The Husbands by Chandler Baker

Nora Spangler is on track to become partner at her law firm this year. Although a woman, with a child, (which is frowned upon at work), another on the way (which no one knows about yet) and a husband who pitches in when he is told, she sucks it all up and attempts to do it all. Every day seems to be an uphill battle, juggling her young daughter Liv’s school and activities, making meals, demands at the office no matter what time of day, while practically begging her husband Hayden to help her. She is exhausted.

Until the couple begin to go house hunting for a bigger house and receive a call about an open house in a complex called Dynasty Ranch where it seems most of the women are CEO’s, authors, and doctors. When they arrive for the walk through Nora notices how engaged the husbands are to all their wives requests. Without even being asked. She begins to ponder her own relationship with her husband.

While there they discover that a recent accidental fire at the complex destroyed a house and killed the husband of one of the women, a famous author. She has asked Nora to look into the fire because she wants to file a wrongful death claim. Reluctantly she agrees.

As Nora begins her investigation and begins spending time with the women of Dynasty Ranch she starts to feel inadequate about herself and her relationship with her husband. She mentions this to one of the women and she suggests counseling with one of the neighbors who is a counselor. But nothing is really as it seems at the complex. As Nora delves deeper into the fire/death she finds she has more questions than answers. What if the fire was not really an accident? But what she does know is the husbands at the complex seem to make their wives lives so much easier. Now if only she could get Harley to be more helpful.

And that is what begins to happen! Harley begins to really take initiative. Nora has never been so happy! Until she finds out that not everything is really the way it looks. And now she has a dilemma. Does she choose the perfect life? Or does she go back to the exhausted, beaten down wife, mother and lawyer she use to be.

Dynasty Ranch is a perfect oasis for career women with families, but what happens when you discover the secrets which lie beneath the surface? If you are not careful, you could be its next victim.

The Husbands is The Stepford Wives on steroids. A fast paced thriller which many women readers will be able to relate to, trying to do it all and do it all well without guilt and with little support. The question is what would you rather have? The perfect husband or the messy life. You decide.

Thank you #Goodreads #FlatironBooks #TheHusbands #ChandlerBaker for the advanced copy. The book will be released in early August.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Searching for Sylvie Lee is a heartbreaking mystery which not only touches on racial stereotyping and immigration, but has incredible drama, secrets and misunderstandings which tear an extended family apart.

When an Asian couple immigrate to New York City, they have high hopes of all their dreams coming true. They believe this country to be the greatest place to raise a family, But as they get settled, they discover they are pregnant. Unable to care for a baby and try and work, they send their daughter Sylvie to a cousin’s house in The Netherlands where their grandma is taking care of another of the cousins. They believe they will be able to send for her when they get settled.

But seven years later, when they have a second child, Amy, Sylvie is still in The Netherlands. They now decide it is time for Sylvie to come to America and help with their new child. Sylvie is then sent to New York, leaving the only home she has really ever known. But she seems to adapt to the change easily, taking care of her sister Amy and excelling at whatever she does. Her young sister Amy not only looks up to Sylvie, but aspires to be just like her, always feeling as if she has fallen short of what Sylvie has accomplished. But both sisters adore each other.

When the family gets a call from their family in The Netherlands telling them their grandmother is near death, they decide it should be Sylvie who goes to be with her. They had the closest bond and felt she would want to be with her. Sylvie, married with an incredible job departs to be with her grandmother. But after her grandmother’s death, Sylvie disappears. At first they feel she just needed time to process the passing, but as time elapses, Amy realizes something is terribly wrong.

It is decided that Amy will travel to The Netherlands to help search for her sister. Not only is this totally out of Amy’s comfort zone, but Amy realizes this could be the opportunity to help her sister as she has helped her for all these years. As Amy traces Sylvie’s steps during her time in The Netherlands and her interactions with her cousins, she realizes Sylvie had many secrets. Although always seeming perfect on the outside, she was hiding feelings of extreme insecurity, sadness and regret. The fight begins as to how far the family should go to find Sylvie, worrying about how it would look to people if perhaps they find something, because everybody should have perfect lives, at least on the outside. Where IS Sylvie?

This moving story which opens up a floodgate of family secrets is both compelling and tragic. Not only is this family searching for Sylvie who is lost in so many ways, but they are searching for their own souls hoping to find their own way back to each other before it is too late.

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

British television host Graham Norton has written a beautifully touching coming of age story about a group of families whose lives become intertwined after a horrific accident occurs in their small Irish town. As lives are torn apart from the accident, it’s the intertwined secrets kept buried which seem to cause even more damage.

A group of young adults decide to go to the beach the day before two of them will be married. But the marriage will never occur. A terrible car accident will destroy all their lives. Three of them die. And as the town mourns the dead, their wrath turns to the driver of the car, Connor. Unable to bear this terrible burden on their family and their son, Connor’s parents decide to send him away to Liverpool to work in hopes he will return when the shock subsides. Little do they know it will be years before they even know he is still alive.

