‘Six Weeks to Live’ by Catherine McKenzie dissects a woman’s life as she is dying

Six Weeks to Live by
Catherine McKenzie

It seems macabre—to meet a woman in the final six weeks of her life to uncover a mystery. Who tried to kill her? But in “Six Weeks to Live” by Catherine McKenzie, it’s somehow not macabre at all but rather fascinating. She peels away the layers of Jennifer’s life as if it were an onion, layer by layer. Some layers are revealed by Jennifer herself, in first person narrative. Others are revealed by her three daughters, the triplets Aline, Emily, and Miranda.

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‘The Box in the Woods’: Maureen Johnson brings Stevie Bell back to solve the mystery of the summer camp murders

The Box in the Woods
by Maureen Johnson

“The Box in the Woods” is a murder mystery by Maureen Johnson, and in it we see the return of Stevie Bell, the super sleuth who solved the “Truly Devious” murders at Ellingham Academy in Maine in the three books that constitute that series. While this mystery features Stevie and her friends, it definitely works as a stand alone mystery, also. The setting is a summer camp where decades ago, four teenage camp counselors were murdered in the nearby woods. Three of the bodies were found in a hunting box on which the word “Surprise” had been painted. It was gory and gruesome and remained unsolved.

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‘The Woman with the Blue Star’ by Pam Jenoff is a story of survival, compassion, and friendship

The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is known for her meticulously researched historical fiction, and “The Woman with the Blue Star” is no different. In it, we read a fictionalized account of an historical occurrence. In at least one town in Poland, Jews descended into the sewers to live in hiding when the Nazis began emptying the ghettos and implementing their “final solution.” As difficult as living in a sewer must have been—and Jenoff describes it in such detail we can see it, feel it, and smell it—that horrible existence was still better than the alternative.

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Incredibly — ‘Better, Not Bitter: Living On Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice’ by Yusef Salaam an inspiring read

Better Not Bitter by Yusef Salaam

The set of blazing emotions provoked by Yusef Salaam’s memoir, “Better, Not Bitter: Living On Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice,” includes strong doses of disgust, shame, anger — and inspiration. In 1989, five teenagers, all Black or Hispanic, were convicted in the notorious case of a young White female jogger who had been raped, beaten, tortured, and left for dead in Central Park. Salaam was one of those five teenagers.

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‘That Summer’ by Jennifer Weiner is about two Dianas whose lives intersect in an unexpected way

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

In “That Summer,” Jennifer Weiner returns to her beloved Cape to share the tale of two Dianas, who each in her own way have had her life’s ambitions destroyed by one man. The difference is that one Diana has her life destroyed—almost—when she is fifteen while the other Diana is seduced into choosing a life of postponed dreams and belittled ambitions.

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‘Seven Perfect Things’ by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Before we even open to the first page, the cover reveals the mystery of the title. The jacket of “Seven Perfect Things” by Catherine Ryan Hyde is adorned with adorable, sleeping puppies. And when thirteen-year-old Abby’s abusive father tells her that nothing in life is perfect, and even dares her to “name one thing in this life that’s perfect,” she responds that she could name seven. We know that these seven perfect things, the “things” that changed Abby’s life, were once so unwanted and considered so imperfect that someone put these precious puppies in a bag and threw them off a bridge to drown in a river.

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‘Spellmaker’ is the thrilling sequel to ‘Spellbreaker’ by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

In an alternative Victorian world filled with magic and spellmakers and spellbreakers, “Spellmaker” by Charlie N. Holmberg gives us the conclusion to the story that began when Elsie Camden, a rogue spellbreaker, came into her own in “Spellbreaker.” It is in the first book that while following the orders of a mysterious group pursuing justice and equality, Elsie is trying to remove a spell on the estate of a wealthy duke, and she runs into Bacchus Kelsey, visiting from his plantation in Barbados. Her life changes, and for the first time she questions this anonymous group and their orders. We learn that Elsie had been abandoned by her family as a child and ended up in a workhouse. From there she ended up working for Ogden Cuthbert, a kind artist who has hidden his own magical talent, and who treated her almost like a daughter.

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‘Legacy’ by Nora Roberts is the story of strong women and the men who love them — and a lunatic poet with murderous intent

Legacy by Nora Roberts

In “Legacy,” author Nora Roberts takes us on an epic journey into the life of Adrian Rizzo. We meet Adrian at the tender age of seven when she first meets the man who is her biological father. He’s angry, drunk, and crazy and tries to kill her. He ends up dying. We learn a lot about Lina, Adrian’s mother, and how she started a fitness empire through determination and hard work. We see the town, Traveler’s Creek, where Lina grew up and where her parents still run the family business, Rizzo’s Italian Restaurant. They live in a beautiful house on a hill with gardens and mountains in the distance. It’s beautiful, and it’s where Adrian spends the summer after the horrific event with her father. It’s that summer that she makes friends in town, including her first best friend, Maya. Her grandparents teach her to cook, and how to pick herbs and vegetables in the garden. It’s that summer that causes Adrian to grow roots in the small town, and it becomes home. It’s not, however, her mother’s home or where her mother feels comfortable. Her mother couldn’t wait to leave Traveler’s Creek behind, and she hasn’t looked back since.

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The Devil for Sure: “The Devil’s Hand” by Jack Carr

The Devil’s Hand by Jack Carr

Author and ex-Navy Seal Jack Carr’s latest action novel, “The Devil’s Hand,” boasts something for everyone — that is, something for everyone who loves books filled with violence, war, gore, and the thirst for revenge. But this very authoritative and authentic-sounding novel is about much more than the taste for blood. It’s also a history of America’s quest for global dominance versus the Muslim world’s quest for the international triumph of Sharia law, the destruction of democracy everywhere, and the humiliation and ultimate defeat of America the Devil.

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Simon Garfunkel and Investigative Friends

Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt

David Rosenfelt’s latest suspenseful and witty mystery opus is “Animal Instinct,” the second in what will surely be another long-running hit novel series, this one featuring the “K Team,” three human investigators plus a very important canine operative, former police dog Simon Garfunkel. Yes, that is his name, which I cite here in full because I laugh so hard every time I see it.

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‘Tell No Lies’ by Allison Brennan is an exciting FBI thriller

Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan

While “Tell No Lies” is the second book in a new series by Allison Brennan, readers jumping in with this novel won’t feel that they are missing anything. FBI agent Matt Costa and LAPD detective Kara Quinn are investigating a murder, one that we “witness” firsthand at the beginning of the story. A student who is a passionate environmentalist at the University of Arizona in Tucson is killed while searching for evidence of poisoned water that killed wildlife in the desert south of Tucson. She had suspected that there was illegal dumping of slag from one of the nearby mines to blame, and Costa and Quinn and their team are determined to find out how she died and why.

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‘The Fiancée’ by Kate White is a serious page turner

The Fiancée by
Kate White

Wow. It’s been a rollercoaster ride finishing “The Fiancée” by Kate White. This mystery has more twists than a braided challah and a main character who is determined to get answers. But before you begin this story set on an idyllic weekend estate in rural Pennsylvania, be prepared to keep reading and reading because once you start, you will want to know how this all ends!

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