‘Flirting with Fate’ by J. C. Cervantes is a lovely story of destiny, love, and family

Flirting with Fate by J. C. Cervantes

While “Flirting with Fate” by J. C. Cervantes is a young adult fantasy about love and fate, it’s not quite as light and frothy as that might indicate. It’s a touching story, and I actually needed a tissue as I finished reading it because of the evocation of strong emotions at the ending. As might be surmised from the title, the story is about the fickle nature of fate, and whether there is something like destiny and “meant to be.”

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‘The Golden Couple’ by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is an engaging thriller starting with the very first page

The Golden Couple

Some novels take a while to hook readers while others are fascinating from the beginning. “The Golden Couple” by bestselling authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen grips us immediately through the clever narrative of the two women who are the main characters. But, you might respond, the title is about a couple, a seemingly perfect “golden” couple. While ostensibly the story is about a perfect couple whose marriage is in crisis, the true main characters are the wife and their therapist. For help, they seek the counseling of Avery, who is no longer a licensed therapist due to her quite unconventional methods. Avery is definitely an important part of this story, and it’s her first person narrative that provides much of the information we need in order to figure out what is going on.

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‘The Echoes’ by Jess Montgomery is the 4th novel in the wonderful historical fiction ‘Kinship’ series

The Echoes by Jess Montgomery

Somehow, “The Echoes” seems a softer story than the first three novels in this fabulous historical fiction series about a woman sheriff and the problems she encounters in the rural Ohio county she protects at the start of the last century. While there are crimes in this story, the focus is on the people who live in this part of Bronwyn County, Ohio. It’s July, 1928, and both the weather and emotions are running hot. The narration is in third person, and author Jess Montgomery shares both Sheriff Lily Ross and her mother, Beulah’s points of view. Each is clearly labeled. Both women are widows, and Lily’s mother had a late-in-life child who is the same age as one of Lily’s children. What Lily does not know at the start of this story is that her mother has arranged for Lily’s brother’s child, Esmé, who was born in France during WWI, to come to live with them.

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‘City on Fire’ by Don Winslow is the first installment in a trilogy about mobsters, Italian and Irish, in an epic takeoff of Homer’s classic tale

City on Fire by Don Winslow

Homer wrote about it first in The Iliad, and Don Winslow openly borrows the theme of a stunningly gorgeous woman causing a war. In “City on Fire,” the war is between two sets of mobsters; the Irish mob and the Italian mob, who heretofore had enjoyed a tenuous peace. That peace ends when the lovely Pam is introduced as she emerges from the ocean like Aphrodite, beautiful beyond description. Everyone notices her beauty, and the beginning sentences in the novel say it all, “(S)he’s real and she’s going to be trouble. Women that beautiful usually are.”

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‘The Wrong Woman’ by Leanne Kale Sparks is a gripping murder mystery

The Wrong Woman by Leanne Kale Sparks

It’s an unusual mystery that leaves you with perhaps more questions than you had at the start. “The Wrong Woman” is a gripping murder mystery featuring Kendall Beck, an FBI agent whose best friend and roommate Gwen is brutally murdered, and Adam Taylor, a police detective investigating that murder. He is also investigating a recent murder that appears to be linked to a serial killer. Beck is investigating the disappearance of a five-year-old child when Gwen goes missing, and in her desire to find Gwen, Beck’s own investigation into why the child disappeared is paused. We think of the title when we wonder if Gwen was mistakenly killed because she was driving someone else’s car. Was she, indeed, the wrong woman?

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‘The Wrong Victim’ by Allison Brennan is the 3rd thriller in the Quinn & Costa series

The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan

Reading mysteries and thrillers is addictive because in addition to solving puzzles, we love getting the opportunity to delve into the motivations behind people’s actions. Often, authors share the motivations of not just the criminals or perpetrators of the crimes, but also the emotion and reasoning behind those who are trying to solve the crimes.

