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More Books Read in 2024

  • The Queen of Sugar Hill

Books Read in '2024

  • Shanessa Glum: A River of Crows
    In 1988, Sloan Hadfield's brother Ridge went fishing with their father and never came home. Their father was arrested and charged with murder. Ridge's body was never recovered, and Sloan's mother slowly descended into madness, insisting her son was still alive as a crow. Good books (****)
  • Stacy Willingham: All the Dangerous Things
    One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally. (****)
  • Ariel Lawton: The Frozen River
    1789 Maine. Midwife Martha Ballard is summoned to examine the body of a man who has been entombed in the frozen Kennebec River and determine cause of death. This is not only an intriguing murder mystery, but also a snapshot of lives that women were subjected to in young America. For instance, a woman couldn't testify at trial without the permission of her husband or father. I loved this book, but it disturbed me. (****)
  • Hannah Tinti: The Good Thief
    Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. (***)
  • Mary Kubica: The Good Girl
    One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. Talk about your surprise ending. At least it was to me. In fact, I wasn't sure how it ended until I read the last few pages a second time. Actually the every last sentence of the book makes it clear. This is the first book I've read byt his author, but it won't be the last. (****)
  • Simone St. James: Murder Road
    A young newlywed couple on their way to their honeymoon get involved in a decades-old murder mystery after they take a wrong turn onto a dark and spooky road. (***)
  • Dennis Lehane: Since We Fell
    After a very public mental breakdown, Rachel Childs, once a tenacious, globe-trotting journalist, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. (***)
  • Dennis Lehane: The Drop
    Lehane returns to the streets of Boston for this love story wrapped in a crime story wrapped in a journey of faith. (***)
  • Coben, Harlan: I Will Find You

    Coben, Harlan: I Will Find You
    David Burroughs was once a devoted father to his three-year-old son Matthew, until one night when David woke suddenly to discover Matthew had been murdered. Five years later, David having been wrongly accused and convicted of the murder, is serving time in prison. He has lost interesting in everything, including the will to live. Until, that is, his ex-wife's sister shows him a photograph. (****)

  • McFadden, Freida: The Housemaid

    McFadden, Freida: The Housemaid
    Young, jobless, broke Millie is living in her car when she snags a job as a live-in housekeeper for a well-to-do family. Millie thinks she has hit the jackpot until she arrives at her first day and finds nothing is what she had thought. Her employer Nina is a vindictive gaslighter and the 8-year-old daughter is a small copy of her mom. The only normal person in the household seems to be the husband Andy. If only Millie had followed her instincts and left that house immediately. But she didn't. Twisty as an amusement park roller coaster. (****)

  • Wallace, Daniel: Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician

    Wallace, Daniel: Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician
    Henry Walker, once the "greatest magician in the world," has been reduced to a minstrel show–like novelty act in a traveling circus. Henry's story, told by a succession of narrators—including members of the circus and a private detective—begins during the Depression, when Henry's family fell on hard times. While down and out, Henry meets and apprentices with the devilish magician Mr. Sebastian. Henry learns the secrets of magic, but his ambition and ability are crimped when his beloved sister, Hannah, disappears. The truths of Henry's and Mr. Sebastian's identities and the fate of Hannah are gradually revealed, and what appears to be a Faustian tale of a pact with the devil turns out to be something more tragic. (****)

  • McFadden, Freida: The Ex

    McFadden, Freida: The Ex
    Joel is sweet, handsome, romantic, and best of all, he’s crazy about Cassie. She thinks she’s found the guy she’ll spend the rest of her life with. Have children with. Grow old with. And then the twists begin. This book has so many twists and turns, you might get dizzy reading it. One of the best thrillers yet. (****)

  • Sager, Riley: The Last Time I Lied: A Novel

    Sager, Riley: The Last Time I Lied: A Novel
    Four girls share a cabin at the exclusive Nightingale summer camp. During the night three of them disappear without a trace. Fifteen years later, Emma, the sole survivor of the four friends, returns to Camp Nightingale to teach art of the young campers. But her real purpose is finding what happened to her three friends on that long ago summer night. (***)

  • Swarthout, Glendon: The Homesman: A Novel

    Swarthout, Glendon: The Homesman: A Novel
    A devastating story of early pioneers in 1850s American West. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of: the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by a life of bitter hardship. A “homesman” must be found to escort a handful of them back East to a sanitarium. When none of the county’s men steps up, the job falls to Mary Bee Cuddy—ex-teacher, spinster, indomitable and resourceful. (*****)

  • Macmillan, Gilly: What She Knew: A Novel

    Macmillan, Gilly: What She Knew: A Novel
    Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes. I was completely surprised when the perpetrator was revealed. (****)

  • Stainton, Jack: You're Family Now

    Stainton, Jack: You're Family Now
    Matt Walker has spent his entire life chasing the next job and the next relationship. Life was slowly drifting him by. Until one evening, in a hotel bar, he meets the quiet and unassuming Julia who clues him in to the perfect job opportunity. Not only did the subsequent interview provide him with his dream job, it's also where he meets the love of his life. All he has to do is love her family. (****)

Books Read in 2023

  • Bledsoe, Jerry: Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder

    Bledsoe, Jerry: Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder
    If you ever get the feeling that you have some insanity running in your family, read this book. This family (at least some of the members) are dangerously nutty. I liked this true crime story a lot, even though it's long (more than 600 pages) and the author goes into great detail regarding each character's past life and the history of places and things. (****)

  • Krueger, William Kent: Heaven's Keep: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

    Krueger, William Kent: Heaven's Keep: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)
    Intrepid hero Cork O’Connor faces the most harrowing mission of his life when a charter plane carrying his wife goes missing in a snowstorm over the Wyoming Rockies. (***)

  • Sager, Riley: The Only One Left: A Novel

    Sager, Riley: The Only One Left: A Novel
    The Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion, no in danger of plunging into the sea below, where the massacre occurred. Very twisty ending. (****)

  • Hufford, Deborah: Blood to Rubies

    Hufford, Deborah: Blood to Rubies
    The best book I've read this year, it follows the life of Chief Joseph of the Perce New as he and his people fight to save their land in the Pacific Northwest. A large cast of other characters flesh this story out and make it one you'll remember for a long time. It's very sad, especially the end, so keep the tissues handy. (****)

  • Modglin, Kiersten: Do Not Open

    Modglin, Kiersten: Do Not Open
    Stephen King fans will not doubt be reminded of. MISERY when reading this book. Another author, this one with a troubled life and writer's blocks, comes in contact with her "number one fan," with terrifying results. (****)

  • Valerie Fraser Luesse: Almost Home: A Novel

    Valerie Fraser Luesse: Almost Home: A Novel
    The Great Depression hasn't quite left Blackberry Springs, Alabama at the beginning of WWII. Dollly finds she must turn the home that has been in her family for several generations into a boarding house. The people who rent her rooms become to her land her husband (and to the roomers) family. This is a wonderful book. (****)

  • Blakemore, A.K.: The Glutton: A Novel

    Blakemore, A.K.: The Glutton: A Novel
    Ever known anyone who could "eat anything?" Not like this guy, I bet you haven't. 1798, France.A Versailles hospital where a young nun has been tasked with sitting with the patient who must always be watched. The man is dying: they say he ate a golden fork, and that it’s killing him from the inside. But that’s not all—he is rumored to have done monstrous things in his attempts to sate an insatiable appetite…an appetite they say tortures him still. Sort of a yucky book, but very interesting. (***)

  • Alam, Rumaan: Leave the World Behind

    Alam, Rumaan: Leave the World Behind
    What could happen when catastrophe causes our culture, our world, to start crumbling? Who knows what the catastrophe is? This book never tells, nor does the Netflix movie based on it. But it's still darn scary. One of my faves for the year. (****)

  • Medoff, Jillian: When We Were Bright and Beautiful: A Novel

    Medoff, Jillian: When We Were Bright and Beautiful: A Novel
    When Billy Quinn, a junior at Princeton, is arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, his rushes home to Manhattan to join forces with her brothers and parents to support and defend Billy. The Quinns scramble to hire the best legal minds money can buy, but Billy fits the all-too-familiar sex-offender profile—white, athletic, and privileged—that makes headlines and sways juries. (****)

  • Quinn, Kate: The Rose Code: A Novel

    Quinn, Kate: The Rose Code: A Novel
    1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. To me, this book was too long (650 pages) for the subject it covered, and there was too many characters and too much description of decoding machines. There were good moments and good characters, but the story was just to drawn out. It gets good reviews though, and everyone else in my book club loved it. So you might too. (***)

  • Carmen, Christa: The Daughters of Block Island: A Novel

    Carmen, Christa: The Daughters of Block Island: A Novel
    White Hall, the huge old home on an isolated island, would seem to be a perfect setting for a gothic haunted house story, which was promised. And there were a couple of hints at haunting in the beginning. But it turns out they were nothing more than evil plots of angry, evil men. I wasn't impressed. (**)

  • Ramsay, Danielle: The Perfect Husband

    Ramsay, Danielle: The Perfect Husband
    Sophie's wedding day was perfect; she was marrying the love of her life, the perfect husband. But she could barely recognize the man she was spending her wedding night with. He had changed in the blink of an eye, from the kind, attentive man she had married just hours before to a belligerent monster. Was Sophie's wedding-night trip to the emergency room with a broken wrist a picture of things to come? (***)

  • Shari Low: One Moment in Time

    Shari Low: One Moment in Time
    Zara's parents' 30th anniversary is coming up, and Zara and her sister have planned an elaborate surprise trip to celebrate. The family will fly to Las Vegas where the festivities will take place. But none of the details of the trip have been revealedl to Mom and Dad. They're in for some surprises. And so are their two daughters. (***)

  • Hepworth, Sally: The Soulmate: A Novel

    Hepworth, Sally: The Soulmate: A Novel
    Pippa and Gabe live in a cozy home in a small coastal town with their two little girls, "Irish twins," born just six months apart.. Their house is steps away from a precarious cliff, famous for people coming there to jump and commit suicide. But Gabe has a talent of talking people down. Not one person has made a successful jump at the cliff since Gabe has lived there. Until somebody does. And thus begin the secrets. Good book. (****)

  • Stephen Coonts: Saucer: Saucer, Book 1

    Stephen Coonts: Saucer: Saucer, Book 1
    This book was very good at the beginning and at the end. But most of the middle was, to me, very boring. A bunch of people fighting over who owns the flying saucer, found confined in a rock in the Sahara. Then three of the characters flying the saucer around--like that would really happen. So I give the first 1/4 and the last 1/4 four stars, and the middle half 2 stars. (***)

  • Jackson, Joshilyn: With My Little Eye: A Novel

    Jackson, Joshilyn: With My Little Eye: A Novel
    This is not this author's best book. For one thing, the characters' vocabularies are unintelligible. One assumes this is supposed to be how the people of L.A. and Atlanta talk. Also not one of the characters in this book is very likable. There's this actress woman who can't make up her mind among three men who she wants to be with. To add to her confusion, any one of them (or maybe none of them) is the threatening stalker who has followed her across the country. There's another woman, and both women have daughters; and then there's another teenager who's homeless, and there's a dog. And it's all a bit of a fish mash. (***)

