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February 5, 2021 - February 19, 2021

 

This contest period's winners were Barbara S. Augusta M. and Nancy S., who each received a copy of THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles and SEND FOR ME by Lauren Fox.

 

Karen
The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

5
I really enjoyed this book. The story is told in three different times: present day, 1907 and 1944 about three generations of women who in some way are connected to this garden in England. If you enjoy historical fiction I would highly recommend it.

Kathy
The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

5
This is the 5th book in Greg Iles Penn Cage series and it is long and very involved. His books have so much going on at all times so you have to keep up with it. It is not a book that you can put down and then pick up in a week and be able to remember all the characters and background. I love the whole series. One more to go...

Trisha
Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

5
What an enjoyable read! This book was both funny and sad at moments as it told a fictional piece of history, divorce ranches in Reno, NV in the 1930s. It explored the behaviors and love life histories of women in the post depression years. This book made you really think about the break up of a marriage and those ready to pick themselves up and carry on in 1938. I loved every character and each story as it played out. Selected for Barnes and Noble’s book club and thoroughly enjoyed.

John
Run for Cover by Michael Ledwidge

5
This is about a heroic dude who likes to solve serial killer crimes.

Elisa
Dear Martin by Nic Stone

5
Super timely YA crossover about racial injustice had me totally hooked.

Kathy
The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick

4
Well written historical fiction. The reader gets a real feel for what's life is like in the House of Mercy and gets a picture of what like was like for the poor and well off in the 1910s. The characters are complex and the story keeps the reader engaged.

susan
The Wolves at the Door by Judith L. Pearson

5
I recommend this book highly. This is a true account of one of the first women who worked for the OSI in Europe as a spy for the United States. She took great risks for her country and saved thousands of Jewish people from being sent to the death camps. She had a wooden leg from the knee down from an accident when she was in her teens. She had a very difficult time convincing the government she could still help to serve her country, even with a disability and being a woman. She was awarded the British Empire Ribbon and The Distinguished Service Cross for her service for her country. She was one of the very first women to be given the chance to head a team of spies in Europe. This is a must-read if you enjoy true stories about WW II.

Fran
Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

5
Cast of quirky characters set on a 1938 dude ranch. “Ladies” stay at the dude ranch to establish residency for their quickie Reno divorces. What ensues makes for a fun read.

Jeanne
Watch Her by Edwin Hill

5
WATCH HER by Edwin Hill is the third book in the Hester Thursby mystery series, though in my opinion, it could be read as a stand-alone book. It is the first book by this author that I have read but it definitely won’t be the last. It is an intense storyline about a very powerful wealthy family whose lives are filled with deep, dark secrets. The author is to be commended for his creation of the conflicted, yet at times compassionate characters. At the very beginning I was a little confused trying to figure out who was who, but as I continued reading I became so drawn into this chilling psychological thriller I didn’t want to put it down. Without giving away any spoilers, it is a suspense read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Jeanne
Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

5
FOLLOW ME by Kathleen Barber is a spine-chilling, nail-biting story about social media and the internet. It centers around Audrey who has millions of Instagram followers and a deranged stalker who will stop at nothing to make Audrey his. Without giving away any spoilers, this book will terrify and haunt you and make you question the dangers of internet exposure. The storyline is full of suspense that will grab you and creep you out from the first page. The author did an exceptional job in crafting the characters.

Teresa
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

4
The first in a trilogy, this book has betrayal, dishonesty, surprise, loyalty, love - new and old. It’s the story of a woman shocked by the loss of her husband, not only by the suddenness of it, but even more so by the circumstances. The author takes the reader to a new locale - not the islands of Massachusetts, but to St. John’s in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Laurie
Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson

5
Fictional history at its best from author, Jennifer Robson - a family saga/novel of Italy and World War II. Beautifully written!

Elizabeth
Twenty by James Grippando

5
Very interesting.

Amy
Layla by Colleen Hoover

4
I am not usually drawn to this author but I did find that LAYLA, this month’s selection by my book club, to be a suspenseful, page-turning read. Part romance, part suspense, and a bit of paranormal.

Suzanne
A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

4
Interesting take on survival after a pandemic destroys the world. How do four unlikely people become friends and what will each do to survive.

Jayme
Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity and Joy by Shauna Shapiro

5
This is the book that I needed to read to start the new year. It was uplifting, positive and user friendly - the best book on mindfulness that I have read. Highly recommend.

Jayme
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

3
Everything you ever wanted to know about vomiting in space and then some.

Jeanna
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

4
Such a beautiful book that dealt with loss, addiction, science vs. religion, depression, and the struggles of an immigrant family in the U.S.

Izella
Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz

5
Wonderful story set during the early days in Jamestown, Virginia. This is Laura at her best. Her books are always historically accurate and good Christian stories. If you like historical fiction, you will love this one!

Donna
Mother May I? by Joshilyn Jackson

5
Bree is happily married, has two teenage daughters and a infant son. She knows someone that looks like a witch is watching her. While watching her daughter's rehearsal for a school musical she discovers that her son has disappeared. She suspects the old woman she believes is watching her. Bree is contacted by the kidnapper and if she wants her son back alive, she has to meet the woman's demands. The kidnapper isn't interested in money but in revenge for a incident that happened to her daughter when she attended college that involved Bree's husband and his secret. This roller-coaster of a novel gradually reels you in and you feel like you're part of the story.

Donna
A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains by Victoria Golden

4
William was four years old living in Pennsylvania when his mother died in 1930. He and his brother were placed on an orphan train by his sister. These trains heading west would make stops along the way and people would gather to choose which child they wanted. The intention of these trains was to give homes to homeless and orphaned children. The results were not always good. William lead a hard and abused life. Boys Town and becoming a marine were highlights in his life until he met and married a wonderful woman. He was a hard worker throughout his life and was quite skilled with his hands. This is a very well-researched and detailed story of William's survival and his life.

MaryAnn
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

4
A novel about a girl who grew up with a father on a secluded island near the coast in the Northeastern part of U.S. Having never been exposed to civilization and believing all the fairy tales her dad told her she’s blurred from reality/fiction. He dies when she is thirteen and realizes he kept many secrets. She is cared for by a lovely couple. The book then explores her looking into her father's past and obsession with saving “ scents”. Very reminiscent of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.

Donna
I'd Kill for You by L. A. Detwiler

4
This is a short story and a very quick read of a dark thriller. A mother raises her only son alone and then create new identities when they move every couple of years. His mother has told him that to protect him she would kill for him. They have a tight bond until he reaches his mid-teens and comes home covered in blood carrying her gun. They move again to start a new life and his mother makes the ultimate decision to protect her son.

Donna
Dark Side of the Harbour by Jennifer Bacia

5
Anna never knew her father because he was charged with murder and brutally killed before she was born. Her mother, Rose, knew he was innocent. Anna, twenty-five years after her father's death, is determined to learn what happened and to clear his name. This novel takes place in Australia and includes some Polish history during and following WWII. It is complete with family drama, challenges, tragedies, deadly secrets, survival and redemption. I loved this book.

Nancy
A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

5
Great read. Enjoyed.

Sherrie
Writers and Lovers by Lily King

4
I fell for this girl, Casie, from the start; she is the writer and lover. Casie is wound up from the start, after making a big move across the country she feels like a failure - failing at writing, failing at love and even failing at her part-time serving job at a restaurant called Iris. Lily King writes this story with passion, compassion, raw wit almost as if she was Casie. The story is wonderful, the writing so good and this book will wrap you up and keep you happy until the last page.

Donna
The Harlot's Pen by Claudia H. Long

5
1920s was a tough time for women. They couldn't vote and working outside the home was not accepted. Women who had to work were looked upon as working for pin money and poorly paid. In order to survive and feed their children they found that being a prostitute was necessary. Violetta was a progressive woman and wanted to publish articles about the life of the working woman. She entered a well-respected brothel and became a prostitute to gather information. This fictional story is probably more real-life than fiction. It certainly was an eye-opener for me.

Vesna
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

4
Engrossing read that is full of twists and turns. Who is telling the truth? Who is telling lies? A con artist comes up on others who are not all that they appear to be and she begins to wonder, who's being conned?

Linda
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin

4
Violette is a caretaker at a cemetery in France when the book opens, and we learn about her past life as a wife and mother told through flashbacks. The present story focuses on Violette's life as a caretaker and her friendship with a policeman who has come to the cemetery to bury his mother. The prose is gorgeous and the storylines are good ones as we learn about Violette's past and her struggles with the present.

