Drop Dead Gorgeous by Rachel Gibson

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a remarkably funny, poignant, upliftingly unique book about death!

Brittany Lynn Snider, bless her heart is a young hairdresser from a small town in Texas. She works at her mother’s hair shop and enjoys BBQ, coloring her hair and boys. But after Church one day, she lies to her mother and takes her mom’s minivan on a road trip to meet a Tinder date. Oops…she dies on the way. But she wakes up in the hospital to not only see her body on life support, but a cast of characters who are in the same boat as she is…. waiting to figure out if they will live or die. There are rules in this warped world which must be followed. There is a waiting room for them where they are able to watch movies or television shows such as 7th Heaven over and over again.

While there she meets a young beautiful woman who not only looks like a model but looks like a pretty wealthy model to boot. Her name is Edie, and she seems to have bandages wrapped around her wrist and is tied down to her bed. Hmm… Edie befriends Brittany Lynn and tries to bribe her. If Brittany Lynn gets to go to Heaven, if she lets Edie go instead, she will pay her nicely for the favor. But Brittany Lynn decides to put her fate in the higher power’s hands.

So, when it looks like Brittany Lynn’s time has come to go to Heaven, she embraces it, but sneaky Edie decides to push her out of the way and is able to jump ahead. But what Edie doesn’t realize is God always has a plan. While Edie is being dealt with upstairs, Brittany Lynn is given a choice to return to a body, but not her own, Edie’s. You see Edie jumped into Brittany Lynn’s body! Edie’s is up for grabs.

Brittany Lynn decides to be put into Edie’s comatose body, thinking when she wakes up, she can explain to everyone what happened. But that’s not what transpires. She realizes she has to pretend she is Edie, for the rest of her life, and if she thought Edie was nasty for the short time she knew her, well, nothing could possibly prepare her for Edie’s life!

When she awakes, she fakes amnesia so no one will question why she can’t remember anyone or anything of Edie’s life. She discovers Edie was not very liked, even by her own immediate family. Quite frankly with her attitude, she is surprised even her faithful dog liked her, even though the dog does not seem to care for Brittany Lynn one bit. As she begins to maneuver the rich life of a not so nice person, all she can really think about is getting back home and trying to make her parents see she is not dead but just looks different.

But there is one person Brittany Lynn seems to have her eye on. Someone who Edie hated and had not spoken to in years. What on earth is she going to do? How does she learn to live in this gorgeous body in a penthouse filled with incredible clothes and shoes yet tame the Edie beast? She just wants her real mom, considering Edie’s mom and dad possibly left their feelings at the mansion door years ago when it came to Edie’s antics.

But then Brittany Lynn has an idea. Will it work? Can she sway her parents into seeing who she really is? Does she even know who she is anymore? Edie’s family certainly doesn’t know or understand this Edie. All she can do is try to change Edie which is easier said than done!

As for the real Edie? Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out what happened to her!

The story is filled with laughs, soul-searching and love. What an incredible uplifting story about such a sad topic.

Thank you to #Goodreads #GalleryBooks #RachelGibson #DropDeadGorgeous for the advanced copy.

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

When two strangers from different backgrounds meet, there is uncomfortable mistrust which as time goes by begins to form the foundation of a beautiful love story.

Sanna Lund works at her family’s apple orchard farm in Wisconsin. The orchard has been in the family for generations. Although the orchard has always been profitable, over the past few years it has seen fewer customers. Sanna’s passion is making cider from the apples. Her father bought her equipment to help. But unbeknownst to her he spent the last of their savings on the new equipment, leaving them unable to pay bills. Now, her brother is pressuring her and her father to sell the orchard to an amusement company.

Sanna knows no other world. Her life is one simple routine after another. She even still dates her boyfriend from high school, once a week, even though they aren’t really dating! She has no friends other than her trees and refuses to discuss her mother, whom she calls “The Egg Donor” who left them years ago. Sanna thinks her life is complete.