  • Olsen, Gregg: I Know Where You Live

    Olsen, Gregg: I Know Where You Live
    Violet's family is a hot mess. Sexual predation, incest, and murder are their pastimes. And those who don't participate in these crimes lie and protect the ones who do. This could be a disturbing book for some. (***)

  • Ellison, J.T.: It's One of Us: A Novel of Suspense

    Ellison, J.T.: It's One of Us: A Novel of Suspense
    Imagine you and your husband have been trying for several years for a baby with no success. Then, unbeknownst to you (or to him) you find that he has dozen of children as a result of a sperm donation. And one of them is a killer. That's the story. (***)

  • Cronin, Justin: The Ferryman: A Novel

    Cronin, Justin: The Ferryman: A Novel
    I chose this book to read based on a very good reviews by Stephen King and Andy Weir. And it is a good book. Very good. But I confess I had a bit of a problem keeping up with where the characters were and in what time frame and in what state of consciousness. I'm still not sure I understand the whole thing. But it is a supremely well written apocalyptic tale. (****)

  • Getson, D.S.: Earl, Honey

    Getson, D.S.: Earl, Honey
    Ever since Pa hit him in the head with the two-by-four, Earl Hahn has been slow, the last one to catch on to things. It takes him longer to make the connections others arrive at easily. When his father is prosecuted for the crime of incest, it feels like deliverance for Earl, his mother Lizzie Belle, and the entire Hahn family. Unfortunately, his father’s abhorrent actions are not done exacting a price. Everyone in the household will pay for their patriarch’s crimes – no one more than Earl. (****)

  • Hannah, Kristin: Magic Hour: A Novel

    Hannah, Kristin: Magic Hour: A Novel
    What else can you expect from Kristin Hannah but a wonderful story That's certainly what you get here, one of the two or three best books I've read this year. It takes place in the rugged Pacific Northwest. From deep within the darkness of the Olympic National Forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she offers no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past. Had a hard time putting this one down. (*****)

  • Grant, Cathryn: The Woman In the Mirror: A Psychological Suspense Novel (Alexandra Mallory Book 1)

    Grant, Cathryn: The Woman In the Mirror: A Psychological Suspense Novel (Alexandra Mallory Book 1)
    A precarious cliff-top bungalow, a man searching for peace, a pathological liar, and an alluring sociopath, what could go wrong? Plenty. (****)

  • Markin, Wes: One Last Prayer

    Markin, Wes: One Last Prayer
    A small town in the grip of a destructive snowstorm, a missing boy, a deranged family whose history is steeped in violence, and a relentless detective combine for a chilling and absorbing thriller. (****)

  • Mullen, O. J.: Three Sisters

    Mullen, O. J.: Three Sisters
    When Lewis Stone meets the Kennedy sisters, a train of events begins that engulfs them all. One sister is left fighting for her life. One sister is left fighting for her marriage. And one sister is hellbent on revenge. Thrills and chills. (****)

  • Haines, Carolyn: Tell-Tale Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery

    Haines, Carolyn: Tell-Tale Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
    This time, Sarah Booth and Tinkie are sleuthing to find the whereabouts of two women who have been missing for six years. Of course, they are joined by Sarah Booth's two furry partners, Sweetie Pie the dog and Pluto the curious cat. And from time to time, Tinkie's little dog Chablis. And hat would a Sarah Booth Delaney mystery be without some appearances by Kitty the ghost--this time dressed as Edgar Allen Poe characters, including the author himself. (***)

  • Napolitano, Ann: Hello Beautiful (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel

    Napolitano, Ann: Hello Beautiful (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel
    I think of this book as a modern adult version of Little Women--sort of. It's a beautiful story. And especially if one has sisters, which I do) it will touch your heart. Keep the Kleenex box handy, especially for the last few chapters. (****)

  • Nugent, Liz: Strange Sally Diamond

    Nugent, Liz: Strange Sally Diamond
    Reclusive Sally Diamond causes outrage by trying to incinerate her dead father. Now she’s the center of attention, not only from the hungry media and police detectives, but also a sinister voice from a past she does not remember. As she begins to discover the horrors of her early childhood, Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, big decisions, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say. (****)

  • Lehane, Dennis: Small Mercies: A Novel

    Lehane, Dennis: Small Mercies: A Novel
    Takes place during the school bussing riots in Boston in 1974. The author squeezes in a Boston crime family as a big part of this story. Riveting plot, but the racism is hard to take. But I'm sure it's based on reality. After all I grew up near Birmingham, Alabama, and lived through racism, segregation, and race riots there. (****)

  • Walls, Jeannette: Hang the Moon

    Walls, Jeannette: Hang the Moon
    Set in the Appalachian area of Virginia during Prohibition, Duke Kincaid runs the county and sets the laws. Moonshining and rum running support the county's economy. Duke's 19-year-old daughter Sallie inherits her father's dynasty after he and her older siblings die. This is a good book, but I have to confess it's a little hard to keep up with who fathered (and mothered) whom. Seems like every time you turn a page, someone is sleeping with someone else they shouldn't have. (****)

  • Cannon, J.M.: Blood Oranges: A Pulse-Pounding New Thriller Packed With Twists

    Cannon, J.M.: Blood Oranges: A Pulse-Pounding New Thriller Packed With Twists
    I love a good thriller; and dang! is this ever a good thriller! I didn't much like the ending, but up until that point, it was amazing. (****)

  • Quay Tyson, Tiffany: The Past Is Never: A Novel

    Quay Tyson, Tiffany: The Past Is Never: A Novel
    If you're a fan of southern gothic literature (or even if you aren't) you might love this book. I did. It's the best book I've read this year and one of the best I've read ever. (****)

  • Jackson, Jenny: Pineapple Street: A Novel

    Jackson, Jenny: Pineapple Street: A Novel
    This book has no discernible plot whatsoever. It reads like a soap opera--various events in the lives of the old-money, Brooklyn Heights family. That said, I was pulled into the events of their lives immediately. Nothing memorable about this book--just a fairly entertaining narrative. (***)

  • Deangelis, Camille: Bones & All

    Deangelis, Camille: Bones & All
    Although the author did a good job with her narrative, her premise was just stupid in my opinion. Every major character in this book (and some of the minor ones) are cannibals. We're not talking Jeffrey Dahmer types here, where the cannibals prepare their meals piecemeal, as it were, and keep them in the refrigerator. Oh no. These guys and gals somehow take their victims down with no weapons involved and finish them off (bones and all) in minutes. Except this one dude who claims he doesn't eat anyone who isn't already dead. One of the few good things I can say about this book is that we don't have to watch the victims being consumed, to we don't know how these horrors are completed in such a short time. It's also a movie on Amazon Prime; you can rent it for $5.29. I think I'll save my money for something that obeys the suspension of disbelief rule. Pooh on this ridiculous book. (*)

  • Hendrix, Grady: Horrorstor: A Novel

    Hendrix, Grady: Horrorstor: A Novel
    Imagine an IKEA built over an ancient prison site. You just know it's going to be haunted. It is. Not Grady's best effort, but not bad. (***)

  • Audrain, Ashley: The Push: A Novel

    Audrain, Ashley: The Push: A Novel
    Whee doggies! What a book! I read this one in two late-night sessions. Another "bad seed" plot--or is it?. You have to wait until the very last sentence to know for sure. From an online review: "It’s a story about the most life-changing and literal “push” that is childbirth, and the more figurative “push” that society places on women to have children." But it's so much more. Most reviewers say that it might be too raw and intense for new or expectant mothers. (****)

  • Follett, Ken: Never: A Novel

    Follett, Ken: Never: A Novel
    If you tell me that Ken Follett is an amazing writer, you'll get no argument from me. But if you say, as Stephen King has, that Follett "can't write a bad book," I'll beg to differ. I'm only halfway through this 800-plus-page tome, but so far it's one of the most tedious and pointless books I've ever tried to read. I say "tried" because I'm not sure I'll make it through the next 400 pages. I'll give it another chapter or two to get better, then I'm moving on if it doesn't. (*)

  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: The Yellow Wallpaper

    Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: The Yellow Wallpaper
    This short story was first published in1892 by American write Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the 19th century toward women's health, both physical and mental. But to me its just a good old scary story and reminds me a lot of the work of more recent writers like Shirley Jackson and even Stephen King. Good story. (****)

  • Frazier, Charles: The Trackers: A Novel

    Frazier, Charles: The Trackers: A Novel
    Painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming where he has landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office. Wealthy art lover John Long and his wife Eve have agreed to host Val at their sprawling ranch. When Long's wife disappears, he offers John a tempting sum of money to travel the country searching for her. Every Charles Frazier book since COLD MOUNTAIN has disappointed me, and this one is no exception. None of them measures up to that wonderful novel. (***)

  • Green, S. E.: The Family

    Green, S. E.: The Family
    This is a story about a young girl who is dissatisfied with homelife with her single mom and goes to live with her father in what she believes to be a commune where everyone is equal and nobody is the leader. She soon finds out that this is a cult and her own father is the leader, a harsh and authoritative leader. (***)

  • Green, S. E.: The Third Son

    Green, S. E.: The Third Son
    As he is in the process of building a family with his wife of two years and her two young sons, architect Carter Grady learns that a one night stand of which he'd been a part years ago had produced Carter's biological son. The boy's mother has died, leaving him an orphan. Carter has the option of taking the boy to raise or letting him go into the foster system. Of course, As far as Carter is concerned, there's no decision to be made: of course, he'll bring the boy to live with him and his family. Problem #1: he has to tell the family about the boy. Problem #2: there's something definitely wrong with the kid. This is a darn good book. (****)

  • Sottile, Leah: When the Moon Turns to Blood: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and a Story of Murder, Wild Faith, and End Times

    Sottile, Leah: When the Moon Turns to Blood: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and a Story of Murder, Wild Faith, and End Times
    Lori Vallow and her husband, grave digger turned doomsday novelist, Chad Daybell (as well as just about everyone else in this book) are members of the Mormon Church. But I hope that nobody reads it as a statement against Mormons. I know a few Mormons who are not serial killers nor enablers of them. That said, Lori and Chad are psycho killers of the worst kind. This book was hard to get through, not only because of Lori and Chad's hideous crimes but also because the author spends by far more time talking about the history and makeup of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I suppose she thought the reader could only. know the killers by know about their church. But I don't think so. The two were just nuts. They would have, in my opinion, done the same thing had they been Baptists, Catholics, Jews, atheists, etc. I didn't care for this book. (**)

  • Picoult, Jodi: Mad Honey: A Novel

    Picoult, Jodi: Mad Honey: A Novel
    Is a son likely to inherit a father's violent tendencies? Did Ash do what he's accused of doing? Is everybody in this book who/what they appear to be. You'll have to read it and find out. Just be assured that Jody Picoult and her co-author Jennifer Finney Boylan hit one out of the park with this great book that tackles in an exciting but sensitive way one of the controversies of our times. And gives a lot of interesting fat-de-rol about bees and beekeeping too. (****)

  • Hoover, Colleen: Verity

    Hoover, Colleen: Verity
    This is an excellent fast-paced thriller with lots of suspense. But the end doesn't wrap things up. But I didn't like the ending at all. One big bad unfleshed toilet. (FYI, and unfleshed toilet is what a college prof of mine called situations in stories that are left hanging with non clear solution.) (****)