Melinda
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

5
This book is a can't-put-me-down book. It's a great adventure right from the start!

Michele
Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman

4
Behind your neighbors closed doors there is another world going on that does not include you. What happens if you walked through a closed door and are placed in their world? What does it do to your world behind your closed door? What if you are drawn into all the neighbors' homes behind their closed doors? Does your marriage and family stay intact?

LeAnne
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

4
Was one of the best books I have ever read! (And I am a prolific reader!) It is beautifully written and makes you feel like you are there with the vagabonds! Learned so much about the Indian schools that I was unfamiliar with. Enjoyed hearing an interview with Krueger - he is a delight to listen to! This was our book club choice for February!

Sally-Jo
In the Woods by Tana French

5
I'm a fan of Tana French and this one is good with lots of twists and turns. A page-turner. I look forward to the next book in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

Sheree
Recursion by Blake Crouch

1
I didn't like it at all. It did not hold my interest.

Katherine
If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Christopher Ingraham

2
This book relates the story of a Washington Post reporter who wrote an article about the worst place to live in America and then moved to that place.

Barbara
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

5
Excellent, suspenseful book. The narrators, Jack Hawkins and Louise Brealey, are superb. I listen to books while driving, and I never wanted to leave my car! The ending was totally unexpected.

Susan
The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

4
That I was feeling incredibly cold the entire time I was reading is indicative of the author’s ability to convey the enormity of the blizzard. She accomplished her goal. The selling of the idea of the land was most fascinating and the stories behind the tragic events were intriguing.

Gerriann
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

5
A very enjoyable book during these stressful times. My face smiled on every page with this lovely book. If you love the Queen and books, this is for you.

Barbara
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

5
A heartwarming story of five people, of varied backgrounds and ages, who come together in a very small Scottish town in December. The snow keeps coming while these five interact and learn to trust again. And to love again. The reader will feel and see the setting, and the reader will know these characters' hearts and misgivings. In a gentle, straightforward style, Pilcher creates scenes as a backdrop for their struggles with such artistry that the reader finishes the novel feeling as if they have become family. And oh that setting, which makes the reader just want to cuddle up under a warm comforter with a cup of hot tea and ignore winter outside the windows.

Susan
The Push by Ashley Audrain

4
Breathtaking in its atmosphere of doom and grief, yet resolved in its shocking ending. Not recommended for mothers conflicted by bonding issues past or present, but realistic that mothering is modeled by how we are mothered. It also explores how some of our children are easier to mother than others.

Beth
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

4
Trevor Noah has a remarkable coming-of-age story He was born under apartheid to a white father and an extraordinary mother who bucked all traditions, and the law in having him. Trevor had a troubled childhood and there were many points at which his life could have turned out much differently. But due to his own smarts, and his contradictory but courageous mother, he is now a well known comedian. I listened to his narration of the book. Well worth the listen.

Linda
Akin by Emma Donoghue

3
I prefer other books by Donoghue such as ROOM. I almost gave up on this one but was curious to find out what the protagonist's mother did in WWII when she was living in Nice, France. Too much travelogue and trivia.

Laurie
Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

4
Very engaging historical fiction set in the South with an art-themed mystery. Double timeline used to unfold the story.

Barbara
The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

5
When an invitation to her 10-year college reunion arrives for Ambrosia Wellington with an anonymous note, she feels compelled to go. At the reunion she continues to receive menacing messages. It seems that all the secrets are not buried. The reader learns how brutal girls can be with the games they play. The ending blew me away.

Suzanne
Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

4
Another good book from the Women's Murder Club series. Detective Lindsay Booker is a new mother is trying to find out why people are murdered by exploding and who is the murderer. Her friend Cindy is chasing an escaped Mackie Morales for her newspaper column. Yuki their friend is now engaged to Lindsay's boss Brady. Always a good read.

Rosa
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

5
I read this for book club and look forward to our discussion. Set in 1950's India, this is the story of Lakshmi Shastri, a strong-willed, ambitious woman who works as a henna artist, serving women of means. Her livelihood is the product of negotiation and diplomacy, as she uses humility and her wits to fulfill her goals. I learned a great deal about Indian culture during this historical period in which India was transitioning from British rule to finding its own way of life. I really enjoyed this story, one that made me appreciate my own state at this time in history.

Fran
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

3
I chuckled out loud several times while listening to this audiobook by Jim Gaffigan! He has a terrible diet and isn't afraid to put his feelings about food out there! It was fun!

Donna
Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

5
I don't give many 5-star ratings but this book is one that just won't let go of me. Jollett's memoir of how his family escaped from the Synanon cult and being raised by a mentally unstable mother and a father who was an addict is beautifully written. The subject matter sounds bleak, but there is so much love in the mix. He tells the story from the view of a confused child, later as an angry teen and then as an adult trying to come to grips and becoming a better person. Move over Frank McCort and Jeanette Walls!

Simonne
The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

3
Young woman journeys to Tuscany to find out who her father, a WW II pilot, really was and search for a never-known brother.

Laura
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

3
I really wanted to love this book because I love a story based on a little known bit of history. I was expecting to have a bigger story about the women who fought. Instead, I felt like it was more about the invading Italians. Maybe I read the description incorrectly.

Lisa
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

5
Couldn't put this book down. Such an interesting journey through the lives of twin sisters, one who passes as white, and their offspring. An eye-opening look at how race defines us. A perfect read for Black History Month. Highly recommend this book.

Pam
West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

5
Reminded me of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS - has a great sense of place and time as well as a compelling story.

Francisca
Caroline: Little House Revisted by Sarah Miller

3
3.5 stars. Readers familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s in the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE series will find this very familiar. Miller chooses to retell Wilder’s stories for an adult audience, focusing on Laura’s mother, Caroline. I really enjoyed this work of historical fiction, though I cringed at the lead character’s attitudes towards the Native American population. Miller does not gloss over the very real challenges of pioneer life – the lack of supplies, or routine comforts we take for granted.

Karen
The Guest List by Lucy Foley

4
The first part of the book was confusing. Then I got into it. There are chapters where five characters narrate their stories. These five narrators could be the murderer of one of the guests at a wedding at a dark, ominous old castle on an island near Ireland. All five have a motive and are interconnected but may not know it. The challenge is guessing who would actually commit the murder.

Augusta
Meet You Under the Stars by Traci Borum

5
In this second novel of Ms. Borum's Morgan Grove series, Chaynie Mayfield takes center stage as a woman whose future holds much along with difficult decisions. I love the library setting and the small Texas town where relationships blossom - whether family, friend or a new love interest. Through this book readers can see how hard work, committed work ethics, and positive attitudes can accomplish wonders. With a hopeful conclusion readers will long for Ms. Borum's next addition to this series. A Mississippi Mud recipe provided at the end.

Jenifer
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

4
4.5 stars out of 5. A great historical fiction novel that was, at times, very hard to read due to the physical torture and emotional heartbreak that was endured by the slaves depicted in this story. Pheby, the main character, was courageous and strong after being wrenched from the people she knew as her family. I didn't give this the full 5 stars because the ending felt like it was rushed and some of the questions I have about this part went unanswered. Heart-wrenching writing that made me put down the book so I could think about what I had read. I definitely would recommend this book. I read an advance reader's copy from the publisher.

S
All the Children Are Home by Patry Francis

3
Book club read for February.

Margaret
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

4
This fast-paced novel's setting is Philadelphia in 2015-2016. It drew me in at the beginning and held my attention throughout. There was a casual tone but it dealt with some heavy issues, i.e. race, class, privilege, and relationships. A well-to-do white couple likes their black babysitter, Emira, a lot. The babysitter likes them, especially their 5-year-old daughter, Briar. One night while Emira is in a supermarket with the little girl, she is accused of kidnapping Briar. The story gets very interesting after that dealing with Emira's struggles in deciding what direction to go in her life. Alex, Briar's mother, tries to make the kidnapping fiasco easier for Emira which promotes some thought-provoking situations. Great for a book club.

sandy
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb

4
This is a book club suggestion so I didn't know too much about it going in. Bess is telling her grandmother's stories, starting with Bobby's death, cycling through her (Bobby's) life, and including her sometimes hysterical texts. I didn't hear my grandmother talking but I sure could hear my mother! Sometimes I was sniffling, other times I laughed out loud!