Enter Isaac Banks. Banks and his young son Sebastian are from California. Isaac is a tech person. They have been on a summer road trip visiting places which pique their interest. Isaac loves his son dearly, and has some horrible news to tell him, but just can’t find a way to do it, so he continues to avoid the conversation.

When Isaac and Sebastion meet an older woman as they pass through Door County, a small town, she tells them they would love the simplicity of the town and she knows for a fact that the Lunds are looking for summer help. They decide to go visit the orchard and are hired on the spot By Sanna’s father, much to her horror. First, she doesn’t think they need help and second, she does not particularly care for children. She seems to have forgotten that as a child, she and her brother use to have incredible fun playing in the orchard.

But when Sanna’s father is terribly injured in an accident, Isaac steps up to the plate to assist the family and the orchard. As Sanna begins to rely more and more on Isaac she begins to see and feel differently about well, everything!

But Sanna’s brother has made HIS decision. It is time to sell, and he won’t take no for an answer. How will they be able to hold on to their beautiful apple orchard when they have no money? And with Isaac and Sebastian heading back to California, where does that leave Sanna? Isaac has become one of the only people she has ever trusted.

Reichert once again has written a touching story about love, loss and finding one’s way even when you feel horribly lost.

Hello Molly by Molly Shannon

Saturday Night Live’s Molly Shannon is famous for her funny characters, sketches and slapstick comedy. But this Cincinatti born actress and comedian has written an incredibly funny, inspiring memoir. It is quite the homage to her late parents, especially her dad.

As we discover in the first chapter, Molly’s life was turned upside down when at the age of only four, her mother, younger sister and cousin were killed in a car accident in which her father fell asleep at the wheel. Waking up in the hospital no one wanted to tell her what happened and all she kept saying was she wanted her mom. Her life and her sister Mary’s changed forever after the tragedy.

As Molly, her older sister and father tried to adjust to the new family dynamics, their father, who never really recovered psychologically or physically from the accident was at a loss as to how to move on. He turned to drinking and Molly became his best friend. He would get jealous if Molly wanted to go out with her friends and she would have to prepare herself when she knew she had to tell him she would be going out. He did not understand why she would want to go out when they could have fun together. There were times when anger would get the best of her father and he would lash out screaming. Molly and her sister became adept at knowing what mood he was in just by the way he would enter their apartment.

But, for all her father’s faults, he was her biggest fan. She feels her creativity came from the crazy situations her father would get them into and then get them out of. From the moment she decided to become an actress, he pushed her to pursue a career, telling her never to take no for an answer and just keep pushing herself because he knew she could do it.

So that is just what Molly did. After graduating from college in New York, Molly headed to Los Angeles where she began waiting tables and trying to find work and an agent. It was there that she began the creation of Mary Catherine Gallager, a young Catholic schoolgirl who was prone to anxiety and clumsiness. The tagline “Superstar” is actually a nod to a childhood friend. She even had her own one woman show which she would invite all the guests from the restaurant, (and even homeless people) as well.

She and one of her male friends actually had a hustle where they would claim to be calling from playwright David Mamet’s office late on Friday afternoons recommending each other to the casting offices and setting up appointments for each other. They would each have to get five meetings before they could call it a day. Talk about persistence and genius!

But then she was finally cast on Saturday Night Live where she worked with Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler and Cheri Oteri. And she became a “superstar”! That portion of the book is filled with wonderfully funny stories about how certain sketches came to fruition and all the back-stage drama that comes along with working with different personalities on a weekly basis. Throughout this time her biggest cheerleader was her dad who was still dealing with heartbreaking conflicts but was a favorite friend to all the cast at SNL.

As you read and understand Molly’s tragedies and triumphs, you also get the feeling after all these years that perhaps Molly is also healing herself and putting all the heartbreak behind. One theme throughout the book is her hope that upon reading, women who want to break into the business can learn that they must be more persistent and stronger and wiser as well as think outside the box when it comes to getting their foot in a door.

