Posted in Beach Read, General Fiction, Southern Fiction, Women's Fiction

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

Publication Info: I listened to the audiobook through my local library. Published May 8, 2018 by MacMillan Audio. Other editions available in bookstores and libraries.

Summary: Ninety-nine year old Josephine Bettendorf Warrick is dying of cancer. She owns a crumbling mansion and most of a barrier island off the Georgia coast. The state is trying to take the island and turn it into a park. With no direct heirs, curmudgeonly Josephine, determined to keep it out of the hands of the state, contacts attorney Brooke Trappnell and tells her that she wants to leave the island to her old friends and their descendants. All but one of her friends is deceased. They used to call themselves The High Tide Club.

Shortly after Josephine hires Brooke and reveals a shocking secret to her and several other people over dinner, she dies, leaving even more stories untold.

Comments: Mary Kay Andrews writes sympathetic and compelling novels that make fantastic beach reads. The High Tide Club is no exception. I love the gentle flow of her writing, but there is plenty of drama to keep me riveted. The High Tide Club’s themes include love, abandonment, betrayal, danger, acceptance and hope. I felt that I really got to know the characters, as their lives unfolded with every page and chapter. I really loved this book and look forward to reading more by the author.

My rating: 5 STARS

Posted in Beach Read, Psychological Suspense, suspense

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Publication Info: Expected publication date July 14, 2020 by St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books. I read the pre-pub Kindle edition courtesy of NetGalley.

Summary: Emily Proudman’s life is a mess. She wants to be an actress, but struggles to get jobs. She’s klutzy. Her roommate is a slob. She fights with her adoptive parents. She suddenly gets fired from her temp job as a receptionist and gets an eviction notice from her landlord. As if all that weren’t bad enough, her agent informs her that she’s moving and Emily will no longer have any contacts for acting jobs.

While wandering in a daze trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her horrible life, she doesn’t see the bus that almost hits her. In shock, she realizes that the man who pushed her out of danger is the CEO of her former place of employment, Scott Denny.

Scott Denny is handsome, rich and very successful. When he offers her an unusual lifeline, Emily jumps at the chance. The job details are rather vague, something about assisting Scott’s wife and small daughter, but the job includes a salary, car and relocation to a villa in France. It sounds ideal. Daydreaming about Scott is also a perk for Emily.

Little does Emily know that Scott is trying to find a solution to a huge problem of his own. As she spends time with Scott’s family and works doing odd jobs at the estate, she realizes that there is something very peculiar going on. When she figures out the mystery, she tries to run for her life.

Comments: I figured out the mystery long before clueless Emily did, but I found The Safe Place to be captivating anyway. There was just the right amount of weirdness without resorting to too many cheap plot twists. The characters were overdrawn and overly anguished, but had quirks that made them interesting. Overall, this was a fun read and I found I didn’t want to put the book down.

Recommended for readers of Psychological Suspense. This would also make a great beach or travel book!

My Rating: 4 STARS

Posted in Beach Read, Happy Fiction, Happy Fiction, Light Romance, Women's Fiction

Summer at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild (Lakeside Resort #2)

Publication Info: Published May 15, 2019 by Longleaf Pine Press. I read the Kindle edition through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.

Summary: After her initial burst of guests and and enthusiasm, Jenny is worried about making a success of the Lakeside Resort. Her background was teaching, not property management or marketing. She is going to need some clever ideas and more than a small amount of cash to ensure a steady stream of lodgers.

Luckily, Jenny has some great friends with a variety of skills. One of her friends is a super bargain hunter, which helps stretch Jenny’s thin budget. A few more friends help her build a laundry facility, complete with flower boxes so it matches the cottages. One of her frequent residents hosts a writer’s workshop and another suggests a yoga retreat.

As the ideas flow and the guests respond, Jenny starts to relax a little — except for one major problem. Her boyfriend, Luke, flies off on an extended business trip to Australia, leaving her to deal with some major headaches — like getting a large, expensive boat back to the resort when she doesn’t know a thing about boating. Jenny also worries about her relationship with Luke, as the months drag by and he seems increasingly distant. But with the support of her friends and family, Jenny knows that no matter what happens with Luke, she won’t be alone.