  • Prince Harry: Spare

    Prince Harry: Spare
    After reading this book, I fully understand why Harry and Megan fled Britain and the Palace crap. It should be a crime the way this young couple was treated not only by the British media but also by Harry's own family. Enough said. You'll just have to read it for yourself and decide. And you should. (****)

  • Stevenson, Benjamin: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone: A Novel

    Stevenson, Benjamin: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone: A Novel
    After I got a little comfortable with the manner in which Australian talk (and write),, I really liked this book. Even so, there were some sentences that I have no idea what they said. Lots of characters introduced all at once at the very beginning, which I think was a problem. But there's a great snow and ice storm during which the suspense and some murders take place. So all-in-all, it's a good one. (****)

  • Hart, Josephine: Damage: A Novel

    Hart, Josephine: Damage: A Novel
    Damage is the gripping story of a man’s desperate obsession and love affair with his son's fiancee. This was a disturbing book to me, but an even more disturbing movie (Netflix). Still it was well written and exciting but still disturbing. (****)

  • Kepnes, Caroline: You: A Novel

    Kepnes, Caroline: You: A Novel
    When a beautiful Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card--and Beck now has a stalker on her hands. This is a good boo if you like thrillers. Stephen King calls it hypnotic and scary--and I agree. It's also a Netflix series, but I haven't checked that out yet. (****)

  • Unger, Lisa: Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six: A Novel of Thrilling Suspense

    Unger, Lisa: Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six: A Novel of Thrilling Suspense
    Take a secluded luxury cabin with a dark history, three couples looking forward to a relaxing weekend, a horrendous storm, and a mysterious and dangerous something or somebody hanging around in the dark and what do you got? A spine-tingling thriller. (***)

  • Hendrix, Grady: We Sold Our Souls: A Novel

    Hendrix, Grady: We Sold Our Souls: A Novel
    If scary stories upset you, I advise against reading this book. It's scary as heck. That said, it's also a gripping story that hooked me right away. I'm not a fan of heavy metal music, but that didn't bother me. Grady Hendrix is an excellent spinner of thrilling stories. His prose is so well crafted and in places almost poetic. One of the best craftsmen writing thrillers today, IMO. (****)

  • St. James, Simone: The Broken Girls

    St. James, Simone: The Broken Girls
    Vermont 1950. Idlewild is a school for girls that nobody wants. Four of these girls become roommates and fast friends. Jump to 2014. The school has been closed for decades. Nobody lives there anymore except the ghost of Mary Hand. A young journalist and enters the scene to solve the mystery of her murdered sister whose body was found on the school property. A haunting and sometimes sad story. (****)

  • Connelly, Michael: The Black Echo (A Harry Bosch Novel, 1)

    Connelly, Michael: The Black Echo (A Harry Bosch Novel, 1)
    Maverick homicide detective Harry Bosch lives in a stilt house in The Hollywood Hills, which he bought with the proceeds from a book and a tv show that he leant his name to. When a body is discovered in a drain pipe at the Mulholland Dam, the case becomes personal for Harry. It won't be the only body to show up in this, Connelly's first book in his Harry Bosch series. And you'll wonder if Harry, who never met a rule he wouldn't break, might be lucky to come out of it unscathed. I love Harry Bosch, the books and the tv show. (****)

  • Kurian, Vera: Never Saw Me Coming: A Novel

    Kurian, Vera: Never Saw Me Coming: A Novel
    Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study of psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. Somebody is murdering the seven--one by one. Chloe holds a murderous grudge against a male student who is not in the study, whom she knows from pre-college times. (***)

  • Rose, Jeneva: The Perfect Marriage: a completely gripping psychological suspense

    Rose, Jeneva: The Perfect Marriage: a completely gripping psychological suspense
    The wife is a successful attorney; the husband is a struggling stay-at-home writer. And then there's the mistress who has had other affairs and relationships. Whoever designed the cover of this book was correct in crossing out the word "perfect." This is a whodunit mystery that kept me reading and guessing throughout. (****)

  • Haines, Carolyn: Booty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery

    Haines, Carolyn: Booty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
    When Sarah Booth and her critters accompany her fiancé on a Gulf getaway, they encounter all kinds of trouble including a hurricane, a theft, a murder, and romantic heartache. If you're a fan of cozy mysteries and haven't yet met private detective Sarah Booth Delaney and friends, you should really check her out. I love these books. You can find her on Amazon.com. (****)

  • Prose, Nita: The Maid: A Novel

    Prose, Nita: The Maid: A Novel
    Molly the Maid is not like everyone else. She doesn't always understand others, and she's quite lacking in social skills. Molly lives alone in her Gran's house, where she has lived all her life. Gran has recently passed, and Molly feels the loss deeply. She works at a luxury hotel, cleaning guest rooms and 'returning them to perfection." When she finds a wealthy guest dead in his bed, Molly's uneventful but orderly life is upended and she is faced with challenges she's not ready to handle. Or is she? (****)

  • Albanese, Laurie Lico: Hester: A Novel

    Albanese, Laurie Lico: Hester: A Novel
    Hester is the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel THE SCARLET LETTER. This book is not about her. It's about Isobel Gambel, who sails from Scotland to the New World with her husband Edward. After Edward sails away to seek his fortune, Isobel meets and falls in love with young Nathaniel Hawthorne. They have an affair. For fear of letting too many cats out of the bag, I'll say no more. (***)

  • Hendrix, Grady: The Final Girl Support Group

    Hendrix, Grady: The Final Girl Support Group
    Not his best book, IMO. In horror movies, the "final girl" is the last one left standing after all the slashing is done. Lynnette Tarkington is a final girl and a member of the support group, the members of which find that their horror is not yet over. (***)

  • Winman, Sarah: Still Life

    Winman, Sarah: Still Life
    1944 Tuscany. A young soldier, a precocious little girl, an art historian named Evelyn, and a surprisingly communicative parrot name Claude are just a few of the many characters in this novel. It has received glowing reviews for it's "beautiful prose, extraordinary tenderness, and bursts of humor and light." Sad to say, I found most of it quite boring and hard to read. I did like the bird and the little girl though. This is the March selection for my book club. (**)

  • Feeney, Alice: Rock Paper Scissors

    Feeney, Alice: Rock Paper Scissors
    Screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can't recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. Every anniversary the couple exchanges traditional gifts—paper, cotton, pottery, tin—and each year Adam's wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget. (****)

  • Nethercott, GennaRose: Thistlefoot: A Novel

    Nethercott, GennaRose: Thistlefoot: A Novel
    The Yaga siblings inherit a house--but this is no ordinary house. It has legs and feet and is mobile. Thistlefoot, as the house is called, has arrived from the Yagas’ ancestral home outside Kyiv—but not alone. A sinister figure known only as the Longshadow Man has tracked it to American shores, bearing with him violent secrets from the past: fiery memories that have hidden in Isaac and Bellatine’s blood for generations. As the Yaga siblings embark with Thistlefoot on a final cross-country tour of their family’s traveling theater show, the Longshadow Man follows in relentless pursuit, seeding destruction in his wake. (****)

Books Read in 2022

  • Burke, James Lee: Every Cloak Rolled in Blood (A Holland Family Novel)

    Burke, James Lee: Every Cloak Rolled in Blood (A Holland Family Novel)
    First one of this acclaimed author's books I've read. I have mixed feeling. Well plotted, well written, good characterization. But somehow I didn't feel the paranormal elements fit. And I didn't like the main character. Of course, he was dealing with a lot. So overall, I give it an A-. (****)

  • Swanson, James L.: Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (P.S.)

    Swanson, James L.: Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (P.S.)
    The title says it all. Except that I feel like the author spent more time on Booth's co-conspirators than on Booth himself. Still, a pretty good book. (***)

  • Tremblay, Paul: The Cabin at the End of the World: A Novel

    Tremblay, Paul: The Cabin at the End of the World: A Novel
    A true horror story, the likes of which have probably happened to human beings already, even though the world has not yet ended. It's an edge-of-the-seater. (***)

  • Bruce, Camilla: All the Blood We Share: A Novel of the Bloody Benders of Kansas

    Bruce, Camilla: All the Blood We Share: A Novel of the Bloody Benders of Kansas
    A sinister novel based on the real Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers in the old West bound by butchery and obscured by the shadows of American history. I read another book about the Benders some while back, but this one was much better. (***)

  • Proulx, Annie: Brokeback Mountain

    Proulx, Annie: Brokeback Mountain
    This is one of the saddest stories ever. Actually more of a novelette than a full novel, it's a fast read if you don't have to stop too often to dry your eyes. It's not preachy or political, just a good story about two good ol' boys who learned that love is love, no matter what you call it. (****)

  • Kingsolver, Barbara: Demon Copperhead: A Novel

    Kingsolver, Barbara: Demon Copperhead: A Novel
    Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel gets its inspiration from Charles DIckens's classic DAVID COPPERFIELD. The Dickens novel has long been one of my favorites since I read it in college. Now I've added Kingsolver's version to that favorites list. It is not at all necessary to have read the Dickens novel to enjoy this one, which takes place not in England but in the southern Appalachians. The main character and narrator Damon, born to a teenaged addict, has the cards stacked against him from the beginning. Through Damon's young and hard life, Kingsolver addresses many of the concerns of our modern culture. Actually, the only beef I have with the book is that Damon occasionally becomes a bit preachy about these concerns, which for me interrupts the flow of the story to some extent. The preaching is out of character. But it's not a big deal. I love this book and, as I have read the Dickens novel three or four times, I know I will read Kingsolver's wonderful book again. (****)

  • McPhail, Diane C.: The Seamstress of New Orleans: A Fascinating Novel of Southern Historical Fiction

    McPhail, Diane C.: The Seamstress of New Orleans: A Fascinating Novel of Southern Historical Fiction
    Set against the backdrop of the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe at the turn-of-the-century, this mesmerizing historical novel tells of two strangers separated by background but bound by an unexpected secret—and of the strength and courage women draw from and inspire in each other. --Amazon (****)

  • Tryon, Thomas: The Other

    Tryon, Thomas: The Other
    I first read this book many years ago, sometime in the 70s I believe. In my opinion, Tryon is a fantastic writer and this book is one of the best thriller/horror works ever. Although there are no ghosts, vampires, or anything paranormal, it is quite horrible. It takes place is 1930s New England, and the main characters are 13-year-old twins Niles and Holland. One good boy and one bad seed, and sometimes it's hard to know which is which. The horrors that the bad twin commits get more horrible as the story progresses, and the last one is really disturbing. Don't read this book unless you have a strong constitution and really like thrillers. (****)

  • St. James, Simone: The Book of Cold Cases

    St. James, Simone: The Book of Cold Cases
    A murder mystery, a haunted mansion, and a budding romance are the themes that make up this book. True crime blogger Shea Collins becomes involved in all three when interviewing a woman acquitted 40 years earlier of two murders. (***)