Hello, Molly is a fantastic memoir filled with heartwarming stories, some funny and some horribly sad, but certainly gives the reader a perspective into Shannon’s upbeat personality, her wisdom and her charm.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollins #MollyShannon #HelloMolly for the advanced copy.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger Wife is a wonderful mystery puzzle in which pieces from the past and present are fitted together and by the end you have a completed masterpiece!

The story begins at a wedding and the narrator is unknown to the reader. During a wedding ceremony something bad happens. What? We have no idea. Then the real account begins.

Stephen Aston a prominent well-liked doctor is getting married to a much younger woman Heather Wisher. They met while Heather, an interior decorator was working on he and his wife Pam’s house. Pam unfortunately was in the beginning stages of dementia and is now in an institute. Stephen and Pam fell in love and Stephen has divorced Pam and proposed to Heather.

Stephen has two adult children. Rachel, a baker and Tully, a stay-at-home mom. Both are livid that their father is marrying this younger woman. They think she is only after his money and doesn’t really care about him. How could their father desert their mother this way?

But both Rachel and Tully have their own issues. Tully has been stealing trinkets from stores since she was eleven years old. For some reason when her anxiety gets too high, this calms her down. She has never told anyone about her habit, not even her husband. Now she has just found out that her husband Sonny made a bad business choice and they have lost everything. Her kleptomania has kicked into high gear.

Rachel was a beautiful young athletic woman back in the day who went on constant dates and was a runner. Until something happened and she stopped. She stopped dating and she stopped running. Now, her anxiety is lessened by food, particularly the sweets she bakes.

Heather, the now fiancĂ©e of Stephen has herself had a disturbing life. Her father was an alcoholic who beat her mother. Although she truly loves Stephen, she has not told him about her past because she is embarrassed and is afraid of losing him. In the back of her mind, she has always been terrified she would make the same mistake in marriage just as her mother did. She understands Stephen’s daughter’s concerns but wants to try and gain their trust.

Then Rachel finds a hot water bottle in the closet of her parent’s house and in it is almost one hundred thousand dollars in cash and mysterious notes in her mother’s handwriting. As Rachel tries to figure out where this money came from, a difficult feat since her mother has very little memory left, she begins to wonder if this money was something her mother had been stashing in secret to get away from her father.

Rachel begins to think back on all the “accidents” her mother had had while she was growing up and begins to think perhaps, they were actually something else. She begins to see her father in a different light and her concern turns to Heather.

So, what happened right after the ceremony? Someone was hurt, but who?

The Younger Wife weaves this curiously mysterious story throughout the book in true Hepworth fashion and explodes in the incredible last few pages and will leave you shaking your head in wonder!

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #TheYoungerWife #SallyHepworth for the advanced copy.

The Lifeguards by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Lifeguards is an intense and shocking story about the different struggles within families, for the children and their parents. It’s a story about the loss of innocence and rites of passages intertwined with an incredibly fast-paced murder mystery with a jaw-dropping ending!

Liza, Annette and Whitney are three mothers who have been best friends for years. They would do anything for their own children and each other’s families. They live in an upscale Texas neighborhood. Although the women consider each other best friends, Liza and Annette would do anything for Whitney’s approval and attention.

Liza is a single mother of a fifteen-year-old son named Charlie. When she fled her home life after finding herself pregnant, she ended up here. Whitney was her first friend and has since helped Liza in so many ways. But Liza has secrets and tries to fit in with the other women. Although she pretends to have it all, she struggles to make ends meet. Charlie is her life. She is overprotective of him and although she knows this, she can’t stop it from happening. Charlie only wants an answer to a simple question. Who is my father?

Annette is married to Louis and has a son nicknamed Bobcat. Louis feels superior to his wife and sometimes expects the same from his son. He is the man of the house and makes no bones about that fact. Annette worries how Bobcat will turn out with Louis as his father. She misses her family but enjoys the lifestyle Louis is able to give her, something she did not have growing up. In the meantime, Bobcat is trying to find his way in life navigating his parents, friends and puberty.

