2019 Book 6: THE BURNING ISLAND by Hester Young

The Burning Island (Charlie Cates #3) by Hester Young
ISBN: 9780399174025 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698190795 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780525590941 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07CR3T912 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 12, 2019 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 


The newest haunting mystery from the beloved author of The Gates of Evangeline, featuring Charlie Cates, a headstrong heroine who must confront her unwanted supernatural gift and bring dark secrets to light if she ever wants to leave the Big Island . . .

Journalist Charlie Cates has always believed in facts, in what can be proved–her career depends on it. Which is why she has never truly accepted the supernatural visions that guide her to children in danger. After her work on a high-profile missing-child case brings unwanted fame, she reluctantly flees to the lush Big Island of Hawaii with her best friend, Rae. Determined to avoid her disturbing visions, Charlie begins writing what seems to be a harmless interview of a prominent volcanologist, Victor Nakagawa. But her hopes for a peaceful vacation are soon dashed by haunting dreams of a local girl who went missing six weeks earlier.

In the small and sleepy town of Kalo Valley, Charlie and Rae come to realize that even paradise has its ugly secrets, and the Nakagawa family is no exception. In order to find the missing teenager and stop a dangerous predator from striking again, Charlie is forced to embrace the gift she has always tried to conceal. Meanwhile, someone is watching her every move, and the closer Charlie gets to the truth, the more distant her chances of ever leaving the island alive.

With a deliciously eerie and fast-paced story told in vivid prose, all with an overlay of supernatural suspense, The Burning Island is a pulse-pounding mystery perfect for fans of Jennifer McMahon and Kate Atkinson.



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We were all introduced to Charlotte “Charlie” Cates in The Gates of Evangeline. (If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it…again!). Since then, Charlie has relocated to the Southwest, enlarged her family, and continues to struggle with her paranormal or “psychic” gifts. The Burning Island begins with Charlie out with her fiancé, Noah Palmer, in an attempt to locate a missing boy. They find him just in the nick of time, but not before the local police scrutinize them closely in fear they may have had some part in the boy’s disappearance. It isn’t until Charlie’s fiancé unwittingly reveals that Charlie is psychic and her abilities led her to the boy’s location that the police begin to back off. It helps that their story is confirmed when the young boy wakes up from his ordeal and reveals that he wandered off after a disagreement with his parents and got lost in the desert. But now the public knows that Charlie has psychic abilities and their home is surrounded by media and their phones are bombarded with interview requests and calls for help by other parents. Fortunately, Charlie’s best friend Rae talks her into a “girls week” instead of their usual “girls weekend.” Then Charlie’s editor gives her a plum assignment in Hawaii making this a working vacation for Charlie and an opportunity to get paid whilst enjoying a tropical paradise. The job is to profile a local volcanologist that is also a triathlon competitor and winner. Little does Charlie know that this man’s daughter has been missing for more than six weeks and she may be leaving one taut and restrictive situation for another. Can she determine the truth about this missing Hawaiian teen in just one week? Can she do so without bringing undue attention and possible harm to herself and others?

As with the previous two books in this series, The Gates of Evangeline and The Shimmering Road, I found The Burning Island to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. I would have liked to get more of the family vibe with Charlie’s growing family (she’s had the baby and her newly discovered, much younger sister has been incorporated into the family), but it was nice to see the friendship dynamic between Charlie and Rae. Charlie is still a bit unhinged by her “gift” and isn’t quite sure how to deal with it, so it was also interesting to see her comfort level grow over the course of this book. There’s a lot more going on The Burning Island than just the case of a missing teenager, such as an isolated and possibly abused family residing next door to the inn Charlie’s staying at, the skewed family dynamics in the Nakagawa family, and more. Both Charlie and Rae have issues they need to deal with and trying to think about them and come to a possibly life-changing decision in just a week seems more than difficult to me. Can they do it? Possibly. Do they do it? Read the book to find out for yourself! Like I said, there’s a lot going on in this story and it’s part personal quest, part thriller, and part mystery with paranormal aspects. For those of you that have already read The Gates of Evangeline and The Shimmering Road I probably don’t have to recommend that you read The Burning Island, but I will anyway. For those of you that haven’t read The Gates of Evangeline and The Shimmering Road, I strongly encourage you to grab copies of both of those books, read them, and then grab a copy of The Burning Island to read. Seriously, this is a #mustread series. Happy reading!


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2016 Book 109: GLASS SHATTERS by Michelle Meyers

Glass Shatters by Michelle Meyers
ISBN: 9781631520181 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631520198 (ebook)
ASIN: B01BZYZWX4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 12, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press


A man wakes up in a living room he doesn’t recognize, unable to remember anything about himself. All he has are the few remnants of his identity scattered throughout the house clues to his past. He soon learns that he is Charles Lang, a brilliant scientist whose wife, Julie, and daughter, Jess, mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Soon, he begins to recover memories—memories that may or may not be his own and as he does, he realizes that only by uncovering the details of his former life will he have any hope of being reunited with Julie and Jess. A haunting tale of love and longing, fate and free will, and the easily blurred lines between fiction and reality, Glass Shatters explores the risks of trying to reinvent oneself, and the dangers of pushing science to its limits. 




