The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer

The Bookshop of Secrets has mystery, intrigue, suspense, wonderful characters, kindness, but most especially, love!

When Hope Sparrow walked into a bookshop called Dusty Jackets, she never thought the name would be as appropriate to fit the store, but unfortunately it did. Hope went there to find books that her late mother had left her in which held secrets to a family she never knew.

Her plan of getting in and out of the town of Wanishin Falls without anyone really noticing seems to have gone up in smoke. The elderly couple who owns the bookshop are way over their heads in being able to assist her. The husband is in the throes of dementia and although he was a friend of his mother’s has no idea where the books she left could be. In order to find them, Hope agrees to a job at the shop keeping an eye on Ulysses, the husband while trying to sort through books and giving Ulysses wife Mags a break.

Uncomfortable around people, this is Hopes worst nightmare, but finding these books and understanding her history is more important. When she meets the owner of the local diner and tells her she has always dreamed of having a traveling bookstore/cafe, Kat hires her on the spot to cook.

Soon she becomes more involved in the town and the community, but she begins to feel hopeless. Her mother died when she was very young, and Hope was raised in the foster care system. But unfortunately, she found herself in horrible trouble and spent the next ten years trying to get out and never wants anyone to know what happened to her. Those secrets are frightfully buried deep in her psyche.

But now, as she tries to find out her past and a legend of buried treasure her mother would always tell her about, as much as she finds comfort in the townspeople, especially Ulysses’ and Mags’ grandson Ronan, she won’t let herself imagine a life here, for fear of embarrassment. She truly believes no one would forgive her for what she had done.

As Hope proceeds to find the hidden books, and make sense of their meaning with the help of these wonderful people, how will she be able to give them up if the mystery is solved?

With no faith, Hope feels lost, but with renewed promise from others she is able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully release the demons she has carried for so many years.

The Bookshop of Secrets is much more than finding a mysterious treasure. It is much more than finding where you belong. It is much more than putting your past behind you. It is finding peace.

Thank you #NetGalley #LoveInspiredTrade #MollieRushmeyer #TheBookshopofSecrets for the advanced copy.

In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

In the Middle of Hickory Lane is another heartwarming, touching, magical story from Heather Webber, author of Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe.

In this story, the day Emme Wynn shows up in Sweetgrass, Alabama, in the middle of Hickory Lane to meet relatives she never knew because her mother left the town when she was a baby and never came back, there is major commotion going on. You see, a sink hole opened up on the street and skeletal remains discovered. Everyone is of course talking about the bones and if they are her great-grandparent’s who had gone missing back in the 1960’s.

The backstory on Emma is that her unmarried mother took her away in punishment to her father. Her mother proceeded to in the next years, steal, swindle, lie, have many relationships, some dangerous to both her and Emme, and go from town to town, state to state when people caught on to her. Then on Emme’s eighteenth birthday she wished Emme a happy birthday and told her good luck with her life. Emme now in her late twenties, has never seen her mother again.

But her determined grandmother who never really knew why Emme’s mother took her away, finally found her and convinced her to come back to Hickory Lane and stay with her and her other family. Extremely unsure of what is to come, Emme, who has never stayed in one place for long, just as her mother taught her, never even unpacks, for fear she will have to leave quickly. And although she wants to find her roots and get to know her family in Sweetgrass, she has a secret which she knows will destroy that hope.

Cara Bee Hazelton is related to Emme. She is not sure what to think of her. She is very protective of her grandmother and takes care of her. She does work and loves to garden on Hickory Lane. She keeps to herself and does not date. She tends to suffer from insomnia as she has too many past hurtful memories on her mind. But after Cora Bee has an accident, she hesitatingly agrees to let Emme stay with her to help her get around.

As Emme begins to meet the people of Sweetgrass, she begins to let her guard slip a bit. For the most part, people have accepted her, even Cora Bee, and most don’t ask about her past. As for Cora Bee, she begins to feel in Emme she has finally found a true friend.

But unfortunately for both of them, when some of their secrets come out, some not very nice, they will both be challenged by the news, and their friendship could be damaged, just as they both already feel damaged by their pasts which neither of them has been able to let go of.

As for those bones, when forensics comes back, the mystery of where the couple went will only deepen. You see, in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, secrets which are buried deep in the soil will eventually come to the surface and shock everyone. Will all these puzzles be solved? Will Emme and Cora be able to put their pasts behind them and start anew?

Webber’s new book does not disappoint. It has bits and pieces of mystery, romance, strong women, incredible secrets and friendship which all come together to make for an exciting read and a satisfying ending.