Whitney is a famous and established real estate agent whose family hurts for nothing. She and her husband Jules have different styles of parenting. She parents…Jules doesn’t. They have twins. Xavier is very conscientious and considerate, and he tries to please everybody. Roma is a bad seed. She tortures her brother and has since they were young. She is spoiled and her behavior is overlooked by her parents. Although recently, her actions seem to be getting worse. Xavier is scared of Roma and fears she will kill him.

The three boys have been best friends since childhood and this summer they have become Lifeguards. One night the boys come home late, and they tell their mothers that they found a woman’s body on the greenbelt she is dead. They swear they don’t know what happened to her, but their actions say otherwise. No matter how hard the mothers try, the boys refuse to give the full truth, so they think. What are they hiding?

As the investigation begins it at first seems to be ruled a drug overdose, but one of the boys’ shin guards is found at the site of the body as well as a picture of the three friends. The women begin to panic, but the boys still insist they know nothing.

Then one of them is arrested.

The chapters switch back and forth from the day of the incident to the present day. We begin to see what happened before the body was found and after the body was discovered and what the police learn during the investigation.

As the boys lies begin to unravel, their parents, especially their mothers go into protection mode. The mother’s will not believe their child could do such a thing. All they want to do is safeguard their families. But the children are not the only ones who are keeping secrets and by the end of the investigation everyone will be stunned at its conclusion.

A mother’s love has no limits…

Thank you #NetGalley #BallentineBooks #AmandaEyreWard #TheLifeguards for the advanced copy.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

Written in Egan’s poetic conversational prose, this novel takes the reader on a transcendental ride around the world and into the cosmos. We are introduced to characters who are separate, yet cleverly intertwined in ways one cannot imagine.

Throughout the story we learn about these eccentric individuals, their good, bad, happy and completely messed up lives. But don’t fear! There is humor sprinkled into the memories of these individuals whose age range consists of babies to the elderly to the ageless.

Bix Bouton owns a company called Own Your Own Unconsciousness where people are able to download and share their memories to look at themselves or to transfer to others. It is these memories the reader is able to glimpse as the narrative progresses. The story questions the validity of technology as to whether there is harm in too much advancement versus the simpler life of less complicated times.

Egan’s mastery is shown in the way she is able to work the character’s personalities separately, but then show how they are connected through each other. The reader begins to see a plot and story emerge rather than being given what will happen at the beginning.

The Candy House is a satisfying, interesting, heartbreaking yet funny story told magnificently through an imaginative art of technology with superior characters and their tarnished flaws which are certainly relatable.

Thank you #NetGalley #Scribner #JenniferEgan #TheCandyHouse for the advanced copy.

The Resting Place by Camilla Sten

The Resting Place is completely creepy, haunting and sinister from beginning to end. And I loved it!

Eleanor’s past comes with a very high price. Her mother died of breast cancer when she was young, and her Aunt Vivianne took over her care. Vivianne was a very aloof and judgmental person to begin with, but add a young child to the mix and needless to say she had very little patience. But to Eleanor, she was the only person she could rely on and trust since she did not have very many relatives. Until Vivianne was murdered, and Eleanor unknowingly walked in on the crime.

So, you would think Eleanor would be able to tell the police who committed the crime, or at least give a description of the killer. But Eleanor has something called prosopagnosia which makes a person unable to distinguish or recognize features on a person. Someone who has prosopagnosia must rely on voice recognition and other qualities to know who they are with. Because of this illness she is paranoid and has intense anxiety which she has been treated for consistently over the years. So even though Eleanor saw the killer, she did not hear their voice therefore cannot recognize them.

When a lawyer calls her to let her know that he is settling Vivianne’s property and that includes an estate up in the mountains which Eleanor never knew existed she is stunned. The lawyer, Eleanor, her boyfriend Sebastian and her Aunt Veronika travel to this massive landholding which also includes a home for a caretaker who has lived on the property for over fifty years. How could she never have known this? But he seems to be missing.