Connor, who has secrets he can never share, is thrown into a job and apartment with strangers. Then something happens to him and he is tossed onto the streets, a lost, guilty boy who feels he does not deserve to even be alive. He then spends many years of his life running. Running away from the accident, his life, himself and the embarrassment he thinks he is to his family.

As Connor’s parents give up hope of ever seeing their son again, their daughter Ellen has married one of the survivors of the accident. This marriage she realizes is very tangled. Connor has no idea of the situations back home as he has found his way to residing in New York. But a chance meeting with a stranger will once again change his life forever. Those secrets he has kept buried for years once again will surface and he must decide what to reveal and what must be taken to his grave.

Home Stretch examines the true love of family as well as the forgiveness we have to not only absolve someone of mistakes, but liberate oneself from the horrible burdens some carry. But for others, their ego is too great and they would rather feel nothing rather than be free to live the life they truly want.

Norton’s novel deals with love, loss and pain. But in the end his most important lesson is that the truth will always set you free.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollinsPublishers #GrahamNorton #HomeStretch for the advanced copy. The book will be coming out in late June.

Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder by Mikita Brottman

Couple Found Slain is the true sad story of a family who was torn apart after the youngest son shot and killed his parents. But the tragedy had started long ago, with parents who were verbally and physically abusive to their children. But that unfortunately was not the end of this story. Quite honestly, it was only the beginning.

In 1992 a 22-year-old named Brian Bechtold walked into a police station and informed the police officer that he had killed his parents over two weeks prior in another state after hearing voices and believing them to be the devil telling him to kill them.

Brian was judged criminally insane and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He ended up at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a 250 in-patient facility. But Brian’s journey was far from over. As a matter of fact, unbeknownst to him it was only the beginning of a fight for his life.

Brian’s childhood was not the happiest. He and his siblings were constantly abused by non-caring parents who mentally and physically abused them almost on a daily basis. But for outsiders looking in that just was not the case. They saw a quiet husband who went to work as an engineer and a wife who took care of their growing family. As the years passed and Brian’s siblings moved out, their wrath, especially his father’s began to increase. With his mother ailing from a bout with breast cancer and continued failing health, Brian just snapped.

After his sentence he was placed in a maximum psychiatric hospital. As the years went by and through therapy and medication, Brian seemed to improve. He had begun to see other patients who had done similar or even far worse crimes being released back into society. But when he asked why he was not allowed to be released he was never really given a reason that made sense.

The Perkins Center was not exactly a proficient facility. Patients were improperly medicated, there were clashes with guards, nurses and even administrators, and there were confrontations with patients which included patients murdering each other. There was even an episode of a psychiatrist who worked at the center stalking an administrator.

When Brian questioned why he could not leave, they labeled him paranoid and just drugged him more until he began to refuse the medication. He was accused of trying to hurt guards and other patients. It seemed they wanted to keep insisting he was mentally ill. So when Brian heard from other patients that prison was actually a better facility than the Center, he decided to plan an escape in the hopes that he would end up in prison, thinking he would get a definite sentence and a release date would finally be possible. But that would not be the case.

Since then his mental state has remained stable and he has been trying to get himself released, even going to court and representing himself, something a mentally unstable person would certainly not be able to do.

This is not only the story about a mentally ill person killing his parents, but of how the system treats these individuals, even when they become a recovery story. What Brian did was reprehensible. But did he have some sort of psychotic break and through the years has fully recovered? If so, why are there no provisions put in place. Why should a patient who is no danger any more live in a facility where there is danger not only by other patients, but from the people who are suppose to protect them. Hopefully this book will shed some light on the problem and perhaps begin a series of changes.

Thank you #NetGalley #HenryHoltandCo. #MikitaBrottman #CoupleFoundSlain for the advanced copy. The book will be out in early July.

How Y’All Doing? by Leslie Jordan

Emmy award winning actor, Leslie Jordan, known for his outlandish character Beverly Leslie on Will and Grace and his stints on Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story series has been constantly working, minding his own business for many, many years. But that all changed when during the pandemic he became bored and discovered Instagram. And with one single tweet, “Well, shit. How y’all doing.” he became an instant hit on the social media platform and now has millions and millions of followers.

In his most recent book, How Y’All Doing, Jordan, in his perhaps long-winded, now where was I, funny tale teller way, writes essays about his life, family and acting career. From his love of ponies from a young age, the death of his father when he was very young and of his travels with some eccentric friends, he has mastered the art of storytelling.

In one essay he writes about meeting Carrie Fisher at an AA meeting and after having a discussion with her about his drinking and how it has affected his mother, it unbeknownst to him, led to a call from Debbie Reynolds to his mother, who of course thought the call was a joke!

He spends some of the book writing about the gossip and stories while he was working on the set of The Help with Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer. He also dishes the dirt on other acting gigs such as American Horror Story.

But, as in all lives, he also draws on his darker side as a young gay man trying to find himself and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. He explains that after his father was killed in the war his mother struggled to keep the family which included his twin sisters as well as himself together.

He writes with a sense of flair and sarcasm which he also exhibits while doing his Instagram posts. His stories might begin somewhere and veer, but they always come back to his main points and moral of the story. Although a short book, it is filled with sentimental, funny stories and gossip which are enjoyably interesting.