Charles Lang is, by all accounts, a famous and gifted scientist. Sadly, he has no memory of who he is, what he’s been doing for the past few months or years, or even where he’s been. The only thing he does seem to remember is that his wife and daughter have disappeared in Glass Shatters by Michelle Meyers.

Charles is, or rather was, a renowned scientist in the fields of biotechnology and bioengineering. As his story is gradually revealed, we learn that he had disappeared for six months. His neighbors, Iris and her daughter Ava, have missed him and are glad for his return. Charles realizes that he has only vague memories of these two, as well as vague memories of his life before his disappearance. As he begins to reacquaint himself with his past, he begins to have memories of his wife Julie and his daughter Jess. But these memories seem almost false as if he’s remembering on behalf of someone else. As he tries to rationalize his memories with what he’s being told, he also has a mysterious roommate; an older gentleman that he initially presumes is his father. Memories gradually return and he realizes his parents died when he was just eighteen-years-old, so this person can’t be his father, but who is he? The more Charles uncovers, the more he feels that things are off. The more questions he answers, the more questions arise. Where are Julie and Jessica? Whose memories is he remembering? Who exactly is he?

Glass Shatters was a relatively fast-paced read, but one that kept me off-balanced from beginning to end. It is highly probable that Ms. Meyers has done this intentionally in an effort to keep the reader as off-balanced as the main character. Charles’s story is revealed in alternating glimpses of the past and the present. One minute we’re dealing with the thirty-four-year-old Charles and the next he’s eight, thirty-one, twenty-three, eighteen, four, etc. It isn’t until the last few chapters that Ms. Meyer’s reveals all and it is quite the shocker (no, I’m not going to tell you what happens . . . read the book!). Glass Shatters is part mystery, part psychological thriller, and part science-fiction. Am I glad I read it? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Well, I’m still trying to decide simply because this was a vastly different read for me (okay, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either). This confusion isn’t because Glass Shatters is such a mash-up of genres or even that it was told in alternating past and present; it’s more because of the strange ending. Yes, it makes sense when you read it and provides closure, but it is still a little strange and came at me from left field. In the end, I can say that if you’re looking for a quick read that offers something vastly different from most mystery-thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Glass Shatters to read. Although I’m still up in the air about liking this book, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Meyers in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley and a print galley via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2015 Book #60: UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Joyce Maynard

Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard
ISBN: 9780062257642 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062411532 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062257727 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062257796 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00MTRRRVC (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 23, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


The New York Times bestselling author of Labor Day and After Her returns with a poignant story about the true meaning—and the true price—of friendship.

Drinking cost Helen her marriage and custody of her seven-year-old son, Ollie. Once an aspiring art photographer, she now makes ends meet taking portraits of school children and working for a caterer. Recovering from her addiction, she spends lonely evenings checking out profiles on an online dating site. Weekend visits with her son are awkward. He’s drifting away from her, fast.

When she meets Ava and Swift Havilland, the vulnerable Helen is instantly enchanted. Wealthy, connected philanthropists, they have their own charity devoted to rescuing dogs. Their home is filled with fabulous friends, edgy art, and dazzling parties.

Then Helen meets Elliott, a kind, quiet accountant who offers loyalty and love with none of her newfound friends’ fireworks. To Swift and Ava, he’s boring. But even worse than that, he’s unimpressed by them.

As Helen increasingly falls under the Havillands’ influence—running errands, doing random chores, questioning her relationship with Elliott—Ava and Swift hold out the most seductive gift: their influence and help to regain custody of her son. But the debt Helen owes them is about to come due.

Ollie witnesses an accident involving Swift, his grown son, and the daughter of the Havillands’ housekeeper. With her young son’s future in the balance, Helen must choose between the truth and the friends who have given her everything.   



Helen has already made one catastrophic mistake in her life, driving her sick son to the hospital while intoxicated. This resulted in losing custody of her son. Just when she thinks all is lost, she connects to a wealthy couple that offers her friendship and an entrée to a world she’s only seen in magazines, television, and movies in Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard.

