‘Lessons in Chemistry’ by Bonnie Garmus is not just delightful, it’s a lesson in the reality of being a woman in the 50s and 60s

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

It’s not necessary to love chemistry, or even science, to enjoy “Lessons in Chemistry.” Debut author Bonnie Garmus takes us back to the late ’50s and early ’60s as we experience life through the eyes of a capable, intelligent, scientist who happens to be a woman. The fact that she’s a woman? It’s important because in that time, opportunities for women were extremely limited. Let’s face it, 60 years later we are still proud of the fact that we (finally) have a woman vice president. Sixty years ago, women weren’t accepted into what were typically thought of as “male” endeavors. Chemistry was definitely a field for men, no matter how brilliant, how dedicated, how hard-working a supremely qualified woman may have been.

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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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‘Nectar of the Gods: From Hera’s Hurricane to the Appletini of Discord, 75 Mythical Cocktails to Drink Like a Deity”

Nectar of the Gods by Liv Albert and Thea Engst

First a disclaimer: I don’t really drink much. But after reading and reviewing author Liv Albert’s “Greek Mythology: The Gods, The Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook,” I knew that I wanted to see “Nectar of the Gods: From Hera’s Hurricane to the Appletini of Discord, 75 Mythical Cocktails to Drink Like a Deity” as well. You see, I have a five-year-old grandson who is obsessed with Greek mythology (and other mythologies). He loved the handbook which we read (with a few quick edits when appropriate) to him. And he loves this book as well. While he already knew a lot of the information, he still liked to hear about Calypso, who “was a nymph best known for keeping Odysseus “captive” on her island of Ogygia for seven years.” Because he listens to the Odyssey and Iliad, he knows that “Calypso was the daughter of the Titan Atlas.” He finds the information and the illustrations fascinating.

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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 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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‘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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‘Wish You Were Gone’ by Kieran Scott is a powerful story of family and friendship

Wish You Were Gone by Kieran Scott

In “Wish You Were Gone,” author Kieran Scott forces us to confront a marriage that has shattered into so many pieces that it would take a magician to put them back together. In fact, as we learn later, Emma Walsh had been planning on meeting with her husband James on the evening before his fatal accident to talk about their marriage, but he never showed up. The Walshes are an example of a seemingly perfect family: huge perfectly decorated home, expensive cars, a son who excels in sports, a daughter who loves theater, and a wife who does nothing but keep their house lovely and her husband’s suits cleaned.

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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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