  • Myers, Adele: The Tobacco Wives: A Novel

    Myers, Adele: The Tobacco Wives: A Novel
    It's 1946 in North Carolina tobacco country. Maddie and her grandmother are seamstresses who create beautiful dresses and gowns for the wives of the wealthy tobacco producers and merchants who live in Bright Leaf. Producers, sales people, and even the town doctor extol the health benefits of the company's new tobacco, which is marketing especially to women. But factory workers are getting sick, expectant mothers are miscarrying, and it seems that the new cigarette is not quite the great thing it's cracked up to be. Maddie inadvertently uncovers evidence of the harmful effects of the tobacco and is caught between wanting to report what she has learned and not wanting to harm the women with whom she has formed a bond. Good book. (****)

  • Koontz, Dean: The Other Emily

    Koontz, Dean: The Other Emily
    I haven't read many of Dean Koontz's books, although he is a very popular writer of one of my favorite genres, mystery and horror. But when this book popped up on the Amazon Prime free books list, I decided I'd give it a try. It was exciting, interesting, and scary. They only criticism I have is that Koontz's very flowery prose distracts me from the story. I had to keep looking up words. (***)

  • Reid, Iain: Foe: A Novel

    Reid, Iain: Foe: A Novel
    I like the way Iain Reid's stories take place totally in the minds of his narrators--and that things are never as they seem in the beginning. This is my second reading of FOE. I had some questions after the first read, a few years ago. I thought another read might clear them up. It didn't. I still don't know what the meaning of those bugs are or who/what the title refers to. But I enjoyed my second read anyway. (****)

  • Reid, Iain: We Spread

    Reid, Iain: We Spread
    Iain Reid's books are suspenseful and surreal. This one, a story of psychological suspense, takes place mostly in a assisted living home. It puts proof to the adage that getting old is not for sissies. (****)

  • Sager, Riley: Survive the Night: A Novel

    Sager, Riley: Survive the Night: A Novel
    Wow! Talk about a page-turner: this is one for sure. Twists and turns o'plenty. At times I wasn't sure what was real and what was a mind movie--and I think that was the point. I love this book. I love all Riley Sager's books. He admits this is a pen name and claims he's male. But I do declare his books read like they were written by a woman. He knows his female characters. (****)

  • Polatin, Daria: Devil in Ohio

    Polatin, Daria: Devil in Ohio
    I enjoyed the mini series on Netflix and decided to read the book. Didn't care for the book so much. I complained on a Facebook group that it read that it was written by and for teenagers. I was quickly told by I group member that that's because it was. I wasn't aware it was a Teen/Y.A. novel until then. I suppose under that classification it's fine. (***)

  • S. E. Hinton: The Outsiders

    S. E. Hinton: The Outsiders
    I don't normally go for Y.A. novels. But one sure way to get me to read a book (if I haven't already) is for some self-righteous group who thinks they know what's best for the reading public and it's children to "ban" it. That's how I came across The Outsiders. Written and published in the 1960s by a teenage girl who has since published many many books, this one, required reading in some high schools, has become controversial for some reason. It does contain some violence, but since when has violence been a cause for book banning? Have any of these people read the Bible? I was touched by the characters in this book. The teenage years aren't easy for most teenagers--for some of the teens is this book, the years were traumatic. (****)

  • Haig, Matt: The Dead Fathers Club: A Novel

    Haig, Matt: The Dead Fathers Club: A Novel
    This is the first audible book I've listened to in a long long time. The narrator Andrew Dennis, is a young English/Puerto Rican man whose voice is captivating. You think you a really listening to an 11-year-old boy, although Dennis looks quite a bit older. The story is also captivating about a boy whose dead father's ghost appears to him asking that he kill the man, the father's brother, who killed him. (****)

  • Everett, Percival: Trees

    Everett, Percival: Trees
    An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US. This book starts out with lots of laughs--even the gruesome crime scenes illicit chuckles. I wondered if it were meant as allegory. But slowly the whole thing ceases to be funny. The ending is almost fantasy I thought. And I still wonder if it qualifies as allegory. Please click on the link to learn more about this important story. (****)

  • Walsh, Rosie: The Love of My Life: A Novel

    Walsh, Rosie: The Love of My Life: A Novel
    This is a well written page-turner with lots of twists. It took me being on the waiting list for a library copy from April till August. Warning: Anyone who was adopted or who has released a child for adoption and is sensitive about the subject should use discretion. (****)

  • Fowler, Karen Joy: Booth

    Fowler, Karen Joy: Booth
    Another very good historical novel. This book is not only about John Wilkes Booth who murdered President Lincoln, but about his entire family. Of course, the life of John Wilkes, including the assassination, is included, but each member of his large nuclear family receive equal attention. It's actually about the family. (****)

  • Perry, Thomas: The Old Man

    Perry, Thomas: The Old Man
    This is the book on which the Netflix series by the same name was based. I actually think the book, whose plot diverges quite a bit from the series, is better. (****)

  • Chen, Katherine J.: Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc

    Chen, Katherine J.: Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc
    This historical novel about the life of Joan d'Arc is quite interesting and mostly enjoyable. I did get a little bored with the battle descriptions, and if not for that I would have given it another star. I was very interested that Joan's mother's name (Isabelle Romée) are variations of my paternal grandparents sir names (Isbell and Ramey). (***)

  • Nicastro, Nicholas: Hell's Half-Acre

    Nicastro, Nicholas: Hell's Half-Acre
    This is a fictionalization of a true story--the story of a family of Kansas serial killers, the Benders, during the Civil War era.I'm not sure how a story about serial killers can be boring, but I have to admit that parts of this book almost put me to sleep. (**)

  • Howard, Ron and Clint: The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family

    Howard, Ron and Clint: The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family
    The fun part of this book is listening to (reading) Ron and Clint tell the stories of growing up in Hollywood, spending more time on studio back lots and sound stages than in classrooms and playgrounds. How did they do this, actually beginning their acting careers at age 3 (Clint) and 5 (Ron), without becoming incorrigible, narcissistic, and dysfunctional--without experiencing early deaths or going into old age broke and broken? By having strong, loving, involved parents who kept the boys' heads out of the clouds and taught them how to look out for their interests and the interests of those they love. I loved this book. I'll probably read it again. (****)

  • Feeney, Alice: His & Hers

    Feeney, Alice: His & Hers
    Talk about your murder mystery with twists! This one has twists galore! The title implied that there are two sides to every story--but actually this story has a few more than two. Every time I was sure I knew whodunnit, the next chapter would change my mind and I'd have another character picked for the murders. Good book. (****)

  • Davis, Fiona: The Magnolia Palace: A Novel

    Davis, Fiona: The Magnolia Palace: A Novel
    When this book was chosen as my book club's July assignment I was less than thrilled. I was sure I was in for a boring read about art history. I was wrong. This turned out to be one of the best books I've read this year. The story switches between two eras to solve a mystery that had been hanging over one of New York City's most prominent families for almost 50 years. Most of the characters (the Frick art collector family as well as the beautiful woman who modeled for much of New York's acclaimed statuary) are actually historical people, but the book is fiction. (****)

  • Ellroy, James: The Black Dahlia

    Ellroy, James: The Black Dahlia
    Fiction based on true story. You've probably heard of the most famous unsolved murder in California history. Setting is Hollywood in the late 40s. Part mystery, part love story, good bit of sex. I had some trouble getting into to it at the beginning because of all the Damon Runyon and cop lingo. But once I got into the rhythm of it I found it to be an engaging (although sad and brutal) story. (***)

  • Bartz, Andrea: We Were Never Here: A Novel

    Bartz, Andrea: We Were Never Here: A Novel
    One of those books where all the while you're reading it you want to yell at the lead character, "Don't do it! Don't do it!" Well I didn't have it all figured out by the end, but I was on the right track. (****)

  • Gardner, Lisa: Live to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel

    Gardner, Lisa: Live to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel
    A real page turner. Actually I was busy turning pages backwards and forwards because I kept getting the women (moms) confused. But it was a very good book with a surprise ending--at least for me. (****)

  • Scottoline, Lisa: What Happened to the Bennetts

    Scottoline, Lisa: What Happened to the Bennetts
    This exciting story is peopled with good bad guys and bad good guys and some dogs- It's a pretty good story with lots of twists ad turns- Spoiler ahead: don't worry about the dogs (***)

  • Frankland, Maria: The Hen Party: A death before marriage story with a shock twist

    Frankland, Maria: The Hen Party: A death before marriage story with a shock twist
    In the tradition of the classic who-dunnit - Caitlyn's wedding is scheduled in a few weeks so her bride's maids and friends and family whisk her off to Dublin (from I believe 'tis the north of England) for her Hen Party - You would never want to meat a more unlikable group of women - They quarrel and bicker and complain even after one of them discovers their friend murdered in her bed- But the unpleasant characters did nothing to dampen my interest and enjoyment of the book Note: I wrote above while I still had a few pages to read - I have finished the entire book now and I have to say I hate the ending - I thought sure it would turn out differently and I was very disappointed I still say it's a good book but just not the ending (****)

  • Walker, Karen Thompson: The Age of Miracles: A Novel

    Walker, Karen Thompson: The Age of Miracles: A Novel
    This is the same author who wrote The Dreamers that I recently read - I'll be looking for more of her books - She is an excellent writer - I loved this story and think it's probably one of the best books I've read all year - I'm not quite sure I "get" the title - In the story the earth is slowing its rotation and the planet and its inhabitants are suffering - Although attempting to go on with life in as normal a way as possible the ever-increasing length of days brings changes and tragedies - I think the proper title for this book would have been AS THE WORLD TURNS (throwback to an old soap opera) - I recommend the book highly (****)

  • Walker, Karen Thompson: The Dreamers: A Novel

    Walker, Karen Thompson: The Dreamers: A Novel
    In an isolated college town in Southern California people begin to fall into deep sleep from which they cannot be wakened- Doctors find that those stricken display unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what? Walker's beautiful prose style combines with intriguing characters and a gripping premise for great page turner (****)

  • Rowley, Steven: The Guncle

    Rowley, Steven: The Guncle
    When two young children lose their mother to cancer and their dad checks himself into rehab their Uncle Patrick steps up to fill the role of their guardian and caretaker- No one knows better than Patrick how ill equipped he is to care for two small children- But Patrick too has recently lost someone he loves and he vows to do his best to comfort and tend his charges- As it turns out his best is pretty good after all- A heartwarming book (***)

  • Guskin, Sharon: The Forgetting Time: A Novel

    Guskin, Sharon: The Forgetting Time: A Novel
    Four-year-old Noah knows things he shouldn't- He talks of people and places that he has never seen or known- From the time he can talk he begs his mother to take him home and her efforts to assure Noah that he is home do nothing to assure the little boy that he is home- Whether you believe in reincarnation or not (the jury's still out for me) this is a well written and intriguing story (****)

  • Lucas, Frank: Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America's Most Notorious Drug Lords

    Lucas, Frank: Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America's Most Notorious Drug Lords
    Harlem gangster Frank Lucas's autobiography- Oh how I wish I'd been satisfied with Denzel Washington's portrayal of Lucas in the movie "American Gangster" Turns out the real Frank wasn't nearly as charming as Denzel's Frank- It was a well written and interesting book however--and I suspect that is at least in part thanks to Lucas's co-author Aliya S King (***)

