The Perfect Daughter by D. J. Palmer

Publication Date: 20 April 2021

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

Another suspenseful, twisty psychological thriller from author D.J. Palmer! Once again Palmer takes on a mother and daughter relationship with all its complexities. Grace Francone is a busy mom who runs a restaurant and is raising her three children on her own. Grace’s youngest child, her daughter Penny, has had her share of issues since becoming a teen and being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, a mental health issue dealing with multiple personalities.  At sixteen Penny is pushing her independence and not all of her choices are good ones. Grace gets a dreaded visit from the police. Penny has been arrested for murder.   

The tale quickly becomes complex and intriguing as Penny begins working with Dr. Mitch McHugh, a psychologist at Edgewater, a healthcare facility that houses people within the judicial system with mental illness. Grace, never giving up on her daughter, hires a local well-established attorney, Greg Navarro, whom she had met in recent months. As the team works to uncover what exactly happened the night of the murder, the story becomes even more layered as Penny’s alternate personalities come to light and her background is revealed. Someone in the fusion of personalities knows what happened.

Read this riveting, dark thriller that delves deeply in to the world of dissociative identity disorders and their complexity. Where did that ending come from???  Very good mystery and suspense! I totally enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it.

This ARC copy was received from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#ThePerfectDaughter #NetGalley

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Dance With Death by Will Thomas

Series:  A Barker & Llewelyn Novel, 12

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Meet Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, private enquiry agents residing in London where the novel begins in the year 1893. Follow these two interesting characters around London as they attempt to keep the high strung Tsarevich Nicholas safe as he attends a royal wedding.  Please do not refer to them as detectives; remember they are private enquiry agents!

The investigation into the mysterious La Sylphide, the mysterious person shadowing the Nicholas, takes the pair through all walks of Victorian life. Walk in the Palace Gardens, ride in Hyde Park, attend a masquerade ball and step into the seamy side of night life as the men investigate the identity of the mysterious La Sylphide and what harm might befall the Tsarevich.

A blend of mystery and intrigue as Barker and Llewelyn work to solve the mystery of La Sylphide.  All is not what it seems when the men finally solve the mysterious person behind La Sylphide. The resolution of the mystery brings major turmoil to the life of one of the men. Read this intriguing nineteenth century historical mystery to find out who La Sylphide is and what exactly this person is after.

This ARC copy was received from Minotaur Books and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#DanceWithDeath  #NetGalley

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Strongheart: The Lost Journals of May Dodd and Molly McGill by Jim Fergus

Series: One Thousand White Women

Publication Date: 06 April 2021

St. Martin’s Griffin

ARC copy from St. Martin’s and NetGalley

Rating:  3 out of 5

Strongheart concludes the One thousand White Women series. This third and final novel continues the story of some of the white women sent west to be brides of Native Americans. The year is 1875; the year of the Battle of Little Big Horn. The tale revolves primarily around a recounting of journal entries from these women detailing their life two years after they were brought west.

By the year 1875 the women had undergone a transformational experience and blended into the tribe and the Native American way of life to the extent that they were willing to fight against the United States soldiers in order to preserve their families and way of life. Detailing the beginning of the Strongheart women’s warrior society, the story moves back and forth through different time periods in the life of the women and their ancestors.

I had to suspend my rational mind in places in order to believe some of the events related in the novel.  The multiple narrators made the story a bit choppy in places as well. An interesting fictional story that one must remember is just that, a fictional story!

This ARC copy was received from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

Series: Lilac Girls, Book 3

Publication Date:  30 March 2021

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

ARC Copy from Ballantine Books and NetGalley

Rating:  4 out of 5

An interesting, detailed story of the Woolsey family of young strong-minded, women with abolitionist hearts raised by their dedicated, hardworking mother! This story predominantly focuses on Georgeanna “Georgy”, a hard working dedicated young woman of 28 who sets her heart on becoming a nurse during the early years of the Civil War. Georgy, her sisters, and their mother are a force to be reckoned with during this difficult time of war.

