The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

Meg Ashley grew up with a successful author for a mother.  Her mother, Frances, wrote a murder mystery novel that was extremely popular and brought attention to herself and Meg from as early as Meg can remember.  The book was so popular that it maintained a cult following throughout the many years since it was published.  Meg and her mother are not close and though having everything a person could want much less need, Meg resented her mother and the book (she never even read the book).

When the novel begins, Meg is approached to write a tell-all style book about her mother.  She agrees and goes to Bonny Island, Georgia (the setting of her mom’s book) to write about her life with Frances.  Once there, Meg sees that not all is as she assumed.  She meets an interesting set of characters who each have their own agenda.  Part way through her visit her mother arrives.  Her arrival kicks the action into higher gear.

This book will keep you guessing as to who is a good guy or bad guy and who is guilty of murder.  It turns out Frances’ book is not entirely fiction.  I really enjoyed this book a lot and look forward to reading more by this author.  She is skilled in laying out a mystery that is not obvious and maintained my interest throughout.  When not reading, I found myself wondering what was going to happen next and wanting to get back to the book to find out.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel.

Four out of five stars.

The Secret Room by Sandra Block

This is the third book in a series.  However, one does not have to read the first two to enjoy this installment.  Zoe Goldman is back and this time the psychiatrist is working as a fellow in a prison.  Her crazy sister, Sofia, is incarcerated in the same prison.  Sofia does not play a large part in this particular story.

Zoe’s patients are dying at an unusual rate and she begins receiving texts that lead her to believe her patients are being specifically targeted.  With their shared history, Detective Adams, takes Zoe seriously when the prison warden will not.  Zoe and her boyfriend, Mike, face some new developments in their relationship and her brother, Scotty, also has some new developments in his relationship with Kristy.

As usual, this is a well written mystery that does not quickly give away the reveal of who done it.  Ms. Block has created an interesting central character in Zoe and her supporting cast of characters are well developed also.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of the third installment of this enjoyable series.

Four out of five stars.

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

In Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan, one person ends up dead and three others have their lives completely changed because of it.  This novel is told in the present time mostly by Julie and in the past by diary entries of Reba’s.  Julie and Reba were friends from the time they were very small.  They grew up in a small rural town in Mississippi.  The action of the story is set during the time the two girls are seniors in high school.  Even in such a small town, it is impossible to know everything about another person.  Julie’s current day quest to discover what happened the night Reba died reveals that her friend had more facets to her than she realized.

The action of the story is set during the time the two girls are seniors in high school.  Even in such a small town, it is impossible to know everything about another person.  Julie’s current day quest to discover what happened the night Reba died reveals that her friend had more facets to her than she realized.

This is a well written and enjoyable read.  It took me a while to get into it but once I did it went very fast.  I found it interesting to see the far-reaching impact of one event on the three people left behind.  Julie, August, and Toby all three are adults shaped by the death of Reba when they were teenagers.  Each blames themselves for her death but August’s discovery that Reba left a journal behind sends him and Julie back to Mississippi to find the diary.

I did have a bit of trouble with the fact that the diary entries sounded nothing at all like a teenager’s diary entries but once I moved past that fact I enjoyed hearing Reba voice her point of view.  Overall, this was a good read and I would not mind reading more by this author.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy.

Three out of five stars.

The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World

Sophie loves to travel and has a job that flies her all over the world.  Unfortunately, work does not allow for leisurely visits to the places she travels.  Sophie hits the highlights of the places she goes by making itineraries and checking places of interest off her list.  On her first vacation in years, she decides to have a girls getaway with her best friend to Hong Kong.  Her friend ends up abandoning her but Sophie finds romance, Carson.

Carson is the complete opposite of Sophie.  He does not live by lists or even by a schedule.  He challenges her to try things outside of her normal boundaries.  Over the course of the novel, Sophie discovers who she is rather than who her family (grandmother) told her she should be.  I think a lot of people can identify with this.  So many times a person’s family has ideas locked in their minds about who they are to the point that they don’t even realize the person has grown and changed into someone completely different than their idea of them.  Sophie makes a lot of changes in her life and discovers her true work passion which makes her happier all around.

This was a light and fast read.  I read it in one day.  It was a fun read.  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy.

Three out of five stars.

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

It’s Always the Husband is a mystery that will keep you guessing literally to the very end.  There are two deaths, one in the past and one in the present.  Finding out what really happened in each death is an enjoyable journey through this novel.

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny meet in college and remain connected over the years.  Something happens in college that ties them together for life yet at the same time rips them apart completely.  Kate is wealthy and marries a boy who comes from the same background even though she never really loved him as much as he loved her.  Jenny comes from a local business owning family and grows up to become the mayor of the town where she grew up and they all went to college.  Aubrey comes from a poor background and is always eager to please Kate.

This novel shows so clearly how patterns formed in early adulthood remain unless there is a powerful will or force to change.  Just because you love someone does not mean they are good for you.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this mystery.  I look forward to reading more by this author.