Mamie
Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis

3
Very appropriate book to read after this year's presidential election.

Martha
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

5
Backman has delighted me once again. Opening the story is a bank robbery and hostage situation, neither of which is really, truly that. His characters each have something quirky or different about them, until the truth reveals that their lives all have some connection, unbeknownst to them at the time. Then in his usual, subtle way Backman adds nuggets of wisdom about life and people. I took my time in reading this and realized that his descriptive statements are beautifully done. Can't wait for the next tale from this Swedish author.

Nancy
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

5
This book is timely and a great choice for book club discussion. It tells the story of twin sisters who are Southern, light-skinned blacks. One chooses to pass as white, marrying a white man and leaving her black family in the past. The other embraces her race, marrying a dark, black man, a disastrous move that eventually drives her back home. Where their choices take them makes for great reading. The book covers so many timely topics -- racism, family, love and forgiveness -- that are worthy of discussion.

Debra
Make Their Day by Karen Ehman

5
The publisher sent me early access to read the book. I am so glad that they did! I love how Karen Ehman brings simple easy ways to show people you care about them. It could be something as easy and simple as bringing coffee to a friend or giving a mom the day off. This is a must-read book for everyone. It will open your eyes to ways we can be kinder to everyone.

Debra
Out of the Storm by B. J. Daniels

5
This is the first book that I have read of B. J. Daniels. It was fabulous. It certainly will not be my last. She has a wonderful way of weaving the story so you feel as if you are a part of it.

Mary
Frontier Follies by Ree Drummond

2
Nothing too surprising from the Pioneer Woman, but might be interesting to those people not from rural U.S.A.

Tessa
Fraternity by Diane Brady

3
In 1968, a visionary priest recruited 20 black men to the College of the Holy Cross and changed their lives and the course of history. This was a very interesting look at how their experience influenced these young men. Brady focuses on seven of the recruits, but the person who really stands out in this tale is Rev. John Brooks, the priest who recruited the students, fought for funds, mentored them, and championed their causes.

Audrey
The Scorpion's Tale by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

5
I have been a long time fan of P & C and was eager to get my hands on their latest book, which I just finished a day ago. It is the second book in their Nora Kelly series involving Dr. Nora Kelly, a senior curator and archeologist, and rookie Special Agent Corrie Swanson. She is eight months into her training period with some less than stellar incidents and now has lots to prove to her boss despite her unusual talents. As Corrie is still mentally kicking herself over a shooting incident, she gets handed a case that is more than cold and in fact involves a partially mummified corpse found in an isolated and long abandoned mining town clutching an ancient gold cross. A very suspenseful and intriguing thriller with lots of science and history.

Jean
The Answer Is...: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

3
Easy to read in short bursts, as each chapter covers one small topic. I was never a huge fan of the show, but found learning about Alex's life and hobbies interesting.

Marilyn
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

5
I believe that GREENLIGHTS of the many books I have read since March 2020 was probably the lightest book I read and maybe the best for the times of our lives that we are experiencing now. I loved the content and the way McConaughey presented it. The excerpts that he included in this book from his journals were absolutely delightful, and some of the revelations about his beliefs very surprising. I would recommend it to anyone over 16 years of age!!

Kay
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

5
I loved this book! The many possibilities in life have always fascinated me - if you turn left up the street or turn right it can change your life possibilities. There's a lot to think about.

ELIZABETH
The Survivors by Jane Harper

4
The locals have never forgotten the tragedy that most people believe was Kiernan’s fault because he shouldn't have been in the caves when the storm surged. Just what was the intrigue of those caves?

Myrna
Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce

5
Take your mind off current events and enjoy this rollicking adventure of Marjorie and Enid. Many of my acquaintances are reading it and loving it.

Becky
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

3
Agatha Christie, renowned writer of mysteries, disappeared for 11 days in 1926. Although a country-wide search was made, no one was able to find her until she turned up on day eleven claiming amnesia. What really happened – no one knows. Marie Benedict makes an interesting and entirely fictional novel of the mystery. The result is a good yarn that Agatha herself would approve. My complaint - and it is a huge one – is the two different, and interwoven, timelines. I would just get involved in one timeline and the other would pop up with a different narrator and jump back or forward in time. When I finished the book, I knew why the author chose this conceit.

Anita
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

5
This is an interesting novel about a 15-year-old girl, Vanessa, attending a boarding school who becomes interested in her 42-year-old English teacher. They begin a relationship, and Strane is obsessed with her and declares he loves her. She never really expresses her feelings, yet seems to not be able to stay away from him. Maybe this is because she is a lonely girl, with no friends, and needs the attention. Many years later other girls claim he abused them, and now we wonder if what happened between Vanessa and Strane was sexual abuse, even though she never said no. This was very well written.

Lori
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

4
Enjoyed the premise of the book from the beginning. Interesting how it unfolded and I appreciated the ending.

Lori
Hadley & Grace by Suzanne Redfearn

3
The book had too many coincidences for me. Not a bad story, but I found it to be unbelievable.

diane
Long Range by C. J. Box

4
I have enjoyed reading this series of a Park Ranger (Joe Pickett) in Wyoming who ends up solving a mystery. It is easy to read and educational about Wyoming. It's a go-to when I want to quickly read a good book that entertains and informs.

Jan
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

3
The book is pretty well written but is not a prize-winner in my mind. I know this story. Have seen it and lived a lot of it. As a matter of fact, I have read it many times over. Girls are not valued. Boys are. It was confusing at times - not clear at first that the parents were Chinese. I liked the mother's sweet memories of home and how she planted them in her daughter's heart. Cross dressing is no big deal; it is recorded in so many other manuscripts. I only completed reading this because my book group is going to discuss it. My response is, "So what?" Nothing here is new. The Roman numerals were confusing at first. I wondered why the author used them. One good quote from Sam was, "What people see shapes how they treat you."

Madelon
The Push by Ashley Audrain

5
Compelling, disturbing, and hard to put down.

Anne B
Old Abe by John Cribb

5
Excellent account of Lincoln during the Civil War. He had a great sense of humor.

Francisca
Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton

3
Another work of historical fiction that relies on the bifurcated storyline. Basically you have two romances, each featuring a privileged young woman with a man who is not in her class, one in the 1950s and the other in 2017. It held my attention, and had some interesting historical elements.

MH
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

4
Very reminiscent of Steinbeck’s GRAPES OF WRATH. The book was engrossing but also depressing. It is hard to believe Americans ever treated other people this way, but history has proven it so. My parents lived through the Depression. I was reminded of them as I read this compelling story.

Jo'el
Eleanor by David Michaelis

4
This is a one-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. My usual habit is reading a chapter-a-day in a large book of non-fiction. The writing in this book was so clear, concise, and compelling; I finished the 23 chapters in four days!

Lynn
Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley

3
A charming fable with a neatly tied-up ending.

Carol
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

4
This was recommended by a friend and I totally got into this book!

vera
Watch Her by Edwin Hill

5
College owners claims home has been broken into but something with the report comes in. Something just don't seem right. So more searching begins and it seems the owners are not being honest. What and who is trying to keep lies and murder hidden? Great mystery and author keeps us turning the pages.

Tessa
Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill

2
2.5 stars. Oh my stars! This is so bad it’s good. I had no idea that Vampire Viking Angels are a thing, but I think I’m glad they are. Despite the dreadfully awful writing and the ridiculous plot, this was still fun. It was a fast-paced, quick read that entertained.

Rebecca
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

3
A mute child is found - many can lay claim to her. Many are healed and satisfied with the outcome.

Rose
The Truth About Grace by Cassie Sandbridge Selleck

4
I loved THE PECAN MAN and I thoroughly enjoyed the sequel, THE TRUTH ABOUT GRACE. This book deals with the aftermath of a rape that was covered up, and the addiction that Grace experiences, as well as her attempts at recovery. It also deals with people coming to terms with what they did and did not do about the rape.

Rose
Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling

3
I listened to this book, and sadly, the playback wouldn’t allow me to hear chapters 20 and 22. However, I had heard enough. Andy and her friends play a silly game one year, one ends up dead, and she spends years trying to recreate the events, wondering what could have been different. She questions her relationships with Marcus, David, and Peter. Peter’s disappearance triggered all of memories. This book is getting a lot of praise, but I was not a huge fan.

Rose
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

4
What do you get when you put several elderly people together in a community and throw in a murder or two? The Thursday Murder Club! This is a very complex story detailing the personalities of these elderly friends, their clever sleuthing, the police they inform, and the crimes committed by unlikely culprits. There are a lot of characters in this book, so you may want to have a pen and paper handy to keep track of everyone. The story wraps up nicely, with the stories intertwining. I think this would make a nice beginning to a series.

