Mrs. P’s Book of Secrets by Lorna Gray

{D3E6AE4E-BE2A-45A4-ADE7-3905C45BE0E6}Img400 Mrs. P’s Book of Secrets is a story which has a little bit of everything…mystery, romance, history and ghosts…which all add up to an intriguing adventure.

Mrs. Lucy Peuse, or Mrs. P. is a war widow in 1946 who has begun to work in her uncle’s publishing business.  She is hired to make coffee and answer phones, but soon is put to work to edit a book.

Robert Underhill is a former doctor, and prisoner of war who was hired by the company.  What exactly he was hired to do is the first mystery.  Lucy is wary of him, at first…

But when Lucy is given the opportunity to assist with edits of a book about a family named Ashbrook, which in the galley seems to be always misspelled, she soon discovers an Ashbrok family mystery.  See what I did there?

Lucy and Robert try to find out what happened the Ashbroke family member thought to have died as a young child, but with no grave or obituary they are at a loss. No one seems to even remember the child, which is strange for such a well-known family.

As the two grow closer, Lucy must wrestle with her own ghosts.  Due to the loss of her husband she is afraid to love again first because she does not want to betray him but also because she fears her new love will be taken away.

This tale is a love story in so many ways…the love between family members, people we have lost, or people we feel we have disappointed, or the love between family who are not blood, but are still bonded as family, and what they will do for each other no matter what.

As a long ago mystery is put to rest, so are Lucy and Richard’s questions as to who and how we love and that sometimes ghosts can give the permission we need to love again.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollins #LornaGray #Mrs.P’sBookofSecrets for the advanced copy.  The book will be available in the United States on January 23, 2020.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

th Trevor Noah should be dead or in jail, period. The South African comedian and host of The Daily Show chronicles an incredibly abusive, unconventional childhood growing up in South Africa during Apartheid.

Born to a black mother and a white father, Noah documents his adolescence which begins with a powerful story of his mother having to push him out of a moving car on the way home from church for fear his light skin and her dark skin would get him kidnapped. And the book ends with an incredibly dramatic narration of receiving a call from his younger brother telling him his mother had been shot by his step-father.

But although this book is filled with tales anyone would look upon as horribly sad, Noah writes with a wit and humor that was the insanity of his life. He relates these incredible stories with a sort of…can you believe this happened? I can’t! and I was there! attitude.

In between are stories of a young boy who grew up with a very strict mother in poverty and always in fear of being taken away from her because of his skin color.  Noah would spend all day Sunday going to three different churches with his very religious mother never understanding where her faith came from. He would endure abuse from his step-father, as well as witnessing the abuse his mother endured from her husband, while calling the police to no avail.

At their lowest he ate caterpillars for dinner and slept in different cars at night while the family lived at their father’s auto garage.  His friends were members of gangs.  Hearing gunshots and watching police cars speed by were nightly occurrences. He was sent to jail for borrowing his step-father’s car.

But there are also funny stories woven into the book.  Stories of his first three girl crushes. His unique high school job.  His first (and last) prom that he somehow never attended even though he was there!

But as much as his life was crazy, filled with confusion as to who he really was and crammed with chaos, there was always a sense of unconditional love between a mother and her son, a sense of determination to break the previous patterns of life as his mother tried to do, and to do better.  And he did.

 

 

Magpie by Sophie Draper

th The Magpie is the twisted, dark, haunting story of a couple whose marriage and world is falling apart around them.  I had already known that a Magpie was a bird, but after I finished the book, my curiosity as to other meanings got the best of me.  I looked the word up in the dictionary and was intrigued to find a few other explanations; someone with mischievous habits, a collector of things.  I had an aha moment!

Claire and Duncan have been married for over 20 years.  Having met in veterinary school they fell in love and immediately married.  While both did graduate, Duncan was the one to pursue the career.  Claire stayed home and took care of their son Joe.  Over time, Duncan was able to open his own practice. To make a good living.

The resentment they have for each other is palpable.  The bitterness in their marriage awful.  The routine of their lives bitter.

Joe was a difficult child from the beginning, always the odd child, prone to tantrums and with not too many friends, and Claire had been the protective parent.  Now that Joe was 18 and not in school any longer his one aspiration was to spend time with his metal detector scouring the ponds and highlands surrounding their secluded house.

Claire knows that Duncan is cheating on her.  This has been the pattern of their marriage. She just can’t figure out who it is this time.  Until she does.  And she decides now is the time to take Joe and their dog and move into a cottage across the pond.

Then Joe goes missing and Claire is beside herself living in the cottage alone with their dog and trying to find her son.  What has happened to her? What has happened to Joe? And what will happen if people find out the secret she and Duncan share?

This is a heartbreaking story of lies, infidelity and sorrow.  But it is also haunting in so many ways. Draper’s scenic writing skills are both breathtaking and grand, perfectly woven into this shocking tale.

Thank you to #NetGalley #Avon #Magpie #SophieDraper for the advanced copy.

 

 

The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg

th A group of women from a small Missouri town agree to a monthly meeting to confess intimate stories of their lives which they have never told anyone before.  They decide to call themselves the Confession Club.  What begins as a way of unburdening themselves, turns into a group of women who help and support each other as they divulge secrets some have kept hidden away for years.

The cast of characters gives you that small town community feel, where everybody knows everyone’s business (mostly) and the gossip can be spot on, or misleading.

Iris is a divorced woman who teaches baking classes in the town.  Lonely and still heartbroken she meets a man, John who himself is tortured by his own sense of loss.