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‘Woman on Fire’ by Lisa Barr is a thriller about the worlds of art and censorship

Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr

In “Woman on Fire,” author Lisa Barr immerses readers into the world of art—now and during the Holocaust—and how the art world, the buying and selling of paintings by famous artists, even today is impacted by what the Nazis did. Barr begins the story with one of the main characters, Jules Roth, in danger during an art exhibit. The story then takes us back 18 months in time and cleverly provides the background for that event. It also shares the fascinating story of lost artwork, Nazi theft and destruction of artwork, hidden identities, psychopathy, drugs, artists, and journalism.

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‘The Forgotten Five: Map of Flames’ by Lisa McMann is the first in a new middle grade fantasy series

The Forgotten Five: Map of Flames

In her new series, “The Forgotten Five: Map of Flames,” Lisa McMann creates an action-filled fantasy with children who have supernatural powers but must survive on their own after the last adult in their group dies. The five children have always lived in a secret hideaway far from civilization as their parents were master criminals who barely escaped with their lives after a heist gone bad. But gradually, the parents have disappeared after returning to civilization, the first few to gather supplies, and then others left to search for the first three adults who disappeared. The last adult, Louis, got sick and died, leaving his daughter a secret message.

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‘Citizen K-9: A K Team Novel’ by David Rosenfelt solves another complicated crime

Citizen K-9 by David Rosenfelt
(dog: Lexi, a Rockpit rescue)

This latest David Rosenfelt novel should come with a warning: Be aware that reading this book will probably cause you to now have a new, must-read series. Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series is much beloved by readers who enjoy the clever mysteries, the canine characters, and main character Andy Carpenter’s self-deprecating humor. In “Citizen K-9,” the second in a spin-off series about the K Team, a group of investigators whom we have met in the Andy Carpenter novels, we still get Rosenfelt’s humor and his wonderful writing, resulting in a mystery that provides enjoyable reading as well as mental exercise in solving crime. And in this novel, the crime is not easy to solve.

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‘The Deepest of Secrets’ by Kelley Armstrong is the twisty seventh book in the gripping Rockton series

The Deepest of Secrets

The “Rockton” murder mystery series by Kelley Armstrong has long been popular with mystery fans for many reasons. The setting — a very remote and wild area of the Yukon; the concept — a town where people needing to hide or escape from violence go for a two-year period; the characters — including detective Casey, Eric the sheriff, Mathias the butcher, Isabel, who runs the bar and brothel, and many more townspeople whom we come to know over the course of the novels. While most of the novels in the series can be read as stand alone pieces, that is not as much the case with this one. “The Deepest of Secrets” is the last novel in this gripping series. So it’s perfect timing for those who are looking for a new mystery series to read because they can start from the first book, “City of the Lost,” and immediately read each subsequent novel. There’s something satisfying about not having to wait a year to read the next book in a series.

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‘Beach Wedding’ by Michael Ledwidge is an engrossing seaside mystery

Beach Wedding by Michael Ledwidge

Michael Ledwidge proved his writing chops as with James Patterson he cowrote the super successful Michael Bennett detective series. His talent makes “Beach Wedding” work as an action-filled murder mystery that also is engaging because of the connections we feel to the characters—certainly a result of his fine writing. In it, we meet the Rourkes, a working class family living it up for a month in the Hamptons. When a brother, who has become a wealthy hedge fund manager, is getting married, he rents a huge mansion on the beach for several reasons.

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‘Steal’ by James Patterson and Howard Roughan is a thriller that has layered con upon con in a deadly game

Steal by James Patterson
and Howard Roughan

This is the third James Patterson novel, written with Howard Roughan, that features Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a Yale professor of abnormal psychology. The thriller is not just filled with action and danger; it also features a plot that layers intelligence agencies with both Italian and Russian crime heads, foreign governments, stolen Nazi artwork, billionaires who think they are above the law, and Reinhart, who we learn was previously a CIA agent. As with most novels of this genre, the story features nonstop danger and people who are not what they appear to be. The most obvious case in point is the billionaire’s son, who posts a suicide note on Instagram and then disappears. His father is convinced that his son is alive, and he wants Reinhart to find him. Which of those factors are not what they appear to be? Perhaps both?

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