‘What a Dog Knows’ by Susan Wilson is about the connection we have with the animals we live with and about searching for family

What a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson

In “What a Dog Knows,” author Susan Wilson gives us an entirely relatable main character who is not a young woman, and who has been dealt a tough hand since birth. While she is a grandmother, she is certainly not your typical grandmother, although she does, on occasion, knit. Ruby Heartwood, formerly known as Mary Jones, was left at a Canadian convent as an infant. Her only family is a daughter, conceived after Ruby was raped as a young teenager, and a dog who found shelter with her after a thunderstorm.

Continue reading

‘Dog Days: A Novel About Love, Loss and What It Is To Be Human’ by Ericka Waller

Dog Days by Ericka Waller

The novel “Dog Days” by Ericka Waller is kind of like what might happen if Fredrik Backman decided to write a novel with Jenny Colgan. It has Backman’s sardonic view of life and the people we might encounter and Colgan’s setting on the coast of England with blustery weather and beautiful views and muddy dogs. In this novel, we meet several important characters: Dan, a counselor who is OCD, and who has not had the courage to come out as gay; Lizzie, who lives in a women’s shelter with her son, Lenny; and George, an irascible old man whose wife has died and who doesn’t know how to cope.

Continue reading

‘A Dog’s Courage’ by W. Bruce Cameron; a tribute to the soul of a dog

A Dog’s Courage by
W. Bruce Cameron

In “A Dog’s Courage,” W. Bruce Cameron brings back the courageous and intrepid Bella, the dog we first met in “A Dog’s Way Home.” In this sequel, which also works as a stand alone story, Bella and her human family, Lucas and Olivia, are separated when there is a huge, all-encompassing forest fire that rages out of control in Colorado, where they are camping.

Continue reading

‘The Paris Apartment’ by Kelly Bowen is a gripping historical fiction that has it all: suspense, sacrifice, loss, and ultimately, love

The Paris Apartment
by Kelly Bowen

Ready for a thrilling trip into the heart of Europe during WWII to see, vicariously, how two daring women best the Nazis in the name of freedom and justice? “The Paris Apartment” by Kelly Bowen will grip you from the first page, the first sentence, even. “The woman was nude.” Pretty gripping, right? It’s actually a painting that is in the titular Paris apartment that Lia Leclaire inherits from her grandmother. What we learn immediately is that Lia is confused. As far as she knew, Estelle Allard, her grandmother, had never lived in Paris, but rather spent her whole life in Marseille. But here is a Paris apartment, untouched for almost 75 years, filled with exquisite furniture, couture clothing, and paintings by the masters. Who was her grandmother and why was this secret?

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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!

Continue reading

‘The Newcomer’ by Mary Kay Andrews brings Florida, small beachfront motels, and a mystery to brighten our summer reading

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the queen of writing mysteries that take us to the South and often to the beach. In “The Newcomer,” we travel from New York to Treasure Island, Florida, a small beachside town near St. Petersburg. When Letty grabs her niece and flees the city, she heads south. In the bottom of her sister’s go-bag is an article, “Florida’s Hidden Gems: Four Family Motels You’ll Want to Discover,” and one in particular is circled, The Murmuring Surf Motel. That’s where Letty and Maya go because Letty is determined to fulfill the promise she made her sister. Her sister had worried that her ex-boyfriend would kill her. She made Letty promise that if anything happened to her, Letty would take the go-bag and Maya and flee.

Continue reading

‘The Seat Filler’ by Sariah Wilson is a charming modern romance

seat filler

“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.

Continue reading

‘Black Coral’ by Andrew Mayne is a detective series with an underwater twist

Black Coral by
Andrew Mayne

“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.

Continue reading