It’s being billed as a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner comes close. It’s the story of a future Earth when climate change has destroyed much of our planet. Scientists on Earth find a message from an extinct alien race that explains how to build a portal to Gaia, another planet, where the astronauts find a piece of technology that powers a clean water supply for all of Los Angeles. Then the astronauts are killed while exploring one of the temples there.
“Prince in Disguise” by Stephanie Kate Strohm is a lovely retake of every novel (or fairytale) in which a prince tries to find true love by going about in disguise so that someone might fall in love with him for his own person, not the fact that he is a prince.
In this sweet retake, the main character Dylan’s older sister has fallen in love with a Scottish lord through the arts of a reality TV show called, of course, “Prince in Disguise.” While Dylan keeps reminding everyone that Dusty is not marrying a prince but rather a lord, no one cares. Dusty is everything that Dylan thinks she is not — beautiful, graceful, outgoing, sophisticated, and comfortable in front of the camera. Their mother is the star of a morning show on the local network, so she also is camera-friendly. Continue reading
With “Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery,” Jenny Colgan rounds out her stories about little Mount Polbearne, a village on the coast of Cornwall that is isolated from the mainland when the tide comes in, and its lovely baker Polly Waterford, her American boyfriend Huckle, and their puffin Neil.
Polly and Huckle live in a romantic lighthouse that is drafty and cold, but which has beautiful views of the ocean and the town. Polly loves to bake, and Huckle tends bees. They are happy together except for Polly’s uncertainty about marriage and having children, especially considering her family history. She never knew her father, her mother is rather a recluse, and she’s always just too busy with the bakery to plan anything.
The bestselling “Must Love Dogs” series by Claire Cook allows readers a chance to enter the never-boring life of Sarah Hurlihy as she negotiates a romance with her boyfriend/fiancé John. Her close-knit family, including her very Irish and very funny father, complicate the story in the way that only family can.
In this sixth tale in the series, Sarah and John have bought Sarah’s family home and are trying to figure out how to make the home theirs. It’s difficult with sisters and brothers coming to their childhood home whenever they want, while that hilarious but very hard-to-handle dad, the clan’s patriarch, lives in the home in his own “apartment,” or man-cave, as he calls it. Sarah’s assistant from the preschool. Polly, who is recently divorced and pregnant, has also moved in.
The raves are in for “The Last Mrs. Parrish” by Liv Constantine, and it’s no wonder. If anything, the glowing blurbs from such literary luminaries as Jane Green, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, and Jenny Milchman don’t go far enough. The story is gripping from the start, yet when the twist occurs, the reader will feel compelled to go back to the beginning to see what was missed.
The story is of a rich and powerful man and the two women in his life. First, the reader meets Jackson Parrish, a paragon of perfection — handsome, athletic, charming, wealthy — through the eyes of Amber Patterson. Amber, the reader quickly finds out, is a schemer whose goal is befriending Jackson Parrish’s wife so that she can ruin their marriage and take her place at his side.
“Warcross” by Marie Lu features a young girl who is a bounty hunter in a world where virtual reality has eclipsed real life. Hooked yet? Read the first chapter and you’ll be drawn into the life and struggle for survival along with Emika Chen, whose ability to hack into the virtual world and fight in the real world have helped her survive — barely — in New York.
Emika’s mother bailed on Em and her father when Em was young, and her father died before Em was a teenager. She’s a loner who has had to rely on herself and only herself. She hasn’t paid her rent for months, and the eviction notice is on the door. If she can just bring down one big bounty, she’ll be set. But things don’t work out, and Em doesn’t know what to do.
Just like the first book in the series by Jessica Cluess, “A Shadow Bright and Burning,” the second book, “A Poison Dark and Drowning” grabs the reader from the first few pages. As in the first book, this middle book in the trilogy continues to showcase Cluess’s ability to combine just enough description, just the right dialogue, and plenty of plot to keep the pages turning quickly as the reader anxiously races to the end.
In many series, there are so many characters that when the second book is released a year later, readers must reread the first book to familiarize themselves again with who everyone is. That’s not the case here. The various sorcerers, the friends, the Ancient monsters — they all are mentioned with enough detail to enable readers to jump right into this book.
“The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn is a beautifully written novel that combines several genres and does credit to them all. It’s about women spies, about romance, about determination, and occasionally about men who wouldn’t believe them just because they were women.
The story alternates between the times of the two World Wars. In 1915, the reader meets Eve Gardiner, an intelligent young woman with a stutter, who because of her language ability — she speaks English, French and German — is recruited to be a spy for England. She is sent to France to work in the restaurant of a collaborator, an amoral man of fine taste who owns an equally fine restaurant frequented by the German officers.
“How to Change a Life” by Stacey Ballis is not just a lovely beach read; it’s filled with yummy food ideas and also some more serious topics. For example, when is a friend not really a friend? What happens when you lose touch with a friend and then find it’s too late to renew the friendship?
Ballis’ writing is lovely. It’s apparent that she is an experienced author. She does a nice job balancing description, dialogue, and plot. When Eloise, almost forty, meets up with her two best friends from high school, her life changes. They reunite and decide to pursue some of the dreams that they haven’t fulfilled in the past twenty years. They make it a bet, and they have to accomplish it before their 40th birthday.
With “The Ultimatum,” Karen Robards creates a strong, powerful, intelligent female protagonist/criminal whose abilities and actions rival the best male hero. Super criminal power? Bianca’s got it down. Karate moves a must? Bianca’s mastered them all. Spy gadgets? Bianca’s got them in her super sexy garter belts.
She stays cool under pressure, has a perfect alter ego life when she’s not working, and doesn’t exactly remember her past. In this first book of a series, Bianca comes face to face with who she is and where she comes from. She uncovers secrets that were meant to remain hidden, and that had remained hidden at the cost of many human lives.
“The Café by the Sea” continues Jenny Colgan’s string of lovely, light stories about women who need to take charge of their lives and make difficult changes. In this story, it’s rather the reverse — or it appears to be at first.
Flora MacKenzie has fled the tiny northern Scottish island where she — and her ancestors going waaaay back — were born, to live a “modern” life in London working as a paralegal for a large law firm. It becomes apparent from the start that Flora has no desire to go home. Absolutely none. Moreover, there appears to be a reason, not shared, why she can’t go back.
For anyone looking for a cute love story wrapped in lots of diversity, “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon will certainly fit the bill. It is told in alternating third person points of view sharing Dimple and Rishi’s stories.
The different viewpoints are made very clear by labeling the narratives, and by telling the story in third person rather than in first person, the reader gets to understand how the two characters are feeling and what they are thinking, without having to think about the tone of the narration being different for the different people.