  • Durham, Jonathan Edward: Winterset Hollow: A Novel

    Durham, Jonathan Edward: Winterset Hollow: A Novel
    This thrilling and terrifying novel follows a group of friends as they visit the place that inspired their favorite book- There they learn that what they have thought of as fiction might be all too real Unfortunately they meet their much-loved book's characters but don't expect anything quite as tame as WATERSHIP DOWN here- I absolutely loved this book- (****)

  • Slaughter, Karin: Pieces of Her: A Novel

    Slaughter, Karin: Pieces of Her: A Novel
    When a trip to the mall for Andrea and her mother Laura turns violent Andrea begins to suspect that she doesn't really know the woman who has been her mother for 31 years- Unlike many of the reviewers on Amazon I liked this book and I also liked the Netflix movie that was based on the book (***)

  • Valerie Fraser Luesse: Under the Bayou Moon

    Valerie Fraser Luesse: Under the Bayou Moon
    Restless with her life in Alabama young Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a small town in Lousiana bayou country in the late 1940s- There she meets a lonely Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary and somewhat mysterious white alligator- There's excitement and danger in this novel but also love and friendship- I've liked all of Valerie's books but this one is by far my favorite- I recommend it highly (****)

  • Shriver, Lionel: We Need to Talk About Kevin

    Shriver, Lionel: We Need to Talk About Kevin
    This is my second reading of this disturbing book- I don't recall now why I chose to reread it- Eva is a career-oriented wife with ticking biological clock- She never really wanted to be a mother and certainly not the mother of a psychopath which it seems Kevin was from the time he emerged from her womb- i'm not crazy about this author's writing style but this novel hooked me and I'll probably read it again- I've also seen the movie (****)

  • Savage, Thomas: The Power of the Dog

    Savage, Thomas: The Power of the Dog
    After watching the Netflix movie based on Savage's novel I decided to read the book- Both the book and the film are riveting- It's the story of two brothers — one magnetic but cruel (and hiding a personal secret), the other gentle and quiet — and of the mother and son whose arrival on the brothers’ ranch shatters an already tenuous peace. It takes place in on a montana ranch in the 1020s (****)

  • Egan, Timothy: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

    Egan, Timothy: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
    For thousands of years the buffalo grass that covered the American Great Plains kept the soil in place and the area with its harsh winds and blizzards habitable - Then came the European immigrants with their plows and wheat and within a few year the result was "The Dust Bowl" But it was not just dust that swept the area but giant black clouds of Great Plains top soil - The storms destroyed the land and machinery killed the animals and many people It also made a few greedy men quite wealthy - just not the men women and children who suffered to coax wheat and other crops from this area that should never have known a plow's presence (***)

  • Brandt, Charles: I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa

    Brandt, Charles: I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa
    I had already read this book a couple of years ago but was halfway through it this time before I realized it - Just as good the second time around - Frank Sheeran - "The Irishman" of the Netflix movie - tells of his close association and friendship with Jimmy Hoffa and his part in the Teamster leader's mysterious disappearance (****)

  • Langan, Sarah: Good Neighbors: A Novel

    Langan, Sarah: Good Neighbors: A Novel
    Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. A new family's arrival - an environmental disaster - the death of a neighborhood child - and one woman's dark secret combine to turn this quiet neighborhood into a war zone - A very good book (****)

  • Frankland, Maria: The Man Behind Closed Doors: The other side of domestic bliss (Domestic Thrillers You Can't Put Down)

    Frankland, Maria: The Man Behind Closed Doors: The other side of domestic bliss (Domestic Thrillers You Can't Put Down)
    I read this book in less than 24 hours Couldn't put it down Finished up at 4:00 this morning But although it was quite a page-turner I was a little underwhelmed by the ending But you might not be (****)

  • Stephen King and Richard Chizmar: Gwendy's Final Task (Gwendy's Button Box Trilogy, 3)

    Stephen King and Richard Chizmar: Gwendy's Final Task (Gwendy's Button Box Trilogy, 3)
    The last of three Gwendy books Our heroine is now a US Senator and has been tasked with making sure the Button Box can do no further harm It's a long and arduous job and many obstacles are put in her way Can she accomplish what mysterious Richard Farris has told her she's the only one trustworthy enough to do it? (****)

  • Gresham, William Lindsay: Nightmare Alley

    Gresham, William Lindsay: Nightmare Alley
    In answer to all the book banning that's going on in this country, II read this book after watching both the old (1946) and new (2021) versions of the movie. Written in the 30s and first published in 1946, this book has been banned and corrupted into oblivion. The 2021 remake of the 1948 movie has brought new attention to Gresham's creation. I have seen both movies, and am now reading the book. It's an amazing book, but a bit of a challenge to read due to the early 20th century and carnival slang and idiom. It is also one of those books that leaves you with a somewhat sleazy feeling. None of the characters are admirable, but they're all strikingly drawn. (****)

  • Callahan, Patti: Once Upon a Wardrobe

    Callahan, Patti: Once Upon a Wardrobe
    Sixteen-year-old Megs's 8-year-old brother George has a heart condition and a short time to live. George is obsessed with C.S. Lewis's THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. He knows that Mr. Lewis teaches at the university where Megs is a student. He asks his sister to ask Lewis where his land of Narnia came from. Thus begins a wonderful novel that explores the power of storytelling and its ability to inspire and bring hope. (****)

  • Benjamin, Melanie: The Children's Blizzard: A Novel

    Benjamin, Melanie: The Children's Blizzard: A Novel
    In 188(something), on a warmer-than-usual-day, and unexpected blizzard hit Nebraska and the Dakota Territory. Many people were caught outside, including children returning from school. VIsability was zero, and many couldn't find their way to shelter. This fiction account of a real-life tragedy centers on two teachers and their students, many of whom didn't make it. It's a hard-to-put-down book, and one that will break your heart. (*****)

  • Jewell, Lisa: The Night She Disappeared: A Novel

    Jewell, Lisa: The Night She Disappeared: A Novel
    On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend. The couple's year-old son is left with the girl's single mother. Over the next year, the mother and the girlfriend of the head teacher at the college come together to figure out what happened to the couple. (****)

  • Lehr, Dick: White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America's Heartland

    Lehr, Dick: White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America's Heartland
    Spring of 2016, three men in a militia group, the Crusaders, grow irate over one Kansas town’s growing Somali community.The men plot to bomb a mosque, aiming to kill hundreds and inspire other attacks against Muslims in America. But they would wait until after the presidential election, so that their actions wouldn’t hurt Donald Trump’s chances of winning. An FBI informant befriended the three men, acting as law enforcement’s eyes and ears for eight months. His secretly taped conversations with the militia were pivotal in obstructing their plans and were a lynchpin in the resulting trial and convictions for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. (****)

  • Caitlin R. Kiernan: Cambrian Tales
    Some of Cait's early work, some as far back as her childhood and teens. I truly enjoyed reading these short pieces. Can't be found on Amazon. 90% sold out. https://subterraneanpress.com/news/caitlin-r-kiernans-vile-affections-cambrian-tales-over-90-sold-out/ (*****)
  • Vogel, Jennifer: Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father's Counterfeit Life

    Vogel, Jennifer: Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father's Counterfeit Life
    Major motion picture Flag Day starring Sean Penn and his daughter Dylan Penn is based on this father-daughter story of a charming criminal—told by the daughter who loved him. Both the book and the movie are excellent. (****)

  • Olsen, Gregg: Snow Creek: An absolutely gripping mystery thriller (Detective Megan Carpenter)

    Olsen, Gregg: Snow Creek: An absolutely gripping mystery thriller (Detective Megan Carpenter)
    When I first started reading I thought was going to be one of the best murder mysteries ever. But things began to get complicated. There were so many characters who had maybe committed the exact same crime (parricide), with the same family makeup, the same family problems. About halfway through the book I got totally confused. Then almost at the end, the author gave us a section that explained who everyone was in relation to everyone else and what they did or might have done. But in the end, he left one mystery hanging (the one I was most anxious to have cleared up, the one that he teased us throughout the book about). No problem. Just purchase his next book in which he promises to clear it all up. Maybe. Greg Olsen is a good writer, but I feel he tried to cover too much ground in this book. (***)

  • Bohjalian, Chris: The Flight Attendant: A Novel

    Bohjalian, Chris: The Flight Attendant: A Novel
    Flight attendant, alcoholic, compulsive liar, and bed hopper Cassie Bowden has finally picked the wrong guy to sleep with. When she wakes up in a hotel in Dubai, hardly remembering the events of the drunken night before, she finds a dead man in the bed beside her. She doesn't think she killed him, but she's not sure. I wasn't crazy about this book, and I think it's because I had hard time having any sympathy for the main character. But it's an exciting read, to be sure. (***)

  • Barclay, Linwood: Find You First

    Barclay, Linwood: Find You First
    Tech millionaire Miles Cookson has more money than he can spend in his lifetime--which due to a recently diagnosed illness, could be shorter than he had planned. Years, ago, when Cookson was but a struggling young entrepreneur, he sold sperm in order to bankroll a business. Now he learns that his disease can be passed on to his offspring, of which it turns out he has nine. Cookson wants to find them to inform them of their chances of contracted this terminal illness--and he plans to also leave his fortune to them whether or not they get the disease. But someone else doesn't care for Cookson's plan. Thus the race to find his "children" before it's too late. (****)

  • Dearth, Paige: When Smiles Fade

    Dearth, Paige: When Smiles Fade
    Young Emma kills people, but only if they deserve it. Sort of a young female Dexter Morgan, huh? But the most disturbing element of the book for me is getting a look at the lives of runaway teens. (***)

  • Ware, Ruth: The Woman in Cabin 10

    Ware, Ruth: The Woman in Cabin 10
    This book does for cruises what "Psycho" did for showers. The murder mystery follows somewhat the Agatha Cristie format. Warning: If you suffer from claustrophobia you might want to read something else. I do, but for me, the close quarters in this small cruise ship just added to the suspense. (***)

Books Read in 2021

  • Van Zandt, Stevie: Unrequited Infatuations: A Memoir

    Van Zandt, Stevie: Unrequited Infatuations: A Memoir
    Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Mostly rock and roll, but somehow it lost the magic. As much as I love Stevie, Bruce, and the whole E Street Band as well as most of the performers of classic Rock and Roll, this book bored me stiff. I don't even know why I finished it. I've never heard of most of the people that Stevie talks about. Bruce (and even Stevie) takes up very little of the book. And the amazing Clarence Clemmons (the late E Street sax player) gets one whole paragraph. Unless you enjoy reading the intricate history, technicalities, and details of the greatest music genre in the history of the world, pass this one up and put on a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band album, and relax. (**)

  • Chesterton, R. B.: The Darkling: A Novel

    Chesterton, R. B.: The Darkling: A Novel
    R.B. Chesterton is the pen name of my friend and prolific writer Carolyn Haines. The book has now been published under her actual name, so if interested, you could find it credited to either name. I really liked this book. It is an engrossing and exciting story. I looked forward to the ending to have everything made clear. In that, I was disappointed. The ending cleared up nothing. In fact the ending left me scratching my head. Among several puzzles, I have no idea who was the bad guy (girl) and who was the good. I would rate the book up until the end as as 4 stars, but the ending gets no stars at all--just a big old "HUH?" (***)

  • Silva, Samantha: Mr. Dickens and His Carol

    Silva, Samantha: Mr. Dickens and His Carol
    A fictional telling of the events in Charles Dickens's life that led to his writing A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Good story. (****)