Maddy and her daughter Nola live in New York with Maddy’s husband.  Maddy decides to take Nola back to the town because she yearns for that township feel, but is afraid her husband will not agree, so instead of discussing this with him, she runs back to her past.  Maddy’s young daughter Nola is the sage of the group, happily doling out her innocent yet profound advice to them all.

And of course there are the funny quirky characters you will find in any small town whose adventures (and confusion) keep the reader amused!

With humor, love, sadness and determination, the women of the Confession Club not only come together to teach each other with their advice, but their lessons of letting go of guilt can be learned by anyone who reads this beautifully written story.

My one caveat would be that Iris’ recipes should be included! My mouth was watering during each club meeting!

Thank you to #NetGalley #RadomHouse #TheConfessionClub #ElizabethBerg for the advanced copy.

 

Christmas Sweets by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier

thGMR5OOBM Christmas Sweets is an enjoyable book of short stories by three well-known women authors who write cozy mysteries.

The Twelve Desserts of Christmas by Joanne Fluke

This holiday short story is perfect for any Hannah Swensen fans, as well as anyone looking for some holiday recipes as those are included at the end!

Two boarding school teachers must spend their Christmas holiday at the school taking care of students who had no where else to go. They begin to fall in love, but someone isn’t too happy about this and wants to keep them apart. It is up to Hannah to both snoop and bake to find out who is behind trying to break the two up.  Will Hannah, armed with both wonderful easy to follow recipes and her disposition to solving crimes help love win out?

Nightmare on Elf Street by Laura Levine

Having never read a cozy by Laura Levine, I found this short story to be my favorite. It is very comical and I assure cat lovers you will enjoy this as well.

Jaine Austin is looking for work.  Any work.  She finds a job working as an elf at a local mall.  Between the hideous elf costume and one of the Santa’s not being very nice, Jaine is miserable.  When she decides to take her cat Prozac to the mall to have holiday pictures taken things go “cat crazy” thanks to Prozac. During the chaos Santa is  murdered by a tree ornament.  Jaine soon discovers she is the prime suspect. Now she must catch the Santa killer before they catch her.

The Christmas Thief by Leslie Meier

All Elizabeth Stone wants for Christmas is to go home to Tinker’s Cove, Maine and see her family.  Elizabeth works at a lavish resort in Florida.  When she finds out all vacations have been cancelled due to a very expensive posh party which was suddenly booked, she is beyond disappointed.

Then during the party one of the pieces of expensive jewelry goes missing and Elizabeth becomes the prime suspect in the heist.  Afraid of losing her job, she is banned from the establishment until the case is solved. She doesn’t know where to turn.  Enter her mother Lucy Stone and friend Miss Tilley who fly in from Maine and take charge. Between the three of them, will they be able to convince the police Elizabeth is innocent?

I found the short stories to be full of cheer, wit, mayhem and of course mystery.  A lovely cozy to read with some apple cider and one of Hannah’s cookies.

Thank you #NetGalley #Kennsington #JoanneFluke #ChristmasSweets for the advanced copy.

Pursuit by Joyce Carol Oates

th

Abby has just met and married the man of her dreams.  But as her wedding fast approaches she begins to feel as if she does not deserve to be happy.  She finds herself having confusing nightmares about skeletons and awful feelings of dread.

Then, less than 24 hours after she has married, Abby steps off and is hit by a bus causing her to almost die. As her husband Willem sits lovingly by her side and waits for her to wake up, he can’t help but wonder if his wife accidentally or intentionally caused the accident.

Abby refuses to answer this question, but as she grows stronger and she begins to see Willem’s true love for her, she starts to reveal truths she has kept hidden since her childhood. Willem makes the decision that in order for Abby to completely heal, they must go back to her childhood town and revisit what happened.

It is then that Abby must confront the abuses she and her mother endured many years ago at the hands of her father.

Oates has once again written an intense psychological horror story with a narrative which goes back to the past and then to the present and with an ending which although is quite sad, if filled with hope.

Pursuit is a haunting tale of abuse, murder and salvation.

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp

thForget about computers taking over the world, instead we should all be worried about our smart phones taking over!

In this suspenseful multi genre book of psychological thriller meets ghost story meets the macabre, you have a recipe for one heck of a ride!

When Kate Collins meets and falls in love with Scott Palmer at a weekend retreat on how to curb phone addiction, and he finally asks her to relocate and move in with him, she is beyond thrilled.

As the date of her move nears, Kate’s contact with Scott goes silent.  Determined to squelch her fears that she has been dumped, or even that he has died, she packs up and moves her life.  But when she gets to his apartment what she finds jolts her.  Not only is Scott not there, but the apartment is empty with the exception of his cell phone.

Has the love of her life ghosted her? But why would he leave his phone in an empty apartment?  So Kate decides to play detective. She figures out Scott’s password to his phone.  And that’s when the situation begins to get very creepy.

Once into his phone, Kate discovers certain apps which she cannot believe belong to the  person she fell in love with.  How was he able to hide this other side of himself?

The story gets even eerier as Kate begins to see what she believes is a ghost and she starts to receive strange calls with strange voices from Scott’s phone. But she is determined to find the answers and thus begins her obsession with his phone.

The underlining theme of the story is how we have become so co-dependent on social media for all types of entertainment that we are constantly looking down and never looking up. Our phones have taken on almost a human/friend component.

Ghoster was such a great read I was so tempted to flip to the last page, but I didn’t and I am glad I was able to wait for the surprising ending which will suck you in!

Thank you so much to #NetGalley #OrbitBooks #JasonArnopp for the advanced copy.