‘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

‘Spellmaker’ is the thrilling sequel to ‘Spellbreaker’ by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

In an alternative Victorian world filled with magic and spellmakers and spellbreakers, “Spellmaker” by Charlie N. Holmberg gives us the conclusion to the story that began when Elsie Camden, a rogue spellbreaker, came into her own in “Spellbreaker.” It is in the first book that while following the orders of a mysterious group pursuing justice and equality, Elsie is trying to remove a spell on the estate of a wealthy duke, and she runs into Bacchus Kelsey, visiting from his plantation in Barbados. Her life changes, and for the first time she questions this anonymous group and their orders. We learn that Elsie had been abandoned by her family as a child and ended up in a workhouse. From there she ended up working for Ogden Cuthbert, a kind artist who has hidden his own magical talent, and who treated her almost like a daughter.

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

Simon Garfunkel and Investigative Friends

Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt

David Rosenfelt’s latest suspenseful and witty mystery opus is “Animal Instinct,” the second in what will surely be another long-running hit novel series, this one featuring the “K Team,” three human investigators plus a very important canine operative, former police dog Simon Garfunkel. Yes, that is his name, which I cite here in full because I laugh so hard every time I see it.

Continue reading

‘Tell No Lies’ by Allison Brennan is an exciting FBI thriller

Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan

While “Tell No Lies” is the second book in a new series by Allison Brennan, readers jumping in with this novel won’t feel that they are missing anything. FBI agent Matt Costa and LAPD detective Kara Quinn are investigating a murder, one that we “witness” firsthand at the beginning of the story. A student who is a passionate environmentalist at the University of Arizona in Tucson is killed while searching for evidence of poisoned water that killed wildlife in the desert south of Tucson. She had suspected that there was illegal dumping of slag from one of the nearby mines to blame, and Costa and Quinn and their team are determined to find out how she died and why.

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

‘Connect the Dots’ by Keith Calabrese is a wonderful middle grade novel

Connect the Dots by Keith Calabrese

Want to get your child a fabulous novel to read over the summer that’s filled with relatable characters, a genius who has disappeared, and a mystery that is solved by three intrepid children? “Connect the Dots” is Keith Calabrese’s second novel, and it’s filled with the same wonderful messages that his first book, “A Drop of Hope,” was. This one—dare I say it—is even better.

Continue reading

‘Charlie Thorne and the Lost City’ by Stuart Gibbs is a worthy sequel to the first middle grade adventure about a young genius

Charlie Thorne and the Lost City by
Stuart Gibbs

The first book in this series, “Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation” pitted young genius Charlie against none other than Albert Einstein. In its sequel, “Charlie Thorne and the Lost City,” author Stuart Gibbs pits Charlie against Charles Darwin, and it’s not surprising that Charlie comes out as the more compassionate genius.

Continue reading

‘The Messengers: Greystone Secrets 3’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a middle grade scifi novel about bravery and what happens when people look the other way

The Messengers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Margaret Peterson Haddix completes the “Greystone Secrets” trilogy with the conclusion, “The Messengers.” Like many of her middle grade novels, this one has a clear message for young readers. It’s a message that teachers across the country echo: Be an upstander, not a bystander. In this trilogy, we see what happens when evil grows and people just look the other way, each hoping someone else will confront those who hope to control their country through lies and fear.

In the first book, the Greystone children discover that three children, with the same names and birthdays as they, were kidnapped. Then their mother leaves on a mysterious “business trip.” They must solve the cryptic and coded clues left by their mother to find out where she’s gone. This first book ends on a cliffhanger. It’s in this book that we first see a theme that is repeated throughout all three books: that siblings Emma, Chess, and Finn are stronger together and stronger through their love for each other. In the second book, they must go back to the alternate world that their parents were from, and where their mother has been imprisoned. They must save her. While this book has a satisfying conclusion, we know that the siblings are determined to help those left in a world that holds no hope for its residents.

Continue reading