  • Carson, Scott: Where They Wait: A Novel

    Carson, Scott: Where They Wait: A Novel
    This was a good book, a pretty unique plot for a thriller. In fact, I'm not sure I even understand what was going on, especially the ending. It was sort of like coming out of the theatre after the first time I saw "2001: A Space Odyssey." Everyone, including me, was wondering what the heck was that? That's sort of how I felt when I had finished this book. But, like "2001," I'm glad I had the experience. (***)

  • Charles Martin: Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery

    Charles Martin: Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery
    Chase Walker was one of the lucky ones. He was in foster care as a child, but he finally ended up with a family who loved him and cared for him. Now, as a journalist for the local paper, he’s moved on and put the past behind him. But when he’s assigned the story of this young boy, painful, haunting questions about his own childhood begin to rise to the surface. (***)

  • Jiles, Paulette: Simon the Fiddler: A Novel

    Jiles, Paulette: Simon the Fiddler: A Novel
    THe adventures of a group of ragtag musicians in south Texas as the Civil War comes to an end. This was my book club's pick for November. Excellent writing. The author really puts the reader in the story--and not all of it is so nice. (****)

  • Clark, Julie: The Last Flight

    Clark, Julie: The Last Flight
    Two women, each finding herself in a desperate situation, meeting in the airport and decide to switch flights with each other in order to disappear and start new lives. Really good story. (****)

  • King, Stephen: The Breathing Method

    King, Stephen: The Breathing Method
    A creepy short story by the Kind of Horror. A men's club of sorts meets to tell stories. The club is creepy, and so are their stories, espcially the last one.I read it online, but it's you can find the story in King's anthology DIFFERENT SEASONS. (****)

  • Miranda, Megan: Such a Quiet Place: A Novel

    Miranda, Megan: Such a Quiet Place: A Novel
    Hollow’s Edge use to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back. (****)

  • Newman, T. J.: Falling: A Novel

    Newman, T. J.: Falling: A Novel
    WOW! If, like me, you enjoy an exciting edge-of-your-seat thriller, you're bound to like this book. It had me holding my breath at times. Very exciting and well written. (****)

  • Trimnell, Edward: 12 Hours of Halloween: a novel

    Trimnell, Edward: 12 Hours of Halloween: a novel
    The year is 1980. Jeff Schaeffer, Leah Carter, and Bobby Nagel decide to go out for "one last Halloween" before adolescence takes away their childhood forever. But this Halloween is different. An outing that was supposed to be light-hearted and fun becomes a battle for sanity—and perhaps even survival. Pretty gorey and scary in places. (***)

  • Driscoll, Teresa: Her Perfect Family

    Driscoll, Teresa: Her Perfect Family
    family’s happiest days. But when she stumbles and falls on stage during the ceremony, a beautiful moment turns to chaos: Gemma has been shot, and just like that, she’s fighting for her life. Talk about some twists and turns! This is really an intriguing page turner. (****)

  • McNeil, Kelley: A Day Like This: A Novel

    McNeil, Kelley: A Day Like This: A Novel
    Annie Beyers leads a charmed like in her Upstate NY farmhouse with her husband and little girl. On her way to vist her daughter's pediatrician, Annie has an car wreck. She wakes up in the hospital to learned that she has never had a daughter, her farm house has been sold, and she is separated from her husband. This is a fascinating and wonderfully written story---the best on this subject Iand I won't say exactly what the subject is here) that I've ever read. (****)

  • Jewell, Lisa: Watching You: A Novel

    Jewell, Lisa: Watching You: A Novel
    The mysterious murder at the book's center unfolds gradually, as piece by piece the past and present relationships between its cast of characters begin to fit together. Not this author's best effort IMO. (**)

  • Green, John: Turtles All the Way Down

    Green, John: Turtles All the Way Down
    The story centers on 16-year-old Aza Holmes, an American high school student with OCD and anxiety, and her search for a fugitive billionaire who happens to be a neighbor's father. I felt that the author concentrated too much on the OCD and not enough on the mystery. But still a good book. (***)

  • O'Farrell, Maggie: Hamnet

    O'Farrell, Maggie: Hamnet
    A fictional account of the life of William Shakespeare and his family during the Black Plague. Hamnet is the tutor's (Shakespeare's) son, and only one of so many children and other characters that I found it hard to keep everyone straight. This book gets great reviews so you might like it a whole bunch more than I di. (**)

  • Chizmar, Richard: Chasing the Boogeyman: A Novel

    Chizmar, Richard: Chasing the Boogeyman: A Novel
    Small town evil set in the late 80s, disappearing girls, mutilated bodies--all elements for a good horror read. Well-used elements, I might add. I think Chizmar might be trying a little too hard to be Stephen King. Also, I had to check several times to remind myself whether this was fiction or non-fiction. The author uses a lot of his own life and experiences (even his very own hometown). I'm still not sure exactly how much is fiction. (***)

  • Walter, Susan: Good as Dead: A Novel

    Walter, Susan: Good as Dead: A Novel
    A hit-and-run driver takes Holly's husband but gives her and her daughter their dream home and everything they need for a luxurious life. Answers the question, can money make everything all right? Fast and exciting read. (***)

  • Marcott, Lindsay: Mrs. Rochester's Ghost: A Thriller

    Marcott, Lindsay: Mrs. Rochester's Ghost: A Thriller
    A modern retelling of Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE. Set on a rocky cliff above the crashing surf of Big Sur, the foggy climate is right, but somehow some of the spookiness is lost. Still a good story. (***)

  • Marrs, John: What Lies Between Us

    Marrs, John: What Lies Between Us
    Another dysfunctional mother/daughter story. And I would have considered it a darn good one if I could ever for a while forgot the fact that somebody is bound to notice when people disappear into thin air. (***)

  • Korelitz, Jean Hanff: The Plot: A Novel

    Korelitz, Jean Hanff: The Plot: A Novel
    Another story-within-a-story format, which became a little bit of a problem to me. I almost needed a chart to remember where each character belonged in the format. We have an unusual mother/daughter, and each one has three names, according to which version of the story she's appearing in. And they both turn out to be--well, best not go there. Also the entire tale is driven by a case of "plagiarism," which is not plagiarism at all. As is actually stated a few times in the novel, one cannot copyright a plot. And finally, I was expected some earth-shattering plot that would really be a surprise; didn't get one. But for all these problems, I still had a fun time reading this book. (***)

  • King, Stephen: Billy Summers

    King, Stephen: Billy Summers
    Billy Summers, Iraq war sniper turned professional hit man, it the leading man of this thriller (not horror as you might expect). When he rescues Alice after she has been gang raped, the young woman becomes Billy's partner. It's a story-within-a-story (Billy is writing and book based on his war experience), just might be one of King's best efforts yet. (****)

  • Jones, John Isaac: A Quiet Madness: A Biographical Novel of Edgar Allan Poe

    Jones, John Isaac: A Quiet Madness: A Biographical Novel of Edgar Allan Poe
    I love Poe. And I would have loved this book more except for the sloppiness. Typos, missing words, extra words, transposed words. No copy editor in evidence. This was the Kindle edition; maybe the hard copy editions are better. Be advised that this is a mixture of fact and fiction. So before you take any of it to heart, fact check. (***)

  • Hepworth, Sally: The Good Sister: A Novel

    Hepworth, Sally: The Good Sister: A Novel
    This book was a doozy of a page turner. Lots of twists. I can't say too much without risking spoilers, so I'll just add this: "A stunningly clever thriller made doubly suspenseful by not one, but two unreliable narrators." — People (***)

  • Brundage, Elizabeth: All Things Cease to Appear

    Brundage, Elizabeth: All Things Cease to Appear
    Late one winter afternoon, professor George Clare knocks on his neighbor’s door with terrible news: he returned from work to find his wife, Catherine, murdered in their bed. Someone took an ax to her head while their three-year-old daughter, Franny, played alone in her room across the hall. I found only one thing to dislike about this book. The author insists upon giving every character a back story. This makes for a bit of a tedious read. But still worth four stars. And it's not the kind of ghost story that the Netflix adaptation presents it as. The ghosts in this novel are there, but there all right--but they "cease to appear." (****)

  • Latham, Irene: D-39: A Robodog's Journey

    Latham, Irene: D-39: A Robodog's Journey
    A dog pandemic has made dogs illegal and sent robodogs to serve as pets. A civil war has made life dangerous and difficult for all. In this environment, heroes emerge--one of them is a wonderful "robodog" named D-39. I loved this book. (****)

  • Henry, Christina: The Ghost Tree

    Henry, Christina: The Ghost Tree
    Something terrifying is loose in Smiths Hollow. This monster makes Pennywise the clown look almost sweet. Surely this is the book that Stephen King wished he had written. It even scared me, and I'm not that easy to scare any more. Read it only if you aren't allergic to terror and gore. (****)

  • Backman, Fredrik: Anxious People: A Novel

    Backman, Fredrik: Anxious People: A Novel
    This is a book about a bank robbery, a hostage situation, an apartment viewing, a suicide,a rabbit of sorts, and a bunch of other stuff. A mix of wry humor, human tragedy, and human compassion come together to make a wonderful read. I recommend highly. (****)

  • Siddons, Anne Rivers: The House Next Door

    Siddons, Anne Rivers: The House Next Door
    Stephen King described this books as "one of the finest horror novels of the 20th century." I agree. It is often described as a haunted house book, but I see it more as a book about a bunch of haunted people. Whatever, it's a good one. Kept me turning pages frantically. (****)

  • Kosa, S. F.: The Quiet Girl: A Psychological Thriller

    Kosa, S. F.: The Quiet Girl: A Psychological Thriller
    Sort of a GONE GIRL, but with much more likeable characters and a much different kind of ending. Very suspenseful, well written. (***)

  • Williams-Garcia, Rita: A Sitting in St. James

    Williams-Garcia, Rita: A Sitting in St. James
    A detailed and brutal look at slavery in 19th century America. Well written, well developed characters, and an important subject. However, I was shocked that this is listed as a book for teens. Some even rate it as a children's book. It contains frequent graphic, detailed, and sometimes violent sex. Parental guidance definitely advised. (***)

  • Kleier, Glenn: The Prophet of Queens

    Kleier, Glenn: The Prophet of Queens
    I liked everything about this book: the title (which is really what the story's about), the writing, the plot, the characters, the ending--everything. I've been Facebook friends with Glenn Kleier for a while without realizing he's an excellent novelist. When he told me he thought I would like this book, I groaned inwardly. A lot of times when friends suggest you read their books, it's not a pleasant task. This was pleasant, and not a tast. I LOVE THIS BOOK! (****)

  • Sittenfeld, Curtis: Rodham: A Novel

    Sittenfeld, Curtis: Rodham: A Novel
    Having been an admirer of Hillary Rodham Clinton for many years, I expected to like this fictional account of her life. Boy, was I wrong! This is a ridiculous book. If you're a Hillary Hater or a lover of soft porn, you might like it. But I found nothing to like--especially not the image of a naked Bill Clinton serenading Hillary with this saxophone. The whole book is shameful. Minus 5 stars.

