“The Seat Filler” by Sariah Wilson hit the spot after giving up on an overly wordy, tediously description-filled narrative that had been sent to me. I picked up this romance and within a few pages, I cared more about Juliet Nolan, the main character, than I had after reading more than 100 pages of the other book. While this is a light read, it’s cute and engaging. And there are dogs — plenty of dogs.
“Black Coral” by Andrew Mayne is the second book in a new detective series, “The Underwater Investigation Unit Series.” While that’s not exactly a snappy name for a series, it certainly describes what makes this new group of law enforcement officers — the small group that works in law enforcement to solve crimes in and around Florida waterways — different from other law enforcers whose work limits them to more terrestrial endeavors. Sloan McPherson is the main character, and while she’s a bit of an outlaw, she’s an extremely likable one. While this is the second book in the series, not having read the first book didn’t leave me feeling left out. Mayne carefully catches us up on the backstory, and while the events of the first book are referenced occasionally, it doesn’t feel as if there are important details missing in this one.
One of the hallmarks of good literature is a story in which things — and people — are not as they appear. In “Band of Sisters,” author Lauren Willig effectively accomplishes this and more: she writes about women who are not as they appear, but she additionally writes about the horrors of war using real history about a group of women alumni from Smith College. In other words, the devastation we see in the pages of the book is exactly as it appears, and her gripping historical novel is filled with incredible real tales of heroism and valor alongside examples of the worst behavior of which humans are capable — all carefully researched. The totality of her work is a story that is fascinating and inspiring as it makes us consider not only a global war, with its allies and enemies, but smaller bonds as well, such as friendship and family.
Most of Jenny Colgan’s novels have a few things in common: feisty, determined women who need a change of scenery, a business in need of help, fabulous out-of-the way locations in UK or Scotland or the islands north of UK, and men who aren’t typical romance heroes. “Sweetshop of Dreams: A Novel in Recipes” doesn’t disappoint.
In spite of the rather unwieldy title, “I Thought You Said this Would Work,” by Ann Garvin, is a story that drives home the idea that love is what connects us whether it’s our love for our partners, our friends, our family, our children, or our animal companions. Love is a universal truth, and love can make us move mountains—or at least attempt to—if someone we love needs that done.
In “It Had to Be You,” Georgia Clark doesn’t just give us one romantic tale; she provides us with five different stories, all woven together beautifully, of love lost, love found, and love deferred. They all center around Liv Goldenhorn, whose husband and business partner Eliot, has a heart attack in the arms of another woman. To make matters even worse, he leaves his half of their wedding planning business to this “other” woman. Savannah, from Kentucky, shows up in their New York office, which also happens to be the home Liv shares with her young son, to claim her share. We are privy to Liv’s grief and her anger at learning how Eliot betrayed her. We also are there as she moves past her grief to try to resurrect her business with the help of Savannah.
Parents often passionately and truthfully declare that they would give their lives for their children. We’d sacrifice our lives and exchange them gladly to make sure that our children survive. In “While Paris Slept” by Ruth Druart, during the French occupation of Paris, a woman on her way to a concentration camp gives her newborn infant to a stranger, hoping against hope that the act will save the life of her son. Sometimes such decisions lead to unintended consequences.
“Yellow Wife” takes us into America’s dark past, where we meet Pheby Delores Brown, a woman of valor. A woman who loved deeply and fiercely. A woman who was a slave yet managed to keep her dignity. But no matter Pheby’s relatively privileged upbringing in the plantation house where she grew up, being taught to read and play the piano by her master’s sister who was also her aunt; in the end, there was no one left to protect her. Pheby reverted to being nothing more than a possession, a belonging, to be sold at the whim of her owner.
“The Stills” by Jess Montgomery continues the story of Sheriff Lily Ross, whom we first meet in “The Widows” and again in its sequel, “The Hollows.” Lily’s husband was the sheriff in Bronwyn County, Ohio, and after his murder, Lily is offered the opportunity to finish his term. She not only does that, she runs again for sheriff and is elected.
If you haven’t started the “Rockton” series by Kelley Armstrong, you are missing out on a wonderful detective series with a setting that is unique and that makes each mystery in the series much more than a typical whodunit. “A Stranger in Town” is the sixth book in the series, and Casey and Eric, the detective and the sheriff in this Northern Canadian, off-the-grid town of Rocton, made up of people hiding from something in their past, come across a woman who has been attacked and is in desperate need of medical care. Continue reading →
In “The Vines,” debut author Shelley Nolden has created a story that is part fantasy, part historical fiction, part family drama, and part horror. The tale is centered around the Gettler family, whose roots are German, and a girl named Cora. The youngest son in the Gettler family is Finnegan, a landscape lighting artist who feels a bit like a failure given his family’s long lineage of doctors. His older brother, his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather all worked diligently to create cures for diseases that decimate populations. They did their work on an island In New York, North Brother Island, where a now-shuttered tuberculosis hospital stands. Through a series of flashbacks, we meet all those ancestors as they work to help patients as well as to find cures for diseases. Sounds noble, right?
The heroes we see in movies and read about in books are usually striking young people in the prime of their lives. We don’t see what happens to those heroes after time passes and they get wrinkled and older with aches and pains like the rest of us. We especially don’t think about what might happen to those retired and all-but-forgotten heroes if there were a disaster and they were needed. Can middle-aged heroes save the day?