My Mother’s Silence @lwestwoodwriter

Last year during the holidays, I was introduced to Lauren Westwood’s work through her novel Midnight on the Thames. It was one of my most loved books of the season and afterward I read all of the books she had written to date! You can read my review of Midnight on the Thames HERE.  This year Westwood is back with another incredible story, My Mother’s Silence. Set during the holiday season, it is a cross-genre book about family, the bonds of love, forgiveness and the power of forgiveness.

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Skye had no recollection of the night her twin sister, Ginny, died. All she was aware of was her inability to forgive herself for Ginny’s death and the belief that her mother blamed Skye for Ginny’s death as well. Fifteen years later, their mother is frail and in need of someone to be with her. Skye returns home to the secrets, the blame, the gossip of what really happened the night Ginny vanished. As Skye searches for answers to the questions her memories refuse to answer, the horrors of that night reveal secrets this family may not be able to cope with.

My Mother’s Silence is a story of three women: a mother and her twin daughters. It’s a tale of unspoken anger, resentment, jealousy but, above all, it is a story of love, forgiveness and hope. What I love most about Westwood’s writing is that she creates characters that are so realistically flawed so that we, the reader, are able to relate to them. Through their story line we come to know everything about them, including the thoughts and feelings that they would like to forget. As Skye delves into her sister’s past with the help of long forgotten journals, we see how emotionally fraught her sister was, the secrets that she was keeping from Skye and, ultimately what happened that fateful night. As Skye then attempts to deal with the lies, the whispers and betrayal, we see her emotional growth as she finally makes reconciliations with members of her family. This is a powerful, emotional, tense book through which I laughed, cried and got angry right along side Skye. Westwood, as always, drew me into their lives from the beginning and I did not stop reading until the very end – and then I wanted MORE!! And yes, this book is centered around the holidays, but it is far more about relationships than it is about the holidays. It easily could be read any time, any day of the year – and you should do just that. Now, do I really have to wait another entire year for the next fabulous book by Lauren Westwood!?

I’m so grateful to #Netgalley and #Bookoutre for my copy of  #MyMothersSilence.

 

 

They Call Me The Crazy Cat Lady @AmyMiller

Personal Note: I’m completely unsure who is still out there reading this but, for those who are, over the next week or so I’m going to be uploading reviews from all of the books that I listened to while I was “out.” I know it will be an overload and I apologize but I feel so badly for the authors and publishers who I’ve let down by not being able to post so please bear with me. Some of these books I realize most of you have already read but, hopefully, there will be some that still are new to you.

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When the kids were growing up we somehow manage to acquire more than our fair share of cats. Okay, truth be told, we had about 13 or more living in or around the house. We lived at the top of a mountain at the end of gravel road and it appeared to be the favorite dumping ground for those nefarious people who cruelly dumped cats. The kitties found a home with us and we all lived happily ever after – except my husband who thought we were crazy. I understand the “crazy cat lady” persona better than most and I wear the label proudly.

I assumed that this book by Amy Miller would be nothing more than good comedy or, at best, a Rom-Com. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They Call Me The Crazy Lady snuck up on me and grabbed me and did not let me go. It is an emotional, uplifting, hopeful book about letting go of the past, making changes and moving forward. I laughed, I cried and I was angry at times but in the end I was incredibly happy with the way everything worked out for everyone. The story is beautifully written, the characters charmingly created, and the cats wonderfully portrayed. I loved every single line of this tale. The book is gender neutral even though the word “lady” is in the title, it’s a delight for both sexes and all ages. I also found it to be a bit genre defying and would simply say that it’s well-done fiction. I highly recommend it!

Only Daughter @SarahDenzil

Kat has been repeatedly told that she is a sociopath and incapable of love. She, however, knows beyond a doubt that she loves her only daughter with a passion, regardless of whether that love is natural or has been learned. When she told that her daughter, Grace, is dead Kat refuses to believe the news. When she is told that Grace committed suicide, Kat vows to find her killer!

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amazonWOW! Only Daughter is one heck of a roller coaster ride. From beginning to end, I had absolutely no clue who to suspect or how this book would end and that made for one very thrilling read!

Kat has a very dark history: an abusive mother, a very traumatic event that changed her teenage years and ultimately her life, an “accidental” pregnancy in order to snag a wealthy husband. You name it, and Kat has experienced it. The one constant in her life, the one person for whom she would move heaven and earth, is her daughter. Kat even sees a therapist in order to “obtain human emotions” so that she can be a better mother to Grace. So when she learns of Grace’s death, she knows in her mother’s heart that Grace did not commit suicide. However, the more Kat learns about Grace, the more she wishes she had learned nothing at all. Was Grace the child she knew and loved or the monster that her friends are making her appear to be.

Only Daughter is the story of every mother’s nightmare and as readers we live that nightmare through Kat – every emotion, every pain and each and every discovery she makes until the very climactic conclusion. This is a gripping, suspenseful tale full of intriguing twists that will grab you and not let go even after you have finished the book! The writing is tight, the characters are very well developed, from the snotty teens to obnoxious wealthy parents, every character is well drawn. I absolutely loved it and if you like thrillers, I think you will too!

Thank you to #Netgalley, @Bookouture and #SarahADenzil for my advance copy of #Only Daughter which will be available on March 13, 2019.

The Shop Girls of Lark Lane @PamHowes

The Shop Girls of Lark Lane will tug at your heart-strings once again as we catch up with Alice and the gals of Lark Lane

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This is the second book in a series and  as the book opens, we find the war is over and the men are returning home. Alice, who was introduced in the first book, is reunited with her husband who is seeing his daughter for the first time. She isn’t exactly happy to share her mum with this new man and makes their adjustment rather difficult. But then, there are difficult adjustments for everyone as the women give up their factory jobs and independence and settle back into domesticity. Tragedy, sadly, does not escape Alice in this saga and her story holds more tears for her and requires much courage as she finds herself alone once again.