Built to Last by Erin Hahn

Built to Last is an adorably funny look at a group of former teen heartthrobs who grew up together on a television series, had crushes on each other (some first loves), made some mistakes then went their separate ways years ago. But they never stopped thinking about each other. Some were missed, others, not so much! Sometimes we must leave those we care about behind in order to grow and learn about ourselves before we can find a way back to what we had. This story is a wonderfully heartfelt example of how love can prevail, no matter what the circumstances.

Years ago, Shelby Springfield was a child actor/singer who had it all and then unfortunately had a horrible breakdown. Her mom, her manager, was absolutely no help and added to Shelby’s pressures. But what made her situation worse was when the love of her life, fellow actor Cameron Riggs left for college, Shelby decided to date another actor. Unfortunately, that turned into a nightmare as he broke up with her after cheating with her best friend and THEY wrote a song about Shelby’s break-up which became a hit.

Totally traumatized at the time, she reached out to the only person she knew would understand, Cameron. But even though he rushes to her side, what she really wants he can’t give her for fear they both will regret it. And that was the last time they saw each other.

Ten years later, Shelby has cleaned up her act, works with her father building and refinishing houses and furniture. She is sober and has left her previous life behind. Cameron works as a documentarist for a company called Nat Geo and travels around the world.

When they both get a call from the ex-boyfriend, Lyle that there is an offer for the trio to get back together with Shelby and Cameron working on a pilot for a reality DIY show where they find a house and redo it, with Lyle being the showrunner. Shelby is not interested but knows the money would certainly help her dad, so she hesitatingly decides to say yes. Cameron, who has never stopped caring about Shelby jumps at the chance to work with her although he knows nothing about building and refinishing in order to try and make up for what happened the last time they saw each other.

Of course, Shelby and Cameron must try and work together without bringing up the past, and Lyle seems to be a terrible instigator who wants to cause drama between them for the sake of the project. Is it possible for Shelby and Cameron to be able to try and get back what they had years ago, even though some would like nothing more than to cause them heartache and embarrassment.

Built to Last is a wonderful, romantic, witty and fun read! I look forward to a sequel!

Thank you #NetGalley #Griffin/St.Martin’sPress #OliverWehner #BuilttoLast #ErinHahn for the advanced copy.

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

One wonders what must go on inside the mind of Catriona Ward, author of The Last House on Needless Street. She is able to write the most macabre yet imaginative, horrific stories.

Take Little Eve for example. This was a story actually written prior to her success with Needless Street. At the time Little Eve not only came out to accolades, but awards as well. So, it was only fair that it should be re-released for those Needless Street fans who had never heard of it.

In a dilapidated castle on an island named Altnaharra near Scotland lives the most messed up group of women, children and one man. Saying this clan is some sort of cult would be putting it mildly.

Adder, the male leader is the master who makes all the decisions, eats the best and most leaving crumbs for the rest and punishes the others with incredible cruelty as they all await Adder’s claim that the end of the world is near.

Little Eve, one of the young children, looks at Adder and sees his power. She wants that title. She will stop at nothing, endure all the torture thrown at her in order to make that happen.

Known as the outcasts in the town due to their dirty appearances and potato sack clothes, the children are incessantly mocked and tormented by the other children at their school. And when a school leader is murdered, it’s the family of Altnaharra who are blamed for instigating.

Which then brings Chief Inspector Black into the picture. He takes a liking to Little Eve as she reminds him of his sister who passed away at a young age. He seems to understand the mess on the island and tries to make her see there is a world outside of the pain and suffering she endures. She does begin to see through a different set of eyes but feels hopeless as to what to do about her situation.

Adder will not tolerate this kind of thinking and abuses the others as well as Eve for even questioning him about the outside world and how they actually all ended up where they are now. He tells them they will be given a reward when the end comes.

But curiously the story opens to all at the castle being dead and Eve missing. Through a series of horrific flashbacks, we see the horrible abuse and physical violence brought on by an unwell man to others who know no other way. We see the despair they live in on a daily basis. As the story progresses, but there are so many unsettling questions.

Who killed them? Where is Eve? Where did this group come from? The twisted conclusion which is seen through their eyes will send chills down your spine.

Thank you #NetGalley #TorNightfire #LittleEve #CatrionaWard for the advanced copy.

Malice House by Megan Shepherd

Just in time for Halloween, Malice House will give you chills up your spine, have you seeing monsters in your dreams and put your imagination into overdrive. For those who love twists and turns haunted houses, monsters, and a good mystery…enter at your own risk! You will not be disappointed.