Betty
The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

5
A real page-turner. I did not want to put it down. An engaging plot with equally engrossing sub-plots. Laden with emotion. A satisfying story of family and friendship and resiliency.

Jackie
The Return by Nicholas Sparks

5
Real sweet book. I loved the characters and missed them when it was over. I've not read that many of his books but I plan to go back now and read more. It was such a nice book to read during troubled times.

Jackie
The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis

5
LOVED THIS BOOK!! I really became attached to the characters. I missed them the next day when I started another book. I have not heard of Barbara Davis before reading this. I enjoyed her writing style and plan to read more of her books.

ELIZABETH
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

4
The American Library in Paris 1939 then to a small town in Montana 1983. We meet Odlie and Lily and follow their lives and their connection. THE PARIS LIBRARY will appeal to all bookworms, romantics, and historical fiction fans. This book is about friendship, the love of books and libraries, regrets, giving advice, and forgiveness. Ms. Skeslien Charles' research is impeccable.

Liz
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

4
“Bone” Boatwright is the illegitimate 12-year-old daughter of a poor elite woman in South Carolina. Bone dreams of escaping her life and making something better for herself. Anney, her mother, falls in love with Daddy Glen and they marry. Glen is verbally and physically physically abusive to Bone. Bone won’t say anything because she doesn’t want to jeopardize her mother’s happiness, until the unspeakable happens. Now Anney must choose between her daughter and her husband.

Amanda
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

3
I liked the book a lot and found it captivating in its detail of the raw wildness of Alaska.

Angie
Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

4
I enjoyed this story of survival and of coming to terms with the past. I found Sitara a sympathetic character both as a child and as a woman, and I was drawn in by both her physical journey and her emotional one. There were some strong supporting characters, the setting was vividly brought to life, and it was interesting to read and learn about places and events with which I'd been unfamiliar.

Kimberley
Echoes by Maeve Binchy

5
Like binge watching a mini series, this novel is a wonderful tale taking place mid 20th century in Ireland. It is full of smiles and fond characters. It is longer then usual but the reader needs to follow these characters as their stories unfold!

Angela
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton

4
THE HIDEAWAY was a good book. It started off a little slow. It was about Margaret who left her husband who left her first by moving in with his mistress. So Margaret asked her dad for money to go away for a while to get away from the small town gossip and restrictions. Margaret saw a bed and breakfast and stopped for the night. That's were she met William. She bought the cottage. A decade later her granddaughter left town for New Orleans returns to fix up the cottage and possibly sell. During the renovation she finds a family lives there. Then the cottage is taken from her by a shady business man. There are so many twists and turns that kept me turning pages well into the night.

Jane
Silver Creek Fire by Lindsay McKenna

5
I enjoyed this book. I'm not a fan of tarot card readings but the author used it to show good can come regardless. Lindsay got a job in Wyoming as a carpenter and wood sculptor. There are many dangers and some accidents but all ends up turning out good. Lindsay's truck gets hit and flipped as soon as she arrives at Wild Goose Ranch. Logan assures her that the job is hers. Not the best way to meet an employer. Logan treats all as family that work for him. I like how Lindsay and Logan built a trust relationship and love isn't just about sex. The ending will grip you and you will feel you are rooting for all. Highly recommend.

Shelley
What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

4
After a mysterious incident, Eleanor heads home from boarding school. Only she doesn't know what she's heading home to since she hasn't seen her family for 8 years. She is in the dark about the past and doesn't understand why she is different. Why did her Grandma send her away? Why does she feel so alone? When the family dynamic changes suddenly, Eleanor feels like she can take the reins. She contacts her Grandmere for help in saving her family. Each family member is intriguing and offers a unique history that make this story creepy, unreal, and realistic at the same time. Eleanor learns that family must stick together. Witches? Check. Wolves? Check. The Undead? Check. Mind Control? Check. This book has it all.

Tamara
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

5
This is a beautifully-written, haunting tale of a Vietnamese family spanning the Vietnamese war. The characters drew you in and held you until the last page. Vietnamese proverbs are sprinkled throughout the novel echoing wisdom. This is a book of perseverance and love of family. Through the journey of life, the women in the novel come to know themselves with more awareness.

Debbie
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

3
Hercule Poirot shines in THE MURDER ON THE LINKS. The foolishness of Tommy and Tuppence dissolves into an intriguing mystery. The story does not rest on dialogue to move the story along. Characters and setting show more development. The double identity of many characters hints at Shakespeare. And sometimes the reader becomes confused with all the identities. Hastings reveals that a human heart beats within his chest. Will this charade continue? I adore the way Poirot recounts the mystery and displays the clues that lead to unveiling the killer. But first, at least two women work to protect the men they love. The elegant eating of Tommy and Tuppence disappears in this story on the links.

Amy
The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

5
As a little girl I read the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE books again and again, and I was fascinated by the stories of the terrible blizzards on the great plains. This book looks at one of the most famous and deadly of those blizzards through the lens of two teenage sisters, both schoolteachers. The choices that they make in an impossible situation frame the rest of their lives. The book is compelling and very readable.

Kim
The Wonder Boy of Whistlestop by Fannie Flagg

4
Nice sequel to FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Fannie Flagg was true to her characters and I enjoyed learning a few new tales and seeing what happened some of my favorite characters.

Frankie
The Boys Club by Erica Katz

4
The main character, Alex (a female) and the challenges she faces in her new career in corporate law are not surprising. Some of her decisions do not seem realistic. Still, a quick read that provides lots of opportunity for discussion.

Arlene
Recursion by Blake Crouch

4
A foray to science fiction thriller, RECURSION had a poignancy and nostalgia in the end. It's quite a ride - unnerving at times, anguishing, and unsettling. The shifting and recurring timelines may not be for everyone, but the cinematic effect of that on me was entertaining and "different," in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

Nancy
A Promised Land by Barak Obama

5
I received this book as a gift from my daughter. It is an insider's view of the grueling nature of a politician's life, especially the microscope that sees into every aspect of a candidate's life. The privacy we take for granted is snatched away once a citizen "throws his hat into the ring."

Tessa
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

5
85-year-old Addie Baum is interviewed by her “favorite” granddaughter for a project. She focuses on her youth in the early 20th century, from age 15 to about age 30. I just loved this book. I loved Addie – feisty, intelligent, curious, determined, adventurous, compassionate. She’s a loyal friend and confidante. She’s also practical about her decisions, but still willing to take a risk. I was completely mesmerized by her storytelling.

Nancy
Gotcha! by Ed Weinberger

5
I thoroughly enjoyed this satirical look at Trump's presidency. Weinberger's sharp, witty remarks were right on target.

Rose
The Last Flight by Julie Clark

4
Interesting concept - trade places with someone else who is just as desperate to leave their life behind as you are. I enjoyed it. Eva, who made a mistake years earlier, and later got caught up again, is running scared. Claire, married to a prominent politician who abused her, also wants out of her life. So, in the airport they agree to swap planes tickets and go to the other’s destination. When Claire arrives in Oakland, CA, she sees the news that the plane to Puerto Rico has crashed - the plane that Eva was supposed to take in Claire’s place. The story then flashes back to the time before the crash and these women’s lives. The ending is a bit of a surprise.

Terry
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

4
As disturbing as the subject matter/disease is to read about, the book reads as a novel and you are eager to read the resolution. While the boys afflicted had awful lives and endings, to learn that this huge family was real and how studies continue in developing the treatment for mental illness brings hope. The family dynamics and parenting were indeed very interesting.

Liz
The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

3
While a man is dying of cancer, he decides to write a short story for his son that he has not seen in many years. The man is reflecting on his life, his hopes and dreams and the choices he has made. He know has the opportunity to change the fate of one small girl who is also dying. He must decide what he will do.

Marsha
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

5
By the author of LILAC GIRLS and another interesting historical fiction. I learned much about the Russian Revolution. These characters are beautifully developed. Friendship among women is a winner.

Lori
Anywhere for You by Abbie Greaves

5
I was delighted to win an advance copy of this book. I had heard about the author's previous book and had intended to read it, but hadn't had a chance yet. Now I'll be sure to read that too as I loved this book. I flew through the book, staying up until 1 AM to finish it. The premise is unique, and the author did a great job building up suspense as she alternated between two time periods and the perspectives of two of the characters. I think this book would be a great choice for book groups as it covers a lot of issues about relationships and friendships that would be interesting to discuss. I highly recommend this book.