Adding to the complexity of the story is the underlying tale of Anne-May Wilson Watson of Peeler Plantation and one of her slaves, Jemma. Anne-May is the epitome of a cruel slave owner who takes advantage of her status and slaves in the worst ways imaginable. Jemma, a bright, determined young girl, is determined to save herself and her family. Her life becomes intricately woven in with the Woolsey family as their paths cross in an unlikely place.

The book is based on the real life Woolsey family with characters, events, and places taken from the Woolsey family letters. Woven with threads of historical fact, the story deals with all the deeply emotional aspects of the Civil War and slavery. Mingled amidst the serious backdrop of the war, family drama and a bit of romance shows up.

I enjoyed the story told from varying points of view which added to the depth and detail of the story. Solid read for people who enjoy detailed historical fiction! Don’t miss reading the author’s notes in the back of the book. They are well worth it.

This ARC copy was received from Ballantine Books and NetGalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Eternal by Lisa Scottoline

Publication Date: April 2021

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House

ARC copy from Netgalley and G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Rating: 4 out of 5

Meet Elisabetta D’Orfeo, an outspoken young Italian girl who dreams of being a writer someday; her friend Sandro Simone, a young Jewish teen who is brilliant in mathematics and devoted to his family who have lived in Rome for many generations; and the third friend that completes their circle of friendship,  Marco Terrizzi, a young Italian teen who gets drawn into working for the Fascist party before he ever leaves school. The story set in Italy encompasses the years of WWII and the regime of Mussolini and the aftermath of the war for these young people.

Life altering events during the war will forever change the lives of these three young people who have grown up intertwined until they are forced to grow up and accept the changes that war and young adulthood will bring to them. The reality of one of them being Jewish, one working for the Fascist government, and one struggling to support her drunken father puts them on unique paths.

The historical detail in this novel is excellent. I had no comprehensive knowledge of the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood in Rome so the level of detail was enlightening. The author’s notes at the end add depth to the overall story. The characters are vivid and alive with their Italian heritage and the dynamics of their struggle to survive the war. This book is an outstanding first effort into the field of historical fiction for well-established author, Lisa Scottoline.

This ARC copy was received from G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#Eternal #NetGalley

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Are We There Yet by Kathleen West

Publication Date:  March 16, 2021

Publisher: Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Berkley

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Kathleen West takes on today’s parents and their teens as they come of age in a world fraught with online temptations and dangers. Alice, Nadia, and Meredith have been friends since their children were in grade school and continue their friendship as the kids advance to their pre-high school years.

The young teens: Teddy, Alice’s son, reveals some behavioral issues when he takes matters too far in his feud with another teen; Sadie, Meredith’s daughter is a bright, exceptional young girl caught up in getting straight A’s and keeping up with a synchronized skating team; and Tane Lagerhead, a quiet young man who is less than popular with his peers, find themselves enmeshed in a drama that quickly gets out of their control when poor decisions lead to a harsh lesson for all of them.

This story highlights the dangers of social media and maturity, as well as issues with parents who are less than savvy with today’s social media and their children’s lives. The story also highlights parents that are less than engaged with their teens and parents that are overly engrossed in their teen’s lives. Parents and teens will find their lives changed as a result of the impact their decisions make on everyone around them. Solid story for public awareness of a current problem that exists with social media and today’s young people!  

This ARC copy was received from Berkley and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#AreWeThereYet #NetGalley

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The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Atria

ARC from Atria and Netgalley.com

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Excerpt: She lets the words museum of memory settle on her tongue. A lovely turn of phrase, rich as sugared blueberries tucked into pastry.

The Memory Collectors is a quaintly odd story that requires a suspension of your logical mind when reading. This unique tale centers on Harriet Langdon, an elderly woman who hoards objects to the detriment of everyone around her, and Evelyn, a young Chinese-American woman who collects objects and resells them. Both women have a unique gift that allows them to feel the emotions people have left behind on the objects.

When Harriet accidentally meets Evelyn she is stunned to realize they share the unique gift. This gift has some very distinct drawbacks. Harriet has a vision of a museum that would house their objects and help people at the same time. However, Evelyn’s talent is necessary if she is to make the museum a success. Can these two very different women with a shared mysterious ability learn to work together to make the most of their ability? Underneath the layers of their relationship lie some dark secrets from the past. Will the darkness overwhelm their fledging venture?

