‘Memphis’ by Tara M. Stringfellow is an ode to generations of Black women and a view into the conflicting issues of motherhood

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

In her historical fiction novel “Memphis,” Tara M. Stringfellow introduces us to three generations of women. We meet Hazel, who was born in 1921; Miriam, born in 1957; her sister August, born in 1963; and Miriam’s two daughters, Joan and Mya, born in the mid 1980s. It’s through the eyes and words of four of these women that we learn the story of one Memphis family, and this family—these strong women who suffer through so much adversity yet remain pillars of strength—is based on Stringfellow’s family and her ancestors.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘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.

Continue reading

‘Must Love Dogs: Lucky Enough’ by Claire Cook is the latest entry in that popular and charming series

Must Love Dogs: Lucky Enough
by Claire Cook

Some books you read because they teach you something, some books are read for lengthy book club discussions, and some books, like “Must Love Dogs: Lucky Enough,” the eighth book in this engaging and humorous series, you read simply to escape from reality and jump into the life of Sarah Hurlihy as she navigates her at-times fraught relationship with John, with their ever-growing menagerie of pets, and with her often-crazy extended Irish family. Sarah’s life is never dull, and when you factor in her job as a preschool teacher with some very precocious children and their very suburban parents, you get lots of humor as well as many touching moments.

Continue reading

‘The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation’ by Rosemary Sullivan

The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan

It was a cold case all right. A very, very cold case. Rosemary Sullivan’s fascinating and important study, “The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation,” takes us through an excruciatingly detailed account of the 2019 investigation whose goal was to find—once and for all—who was responsible for revealing to the Nazi authorities the location of the Frank family’s hiding place in August of 1944.

Continue reading

‘Beach Wedding’ by Michael Ledwidge is an engrossing seaside mystery

Beach Wedding by Michael Ledwidge

Michael Ledwidge proved his writing chops as with James Patterson he cowrote the super successful Michael Bennett detective series. His talent makes “Beach Wedding” work as an action-filled murder mystery that also is engaging because of the connections we feel to the characters—certainly a result of his fine writing. In it, we meet the Rourkes, a working class family living it up for a month in the Hamptons. When a brother, who has become a wealthy hedge fund manager, is getting married, he rents a huge mansion on the beach for several reasons.

Continue reading

‘Steal’ by James Patterson and Howard Roughan is a thriller that has layered con upon con in a deadly game

Steal by James Patterson
and Howard Roughan

This is the third James Patterson novel, written with Howard Roughan, that features Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a Yale professor of abnormal psychology. The thriller is not just filled with action and danger; it also features a plot that layers intelligence agencies with both Italian and Russian crime heads, foreign governments, stolen Nazi artwork, billionaires who think they are above the law, and Reinhart, who we learn was previously a CIA agent. As with most novels of this genre, the story features nonstop danger and people who are not what they appear to be. The most obvious case in point is the billionaire’s son, who posts a suicide note on Instagram and then disappears. His father is convinced that his son is alive, and he wants Reinhart to find him. Which of those factors are not what they appear to be? Perhaps both?

Continue reading

‘Reckless Girls’ by Rachel Hawkins: When “paradise” is anything but

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

With her latest twisty thriller, “Reckless Girls,” author Rachel Hawkins presents us with four young women who end up together on what would appear to be a tropical paradise. A deserted island near Hawaii where the beaches are golden, the water is warm, and the sunsets stunning. With plenty of good food, wine, and charming male companionship, what more could anyone ask for?

Continue reading