As a child, Helen created a variety of scenarios to explain away her dysfunctional life including telling the mother of a classmate that Audrey Hepburn was her grandmother. As an adult, Helen thought her life was set when she married. She was quite happy with her husband, child, and in-laws until her husband came home to report that he was in love with someone new. Facing not just the loss of her husband but the loss of her “family,” she begins to drown her sorrows in alcohol. After losing custody of her son, she joins AA and begins her new life of sobriety. While catering an art show, she meets Ava Havilland and is quickly befriended. Before you know it, she’s spending time with Ava and her husband Swift at their home at all hours of the day and night. It is because of their largesse that Helen is finally able to spend time with her son, albeit after he’s spent time swimming with Swift and playing with Ava and Swift’s dogs. When her fiancé, Elliott, begins to question their motives and financial acumen, Helen refuses to listen and even begins to pull away from the one person that truly seems to care for nothing more than her happiness and well-being. When tragedy strikes, Helen’s rose-colored glasses are raised and she begins to question whether friendship should ever come with provisos and stipulations?

I found Under the Influence to be a captivating read. When I first read that the main character was a recovering alcoholic, I thought the title referred to drinking issues. The more I read the more I realized that Helen was under the influence of something more intoxicating (for her at least), friendship and the thought of being a part of something akin to a family. Ava and Swift are well-thought of and engaging people, but it is easy to see that are also highly skilled at manipulation and using whatever advantage they can to get what they want done. For lack of a better word, they are bullies, emotional bullies but bullies nonetheless. Helen isn’t a sad or pathetic person she’s just someone that craves friendship and a family. She had that once, lost it, and is struggling to rationalize staying with her new “family” for as long as possible. Her relationship with Elliott was happy and fulfilling but sabotaged by Ava and Swift’s constant belittling of Elliott’s profession and his seemingly boring demeanor. Ms. Maynard has adeptly captured the toxic nature of some friendships and the devastating results wrought by them with Under the Influence. I liked Helen and felt sympathetic toward her and her situation. I empathized with Elliott and his attempts to be there for Helen and get her to see the true nature of her relationship with the Havillands. And I felt downright sorry that Ollie, Helen’s son was caught up in all the high drama. This was the first book I’ve read by Ms. Maynard, but I doubt if it will be my last (I’ve put her previous titles on my TBR list and am looking forward to reading them all). If you enjoy reading about relationships—the good, the bad, and the ugly—then you’ll definitely want to read Under the Influence. I strongly suggest you wait until the weekend to start reading this book, because once you start you won’t want to put it down.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2015 Book 324: THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton

The Lake House by Kate Morton
ISBN: 9781451649321 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781451649376 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781489019912 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00LD1S3PY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 20, 2015 
Publisher: Atria Books


From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.


In the summer of 1933, Alice Edevane is 16-years-old with two sisters and an infant brother. The Edevanes live in Loeanneth, the lake house, in Cornwall. Alice is a burgeoning writer with a crush on a visiting gardener. The morning after the family’s big Midsummer party, the youngest Edevane, Theo, is missing. A search ensues, but the mystery of Theo’s disappearance is never solved. Fast forward to 2003 and disgraced police detective Sadie Sparrow visits her grandfather in Cornwall. When Sadie learns about the mystery surrounding Theo Edevane’s disappearance, she launches her own investigation in The Lake House by Kate Morton.

The Edevane household consists of father – Anthony, the mother – Eleanor, eldest daughter – Deborah, middle daughter – Alice, youngest daughter – Clementine or Clemmie, infant son – Theo, Eleanor’s mother – Grandmother de Shiel, the elderly Daffyd Llewellyn – an author and former physician, and a host of servants. Mr. Llewellyn was a friend of Eleanor’s father and wrote a book featuring a young Eleanor. We learn that Eleanor had a tumultuous relationship with her mother after her father’s death, falls in love at first sight with Anthony Edevane, and marries him. Anthony’s family is wealthy, but as the third son it is presumed he’ll have to work for his living. Tragically, his parents and older brothers die on the Titanic and he and Eleanor become wealthy overnight. Although Anthony studied to become a surgeon, World War I leaves him suffering from severe shell shock and unable to control tremors in his hands. The family quite happily resides at Loeanneth until Theo disappears. Loeanneth is closed and the family moves to London. The Edevane family is destroyed by the secrets kept as much as their grief over Theo’s disappearance.

In 2003, Sadie Sparrow is advised to take time off from the London police department after she commits the unpardonable sin of talking to the press about a case. She decides to visit her grandfather, Bertie, in Cornwall. Sadie’s professional career hangs in the balance as she awaits a decision from administration. Her personal life is also on tenterhooks as she’s been contacted by the child she gave up for adoption 14 years earlier. In an effort to ignore both situations, she decides to investigate the 70-year-old cold case relating to Theo’s disappearance. Sadie contacts A.C. Edevane, a renowned mystery author, seeking questions about the Edevane family and Theo’s case, but is rebuffed. Is it possible she can discover the truth after all these years? Should the secrets of the past be kept in the past?

