The Lindbergh Nanny (book review)

I received an advance reader copy of The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press and…wow. I loved it!

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, particularly when it is done well, and this was. I was already somewhat familiar with the story of the Lindbergh kidnapping in broad terms, but not with the finer details. This book focuses primarily on Betty Gow, Charlie Lindbergh’s nanny, as well as the butler, chauffeur, and other staff. It was fascinating and I found myself constantly taking breaks from the book to look up more information on Betty (she was lovely), or Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Lucky Lindy,” or the investigation or trial. I feel much more informed about this event now.

The book itself is fiction, but the author clearly did painstaking and meticulous research. She brings the characters and tragic story to life.

There were a few minor typos/grammatical errors, which will presumably be corrected before publication (November 15, 2022) but they didn’t detract from the well written and engrossing story.

I highly recommend The Lindbergh Nanny, (5 stars!). It will be published November 15, 2022. I’m very grateful to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC, to Mariah Fredericks for writing such an enjoyable, thought provoking and riveting read.

And Then There’s Margaret (book review)

Description:

When Allison Montgomery’s beloved father-in-law passes away, her mother-in-law, Margaret, ‘temporarily’ moves in. From rearranging the furniture and taking over the kitchen, to undermining and embarrassing Allie at every turn, Margaret turns Allie’s life upside down causing her to bounce between a sincere desire to support her grieving mother-in-law and an intense urge to simply push her out of the nearest window. Feeling annoyed, trapped and even a little childish, Allie struggles to avoid a complete meltdown with help from her fearless and audacious best friend, a plan for reinventing herself and enjoying a second act, and, yes, a few glasses of Chardonnay. Along the way, Allie discovers the reasons behind Margaret’s attitude toward her all these years. Does it help? Maybe…

I enjoyed this book…I did. It’s a light, enjoyable read, and there were many funny moments. But I found Allie incredibly frustrating. And Margaret. And Hank too. And that made it difficult to relate to the characters. In the end, things are explained a bit and that helped…but still.

Thank you to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for the ARC. Look for And Then There’s Margaret in bookstores now.

The Last to Vanish (book review)

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda was another good mystery/thriller.

Abby Lowell has been working at The Passage Inn in the small town of Cutter’s Pass in North Carolina for 10 years. It’s adjacent to the Appalachian Trail and offers beautiful scenery, great hiking, and breathtaking waterfalls. Cutter’s Pass has also been the scene of several disappearances through the years. When one of the missing’s family members shows up at the Inn looking for answers, Abby becomes embroiled in the mystery.

This was a good, fast, easy read and was very enjoyable. Abby, and all of the supporting characters, are well rounded and likable. The story moves quickly and is compelling.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for the ARC. Look for The Last to Vanish July 26, 2022.

Back to the Garden (book review)

I received an advance copy of Back to the Garden by Laurie King a couple of months ago and I finally finished it last night. (It’s been busy around here!)

I love a good mystery and this was good. Full disclosure- it took me a while to get into it. It seemed rather slow in the beginning and I kept putting the book down and getting distracted. I kept at it though and after a couple of chapters, I was hooked. (So, if you find this slow…keep going!)

The book goes back and forth from the 1970’s to present day. In 1975 the young heir to the Gardener Estate establishes a commune on the grounds. In the present, the estate is run by a trust and open to the public. When one of the art works in the garden, a statue, needs restoration work, they discover a body buried beneath it.

The main character is a police inspector who is investigating a serial killer who was active during the time period. She’s an intriguing character, very likable, and the supporting characters are as well.

There’s a few surprises throughout the story and, once I got past the first couple of slow chapters, I found it a very enjoyable read. I’m giving it 4 stars- because it was a bit slow in the beginning.

Back to the Garden will be out September 6, 2022.

The Lioness (book review)

I have been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for this book to become available at my library. It finally did…and I read it…and I loved it!

Before I talk about The Lioness I have to mention that I love this author. I read The Flight Attendant and The Hour of the Witch and while I enjoyed them, I found myself frequently talking to the main characters (which is not something I make a habit of) and exclaiming things like, “GIRL, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!” Or “OMG, YOU IDIOT!” And so forth and so on.