Angela
The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston

4
This book was a slow burn. It's the third book in the series. The first book is THE LITTLE SHOP OF FOUND THINGS in which Xanthe and her mother are opening up an antique shop. Xanthe has the gift of hearing things sings to her. When the chataline sing to her she must go back in time to save a girl from death. Then, the second book SECRETS OF THE CHOCOLATE HOUSE she must save a young man's life. In THE GARDEN OF PROMISES AND LIES a wedding dress sings to her. She must protect a family and the spinners book. but there is a twist. I will eagerly awaiting the next book. Start from the first book - it will take you on a great adventure.

Carol
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

5
Best mystery that I have read in a long time. Nice twisty plot, fun characters and humor!

Richard N B
Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci

3
Book 2 in the Atlee Pine mystery series has the FBI agent forced to take a “vacation” which she elects to spend back in her childhood hometown of Andersonville, Georgia. Fast-paced and with plenty of twists and action to keep the reader turning pages. It’s almost too much action, especially when Baldacci combines the cold case with a new serial killer in town.

Jan
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

5
This may be Kline's best book, a carefully-researched historical novel about the British emptying their jails by sending the prisoners to Australia. Few of the refugees are true criminals. But many of them were women because Australia needed citizens, therefore the Crown send the breeders, the women. Our young protagonist is pregnant, seduced by the son of the master of the house (also hated by his stepmother). While the son was on vacation, the stepmother had the pregnant girl sent to prison. She made friends with others who are also badly treated. The prisoners are put on old slave ships and sent to Australia. Conditions are vile. Characters are well developed. A fascinating story. Good for book clubs.

Becky
The Last Tiara by M. J. Rose

4
The Russian Revolution plays a large part in this tale of love, betrayal, family, jewels, secrets, privilege and glass ceilings. Like Russian novels, this one has twists, turns, blind corners and secrets galore. Sofia, a young art restorer in Tsarist Russia, is friends with the Tsar’s daughters, Olga and Tatiana. All three volunteer as nurses as WWI encroaches on St. Petersburg and their life of wealth and privilege. In hospital Sofia meets a young soldier who suffers from amnesia. That is where the joys and struggles and secrets begin, only to later crop up in 1948 in New York City.

Deby
This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

4
Full of twists and turns. I couldn't wait to see where the story was going to go next.

Jan
I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust by Valerie Gilpeer and Emily Grodin

3
This is an account of an amazing young woman: She is autistic and did not speak for twenty years or more. She made sounds, she was smart, could copy her parents or a teacher to complete tasks but did not speak. Her parents are attorneys - after many years of fighting for her daughter legally, her mother has now devoted herself to cases helping autistic children and their parents. The mother directs the book and the life of the family. The parents hired so many tutors and companions, tried so many different schools because they knew she was smart. She just was not able to get her thoughts into words to express herself. A breakthrough occurred when an aide helped her type her thoughts into actual words.

Karen
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

4
I really enjoyed this book. It really kept me guessing. It did have some disturbing subject matter in it. That really held me back from enjoying it more.

Joanne
Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie

4
An eclectic, reliable collection of stories by the master of mysteries.

Kay
Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey

5
I just finished an ARC copy of this book. It's a great story about a difficult topic that I have not read about before. Childhood friends have grown up and suddenly are back in each other's life again. They suddenly must make some tough decisions for their futures.

Kay
The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice

5
This is a great book by a favorite author! I read this as my choice for a First Reads Book from Amazon, and it did not disappoint. It opens as a woman has just awakened after being brutally beaten at home in her art studio and left for dead. She does not know who did this to her, but knows she must leave and hide from whoever tried to kill her. The book continues attempting to lead us to her killer and show what happened before and after her attack. It keeps us guessing until the end! A must-read.

Patrice
The Daughters of Yalta The Churchills, Roosevelts andHarrimans: A Story of Love and War by Catherine Grace Katz

5
Fascinating story of the behind the scenes details of the pivotal meeting of three world leaders meeting in Yalta in February of 1945. Fascinating!

Carol
Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

4
The setting for this very well-written book of historical fiction is London in the late 1920s. American expat Maisie Musgrave is hired to work at the fledgling BBC. Maisie’s character is fictional. However, Hilda Matheson, her supervisor, as well as the BBC Director-General, were both actual people. This is a glimpse into the conflict ridden world of the BBC at that time. The reader also sees the social and political changes taking place. I recommend reading the writer’s end notes first for background. I would have found that helpful in knowing the characters.

Laurie
The Umbrella Lady by V. C. Andrews

4
Although I don’t usually prefer suspense/thriller, I really enjoyed the characters and storyline of THE UMBRELLA LADY - another good family drama by V. C. Andrews.

Jeanne
Flawless by Jan Moran

5
FLAWLESS by Jan Moran is an exciting, easy read that takes readers into the world of beauty, makeup and fashion as Verena Valent struggles to hold onto the family’s famous skincare family-owned business. Without giving away any spoilers this is the story of strong, successful, independent business women who fight and struggle to survive in a world of ruthless businessmen who will stop at nothing to take control of Verena’s family’s business. The storyline has all the components of a great story including romance and drama. Jan Moran is a favorite author of mine and once again, in my opinion, she wrote another great book.

Jeanne
The Swap by Robyn Harding

5
The Swap by Robyn Harding is a dark, psychological thriller that will totally engulf and captivate readers from the first page. Without giving away any spoilers, Robyn Harding has done it again with this brilliantly constructed novel about a dangerous, obsessive fixation, deep, dark deadly secrets and twisted relationships. In my opinion, the author’s timeline of events was sheer genius. Readers will be beyond shocked as they read each page and the ending will rock everyone’s world for those who read it. I received an Advanced Reader Copy and these opinions are solely my own. I rated it a five, but it definitely deserves a ten-plus rating.

Nancy
The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

4
I love books that teach me something, without being too textbook-y. This one hits the mark. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because it's a very sad, upsetting story, and there is no comic relief. It's a tale of the jails slaves were kept in while they were waiting to be sold, how they were treated -- or mistreated -- and centering on a mulatto slave whom the jailer takes as what we would call today his common-law-wife. For those of you who have read THE VANISHING HALF, see if you can find the common theme at the very end of this book. I definitely recommend it, but with the caution that it will leave you thinking, which is a good thing, but very sad, which is not.

Jane
Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

4
Thank you to The Girlfriend Club and Simon & Schuster. Where to start? Historical, philosophical, and travel in Nadia's life. Her father was a UN official and she lived in so many places, I can't remember them all. Her mother left when she was little and hardly had any connections to her throughout her life. Her stepmother Anabel was to me a little cruel and it showed in her actions. Her father died of cancer when she was 14 and then years later her stepmother told her it was AIDS. Her father didn't bear her with this and said it was cancer. I learned so much about Uganda, Rome, Armenia and other places she lived. She was American, European, Ghanaian, Armenian, and Black.

Susan
Interior Chinatown by Chrles Yu

2
I'm sorry to say I did not enjoy this book. The form dazzled some because it was written as a screen play, but I do not enjoy reading plays because I find - absent the acting - the words on the page flatten the characters. The story was not told in a linear fashion which was also disconcerting to me. It's a very hard plot trajectory to pull off, I think, and Wu did not do it well. His point was to show the stereotypes of Asians in our society, especially TV/Hollywood. I was disappointed all around.

Anna
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

5
I love historical fiction and this book brought to light not only the hardships of living through the Dust Bowl in the Plains of America but also the shame of the treatment of these American “migrants” as they tried to keep their families sheltered and fed. I felt strongly about the human atrocities in California as I did the suffering for the south of our border immigrants in AMERICAN DIRT. Both books are must-reads.

Muriel
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

5
It’s rare that I read a book a second time because there are so many more I want to read. Mr. Backman’s book left me feeling I wanted to reflect on the many wise statements made in the book and also to begin reading again. The book began with thoughts about people trying to cope, being good parents, trying to grow up and accept responsibility, etc. It was neatly summarized as being about a bank robber who failed, eight hostages, policemen, reporters, and an empty apartment when hostages were released. The story may have seemed a bit disjointed at times, but was all nicely tied together by the end. The best part was the characters and their interactions with each other, but also Mr. Backman’s wise commentary on life. Great book!

