‘Big Chicas Don’t Cry’ by Annette Chavez Macias is about family, forgiveness and following your path

“Big Chicas Don’t Cry” by Annette Chavez Macias is a sweet tale about four cousins who were once as close as sisters, but through life experiences, romantic relationships (or lack thereof), and professional pursuits have lost a bit of that closeness. One of them, Marisol, is not speaking to her cousins. Erica was just dumped by her boyfriend of two years (and right at Christmas!), Selena is frustrated by the blatant racism she encounters at work and wary of entering into a romantic relationship because of a past breakup, and Gracie would love a relationship but has no prospects.

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‘The Matchmaker’s Gift’ by Lynda Cohen Loigman transcends generations to share a lovely story about true love and fate

“The Matchmaker’s Gift” by Lynda Cohen Loigman is an engaging love story that isn’t a romance. It isn’t a thriller, it’s not an angsty romance with ups and downs in every chapter, and it’s certainly not a mystery with twists and turns jumping out to stymie readers. Yet I found myself so engaged with the characters, so charmed by the story, and so interested in which direction the plot would go that I read the book during every spare moment. I finished it in 24 hours, and was sorry. I didn’t want the story to end.

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‘Overkill’ by Sandra Brown is about finding love when confronted with the worst of humanity

Overkill by Sandra Brown

We often read in the most salacious of news pieces that the scions of the ultra wealthy are prone to arrogance and delusions of grandeur. They act entitled, as if the laws and rules that apply to “normal” people don’t apply to them. And very often, they are correct. Those who fill our prisons aren’t necessarily those found guilty of criminal behavior but rather those who couldn’t afford top-notch legal representation to defend them in court. In “Overkill,” we see the result of being a criminal in a family so wealthy that they consider flying on their private jet the only way to travel. That criminal is Eban Clarke, the son in a filthy rich Atlanta family; and author Sandra Brown effectively contrasts him with the two main characters, Zach Bridger, a former pro football player who lives in a secluded home in the mountains of North Carolina, and Kate Lennon, an assistant state’s attorney on a mission. Zach and Kate, for reasons that will become clear, butt heads over the fact that Eban Clarke has been released precipitously from prison, and sparks ensue.

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‘Killers of a Certain Age’ by Deanna Raybourn is humorous, thrilling, and written for a woman like me

I love the concept of “Killers of a Certain Age,” perhaps because I am “of a certain age.” Deanna Raybourn certainly writes authentically about women in their 60s and these particular women who have been assassins for decades, working for an organization nicknamed “The Museum.” Their job has been killing bad guys, beginning with Nazi escapees; then when those were mostly dead either from natural causes or murder, assassinating drug overlords, crime bosses, and other really bad people. Now the four women, who trained together in their 20s, are taking the first steps toward enjoying a well-deserved retirement by embarking on an all-expense-paid cruise courtesy of their former employer. But what happens when they realize, on that very cruise, that instead of the cruise being the beginning of the rest of their lives, it’s intended to be the end of their lives?

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‘Mr. Perfect on Paper’ by Jean Meltzer is an insightful novel that explores Jewish life and matchmaking

In her second novel, Jean Meltzer continues writing about something she’s rather an expert on: Jewish life. “Mr. Perfect on Paper” is a charming tale of finding love where you least expect it, and while it’s a romance, it’s also a glimpse into the lives of people who are struggling, but keep their struggles private. Her delightful main character, Dara Rabinowitz, is ridden with self-doubt, suffers from GAD, general anxiety disorder, and is very candid about it. Because of her disorder, Dara prefers to live life close to her bubbe, Miriam, spending time with her and otherwise working from home while running her extremely successful and lucrative business, a Jewish dating app called J-Mate. Her mother died, and Dara is also close to her sometimes-pushy sister.

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‘The Girl from Guernica’ by Karen Robards is a stunning and powerful historical fiction

The Girl from Guernica by Karen Robards

Guernica is the small Basque town in Spain that was made famous by Pablo Picasso in his huge painting of the devastation that town endured during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans destroyed the town and slaughtered men, women, children, and animals at the behest of the rebel forces led by the military. At the start of “The Girl from Guernica,” author Karen Robards takes us to this small town the night before the horror that is a central part of the novel, to see the violence and wanton cruelty through the eyes of the main character, Sibi.

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‘Bark to the Future’ by Spencer Quinn about the intrepid Chet and Bernie investigative duo — man and dog

Bark to the Future by Spencer Quinn

“Bark to the Future” is the latest doggie mystery featuring the charismatic narrator Chet, a distinctive black shepherd-mix dog with one white ear, who tells the story as only a dog might. And in the capable paws, er, hands, of author Spencer Quinn, we chuckle and nod our heads in amusement as we realize that Chet’s narrative is just what our dogs might say if only we could understand them.

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‘Girl, Forgotten’ by Karin Slaughter a fabulous sequel to ‘Pieces of Her’

Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

With “Girl, Forgotten,” author Karin Slaughter pens a worthy sequel to “Pieces of Her,” which became a huge hit as a Netflix series. My slight problem with “Pieces of Her” was that main character Andrea was, at times, an incompetent, insecure, fumbling fool. Well now, two years after the events in the first book, Andrea has matured and grown into a formidable character whose insecurities have taken second place to her intelligence and a bit more confidence. She has learned to control her emotions, mostly, and is quite able to start her first assignment as a United States Marshal.

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‘Stay Awake’ by Megan Goldin is filled with mystery and suspense

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

The title of Megan Goldin’s newest thriller, “Stay Awake,” is important. We find out that those two words have been vital to the survival of the main character, Liv Reese, for two different reasons. Why must Liv Reese stay awake? Why has she written those words on her arms? On her doors? In fact, why are exhortations like that posted and written everywhere: stay awake, don’t trust anyone, don’t sleep? What we know from the first page is that Liv has problems remembering things. For example, she doesn’t know why she has a bloody butcher knife in the pocket of her cardigan. She doesn’t know why someone else is living in her apartment nor why it’s been totally redecorated. She doesn’t know why her roommate Amy doesn’t answer her phone, nor does Liv’s boyfriend, Marco.

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‘The Second Husband’ by Kate White is an intriguing mystery with murders galore

The Second Husband by Kate White

In “The Second Husband,” Kate White presents us with an unusual murder mystery: the first murder in question happened over two years before the present time, in the “then,” as she labels the flashbacks. Emma was married to Derrick, who was tragically murdered while at a conference in New York City. The murder was senseless, and the culprit never found. Emma has felt guilt since that horrific act of violence because their marriage was unhappy, and Derrick had changed from the man she fell in love with. No one, not even her closest friend, knows about her lack of grief.

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‘The Hotel Nantucket’ by Elin Hilderbrand is the quintessential beach read

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

Grab a copy of “The Hotel Nantucket” by Elin Hilderbrand, and head for the nearest beach or pool. This tale of sun and summer even has a spectre, the ghost who was killed in the hotel a century before in a fire. There are samples of star-crossed love, second chances, atonement, blackmail, and hidden wealth in this sumptuous story about a newly renovated hotel and the people who work there.

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‘Some of It Was Real’ by Nan Fischer is about believing in yourself and finding out difficult truths

Some of It Was Real by Nan Fischer

Some books grab you from the first page, and reading on and on becomes almost as important as breathing and eating. “Some of It Was Real” by veteran author Nan Fischer is one such novel. How can we not fall for a young woman who has as her best friend an intimidating but lovable 145-pound great Dane named Moose? We quickly fall for both Sylvie and Moose and we want to keep reading to see how Sylvie deals with the obstacles life has placed in her path.

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