  • Connolly, John: The Dirty South: A Thriller (18) (Charlie Parker)

    Connolly, John: The Dirty South: A Thriller (18) (Charlie Parker)
    I had trouble with this book. The title should have tipped me off that it wasn't going to be kind of my part of the country. And I know that the south has problems, but probably no more than most other areas. This read almost as a satire of the South. From the unusual first names to the Boss Hogg type patriarch of the town, Connolly seems to take a very clichéd attitude toward these people. Also there were far too many characters and the book was too long. All that said, I think Connolly is an excellent writer. I just didn't like this one. (**)

  • McLain, Paula: The Paris Wife

    McLain, Paula: The Paris Wife
    A fictional account of the lives of Hemingway and his first (0f 4) wives Hadley. Didn't make me any fonder of Hemingway or his writing. He was a first-class s of a b, as far as I'm concerned. It also didn't endear me very much to Hadley. I thought that if she had stood up to her husband more and hadn't enabled him at every turn while he was young, he might have gone on to be a better mad. But, good book. (****)

  • Krueger, William Kent: Ordinary Grace

    Krueger, William Kent: Ordinary Grace
    For me, this book got off to a slow start. But it picked up about halfway through and got much more interesting. That's when the murder takes place that is the subject of this murder mystery/coming of age story. I think maybe the book would have been easier for me to get into if the author had dealt with only one mysterious death instead of three or four. Still and all, it's well worth the read. (***)

  • Heller, Peter: The Dog Stars

    Heller, Peter: The Dog Stars
    I suppose the prose style of this book is part of the reason that I had trouble getting into it and sticking with it. Almost stream-of-consciousness. But it's also pretty much lacking in plot. Just a bunch of people who live (and die) after a deadly worldwide pandemic, and don't do much else. (I have previously read THE RIVER by this author, which I truly enjoyed.) (**)

  • Abrams, Stacey: While Justice Sleeps: A Novel

    Abrams, Stacey: While Justice Sleeps: A Novel
    Until I saw this book advertised online, I had no idea that Stacey Abrams (lawyer, voting rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, etc.) was also a novelist. This book is an intriguing page turner. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys legal thrillers. Better than Grisham, imo. (****)

  • Paris, B. A.: Behind Closed Doors: A Novel

    Paris, B. A.: Behind Closed Doors: A Novel
    I read this book a few years back. For some reason, I thought I wanted to read it again. I think I must have liked it better the first time I read it. This time it sort of left me feeling meh. The "bad guy" is a bit one-dimensional and unbelievable. More caricature than character. Still it might raise your hackles a bit. I remember it made me irate the first time I read it. (**)

  • Weir, Andy: Project Hail Mary: A Novel

    Weir, Andy: Project Hail Mary: A Novel
    If you thought The Martian was good (and I did), just wait till you read Project Hail Mary. One of the best books I've read this year. And one of the most appealing characters you'll ever meet--if you can get over how he looks. I happily give this book five stars. I'd give it more if there were more to give. (*****)

  • Bohjalian, Chris: Hour of the Witch: A Novel

    Bohjalian, Chris: Hour of the Witch: A Novel
    17th-century Massachusetts is not a safe place for women. as 24-year-old Mary Deerfield learns when she tries to divorce her cruel, lying, drunkard husband. This is the first book I've rated five stars in some time. (*****)

  • Foley, Lucy: The Guest List: A Novel

    Foley, Lucy: The Guest List: A Novel
    Take one rugged island off the western coast of Ireland, complete with jagged cliffs, peat bogs, and a roaring storm. Add 150 drunk wedding guests, many of them harboring dark secret pasts and grudges against one another. You know somebody's going to be murdered. But who and by whom? I loved this one. (****)

  • Jackson, Joshilyn: Mother May I: A Novel

    Jackson, Joshilyn: Mother May I: A Novel
    To get her son back alive, Bree must complete one small but critical task. It seems harmless enough, but this one action comes with a devastating price. And now Bree finds herself complicit in a terrible crime, caught up in a tangled web of secrets that threatens to destroy the perfect life she has built. In my opinion, this is Ms. Jackson's best book yet. (****)

  • Hemingway, Ernest: The Snows of Kilimanjaro

    Hemingway, Ernest: The Snows of Kilimanjaro
    Following the PBS Hemingway series, my book club decided that we would each read a Hemingway selection and discuss them at our May meeting. I chose this the short story The Snows of Kilimanjoro. Hemingway is, to say the least, not my favorite writer, and I didn't want to get bogged down in one of his long, angsty, narcissistic tales of male dominance and adventure. I'm glad this one was relatively short. It was the knowledge that I didn't have far to go that kept me reading. In Snows, we have a man lying on a cot in camp at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, dying of gangrene after scratching his leg on a thorn and failing to treat the scratch. While he lingers, with his current wife (he has had several) by his side, he reminisces about the book he didn't write and the women he treated like s--t. The end. (*)

  • Haines, Carolyn: The House of Memory (Pluto's Snitch Book 2)

    Haines, Carolyn: The House of Memory (Pluto's Snitch Book 2)
    I've read several of Carolyn Haines's books, and so far, to me, this is the best. Haines gives us ghosts of murdered young women, a haunted insane asylum, an antebellum house where evil lurks, and a still-living young woman threatened by human and superhuman forces. Two of Alabama's favorite daughters, Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald are main fictional characters in this spooky tale. (****)

  • Hardiman, Rebecca: Good Eggs: A Novel

    Hardiman, Rebecca: Good Eggs: A Novel
    When Kevin Gogarty’s irrepressible eighty-three-year-old mother, Millie, is caught shoplifting yet again, he has no choice but to hire a caretaker to keep an eye on her. Kevin, recently unemployed, is already at his wits’ end tending to a full house while his wife travels to exotic locales for work, leaving him solo with his sulky, misbehaved teenaged daughter, Aideen, whose troubles escalate when she befriends the campus rebel at her new boarding school. This Irish family seems to have more than its share of problems, especially poor old Kevin. I loved this book. It was a nice change for me from murder and mayhem. (****)

  • Swanson, Peter: Every Vow You Break: A Novel

    Swanson, Peter: Every Vow You Break: A Novel
    This is definitely one of the best thriller/mystery novels I can remember reading. It's bookish, engrossing, not overly gory and impossible to solve. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I found out I didn't. It's cliche to say "I couldn't put it down," but I couldn't--except when absolutely necessary. I also have to say that I've always thought Sting's "letter from a stalker" song would make a good novel. Peter Swanson proved I was right. (****)

  • Flynn, Gillian: The Grownup: A Story by the Author of Gone Girl

    Flynn, Gillian: The Grownup: A Story by the Author of Gone Girl
    The first line of this book is definitely adults only. So if you're easy to shock or somewhat prudish, pass this one by, because it gets even more shocking. But it's a good, fast-paced novella narrated by an unnamed, born-and-raised scam artist who sees a chance to leave light sex work behind for a career in what she does best, reading people and telling them what they want to hear. But, often happens in a Gillian Flynn story, things are not what they seem (or course). (***)

  • Kiernan, Caitlin R.: Low Red Moon (A Chance Matthews Novel)

    Kiernan, Caitlin R.: Low Red Moon (A Chance Matthews Novel)
    Psychic Deacon Silvey and his wife Chance are on the hunt for an inhuman serial killer--or is she on the hunt for them? One of Kiernan's best books. Exciting, compelling page-turner. (****)

  • Mandel, Emily St. John: Station Eleven

    Mandel, Emily St. John: Station Eleven
    Set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. Reading this book during a pandemic told me that things could be so much worse. (****)

  • Jewell, Lisa: The House We Grew Up In: A Novel

    Jewell, Lisa: The House We Grew Up In: A Novel
    Horror doesn't always involve monsters, and haunted houses don't always house actual ghosts. This faults and troubles this family suffered numerous and indeed horrible. The worst of which, to me, and the one that all the other horrors connect to, was the mother's addiction to hoarding. She turned her lovely home into death trap, which had devastating effects on her family and friends. (****)

  • McBride, James: The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother

    McBride, James: The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
    Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride, the author of GOOD LORD BIRD, shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. This book was well written and interesting, but I got often got confused with characters. There were so many of them. (***)

  • Flagg, Fannie: The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop: A Novel

    Flagg, Fannie: The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop: A Novel
    More about Idgy, Ruth, Bud, Evelyn, and all the Whistle Stop characters that we first met in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. It took me a while to get into the one, but about halfway through, things picked up. (***)

  • King, Stephen: Later

    King, Stephen: Later
    He sees dead people, Jamie does. And it gets him in a bunch of trouble. This was a fun read, and not nearly as long as most of S.K.'s books. (****)

  • Pinborough, Sarah: Behind Her Eyes: A Suspenseful Psychological Thriller

    Pinborough, Sarah: Behind Her Eyes: A Suspenseful Psychological Thriller
    I was interested in watching Netflix's miniseries based on this book, but decided I first wanted to read the book. About 50 pages into it, I started having serious deja vu. I did a bit of research and found that I had read it in 2017. But I didn't remember that controversial ending at all. After finishing the book, I still don't remember it, and I don't like it at all. In fact, I hate the ending. I've started on the series now. But I don't think the ending is going to change there. I'm giving the book four stars, but the ending gets only 1. (****)

  • Torre, Alessandra: The Ghostwriter

    Torre, Alessandra: The Ghostwriter
    Romance writer Helena Ross, with the help of her competitor and most ardent critic (who turns out to be not quite what she seems) is about to begin the last story she'll ever write. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must-read. It's not a ghost story, and it's not a romance. It's the story of a mother who is living with a load of guilt and grief that would destroy many. Read it and weep. I did. (****)

  • St. James, Simone: The Sun Down Motel

    St. James, Simone: The Sun Down Motel
    The Sun Down Motel has a very bad reputation. Even the owner tries to stay away from the place. But it still has its guests, some of them not quite in this world. Carly Kirk has taken a job at the motel, the same job her aunt held 35 years prior when she disappeared. Carly is determined to find out what happened to her Aunt Viv. But to do so, she has to do battle with some some pretty angry and evil spirits. The Sun Down gives the Overlook Hotel quite a run for scariest haunted hotel. (****)

  • Haines, Carolyn: A Gift of Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery

    Haines, Carolyn: A Gift of Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
    No. 19 or 23 Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries, set in the Mississippi Delta. Christmas is just around the corner and Sarah Booth and her friend and partner Tinkie are preparing for a festive holiday season. Sarah Booth and Sheriff Coleman Peters have finally got together, and this is the first holiday they’re celebrating as a couple. But just as the hall-decking gets going in earnest, Sarah Booth's friend Cece Dee Falcon shows up needing Sarah Booth’s help. Cece's very pregnant cousin Eve has been abducted. Eve's due date is Christmas Eve, so time is of the essence. (****)

  • Walker, Wendy: Don't Look for Me: A Novel

    Walker, Wendy: Don't Look for Me: A Novel
    They called it a “walk away.” The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family. It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to start over. But what really happened to Molly Clarke? This is a very fast paced page-turner. Good book! (****)

  • Wright, Lawrence: The End of October: A novel

    Wright, Lawrence: The End of October: A novel
    It is truly uncanny how the plot of this story so closely resembled what the world has been experiencing since early 2020. Our plague has, thank God, not been quite as bad as the Kongoli virus that the world of this novel suffers, What turns out to be the source of the virus isn't revealed until the very end of the book. Don't tell and spoil the fun. This is a very good book. (****)