If you couldn’t tell by now, I loved The Lake House. This isn’t a fast or quick read, but it is a story to be savored and well worth the time invested. I enjoyed Ms. Morton’s ability to weave the stories of Constance and Anthony from the early 1900s, the Edevane family in the 1930s and 1940s, and the contemporary action taking place in 2003. Yes, there’s a lot of information provided, but this is essentially a story within a story within a story, namely those of Eleanor de Shiel Edevane, Alice Edevane, and Sadie Sparrow. These stories are all linked and it is necessary to know them all in order to understand what happened, what is happening, and why. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing who did what and why. As soon as it appears an answer is found, the story takes a major turn and a new theory is presented. The Lake House is a hauntingly beautiful story about secrets, promises kept, second chances, love, family, and more wrapped in a 70-year-old mystery. If you’re looking for the perfect fall read (okay the perfect read for any season), then I strongly suggest you read The Lake House. Something tells me this is going to be one book I pick up to reread every now and again.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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2015 Book 315: PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250010742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250010735 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427261991 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00V3ABTLU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she’s kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.

Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn’t know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Told with Diane Chamberlain’s compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.   



Molly Arnette has been married to Aidan James for ten years. Both are lawyers with Molly practicing Family Law and Aidan currently teaching Immigration Law at a local university. Unable to have children of their own, they have decided to adopt. One of the things Molly and Aidan pride themselves on is their ability to discuss anything and everything. But in preparing their adoption file, Molly begins to remember the summer her father died and worries that the lies she’s told to Aidan and the adoption agency may destroy her chance at having a family in Diane Chamberlain’s latest, Pretending to Dance.

Molly Arnette grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her father, Graham, was a psychologist specializing in “pretend” therapy, based on the idea that “if you pretend you’re the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person.” He also suffered from a debilitating form of MS. Molly’s “mother” or adoptive mother, Nora, is a pharmacist. Molly’s birth mother, Amalia, lives on family land and teaches Molly to dance. The summer Molly turned fourteen was a summer to remember for a variety of reasons: her first romance, befriending Stacy Bateman, helping her father with his last book, her father’s book tour, attending the New Kids on the Block concert, learning the truth about her birth and adoption, and her father’s death (or murder, in her mind). Now Molly is thirty-eight years old and has limited contact with her family in North Carolina. She’s told Aidan and the adoption agency that her parents are deceased, but that’s not exactly true. The process of adoption, especially an open adoption, is something that she likes on paper but is somewhat wary given her own experiences. The further along Molly and Aiden get in the adoption process, the more stressed Molly becomes. She knows that just because she’s been pretending to be an orphan won’t make it true. Can she ever tell Aidan the truth about her background without it destroying her marriage? Will an adoptive mother ever choose them and bless them with a child? And will Molly ever truly learn the truth about her father’s death?

I found Pretending to Dance to be a quick and engaging read. Molly’s story is told by alternating between her life in 2014 and the summer of 1990. Ms. Chamberlain has provided the reader with an amazing glimpse into the life and mind of Molly Arnette as both a fourteen-year-old and as a thirty-eight-year-old. The more we learn about the fourteen-year-old Molly, the easier it is to understand the thoughts and actions of the thirty-eight-year-old Molly. Adoption can be a wonderful process for the adoptive parents and child, and an equally hard and grief-imposing process for the birth mother. Open adoption is one way to minimize the harshness and grief for the birth mother by permitting her to continue to be a part of her child’s life. I can understand why Molly had qualms about open adoption, even if she hadn’t lived with it as a child. The adoptive mother may always wonder if she will lose her child’s love and affection to its birth mother as if it is a competition rather than a new way to build a family. Added into these issues Molly is having with open adoption is the fact that she’s been contacted by a cousin about her birth mother and her declining health. The overwhelming idea that I took away from reading this book is that it isn’t possible to pretend away our past no matter how much we lie to ourselves or want it to go away. There are a lot of issues raised in Pretending to Dance: the ever-changing definition of family, adoption, the possibility of false memories, teenage angst and drama, the impact of living with a chronic and debilitating illness, lies, and secrets. Does Molly ever come to grips with her past? Does she reveal the truth to Aidan? Will they be chosen by a birth mother and finally be able to start a family? For the answer to these questions and more, you’ll need to grab a copy of Pretending to Dance and read it to find out.

















Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2015 Book 308: EVERY SECOND by Rick Mofina

Every Second (Kate Page #3) by Rick Mofina
ISBN: 9780778317517 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460390214 (ebook)
ASIN: B00TXCFGM8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 29, 2015 
Publisher: MIRA


Terror claws into the lives of an American family… 

On a quiet night in their tranquil suburban home, the Fulton family awakens to a nightmare. Four armed men force bank manager Dan Fulton to steal a quarter million dollars from his branch—strapping remote-detonation bombs on him, his wife, Lori, and their young son. 

