‘The Last Mrs. Parrish’ Should Be the Very Next Book You Read

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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.

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‘The Alice Network’ by Kate Quinn: Intriguing Historical Fiction Spy Novel Based on Little Known Facts

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“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.

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‘Ultimatum’ by Karen Robards Is a Beach Read Must-Have

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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.

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‘A Darkness Absolute’ by Kelley Armstrong is a Chilling Sequel to ‘City of the Lost’

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“A Darkness Absolute” is the sequel to the first book in the series, “City of the Lost.” Kelley Armstrong creates a place in northern Canada where those who want or need to hide go to escape from their problems for a while. It’s really far north, so the weather is usually cold — very cold. And the people in this little, hidden town all have their own issues.

While this book could be read as a stand alone novel, it’s much better enjoyed after reading “City of the Lost,” to meet all the quirky unique characters, including the main character, Casey Duncan.

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‘A Twist in Time’ by Julia McElwain is mystery first, sci-fi second, with a bit of romance

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“A Twist in Time” by Julia McElwain continues the journey in time that began with “A Murder In Time.” In that story, FBI genius profiler Kendra Donovan travels unexpectedly through a time warp back to 1815 where — as luck would have it — there is a series of murders to solve, all committed by a serial killer.

In this story, which takes place right after the first story ends, Kendra’s stay in Regency Period England continues. A wealthy and wonderfully winsome widow who is not held in high esteem by the titled peers of the realm has been viciously killed in her townhouse.

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‘Killing Kate’ by Alex Lake is Fabulous Contemporary British Thriller

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“Killing Kate” begins like many murder mysteries. There is a young woman, this one living in Great Britain, who has just broken up with her long-time boyfriend. She is on vacation and mysteriously ends up spending the night with a stranger. Even stranger is that he is from England, too, and lives near Kate.

While she is in Turkey, a murder takes place in the sleepy village in Great Britain where she lives. But that is just the first of several murders, and the scary thing is that the victims all look like Kate. As the ploy unfolds, Lake comes up with some great suspects.

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‘A Soldier’s Revenge: A Will Cochrane Novel’ by Matthew Dunn

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“A Soldier’s Revenge” is one of the “Will Cochrane” series of novels by author Matthew Dunn. Dunn is more than your typical writer who creates spy stories — he actually lived them. Dunn spent five years in MI6 and was the recipient of a very rare personal commendation from the government for one particular mission. In all, he conducted around 70 successful missions for MI6. So Dunn knows what he is writing about, and that knowledge jumps from every page to assure the reader that the actions and characters are certainly realistic.

In this story, the protagonist, Will Cochrane, has resigned from the military and is on the verge of adopting twin boys who were orphaned when their parents were killed. Their father had been a colleague. But before he can finalize the adoption and get the children, he wakes up in New York’s Waldorf Astoria covered in blood and finds a strange woman shot in the head in the bathtub of the hotel room. He has been framed, and for much of the novel he is trying to elude those who would capture him, to figure out who framed him, and to decide what to do about the whole bloody mess.

In the meantime, more people are dying and Cochrane is being blamed for the new killings, too. The reader learns that more than one person wants Cochrane dead, all for very different reasons. Dunn cleverly allows the reader access to the thoughts of many characters, and while most of the story is written in third person narrative, Cochrane tells his own story in the first person. It keeps the narratives clearly identifiable, and Cochrane’s voice is an important part of the reading experience. His grief and his emotions are clearly communicated through his narrative.

For anyone who enjoys thrillers, this is sure to please. Those who have read the previous novels involving this character will enjoy it even more, but it surely works as a stand-alone. This reviewer has not read any of the previous books but did not suffer in the least because of that lack. However, some of the characters presented in this story might have been introduced in previous ones, and their stories are intriguing enough that new readers will want to go back and start at the beginning to learn all about Will Cochrane, his friends, his enemies, and his life.

Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher, William Morrow, for review purposes.

‘Behind Closed Doors’: the perfect marriage isn’t what it seems

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In “Behind Closed Doors” by B. A. Paris, the reader gets a glimpse into a perfect marriage. At least for the first few chapters. Grace seems to have it all — a very handsome, successful husband, a lovely home, a perfect figure, and the ability to cook flawless meals.

Told in alternating voices by Grace in the present and the past, readers slowly learn about how Grace first fell in love with Jack, and how Jack charmed Grace and her sister, Millie, who has Down’s Syndrome. Paris’ writing is also perfect — picture perfect in the carefully chosen words that only hint at first at the cruelty and malevolence that are slowly  revealed as the plot unfolds. Continue reading

‘Against All Silence: An SOS Thriller’ by E. C. Meyers

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“Against All Silence” by E. C. Meyers is the sequel to “The Silence of Six,” and both novels are young adult thrillers that will enthrall techie readers and non-techie readers alike.

In this sequel, main character Max Stein is just leaving Paris when he gets a message from his co-conspirator and sometimes-girlfriend Penny that he needs to go to Berlin. When he gets there, he becomes enmeshed in a global conspiracy that only he and Penny can bring down.

But when his ideals and Penny’s ideals part ways, what’s going to happen? Adaptive Books, the publisher, “…repurposes abandoned movie scripts into books” (according to Publisher’s Weekly) and in “Against All Silence,” as in “The Silence of Six,” one can visualize the non-stop action as if it were a movie. The action never ends, and Meyers includes several twists to make the story even more involving.  Continue reading

‘How to Hang a Witch’ by Adriana Mather: Young adult witchy fantasy

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“How to Hang a Witch” by Adriana Mather is a fantasy tale of modern-day witchcraft, Salem, Massachusetts, and the effect history has on all of us. Mather feels a special connection to Salem and the witch history as she is a descendant of Cotton Mather, the infamous instigator of the witch trials. In the story, teenage Samantha Mather moves with her stepmother to Salem, to live in the house her grandmother left to Samantha’s father. Samantha has a history of not fitting in, and nothing changes at her new school.

In fact, in Salem, the name Mather is anathema. There are some creepy students called the Descendants who are, unsurprisingly, descended from the families of the original girls accused of witchcraft. But when strange things start happening in town, it is Samantha who is blamed.

There are also two young men, one a neighbor and alive, the other a ghost who lived in her house over three hundred years ago. Both try to help Samantha break the curse that has haunted the families of the descendants of the original witches and those who persecuted the witches in Salem. Continue reading