Skip to main content

September 25, 2020 - October 9, 2020

This contest period's winners were Michele C., Gina W. and Kathleen K., who each received a copy of CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 by Lisa Unger and THE END OF THE DAY by Bill Clegg

 

Richard N B
Call of the Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft

2
Of course, I’ve heard of H. P. Lovecraft for years, but I’d never bothered to read anything by him. Just not my genre of choice, but I needed “science fiction” for a challenge, and I happened to have this one in the house. First, these stories are mostly NOT science fiction. Second, as horror stories, I didn’t find them all that horrifying. And reading them one after another in this collection made them seem formulaic and dull.

Jeanne
Summer Longing by Jamie Brenner

5
SUMMER LONGING by Jamie Brenner has all the elements of a fantastic summer read. It begins with a baby being left on the doorstep of Ruth Cooperman’s rented house in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Without giving away any spoilers, the author did an excellent job in creating characters that were likable and realistic. This was a heartfelt, easy read that took me on a captivating emotional roller-coaster ride from page one. It definitely deserves a five-star rating.

John
Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

5
A high school graduate gets a job on a farm and learns lessons about love and life.

Nancy
The End of October by Lawrence Wright

3
Deja vu. Groundhog Day. THE END OF OCTOBER. If you start reading this book now, you'll think you're reading about the Covid pandemic. This book was actually written before any sign of the pandemic. Does the premise sound familiar? A mysterious killer virus is threatening to bring the world to an end. A U.S. epidemiologist is searching for the cause and a cure. (No, his name isn't Fauci.) This book will keep you up at night wondering whether you're reading fact or fiction. I probably would have liked it better and rated it higher if it weren't hitting so close to home.

Vivian
And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

4
Twisted and dark psychological suspense thriller dealing with the lives of two women on the run from abuse.

MAXINE
The Midwife Murders by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

4
His books are always good. There's a difference when he collaborates with various writers. Personally, I prefer the writing when he is the sole author.

Betty
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann Fowler

5
Tension grows in the neighborhood. Long-time residents vs. the “newcomers”. An interracial couple of teens. Bigotry. Tragedy. Very appropriate for the current time in this country. It made me think about my own values and how I might react in similar situations.

Evelyn
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

5
So many facets to this story. Family, friendship, misunderstandings, loss, salvation. I was captivated from the beginning by the unimaginable tragedy and how the different characters dealt with it. The ending was full of compassion and love.

Dorothy
Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

5
This is another excellent book in the continuing story of Maisie Dobbs. Still recovering from the tragic death of her husband James, Maisie is back in London. She is asked to take on the role of the daughter of an important man and travel to Munich to facilitate his release from the Nazi prison in Dachau. She takes on the challenge reluctantly as well as the confidential commission to contact the daughter of a man she despises who has disappeared in Germany. Although she blames them for the death of her husband she agrees to try to find Elaine to re-unite her with her young son. War is in the air and intrigue surrounds her. Lots of suspense and Maisie has to solve more than one mystery. Good read.

Allison
The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

2
Interesting book.

Laurie
Eli’s Promise by Ronald H. Balson

5
Fictional history at its best, as per usual! Excellent author, Ronald Balson, transports the reader from Nazi-occupied Poland to the American zone post-war Germany, then onto the State of Chicago at the height of the Vietnam war. Very informative, well written. Main character Eli Rosen will ‘crawl deep into your heart’ Don’t miss ELI'S PROMISE.

Mary Ann
1st Case by James Patterson

5
James didn't disappoint in this tech-related book!!

Priscilla
Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

4
Very interesting ending.

Jayme
Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber

3
Reading a Debbie Macomber book is like visiting with an old friend. You know what to expect, you love them, and you don't mind if you hear the same story again.

Caitlin
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

5
I adored reading THE STARLESS SEA. It is a fantasy book with hints of romance, and it is so artfully done that I am going to read it again. I finished it yesterday, and since then it's been all I can think about!

Jayme
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

5
I laughed out loud. I cried. And I thanked God that I am surrounded by perfect idiots. One of my top ten reads of 2020.

Ruthie
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

5
Awesome murder mystery!

Nancy
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

5
Fun reading.

Amy
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

4
The writing style is easy to read and the characters are interesting. Looking forward to discussing it with my group.

Maryanne
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

5
I couldn’t put it down - incredible characters and plot.

Sherrie
Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

4
DON'T LOOK FOR ME is a fast-paced thriller and pretty hard to put down. It's about a family who's has lived through a tragedy and for two of them, it's impossible to get past or move one as they are both filled with guilt. It's a story with characters filled with deceit and some who are liars. It's also a story of love - love of parents for children, love of children who chase to find answers and love of those who you never thought you could love. It's a great story that keeps your heart pumping - I loved it.

Pat
When We Meet Again by Kristin Haemel

5
Kristin has taken over the #1 fave author spot! Her historical fiction books are incredible (I’ve learned so much) and this has history, lots of love, and sadness of separations. Definitely a winner!

Pat
The Lions of 5th Avenue by Fiona Davis

5
My first time reading Fiona and I was definitely not disappointed. I love our libraries - big supporter of them -so loved this setting. What an interesting and entertaining read!

Pat
A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber

5
I have read all of her books and I think this is her very best book! There is love, friendship, doubts, and much anxiety in this one...plus a beach! A sure winner.

