Book Spotlight: The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan

The Summer ListThe Summer List by Amy Mason Doan

HARLEQUIN – Graydon House Books (U.S. & Canada)

Graydon House

General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

Pub Date 26 Jun 2018

I received this book on NetGalley and really looking forward to reading it soon. The premise is a but different from what I normally read, so that is good.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Description:

In the tradition of Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters, The Summer List is a tender yet tantalizing novel about two friends, the summer night they fell apart, and the scavenger hunt that reunites them decades later—until the clues expose a breathtaking secret that just might shatter them once and for all.

Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake.

But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart…

Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood.

 

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Book Review: The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The House on Foster HillThe House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Bethany House Publishers

Christian, Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 21 Nov 2017

Outstanding Debut Novel from an Author to Watch

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

My thoughts:

I was thrilled when I received this book through NetGalley and I must admit I took much longer to get to it than I originally wanted to. The first half of the book was great but and overall there were aspects of the story I really liked but felt there were too many things happening and the plot lost direction a bit in my opinion. I love the idea of the house holding painful memories and Kaine racing to unravel the mystery of the house and what went on there…

I think this story could have been stronger and less things going on but I will say the setting is atmospheric and there is great character development.

I rated this book three stars.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley from the publishers.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Friday Musings

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This week has been a tough week all around with work and personal life and I haven’t had a whole lot of time for my Presidential Reading Challenge. Which of course is bothering me but I shall rally on and pick it up back this weekend. Having said that, I have made progress in an audio book I have been listening too-The Last Mrs. Parish and an ARC by St, Martin Press called, “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen.

I’m 54% done with Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen: This is a really good story! I’ve always wondered how the Union Army would be able to recruit ex-slaves-right after the civil war- to become Buffalo Soldiers knowing what they were going to do to the Indians. Or did they really have a clear picture in the beginning? It really had always baffled me. This story goes into that a little from what I’ve read so far and now I understand what the Union Army could have told the soldiers to make them fight the Indians. I’m kind-of dreading reading about what is going to happen once they get out west-already knowing its history. I shall prevail!

I’m almost done listening to The Last Mrs. Parish and boy oh boy there is a HUGE twist in the story. Not only that but the characters are disturbing to say the least! Wow! Good story though, really good. One of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while, I must say.

Have a wonderful weekend and see you on Monday!

Cheers!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Book Review: Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter

Every Single Secret II

Pub Date 01 May 2018

Emotionally guarded Daphne Amos always believed she’d found a kindred spirit in her fiancé, Heath. Both very private people, they’ve kept their pasts hidden from the world, and each other, until Heath’s escalating nightmares begin to put an undeniable strain on their relationship. Determined to give their impending marriage the best chance of succeeding, Heath insists that Daphne join him on a seven-day retreat with Dr. Matthew Cerny, a psychologist celebrated for getting to the root of repressed memories. Daphne reluctantly agrees—even though the past is the last place she wants to go.

The retreat’s isolated and forbidding location increases her unease, as do the doctor’s rules: they must relinquish their keys and phones, they’ll be monitored at all hours by hidden cameras, and they’re never to socialize with the other guests.

One sleepless night, Daphne decides to leave her room…and only then does she realize that the institute is not at all what it seems—and that whatever’s crying out from Heath’s past isn’t meant to be heard. It’s meant to be silenced.

My Thoughts:

I love reading psychological thrillers and I admire writers who pen them because to really get in the mind of a sociopath or psychopath, one has to explore the dark side and in this particular case, it’s beyond creepy! Doing so is not always easy and coming up with a premise for these stories, you want to have quite the imagination to keep your readers hooked. Carpenter’s stories do this for me, and she out did herself with Every Single Secret. There is also the fact that this story is set in my state which makes it all the more intriguing.

This story has so many surprises and unexpected twist and turns that keeps you in suspense throughout the book.  Carpenter is great at setting the stage for a gothic southern story and she does it with such flare that I am always curious as to what she will write next. Her characters are so complex and at times you feel like you might not want to get too deep into their minds…I say this in a good way. She also has you question the characters actions and motives throughout the story and I find this thoroughly engaging.

When I first saw the book cover and title, I knew I had to get my hands on this story quickly! I had wondered about the cover and how it related to the story and when I got to that part, I was stunned! It’s a whopper and intensely chilling and had me a bit freaked out!