Eleanor then finds out her grandfather possibly killed himself on this property. Perhaps that is why Vivianne refused to acknowledge the home, although her Aunt Veronika seems to be well aware of the house, even having spent time there as a child. Why has this never been mentioned?

The house seems frightening and nightmarish with nooks and crannies which one could get lost in, or even hurt. Eleanor believes this house holds past secrets, but what could they be? Out for a stroll she thinks she sees someone watching her. Could this be the elusive caretaker? Then she finds a diary hidden under the floorboards which was written by a maid at the time which details the daily life and struggles of her aunt and grandfather. She begins to question everything she has been told of the life of her family.

Then in the middle of a blizzard, the lawyer goes missing and she realizes something is very wrong and they must leave immediately. But they cannot escape the weather or the house. She may regret ever coming here because the house holds a disturbing past which Eleanor will never be able to understand or get over.

The Resting Place is a book you will not be able to put down. It reads like a ghost story, only some of those ghosts still feel like they are alive. And perhaps will always be.

Thank you #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #CamillaSten #TheRestingPlace for the advanced copy.

Double Twist by Stephanie Rowe

Double Twist is a delightfully witty, fast paced whodunit with incredibly likeable characters whose hair-raising schemes trying to solve a murder to prove their friend innocent are priceless.

Mia Murphy has been through the mud. After two years in hiding for turning her now ex-husband, a drug Kingpin no less and his family into the FBI she is ready to start a new life. She decides to change course and buy a marina, although she has no idea what it entails, which she finds for sale in Bass Derby, Maine, as far away from her past as possible. Along with her she takes a “borrowed” cat named King Tut, the closest thing she has to family considering her mother has been on the lam for years.

Mia quickly gets into trouble when someone hits her car, and she is blamed for ruining a very important town sign. Who knew a sign could be so important as to almost get her arrested! When she finally arrives at her new “home” she finds a dilapidated, smelly, old marina which she finds out has been vacant for about ten years. Boy, can pictures be deceiving!

Her only solace are the two women she meets immediately. Harriet is the elderly owner of the cafe which sits on Mia’s property. Mia is her landlord and Harriet seems to feel she should pay her rent in meals rather than money. Lucy is the new mail carrier on her route who is quirky, but likeable, with baton twirling skills no less!

When the three women decide to go on a retrieving expedition of property from the ex-husband of one of them, something Mia really does not want to partake, but you know, new peer pressure, they are surprised to find him dead and someone fleeing the scene.

As the clues all seem to point to the ex-wife, the women begin to believe she is being set up, and as much as Mia insists she has left her old life behind, she seems to be the only one with the logic and common sense to figure out who is the real murderer. So she decides to help train her two new friends in the art of snagging a killer. But unfortunately not only is Mia schooled by a few low-life’s, a very handsome officer and jet-skiing moose, she finds she herself in danger of being killed.

Some quiet peaceful town she picked! Will the women be able to solve the crime before one of them gets put in jail for a very long time? And who is trying to drive Mia out of town and why? Only Mia Murphy’s luck could have her evade assassins for two years only to be stalked buy a pack of smelly moose!

Double Twist is an enjoyable, funny story with a unique plot and eccentric characters. A can’t put down book you will read with a smile on your face from start to finish.

Double Twist will be out on May 3.

The Lying Club by Annie Ward

The Lying Club is an outrageously intense murder/mystery which takes place at a prestigious high school which caters to the wealthy families in Colorado.

First, we have Natalie. She is an office assistant in the principal’s office. She is the eyes and ears of the school. Although she is friendly with some of the mothers, she keeps her distance. She is dating the handsome Nick who coaches and trains the soccer team. That someone like her would even be on his radar is incredible! Although art is her passion, she has put her real love on hold to make money. She came here to be closer to help her brother Jay who was in a serious accident. Prior to this she had had breakdown and had been abusing drugs and alcohol. She had been clean for a while, until she met Jay’s medicine cabinet. She wakes up in her car one morning parked in front of the school. Unable to remember the night before she walks into the gym and finds a body. She immediately turns around for fear of what she has done.

