A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. TA single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
My Thoughts: After the body of Nel Abbott is found in the water, the police conclude that she jumped. But her sister Jules and her daughter Lena, a troubled teen, are not convinced.
A short time before her mother’s death, Lena’s best friend Katie had died, also in the river, and Lena is keeping a big secret about the events leading up to Katie’s death. Lena and Katie’s brother Josh are holding what they know close, pretending ignorance.
Because of the history of the Drowning Pool, with suicides ending up there, and then, as Patrick Townsend had been known to say, the river took care of “troublesome women,” some of the women in the English village of Beckford are starting to speculate. Like Jules. And like the psychic Nicki. What stories are the women telling Nel, who is writing a book about the history of the river? Her focus is on how the women are punished, even though the men were also behaving badly.
Years before, Patrick Townsend’s wife Lauren, the mother of Sean, a police officer, died in that river. What had happened? Had she been troublesome? Why does Sean blank out suddenly, and why does he tug at his arm, where someone cut him at some point? What memories are he suppressing?
What really happened between the teacher, Mark Henderson, and Katie? What does Lena know?
Into the Water was a convoluted tale with many red herrings, too many characters, and a lot of confusing elements. At the very end, in the last lines, we finally realize what must have happened to at least one of the dead women. But was there more to the story? I could have enjoyed the story more if it had fewer narrators, but the themes of crime and punishment did keep me intrigued. 4 stars. ...more
Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it meaMemorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It’s also Darcy’s chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.
Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.
As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.
My Thoughts: Swept away by the author’s descriptions of the homes, gardens, people, summer events, and the magic of the island, I savored every page in Secrets in Summer. I felt an immediate connection to Darcy, whose grandmother Penny had raised her, having had a special relationship with my own grandmother. I could understand why she loved the home that had belonged to her, and where she grew up.
I could visualize the backyard gardens that were close together, separated only by hedges, which also lent themselves to unique connections. When Darcy found out that her ex-husband Boyz and his new wife were renting the house next door, I anticipated that there would be awkward moments. And there were, but what I didn’t expect was the relationship that would develop between Darcy and Boyz’s stepdaughter Willow.
In the rental house on the other side of Darcy’s were an elderly woman Mimi and her grandson Clive. Mimi was like a surrogate grandmother, but her vivid personality and her tendency to openly share her thoughts made her a more modern day version of Penny. All the new and old friends shared the delights of the season.
Themes of friendships, even those transitory summer connections, kept me interested throughout, as did the drama from Willow, who turned out to be a more likable teen than we usually see in fiction…or real life. Would Darcy find a permanent love connection with her lover, Nash, or might she choose someone new? A delightful story that made me long to visit Nantucket and find some summer friends that might even last through the seasons. 5 stars.
Phoebe recognizes fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers. As he creates a financial dynasty, she trusts him without hesitaPhoebe recognizes fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers. As he creates a financial dynasty, she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.
When Phoebe learns her husband’s triumph and vast reach rests on an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Was she his accomplice?
While Jake is trapped in the web of his deceit, Phoebe is caught in an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning him feels cruel and impossible.
My Thoughts: The story that unfolds in The Widow of Wall Street is not as shocking as it once might have been, since other men have also betrayed their investors and their families. What sets this story apart is how we very slowly come to know Jake and Phoebe via their alternating voices, from their teen years until their world fell apart.
From the beginning, though, and probably knowing how the story would end, I disliked Jake, who tried to get by on charm and tall tales. Admittedly, Phoebe had also kept a big secret from Jake through their whole lives together, but she paid her dues by taking care of him, the family, and bowing to his wishes most of the time. Having luxuries cannot make up for what one loses in confidence by having a spouse who belittles, makes demands, and hides the most basic things from his wife.
We follow Jake and Phoebe through their lives in a linear fashion, which felt a bit like a very slow reveal at times, but my interest perked up after Jake’s sins were finally out in the open.
In some ways, Jake got off easy, since the load of his secrets was lifted, while Phoebe was left with the stares and scorn of the public, and having to pick up the pieces of her life after losing most of her possessions. Sadness, loss, and broken connections would follow her always, but at some point, she would find a way to start over.
I liked this excerpt that reveals how those with plenty develop their sense of entitlement:
“Rich people thought themselves special, but in truth, they simply possessed extra layers of insulation against the winds of misfortune.”
Obviously, those who lose their worldly goods, their position in life, and their favor from the world around them have also lost those extra layers. A bitter truth that Phoebe discovered, through no fault of her own. An unforgettable novel, this one earned 4.5 stars.
In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seeIn the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.
But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.
The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?
15 years later, Kit and Laura are married and living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.
My Thoughts: Alternating narrators that take us back and forth in time reveal the buried secrets and lies of He Said/She Said. Kit and Laura have lived in various parts of England, have followed many eclipses over the years, and at the present time, Laura is expecting twins.