Rosa
Eat a Peach by David Chang

5
This memoir is an account of chef David Chang's journey to the top of the restaurant industry, from his childhood in suburban northern Virginia to winning James Beard awards and MIchelin stars. Chang is self-deprecating and refreshingly honest about his mental health issues and his reputation as a difficult person to work for. He also gives a clear perspective of being a "twinkie" Korean-American and the experience of finding his place in American society. My favorite chapter was "Grace" - to me it revealed the most of Chang's character. The end of the book is a sections called 33 Rules for Becoming a Chef, which are great rules that can be applied to any career.

Michele
Whirlwind by Janet Dailey

3
It was okay, but kind of same old thing.

Jean
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

2
Non-musicians will be lost for much of the book, which is about the members of a string quartet and includes detailed musical descriptions. I did not much like any of the characters who all had annoying personalities and lives filled with problems.

Gerriann
The Red Daughter by John Burnham Schwartz

4
A very well-written book about a person I had very little knowledge of, Svetlana, daughter of Stalin who defected to the United States in 1967. The story follows her from her childhood to defecting and returning back to Russia, then pleading to leave again. Very informative and a very sad life.

sharon
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

5
This is the perfect book club read and this is why my group has chosen it to discuss. It is beautifully written in third person, and the seamless way it drifts through character and time leaves the reader wanting more. There are so many unanswered questions to discuss.

Melinda
Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

5
This is a fantastic book!

Sherri
Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman

4
It is such a quirky idea to carry your dog around in a baby carrier I was immediately drawn in.

Gina
One by One by Ruth Ware

5
Ruth Ware is in top form in this spin on Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. I liked the icy details of a snowed-in chalet and lots of intrigue.

Sheila
Empires of the Sky by Alexander Rose

4
The story of airships vs. airplanes - which would be the future of transportation? The time is the 1900s until early 1930s and the book introduces us to Count Zeppelin and later his protege Hugo Eckener as they develop the airship as viable means of transportation around Germany. It seems unlikely now that a slow-moving airship with its giant filled balloon could be the future of aviation, but at that time it was a legitimate question. The book goes back and forth between Germany, and in the U.S., we meet the founder of Pan Am, Juan Trippe, as he starts his business with lucrative U.S. mail contracts.

Sybil
The Last Child by John Hart

2
A bit depressing.

Linda
The End of Her by Shari Lapena

5
A psychopath has several people gunning for her. Is it the man she accused of murdering his first wife? Or is it the couple who adopted her baby and refuse to give her any more money? Or is it the couple she is threatening when the husband won’t have anything further to do with her? She has used and blackmailed people and her time is about over.

Linda
Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

3
Although she had misgivings about the field trip, Kat Jenkins let her son Ethan go with his class on a field trip where they would spend the night. Early the next morning, she is awakened by an Atlanta detective who informs her that Ethan has disappeared and searches are underway. Kat feels as if the bottom has dropped out of her world. About the same time, Stef Huntington receives a call from a blocked number. The altered voice tells her he has her son and warns her not to call the police. Stef is frantic and drives like a maniac to the camp where she is assured her son Sammy is safe with the other children. Someone has taken Ethan mistaking him for Sammy, but who?

Linda
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

3
A virus strain similar to rabies is rapidly spreading and people are not allowed to leave the city. Hospitals are swamped. A vaccine is being used but is not effective and the incubation period is one hour. The infected person is driven to bite and infect others. Dr. Ramona Sherman is a doctor whose friend Natalie has been bitten. She is due to give birth in days so it is vital to get her to a hospital. When it is discovered Natalie had been bitten and is showing some of the symptoms, she and Dr. Sherman are put off the bus at an abandoned house. This is too similar to today’s COVID-19 epidemic.

Linda
More Than Love: An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood by Natasha Gregson Wagner

4
Remembrances of her mother and the closeness they shared. She also shares the heartbreak of her mother’s death and its effect on her and her family. She discusses her unhealthy feeling that something was going to happen to her mother and her neediness to be near her. Her life in film and final happiness with the birth of her daughter and marriage to a good man.

Linda
1st Case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

3
The book reads like a YA novel. Angela Hoot is supposedly a genius but doesn’t show much common sense as she rushes from one thing to another in hopes of finding the persons behind a malicious app that unsuspecting people download on their computer. She is an intern with the FBI and kisses the agent she is training with. Not exactly professional. When she finds the bad guys, she takes off on her own and almost gets killed. Very disappointed in this book.

Linda
Criminal by Karin Slaughter

5
The book begins with Amanda Wagner’s first case when she was with the Atlanta Police Department when she and her friend Evelyn Mitchell are sent to the Techwood projects to check on a rape call. There was no rape but the woman tells the detecives about her missing friends. They start investigating and find that James Ulster, a man convicted of sexual crimes, is now paroled and living in a swanky hotel. He is the biological father of GBI agent Will Trent. A college student has been found murdered by Ulster's methods but he is killed before he can be questioned. Amanda has watched over Will ever since he was a baby found in a trash can. She helped him get an education and become an agent with the GBI.

Linda
Busted by Karin Slaughter

3
Will is sent undercover and is in a market when a gunman carrying a shotgun runs in demanding money from the clerk. He shot a policeman who was coming out of the restroom. Will goes and takes the shotgun away and the gunman’s accomplice waiting in the truck shoots the gunman in the head barely missing Will. He takes off and Will goes after him. The man is caught by Will but he is not expected to survive. Amanda Wagner and Faith Mitchell arrive and questions start. An old woman says she was behind the counter but Will says there was a young girl behind the counter. Where did the girl go? And where did the bag of money go? Why did the accomplice shoot his partner? And who is the old woman?

Donna
The Deserter by Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille

4
Scott Brodie is sent to Venezuela to find a special forces deserter. He partners with a young Middle East war veteran who has seen her share of violence and wrongdoing by the army. The description of Venezuela is fascinating and I love the humor scattered throughout the story. The book seems a little wordy at times and was not a fast read, but I kept going and enjoyed it.

Judson
Without Honor (Kirk McGarvey Book #1) by David Hagberg

4
Well-written book, the first in a long-running series featuring former CIA operative Kirk McGarvey. Fans of Clancy and Flynn will enjoy this book.

Lynn
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

4
Historical fiction set in 1918 Dublin during World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic. It follows a few workdays in the life Julia Power, a labor and delivery nurse tending to pregnant and postpartum women who have contracted the flu. The book chronicles her interactions with her patients, her volunteer assistant, Bridie Sweeney (who lives at a convent that takes in poor women with no place to go), a mean-spirited, judgmental nun who works nights, and Dr. Kathleen Lynn (a historical figure). Throughout you learn about obstetrics, the primitive medical care of that era, that era's gender relations, vile treatment of unwed mothers and their children, and the dedication of Dr. Lynn to the poor and to Irish independence. Recommended.

Sharon
Camino Winds by John Grisham

3
While good, CAMINO ISLANDS was better.

Tessa
The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

3
Yes, the plot has been done before and includes most of the rom-com tropes. Yes, the heroine’s hard shell will be cracked by the genuine goodness of the hero. Yes, she – a confirmed avoider of children – will come to love the hero’s precocious son. Yes, there will be major obstacles to their getting together, but has that ever stopped a couple in a rom-com? Well, Reichert is not about to break that mold. It’s a fast, fun, enjoyable read. And I loved the food references.

Sheree
The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan

5
I loved this book! There were all kinds of twists and turns and I thought I knew what was coming but I ended up surprised! I would recommend this book! Can't wait to read her new release!

Margaret
The Last Flight by Julie Clark

4
Hard review to write without spoilers. There are clever twists that I didn't see coming, characters seemed real, and the ending was surprising. A fast-paced mystery with two protagonists: Claire and Eva. They are different, but smart & strong, women caught in situations from which they want/need to escape. Claire is married to a wealthy, charming, admired, controlling, future politician who is abusive both mentally & physically. It's better to say less about Eva since her background & reasons for wanting to disappear are slower to evolve. Chance meeting at JFK Airport & the two women switch airline tickets, phones & purses. Short chapters with 2 points-of-view. Lots of switching back & forth plus backstories but author managed a great flow.

Anne
Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict

5
Captivating and fascinating historical which was excellent, well written and unforgettable.

Kathleen
One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker

5
The author’s writing is so descriptive you feel as if you are experiencing it yourself. Character development is exceptional.

Donna
The House of Lies by Terry Lynn Thomas

4
1941, Scotland. WWII is still raging and a treasured chalice has arrived to be hidden from the Nazi's. The chalice is stolen from a safe and the story progresses. Cat has money and a big heart. She secretly takes in abused women, sees that they are trained to live independently and are able to have new identities. Margaret is a central figure in the story and has an agenda. This is a story of evil verses good.

Donna
The Dilemma by B. A. Paris

4
Livia and Adam are married and have two grown children. Livia has been saving money and making plans for 20 years in anticipation of a wonderful party on her 40th birthday. This story takes place on her birthday. Each member of the family has a secret that needs to be told to the rest of the family. The dilemma is when to break the news...before or after the party. Once their secret has been told, the new dilemma is how to move on from that point. If you ever wondered about the importance of communication, this story touch you.

Donna
Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yoerg

3
Jackie has been married for two years, but recently her husband has been out of town because of his job. Two of her ex-boyfriends come into her life and her life begins to become complicated and unraveling. There are secrets, a sociopath and murder that needs to be confronted. Who can she trust?

Donna
No Justice by J. K. Ellem

5
Ben is traveling from Kansas City to Denver on a Grayhound bus. The bus breaks down in a very small town. Ben has secrets and just wants to lay low and move on from his past. This town seems like a nice place to stay for 2-3 days. He gets a job helping a single woman on a ranch. This small ranch is failing because of a neighbor who wants her property. The neighbor owns the town no one will stop him from getting her land. If money and intimidation doesn't work, there's always violence and murder.

Donna
The Prisoner's Wife by Maggie Brookes

4
A true story of a young Czech girl, Isabela, and an English POW during WWII who fall in love, secretly marry and run off. She disguises herself as a man for protection. They are picked up by Nazi soldiers and sent to a POW camp. The effort to continue to pass as a male is a major challenge. The determination, endurance, sacrifice, suffering and resilience of their captivity is told in detail. This is a love story that surpasses most others.

Donna
The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

5
A marvelous story about the law, murder and ambition. A prosecutor and a defense lawyer hate each other and will do almost anything to win a case. It's impossible to know who to trust. The suspense keeps you glued to reading this book. The twists are masterful.