There are monsters all around us…

I rated this book four stars.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Book Review: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Grief CottageGrief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury USA

General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 06 Jun 2017

After his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she’d moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it “Grief Cottage,” because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty-years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that–an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.

My thoughts:

The story has strong characters and the protagonist, Marcus, is an old soul or how old was he really telling this story? I was never quite sure and at times I felt like there was too much telling rather than showing. He doesn’t have childhood friends really and he relates to adults more than children his own age. His Aunt Charlotte-who takes him in after his mother dies- is quite an odd bird and values her privacy in extreme ways.

While the premise is an interesting one, I found it hard to get into and it took me sometime to finish the book. When I finally got to the ending it just seemed to end abruptly and I was dissatisfied, as I was hoping there would be a strong climax to the story. How is this a thriller ghost story? I didn’t come away with that feeling at all. The conflicts seemed muted to me.

On a positive note, much of the story is atmospheric and the setting is quite good.

I am sad to report I gave this book two stars.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley for my honest opinion.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

April in Paris, 1921: A Kiki Button Mystery by Tessa Lunney

I am really looking forward to reading and reviewing this book. I hope to get to the story next week, though I won’t post a review until closer to the publish date. I love reading stories set in the early 1900’s. Check out what the book is about below. -Stephanie M. Hopkins

April in Paris, 1921April in Paris, 1921

A Kiki Button Mystery

by Tessa Lunney

Pegasus Books

Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 03 Jul 2018

About the Book:

Kiki Button—war veteran, party girl, detective, and spy—finds that she can’t outrun her past exploits, even in the glittering world of Jazz Age Paris.

Paris in 1921 is the city of freedom, where hatless and footloose Kiki Button can drink champagne and dance until dawn. She works as a gossip columnist, partying with the rich and famous, the bohemian and strange, using every moment to create a new woman from the ashes of her war-worn self.

While on the modelling dais, Picasso gives her a job: to find his wife’s portrait, which has gone mysteriously missing. That same night, her spymaster from the war contacts her—she has to find a double agent or face jail. Through parties, whisky, and seductive informants, Kiki uses her knowledge of Paris from the Great War to connect the clues.

Set over the course of one springtime week, April in Paris, 1921 is a mystery that combines artistic gossip with interwar political history through witty banter, steamy scenes, and fast action.

About the Author: Tessa Lunney is an emerging talent on the Australian literary scene who has recently won a number of their major short fiction awards. She has had her fiction, poetry, and reviews published in Southerly, Mascara, and Contrapasso, among others, as well as Best Australian Poems 2014.

 

Book Highlight: Lady in Red by Sheila Tate

Lady in RedLady in Red

An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan

by Sheila Tate

Crown Publishing

Biographies & Memoirs

Pub Date 10 Apr 2018

Description

Lady in Red is the long-awaited collection of behind-the-scenes stories and iconic images of one of the most influential First Lady in modern history — Nancy Reagan. Lovingly compiled by long-time close confidante and aide, Sheila Tate, the book provides a rare and much-anticipated look into the personal life of the president’s wife, from her daily routines and travels as First Lady to her friendships and deep influence in the Reagan White House.

Lady in Red depicts a nuanced portrait of this graceful yet strong woman who felt it was her mission to restore a sense of grandeur, mystique, and excitement to the presidency, showcasing the various roles that Mrs. Reagan played during her years in the White House, that of Wife, Mother, Protector, Host, Diplomat, and Advisor, among others.

The book also features twenty-four pages of gorgeous color photographs, including “Nancy’s Album,” a collection of Mrs. Reagan’s favorite photographs, which she entrusted to Sheila to share with the world after she and her beloved Ronnie had passed.

To complete the portrait, Lady in Red includes interviews with the friends and politicians who knew Mrs. Reagan best: President George H. W. Bush, Chris Wallace, James Baker, Ed Meese, Maureen Dowd, and Marlin Fitzwater share their most cherished memories of the First Lady.

My thoughts:

Nancy Reagan and her role as first lady has always been an interest to me so I was thrilled when I saw this book available on NetGalley. I’ll enjoy reading this book and posting my review in April!

Stephanie M. Hopkins