The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

Meg Williams wants revenge. At a young age she and her dying mother were conned out of their home by an unsympathetic con artist. This left Meg homeless, motherless and in debt trying to pay off her mother’s funeral. She swore that she would someday make him pay for what he did to them. She decides then and there to beat him at his own game someday when he least expects it.

Over the years she practiced the “con game” on unsuspecting targets carefully honing her “craft” by using aliases and becoming an expert at many technological and psychological practices. She was able to never leave a paper trail. One day, many years later, she finally sees a chance to ruin him and make him pay. She was able to put her plan together, a plan years in the making.

Unbeknownst to Meg, there is one person who has been waiting to see what her next move would be. And when Kat Roberts sees a google alert with the name Meg Williams, she can hardly believe it. As a young newspaper intern years ago, she was on Meg’s trail after she had conned a school principal out of money and then up and disappeared. But unfortunately for Kat, a phone call she took at the newspaper would forever change her life and end her career. But Kat always knew their paths would one day cross again.

Kat sees that Meg has become a real estate agent and is coming into town. Odd, that this is the first sign of life from Meg after so many years. Kat decides to put herself in the position to finally meet Meg, figure out her scam, catch her and expose her. She will con the con. Her plan is simple. Become friends with Meg and figure out who the target is, what the con is and why and stop the fraud. What Kat never imagined is that she would begin to really like Meg as a real friend. But are they really friends?

In this thrilling cat and mouse story, you start to not know who is really telling the truth or lying for the sake of their con. As you follow both of their complicated past and present lives you try to pinpoint who the hero will be. As the author Julie Clark writes so eloquently, “The difference between justice and revenge comes down to who’s telling the story.” As the reader begins to learn what is motivating both women, you can’t help but root for them both.

Thank you #NetGalley #Sourcebooks #JulieClark #TheLiesITell for the advanced copy.

Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Sugar and spice and falling in love is the sweet premise of the lovely story behind Fake It Till You Bake It, a funny and warm hearted plot with a delicious ending!

When Jada Townsend-Matthews goes on a reality love show and is proposed to by the perfect guy on television and she says no, her life turns into its own reality story as she becomes one of the most disliked women on social media and in person.

After this episode, one of many missteps in Jada’s life, her grandmother who owns a football team gives her one last chance to figure out what she really wants to do with her life and ground herself or she will not be able to gain access to her trust fund.

As much as her grandmother believes in her, her own parents feel quite differently. You see, Jada comes from a hard-working science-based family who owns a lab. Jada, who is dyslexic has always had a hard time in school and was not able to follow in the family business.

So, she has tried many other careers such as DJing, working as an actress and finally her most embarrassing career, as a reality star. Her parents have had enough of her antics and have cut her off financially. She must now find a job and pay her own bills.

Enter Donovan Dell, hunky professional football player and co-owner of an up and coming, struggling cupcake bakery called Sugar Blitz. Begrudgingly and as a favor to Jada’s grandmother, his boss, he agrees to give Jada a job at his bakery. Jada is not a baker.

Things turn from bad to worse when she is recognized by a customer as that woman who dumped that doctor on television. That’s when with her quick thinking she devises a scheme to get her reputation back. A plan which throws Jada and Donovan and the bakery into chaos. Antics soon ensue but Jada thinks she has everything under control until she finds out she has a few enemies who would like to see her fail. But Jada may surprise everyone and come out of this smelling like a fresh vanilla!

This adorable story is a definite beach read filled with lighthearted witty dialogue and a charming love plot which, if I may suggest being read with your favorite treat, perhaps a cupcake!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #FakeItTillYouBakeIt #JamieWesley for the advanced copy.

Can’t Look Away by Carola Lovering

Can’t Look Away is a uniquely gripping love story/thriller with so many twists and turns which continue to come at the reader until the very end of the story.

In 2013 a young graduate student who wants to be a writer named Molly Diamond goes to a rock concert in Brooklyn. While there, she locks eyes with the lead singer, Jake Danner and they fall madly in love. As the saying goes, the eyes are the widow to the soul, and they believe they are truly soul mates with Jake even writing a song about Molly which shoots him into stardom.

Fast forward to the present and Molly is a yoga teacher and a loving mother and wife (not to Jake) in a small town in Connecticut. She and her husband have been trying for years to get pregnant again and are in the midst of what could possibly be the last IVF treatment because they are running out of money. She has not written in years and the women in Flynn Cove where they live are not really her type of friends, with most being country club gossiping snobs. To say she is just a little depressed would be an understatement.