Donna
The Patient by Jasper DeWitt

4
A young idealistic psychiatrist chooses to start his career in an underfunded state mental institution. A young man who entered the hospital when he was four years old. There are frightening stories and warnings to never go near this patient. The psychiatrist was at the top of his class and wants to cure the patient even though other doctors over the years have failed. This is a horror story that I couldn’t put down and will be long remembered. The cover is eye-catching and the book is easy to read. It's understandable that a good doctor wants to take on the challenge of the most difficult and mysterious patient, but one needs to be careful of what they ask for. There's a history that needs to be heeded.

Dianne
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

3
Interesting and outside my comfort read zone.

Jan
The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

5
This is the seventh book in the Department Q series and it is as good as the earlier books. Written by an award-winning Danish author, Department Q is where valuable people in the police department are hidden away, not able for various reasons to serve on the active police force, but still too valuable to retire or fire. This is a continuing series with several characters who are well developed. In this book, we learn a lot about what has happened to Rose in the past and it is not pretty. Rose is a brilliant detective but sometimes goes "off" - as in away from the world mentally and emotionally. There are several murders, including two that happened years ago, and one was not even classified as a murder. A wonderful read.

shelly
The Wedding Dress by Danielle Steel

4
Eleanor met Alex at the debutante ball that her parents gave for her. From the first time they laid eyes on each other they seemed smitten. Her parents did not think much of it as she was so young and he was fourteen years older than her. After they started dating Alex realized she was much smarter than her years. They married less than a year later and they would live happily ever after. Life throws us surprises we do not always expect and the stock market crash began while on their honeymoon. They returned sooner and were facing things neither of the families had dreamed of. They lost all the money they had and were now poor and going to be forced to sell everything and move out of the homes they had both owned.

sherry
The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

5
I have read almost all of her books and this one was also excellent. She is a master of suspense. I highly recommend books by this author.

Deb
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

5
Provided a very interesting look into artificial insemination and the secrecy surrounding it. It goes into the effect it has on the child who was created. There were many parallels to the secrecy of adoption back in the day.

Elizabeth
Rose Madder by Stephen King

2
ROSE MADDER doesn't rate near the top of all the Stephen King books I've read. Only one part near the 300-page mark was quite a page-turner, but it didn't last long enough. A 32-year-old woman named Rosie (not Rose Madder, a color) has been married for 14 years to an abuser, appropriately named Norman because he's also insane. And he is a police detective. One day she finally leaves their home in an unnamed state and takes a bus to an unnamed Midwestern state. There she finds help and is beginning to get her new life together. But crazy Norman uses his police training to look for her. Most of ROSE MADDER is about his search and Rosie's response. Too much of this book is overly long and repetitive.

Donna
Fugitive Colors by Lisa Barr

5
Julian, a 19-year-old Jewish boy, breaks away from his family and tradition because he is passionate about being an artist. He arrives in Paris in the 1930s and becomes best friends with Rene, an exceptionally talented Parisian artist and Felix, a German artist with no talent. They are inseparable friendship until Felix is forced to return to Germany by his influential, art dealing father. The Nazis are confiscating all modern art and ridding the country of the art and the artists. Julian and Rene follow Felix to talk him into returning to Paris. Felix has changed. The injustice, fear, betrayals, forgery, murder and lies are the story of the lengths an artist will go to preserve his work. The art comes first.

shelly
A Mother's Goodbye by Kate Hewitt

5
Grace and Heather could not be more different - they are like day and night. Heather is the mother of three children and has a husband who has been out on disability for almost three years. She manages to get by barely with some cleaning work she does. Things are tight and very stressful and the idea of bringing another baby into the house would make it impossible. Grace is on the fast track to making partner before she is forty. She has been working extremely hard and outside of the recent passing of her father she really has nobody in her life. No love interests and no real friends. Although Kev, Heather's husband is against it she sees no way but to give the baby up for adoption.

Jayme
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

2
This is a book that I am glad that I read because it has been on my TBR list for a long time, but I am also sad that I read it. This is my least favorite Hemingway book. Hemingway comes across shallow, petty and contemptuous. He may have been all of those things, but I don't necessarily know if he wanted us to find out. My problem is that this book was published posthumously. I felt like I was reading someone's diary - writing and thoughts that might be interesting, but not something you want to share with the world.

ELIZABETH
The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe

5
Becky Farwell was brilliant in math and used this brilliance for things not on the up and up, but she is very likeable. THE TALENTED MISS FARWELL is an enjoyable read simply because you can't believe what she is doing. The writing is fresh and pulls you in. A wonderful book for a debut. Art aficionados and any reader who just needs something different will find this book enjoyable.

Amanda
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

4
I loved the format she used for the chapters. The yearly recaps were so fun and interesting to include!

Tricia
One by One by Ruth Ware

4
Audiobook format, read by the great Imogene Church. Loved the setting of a chalet in the French Alps amidst a terrible snowstorm. The characters rang true and fairly complex, considering the number of them. The action scene of of the ski down the mountain was amazing. The tension mounted nicely throughout until the very very end, where the story fell just a little flat for me. Overall, a really great bit of mystery for someone who doesn't necessarily love mysteries.

Susan
Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney

5
I found this quirky book a joy to read and could hardly put it down. A murder takes place next door to Clemmie in her retirement community. She is a woman who leads two lives having been raped in her early years and wanting to keep that identity secret. You never know how much involvement the neighbors have in the community murder and more than one person becomes suspect. The characters are richly woven and with the ensuing chaos and humor thrown in, the book brought smiles amongst what felt like a totally believable murder mystery. Loved this book!