Comments: Bright and cheery, Summer at the Lakeside Resort is the perfect getaway. I’d love to vacation there! It reminded me of some summer vacations with my parents. For a couple of years, my parents booked a tiny one-bedroom pine cabin near the beach. It was one of several on a dirt road. As an only child at the time, vacations could get a bit lonely, but these cottages always had other families. The feeling of temporary community made those vacations particularly happy and memorable.

The novel’s setting isn’t the only thing that made me feel relaxed and comfortable. The characters are older, very down-to-earth and relatable. The dogs are also amusing, but that miniature horse is absolutely adorable!

With continuing social isolation during Covid-19, I’m looking for books that take me to other places. Susan Schild’s novel was a perfect armchair getaway to a very happy, sunny place.

Recommended for readers of Light Romance and Happy Fiction.

My Rating: 5 STARS

Posted in Beach Read, Best Sellers, suspense, Thrillers

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Publication Info: I read the Book of the Month Club edition published in 2020 by HarperFiction. Other editions available.

Summary: Jules Keegan wants the perfect wedding. As a style and home magazine publisher, she has a few connections. When one wedding planner offered a deep discount in exchange for a magazine promotion, Jules snatched up the opportunity.

Jules is marrying Will Slater, a gorgeous, hunky TV reality show star. The couple haven’t known each other long, but on the surface they seem as well matched as a wedding cake topper. Family and friends are invited to gather on a small, remote island off the coast of Ireland for a night of celebration.

But when the alcohol flows and the guests mingle, they start sharing some dark secrets. Jules’ fantasy wedding becomes the most memorable night of her life, for all the wrong reasons.

Comments: The Guest List has a whiz-bang finale, parts of which I definitely did not see coming! I loved the format the author used. The book is composed of mini chapters that use foreshadowing as a very effective suspense-building technique.

Reading this book was like riding a roller coaster. It starts out interesting, slows down a bit in the middle, then takes off like a rocket, whipping you along screaming every second of the thrilling ride. Bravo, Lucy Foley!

The Guest List was just chosen to be one of two books on Reece Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club this month.

Highly recommended for readers of Suspense and Thrillers, although maybe not if you’re in the middle of planning a wedding!

My Rating: 5 STARS

Posted in Beach Read, Humor, Popular Fiction, suspense, Thrillers

What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr

Publication Info: Published September 17, 2019 by Minotaur Books. Hardcover edition courtesy of my local library

Summary: Rose Dennis wakes up sitting outside in a hospital gown and doesn’t remember how she got there. A young boy finds her wandering around dazed and dehydrated. Soon two men in white coats come and take her back to a facility where she is sedated.

As Rose drifts in and out of consciousness, she becomes aware she is in a memory care unit for early onset Alzheimer’s patients. She hears two people talking about her in the hallway — one of them says that Rose isn’t expected to live out the week. Deep inside her addled mind, Rose knows something is very wrong and begins to plot her escape.

Once she gets out, she contacts the two people she trusts: her teenage grand daughter and her older sister. Her sister, Marion, is an agoraphobic computer nerd and her grand daughter, Mel, is extremely resourceful. With Mel’s help, Rose heads to her house, the home she shared briefly with her husband until he died suddenly. Still full of unpacked boxes, the house is a temporary haven at best. She knows someone will be looking for her. When a man breaks in and tries to kill her, she realizes she must figure out who is behind the plot to get her out of the way before it’s too late.

Comments: This book was a lot more fun to read than the synopsis would suggest. What Rose Forgot is a bright and witty book in the usually tense and gloomy thriller genre. There are lots of unexpected wryly humorous twists and turns. It is obvious very early in the novel that there is nothing wrong with Rose’s mind and she becomes a very likeable main character — I’d love to have her as a neighbor!

Many years ago I read several books in Nevada Barr’s “Anna Pigeon” mystery series. This is a standalone novel. It was so much fun to read that now I want to go back and read her series again. I should start at the beginning because I have no idea which ones I read.

Highly recommended for readers of Thrillers and Suspense novels who are looking for something a little different. Mystery readers and those familiar with her other books may enjoy this too. I sure did!

My Rating: 5 STARS

Posted in Apocalyptic Fiction, Beach Read, Best Sellers, Contemporary Fiction, Popular Fiction, Science Fiction

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

Publication Info: Published August 20, 2019 by Crown. Kindle pre-pub edition courtesy of NetGalley.