  • Willett, Anna: Dear Neighbor

    Willett, Anna: Dear Neighbor
    When Amy and her abusive, loser boyfriend Zane move into a house together, she hopes they can put their rocky past behind them. She gets a job and befriends the older couple who live in the house next door. The couple and Amy eventually develop an almost parent/child relationship. Zane's hold over Amy has been strong, yet cracks are beginning to show. When a policeman knocks on Amy's door one day, it is the start of series of events that will make the two households clash together in a fatal entanglement. (***)

Books Read in 2020

  • Patterson, James: The Last Days of John Lennon

    Patterson, James: The Last Days of John Lennon
    This book was not what the title led me to expect. The author spends more time on telling the history of the Beatles than on dealing with the last days of Lennon and his murder. Still, pretty good book, especially for Beatles and/or Lennon fans. (***)

  • Brooks-Dalton, Lily: Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel

    Brooks-Dalton, Lily: Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel
    Something catastrophic has happened on earth, leaving one scientist and a mysterious little girl stranded in the Arctic and five astronauts in space on their flight home from Jupiter. One of the best books I've read in a while. Inspiration for Netflix's film "Midnight Sky." (****)

  • Hendrix, Grady: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

    Hendrix, Grady: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
    I'm not a fan of vampire books. In fact, the only ones that have ever earned good reviews from me are DRACULA and INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE. I can now add a third. I found the beginning of this book to be humorous. I could readily relate to this group of ladies who think of themselves as "just housewives." Later on, when they put on their badass panties (and the author pretty much dropped the humor) and fight against evil for their families and neighbors, I could relate to that too--although I can't say I've ever fought anything as gross and evil as James Harris. (****)

  • Sager, Riley: Home Before Dark: A Novel

    Sager, Riley: Home Before Dark: A Novel
    Is it a ghost story or a murder mystery? You'll have to read to the end to find out. When I began reading, I thought it was going to be an Amityville Horror knockoff, but I was wrong. Good read. Exciting page turner. Note: The title really doesn't fit. I don't know where that came from. I think I would have titled it The Ghosts of Baneberry Hall. The word "dark" seems to be a draw these days, in novels and in Netflix movies. (***)

  • Haig, Matt: The Midnight Library: A Novel

    Haig, Matt: The Midnight Library: A Novel
    Matt Haig gives us truly imaginative plots and story lines. In this book, a young woman, Nora, can find no meaning nor purpose in her life and finally decides to end it. After taking the pills, she finds herself in what appears to be an endless library with her librarian, Miss Elm, who explains to Nora that each of the endless supply of books will take her to a life that she is living in a parallel universe. The purpose: to give Nora a reason for living and get rid of her many regrets. The book reminds me just a tiny bit of THE WIZARD OF OZ. (****)

  • Coben, Harlan: The Boy from the Woods

    Coben, Harlan: The Boy from the Woods
    Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn't know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing. I was pretty dissatisfied with the ending. (***)

  • North, Alex: The Shadows: A Novel

    North, Alex: The Shadows: A Novel
    25 years ago, a group of teenage boys participated in a ritualistic murder. One murderer was apprehended, the other, Charlie Crabtree, disappeared without a trace. Linked to the crime, Paul Adams left his hometown without looking back. Forced to return home to visit his dying mother, it appears a copycat is on the loose. Part horror novel, part detective story, part mystery. At times I enjoyed the story, but at times, it seemed to bog down. (***)

  • Little, Bentley: The Haunted

    Little, Bentley: The Haunted
    A very scary haunted house book--but the sex and violence, in my opinion, crept over into the gratuitous category. I'm no prude. I like scary books with lots of danger, and I don't mind a little sex. This one jsut went a little too far for me. But plenty scary. (***)

  • Follett, Ken: Third Twin: A Novel of Suspense

    Follett, Ken: Third Twin: A Novel of Suspense
    Scientist Jeannie Ferrami stumbles across a baffling mystery: Steve and Dan appear to be identical twins, but were born on different days, to different mothers. A law student and a convicted murderer, they seem a world apart, but as Jeannie begins to fall in love with Steve, who is charged with a horrendous crime he swears he didn't commit, she finds her professional - and personal - future threatened. A true page turner. (****)

  • Jewell, Lisa: The Family Upstairs: A Novel

    Jewell, Lisa: The Family Upstairs: A Novel
    Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone. In this chilling novel, the author brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets. (****)

  • Napolitano, Ann: Dear Edward: A Novel

    Napolitano, Ann: Dear Edward: A Novel
    Best book I’ve read in months, maybe years. At 12 years of age, Eddie (Edward) Adler survives an airline crash in which 191 people die, everyone except him, including his mom, dad, and older brother. For the next six years, Edward struggles to find his place in a world without his family. I highly recommend this book. (*****)

  • Hudson, Suzanne: The Fall of the Nixon Administration

    Hudson, Suzanne: The Fall of the Nixon Administration
    This is a silyl book. And if you were to remove all the profanity, obscenity, and pornography, you wouldn’t have three paragraphs left, nor a story (which you don’t have much of anyway). The only good thing about this book is the chickens. But it does have some funny dialogue. So I’ll give it three starts for that. (***)

  • Levy, Andrea: Small Island: A Novel

    Levy, Andrea: Small Island: A Novel
    Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve. (***)

  • Kehlmann, Daniel: You Should Have Left: A Novel

    Kehlmann, Daniel: You Should Have Left: A Novel
    Super chilling story of a writer who can’t seem to write anything except notes to himself. He and his wife and 4-year-old daughter have retreated to a secluded house in the German mountains so that he can finish a screenplay. Things do not go well. (****)

  • Erdrich, Louise: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse: A Novel

    Erdrich, Louise: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse: A Novel
    This was our book club selection for August. I found it sort of cumbersome and confusing. There were far too many characters to keep track of, and many of the characters were more than one person. If you’re interested in the plot, click on the link and read about it on Amazon. I’m to tired of this book to go into detail. (**)

  • Morgenstern, Erin: The Starless Sea: A Novel

    Morgenstern, Erin: The Starless Sea: A Novel
    A mythical story about stories, is how one reviewer describes this book. Did I like it? I did at the beginning and for maybe halfway through. But so much description, repetition, and repetition of descriptions got on my last nerve, and I confess I didn’t quite finish the book. I just found that I didn’t care much how it ended, so I gave up. But the premise was a good one. (***)

  • Adams, Taylor: No Exit: A Novel

    Adams, Taylor: No Exit: A Novel
    On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. (***)

  • Wright, Kim: Last Ride to Graceland

    Wright, Kim: Last Ride to Graceland
    Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth. (***)

  • Haines, Carolyn: The Book of Beloved (Pluto's Snitch 1)

    Haines, Carolyn: The Book of Beloved (Pluto's Snitch 1)
    As a young woman widowed by World War I, Raissa James is no stranger to ghosts. But when an invitation arrives from Caoin House, her uncle’s estate in Mobile, Alabama, she’s finally ready to cast off the shadows of her past. A spooky old house, a gaggle of ghosts, and murder combine for a chilling read. (****)

  • Haines, Carolyn: Them Bones: A Mystery from the Mississippi Delta (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Book 1)

    Haines, Carolyn: Them Bones: A Mystery from the Mississippi Delta (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Book 1)
    First in the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. Sarah Booth is over 30, unmarried, alone and broke, and about to lose the family plantation. She has her own personal ghost, the nanny of her great great grandmother. When kidnapping her friend’s doggie Chablis with plans exchange her for ransom falls through, Chablis’s owner hired Sarah Booth to solve a murder. Thus begins this someone unlikely southern belle’s career as a sleuth. (***)

  • King, Stephen: If It Bleeds

    King, Stephen: If It Bleeds
    I enjoyed the first three novellas in this collection. But the 4th one, the title story “If It Bleeds,” is a continuation of the Bill Hodges/Holly Gibney saga. I got tired of them halfway through the first book, I think. I didn’t finish this one.Four stars for first three stories, two stars for “If It Bleeds." (***)

  • King, Stephen: The Outsider: A Novel

    King, Stephen: The Outsider: A Novel
    An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens—Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. (***)

  • McBride, James: The Good Lord Bird: A Novel

    McBride, James: The Good Lord Bird: A Novel
    Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. (***)

  • Ng, Celeste: Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel

    Ng, Celeste: Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel
    I had some trouble getting into this book. But about halfway through, I was hooked. Most of the main characters are teenagers. And most of the grownup characters aren't very well fleshed out, with maybe the exception of Mia. Sort of like Charlie Brown grownups. I was a little disappointed with the book as a whole. (***)

  • Coben, Harlan: Gone for Good: A Novel

    Coben, Harlan: Gone for Good: A Novel
    Will Klein’s older brother Ken was his hero. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins’ affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman is found murdered. The prime suspect: Ken Klein. Ken vanishes, and for ten years, his family has no word from him. They are sure he is gone for good--until a decade later, on her death bed, Will’s mother gives Will reason to think otherwise. (***)

  • Karen Thompson Walker: The Dreamers: A Novel

    Karen Thompson Walker: The Dreamers: A Novel
    A plague has hit this small college town. People are falling asleep and not waking up. But that’s only the beginning. What happens to them in their dreams is the real story. I loved this book. It reminded me a bit of SLEEPING BEAUTIES by Stephen and Owen King. (****)

  • Harlan Coben: The Stranger

    Harlan Coben: The Stranger
    The stranger digs around in people’s private lives to learn secrets they’d like to keep secret, then blackmails them (or sometimes he just tells them to ruin lives) to keep their secrets. A page turner for me. (***)

  • Kristin Hannah: Firefly Lane

    Kristin Hannah: Firefly Lane
    I rarely give up on a book once I start reading it. But this is the second book I failed to finish this year. It reads like a book for young girls. Not this author’s best effort. I can’t believe the same woman who wrote THE NIGHTINGALE wrong this. (**)

  • Sarah M. Broom: The Yellow House: A Memoir (2019 National Book Award Winner)

    Sarah M. Broom: The Yellow House: A Memoir (2019 National Book Award Winner)
    This was my book club’s February selection. I know it won awards. I know it gets glowing reviews. I admit the writer has a way with words. But I found this book tedious and slow going. I couldn’t keep the characters straight, so I finally gave up trying to remember who was who. Eventually, I gave up on the whole book. Didn’t finish it. (**)

  • Taylor Adams: No Exit: A Novel

    Taylor Adams: No Exit: A Novel
    A kidnapped little girl, two psychopathic killers, and a blizzard combine to make a rip-roaring thriller. I really enjoyed this one. (****)

  • Michael Crummey: The Innocents: A Novel

    Michael Crummey: The Innocents: A Novel
    A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland's northern rocky, wild coastline. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family's boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them. (****)

  • Susan May: Best Seller

    Susan May: Best Seller
    A young female writer is mentored by an experienced award-winning male author. Female writer’s career takes off, while male author’s hits the skids. Then all hell breaks loose. This is one of the best thrillers, and most original plots, I’ve ever read. I can recommend it gladly to all thriller lovers. (****)

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Monday, May 12, 2008

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