This one started off in a big way…two young women stumble upon a body hanging from a porch. And even though Julia’s death is immediately ruled a suicide, her mother Claire just can’t let it go. So she begins to dig into Julia’s life, looking for answers. Why would her daughter kill herself? Eventually this question changes to, DID Julia actually kill herself? Although the story lost a bit of momentum about halfway through, it’s still a gripping, twisty story up until the very end.
Buy It Now: My Daughter’s Secret
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. It begins with a betrayal, one sister turning her back on the other. And then, over the course of 14 years, there’s more betrayal culminating in a murder that brings everything back full circle. Two sisters, estranged for years, now find themselves on the same side fighting to save their shared son. I’m not joking when I say I read this one in a day, it was that good. Lots of twists and turns up to the very end!
Buy It Now: The Better Sister
Lucy has a great life. A loving family, a strong support system at both school and church, a devoted boyfriend…she has her future mapped out. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, her entire world is rocked. She begins to question everything she once believed in. Her faith is no longer enough. Her boyfriend isn’t who or what she thought she wanted. So when her mom decides to send her to a new summer camp, it just adds to her growing list of unknowns. Who would have thought she’d find the answers to all her questions in a group of friends as different from her as possible? This is a sweet, heartbreaking story. I loved Lucy, and I especially loved the strength shown by her mom. A great reminder that everything isn’t always what it seems!
Buy It Now: The Names They Gave Us
It’s been a very long time since I’d read a John Grisham novel. His stories used to be a staple of my TBR list but then for some reason they dropped off my radar. Too many books, too little time I guess. The description of this one greatly intrigued me, though…
It starts with a murder, seemingly pointless. When Pete Banning, a local war hero and town icon, murders a local preacher the town is shocked. Loyalties are divided as the trial nears and eventually concludes. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems. But there are secrets that Pete is not willing to tell, even if those secrets save his life.
Lots of pros and a few cons with this one for me. It’s a great story, full of fascinating characters. And it’s historical fiction set in the WWII era which is one of my favorite genres. Grisham is a master story teller, weaving a story so deep and complex that you just feel yourself being drawn in. There were a few “not so positives” for me. The wartime scenes were more drawn out and detailed than I would have liked, and I didn’t feel they added much to the primary story. And a couple of unanswered questions at the end which always bugs me. Still, this one was a strong four stars for me.
Buy It Now: The Reckoning
Sometimes you just need a good ghost story. Something slightly spooky without being over the top, something that’ll give you a touch of the goosebumps. This story by Wendy Webb does just that.
After her marriage ends badly, Kate returns home to recover. Peace and quiet, time to reflect, is just what she needs. Those thoughts are tossed aside when a body washes ashore near the family home. And it’s not just any body. Kate recognizes the woman. She knows her, not from real life but from her dreams. How does one explain this to the authorities, though? Especially since Kate herself is somewhat of a suspect.
With the help of her cousin, Simon, Kate begins to dig deeper into the mystery of the dead woman. As she uncovers more and more of her family’s past, she finds secrets she’s not prepared to confront. And some of these secrets are a danger to her.
This was a really good story, better than I expected it to be. Part murder mystery, part historical fiction, part ghost story, it has a bit of everything!
Buy It Now: Daughters of the Lake
I love stories like this. Historical, epic, tales of families and their pasts & presents. And of course, all families have secrets. Those secrets play a big role in this latest book from Susan Crandall.
Tallulah had a very unusual childhood. Growing up in a small town means being part of the gossip. And her family offered up much to gossip about. Her parents’ erratic, volatile relationship meant that she and her siblings were left to their own devices much of the time. It fell upon her shoulders to raise her younger siblings during the many times her mom was off saving the world.
So when Tallulah escapes and goes off to build her own life, she has little intention of ever returning. But she can’t stay away when her brother is accused of murder. And this family reunion of sorts will expose all kinds of secrets from her childhood.
Great story, wonderful characters, and beautifully written!
Buy It Now: The Myth of Perpetual Summer
Beautiful. Poetic. Haunting. Lyrical. This latest story from Celeste Ng is all that and more.