Jayne
The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

5
One of the best books I have read in the past year. Set in Mexico, the reader meets a family and is swept away in the history and family situations the author brings to life. The characters stay with you long after turning the last page of this novel I didn't want to end.

Linda
HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes

5
Excellent writing -- sympathetic not sycophantic re: all four women; Queen Elizabeth, Diana, Catherine and Meghan. Stunning photography combined with a 'glossy, good feel' heft.

Elisabeth
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

5
Better than THIS TENDER LAND. A summer that changes the lives of a family.

Lindy
The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards

5
Our February book club pick. Everyone agreed and gave it 5 stars.

Linda
Sweet Laurel Falls by RaeAnne Thayne

5
Very good book deserving of more than 5 stars! Maura McKnight and Jackson Lange were teen sweethearts when Jack left Hope’s Crossing and vowed never to return. He and his father had a bitter feud when his father sold land from the trust his mother had set up and planned to develop a ski resort. He never called nor did Maura contact him when she learned she was pregnant. Their daughter found out Jack was her father and he returned to Hope’s Crossing and Maura. Although she was not forgiving at first, she realized she was also at fault for keeping the birth of Sage from him. They had been given a second chance at love.

Linda
Currant Creek Valley by RaeAnne Thayne

5
Alexandra McKnight is finally getting her chance to be a chef at a new restaurant when she meets the man who is finishing the kitchen. Wow is all she can think when she sees the ex-Army Ranger! Alex and Sam Delgado are attracted to each other but she seems to pull away every time he wants to see more of her. It is frustrating and he is about to do what she says and forget about her but he can’t. He has fallen in love with her in spite of the many reasons she gives him for not doing so. She is in love with him but is scared to trust any man. Can Sam make her see his sincerity and give them a chance?

Linda
Willowleaf Lane by RaeAnne Thayne

4
"Smokin’ Hot" Spencer Gregory is back in Hope’s Crossing! Charlotte Caine has had a crush on him ever since her teens and has followed his professional baseball career until it was ended by injury and scandal. When she was a teen tutoring Spencer, she was fat and he didn’t really see her. Now Charlotte has lost eighty pounds and catches Spencer’s eye, but she is not ready to forgive him for the horrible words she heard him say about his pity date with her. But when he kisses her, she forgets the past and kisses him back.

Susan
Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

5
I'm learning some history about British India in addition to a can't-put-it-down twisting plots and character development.

Linda
Hunt for Christmas by Tina DeSalvo

5
Hunter James is a professional photographer whose photographs have won numerous awards. He is building a home on an island he recently purchased, but the nearby community has used the island in their Christmas celebrations in the past and want to continue. Hunt wants and needs the peace of the island and has turned down the community’s request. Camille Comeaux comes to spend Thanksgiving with her family and tries to get Hunt to change his mind. What she found instead was a man who used the camera as a barrier between his life and the one he photographs. She fell in love with him but knows she has to walk away so he can find the peace he needs.

Linda
Daylight by David Baldacci

5
Atlee Pine is searching for her sister Mercy when her search leads her to John Puller’s case. She is chasing a man she needs to talk with and runs into Puller. He was going to arrest the man for a drug case he was investigating on a military reservation. They decide to work together to find the man and bring him in, but he seems to have disappeared. When Puller is told to stand down, he is suspicious. A higher power is involved in the case that turns out to be more than just a drug case. Puller and Pine wonder what they have gotten themselves involved in. As Baldacci quotes Orwell, “Truth is whatever you can convince people it is.” This is true with the false media today.

Linda
The Return by Nicholas Sparks

4
Returning to New Bern, North Carolina, Trevor Benson meets two women who impact his life. One is a standoffish young teen who was befriended by his grandfather. The other is a deputy sheriff and attraction blooms between them. He tries to find out who Callie is, but she won’t say and he is sure she is a runaway. Natalie Masterson is attracted to him but backs away and he thinks there is another man in the picture. There is, but not like Trevor thinks.

Sue
The Survivors by Jane Harper

4
I felt this was a departure in intensity for Ms. Harper. I’ve read THE DRY and THE LOST MAN and while reading both of those books I was intensely concerned for the welfare of the characters. In this book, I was more curious as to what had happened in the past than concerned for the safety of the characters. The author does an excellent job describing the settings of her books that you feel you are there. An enjoyable read (completed it on a snowy, below zero afternoon).

Mary
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

4
This book really moved me. It’s a crime novel, but so much more: about revenge, culture clash, making amends and forgiveness. The plot revolves around Black and Korean people who have a difficult time sharing a neighborhood in South Central L.A. A timeline that shifts from the early 90s to the present and back examines how differently, yet still the same, people process the words and actions of others. A great story for discussion by students, book clubs, neighbors and friends.

Tessa
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

3
3.5 stars. I grew up in Texas and am very familiar with the small-town beauty pageant hysteria. I really liked the story arc about Will’s efforts regarding the pageant and how she inspires other girls who don’t fit the standard “beauty-queen” stereotype to step up as well. I also liked how Murphy explored the mother/daughter and friend relationships. I was a somewhat unhappy with the romance aspect; I was really disappointed in how Dumplin’ managed her conflict, but then again, she’s a teenager.

Lynn
Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati

4
I love this series and the cast of characters. The author does a great job presenting a realistic story from the time period. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

Mary Anne
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

4
I picked this up based on a review, not realizing it was a graphic book. But I read it anyhow. It is completely different from anything I ever read, but it was so funny and poignant that I'm planning to read her next one.

Janet
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

5
Loved it! Can't wait to read what is next from her.

anne
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas

5
Captivating and memorable historical which is beautiful and fascinating.

Michele
A Perfect Amish Romance by Shelley Shepard Gray

5
We all know that you go to libraries for books. But, what if some go to the library for help from the librarian. The librarian knows your likes and dislikes in books. Can one, just from that knowledge, introduce you to others that bring more to your life than you ever would have thought? Is it love they bring? Friendship? Read and find out. The first book in what will be a great series!

Debbie
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

5
I really enjoyed the author's writing style and factual presentation of real-life history events I never knew of.

Elizabeth
Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

4
This was a tough read. The writing is really good, almost poetic, though the earthquake theme was laid on a bit too heavily. But though the author did have some trauma in her life, I’ve read memoirs from people with far more tragic stories that didn’t feel too self-pitying like this one did. Still, the writing is strong, thus my four star rating.

Sean
Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

4
Craig Johnson again delivers a fantastic small town cop drama with a wonderful protagonist and better supporting cast. Walt Longmire is someone you root for - he's fallible and far from a super cop. Here the mystery is intriguing to the last page. The story involves generations of evil and pain but somehow the story isn't a downer. Its a concise read while still being expressive. A very good read.

Mary Ann
The Push by Ashley Audrain

3
I didn't feel it lived up to all the hype.

Lois
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

4
The novel sparked my interest immediately. The characters are so thoughtfully described and the locale in Brooklyn very well defined. It leads to a mystery and carries the reader forward. I recommend it.

Linda
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

4
A fascinating theory on Agatha Christie's ten day mysterious disappearance, still unsolved.

Helen
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

4
Fascinating book set in a mystical library where the protagonist, Nora Seed, has the opportunity to go back and take different life paths with different consequences and endings. Loved it !

Vickie
What You Wish For by Katherine Center

3
Not as good as her previous books. It took until halfway through the book for it to get good. It dragged on about how things were in the past with the new principal and at times you really don’t like him. The ending was much better.

Sheree
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

4
While I enjoyed it, I didn't like the ending. It did give great sales tips!

Suzanne
Judge & Jury by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

4
Fun to read some new characters by James Patterson. Nick Pellasante is an FBI agent trying to convict Dominic Cavello mafia boss of murder. He is also trying to keep the jury safe and away from corruption. Cavello seems so secure that Nick is worried but doesn't see anything that hasn't been thought of till he sees an explosion and realizes that the bus with the jury in it has been blown up. With only one survivor left, he can't get it out of his mind and takes it personal. Capello will never get away with murder and Nick will get a conviction. So much more but read the book. James Patterson is always a great read.

Trez
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

5
An excellent book about a time in the United States that is rarely discussed.

Nora
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

3
Had some difficulty "getting into" the story, but enjoyed this book when I did. Part of my enjoyment came when I found out there really is a huge memorial in France that figures in this book. I looked it up and could see photos and read about the carving of the figures. The ties between France and Canada were very strong, and sending young men from Canada to France to help defend that country was important to the story.