Tessa
Odds Against by Dick Francis

3
3.5 stars. I’ve read a couple of Dick Francis mysteries, but this is the first in a series, starring Sid Halley. I really liked how Francis gave us Halley’s background and set up potential continuing relationships for future books in the series. I’d classify this as more thriller than mystery. Halley (and the reader) know pretty quickly who’s behind the nefarious doings at the track, though there’s a bit of a question as to why and how. Halley is tenacious, intelligent, a quick-thinker, and a realist. I like the way he thinks.

Anita
An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

5
Several people come to a hotel in the Catskills in winter to enjoy a weekend getaway. As they all arrive on Friday evening, it begins to snow. None of the people have ever met the other guests. There are a few couples, some married, and some single ladies also. Everyone seems very friendly until during the night a woman is found at the bottom of the stairs. It appears she has fallen, but one of the guests, a criminal attorney, things she might have been murdered. The snow has turned to an ice storm, and the power is out. This is an excellent, scary book, that I could not put down. Of course there are some twists and turns that really keep you turning the pages. I loved it!

Lori
The Library Book by Susan Orlean

5
Great read about the unsolved fire that destroyed the iconic Los Angeles Public Library building and much of its collections in the 1980s woven in with the history of the library. Very interesting!

Lana
Sergeant Stubby by Ann Bausum

5
A gem of a book. I spent a lot of time bawling because I love animals and dogs especially. Just couldn't stand to think that Stubby passed on. I read the book because I had recorded the animated movie for my 7-year-old and 21-month-old granddaughters. The little one is totally fascinated with it. I'm so glad I got to know Stubby.

Lana
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

4
This book has been on my TBR list since it was published and overall it did not disappoint. I enjoy stories set during the Great Depression because it had such an impact on my parents and thus filtered down to affect my upbringing. Although often dark, the author always let hope shine through. I am also drawn to ODYSSEY-like books so this also engaged me. My only concern was that the finalizing of events seemed to me to be somewhat unlikely and the coincidences a little too far-fetched as well. I also felt that the author had meandered down the river for most of the journey and then appeared to suddenly need to end the story. But I am glad I read the book and will recommend it to my friends.

ELIZABETH
The Three Mrs. Wrights by Linda Keir

3
Trip, Jonathan, Jack...which one was he? He had a different name for each woman he was seducing. How did he keep his names and his stories straight about who he was? Hopefully he will slip up one day.

Gretchen
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

4
Loved it!

Kay
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

4
Alice Wright marries American Bennett Van Cleve to escape a dreary life in England. She finds herself at sea in a small Kentucky town where she doesn't fit in and her husband and father-in-law control her life. She defies them by joining as a volunteer to deliver books by horseback as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library. A story of women's friendship, love and finding a home for oneself.

Donna
The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

4
1988 and 2019 are the time periods for this story which takes place in the Fens in England. 1988: Leonora, Markus and their 14-year-old daughter, Nina, live in a grand estate named Raven Hall. An orphan teenager, Beth, is taken in by the family to be a companion for Nina. The girls become inseparable but Beth begins to discover that all is not as it seems. 2019: Sadie is an unemployed actress. She is offered a job of playing a part in a murder mystery weekend at Raven Hall. She takes the job and finds that the players are not random and the game is personal and deadly. This book keeps you engrossed by wondering who is directing the weekend and why.

Liz
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

5
Jane is a down-on-her-luck dog walker to the rich residents of a small town in Alabama. One of her clients is Eddie, recently widowed. Jane sees an opportunity to better her life but gets caught up in the mystery of Eddie’s wife, Bea’s death along with the death of Bea’s best friend Blanche. This is a well-written story with many twists and turns, and the ending will still leave you with questions unanswered.

Jan
Disloyal by Michael Cohen

5
A caveat - I can not stand D. Trump, never could - so I was secretly hoping for juicy stuff about Trump. Well, this book has it in spades. To my surprise, this was a well-written book, delightful to read, with words that I had to look up (doesn't happen too often to an old one like me). Cohen grew up in NY around the mob so Trump was just another mobster who had made it big. In truth, Cohen was probably richer than Trump at times. He certainly had more financial liquidity but Cohen grew up wanted to work for the mob boss and that carries throughout the book. His family begged him to quit working for Trump but the fixation, the fascination kept him there, even when Trump was screwing him over, personally and financially. A great read.

Jan
The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager

5
This memoir by a widow who is a noted astrophysicist is good and bad. She is a star in her field, winning awards, thinking the ways others do not, and she marries a gentle man who just likes to be with her in the outdoors. When they have children, he stays home and takes care of them while she continues to star. She is socially inept and often very selfish. For example, once when she was offered a position at a different university, she accepted before she even talked to her husband about it. Her father was her lifeline and when he died, she leaned on her husband more and kept winning awards and being a star in this field of stars. But her husband became ill and died, she fell apart. The middle of the book is boring. But the end is lovely.

adina
Red Dust by Gillian Slovo

4
Engaging story of fictional trial in South Africa post apartheid.

ELIZABETH
Millicent Glenn's Last Wish by Tori Whitaker

5
We meet 91-year-old Millicent, her daughter, Jane, and her granddaughter, Kelsey, as we move from the 1950s to 2015. Three generations of strong women and a secret Millicent kept for all of these years. Do not miss reading this book.