The Lioness is Chris Bohjalian’s latest book, which he apparently wrote in 2020 during quarantine…or as he so aptly put it, during the year that Satan spawned. I think it must have made a difference because this is my favorite of his books (at least the ones I’ve read.) I was captivated immediately and just devoured the book (no pun intended, ha!)

I’m hesitant to describe the book in much detail because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s set in the 1960’s when a Hollywood movie star and her entourage go on an African safari. They anticipated seeing giraffes munching on leaves or seeing elephants or wildebeest…and things didn’t exactly go as planned.

The book is written from several character’s viewpoints, which typically annoys me. It didn’t in The lioness. Each chapter is labeled with the character speaking, so it’s very easy to follow and doesn’t feel strange. And it makes sense. (But if this usually isn’t a format you care for, you might not like it.)

Chris Bohjalian is a lovely writer. His characters are all well rounded and intriguing and he describes Africa and the animals and challenges so well that it’s easy to imagine being there.

Excellent book, highly recommend! Five stars.

The Family Game (book review)

Description

A rich, eccentric family. A time-honored tradition. Or a lethal game of survival? One woman is about to find out if she has what it takes to join her husband’s family in this riveting, must-read thriller from the author of Something in the Water, Mr. Nobody, and The Disappearing Act.

Harriet Reed, a novelist on the brink of literary stardom, is newly engaged to Edward Holbeck, the heir to an extremely powerful family. And even though he’s long tried to sever ties with them, news of their marital bliss has the Holbecks inching back into their lives.

As Harriet is drawn into their lavish world, they seem perfectly welcoming. And when Edward’s father hands Harriet a tape of a book he’s been working on, she is desperate to listen.

But as she presses play, it’s clear that this isn’t just a novel. It’s a confession.

A confession to a grisly crime. A murder. And suddenly, the game is in motion.

This was good! Harriet (Harry) seems like an average woman…but you quickly realize that she’s hiding something. As the book progresses it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. There are hints about the secrets and then there are the twists and turns which keep you guessing throughout.

I was so excited to read this, as I had read another book by Catherine Steadman a couple of months ago – Something in the Water – which I enjoyed a lot. The Family Game has a great plot, interesting characters, and tons of surprises.

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman will be out November 8, 2022. Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the ARC.

Book Review: The Mother In Law

Description

I’ve fallen in love with a man called Sam. And he’s perfect, just perfect.

It’s a whirlwind romance. And when our dream home falls through just before our wedding, we decide to move in with his parents. He says his mother, Evelyn, is the sweetest person. But I’m not so sure.

She’s obsessively protective over Sam. She wants to know where he is all the time. She wakes us up in the morning, bustling into our room like he’s a small child, not a grown man. She doesn’t want me to be alone with him. And with every day that passes – as I keep having accidents I can’t believe are coincidental – I start to fear more that she doesn’t want me to marry her son.

That she wants to be the only person he will ever love.

Then I overhear an argument between her and Sam’s dad. Evelyn has a secret. And it changes everything I thought I knew about the family I’m marrying into.

From that moment, I know that if I want to make it to my wedding day alive, I will need to be very, very careful…

I was so intrigued by the description of this book, and it didn’t disappoint. There are twists and turns, and a few surprises that keep you guessing.

4 stars – mostly because I became so frustrated with Dana, the bride to be. She seems hopelessly naive at times. Sam, her fiancé, was equally annoying. He believed his mother over her and seemed to always manipulate Dana (for example, moving into his parent’s house)…I was very frustrated with both of them.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for the advance reader copy. Look for The Mother In Law July 29, 2022.

My Husband’s Secrets (book review)

Another ARC from NetGalley and another thriller I really enjoyed.

Description

On the evening of their wedding anniversary, Ali and Matthew are involved in a fatal car accident.

Grief-stricken, Ali can’t bring herself to believe that her beloved Matthew is gone…

The smell of his aftershave lingers in their bedroom. His voice still rings out on their answerphone. She sees his face in the eyes of strangers.

But as the months pass, and her family and friends rally round, Ali starts to uncover secrets that Matthew kept from her.

This book was really, really good. The characters were well rounded and believable and the plot was surprising all the way through. I read this in one sitting because I was so intrigued and invested that I had to find out what happened.

