Layover by David Bell

Layover is the second book I’ve read by David Bell and both times I have been fully engrossed in the plot and the characters until halfway through the book. At that point, Bell loses me. For someone who reads as much as I do, I know that often there is a lull in the story line midway through, however, with Bell it generally revolves around the plot itself or the actual character. In Layover, the primary character “accidentally” meets a girl, a stranger, with whom he shares an instant connection and ultimately a kiss. She then tells him to forget he ever met it. Rather than going about his normal life, he pursues the woman and ends up in the middle of murder and mayhem. It was here that I lost interest. Following a woman through an airport is one thing. Following bread crumbs to her town, to her family in search of… what!? Who knows and then allowing oneself to become enveloped in their drama, including murder, is quite another thing entirely. I found it completely unbelievable. I finished it, barely, and would not have if it hadn’t been for review.

9780440000860_c74f6

Park Avenue Summer by #ReneeRosen

Park Avenue Summer is a walk back in time to an era when women were just emerging from the sexual dark ages into a generation of power, opportunities and revolution.

park ave summerAlice Weiss has left her small, midwestern town in search of big dreams and opportunities in New York City. It’s the mid-60s and times are changing, particularly at Cosmopolitan, the failing magazine where Alice has landed a job. The new editor, Helen Gurley Brown has shocked everyone as the first female editor of the publication but more so with her shocking bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. Alice soon learns that it’s a man’s world as those in power try to draw her into a scheme to sabotage Brown’s work and ultimately lead to the failure of Cosmo. Alice learns, however, that in this new world a woman can make demands and have it all, succeed and come out on top!

Admittedly I’m a child of the 60s and 70s and remember well the days of both the sexual revolution and the feminist movement. Reading Park Avenue Summer was very much like a walk down memory lane for me. There was a very clear division in my life’s timeline: a before, when women were one way, and after, when things were very different. We have women like Helen Gurley Brown to thank for that. While Park Avenue Summer is the story of Alice’s time at the magazine, there is quite a bit of historical fact throughout the book. Much of what happened at Cosmopolitan and what transpired with Brown is documented. While we look back on her with our present sense of power and women’s rights, at the time so much of what she did and wrote about was considered scandalous. Churches across America were preaching against Brown and her magazine. Men wouldn’t allow their daughters or wives to flip through the pages of it at stores, much less buy it. The only place I ever saw it was at the hair dresser’s. We went there often. 😉  Through Alice’s eyes we see the world as it is changes; we see young women like Alice growing bolder and realizing their own power and strength. That is exactly what this period was about and Rosen captures that time, the feelings of empowerment beautifully. Park Avenue Summer is, in fact, the perfect 1960s historical fiction to illustrate the evolution of women from one era to the next.

“Filled with wit, heart and verve, Rosen’s novel dazzles and empowers” ~ Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana

Many thanks to @ReneeRosen1 and Elisha @BerkleyPub  Park Avenue Summer will be available April 30 at your favorite bookseller and at amazon

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Park Avenue Summer

retro open book isolated on white background

Each Wednesday many bloggers join Tressa at Wishful Endings to post a little preview about a book that we just cannot wait to read! This week I am beyond excited to share with you Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen.

park ave summer

New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.

There already are some pretty terrific reviews out there and from what I’ve read of the book so far, it is amazing. I can’t wait to finish reading it and share my review with you. What about you? Have you read it yet? What did you think? What Can’t You Wait to read this Wednesday? Let me know!!

The Secret of Clouds @AlysonRichman

From the #1 international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours comes an emotionally charged story about a mother’s love, a teacher’s promise, and a child’s heart…

the-secret-of-cloudsMaggie Topper has left the bustling life of a New York public relations world to become a teacher on Long Island, a job she adores and one at which she is quite good. She is approached to tutor a homebound child who is too ill to attend daily classes and, although Maggie is uncertain at first due to a past trauma of her own, she comes to enjoy and look forward to her time with Yuri, the young Ukrainian-American boy who is quite ill. Soon they are bonding over baseball and their mutual love of reading and writing. As  her weekly visits become routine, Maggie discovers more about Yuri’s parents’ tragic life that they left behind in Ukraine, including their survival of the horrific Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

This is so much more than just Maggie and Yuri’s story. Told in alternating timelines, there are flashbacks to Katya and Sasha’s time spent in Ukraine. We read as their love unfolds and grows and their struggle to reach a decision about leaving their families behind to come to the US. We also have Maggie’s interactions in her private life as she struggles with relationships: private, familial and with her other students in the classroom. It is a joy to watch as she grows as a woman, as a teacher and as a friend to those around her.