Monique
The Unchosen Road...to the Deep Well and Back Again by Pamela Parr Turner

5
I couldn't put his book down. Loved the way the author made you feel what she was feeling. It is the story of her leaving America when she was 12-years-old to move to Africa with her parents to do mission work overseas. On the trip there her mother gets sick and dies within a few months of their destination. Then the adventures, heartbreak, injustices of mission work on the children, and life that happens from thereon in. This book has faith, history, geography, culture, emotions and life, all tied in one book. I think I might read it twice to make sure I got everything. .

Jean
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

5
I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. This is historical fiction encompassing WWII,concentration camps, planes and pilots, etc. Also, throw in Caroline Dior (Christian's sister). The author does an outstanding job of bringing the lives/events of four women from WWII to the present day. The book also seems to capture many of the perils of the women pilots. One thing I found helpful was reading the Author Notes (at end of book) first. Can't recommend it enough.

Francisca
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

3
3.5 stars. Book # 7 in the incredibly addictive OUTLANDER series, continues the saga of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser as the American Revolution gears up. I really enjoy the historical inferences in these books. I’ve been to Fort Ticonderoga, and reading those chapters were intensely vivid for me. On the other hand, I was not a great fan of Brianna’s chapters. And Gabaldon ends the book with several plot threads hanging. Pet peeve…please trust your readers to want to read the next book, don’t “force” us to do so by using cliff-hangers. Lost half a star there.

Karen
The Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee

5
If one is a Christian whose walk has been going on for some time, this old (published first in 1965), yet ever-relevant book is a must-read. It touched me in a way I've never been touched before -- in my "inner man" -- a term not pertaining to gender, but to something else, something this reader has always known as "spirit." Definitely for the mature Christian, it is a book I thank God that I was led to read as it opened my eyes to so much.

Donna
A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

5
Story of a masterful spy.

Cindy
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

5
Well written, well plotted, interesting concept. A timely read.

Nancy
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar

5
HOMELAND ELEGIES was a revelation, a chance to see American culture and history and politics from the viewpoint of an 'outsider,' even if that outsider was American born. Ayad Akhtar has written a novel with a strong narrative voice that reads like memoir. It's compelling storyline and conflicted characters engage the reader. It is also a novel of ideas, a dissection of social and political culture. Central to the novel is the experience of living in a racist culture, especially after 9-11. When the narrator's car breaks down in rural Pennsylvania, the narrator finds himself vulnerable. HOMELAND ELEGIES, this poem that mourns the country of our hopes and dreams, reveals our character like a mirror. I won a book from Bookreporter.com.

Pat
Chances Are... by Richard Russo

5
So engaging to read about a reunion of three good friends twenty-five years later!

Nancy
My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers

3
This book is part memoir, part social commentary. The author, Bakari Sellers, is the youngest person to be elected to the South Carolina state legislature, a black Democrat in a traditionally Republican state. He writes about growing up poor and black (the memoir) and about what needs to be done to advance social equality (the social commentary). Although I live in South Carolina and had a particular interest in what he has to say, his message goes way beyond the state borders. He was considered one of Barack Obama's rising stars and has a national reputation, so readers interested in the battle for social equality may want to add this book to their TBR list, even if they don't live locally.

Ruthie
The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

5
Excellent historical novel about slavery and how its stories remain alive.

Laurie
The Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

4
Family saga, a heartwarming story about loner Micah, who crawled into my heart. Anne Tyler makes her characters come to life. What fun to discover who "the redhead by the side of the road" really is! Brava!

MH
The Last Trial by Scott Turow

3
I so eagerly awaited this book, having read BURDEN OF PROOF and PRESUMED INNOCENT when they first came out (the first courtroom dramas I ever read). However, this book dragged a little, especially during the testimony sections when witnesses discussed medical data and fraud laws. It was not an exciting case. In addition, some of the main characters were not fully drawn (the defendant, for example).

Karen
Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate

3
The story was super sweet and wise, but it seemed very contrived in many ways.

Sheree
One by One by Ruth Ware

4
I always enjoy Ruth Ware's books but I have to say I thought some of her other books were more exciting.

Michele
The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

4
One family secret can impact many in the family and those on the outside. The ones who keep the secret suffer the most.

Lois
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

5
This story is based on true facts between 1920s - 1950s about the Foss Family and Georgia Tann who steals children from impoverished families or just off the street. Georgia Tann sells, starves tortures and kills these children if they misbehave or don't live up to her expectations. Lisa Wingate tells us the story of the Foss family's stolen child and how she struggles to get away from Georgia Tann.

Lois
The Genius of Women by Janice Kaplan

5
Incredible women who have done so much for society.

Kathleen
Madame Fourcade’s Secret War by Lynne Olson

4
Amazing true stories of a French spy and heroine, this book tells her life story and, especially, how she became one of the leading members of The Resistance during World War II. It’s sometimes a bit difficult to read because of the French names and the dates the reader needs to recall to keep the events in mind. Having said that, though, it’s an exciting true tale of a life well lived by a woman willing to give her life to fight the Nazis for her country.

Donna
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

4
This is two separate storylines about the New York Public Library, one set in 1913 and one in 1993. The library caretaker and his family lived in an apartment inside the buildin, and Davis sets a great scene for what that must have been like. The storyline in 1993 revolves around a library worker and several book thefts that have taken place. Although this is a work of fiction, I enjoyed learning so much about the library.