Summary: In the near future, global warming has turned much of the country into permanent desert conditions. Small towns are nearly abandoned and cities are hot and overcrowded. After the Black Friday Massacre, when thousands of people were shot while doing their holiday shopping, people are afraid to leave their homes for even routine errands. Most brick and mortar stores have gone out of business except for the very largest ones and a few determined mom-and-pop stores.

One man, Gibson Wells, is behind the solution. He created mega centers where people live and work. Deliveries to homes outside of Cloud are made with a well-designed drone system. When people work for MotherCloud aka Cloud, they have everything they need right on the climate controlled property, which is described as much like an oversized airport terminal.

As the story begins, Gibson Wells is dying from cancer. He is taking his last year to visit his MotherCloud centers and greet workers personally. He has yet to choose his successor.

At one of the centers, two new employees have different agendas. Paxton has an axe to grind with Gibson Wells. Paxton invented a device that cooked a perfect hard-boiled egg. Cloud purchased the product and then undercut the prices time after time, putting Paxton out of business. He wants to meet Gibson Wells and give him a piece of his mind. Zinnia is a corporate spy, sent to discover weaknesses and deceit in Cloud’s power systems.

Paxton and Zinna find themselves unexpectedly sucked into the Cloud mentality. It seems to not be quite as bad as they thought. But slowly, they discover things that put their very lives in danger.

Comments: This is a whiz-bang, first-rate page turner! I romped through it in a single day. The author has created a very believable world, in which things that actually exist today are just taken to the next horrific step. The characters are all very relatable and the alternating chapters in their voices gives the reader a well-rounded perspective.

A bit of an amusing personal aside on current delivery systems, I’m currently waiting for a package delivery. The package was apparently farmed out to an individual who does deliveries after work. The building I’m living in locks the doors at 5 pm. This package is going round and round trying to get here. I’ve tried to resolve this problem, but haven’t been able to yet. It definitely would be nice if a drone could drop it on my balcony!

Very highly recommended for readers of General Fiction, Science Fiction, Apocolyptic and Dystopian Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction. It would also make a great Beach or Travel read and I’d love to see it hit the best-seller lists.

Director Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment has already opted to adapt The Warehouse into a movie. I don’t watch many movies, but I’m already looking forward to this one!

My rating: 5 STARS

Posted in Beach Read, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Police Procedural, Psychological Suspense, suspense, Thrillers

Lying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen

Publication Info: Published May 21st 2019 by Thomas & Mercer. I read the Kindle edition through Amazon’s Prime Reading

Summary: Adam Warner is out on the lake with his three year old daughter, Aubrey, when they witness a shocking scene on shore. Adam’s wife, Sophie, is suddenly attacked and hauled off by a strange man. Panicked, Adam rows to shore as quickly as he can but by the time he gets there, the man is gone–and so is his wife. The only witness to the crime is a nearsighted old man. Sophie is soon found dead on the beach.

Besides the cottage Adam is in, there are two others rented out. In one is a grandmother, watching her two very active grandsons. She was busy inside at the time of the incident. The other is rented out by a married couple, Kristen and Connor. The woman says she didn’t hear anything and the man was sleeping off an alcoholic binge.

The police investigate and, of course, the suspicion falls on the husband, Adam. But, Lee, one of the officers knew him from childhood. Adam found her after a she was abducted as a young girl and she just knew he couldn’t have done it. Adam was one of the good guys.

As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that more than one person may have had a motive for killing Sophie Warner, and that the motive for the murder is far more complex than it first appears.

Comments: Lying Next to Me is an engrossing, rapid-fire tale of murder and deceit. The reader is led to a conclusion about the murderer and then just knows there is more to come. And there is — in a stunning conclusion.

There was one part at the end that didn’t quite ring true, but it was about a secondary character and not important to the overall plot.

Recommended for readers of Mysteries, Psychological Suspense, Thrillers, Suspense and those looking for something for a long flight or the beach.

My Goodreads rating: 4 STARS

Posted in Beach Read, Best Sellers, British, Contemporary Fiction, Psychological Suspense, suspense, Thrillers, Women's Fiction

Twenty-Nine Seconds by T.M. Logan

Publication Info: Expected publication date Sept 10, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press. Pre-pub Kindle edition courtesy of NetGalley. Previously published in the U.K.: other editions available.