The Secret of Clouds touches on so many important topics and, if there was one critique, and really there are none but if there was to be a minor one, it would be that there almost were too many important topics covered. The Holocaust is a recurring topic and a very poignant section of the book is when one of Maggie’s co-workers recounts a memorable story of an art teacher who taught Jewish children in the concentration camps, most of whom were killed. The story is tragic and beautiful but brief. There is Chernobyl and the horrific after-effects of this disaster, how even today this tragedy still is playing out physically and mentally in those who were affected and their offspring and even in their offspring. And then there is Maggie and her parents, her familial relationships, her budding romance, her work as a teacher. It was quite a lot for a short book. All of that not withstanding, Richman does an incredible job weaving it all together seamlessly and the book flows brilliantly so that it is over before you realize and far sooner than you wish for it to be.

This is a rare book about friendship on so many varied levels. It is a look at cross cultural relationships and how important it is for each of us to interact with one another. Most importantly, it is about hope and love and learning to live a life with a full and open heart. It will make you smile, cry, and laugh but, most of all, it make you ponder long after you turned that very last page.

With a grateful heart to #Edelweiss, #AlysonRichman and @BerkleyPub

The Missing Years #LexieElliott

MY FATHER IS….

Missing…  Ailsa Calder’s father is missing and has been for several years. Rumor floating among the little village where he lived is that he ran off with jewels that he stole from his employer. Perhaps he ran away to start a new life or fell to his death into the sea or was murdered and hidden and the jewels stolen. Ailsa has come up with many theories throughout her lifetime but now she has to find out the truth. Her mother is dead and she has inherited one half of a manse. The other half is owned by her missing father. She cannot do anything with it until she either finds her father or proves he is dead.

52681134_642264552856741_4538588784605790208_nI really enjoyed reading Lexie Elliott’s first novel, The French Girl, last year but I will tell you now that The Missing Years eclipses her first and has landed its way onto my favorite’s list! The Missing Years crosses genres from suspense, mystery, a touch of romance to a fair amount of magical realism and she marries these together seamlessly. It has an essence of a ghost story while keeping the reader firmly planted in the here and now and much of what one suspects as supernatural turns out to be ominously too close to reality for comfort.

While both The French Girl and The Missing Years comprise a large ensemble cast of characters, with this one Elliott does a better job of fleshing out her characters so that they are more manageable to distinguish from one another and also easier to relate to, feel compassion for and, ultimately invest in their story. As someone with roots in Scotland, I found the history that was included particularly intriguing and learned more about my own past than I was expecting. Trust me, the history is subtle, never boring for a moment.

The Missing Years is an eclectic, atmospheric and suspenseful tale that I highly recommend. While some readers have questioned the addition of magical realism in this book, I found that it was absolutely marvelous and hope this is a continued direction for Elliott’s future work.

I am very grateful to Elisha @berkleypub and #elliott_lexie for my advanced copy #TheMissingYears.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Child and The Widow, is back with her newest thrilling suspense novel, The Suspect.

9781101990513_28643

Reporter Kate Waters is back in this third offering of Barton’s, along with DI Bob Sparkes. For Kate getting the story, being first on the scene and first to press is key to her success so when she hears about two British girls who have gone missing in Thailand, she manages to find a way into the confidences of the girls’ families. The girls, teens on their “gap year” abroad, were supposed to follow an itinerary but it soon becomes apparent that the girls are not where they were meant to be and are no longer phoning home. As Kate calls on resources in Thailand, she learns that the bodies of two young girls have been discovered in a “flop house.” Their deaths have been ruled accidental. But Kate and the families want answers – they want to know what happened to the girls. Or do they? The answers to the questions will have far reaching implications that fall closer to home than any parent could possibly imagine.

