Laura & Emma

By Kate Greathead

Laura & Emma by [Greathead, Kate]

4 out of 5 stars

You know when you take a long walk, in no hurry, and stop and look at all the little nuances around you? Well, that is what this book is like. I felt like I was peeking in on Laura’s life as she raised Emma. Emma was conceived in a rather strange one night stand but Laura let’s everyone think it was artificial insemination. Laura was raised in a well-to-do family in New York. And though she tries to believe she is different than most of the same kind of people, she really is not that different.

The books follows through Emma’s growing years. We get little snippets of each of their personalities. We see the family interactions. There is no great big story line besides the story line of life. (Which I guess cannot get much bigger!)

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the slow pace. I enjoyed getting to know them.  I enjoyed the mother/daughter love/hate relationship. The ending left me kind of wondering but that did not take away from the rest of the story.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this lovely little book.

An American Marriage

By Tayari Jones

An American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection) by [Jones, Tayari]

4 out of 5 stars

Celestial and Roy are a young married couple just starting out in life. She is starting out with a doll making business, more artsy than toyish. He has dreams of his own. A night back in his hometown leads to Roy becoming incarcerated. The story takes us through all of this in letters between the two of them. And there is also Andre in the equation. Dre is Celestial’s lifelong friend and the one who first introduced them.  As time passes in prison for Roy, Celestial’s life moves on and that includes a relationship with Andre.

There is an almost poetic tone to the writing in this novel. A few times, I had to stop and reread a few phrases, tossing them around on my tongue to really savor them. It is the complete circle of a love story and it’s done very well. It is also a timely topic about race. It is a very well written book and I am happy that I received a copy from Netgalley and Alqonquin Books.

The Family Next Door

By Sally Hepworth

The Family Next Door: A Novel by [Hepworth, Sally]

4 out of 5 stars

How well do we really know our neighbors? It seems that when single woman Isabelle moves into Pleasant Court, a lovely little neighborhood in Melbourne, secrets come flying out like balls from a tennis machine. Essie and Ben have two little daughters. It is not news that Essie once walked away from her baby at a park. She went back but how do you get past that? Nigel and Fran seem like the perfect couple. She seems to be the no-nonsense kind of mother, always prepared, but she is hiding a big secret from her husband. Ange and Lucas are raising their two boys and Ange seems to be in charge of the goings-on in the court but they too, are not what they seem. And then there is Barabara, Essie’s mother, who probably has the darkest secret of them all. Isabelle is there on a mission and when the truth comes out, all hell breaks loose.

This book reminded me of watching that lovely little soap Knots Landing. We get these neat little peeks into everyone’s homes. We are voyeurs in a way. Each character adds something to the story. No one is out of place. I love how everything falls together and we really get to know them all. There was one part that made me think “ew” but it was explained really well and I learned something new. Sally Hepworth is such a great author with a way of making you so involved with her characters. Loved this book and look forward to the next one.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press (really becoming one of my favorite publishers) for this wonderful novel.

The Good Liar

By Catherine McKenzie

The Good Liar by [McKenzie, Catherine]

4 out of 5 stars

This book comes out the beginning of next month and believe me, you are going to want to read it!

An explosion in a building in Chicago, causing great loss for so many people. Cecily Grayson loses her husband in the disaster and becomes a poster girl for the tragedy when a picture is taken of her being lead away. The photographer begins a documentary on the tragedy with Cecily being one of the main focuses. Cecily was late getting to the building that day and she is hiding a secret as to why.

Cecily is part of a coalition to divvy out the money that has been sent in to the different families involved. She is working with Franny, who is the daughter that one of the women gave away for adoption years ago. She had just met up with her mother, Kaitlyn, and no one had even heard about her yet. Franny is a little unhinged, to put it mildly, as we soon discover with her interviews.

We also follow the story of Kate, a woman who fled to Canada after the explosion. Running away from her family and starting over again isn’t as easy as she thinks, especially when she reads more about Franny.