Summary: Dr. Sarah Haywood works hard at her job at the University. She really needs a promotion to a permanent position, as she is currently single mother. Her husband ran off with another woman to “find himself”, leaving her with two young children. Sarah works hard, keeps on top of her busy teaching schedule and even comes up with an idea for additional funding.

But all of this is threatened by one man, Professor Alan Hawthorne. Alan won’t let her — or any woman — get ahead unless they agree to his terms. At the university, Alan is untouchable. He has an impeccable public reputation on his BBC show. If a woman complains about his sexual harassment, she is disgraced and dismissed. When he steals Sarah’s ideas, she feels completely overwhelmed.

One fateful day, Sarah inadvertently does a good deed for a stranger. That stranger offers to make one person, any person, in her life disappear forever. Sarah must decide if the risks outweigh the consequences.

Comments: I couldn’t put this book down. I read until late in the evening, fell asleep, woke up and finished it. It absolutely had me gripping my Kindle until the very last few pages.

This is a very timely story of one man’s abuse of power and the fear he instills in others to keep his secrets. I know there are women out there who will relate to the situation, if not the solution.

Highly recommended for readers of Psychological Suspense and Thrillers. It would also make a terrific Beach Read and I’d love to see it on the best seller lists.

My Goodreads rating is 5 stars.

Posted in Beach Read, General Fiction

The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz

Publication Info: Expected publication date, August 6th 2019 by Dutton. Kindle pre-pub edition courtesy of Eidelweiss Above the Treeline.

Summary: Ellie de Florent-Stinson is throwing herself a fortieth birthday party. This is no ordinary party with just family and a few friends. This is a blow-out impressive, expensive, over-the-top party in Palm Springs, CA. It’s also going to be in the multi-million dollar house she just bought specifically for this party.

Ellie grew up dirt poor in a trailer park. She is determined to have a much better birthday than she did when she turned sixteen. That birthday was a disaster. She is determined that her fortieth will be perfect.

But Ellie is about to be reminded again that nothing is perfect. Someone from her past is about to upset her carefully constructed present life.

Comments: I picked up The Birthday Girl because of the Palm Springs setting. I’ve been there many times and am quite fond of that town. The author did a good job of describing the area, as well as some of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But I found the book incredibly shallow up until the very end, where it was redeemed somewhat. I couldn’t relate to or sympathize with Ellie, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t like this type of person in real life either.

If you are looking for a beach or vacation in Palm Springs “put brain in neutral” story, this might be for you. It just wasn’t my kind of book.

My Goodreads rating : 2 Stars

Posted in Beach Read, Best Sellers, Mystery, Western Fiction

Wolf Pack by C.J. Box (Joe Pickett #19)

Publication Info: Published March 12th 2019, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. My kindle copy purchased from Amazon.com.

Summary: After a debacle that ended in a cliff hanger in the last book, Joe is back on the job and things are starting to look better for him. In Wolf Pack, Joe is contacted by another game warden, Katelyn Hamm, whose district is just over the mountain from his. Katelyn observed a drone chasing deer and elk, running some of them to their deaths. While the incident occurred on her side of the mountain, she tracked the truck driven by the offender to Joe’s side.

Joe has his own issues trying to track down an illegal trapper. He traces the guy back to an odd and gated compound. When he goes there to find him, he meets up with nothing but misdirection and lies. The issue gets more complicated for Joe personally when he learns his youngest daughter, Lucy, is dating a boy who lives on that compound.

Meanwhile, a quartet of murderers for hire is also in town trying to do a job. The four would be almost laughable if it weren’t for their ringleader, a woman whose ruthlessness is disguised by her stunning beauty.

Toss in some renegade FBI agents, the murder of some innocent people, mapping technology gone awry and Nate Romanowski’s personal life and it all adds up to a bubbling cauldron of danger.

Comments: For me, the worst thing about this book is not having another Joe Pickett novel waiting for me. I’ve caught up with the series. C.J. Box has a few standalone novels and another series called The Highway Quartet. I’ll have to give those a try while I wait for Joe Pickett #20.

Tiny spoiler: My only major beef with this book was that I felt let down by the cliff hanger in the previous novel. I wanted to learn more about how Joe managed to get himself out of the last mess and it was merely glossed over in this book.

Highly recommended for fans of the series, mystery readers and those who like books with a Western setting. If you haven’t read any of these books, start at the beginning of the series.