The Suspect is every parent’s worst nightmare – a missing child, the subsequent death of a child, and mountains of international bureaucratic red tape that stymies all questions. I truly empathized with these parents, perhaps because I have grown children who travel abroad nearly as often as they stay at home in the states and they have done so since they were teens. There is such a fine line between trusting your kids and knowing when to be wary of what they are telling you. So, for me, these parents and their reactions were very believable. I also have been a small-time reporter in my much younger days so Kate is someone with whom I also identify. In the end, the entire story – while focusing on the girls’ travels and exploits – ultimately is about the parents, their lifestyles, decisions and, in the end, what they will do to protect their children and their families.

This is, of course, the third book in what appears to be a series but, maybe I’m just dense, I didn’t read it as part of a set. Yes, Kate has been in the previous books but until The Suspect she was not a focal character. She and Sparkes are recurring characters, and I hope they continue to be, but certainly this book could be read as a stand-alone. It should be noted, I suppose, that there is a lot of graphic sex, drug use and descriptions of dead bodies. I’ve grown somewhat callous to this type of thing in suspense/thrillers but I’m noting it just the same. I adore Barton’s writing style and have loved each of her books. She has become an author whose book I know I will relish and I hope that you will enjoy this, her latest book. I couldn’t wait to read it and, now, I cannot wait to read her next one.

Much appreciation to #Edelweiss, @BerkleyPub and #FionaBarton for my copy of #TheSuspect

The Au Pair #emmarous @BerkleyPub

The Au Pair by Emma Rous is part gothic suspense with a full measure of domestic noir!

AuPair

It’s Murder and Mayhem Monday here at Macsbooks and, if I were asked to choose the perfect MMM book, it would The Au Pair! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than dark, domestic tales of suspense and murder. The Au Pair has it all.

Seraphine and Danny are twins who, along with their older brother, Edwin, have been raised in an old Victorian estate in Norfolk (UK.)  Their lives would appear charmed to the outside world, but there is a darkness within the family that pervades their existence. On the day that the twins were born, their mother threw herself off of a cliff. Now the siblings are attempting to cope with their father’s tragic, accidental death. While going through their father’s belongings, Seraphine discovers a photograph of their parents with one of the twins taken on the day they were born. Their mother looks blissfully happy. What possibly could have happened to make her kill herself and why is there only one twin? With stories of changelings, faeries and sprites haunting them all of their lives, Seraphine is determined to find answers. But will those answers be the ones she is hoping to find or will it lead to more heartbreak for this cursed family.

Told from two points of view, Seraphine’s and that of Laura, the au pair at the time of their birth, Rous weaves together a story of a wealthy family with mental instability, far too many secrets and characters who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden. The complex plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways and takes the reader on a journey from the present to the past and back again. Although I am one who does not like surprises in my noir novels, this ending will absolutely blow your mind! The resolution, however, is perfection!

For those who love domestic drama, suspense and fast paced fiction, this is definitely a book you will want to read! Mark it now, order early, it will be published January 8th.

Many thanks to @BerkleyPub and #EmmaRous for my copy of this amazing tale.

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

My apologies for going MIA for a few days. In my real-life-non-reviewer world, I run a bed and breakfast. We purchased an abandoned, run-down, falling apart Victorian home two years ago and are rehabilitating it to its former glory. This week, we opened a new guest room but WOW did it take more work than anticipated. The BnB also had its first wedding of sorts so there was a ton of prep work for that as well. Loads of Fun but, sadly, no time for reviews. Now I’m back, at least until the holidays. 🙂

415a2TwFvvL._AC_US327_QL65_

Camilla Way is a new-to-me author. I went into the book unsuspecting and was wowed by its gripping suspense.

The Lies We Told is the story of two families – one who has a daughter, Hannah, who never has been quite normal. In fact, she has sociopathic tendencies that worsen the older she gets. The second family has a son who is missing and his girlfriend is trying desperately to find him – hopefully before it is too late. The intersection of these two families is where our story lies. Each family has a dark secret that will affect the outcome of all of their lives. Their secrets have been buried for decades but what will the cost of revealing that secret be?

While the story itself was not always as plausible as I would have liked, the suspense was nail-bitingly fantastic! I stayed up late to read this one through to the end because I just had to know the “secret” and how these two families were intertwined. To say I was shocked at the reveal is an understatement – more so – I was shocked at the subsequent twist. This is one helluva ride from start to finish.

If you like mysteries, suspense and thrillers, this is the book for you. Camilla Way is definitely on my radar now and I cannot wait for her next book!

Thank you to PenguinPublishing – Berkley for this amazing read!