Kit and Laura were caught up in the eclipse at Lizard Point, Cornwall; it was their first together, but what happened to Beth, a stranger, during the festival will change their lives forever. A series of disasters in the aftermath of a trial would lead to years that Kit and Laura lived off the grid, afraid to be photographed or shown on social media. Who and what was behind their fear? Were they each equally frightened, or was there more to the story?
Just when I thought that I truly understood what was happening with each of the primary characters—Laura, Kit, and Beth—a new revelation would come forth, changing how I viewed that character.
Danger came at them from every corner, but the source of it was just another secret well-hidden until the final pages. Who would be the biggest liar of all, and how would the darkest secrets ultimately derail their lives? 5 stars.
***My e-ARC came from the publishers via NetGalley....more
When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her jobWhen a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.
As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?
My Thoughts: As we begin Not a Sound, we are swept back to the moments before Amelia’s life changed drastically. It was an ordinary night serving as a nurse in the ER, tending to injured and battered women, collecting evidence, and offering comfort.
As she walks the latest patient to her car, another car comes screeching through the parking lot and slams into Amelia and her patient.
Two years later, we awake to another scenario. Amelia with her kayak and her dog Stitch. She runs and kayaks along the river near her home, a simple A-frame cabin. Everything she had before is gone. Her hearing, her husband, and her home. After the tragedy, she had turned to drinking, and her husband tossed her out.
Today she has a job interview at the cancer unit. Not as a nurse, but as a clerk scanning files. It is a start.
But finding a body in the river that day changes everything again. Not just a body, but a friend, another nurse who also worked with sexual assault victims. Amelia is immediately caught up in the case, and before she knows it, she is in the midst of another catastrophe.
Her best friend Jake is a cop, and he is wonderfully supportive, but even he is getting tired of the clues she brings to him. She thinks she has found another suspect for him, but then someone else rings the alarm bells. By the time she is really on the right track, she is in serious danger.
Why is Amelia’s husband David acting nice all of a sudden? Who has planted a bottle of wine on her counter at home? How did a bottle get into her drawer at work?
Finding out who is trying to sabotage her might just bring her face to face with a killer. A wonderfully captivating novel that kept me glued to the pages. 5 stars.
***I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley....more
Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting oRecently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....
MY THOUGHTS: Small town Southern life feels familiar to me, having lived in such places, even when they were not actually in the South. Folks who migrate from that part of the world carry their values and traditions with them, along with the secrets of the past, and creating a mini-Southern enclave wherever they are.
Secrets are a core theme in The Night the Lights Went Out, and we have a couple of the characters that share some of their secrets, a bit at a time, as alternating narrators. Sugar, the ninety-something matriarch is technically Merilee’s landlord, but as time and secret-sharing bring them closer together, we see that a very strong bond is forming.
I loved Sugar, who reminded me of my feisty grandmothers. And like them, she knew how to hold a secret close…until its revelation would strengthen a friendship or save a life.
Heather was a character that I disliked from the beginning. First, because nobody is all that perfect and seemingly one’s best friend without an agenda. I worried about how willingly Merilee gave over her friendship to this woman, but it would be a while before we saw what was really going on behind that façade.
Alternating with Sugar and Merilee’s narratives are blog posts from an anonymous source, entitled “Your Neighbor.” A site that seems like a gossip fest soon reveals itself for its tidbits of wisdom, including Southern Sayings, interpreted for those who are new to them.
This intense story turned dark and threatening and kept me turning pages until the startling revelations and the delightful denouement, thus earning 5 stars.
In the New York Times bestseller that the Washington Post called “Lean In for misfits,” Sophia Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to fouIn the New York Times bestseller that the Washington Post called “Lean In for misfits,” Sophia Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to founding one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.
Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school—a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay.
Flash forward to today, and she’s the founder of Nasty Gal and the founder and CEO of Girlboss. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers.
#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly.
My Thoughts: What an inspirational story of one young woman’s determination to find what made her happy, and to go for it.
Being an outsider, not following a conventional path, and chasing her dreams sum up what led to this young woman’s success. Some might have labeled her too much of a rebel to achieve her goals, but those naysayers would soon learn otherwise.
Her attitude and her “out of the box” thinking would be key ingredients in making her company what it became, and would show others how to find their own journey.
Some of what I learned from the author’s stories included that she doesn’t believe in luck, but in the ability to control one’s own fate. She believes in magic, though, which simply means sending your good intentions out to the Universe, and visualizing what you want.
As for following the rules, she believes the challenge is in knowing which rules to accept, and which to rewrite.
I saw the Netflix show and loved it, so I immediately downloaded this book. I wanted to read the anecdotes, learn her pattern for creating her own rules and her own path, and revel in how she is sharing with others. An interesting story of a unique company and its creator. 4 stars.