Although The Shop Girls of Lark Lane is part of a series, I had no trouble at all reading it as a stand alone. I suspect that it helped that I didn’t have preconceived ideas about certain characters, especially as they evolved into rather unsavory sorts as the book progressed It did start off rather slowly which, I think, partly was due to the fact that the author was laying down a lot of background information so that readers could catch up from the first book. A quarter of the way in I was hooked completely and fell in love with the characters, Alice in particular, and their stories. Normally I’m not a fan of this era but this tale was well told with a lot of historical detail and human emotions. If you enjoy historical fiction then you will like The Shop Girls of Lark Lane which is available now.

Thank you #Netgalley, #Bookouture and #PamHowes for my copy of this terrific book. The first in the series is titled #TheFactoryGirlsofLarkLane

SEVEN WEEKS ‘TIL CHRISTMAS!

While it seems so far away, when you are counting down the weeks by reading holiday books, you suddenly realize that there are more holiday books on the bookshelf than there are weeks left to read them! YIKES!! Perhaps a book a day would help alleviate the panic attacks. 🙂

cover148567-mediumThis appears to be the week for “café” books. If holiday stories aren’t set in cafes, then they are set in bookstores. Regardless of the setting, however, The Christmas Café at Seashell Cove is a delightful, humorous holiday tale. Seashell Cove is a series by Karen Clarke that features a different resident in each book, although past and future featured characters all make at least a cameo appearance in the current storyline.

Tilly is a free spirit who loves to work wherever her heart leads. Currently she is doing interior design work but she refuses to take it too seriously or even call it a “job.” She likes getting paid to do what she loves without the strings of a “business” attached. This Christmas, however, her friends and the café owners, are putting a great deal of pressure on her to turn the new addition to the café into something spectacular, each wanting to use the grand opening holiday celebration as a very special occasion to reveal big surprises. In addition, there is a new man in town with a young son who may, or may not, hire Tilly to redecorate his new home. The man, Seth, unfortunately comes with a very overbearing mother who has ideas of her own.

There are all of the usual holiday read must-haves: a bit of intrigue, encouraging friends, a colorful character or two and, most importantly, romance with missed cues and crossed signals that can keep the reading enjoyable and interesting. The folks of Seashell Cove always are a delight to catch up with and Tilly’s character is one of the best and most interesting to date.

If you are a fan of cozy books – mystery or romance – and like a good holiday tale that is not too over-the-top Christmassy, then The Christmas Café at Seashell Cove is a must read for you. Once you’ve read this one, I encourage you to catch up with the other folks from Seashell Cove. You will be glad that you did.

Much appreciation to #Netgalley, @Bookouture, and the author, @KarenClarke123 for my copy of this humorous tale!

 

Something Wicked by Kerry Wilkinson

If you enjoy suspenseful tales or creepy books, especially this time of year, then #SomethingWicked could be the read for you!

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Something Wicked is a re-released UK novel by very popular author Kerry Wilkinson. I have read so many amazing reviews of Wilkinson’s books and I was really looking forward to reading one by him. Something Wicked is the first in the Andrew Hunter series so I thought this would be a great place to begin. And it was.

Andrew Hunter is a sarcastic, interesting PI with a past. His smart, quirky and sassy side-kick, Jenny, helps him along with her techie knowledge and inability to truly sense danger. Together they make a terrific team. Let me say that I would read entire books featuring Jenny alone – she is a great character!

What appears to be a run of the mill missing persons case soon turns devilishly wicked. There are so many twists and turns with a shocking surprise ending that at times it was hard to keep up with who was who and doing what. However, all of that served to keep the suspense building until the climactic conclusion. This is definitely a fast paced thriller!

I did find certain tics rather annoying, things that I seriously doubt many other readers would notice. Andrew Hunter complains about being “old” a LOT. A whole lot. He hurts, cannot bend down, has problems running, etc. etc. I kept waiting to find out how old he was, perhaps he was a retired former cop or maybe he had an old war injury. Nope. He’s in his THIRTIES! WTH!? He also worries incessantly about people perceiving him to be an old pervert because Jenny – his assistant – is a very young beautiful woman. She’s in her 20’s! Okay, seriously, this got to be incredibly tiresome. Nosy neighbors weren’t just “annoying neighbors,” they were old women (40s or 50s) with jiggly, purple lined thighs. Really. When I was in my mid-twenties, I dated a man 15 years older than me. He was 40. Hello!? This is the 21st century and age discrimination and elder shaming should not even be in someone’s wheelhouse! I’m in my mid-50s and if I could not bend down to get something off of the floor without complaining, I would be in a doctor’s office in a nanosecond to find out what the hell was wrong with me and, believe me, I have a lot of things wrong with me! Subtle messages like this serve to re-enforce the stereotypes against aging. I did not like it at all. I liked it even less when I looked up Wilkinson’s bio and read HIS age! Based on this type of stereotyping – needless and unnecessary to the story or character development- I won’t be reading any more of his books. There simply are too many other great writers out there to waste my time on a twenty-something boy who stereotypes people over 30. (See – that was age-bias. It’s not pretty, is it?) With that said, however, overlooking this HUGE drawback, the book is a good mystery and with a strange and wicked ending.

Thanks to #Netgalley and Bookouture for my copy.  Posted on NG, GR, Amazon, Twitter, FB and my blog on October 10, 2018.