Suddenly Jake Danner pops onto her radar with a new rendition of his hit Molly’s Song. She hasn’t thought about him in years and begins to relive the memories of the two of them together and although they never really fell out of love, what led them to go their separate ways and the heartbreak which came with the parting.

Her only salvation right now is a new friend she has made named Sabrina. She has just moved into the town with her husband, and she is going through IVF as well. But Sabrina has more than just friendship on her mind when it comes to Molly. She blames Molly for ruining her life and wants to make sure everyone Molly knows realizes what Molly did. And then she introduces Molly to her husband….

Can’t Look Away has so much heart and love with so many shocking twists and turns you will be riveted. You will love the relationships and friendships; you will be sad at the heartbreaks, and you will especially root for what could/should have been and the strength it will take to make everything right.

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #CarolaLovering #Can’tLookAway for the advanced copy.

Island Time by Georgia Clark

Island Time is a humorously warm and quirky family love story which embraces two very different families who must come together and try to get along and endure a vacation for the love of their families.

First there is the Lee family. They are very proper and unrelaxed Americans whose daughter has married an Australian woman. The young couple is in the process of planning to have a child. Neither parent really wants to be there. They are extremely routine oriented.

Then there are the Kelly’s. They are a boisterous family who like to fight with each other, but in the end would kill for each other. They unfortunately are all going through changes. The parents are in the process of separating, unbeknownst to their girls, one of which is married and about to start IVF but has been having second thoughts, and one who planned this Australian getaway so the families could meet the man she is sure she’s going to marry.

But what was to be a week’s vacation has turned into an utter disaster, literally! Due to a volcanic eruption on the secluded island off Queensland, they are now stranded for six weeks until help will be able to get them home.

So now these two families, who know so little about each other, and two employees of the resort who just happened to have still been on the island must somehow unite, be friendly and tolerate each other for what seems like hell in paradise!

And of course, during these torturous days of having to pretend, secrets are discovered, tears are shed, decisions are questioned, love is found, love is lost AND there is bird watching bonding! All this in six hilariously rite of passage life changing weeks in which no one will go home as the same person they arrived.

Island Time would be a wonderful beach read as the reader could literally be listening to the waves and sipping pina coladas as they read about the Lee and Kelly (mis)adventures in their own tropical paradise, and root for the underdogs and feel all the love which is found.

Thank you #AtriaBooks #KatelynPhillips #IslandTime #GeorgiaClark for the advanced copy.

Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close

Marrying the Ketchups is the humorous heartwarming story of three generations of a Chicago restaurant family who live for their restaurant, each other and the Chicago Cubs.

Sullivan’s is a restaurant which was started by Bud and Rose the patriarch and matriarch of the clan. Family comes and goes at the restaurant, sometimes leaving to pursue their own dreams, get married or start their own career, but they always know Sullivan’s will be there when they need a place to crash, or an ear to listen. Somehow, they always end up coming home. Sullivan’s is the comfort food for the family’s souls.

Everything changes when Bud suddenly drops dead. It seems to put push the family into a chaos none of them have ever witnessed. Rose is heartbroken and disinterested in everything. No one seems to be able to make a decision for their life, and no new idea is welcomed or even appreciated. So how on earth does this family come together?

Teddy is a cousin coming out of a heartbreaking relationship who decided to come back to Sullivan’s to help manage the restaurant. He has so many ideas which he feels will push Sullivan’s into the stratosphere of restaurants. But all his ideas are met with doubt for fear of changing what Sullivan’s has always been. Even to the point of saying no to changing the color of the tablecloths. Sullivan’s is stuck.

Jane is married with two young children. She comes to Sullivan’s every Friday to do the books. She lives in a different city and is not happy with the community nor their politics. She also begins to find she is not happy with her husband as well.

Gretchen, Jane’s sister lives in New York City and is a singer in an oldies band. Years ago, she honestly believed the band was headed for stardom, but alas all they were actually headed for was becoming a band who does weddings. When Gretchen finds out some devastating news, she decides to ditch the band and head back to Sullivan’s and try to put her life back together.

Riley, the youngest and still in high school is a bit wild opinionated and bossy. But when she begins to get bullied at school, she decides to take the advice of her aunt and suffice to say everything explodes in their faces and social media!

But, through it all and including mandatory family dinner on Sundays, nothing can prevent them from loving and caring and defending each other in good times but more importantly the bad times.

Marrying the Ketchups takes place after the 2016 election and the cubs winning the World Series is the absolute perfect backdrop for this funny family story!

Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman

Last Call at the Nightingale is a mystery novel which takes place during the 1920’s in New York during prohibition and the Jazz Age. Within the story are aspects of the time period which are quite thought provoking. During this time women were looked down upon and those who were not well off and had menial jobs were not respected by men or by other upper-class women. These women felt the burden of poverty and trying to make ends meet at whatever cost. It was difficult for them to ever move up in society. Some did anything to make extra money in order to just eat and have a roof over their heads.

What was not talked about was sexuality. Although there was an underground gay community, both men and women had to hide their feelings for fear of being beaten or killed. They could even be arrested. It was best then to deny what you felt and conform to the norm.

Vivian Kelly is a seamstress, along with her sister Florence. Raised as orphans, their lives are hard. They barely make any money, work hard for very little, appreciate the handouts of their neighbors and tolerate the abuse of their boss who is herself a woman. But at night…Vivian lets loose at The Nightingale, a dance hall which sells illegal alcohol. She is fortunate as the owner of the establishment, Honor, a woman has taken a liking to her. She gets to dance with wealthy men and gets to drink for free. Flornce does not approve of Vivian’s behavior and feels it will get her into trouble.

And then it does. One night at the dance hall she finds the dead body of a wealthy man out back of the club. She is told by the club owner to forget what she has seen. The club cannot afford any trouble. But Vivian can’t let go of what she saw. She becomes fascinated and obsessed with what could have happened to him and why. But there are people who don’t want her poking around and when she finds herself arrested when the club is raided, it makes her life even harder. She knows she is in trouble but has no one to turn to. Then Honor makes an offer she cannot refuse.

Suddenly she is being accosted by sleezy gangsters who threaten to kill her and her sister if she doesn’t stop snooping into the murder. But she is in too deep at this point and in order to save herself she must figure out what happened and why. Will she get to the bottom of it before she becomes the next body? Will she ever feel safe again?

Last Call at the Nightingale is a wonderful old fashion mystery written in an old fashion way. It reads like a story from True Detective, a magazine from years ago. There is fast action, goons, murder, mystery, mayhem and a strong woman who decides to take them all on.

Thank you #Goodreads #MinotaurBooks #KatharineSchellman #LastCallattheNightingale for the advanced copy.

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library is an incredibly fresh take on a murder mystery which intertwines the lives of four strangers, one which is a murderer. The characters are two would want to be writers a best-selling Australian author (whose novel we are reading) and a psychology student, as well as another would be writer who gives notes to the author at the end of each chapter on American/Boston jargon and places in the Boston area.

The story begins with four strangers noticing each other as they sit at tables in the Boston Public Library. Hannah, the writer of the novel imagines what each of their lives could possibly be. Suddenly there is a chilling scream from some part of the library. As the security guards run by to find out what has happened, the four strangers begin to talk amongst themselves about the situation and move to sit with each other. Nothing is found and the scream has been thought a prank. Thus begins the group’s friendships.

Cain, who is an author, spent time on the streets when he was young. Whit writes for a local magazine and is happily flunking out of law school. He comes from a wealthy family. Marigold, decked out in tattoos, is the young student. As they ponder what could have happened, they end up going for coffee and agree to meet again at the library the next day. But let’s not forget Leo. Leo’s sends notes to Hannah at the end of each chapter giving her the American version of what she may be trying to say or giving her notes on her characters as he too tries to figure out who the murderer could be.

But the next morning they discover that the scream was anything but a joke. There has been the body of a woman found murdered in the library.

As the group begins to investigate the killing, mostly for pure selfish reasons, meaning they want to use the story somehow in the books they are writing, and Marigold is just there out of curiosity, and perhaps a crush, they begin to discover coincidences some of them may have had with the deceased. But they were sitting together when the scream occurred so none of them think anything of them. Until one of them is brought to the police station and becomes the prime suspect!

Little by little they begin to learn about the secret lives each of them led and the lies each of them has been keeping. Then another body is found murdered and the four begin to suspect each other. This can be no accident that someone in the group was involved. But how? And why? Then of course, they begin to turn on each other, their paranoia beginning to get out of control. Until one mistake will reveal the truth.

In this wonderfully crafted novel with amazing character development, and a plot which reads like an Agatha Christie story, the reader should just relax, enjoy and realize they are being taken on an incredible imaginative journey full of intrigue and suspense and yes, even romance.

Thank you #NetGalley #PoisenedPenPress #SulariGentill #TheWomanintheLibrary for the advanced copy.

The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick

Olivia Green cleans houses and businesses for a living. Her husband owns a not so profitable paper company with his family. They have two boys who will both be in university this year. They can barely make ends meet. They are a family; they share game night together and family meals. Even though Liv has always had her own set of dreams as to what she wanted in life, family has always taken precedence.