4.5 stars…I had to take off half a star just because Ali annoyed me so much at times. She seemed willfully ignorant of her husband’s true character and it drove me crazy.

But…this is a really good, well written book. Look for My Husband’s Secrets by Louise Sharland August 9, 2022. Thanks to NetGalley and Harper360.

5 Stars!

I just finished reading an ARC of Ashton Hall by Lauren Belfer, and was utterly captivated by it.

Here’s the description of the book:

When a close relative falls ill, Hannah Larson and her young son, Nicky, join him for the summer at Ashton Hall, a historic manor house outside Cambridge, England. A frustrated academic whose ambitions have been subsumed by the challenges of raising her beloved child, Hannah longs to escape her life in New York City, where her marriage has been upended by a recently discovered and devastating betrayal.

Soon after their arrival, ever-curious Nicky finds the skeletal remains of a woman walled into a forgotten part of the manor, and Hannah is pulled into an all-consuming quest for answers, Nicky close by her side. Working from clues in centuries-old ledgers showing what the woman’s household spent on everything from music to medicine; lists of books checked out of the library; and the troubling personal papers of the long-departed family, Hannah begins to recreate the Ashton Hall of the Elizabethan era in all its color and conflict. As the multilayered secrets of her own life begin to unravel, Hannah comes to realize that Ashton Hall’s women before her had lives not so different from her own, and she confronts what mothers throughout history have had to do to secure their independence and protect their children.

I love historical fiction and though it’s set in the present, Ashton Hall delved into the past as well. I appreciated the many layers to the story…from Hannah, to the health of her Uncle Christopher, to the challenges of her son (it’s never actually disclosed but it’s hinted that he is on the spectrum), to the mystery surrounding the skeleton and the history of Ashton Hall. While there’s a lot going on, it never felt like too much and was never difficult to follow along.

I devoured this book. And as I got closer and closer to the end I read more and more slowly, because I didn’t want it to end. I sympathized with Hannah, cheered her on, felt as if I knew her. The characters are all well developed and (mostly) likable.

If you like mysteries, or history, or reading about Cambridge, or just enjoy a well written book…be on the lookout for Ashton Hall June 7, 2022!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing, and especially to Lauren Belfer for writing the book.

Update and Another Book Review

We’ve been busy around here. Besides a few house projects, I bought a bunch of used furniture and painted it for…P’s new apartment! We got her moved in about 3 weeks ago.

(Seems very apropos right now, right?)

Because we’ve been so busy around here, I haven’t been reading much. BUT! I just finished The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett, and !!!

I was quite intrigued by this one when I read the description…

On a chilly November morning at the University of Georgia, a fraternity brother steps off a busy crosswalk and is struck dead by an oncoming car. More than a dozen witnesses all agree on two things: the driver looked identical to the victim, and he was smiling.

Detective Marlitt Kaplan is first on the scene. An Athens native and the daughter of a UGA professor, she knows all its shameful histories, from the skull discovered under the foundations of Baldwin Hall to the hushed-up murder-suicide in Waddel. But in the course of investigating this hit-and-run, she will uncover more chilling secrets as she explores the sprawling, interconnected Greek system that entertains and delights the university’s most elite and connected students.

The lines between Marlitt’s police work and her own past increasingly blur as Marlitt seeks to bring to justice an institution that took something precious from her many years ago. When threats against her escalate, and some long-buried secrets threaten to come to the surface, she can’t help questioning whether the corruption in Athens has run off campus and into the force and how far these brotherhoods will go to protect their own.

The Resemblance did not disappoint. I was captivated from the first page. It’s fast paced (but not too fast), and the mystery of who killed the fraternity brother in a hit and run continued to evolve throughout the story. Just when I thought I’d figured it out, there was a twist, and then another and another.

The main character, Marlitt, is likable and sympathetic…although there’s another mystery concerning her lurking beneath the surface. The fraternity brothers, university president, and police chief are complicated characters; both intriguing and, at times, villainous.

I found the setting, Athens and the University of Georgia, fascinating as well. Lauren Nossett has written a riveting and compelling mystery and I highly recommend it. 5 stars!

Thank you NetGalley & FlatIron Books for the ARC. Look for The Resemblance November 8, 2022.