‘Meant to Be Mine’ by Hannah Orenstein is a touching romance about fate and love

Meant to Be Mine by Hannah Orenstein

Does fate determine whom we are destined to spend our lives with, or is it simply chance? In “Meant to Be Mine,” Hannah Orenstein’s delightful romance forces main character Edie Meyer to consider that very question. Edie’s grandmother Gloria has correctly predicted the date on which all her family members will meet their bashert, which is Yiddish for the true love that is meant to happen. She predicted her own meeting with Edie’s Grandfather Ray, and the couple was blissful for many decades of marriage.

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‘The Treehouse on Dog River Road’ by Catherine Drake is a sweet story of family and love

The Treehouse on Dog River Road by Catherine Drake

A novel with the word “treehouse” in the title doesn’t seem as if it would be about life changes and making important decisions. On the other hand, that word does imply family and fun. Catherine Drake’s debut novel, “The Treehouse on Dog River Road,” brings us an intrepid main character who spent two years in Kenya building houses. Then she got a job in finance. Now she’s wondering what she wants to do in life. And when you are in your late twenties, and you don’t know what you want to do in life, sometimes spending a summer taking care of family is just what is needed to clear your head. At least, that’s what Hannah Spencer is hoping when she agrees to take care of her young niece and nephew for several months when her sister Molly and Molly’s husband, both college professors, have an opportunity to travel to South America to do research. Hannah had managed to get laid off from her very unsatisfying job with enough of a severance package that she can figure out what she wants to do next and where she wants to do it, and she has all summer to figure it all out.

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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 Sign for Home’ by Blair Fell is a touching, compelling story of love, independence, and helping others in the face of incredible cruelty

The Sign for Home

Novels like “The Sign for Home” are powerfully important reading experiences for many reasons. It’s often through reading that we are exposed to people whose lifestyles, culture, or religion are vastly different from ours. Author Blair Fell accomplishes that sometimes difficult task of introducing us to a community of DeafBlind in a seemingly effortless manner by relating the story of Arlo Dilly, a DeafBlind young man who lives with his guardian, an elder in Jehovah’s Witness. The story is told from a dual perspective: from Arlo’s point of view, and the point of view of Cyril, who is an ASL interpreter, and who ends up working with Arlo. It’s that experience that changes both their lives.

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‘The Homewreckers’ by Mary Kay Andrews is a sweet Savannah mystery

The Homewreckers

Mary Kay Andrews (MKA) is known for her sweet Southern summertime stories that are filled with slow-moving tides, warm beaches, a mystery, and plenty of romantic drama. “The Homewreckers” brings us to Savannah, with its beautiful avenues and lovely historic homes. We meet Hattie, who works in her late husband’s family construction business with her father-in-law, her best friend Cass, and Cass’s mother, who runs the office. As the story begins, Hattie has poured her life savings into a beautiful old home, hoping to restore it and make a profit. But the historic home needs a much larger than expected infusion of cash to bring it to the point where it will make money, and Hattie is forced to sell at a loss.

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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 Cage’ by Bonnie Kistler is a very enjoyable mystery that will keep you reading until late

The Cage by Bonnie Kistler

I stayed up way too late finishing “The Cage” by debut author Bonnie Kistler. Because of the promo material, I was expecting a sort of “escape room” mystery. That’s not at all what I got, and I’m not disappointed at all. I loved how Kistler alternated past and present, first and third person. The dated entries are clearly to show events leading up to the present predicament in which Shay Lambert finds herself. One Sunday evening, she and the head of HR, Lucy Carter-Jones, both leave the office at the same time and find themselves sharing an elevator. Shortly after they begin their descent, all power goes off, and their only communication with the world outside the elevator is a short 911 call. When they arrive at the first floor, Carter-Jones is dead. But was her death, from an unregistered handgun, murder or suicide?

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‘The Younger Wife’ by Sally Hepworth is an intriguing story about manipulation and how we deal with our imperfections

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

With “The Younger Wife,” Sally Hepworth has created a story that at first seems like a simple tale of an older, wealthy man marrying a much younger woman—she is actually younger than his two daughters. To do so, he must divorce their mother who is suffering from dementia. They are devastated and prepared to hate the new “younger wife.” But Hepworth’s talent is in making this seemingly innocuous novel one that grows and becomes more complex the further you read.

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‘The Way From Here’ by Jane Cockram is about family connections and family mysteries

The Way from Here by Jane Cockram

A touching story filled with family secrets, “The Way From Here” takes us on a journey both in time and place from Australia to France to England as we witness family interactions now and decades in the past. Jane Cockram’s story of two sisters whose lives were separated by a mere two years but a huge chasm in terms of personality begins with the death of one sister, Susie. Camilla, the older sister, has received letters from Susie written to Mills, as Camilla is known, and to be read after her death. Susie died unexpectedly from a fall while preparing for her 40th birthday, and the preparation of such letters seems very unlike the rash sister Mills had known. But she is the good sister, and even though it puts her marriage at risk, she is determined to fulfill Susie’s last wishes and travel from Australia to England where she is directed to read the second letter.

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‘Truth and Other Lies’ by Maggie Smith is a story about women and the secrets they hold close

Truth and Other Lies by Maggie Smith

Packed into this engaging debut novel by Maggie Smith are many women’s issues. In “Truth and Other Lies,” she introduces us to Megan Barnes, who has just moved back to her mother’s home in Chicago after getting fired from her job as an investigative reporter in New York and breaking up with her boyfriend there. Her mother’s house, the house she grew up in, has not changed. Everything is Martha Stewart perfect, as is her controlling, conservative, unemotional mother. But paradoxically, that same person is overly smothering and worries about Megan constantly. We see her advising Megan to take an umbrella because of possible rain and wanting her to be safe in other ways that Megan, sometimes unreasonably, sees as intrusive. While Megan loves her mother, they are practically polar opposites in their beliefs, and she can’t wait to get a job and move out in order to regain her independence.

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