The unique story contains an interesting secondary cast of characters that add to and help develop the story. Meet Owen, a creative artist who uses stray objects to create his work, and Noemi, Evelyn’s younger sister who is a colorful personality and rather distinctive in her own way.

The book was not quite what I expected. The undertones of darkness in the story overlaid the basic lightness that I have come to expect in books that have a basis in magical realism. Read the story and decide for yourself!

This copy was received from Atria and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Magical Realism

An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publisher: Minotaur Books, an imprint of St Martin’s Press

Rating:  3.5  out of 5

Laced with murder and mystery, this novel begins in London in 1878 when the famed detective, Charles Lenox solves a case that effectively gets him banished to America. Upon arriving he becomes entangled in the murder of a beautiful young debutante, Lily Allingham, in Newport, playground of the rich and famous.

With plentiful suspects showing up as the layers of the plot are revealed, the story definitely keeps the readers’ attention.  Lenox’s dry British wit shows admirably at times throughout the story. The book is rich in historical detail, places and names to spice up the tale. Follow Lenox on his journey from the Prime Minister’s office in London to Caroline Astor’s ball in Newport as he works to uncover who murdered young Lily Allingham!

This ARC copy was received from Minotaur Books and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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From This Moment by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Publication Date: 23 February 2021

Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah

ARC copy from Netgalley and Waterbrook Multnomah

Rating: 3 out of 5

From This Moment introduces three young people each struggling with their own unique problems and each coming from a less than perfect home life as children. Jase Edgar, the new youth minister in Bradleyville, Kansas, comes from the foster system where he spent much of his younger life.  He is trying to come to terms with the death of his fiancé. Lori Fowler is a custodian at Jase’s church and an employee at a local quilt shop where her best friend, Kenzie Stetler works. Kenzie, a young woman from an Amish background, chooses not to join the Amish church and remains separated from her family as a result of her personal choices and beliefs. These three young people become good friends as a result of their beliefs and backgrounds. The appearance of a mysterious ring binds the young people together even tighter and ultimately allows them all to follow their hearts.

This book offers a good depiction of the journeys one’s life can take when dealing with hope and loss and the process one goes through in life of waiting and trusting. As these young people progress along their path, their new beginnings will bring romance to some and a deepening of faith and sharing the message to others.  This book is an easy read that blends a contemporary romance with faith and hope. Readers of Christian romance will enjoy this book.

This ARC copy was received from Waterbrook Multnomah and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

Publication Date:  16 February 2021

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ARC copy from Netgalley and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 5 out of 5

“The things we thought we were supposed to do and be once upon a time, they evolve as we do.

-René Touliard

A captivating story of two strong, resilient women, each working in her own unique way against the German occupation of France! Meet Lila de Laurent, Parisian dressmaker working for Chanel in 1939, and Sandrine Paquet, wife, mother, and member of a prominent publishing family. As the war begins to take shape in early 1940, the lives of these young women are changed forever. Lila goes from high fashion with its captivating parties to dressing the women of the Nazi regime. Sandrine’s life changes dramatically when she must go to work for the Nazis at the Jeu de Paume sorting, cataloging, and readying stolen Jewish artwork for transport to Germany.

Both women, driven by their own reasoning work, in very different jobs for the La Résistance. Lila, driven by guilt, works passionately for information to help La Résistance in their battle against the Nazi regime and to recover the stolen family jewelry and artwork of the Touliard family. Sandrine, driven by love for her missing husband and her family, begins work under Rose Valland, an art director working through the resistance to document the stolen artwork of France and its Jewish citizens.

Behind these strong, brave, and capable women are their men, René Touliard and Christian Pacquet, both members of La Résistance as well. A cast of secondary characters work in conjunction with these brave men and women to add depth and reality to this dynamic historical story. An excellent blending of history, faith, and love pulls this story together.

Read this excellent piece of history to follow the journeys of Lila and René and Sandrine and Christian as they find their way through the occupation and war working toward a different future than the one they faced down. Be sure to read the Author’s Notes at the end as they add depth and detailed explanations to the novel.

This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction