Big Lies in a Small Town #DianeChamberlain

Pendleton, Indiana – population 4,000 on a good day, maybe. I never dreamed I would live in a small town. Actually, I thought my city of 60000 was a small town. How wrong I was. Adapting to the habits of these towns, actions embedded for centuries, can be daunting. Diane Chamberlain has captured these nuances, the whispers and innuendo, perfectly in her newest book Big Lies in a Small Town.

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Morgan Christopher is serving time for a crime she didn’t commit, putting her dreams of being an artist into limbo until a mysterious visitor shows up at the prison offering her a chance for freedom and a job she cannot refuse.

The concept of the book is gripping from its opening pages and keeps you hooked until the very end. It is a mystery within a mystery with its dual timeline, set in both the present, with Morgan’s and her mysterious benefactor, and the past with the artist and the painting whose work Morgan has been hired to restore. This is very much a story of two women whose lives have been altered by fate and the town in which they are living, by lies, rumors and mental illness. It is a story of redemption for one in the present timeline and redemption of the other through her work.

I’m new to Chamberlain’s work, unsure how I survived for so long without reading it and I’m grateful to whomever pointed out her to writing to me. She is a beautiful story teller who has a gift for bringing words to life. Her characters are extremely authentic, women we know and whom we come to care about deeply. In this instance, I immediately walked down to my historical post office to see if we had one of the commissioned paintings on the wall. And, yes, there it was. How had I never noticed it there before!? Now I look at it every time I go in side and think of the artists who painted these wonderful reflections of nation’s past. Big Lies in a Small Town is a beautiful story and one I highly recommend to readers of cross genres. It’s a work of fiction that defies specific classification.

Thank you to @Netgalley D_Chamberlain and @StMartinsPress for my copy of this amazing book!

 

 

Recent Reads and Rapid Reviews

Recent and Rapid

Below are a few quick reviews of books I’ve read recently. First up is Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty.

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The Cold Cold Ground is the first book of what has now become a series revolving around Detective Sean Duffy a Catholic cop in the middle of the protestant end of Ireland in the 1980s. Not a good place to stay alive so it’s a good thing they have Duffy, a sharp, educated “peeler” who is as tenacious as a bulldog. Duffy is a combination of Harry Bosch (in his younger days) and Harry Hole with his own brand of justice. I stayed up all night reading this one and I think you will enjoy it too. Now, I’m off to see if I can find the second in this series.

Thanks to Sandy at Sandy’s Book A Day Blog for her fabulous review(HERE) that inspired by search for this book.

LAST DAY by Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is a master storyteller and that truly shines in her latest novel, Last Day, the story of four friends, two deaths and the secrets kept hidden to the end.

Sisters Kate and Beth had survived a tragic ordeal in their teen years but, like so many, that tragedy pushed them apart rather than pulling them together. Kate is closed off from all emotion and Beth has infused her life with love, giving to the community, loving her daughter and caring for her friends. When Beth is murdered, Kate digs in to find the answers to her sister’s murder. What she finds instead are layers of secrets.

While I was a bit disappointed in the ending, the overall story is brilliantly told. Last Day was my January selection for Amazon First Reads and will be available on February 1st.

THE PASSENGERS  by John Marrs

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I have been on a John Marrs kick for the last year. I’ve loved every single thing he has written. He’s different, his ideas are original, his writing is superb. However I was a bit disappointed with The Passengers. The story itself, self-driving cars which have been “hacked,” is one that actually terrifies me to think about. For reasons I never could put my finger on, though, the characters never resonated with me and I simply didn’t care who survived and who didn’t. Of course I will continue to read Marrs’ books in the future but The Passengers just fell a bit short.

Good Girls Lie #JTEllison @Mira #BookBlogTour

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I’m thrilled to be part of the Harlequin Blog Tour: Mystery/Thriller 2020.  The selection of books was top-notch. Some of my favorite books for the coming year are on this list! Up first is Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

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Goode girls don’t lie…

The Goode School is considered the Ivy League prep school known as the Silent Ivy. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

Look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

It’s been a while since I’ve read one of Ellison’s book and I forgot how much I like her writing as well as her ability to build suspense. There is a reason why she is such a successful writer in the genre. Good Girls Lie is a tautly written tale of girls, rich elitist girls, sequestered away at a remote boarding school. When new “Ash” is admitted, she appears to be the perfect “Goode Girl.” She is tall, tanned, has perfect hair and the smile of an innocent but she also has a lifetime full of secrets. Her smile is practiced and her motives are impure but is it she who drove a fellow student to commit suicide or are there more secrets to reveal. The answers to these questions are what make this heart-pounding thriller so good!

Good Girls Lie is set to be published December 30 and should be on every suspense lovers 2020 TBR.  You can find the book at the following book sellers:

AMAZON/ BARNESNOBLE/ BAM

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J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

You can connect with Ellison at the following:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

Many thanks to Harlequin and Mira for coordinating this Blog Tour. Stay tuned for more of my reviews of the books being published this spring. You can with J.T. Ellison if you live near any of the following cities.

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Fabulous Friday Fiction #LostYou #SomeoneWeKnow #Rewind

LOST YOU by Haylen Beck aka @StuartNeville

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Libby, a single mom to Ethan, has worked for and planned for a much needed vacation for so long. Finally she is able to relax just a little but, in a moment of inattention, Ethan wanders into an elevator before Libby can reach him. When the elevator stops and the doors open, Ethan is gone. What follows is one of the twistiest, strangest, maze that I’ve ever read – and I LOVED it! I swear that I kept reading primarily for the fact that I had no idea what was really going throughout the majority of the book. If that’s bad, I assure it was not. The author has meant for you, the reader, to be a bit on the wrong foot and unbalanced while reading this thriller in order for you to feel the anxiety, the confusion that the characters are experiencing. It works! I had no idea how the book would conclude until the very last paragraph of the very last page! I don’t recommend that this become a gimmick because it could get old really quickly, but for Lost You, it works very well! If you like suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thrillers then you will enjoy Lost You!

SOMEONE WE KNOW @ShariLapena

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I have yet to read a book by Shari Lapena that I didn’t love and Someone We Know is no exception! It’s a fast paced thriller that grabbed me from the start and, WOW, what a read it was!

A woman has gone missing. In the same neighborhood there is a teenage hacker who is breaking into the neighbors’ homes and hacking into their computers – for the thrill of it. Sometimes he shares the secrets he learns, but not all secrets are meant to be shared!

Someone We Know is fabulous domestic noir. Every person, every family, every neighbor has a secret that they’ve kept from one another and their own families. As police investigate the missing woman, possible murder, no one is telling them the truth for fear of incriminating themselves or those they love. Added to the tension is the kid who is breaking into their homes. Some are aware, others are not. When more bodies begin to pile up, the neighbors and families start pointing fingers at one another, ripping the neighborhood – and some families – apart at the seams.  I love how the stories are interwoven with one another, the red herrings, the secrets but, most of all, I really liked the originality of the plot. I’ve not read a book quite like this one which made it all the more intriguing. If you haven’t read Someone We Know, I highly recommend it. I also suggest going back and reading Lapena’s other works. All are very good!

REWIND @CathryanHoward

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Love, LOVE, love and LOVE!! That is what I really think of Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard. Wait, you want more??  Then Rewind and I’ll start again…..

A woman has left her home and, under an assumed name, rents a cabin in a remote area by the sea. The manager of the holiday rentals is an odd duck with a bit of past. fact that he secretly records the guests should come as no surprise. The surprise is when the woman is brutally murdered and it is recorded on his secret tapes.

But that’s not where this story begins. To get there you will have to hit Rewind. The author has used a writing technique that we’ve seen before, back and forth on a timeline. However, she has done so in such a clever manner that you, the reader, stay captivated as you move forward and back gathering clues to who the killer might be – and why. The answers will shock you! I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you like intelligent, witty, clever suspense novels, then this one is definitely for you! Now, I will Fast Forward to another of her books because I am hooked!

NOTE – thanks to #Edelweiss, #Netgalley, #CrownPublishing, @PenguinRandomHouse, #BlackstonePublishing and the authors for my copy of these fabulous thrillers!

I’ll Never Tell – the perfect summer read

I’ve never read a book by Catherine McKenzie but have heard so many great things about her books that I wanted to try one to see what I was missing. Well, apparently I’ve been missing a lot. I’ll Never Tell was the perfect summer read for me: not too serious, super quick, a nice mystery and interestingly quirky characters. What more could a reader ask for in a summer book?40201006._SY475_.jpg

The MacAllister siblings grew up at Camp Macaw, the typical summer camp with cabins that surround a lake, stories re-told over and over, sports, games and art workshops. What wasn’t typical was the summer that Amanda, a popular counselor and friend of the siblings, washed ashore dead in a rowboat. The police never found the killer. When the siblings’ parents die and the will is read, they discover that the only way they will inherit the camp is to solve the mystery of Amanda’s death. However, what once was an unsolvable murder mystery is now shrouded in closely guarded family secrets as well. None of these siblings is who they appear to be.