Liv especially enjoys working for Essie Starling, the best-selling author of the Georgia Rory adventure series which Essie is in the process of writing the twentieth book. Essie is known to be difficult, but Liv takes her with a grain of salt grateful for the opportunity to be around such a renowned author. Liv is an avid reader. You see, secretly, Liv has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. At 10 years old her late father who was an English professor told her she had talent. But, as you know, sometimes life has a way of putting some dreams on the backburner.

Then, Essie suddenly dies, and Liv discovers to her amazement in her will she chose her to finish the final Georgia Rory adventure. But, there are stipulations such as no one can know Essie has died until the publication date of the book, and absolutely no one can know Liv completed the work. Not understanding what was in Essie’s mind, she reluctantly takes on the responsibility of completing the book. The money could certainly come in handy. Unfortunately, she must lie to everybody including her husband Jake as to what she is doing. But with this opportunity comes way more questions than answers.

As Liv reads what Essie has already written, she just can’t get a feel for who the characters really are and where they are going. So, as she begins her work of figuring out where Essie had been going with the story, she soon has more questions than answers. In order to grasp the characters as they are now, she feels the only way she can do Essie’s work justice is to go back in time and find out what exactly Essie was thinking when she created the first story. What were the mysteries lurking in the background of these developed characters?

This idea takes Liv on her own adventure into Essie’s past, the people she knew, who worked for her, who she married and a mysterious love of her life. Liv discovers Essie had many secrets. As the task and deadline quickly approach, Liv is overwhelmed with fear of not doing Essie or the characters justice. This all begins to take a toll on her marriage as well. She begins to see a different side of herself. One which she never knew was inside her.

Then suddenly, Liv discovers Essie’s secrets. These secrets will pull Liv’s and her family’s lives in a direction she never saw coming. All she thought she wanted to do was make Essie proud of her. but it turned into something so much more.

The Messy Lives of Book People is a heartwarming, uplifting story about, well…books, those who read them, those who write them and those who wish they could. But the lesson learned from the story is this, Love is the glue which holds the writer’s and the readers of books together. No matter who you are.

Thank you #NetGalley #ParkRow #PhaedraPatrick #TheMessyLivesofBookPeople for the advanced copy.

The Favor by Nora Murphy

Nora Murphy’s first novel is intense as she delicately tackles domestic violence and all its horror. It emphasizes the difficulty some women find themselves in, unable to leave the abuser as well as showing the unsuspecting progression which takes place as the woman is slowly manipulated into feeling a horrible sense of self-worth.

This is the story of two women who have never met, but unfortunately have so very much in common.

Leah was a successful real estate lawyer happily married to Liam, a trial lawyer. At first glance her life was good, they were happy. Yes, Liam could be quirky, not wanting her to meet with friends or go away for weekends, but they had a pretty stable relationship. Until things gradually began to change. Liam became very possessive of Leah’s time even suggesting she quit her job and stay home and cook and clean explaining he made enough money to continue the lifestyle they had.

But Leah loved her job and continued to ignore Liam’s request. Until she was fired for something she insists she did not do. That is when Liam’s true colors began to show. Leah was unable to get money out of their accounts, had to have dinner prepared when Liam got home, even though he never gave her a specific time, and worst of all he began to verbally abuse her and threatened physical abuse. Trapped in a house she now hates with no money to leave; Leah begins to excessively drink having to squander money away which Liam will not be able to trace. Until one day…

McKenna, a pediatric doctor is married to Zack. They are a happily married professional couple. When McKenna gets pregnant, they are overjoyed! Until she loses the baby and Zack decides it’s because of McKenna’s work as a doctor working with children who are sick. He insists she quit her job and stay home and relax until she gets pregnant again. She reluctantly agrees. And that is when Zack begins to show his true colors to McKenna. As she begins to feel isolated as he tracks her every move, she is afraid to tell anyone for fear he will say she is crazy. She now lives in a house she feels confined in in fear of a husband she now hates. Until one day…

Leah sees McKenna in a store. She feels drawn to her. She wonders what her life is like, envious of her put together look. She decides to follow her home to see the house she lives in. But what she sees horrifies her. And that sets off a series of events neither of them will ever see coming and will change their lives.

Two abused women who don’t know each other but have so much in common live in daily fear of dying at the hands of someone they use to love. How will they survive? How can they continue this way?

This unique thriller sheds light on what abuse looks and feels like and how powerless women can be in these types of situations. It chronicles the process of the abuse and how the abuser is able to gradually trap their prey under a glass where they will have nowhere to go and unable to move. An absolute must read.

Thank you #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #TheFavor #NoraMurphy for the advanced copy.