hit the age of ten, he learned to pick pockets and made enough money to support him and his mother. His aunt Mags helped, but she alone couldn’t make enough money from their cleaning business to make up for his mother being unable to work.

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‘Cinder-Nanny’ by Sariah Wilson is a lovely summer rom-com read

Cinder-Nanny by Sariah Wilson

When the temperatures near 100 degrees, summer has officially arrived; a perfect “beach read” to enjoy and celebrate summer weather is “Cinder-Nanny” by Sariah Wilson. In spite of its title, this delightful, light romance doesn’t contain actual magic; but the romance between two unlikely individuals is clever and touching. And while both main characters are devoted to their families, the families they come from are anything but normal.

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