I’ve come to love domestic noir especially when it is done well and I’ll Never Tell does, in fact, handle this genre very well. There are six points of view – yes six – which could get muddled and confusing but McKenzie deftly moves back and forth between the chapters and personalities so that never once does the reader lose focus on who is who. The book also jumps back in time through Amanda’s point of view but this also adds to the dimension of the story rather than detracts. We are able to put into perspective the tales that the siblings are weaving from the actual facts as they happened. This does not, however, give the reader a clear cut view of the actual killer. There are so many twists and possibilities that I was clueless until the very end.  Literally, it could have been any of them, or all.

I’ll Never Tell is a well written “whodunnit” and a great mystery, perfect for any season but even better for summer because of its setting. I highly recommend it and will be pursuing other McKenzie books for myself.

Thanks to #Netgalley, #CatherineMcKenzie @CEMcKenzie1 and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this great read.

We Never Told #DianaAltman

There are stories relating to women that are as timeless as time itself. As advanced as society may become, there are issues that women and their children deal with that seem never to change. We Never Told is one such tale.

41646617amazonWe Never Told revolves around a Hollywood socialite, Violet, and her two daughters, Sonya and Joan. Violet lives the epitome of the luxurious lifestyle of the “rich and famous,” cycling through husbands, attending parties, living a life of style and glamour until Sonya is fourteen years old. That summer, her mother tells her two daughters that she has to go away for treatment of a tumor. She leaves the girls in the care of the housekeeper and makes them swear to tell no-one, not even their father who has visitation rights. Even after the housekeeper has a heart attack and leaves the girls alone, they tell no one for months on end. They simply endure and care for themselves. It becomes a secret that lives between them – thus the title for this book. They never told a soul. After their mother’s death years later, the daughter’s finally realize what had actually happened to their mother. We, of course, do not learn this until the end of the book – although I’m quite sure most astute readers can guess. It isn’t the end result that is important to the story,  it the is the story itself. And that is where the beauty lies with We Never Told.

It doesn’t matter where families live, in New York, California or Mississippi. It doesn’t matter if it is 1790, 1990, or 2019, there still are things that certain things that families keep secret, certain actions that are not talked about from teenage pregnancy to drug use to mental illness. If you scratch past the surface in every family, you will find a secret that family is hiding. Families also are a sum total of all of their parts, no child is raised in a vacuum – from parents to grandparents. aunts, cousins, school teachers or coaches – we all are a result of the influences of those around us. That is the beautiful lesson of We Never Told. Altman weaves together an incredible story of women, children, families, care-takers, the world in the late 20th century and that of today and makes each aspect of her story completely relevant to now. While of the book takes place in the 20th century, it isn’t historical fiction, but a timely read for today’s generation. It is one that I highly recommend.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #SheWritesPress and #DianaAltman for my advanced copy of #WeNeverTold. It will be on sale June 11, 2019.

The Editor #Steven Rowley

Fridays are generally set aside for fabulous fiction here at Macsbooks and The Editor by Steven Rowley, author of the amazing book, Lily and the Octopus, certainly fits that description! 9780525537960_5fcef
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James is a writer living in New York with his boyfriend, struggling to make ends meet and hoping for his first big break. His publisher calls informing him that his editor requests a meeting with him, which scares him senseless enough; but, when he discovers that his editor is Jackie Kennedy Onassis he is speechless. As Ms. Onassis continues to work with James through rewrites and deeper explorations into his novel and his own personal relationships, James realizes that his editor is, indeed, the perfect one to help him grow as a person and as a writer.

To say that I have a love affair with the Kennedys is an understatement, There are few, if any, books written by or about this family that I haven’t read. When I saw that this was a historical fiction book featuring Kennedy-Onassis in her final years as an editor, I literally jumped at the chance to read it. It did not disappoint in the least. As with Lily and the Octopus, Rowley has created a story that illustrates how even the most flawed characters can be lovable and redemptive. He weaves this story around an amazingly famous person but manages to place her in a tale that makes her human and real. To do this with someone like Kennedy-Onassis truly is astounding and my hat is off to Rowley for this alone. Most importantly, however, the core of The Editor is based on familial relationships; the struggle between a son and his mother. This is the story that is worth reading and it is here in which lies all of the beauty and the charm of this novel.

The Editor will available on April 2 and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, @StevenRowley and @PutnamBooks for my copy of #TheEditor