A relentless reporter discovers an agonizing secret… 

The FBI moves swiftly with a major investigation while Kate Page, a reporter with a newswire service, digs deep into the story. In the wake of the Fulton family’s abduction, questions emerge, including one of the most troubling: is the case linked to Lori Fulton’s tragic past? 

Time ticks down on a chilling plan… 

Working as fast as they can, Kate and the investigators inch closer to a devastating truth—it’s not only the Fultons’ lives at stake, but thousands of others…and every second counts in the race to save them.  



Lori Fulton is brutally awakened one night to find several armed men in her bedroom. The Fulton family is quickly bound and fitted with “suicide vests.” The abductors force Dan to go into his bank branch and take $250,000 and tell him everything will be fine if he just does what he’s told. But all is not what appears when one abductor tells Lori that her family deserves everything that is going to happen to them. Can the authorities and journalist Kate Page find the truth as the clock ticks down in Every Second by Rick Mofina?

The Fulton family appears to be a typical American family, hardworking parents with an elementary school-aged child and a devoted dog with no known enemies. Dan is the manager at a local bank branch. Lori works for an insurance company. Have they been targeted because of Dan’s job? All Lori and Dan know is that their family’s safety hinges on Dan getting the money the abductors want. Little do they know that their abductors have planned something major and the abduction of the Fulton family is only one minor part of their plan. Fortunately, one of Dan’s bank employees realizes that Dan’s actions aren’t bank-sanctioned and tips off the authorities. What is initially presumed to be a bank robbery by a bank employee quickly becomes a search for the Fulton family and their abductors. Kate Page, a reporter based in New York, is on the story and tracks down leads that the authorities wish she hadn’t found. Kate’s search for background finds that Lori was a police officer in California before her family moved to New York and further investigation reveals that this abduction and robbery may be tied to Lori’s past. Now the questions raised are who these abductors are and what exactly do they want? The answers raise even more questions and put everyone on high alert for a possible home-grown terrorist attack.

Every Second packs in a lot of action, suspense, and thrills. This fast-paced read has a home invasion, bank robbery, home-grown terrorists with possible international terrorism links, and government agencies that are two-steps behind in following through on potential terrorist threats. At one point one of the FBI agents on this case thinks “. . . the suspects were untrained, inexperienced amateurs, possibly homegrown, self-radicalized extremists . . .” and that only raises more questions. All of the action is packed into the span of only a few days, and the reader witnesses Kate and the FBI try to connect the dots between the Fultons and the abductors/terrorists. Now I could tell you what happens, but then you’d have no incentive to read the book. What I will tell you is that Every Second is a fast-paced and enjoyable read filled with plenty of thrills and suspense. I spent my late night-early morning hours reading rather than sleeping just to find out what happens next. Every Second is the third book in the Kate Page series, but it is possible to read it without reading the previous books (you’ll want to read the previous books because they are just as good). If you’ve already read the first two books in this series, Whirlwind and Full Tilt, then you’ll definitely want to read Every Second.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2015 Book #256: IN THE LANGUAGE OF MIRACLES by Rajia Hassib

In The Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib
ISBN: 9780525428138 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698184343 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OZ0TLQA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 11, 2015 
Publisher: Viking Books


A mesmerizing debut novel of an Egyptian American family and the wrenching tragedy that tears their lives apart
Samir and Nagla Al-Menshawy appear to have attained the American dream. After immigrating to the United States from Egypt, Samir successfully works his way through a residency and launches his own medical practice as Nagla tends to their firstborn, Hosaam, in the cramped quarters of a small apartment. Soon the growing family moves into a big house in the manicured New Jersey suburb of Summerset, where their three children eventually attend school with Natalie Bradstreet, the daughter of their neighbors and best friends. More than a decade later, the family’s seemingly stable life is suddenly upended when a devastating turn of events leaves Hosaam and Natalie dead and turns the Al-Menshawys into outcasts in their own town.

Narrated a year after Hosaam and Natalie’s deaths, Rajia Hassib’s heartfelt novel follows the Al-Menshawys during the five days leading up to the memorial service that the Bradstreets have organized to mark the one-year anniversary of their daughter’s death. While Nagla strives to understand her role in the tragedy and Samir desperately seeks reconciliation with the community, Khaled, their surviving son, finds himself living in the shadow of his troubled brother. Struggling under the guilt and pressure of being the good son, Khaled turns to the city in hopes of finding happiness away from the painful memories home conjures. Yet he is repeatedly pulled back home to his grandmother, Ehsan, who arrives from Egypt armed with incense, prayers, and an unyielding determination to stop the unraveling of her daughter’s family. In Ehsan, Khaled finds either a true hope of salvation or the embodiment of everything he must flee if he is ever to find himself.

Writing with unflinchingly honest prose, Rajia Hassib tells the story of one family pushed to the brink by tragedy and mental illness, trying to salvage the life they worked so hard to achieve. The graceful, elegiac voice of In the Language of Miracles paints tender portraits of a family’s struggle to move on in the wake of heartbreak, to stay true to its traditions, and above all else, to find acceptance and reconciliation.