So many lies. So many twists and turns. I was not expecting a few of them at all. And the then epilogue makes you go hmmmmm…. The characters are flawed, human, afraid. The line between hero and villain is a very tight walk.  You may wonder who is reliable, the lying will do that to you. I found myself drawn to Cecily’s struggle and when the truth comes out, my heart broke for her. A lot of weight was put on her shoulders.  Such a good read.

I received a copy of this wonderful book from Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing and I can’t thank them enough.

Look For Me

By Lisa Gardner

Look for Me (D. D. Warren) by [Gardner, Lisa]

4 out of 5 stars

I have never read any of Lisa Gardner’s books and this one has characters from past books which if I had read, would have made a lot more of some side stories  understandable. But I did enjoy this outing very much and am going to have to go back now and read the others.

A family is found shot dead. The 16 year old daughter and their two dogs are missing. Is she the suspect? Is she fleeing for her own life? These are the questions and so much more that are answered. Flora Dane, a survivor of a horrific crime, goes on the search herself since Roxanne, the teenage girl, had been on her survivor site recently. She matches up with Det. D.D. Warren again to solve the crime. (If D.D. likes it or not)

There were so many levels in this story that went to quite a few diverse places. Some I wasn’t expecting at all. Lisa Gardner can write about the devious mind in the same perfect fashion as a mind that is lost in sadness. I did not expect the outcome and found it to really complete the story full circle.

I will read more from Ms. Gardner. Thanks to Penguin Random House for this book.

She Regrets Nothing

By Andrea Dunlop

She Regrets Nothing: A Novel by [Dunlop, Andrea]

4 out of 5 stars

When Laila Lawrence’s mother dies, she is surprised at the funeral by her three cousins. Three cousins she did not know she had. Laila grew up in Michigan whereas her cousins live in New York City, raised as the grandchildren of one of the wealthiest men. Laila’s father had a falling out with his father and brother and Laila did not live the same kind of life. The reason for the split is quite a whopper!  A life lived on trust funds with partying and spending money like water, not the way she was raised and she asks herself the question, why not her? Laila wants everything she feels is owed to her. She does not seem to care who she hurts or steps over to get it. Her cousins welcome her into their lives. Liberty, the oldest and probably the kindest person in the whole story, lives her life differently than her twin siblings. Nora and Leo live vicariously off their trust funds. That is what Laila wants and what Laila wants…..

This is juicy deliciousness! I felt like I did in those days when Dallas and Dynasty were on the air. (Showing my age) There is treachery, seduction, social climbing and so much more. I could see Laila’s point in thinking she should have a piece of the pie but part of me wanted to see her downfall. It is a fun look into the lives of the rich and infamous in New York from the parties to the charities to the shopping to those deep dark secrets. It takes a turn towards the end that I was not expecting. This was the perfect escape from the craziness that is this world lately. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria for a copy of this wonderful book.

Here We Lie

By Paula Treick DeBoard

Here We Lie by [DeBoard, Paula Treick]

4 out of 5 stars

Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey become roommates in their private college and become fast friends. They are from two different worlds. Megan grew up in Kansas with her parents. Her father suffered a long and painful illness. An illness that holds a big secret for Megan. Lauren grew up the daughter of a Senator in a well-to-do family. She is what you would call the “black sheep”. Her mother is always sweeping in to sweep everything under the rug.  As we go back and forth in time, we learn about the lies that both women have told each other and others and the biggest lie that changes everything.

This book is so on topic right now. It describes the courage it takes to come forward with a story of abuse so perfectly. I felt every fear, every sadness, every triumph. It was also about becoming the person you are meant to be and shedding the things we have held onto for so long. Both characters are flawed, they are human, but you want so much for both of them. The writer writes in such a way as if you are actually there, a fly on the wall, watching everything transpire. It is timely. It is hard at times. It is a very good read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin for this wonderful book.