Haven Marbury is cleaning out her late father’s house, Malice House. Her father was a best-selling author with a cult-like following. An illustrator herself, she has never quite understood the lure her father had to readers. Although his career included a Pulitzer Prize, his final year was filled with dementia, hearing voices in the walls, under the bed and seeing monsters.

But as Haven is up in the attic, she finds a handwritten manuscript called Bedtime Stories for Monsters. As she begins to read the stories, she can’t tell if they were created years ago or in her father’s later years when his mind was beginning to go. Why was the manuscript hidden away?

Haven, who needs money desperately, as she has just left her abusive husband, decides she will sell the manuscript to a publisher, hopefully making enough money to assist her own career as an illustrator and give her the financial freedom she needs. She goes to the local coffee shop where she knows the couple who own it helped her father get his other stories published. But they become quite obsessed with seeing the manuscript which makes Haven nervous. She’s not sure she can trust them.

She makes the decision with the help of an employee at the coffee shop to make her own calls and sell the manuscript as a package of sorts with her illustrations, sort of like a father, daughter collaboration. And then she begins to draw replicas of what she feels the monsters in the stories would look like.

And that’s when things begin to get really weird.

She uncovers a group who call themselves the Ink Drinkers who meet and are obsessed with her father’s writings. A barista at the coffeeshop goes missing. And then the deaths begin. Some supposedly caused by an animal in the woods. All the while she has decided she has a bit of a crust on her next-door neighbor after she accidently hits him with her car. Cute, but a bit quirky, she sees him out in the middle of the night doing something in his backyard.

Haven soon discovers nothing in her own life is what she has always been led to believe and monsters are unfortunately real, and they are looking to kill her. Because her father kept terrible secrets, she now must pay the price, perhaps with her own life and everybody’s around her. Who are the monsters and what did she do to call them?

Malice House is spooky, haunting and includes everything you want in a story to go bump in the night. Boo!!

Thank you #NetGalley #HyperionAvenue #MeganShepherd #MaliceHouse for the advanced copy.

Confessions of the Other Sister by Beth Harbison

Confessions of the Other Sister is a powerful story about family, misguided jealousy and secrets between two sisters and the unfortunate trauma it takes to heal their souls.

Frances Turner is a chef to celebrities. She lives in L.A. and really wants to become an actress, but it seems the only thing she is good at is cooking and auditioning. She is a very organized person with an organized life and plans…for everything, accept when her employer tells her she is moving to Palm Springs and invites Frances to go with her. But if Frances goes, she knows she will never become the actress she knows she can be.

Crosby Turner, Frances’ sister, is a bestselling author who lives a glamorous life in New York City. She buys the best of everything and doesn’t worry about where the money will come from because she is rich, rich, rich! Until her accounts tells her she is poor, poor, poor and she better come out with another best-seller if she wants to survive! Unfortunately for Crosby, she has had a bit of writer’s block for years…probably too busy enjoying her lifestyle! But when an offer comes from a singer Crosby grew up loving to ghostwrite her memoir, she thinks she’s hit the jackpot. But there is a catch. She would have to go to L.A. to do the interviews and ugh, her sister lives there.

Frances and Crosby have not been very close for years, even when they were children, they both seemed to vie for their parent’s attention and have been competitive ever since. When Crosby stole Frances’ boyfriend during high school, well that sealed the deal for her. So, when Frances finds out Crosby will be coming to her neck of the woods, needless to say she is not too thrilled.

As the two try and get along things don’t seem to be working out so well. Neither can understand why the other is so hurtful. Crosby really can’t afford to be here and finds out she rented a dump. Then she realizes the musician she admired all those years ago it a bit of a scatterbrain. Frances must choose between following her dream, or the security of a job and when she is asked to put her sister in contact with someone she has auditioned for she must decide if she wants to do that fearing her sister’s vibrant personality will push her out of the running for the part.

But when an unexpected tragedy occurs, which will change their lives forever, they must somehow come together and put all their past grievances aside and reconcile. They must attempt to listen to each other and heal their grievances. They must become the sisters they never really were.

Confessions of the Other Sister is a witty look at sibling rivalry, a heartbreaking story about all the time which was lost due to misunderstandings, and a hopeful story of learning to not only be siblings, but friends.

Thank you #Goodreads #WilliamMorrow #/BethHarbison #ConfessionsoftheotherSister for the advanced copy.

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese

Hester is a wonderfully crafted, imaginative story about who the real character, Hester Prynne could have been in author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. With most of Hawthorne’s novels, historians have always been able to trace the backstory to his college years or childhood, etc. But no one has been able to figure out who Hester Prynne was to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Or where the idea for the story came from.