Imagine a family grieving the loss of one of their children. Imagine two families grieving such a loss. Imagine these families are next-door neighbors and very friendly. Imagine that one family’s child is the cause of the other’s death. Now imagine that the family is Egyptian and Muslim in a post 9/11 world and you have the basis for In The Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib.

Hosaam Al-Menshawwy has committed an unthinkable act. He has murdered his neighbor’s daughter, his former best friend, his former girlfriend and he has committed suicide. Hosaam’s family is left trying to pick up the pieces of their suburban American life, grieving not only the loss of their son but their neighbor’s daughter while feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. Najla, Hosaam’s mother, feels as if she should have known what her son was thinking and been able to stop him. Khaled, Hosaam’s younger brother, feels an overpowering sense of responsibility to be the “good” son, as well as feeling blamed for and overshadowed by his brother’s actions. Fatima, Hosaam’s younger sister, wants to get away from the guilt and shame her family must bear and move to another town. Ehsan, Hosaam’s devout maternal grandmother, is simply trying to keep her daughter’s family together and make some sense of the insensible. Samir, Hosaam’s father, feels guilt and shame because of his son’s actions but naively believes that he can make amends to his neighbors and community. He also feels that his family shouldn’t run away from this shame and that eventually things will get better.

In The Language of Miracles is a poignant tale of one family’s search for common ground. How is a family expected to cope with this type of tragedy when neither their cultural/religious traditions nor their current societal traditions can make sense of their son’s actions? The Al-Menshawwy family is a Muslim family residing in the West and for some in their community that is the sole reason for their son’s actions. The action within the story takes place over the course of one week leading up to a community memorial service for the neighbor’s daughter. The reader bears witness to this family’s turmoil. It’s been a year since the tragedy happened and this family will forever bear a public shame, as it appears many in the community are willing to blame the entire family for the action of one person, one seemingly disturbed person. It is easy to imagine this scenario in the wake of recent tragedies in Aurora CO and Newtown CT. I found In The Language of Miracles to be a fascinating glimpse into the juxtaposition of Middle-Eastern/Muslim culture compared to Western/American culture. I found this to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. How engrossing was this story? I put water in my electric teakettle, turned it on, and never got up to make a cup of tea. I didn’t respond to text messages, email notifications or even answer the phone while I was reading this book. (Yes, it is that good!) If you enjoy reading about diverse cultures, want to find out how this family copes, or simply want a good book to read, then run out and grab a copy of In The Language of Miracles. (Yes, I know I suggest you read many of the books I’ve reviewed [I get to read a lot of good books], but I’m putting this book in the absolutely, positively must-read category!) I look forward to reading more from Ms. Hassib in the future.


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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2015 Book 117: THE BONE TREE Review

The Bone Tree (Penn Cage #5) by Greg Iles
ISBN: 9780062311115 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062311146 (ebook)
ASIN: B00M70YWKK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow & Company


Greg Iles continues the electrifying story begun in his smash New York Times bestseller Natchez Burning in this highly anticipated second installment of an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice, featuring Southern lawyer Penn Cage.

Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancee, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.

The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage–who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him–is either to make a devil’s bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years . . . a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”

The Bone Tree is an explosive, action-packed thriller full of twisting intrigue and deadly secrets, a tale that explores the conflicts and casualties that result when the darkest truths of American history come to light. It puts us inside the skin of a noble man who has always fought for justice–now finally pushed beyond his limits.

Just how far will Penn Cage, the hero we thought we knew, go to protect those he loves?



The Bone Tree is the fifth book to feature lawyer-turned author-turned politician Penn Cage and the second book in the trilogy that began with Natchez Burning. The underlying premise in both books is the discovery of the truth about a series of racially motivated/civil rights murders, mutilations, and rapes that occurred in the 1960s at the hands of the Double Eagles. One victim of this groups’ violence was the Dr. Tom Cage’s black nurse, Viola Turner. Mrs. Turner was raped not once but twice at the hands of the Double Eagles and her brother was viciously murdered by them. Fast forward forty years and Viola Turner returned to Mississippi to die, even though she was warned to never return. Although dying of cancer, Ms. Turner is being treated by her former boss (and lover), Dr. Tom Cage. When Viola Turner does die, her son Lincoln Turner is sure it is murder and accuses Dr. Cage as the murderer. Now if you think that’s not enough to deal with, in the background we find two different journalists attempting to uncover the dirty truths of the racial murders back in the 1960s and locate the infamous “Bone Tree”, and then the FBI shows up with information that may link the Double Eagles and the local mafia with the murders of not only President Kennedy, but also Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Bone Tree begins pretty much just where Natchez Burning ends. The action takes place over the course of only four days, but there is a lot crammed into those four days. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good people that are killed as a result of the journalistic and police investigations. The journalists, FBI, and Penn Cage must all work around corrupt police forces, corrupt businessmen, and, of course, the corrupt members of the Double Eagles who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their legacy and way of life. The bad guys are willing to bribe, threaten, or kill anyone that gets in their way, and sadly Penn Cage is pushed to the point where he is willing to not only bend but break the rules to arrive at the truth.