Izzy has finally gone over the edge. Everyone knew it was going to happen eventually. But what caused this inevitable collapse? Things are never as simple as they seem, and that rule applies to the Richardson house being burnt to the ground by their erratic, youngest daughter.
Rewind to the beginning. That’s when Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive in town. At first just tenants in a rental house owned by the Richardsons, they soon find themselves ingrained into the family. Pearl finds friendship among the four Richardson children while Mia takes up employment as their housekeeper. Their nomadic, artistic lifestyle is too tempting to resist. Soon their lives are intertwined in unimaginable ways. But all families have secrets, and these two families are no exception. As secrets typically go, when one is discovered another soon follows. Some secrets aren’t so big, others are huge and life changing.
These characters are amazing, every single one of them. Mrs. Richardson is controlling and disciplined beyond belief. Mia is free spirited and thoughtful. The teenagers are, well, what you would expect of teenagers. The way they all come together is simply spellbinding. This is a story that I both wanted to end and wanted to last longer at the same time. An outstanding tale!
Buy It Now: Little Fires Everywhere
I love it when I find an unexpectedly good story. One that you haven’t heard of, pick up on a whim, are moderately intrigued by the blurb on the back, and then are pleasantly surprised by the way it turns out.
A bridge collapses…hundreds of lives in the balance. But instead of focusing on the victims, this story centers around the family members waiting to find out the fate of their loved ones.
Siblings Alexa and Jason, at odds much of the time lately, find themselves clinging to each other in the hospital waiting room. Not knowing if their parents are alive or dead, they’re still finding it difficult to set their bad feelings aside. Scott rushes to the hospital after hearing that his girlfriend, Aimee, was on that bridge when it collapsed. Skyler is devastated when she’s notified that her sister Kate is among the missing.
These young people, not even adults, are facing everyone’s worst nightmare. We find out, though, that each one of them has something else haunting them. And hearing each story unwind is more intriguing than the accident that brought them all together. A good story with a satisfying, though not necessarily happy, ending.
Buy It Now: All We Can Do Is Wait
Yes, I’m doing it again. I’m recommending a book about lying families with dark secrets. Sorry, it is what it is! But never fear, this one is heavy on the emotions and light on the mayhem.
Willow has lived with her aunt Hope for almost as long as she can remember. Orphaned at a very young age, she takes her aunt’s version of what happened at face value. Why would she question the past, anyway? But when she receives an invitation to a gallery exhibit, she begins to wonder. And the more she wonders, the more she uncovers. An aunt she didn’t know existed, questions about her parents’ death…all these things lead her to dig deeper. Unfortunately her aunt Hope is no help, preferring to leave the tragedies of her youth hidden and forgotten. So Willow is left on her own, with a lot of determination and a bit of help from both friends and strangers.
Alternating between the past and the present, the author successfully blends the two together into a story that covers all possible angles. I found myself caring as much about Charity’s story as I did Willow’s. It’s a rare author that can do this. A great summer beach read!
Buy It Now: My Sister’s Secret
What can I say about this latest novel from Megan Miranda other than it’s pure gold? Truly, it’s along the lines of “Run and grab this one as fast as you can and be prepared to stay up way past your bedtime to finish it.”
Nic dreads returning to her hometown. But she can’t avoid it after being summoned by her brother. He needs her help to make arrangements for their aging father. Her plan is to get in and out as quickly as possible, get back to her life as she knows it. History, however, has other ideas…
You see, there’s a reason she left in such a hurry all those years ago. Was it the devastating disappearance of her best friend, Corinne? Or was it something else? Whatever the cause, it’s still there after all these years. Dark secrets don’t stay hidden forever. And once you start digging, well, it’s just a matter of time until everything is out in the open. Or maybe not.
Megan Miranda has written an outstanding thriller, making me want to read all of her others. Bonus points on originality for this one as the story is told in reverse. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work at first, but by the end it all came together. A must-read for fans of suspenseful, well-told stories!
Buy It Now: All the Missing Girls