Laurie Lico Albanese’s take on the mystery is not only riveting, but masterfully played out.

Isobel Gambel is a young talented seamstress in the 1800’s who lives in Scotland. Trained by her now dead mother, she is a skillful, imaginative sewer just as the women in her family have been for decades. Some had even been accused of being witches.

When it’s time, she marries a doctor, Edward because she believes he is kind and she feels a sense of security with him. But unbeknownst to Isobel, Edward has a terrible addiction to opioids. When Isobel discovers there is no money and Edward becomes the talk of the town, they decide to sail by ship to Salem in hopes to start a new life. It is there as she is stepping off the ship that she glimpses a handsome man she finds out is Nathaniel Hawthorne.

While Isobel begins to establish herself as a talented seamstress in Salem, Edward decides to take a job as a medic on a ship leaving her by herself with barely any money in a town which she is not totally comfortable. As time passes, she begins to get close to Nathaniel who has admired her work and has requested she make something for him. Not sure of Edward’s whereabouts, they begin an affair. And Isobel is beside herself when she realizes she is pregnant, and Edward has been gone too long for the town’s people to think it is his. She hides the pregnancy and keeps the information from Nathaniel.

When she finally does tell Nathaniel, she cannot believe what she hears. And then Edward returns. Isobel is an adulterer and fears for her and her baby’s safety. But there are friends who she can rely on. Staying in Salem would be a death sentence. What can Isobel possibly do?

Hester tackles more than just a story of adultery. It tells of secrets which had been kept in Salem during that time period as well as how much a young woman cast aside can endure by being tortured and embarrassed in a gossipy town. It also shows her strength in understanding what must be done.

Although we may never know Hawthorne’s inspiration for The Scarlet Letter, this account is both captivating and bewitching!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #Hester #LaurieLicoAlbanese for the advanced copy.

Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

Just Like Magic is a wonderful story which all Christmas junkies should read to put themselves in the holiday spirit. It’s so funny, heartwarming and well…just magical!

Bettie Huges had it all! An influencer who had money to buy anything her little (and I mean literally little) heart desired. She was also the creator of products which would (or should) do wonders for you. And then everybody found out she was just a fraud and she lost it all.

Now, she is living in a small town in a dead woman’s house with no money right before Christmas, the very holiday in which her very wealthy family including her movie star mother, her diplomatic father, her sister who is a famous model, and her brother who is an actor and producer all try to outdo each other by giving the most outrageously, expensive unusual gifts or feel the wrath of shame.

As Bettie drinks her embarrassing life away, she ponders, how did she get here? Not looking forward the next week of staying at her parents with all her siblings, she decides to get herself somehow into the holiday spirit by of course playing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You. But in her drunken stupor she accidentally plays the record backwards. That’s when she sees a very handsome yet quirky man appear in from of her whose name is Hall and he explains he is there to make all her wishes come true so she can find joy in the season.

But when she wakes up, she thinks, boy what a dream, until she finds Hall waiting for her so they can begin their holiday journey. And when he proves to her he really can make her wishes come true, Bettie sees a way of being the envy of her family by wishing for the most outlandish items for them. No one will be able to top her! She will win!

So, she concocts a plan to take Hall with her to her parent’s house and introducing him to everyone as her fiancĂ©e. At first, they don’t believe anybody could fall for Bettie. But their time all together begins to be something very different than they are all used to. Something begins to happen to them all. The petty jealousy, selfishness, competitiveness and apathetic family begins to see and feel differently. Hall seems to be creating some kind of Christmas miracle! He is innocently giving them the Christmas they never could have imagined.

And as they all begin to get along, with Bettie even changing her mind about the extravagant gifts she has wished for like Amal Clooney’s engagement ring, she asks they be returned. Bettie starts to become happier, which is the whole reason for Hall’s visit. But with that knowledge comes the fact that as soon as Bettie’s joy meter is full, it will be time for Hall to leave, something they both begin to feel they don’t want to happen.

But too soon it’s time for Hall to move on. Something he and Bettie have dreaded. Unfortunately, his job has been accomplished. He must go back to wherever he came from. But Bettie is not sure what will happen to her when they finally have to say goodbye. Her life has changed, she has changed so much thanks to him. What will she do?

Just Like Magic is such a delightful feel-good read with so many funny pop culture moments thrown in you will find yourself laughing out loud and smiling up until and including the ending!

Thank you #NetGalley #G.P.Putnam’sSons #SarahHogle #JustLikeMagic for the advanced copy.