Just as with Natchez Burning, The Bone Tree shows that we can never really know someone, whether it’s our parents or spouse. People keep secrets. Some of those secrets are kept in fear of retaliation and some are kept out of shame. Both Penn and Tom Cage are trying to come to grips with this idea as Tom Cage fights to survive to see another day and Penn fights to protect his family. The Bone Tree also shows just how far a good man is willing to go to protect loved ones. There’s a lot going on in The Bone Tree, but somehow the 816 pages didn’t feel like 816 pages. Yes, this is a long and involved read, but that’s primarily because there is so much going on and there are a lot of characters and action intersecting in the main plot and subplots. I wish I could say I read this in one sitting, but even I have to sleep. This was another amazing suspense-thriller by Mr. Iles that I didn’t want to put down, even when I could barely keep my eyes closed. Are all the questions raised in Natchez Burning answered? Are the bad guys arrested and held accountable for their current and past misdeeds? I could tell you, but I’ll just say read the book to find out. If you enjoy well-written and intricately plotted suspense thrillers or if you’ve read Natchez Burning, then you’ll want to grab a copy of The Bone Tree ASAP. I recommend waiting until the weekend to read this as you won’t want to put it down. Alternatively, you could simply take a few days personal leave to read this book. What, you haven’t read Natchez Burning? Okay, I’m in shock, especially since I told you (okay, strongly suggested) to read it last year. What are you waiting for? Now you’ll need to take a week off so you can read both Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree. I plan on taking a week off in a few months just to reread both of these books . . . perhaps I’ll just take a week or more to reread all of the books featuring Penn Cage. 

Just to add a little more excitement, Natchez Burning, is on its way to becoming a cable series with Sony and Amazon studies. Read more about this series here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2015 Book 90: THE POCKET WIFE Review

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
ISBN: 9780062362858 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062362872 (ebook)
ASIN: B00L7X6ZQC (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow


An amazing talent makes her debut with this stylish psychological thriller—with the compelling intrigue of The Silent Wife and Turn of Mind and the white-knuckle pacing of Before I Go to Sleep—in which a woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend during a breakdown.

Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.

Is murder on her mind – or is it all in her head?

The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again? A story of marriage, murder and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge. 



Dana Catrell has a history of manic episodes due to bipolar disorder. Her husband and son know that she’s in a manic phase and are encouraging her to see her therapist. Dana knows that she’s close to spiraling out of control, but she also thinks that she just needs to find certain answers before she commits to treatment. Dana needs to find out if she murdered her neighbor and whether or not her husband is having an affair. 

The Pocket Wife begins with Dana waking up with little memory of her afternoon. She hears a siren and discovers an ambulance at her neighbor Celia’s home. Dana knows that she was at Celia’s home earlier in the day, but she doesn’t remember coming home or going to sleep. Finding out that Celia was murdered causes Dana to question whether or not she’s capable of extreme violence. The primary reason behind this thinking is that Celia has indicated that Dana’s husband was having an affair and the evidence was a cell-phone picture. These memories are what send Dana off on a haphazard quest for the truth. But will searching for answers to these questions give Dana peace of mind or send her off the deep end.

I found The Pocket Wife to be a rather fast-paced and enjoyable albeit disturbing read. Dana’s thoughts and actions jump around quite a bit due to her mania and, as a result, the story jumps around. Is Dana paranoid or is someone sending her threatening notes? Is she seeing things or was there a person in a hoodie in her backyard? It’s difficult to separate fiction from reality since she’s also hearing the voice of her mother and her Saint Christopher statue is winking and nodding at her. Her husband Peter recognizes that she needs help but doesn’t really do anything to help her. There were times when I felt just as unhinged as Dana simply because it felt as if I was falling down the rabbit hole with her. Ms. Crawford does an incredible job at portraying the behavior of a person in a manic phase of bipolar disorder, down to the notion that “I don’t need/want medication” way of thinking. If you enjoy reading psychological suspense thrillers then you’ll definitely want to read The Pocket Wife.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book 391: DEADLY OBSESSION Review

Deadly Obsession (Brown and de Luca #4) by Maggie Shayne
ISBN: 9780778316800 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460343333 (ebook)
ASIN: B00L0XO282 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA


A cold-blooded killer with a burning obsession… 

Rachel de Luca has a bad feeling about the new woman in Detective Mason Brown’s life, the nurse taking care of him after he’s injured in the line of duty. She’d like to think it’s just jealousy, but intuition tells her it’s something more, maybe something dangerous. 