Brooke is the mother of Sloane a rising high school soccer star who she has high expectations of going to an elite college and playing soccer. Coming from old money, Brooke has everything she needs plus more. She sits on multiple boards and travels extensively. She will do and pay anything to help Sloane achieve her goal. She is separated from Sloane’s father after cheating on him…again. Brook has a bit of a crush on Nick, but she seems to have many men on her radar. Brooke begins to notice Sloane’s personality shifting but figures it’s probably the teen years kicking in and her new boyfriend.

Asha is a realtor who has the perfect life. She has a son and daughter and a loving husband. Her daughter Mia is another rising soccer star and may perhaps be vying for the same spot as Brooke’s daughter when it comes to going to college. But Brook and Asha have been sort of friends for a long time. She feels they will be able to weather the storm. Then Asha’s husband begins to act strangely, very standoffish and not as connected to the family, traveling much more than usual. She suspects he is cheating, and she now has something very important to tell him but is hesitant. Mia begins to become quiet and stays in her room much more than she ever has. No matter how hard Asha tries, she can’t get Mia to tell her what’s wrong. Is her family falling apart?

So, what do these women have in common? Secrets. And lies. Sometimes that’s enough to bond people for life. As the police begin to investigate the mystery behind the dead body in the gym, the reader will be taken back in time and shown what has led up to the present pivotal situation. But not everything is clear cut. And not every secret can ever be told.

Everyone lies, but some do it much better than others. That’s why there is a Lying Club.

This book is brilliantly written with abounding suspense and mystery and shocking twists you don’t even see coming.

Thank you #NetGalley #ParkRow #AnnieWard #TheLyingClub for the advanced copy.

Cordelia and the Hippie Wagon by Mildred Abbott

Small town life should be easy and relaxing, sure there is gossip, but usually nothing too exciting usually happens. But in the little town of Willow Lane, it has unfortunately had its share of tragedies starting with a tornado which hit and damaged the town fifty years ago.

Each year the town memorializes the event by having a town service, although if you asked Cordelia Davis, there is no reason to remind everybody about what they all lived through that night. And Cordelia knows because it changed her life forever.

Cordelia, her sister Pam and their best friend Wanda, called the “twisted sisters” have been part of the town forever. They help with the activities and bake casseroles daily for those who need some comfort food or who just want some comfort.

So, when Pastor Jim is found dead the day after the memorial, crushed by Cordelia’s van on her property, needless to say the townspeople are not only stunned, but the gossip mill begins to go crazy.

Who would want to kill the beloved pastor? Cordelia and her twisted sisters decide to look into the killing, although there is one person the whole town suspects was the pastor’s killer. But Cordelia thinks there could be too many eggs in that one basket. As she begins to make her rounds, she discovers to her surprise there were some people who were not too thrilled with Pastor Jim’s tactics.

On top of this tragedy weighing on Cordelia, she has just discovered that the love of her life who left town fifty years ago has suddenly reappeared in town and has his eyes set on her. But is it possible for someone who is proud to live her life with regrets, possibly have a future with a man who left her all those years ago?

As the suspect list begins to dwindle and new and old secrets emerge, Cordelia begins to see what could possibly have been the impetus to the killing. That’s the thing about small towns. There are so many skeletons from the past, that sometimes they rear their ugly heads into the present from time to time.

Willow Lane seems like a lovely cozy town where everybody knows everybody and everybody’s business, but they all consider each other family and they take care of each other.

Cordelia and the Hippie Wagon Homicide is a warm, enjoyable mystery with a great deal of heart, soul and love.

Thank you, Mildred Abbott, for sending me the copy of this lovely story.