Dana
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

4
Maggie Holt’s entire life has been lived in the shadow of her father’s book, HOUSE OF HORRORS. Her parents, Ewan and Jess, buy Baneberry Hall, a large, abandoned estate in the Vermont woods. Twenty days after moving in, they flee in the dead of night, never to return. Ewan writes a book about their experience with haunting and malevolent spirits, and it becomes an instant bestseller. Twenty-five years later, Maggie returns to the abandoned estate to renovate and sell it. Maggie has no childhood memories of her time at the estate and has never believed the haunting her father wrote about. When events begin to happen exactly as her father said, Maggie must uncover the truth, even though the house has never been safe for her.

Janet
The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

5
Perfect book to curl up on the couch and spend the afternoon reading.

FRAN
Playing Nice by J. P. Delaney

5
Not a who-dunnit. Not a procedural. A tense British novel about two couples who clash over their children. Some malevolent people and some stiff government people...and a twisted ending!

Barbara
Hideaway by Nora Roberts

5
Roberts is back to her earlier style with a story of Catey, a child star who was kidnapped but escapes; however, she never really escapes the psychological hold the bad guys have over her. Roberts carries us through the various "turns" in Catey's life, as she copes with lingering anxiety, pressures of finding security, and doubts about loving any man ever again. Her large, supportive family helps, as do others in her small, albeit privileged world, but Catey is stronger than she realizes. A world of comfort and beauty, of course, and delicious lovers. Catey's determination to overcome the hold her past has on her keeps the reader's attention quite well.

Susan
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

5
This book had lots of twists and turns. Rose is made to believe her whole childhood that she was sick by her mother and her mother went to prison for it. Now she is out - did she really poison Rose?

Gina
Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

2
This book was a creepy tale of abduction. There were hidden identities. You and I had no chance of solving this on the info given us.

shelly
The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

4
Tessa arrives with her two children at the little lake house to get away. She is trying forget Brooklyn. Rebecca arrives with her three children and is renting the house next store. Her house is huge and glamorous and reflects the lifestyle she has been living in Manhattan with her husband and children. Both of the women become friends and Rebecca uses some of her wealth to bring Tessa and her children into her world. Unfortunately, fast friends suddenly encounter a situation which will change there lives forever. Tessa offers to help and jumps in immediately with the children to help Rebecca. Life is not always what you expect and both women will be changed forever.

Nancy
A Woman Is No Man by Elaf Rum

5
I really enjoyed this book. It is about three Palestine women caught between old traditional rules and the new way in America. Isra family in Palestine married her to an American. Isra was not happy, she wanted to go to college. She thought. "Maybe when I get to America I will have a chance". She found things here were no different. They lived in a Palestine community and she was expected to stay home and raise a family. When her daughter is grown, she wants the same thing, to go to college and have her freedom. I believe this is the best book I have read this year.

Judson
Duty and Honor by Grant Blackwood

4
Action-filled novel focusing solely on Jack Ryan, Jr. as he takes time off from "The Campus."

Elizabeth
The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

5
Karin Slaughter’s THE GOOD DAUGHTER is so absorbing and unputdownable, I cannot recommend it highly enough. So how can this review do it justice? I’ll try. Certainly, the most important factor is that this is both a character-driven and plot-driven novel, not one or the other. Although Slaughter has written plenty of great books with that characteristic, this one may be her best or at least one of the best.

Lynn
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

3
I honestly don’t know what to say about this book other than it was just okay. None of the characters were great but I can say Denny was my favorite. The storylines weren’t anything special, although at times a little odd. There just wasn’t anything pulling me in and drawing me back to pick it back up to read. I think that’s why it took so long to finish.

Dianne
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

5
Great suspense. You are holding your breath and sitting on the edge of your seat. The author creates main characters with depth, a setting you can see and suspense for the reader to experience.

Janice
Anxious People by Fredrik Backamn

5
I have completed reading all of Backman's books and this is my favorite because I was engaged from the very beginning of his story. There are a handful of characters and they are well developed. The book deals with human connection and the impact people have on each other. The plot of the book is about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber and eight extremely anxious strangers who have more in common than they ever imagined. Typically attending an open house doesn't turn into a life or death situation. Just as an aside, this book will be adapted in a Swedish series and hopefully Netflix will feature this in the United States.

Jan
Let Him Go by Larry Watson

4
This is a sweet but painful book. A grandmother is double grieving, her son died (thrown by a horse) and her daughter-in-law soon remarried and left with her only grandson. The woman decides to go to Montana and see her grandson (and maybe get him back). Her husband, a retired sheriff, goes along with her. The writing is beautiful and we see the continuing love story between the couple, along with the woman's fierce desire to get her grandson. The folks who have the child are not very educated but they are mean, as in so mean that the whole community avoids them. The book is very well written with numerous surprises. The author has won numerous awards. An excellent choice for book group discussion.