Mason knows Rachel’s wary of commitment, and asking her to stay when he’s in this condition would be the worst thing for their relationship. Then they receive chilling news that drives everything else from their minds. 

Mason’s psychotic sister-in-law has escaped from custody, putting her sons — the nephews he’s raising — in the crosshairs. When his house is burned to the ground, he and Rachel are relieved that there are no bodies in the smoldering rubble, but now his nephews are missing and the clock is ticking. 

As Mason and Rachel try to find the boys, she senses a new and unexpected danger stalking them. Soon, everyone close to Mason is in deadly peril — Rachel more than anyone…



They’re back . . . Rachel de Luca and Mason Brown are back in the fourth book in the Brown and de Luca series by Maggie Shayne, Deadly Obsession. Rachel is preoccupied by Mason’s recent use of the “L-word” (love) but their relationship is steady and progressing. This book starts off with a bang . . . literally; a house explodes and erupts in fire. Fortunately Rachel and Mason have just finished a date and are on their way home when they spot the fire. Since Mason is one of the first on the scene, he enters the home to rescue two children. His rescue attempt is successful in more ways than one because he now has attracted the attention of a killer. Will he be able to survive this killer’s attempts to rid him of all of his loved ones, including Rachel? Better yet, will Rachel be able to survive?


Rachel is still quite mouthy, speaks first, thinks later in this book, but she quickly comes to realize that her life is nothing without Mason and the boys, Jeremy and Joshua. She takes charge of Mason’s nephews after he is hospitalized from the fire rescue, and learns that she no longer yearns for those quiet, peaceful evenings at home. She’s still adamant about not being psychic but rather having NFP (not-effing-psychic) abilities. These abilities will be put to great use in Deadly Obsession as she is realizing that something isn’t quite right with Mason’s nurse. She also realizes that she’s just a little bit jealous and wants to delve into the visiting nurse’s background. Unfortunately she’s talked out of it by her assistant Amy, whose new title is “She Whose Quitting Will Result in My Complete and Utter Annihilation.” While Rachel sulks about Mason not coming to stay at her house after his release from the hospital, Mason’s sister-in-law Marie has had a major meltdown at the psychiatric hospital. Marie knows that someone is out to get Mason and her sons but she can’t convince anyone because she’s psychotic. It probably doesn’t help that she refers to this person as a demon. Meanwhile Rachel is trying to write a new book, dealing with two young boys, falling in love, preoccupied and stressing about falling in love, stressing over her lover’s injuries, dealing with a psychotic in-law, planning a blowout graduation party, and now dealing with an obsessed want-to-be rival love interest. 

I found Deadly Obsession to be a fast-paced read. As with all of the books in this series, it was filled with tongue-in-cheek humor, romance, suspense, family drama, teen angst and drama, and one stylish blind bulldog. Rachel and Mason’s relationship is sweet, tender, and prickly. Neither wanted to fall in love and both are trying to figure out the best way of dealing with it. Mason’s nephews, Jeremy and Joshua, add a nice built-in family component to their relationship since Mason now has custody. Take two fiercely independent adults – one a police officer and the other a renowned motivational author, add in romance and suspense then watch the sparks fly. I enjoyed reading about the progression of their relationship. I also enjoyed reading about both Rachel and Mason coming to grips with the idea that they are in love. The suspense from a crazed and obsessed would-be love interest and a psychotic sister-in-law just added to the drama. Each book in this series reveals more about Mason and Rachel’s characters, to the point that they feel more like long-distance friends than characters in a book. Most of the characters that appeared in previous books reappear in Deadly Obsession, including Rachel’s sister, brother-in-law, twin nieces, as well as her perky, personal assistant Amy. Mason’s partner, Rosie, his mother Angela, his sister-in-law Marie, and nephews are also featured. The cast of characters is rounded out with the new bad guy, Gretchen, Rachel’s beloved bulldog Myrtle, and a new four-legged addition to the family, a bulldog pup – Hugo. The characters are wholly realistic and the situations, some more farfetched than others, seem just as realistic. Ms. Shayne adds more pieces to the puzzle of who are Rachel and Mason and where are they heading with each book. Deadly Obsession reveals just how much Mason and Rachel truly care about one another and solidifies them as a unit. If you enjoy light-hearted romantic suspense reads, then you’ll enjoy the Brown and de Luca series. If you haven’t read any of the books in the Brown and de Luca series, read them! Start at the beginning with Sleep with the Lights On, before moving on to Dream of Danger, Wake to Darkness, Innocent Prey, and finally Deadly Obsession. If you’ve read the previous books in this series then you’ll want to grab a copy of Deadly Obsession as soon as it comes out. This is one series you don’t want to miss out on (can you tell I like this series).



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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