Kimberly
The Other People by C. J. Tudor

4
Perfect brain candy. Short chapters each ending in a mini cliffhanger imploring you to read just one more. Very fast paced and entertaining provided you suspend belief a little and don't question anything too much. Just enjoy.

Donna
The Unwilling by John Hart

4
Timeline is 1972 during the Vietnam War. A family of three brothers, one of whom is killed in the war. His twin is changed and hardened by the war and the 18-year-old who is deciding whether to sign up for the draft. The father is in the police dept and responds to a call about an unusually gruesome murder of a young woman. One of his sons is suspected of the murder and the younger son tries to convince his father of his innocence when everything points to his guilt. Loved the family dynamics in this book although there is a lot of violence.

Rose
In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

3
This is a fictional account of one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Belle feels slighted by men in her life. She marries multiple times in an effort to gain wealth, but invariably the men disappoint her in some way. Unable to have children, she fosters several. As people disappoint her, she figures out several ways to kill them, usually by poisons. Suspicions mount, but nothing seems to stick. As the years pass and the deaths continue, Belle needs to figure out a way to get away from it all. The author explains at the end of the book that she was drawn to the story because of the killer’s Norwegian heritage. She also explains that several of the storylines were of her own doing.

Madelon
This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

5
I rooted for both main characters to heal in this well-written, hopeful novel.

Roberta
A Promised Land by Barack Obama

4
So nice to read a book by a literate, articulate, thoughtful, moral president. I may not agree with everything he did or said, but he inspires confidence in how he processed all his big decisions. And although I found some of his discussions to include way more information than I could process, he was also able to share some personal and family moments that illustrated what a well-rounded man he is.

Michelle
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda

4
A funny, insightful read about the author’s misadventures and gleaned experience in the pursuit if clear communication. Enjoyed the personal stories as well as lessons on how we humans misread each others’ intentions and miscommunicate. Also spawned some terrific book club discussion!

Rose
Lost You by Haylen Beck

3
Quick read about two mothers and how they are connected through a child. Years earlier, Libby did a terrible thing, and she lives in fear of being discovered. While on vacation with her 3-year old son, she realizes that he is missing. She dreads that her past is catching up with her, and she is terrified of the consequences. When she comes face-to-face with Anna, she knows she is right, and now she has to try and save her son. This is a fast-paced novel, related to the desire to have a child and the lengths you will take to make that dream a reality.

Beth
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

3
You won’t understand the title of DEAR DAUGHTER until nearly the end, and in the end you’ll be left hanging. I haven’t decided how negative to feel about that. After all, I did enjoy this mystery until the end.

Tessa
Ella Minnow Pea by Marc Dunn

5
5 stars and a HEART! A novel told in letters about an island nation off the coast of South Carolina where the residents pride themselves on their literacy. And then a tile falls off a monument and their exalted leaders declare that letter is no longer to be used. What’s one little letter? There are 25 others. But as more letter tiles fall, restrictions – and penalties – become more onerous. And the citizens of Nollop realize their nation is being ruined by those in charge.

Lynn
Death Comes to the Rectory by Catherine Lloyd

5
Last book in this wonderful, gentle English mystery series. Have enjoyed every minute reading each book.

Pam
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Douglas Abrams, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu

5
Written with a lot of anecdotes, humor, and love, this book is an enjoyable read. It's the story about the meeting of two of the world's most powerful religious leaders and their week long conversation about the nature of joy. They share their wisdom and philosophy in pleasant and deep conversation, answering questions and giving examples that are easily understood by those of us who might not be into meditation and enlightenment.

Toni
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

5
I loved this book! It was so funny, romantic, heartwarming and touching. I don't usually read YA novels, but I'm so glad I read this one.

Vicki
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

4
I thought this was a great perspective on the disappearance of Mrs. Christie. I am an Agatha Christie fan and was even fortunate enough to stay at the Old Swan Inn in Harrogate where she disappeared to (previously the Harrogate Spa). I also stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul where reportedly she wrote ORIENT EXPRESS. I was excited to read this book and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I was so interested in it that I read it in one sitting and now plan to go back and reread more carefully for details. Great writing and interesting concept.

Lana
When Harry Met Minnie: A True Story of Love and Friendship by Martha Teichner

5
This truly is a beautiful recounting of love and friendship between two dogs and their owners later in life and in the face of mortality. Through a chance meeting with a mutual friend, the author, an English Bull Terrier owner named Minnie, is asked to assume ownership of Harry, another Pit Bull Terrier, who is owned by a friend, who is in the end stages of liver cancer. The dogs and people build a circle of caring and compassion in this bittersweet story.

Jan
The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

4
After I read this book, I looked up the author and discovered that he wrote "The Hustler", a very famous movie starting Paul Newman. This book is about an orphan who is eventually adopted and her adopted mother dies so she is orphaned once more. While she was in the orphanage she learned to play chess from the janitor who had a board in the basement. She had a brain that easily picked up the game and she eventually became the U.S. chess champion. Along the way, she became a full-blown alcoholic and the focus of the book becomes how she pulls herself out of that hole and fights alcohol. It is an old book, there is not much character building, except for the hero. Along the way, she has to play men who treat her badly. A good read.

Emily
Send For Me by Lauren Fox

5
Sad.

Sandi
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

4
The courageous memoir of a girl who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age, went through a bone marrow surgery, fell in and out of love and took a solitary road trip around the United States to bring her back to health. A very moving and gritty in-your-face recount of the good and the bad times, not shying away from everything she did wrong and the few things that went right. From diagnosis to remission and whatever the future now holds. A book you should not miss.

Rose
Agatha Arch is Afraid of Everything by Kristin Bair

3
While I eventually liked Agatha Arch in the end, I felt that she was mean and nasty for much of the book. She was also neurotic, suspicious, and spiteful. Of course, most of this was a defense mechanism for her. I also think this book tried too hard to be funny.

Francisca
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

4
See’s work of historical fiction is set on the Korean island of Jeju, and follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from different backgrounds who become friends. Both begin to apprentice to the women of the island in their unique all-female diving collective. I really liked this work, both for what I learned about this culture and for the exploration of female relationships – jealousies, secrets, confidences shared, and misunderstanding that cause seemingly irreparable rifts.

Angela
The Lost Hours by Karen White

3
This book was about Piper Mills who was a world renowned equestrian. She fell off her horse and was hurt badly. Her grandparents who raised her. Piper's grandfather supported her equestrian ambitions. While she was not close to her grandmother, after their deaths she received a key, a charm bracelet and letters. Piper sets off on a quest to find out her grandmother's story and through learning her story she will gain healing as well as a new family.

Carole
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

4
This was a very different book than THE ESCAPE ROOM so I wasn't ready for it. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with it being completely different and I enjoyed it. Rachel was a good character and I liked her and the story was engrossing. The idea of her being an investigative journalist and a podcaster was cool. Obviously the story is reminiscent of the Chanel Miller/Brock Turner case and since I recently read Ms. Miller's book, it was interesting the parallels. I liked the dual storyline of Kelly's case and Jenny's death, and it made for a lot of action and all was tied up well in the end. I can envision more books with Rachel as the main character coming in the future.

Jane
Find Me in the Snow by Pamela Q. Fernandes

5
What a story! From beginning to end gripped by it. Love, family secrets, murder, and more. So many secrets in one family. Morgan Hunter falls in love with Althea as both work as doctors. Althea accidentally uncovers something and secrets begin to unravel. This is first book of this author I have read. Waiting for more. Hunter became head of hospital where Althea worked. Rocky start to romance. But love wins in end. Suspense and surprises all throughout.

Jennifer
The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

2
A real disappointment. The main character was beyond annoying. It's hard when the protagonist is completely unlikable.

Tessa
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

4
3.5 stars. Hedy Lamarr was a movie star in the 1930s-50s, known for her ethereal beauty. She was also a highly intelligent, self-taught scientist and inventor. I knew some of this before reading the book, but still found it fascinating and engaging.

Margaret
Congo by Michael Crichton

4
Set in the Congo in late 1970s w/expedition from U.S. in search of: (1) blue diamonds used in computer hardwood applications, (2) Determine what happened to a previous expedition when the team was murdered, & (3) to find the Lost City of Zinj. Techno-thriller blended facts & lots of action. Learned about tropical rain forests, gorillas, African ecosystems. Entertainment with suspense. Realistic atmosphere, twists & turns, and Amy, a gorilla who had been in captivity since infancy & under the care of Dept of Zoology at UC in Berkeley. Taught American sign language & had 620 words in her vocabulary. Her relationship w/her caregiver was moving. Edgy, ahead of its time, & interesting book. Had problem with technical talk from that time period.