Jan
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

3
I did not care for this book but the writing is lovely. Alvarez has won awards and recognition for her children books, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. This book is about the life of a widow who is so caught up in her grief that she can hardly deal with others. The woman had just retired when her husband died. She had never build much of a life herself but depended on her husband. She is a social advocate but was always in support of her husband, never the leader. After his death, some of her beliefs are questioned - her support for mentally ill people, her support for undocumented immigrants, her support for her family, etc. I thought the main character was very weak. I cannot recommend the book to anyone, but 3 stars for the writing.

sherry
The Guest List by Lucy Foley

5
This is the first time I have read a book by this author. It's hard to put it down.

Deby
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

4
Excellent book to read right now when we're dealing with COVID.

Dawn
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

5
If your life was about to end, who would be in your last thoughts? Your spouse? Your child? Someone else? For Dawn Edelstein, in Jodi Picoult's THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS, it's Wyatt Armstrong. Dawn is a death doula, someone who helps the dying and their family through the process of death. This heightens Dawn's sense of understanding regrets at the end of life, and makes her questions the choices she's made in her own life. You will quickly be drawn into Dawn's world and feel the pulls she feels. As with many of Picoult's books, THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS will give you plenty to think about. Not only do the Egyptian scenes take the reader to a different place, it also transports you to a different time, both in Dawn's life and in history.

Thomas
The End of Her by Sheri Lapena

4
It was a very good book. I enjoyed it.

Joanne
Fearless by Fern Michaels

4
I loaded this on my Kindle in anticipation of an upcoming vacation but started this book early. I frequently read this author but this is a departure for her as this book is a stand-alone and is not romance and sweet but shady and hard-lined. I loved it!

Leslie
The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

4
An engrossing mystery/suspense novel about a young woman who gained notoriety as a child when she went missing from her small KY town for three days. She's tried to put the experience behind her, but there are those who don't want her to forget.

Laurie
Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

4
This is an historical fiction about a girl who becomes a cook in Queen Victoria's kitchen. It captures the time of Queen Victoria's stay at the Hotel Regina Excelsior on the French Rivera. It's a light, fast read with lots of historical information.

RIchard N B
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

4
Any travel guide will tell us where we should travel and what we should see when we get there. Alain de Botton tries to tell us WHY we should travel. In various chapters he expounds on what it is that travel offers us. He waxes poetic on the anticipation of arriving at a new location, the marvels of modes of transportation, on “country” vs “city,” on finding beauty – in the familiar as well as the exotic. I think he has opened my eyes and I will feel more open about all experiences henceforth, whether just the comfort of my own garden, or the excitement of a location that is completely new to me.

Isabella
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

4
The concept is extremely intriguing and the prose is attention-holding as well. The characters are realistic and understandable.

Margo
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

4
What a super fabulous book, so well written. Loved it.

Elizabeth
James Herriot's Cat Stories by James Herriot

5
Although James Herriot was a farm veterinarian in the English countryside and dealt mostly with large animals such as cows and sheep, but he also took care of dogs and cats. He wrote a series of books popular the world over about his veterinary experiences with all the various animals he treated. But JAMES HERRIOT’S CAT STORIES is a collection of his touching stories about the cats, exclusively. This is a small, illustrated book. Each story is a selection from one of his books in the series. I love his series and so, of course, I loved these cat stories. This is another of Herriot’s feel-good books.

Judith
The Unchosen Road...to the Deep Well and Back Again by Pamela Parr Turner

5
This book was an excellent read. It covered a wide range of emotions from anger, sadness, feelings of abandonment, curiosity, forgiveness and love. It was hard to put this book down. I would highly recommend reading this book!

ELIZABETH
When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor

4
WHEN WE WERE YOUNG & BRAVE is based on true events which I never was aware of, but it shows the resiliency and creativity of human nature to work with what you have. This book is about friendship, courage, hope, and endurance. It is a beautiful book that will have you appreciating your freedom and your family. Miss Gaynor’s meticulous research had me looking for more information about the lives of the teachers and students that were taken from their school to a Japanese internment camp.

Trezeline
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

5
Every American should read this book. It would help to illuminate today’s racial problems. It is well documented and well written besides being very interesting.

Christine
What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson

3
This book tells the story of a man who dies and must travel through the afterlife to be reunited with this wife. I must admit I had no idea this was made into a movie, so I went in cold. I am a fan of Richard Matheson and the the premise sounded interesting. I'm afraid this isn't one of his better works. It's kind of boring and a little too wordy. He does say in the foreword that this is based on research about the afterlife; he includes a bibliography of suggested reading. It could have been a good story if he cleaned it up a little so it didn't sound like a new-age textbook.

ELIZABETH
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

5
CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 is truly addictive. It is one surprise after another. You won’t want to put it down because of the writing and the cunning, who-do-you-believe characters and the who-could-think-of these things that are happening. Make sure this book makes it into your TBR for this fall.

vera
The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale

5
Won a copy. For 14+ young adults. Olivia was very young when she slipped and nearly drowned. Her parents and Olivia moved from the small beach town. Lots of therapy, and then five years later decided she needed to go back and face her fears. She had been keeping in touch with school friends. From very first day friends seem different. They are into underage booze and parties, and she just don't seem to fit in. This could be a bad move for her, especially when strange things begin to happen. Would recommend to others.

Marilyn
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

5
Stunning account of one who finds new meaning for his life.

Susan
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

5
Loved this book. Listened to it on audio, fabulous narrator. Such interesting details of Shakespeare's time.

Margie
Wilder Girls by Rory Power

5
This gripped me from the first page. Although it's considered YA, the excellent writing doesn't make any concessions to its audience. Great, memorable characters. I'm still thinking about them. I'm sure the ending is problematic for some readers, but I'm fine with it as the author's choice. I highly recommend it, but it's no sweet children's story.

Jamie
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

4
I loved the interview format. It's very unique, and I loved the story!