Four out of five stars.

Seven Days In May by Kim Izzo

Seven Days In May is historical fiction set around the sinking of the Lusitania during WWI as well as the early days of decoding in Great Britain.  Two related storylines are kept going simultaneously throughout the novel.  Isabel is a young woman who is promoted from secretary to coder and she follows the route of the Lusitania along with the locations of German submarines in her path.  The other main storyline revolves around Brooke and Sydney Sinclair, wealthy American females, and Edward Thorpe-Tracey, a titled Englishman who is in danger of losing his ancestral property.

A love triangle develops between Brooke, Sydney, and Edward.  When they set sail for England, Edward is engaged to Brooke.  Over the course of the trip, Edward falls in love with her suffragette sister, Sydney.  The majority of the middle portion of the book revolves around their will they won’t they status.  The other will they won’t they is will Great Britain alert the Lusitania to the danger it is in or will they choose to sacrifice it to pull the United States into the war.

Hopefully, everyone remembers their history and knows that the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine.  This turn of events tossed everything up in the air for the main characters occupying the ship.  This part of the action kept me reading to find out what would become of them all.

This book was very well written and definitely well researched.  I enjoyed it a lot.  My one and only criticism is that the middle portion of the book could have been condensed slightly to expedite events.  As a character, Brooke, was not fully developed but it didn’t hurt the novel any to have left her as a stereotype.  Overall this was a truly enjoyable historical fiction novel.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel.

Four out of five stars.

According to a Source by Abby Stern

The main character of According to a Source, Ella, is a celebrity gossip writer.  Her job is to attend parties and frequent clubs to obtain gossip about celebrities and report in to her magazine which is both online and in print.  When the book begins Ella puts her job above everything else in her life.  Then there is a management change that makes her further dig into her job to the neglect of her boyfriend, best friend, sister, and mother.

This book is light reading that should go fast.  However, I found myself struggling to make myself return to the story to find out what was happening.  For most of the story, Ella was so dislikeable that it was hard to keep reading.  Everyone knows people who refuse to take any responsibility for their own mistakes and choices but it is nearly impossible to root for such an unlikable character in a book.

Eventually, Ella gets her priorities straight but it takes a long time.  The writing was well done but the author used long descriptive nicknames for the fake celebrities in the novel.  This particular device was distracting for me and bogged me down until I learned to just skip over the nicknames.

I think due to the skillful writing, this book has an audience.  It was just not my type of story.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel.

Two out of five stars.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger is a great mystery!  It will keep you turning pages to find out what happens next.  Leah Stevens has lost her job as a journalist and moves to a remote area of Pennsylvania with her friend Emmy to start over.  She quickly becomes involved in a murder mystery that twists and turns many times and some of those times point back at her as the main suspect.

Leah has been friends with Emmy for many years but it has always been a somewhat strange relationship with Emmy randomly entering and leaving Leah’s life.  So when Emmy disappears, Leah does not immediately know something is wrong.  A local woman is murdered about the same time that Emmy disappears so two crimes are being solved in this novel.  It had many moving pieces but the author managed to pull all them together including the mysteries from Leah’s past.  Overall, I was impressed and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel

Four out of five stars.

 

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

Burntown opens with a young boy witnessing the murder of his mother.  It follows up with this boy as a grown man with a family and the majority of the story revolves around his daughter, Eve/Necco.  Necco and her mother live on the fringes of ‘normal’ life.  They scavenge for food and stay on the move.  The cast of characters surrounding Necco is unusual, to say the least.  Also involved is a machine that allows present day people to speak to those from the past.

Burntown is well written and kept me guessing until the end.  The story is comprised of elements of realism, paranormal, and even dystopian elements.  All of the elements work strangely well with each other.  The mystery that begins when Necco’s father is a boy winds its way throughout the story.  I did not figure it out before the ending and enjoyed the roundabout journey that led to the final reveal.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel.

Three out of four stars.

 

 

The Song and the Silence by Yvette Johnson

The Song and the Silence by Yvette Johnson is both a memoir as well as a lesson in her family history and also the space of Greenwood, Mississippi.  Johnson alternates chapters between telling her own story with that of her grandfather, Booker.  It is difficult to adequately summarize the large scope that Johnson took on in writing this book and how deftly she pulled all of the pieces together.

Johnson led a very sheltered life in her early years.  Her trip to the Mississippi Delta had to be an eye opener for a sheltered California girl.  Growing up Johnson did not fit with any racial group very well.  Having questions of her own, along with wanting to be able to express the facts of their racial heritage with her son prompted Johnson to look back and dig deep into her family history.  Along the way, Johnson goes through a major transformation of her own.  I admire the honesty of her words.  The authenticity of her inquiries.  And ultimately her willingness to be open minded.

I enjoyed this memoir a lot.  While it is heavy material the writing is so engaging that it is a fast and enjoyable read.  Some of the things Johnson wrote about will be on my mind for a while and to me that is the sign of a gifted storyteller.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel.

Five out of five stars.