Rose
The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

3
Winnie and Nigel’s marriage is strained as a result of something Winnie did years earlier. Their son, Sam, doesn’t feel like he is really their son. Winnie’s twin brother, Dakota, is an alcoholic with serious issues. Enter a homeless woman, Juno, who was a psychologist in her previous life. Juno is secretly living in Winnie and Nigel’s house, and overhears snippets of their life. When Juno jumps to the wrong conclusion, she sets a dangerous situation in motion. This was an interesting concept - having a squatter in your house, observing all of your secrets, and creating a terrible situation. But, I didn’t care about any of the characters, they were all miserable. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Christine
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

5
This is the third installment of the "Rivers of London" series. The books are about a British police constable who is also a wizard-in-training. Although it may sound like a clone of THE DRESDEN FILES, it is quite different. The books are exciting and adventurous, with humorous elements. This technically could be read as a standalone but it really helps if you start from the beginning, because there are things you won't understand without having read the previous books, as the author does not recap the stories. One caveat: the author is British and there are lots of words and phrases you may not understand. Most can be deciphered through context, but you may have to look up some of them.

Richard N B
Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman

3
3.5 stars. This is book # 21 in the Leaphorn & Chee mystery series, set on the Navajo nation in Arizona and New Mexico. A car bombing in a high school parking lot begins the action, which focuses on the mediator for a dispute over a major development at the Grand Canyon. Hillerman matches her late father’s skill at plotting and character development. Officer Bernadette Manuelito who is a strong female lead. I read this out of order, but didn’t feel lost; still, I think it’s a series that begs to be read in order.

Robin
Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black

4
When Kate Rees loses both her husband and young daughter as a result of a Luftwaffe bombing, she wants to get back at the one responsible. When she is recruited by the British to use her skills as a marksman, she is ready for the mission. Following an intense training, she parachutes into the countryside to start her mission. But nothing is as it seems, not with the mission, not with her contacts, and not with her desire for revenge. This story was so well written, I could feel Kate’s rush of adrenaline and her cold, contained fear as she outmaneuvered everyone on a mission where she was only meant to be a decoy. Her mission to kill the Fuhrer failed, but she succeeded in doing much more that anyone could have ever imagined.

Elizabeth
The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

3
How could there be someone with the exact DNA as you? That could happen if you were cloned. Sci-fi fans and readers who enjoy an unbelievable storyline should enjoy this book.

Robin
The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen

4
Eve Duncan is brilliant, complex and deeply scarred. As a forensic sculptor, she creates a face from a skull, in order to give closure to someone who has lost a loved one…something she never got when her own daughter went missing. But she gets more than she bargained for when she takes a job for billionaire John Logan. However, the face that she reveals is not one that anyone is meant to discover. Now she and her mother, as well as Logan and his own team are on the run. This wonderfully rich and textured story will capture the readers’ imagination and keep them turning pages well into the night. I am looking forward to following along as Eve continues her story in future books.

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

5
Beautifully written. Poetical prose. Historical fiction, coming-of-age and so much more on the Wyoming prairie.

shelly
The Robin's Greeting by Wanda Brunstetter

4
The King family had suffered a terrible loss in Book One of this series. Now in Book Three, we find that Amy and Jared are happily married and hope for a baby in the future. Sylvia's relationship with Dennis is growing into something rather serious and she is now happy, smiling and much more relaxed then she had been after the death of her husband. Her future looks bright and Dennis loves the children and they seem to feel the same. Now, Belinda is being confused about the two men paying attention to her. Monroe is the man she dumped for Vernon and now he feels the time might be right to pursue and start courting her. Unfortunately, he is not the only man interested in Belinda and now we see Hershel Fisher who she has known for years

Lily
Swift by R. J. Anderson

5
I read this book as a read-aloud to my little sisters, not sure what to expect at first as I usually don't enjoy reading YA and especially not YA fantasy (I'm a super picky reader). But this book was absolutely amazing! I'm 16 and I enjoyed it just as much as 9-year-old sister did! The characters are so real and convincing and the plot really grabs you and doesn't let go. I totally could've read the entire book in one sitting but it literally took me all my self control to savor it over a one-week period. I could really relate to the main character, Ivy, as she struggled with her limitations, battled for freedom, and learned to set aside her past beliefs about how things were and are supposed to be so that she could grow and find the truth.

Lily
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

5
Lewis' writings are splendid as usual, but this book stood out with its dark and chilling prose. I grew up familiar with the tale of Cupid and Psyche, as I'm sure the person reading this is as well, and I'd always simply assumed that the sisters who'd betrayed Psyche and basically ruined her life were like unto Cinderella's step-sisters: evil, hateful, and full of jealousy. But the angle at which Lewis took his retelling was quite interesting and admittedly, it did make more sense than the original tale. There's a lot of underlying messages and themes in TILL WE HAVE FACES, which may be confusing to some, but I think that the book was a great read, for sure!

Lily
Nomad by R. J. Anderson

5
NOMAD, the second book of R. J. Anderson's "The Flight and Flame Trilogy", was just as captivating and magical as the first book, if not more so! If you enjoyed the SWIFT, NOMAD will definitely not disappoint! Ivy and Martin's relationship continues to develop and new characters are introduced as well, some of whom will be familiar to those of you who've read Anderson's "No Ordinary Fairy Tale" series. I've never read much Christian fantasy before, if you ignore the part about me being a huge Tolkien nerd, but Anderson's writings have made me quite eager to dig into this genre. I love how she tackles important contemporary topics that sometimes people are reluctant to think about in such a loving and beautiful manner!

Pauline
Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

5
If you missed entering the realm of the Owens Sisters, this is your chance to dive in! This is the prequel to Hoffman’s series that spans hundreds of years full of fabulous plot, vivid characters and is a total page-turner!

Isabella
Girl A by Abigail Dean

4
GIRL A was a whirlwind from start to finish. With alternating timelines slowly unfolding more and more of Lex and her siblings troubled past, I found myself unable to put this book down until I had the full story. The last third of this book is truly where Dean shines as an author with the story growing clearer and the readers' understanding becoming broader as you start to understand the protagonist on a deeper level. Since finishing I've had to stop myself from jumping straight back in!

Kimberley
Hopeless Romantic by Marina Adair

4
A lighthearted love story. This was a delightful read for the Valentine holiday. I was touched by the story involving a woman caring for her brother and father, both on the spectrum. It is full of smiles and gets pretty hot in a couple chapters .

Francisca
Escape by Carolyn Jessop

4
Carolyn Jessop was only eighteen when she was coerced into an arranged marriage with a high-ranking member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). Merril Jessop was thirty-two years her senior and already had three wives, but polygamy is a way of life for the FLDS. Despite her indoctrination into the belief system, she felt she simply had to escape… with all eight of her children in tow. It’s a fascinating and harrowing tale.

Sean
Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert

4
While not perfect, this whodunit was extremely enjoyable. Wegert creates an entertaining mystery with interesting characters. Her protagonist has an intriguing backstory that plays a large part in her day-to-day life. There are some timing issues but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Overall, a very good read.

Debra
A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum

5
For anyone that enjoys historical fiction set in World War I, this one is for you. A great adventure throughout with history peppered along the way.

Debra
Never Deny a Duke by Madeline Hunter

4
Really enjoyed this book. It was romantic, a little steamy and an adventure. What could be better?

Sandi
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

2
I know I am going against the onslaught of readers, but for me this book just did not work. I kept waiting for more, anything more, but it never materialized. For me it read like a monotonous voice --- straight across the board, no inflection whatsoever. The premise was great with many ways to take the characters, but I found them all boring. The story struggled for most of the book, then just wrapped up very quickly. None of it was believable or even entertaining for me.

Angela
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

5
I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it. The narrator, Robin Miles, was excellent in her pacing of the story. At first I caught glimpses of and a brief similarity to THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom. But once I got into this story, it took you on a different ride and perspective that I never considered. A mistress and her white slave master run a plantation together like a business. But she's always trying to please the jailer and wants to protect her children and become free. It was excellent.

Rochelle
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

5
I really enjoyed this book! It's a heartwarming story that's wonderfully written. It's about a boy and his brother who escape an abusive school/home for children with a couple of friends. They make their way to St. Louis to meet the only relative they know who's alive. While on their journey, they meet some good people and learn some valuable lessons.