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My Mother’s Silence–devastating secrets

My Mother’s Silence

by Lauren Westwood

My Mother's SilenceI find genres and categories useful up to a point. When it comes to Lauren Westwood’s My Mother’s Silence, the designator “Women’s Fiction” seems to fail. It is definitely fiction, but I think a lot of men would like it too. The subtitle is A Gripping Page-Turner Full of Twists and Family Secrets. I usually associate “gripping” in this context with a thriller, a genre which doesn’t usually attract me. I am happy to report that “gripping” in this case could be defined as a plot that draws you in more and more tightly as you progress. It is full of secrets, life altering secrets—bombshells that explode after lying dormant for fifteen years.

Skye Turner leaves the little Scottish town of Eilean Shiel to fulfill her dream of making it big as a songwriter and musician in America. She carries a heavy weight, however, as her twin sister Ginny has passed away, and it is presumed that she slipped off a cliff and drowned. Skye returns home at the urging of her brother Bill. She hopes to be able to work things out with her mum and her brother, but she arrives to find her mother in mental disarray. Things don’t add up about her sister’s disappearance or the car accident Skye was in on that same evening.

Skye is not a perfect woman, but it seems she has made a lot of decisions based on the lies was fed. She tries to uncover and untangle the fabrications and piece them together with the help of a former DCI who is renting a cottage from her mother.

This book has a Christmas setting that is incidental to the plot but provides a reason for the family to gather. Westwood weaves a web with her amazing storytelling skills. The reader needs to discover what happened to Ginny as much as Skye does. Some romance is woven into the story as old boyfriends and new are included as important threads. There are several mysteries to be solved and parts of the book can claim to be called police procedural. Without a doubt, this book is a page-turner that made me glad I escaped from my comfort zone to find a new happy place.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Bookouture for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: Sprinkling of vulgar language

Publication:   November 11, 2019—Bookouture

Memorable Lines:

…the land doesn’t care that I once went away, or that I’ve come back again. My life is small, my little dramas and struggles unimportant against the vastness of sea and sky.

But there’s something about this land that gets in your blood. Even when I thought I might never come back, I still felt the pull of this place. No matter where I was in the world, if I listened hard enough, I could hear the whisper of home.

I can still remember what it’s like to be in a teenage strop. That feeling of isolation—that everyone else in the entire world is against you and complete morons to boot. But it’s only worth keeping up as long as there’s an audience.

Fatal Cajun Festival–Louisiana backdrop

Fatal Cajun Festival

by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun FestivalIf you are charmed or captivated by all things Cajun, from zydeco music to Jambalaya with shrimp and sausage, you will enjoy Ellen Byron’s Fatal Cajun Festival. The Louisiana plantation setting is a great backdrop for a mystery that centers around Tammy Barker, hometown girl who made it big in the music industry. She returns to the small town of Pelican to give back, gloat, or maybe exact revenge at the Cajun Country Live Festival.

Local artist, Maggie Crozat, who also helps out at her family’s B&B, is caught up in deciphering the motives of Tammy and her entourage and in clearing her friend Gaynell of suspicion. There is a tangle of relationships which won’t be resolved until the end. Meanwhile, Maggie and her fiancé Bo Durand, a detective, try to keep the peace and everyone alive in Pelican. Maggie’s family has a booth at the festival selling Maggie’s artwork and as many pralines as she can make. There is also a brief side story about a mysterious Carina who may have been involved with Maggie’s now deceased Grand-père. This is an all round fun cozy mystery with lots of Louisiana flavor and interesting characters. 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1.  #4 in the Cajun Country Mystery Series, but works as a standalone as the author includes a list of characters with notes about them.

2.  Recipes are included at the end of the book.

Publication:   September 10, 2019—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

“You used refined oil, didn’t you?” Nanette flashed a devilish grin. “Chère, that oil’s so refined it could be a debutante.”

“Remember his favorite saying…”  “In Louisiana, we only follow the rules we like,” the couple said simultaneously.

Bo once told her that humiliation was the main motivation behind most murders.

False Account–family entitlement

False Account

by Veronica Heley

False AccountBea Abbot is the owner of the Abbot Domestic Agency and has a talent and good reputation for choosing honest, hard working domestic employees and matching them up with suitable employers. In this mystery she is approached by the very wealthy Tredgolds, an elderly mother and her quite unlikeable daughter, to replace several employees.  Initially Bea wants to have nothing to do with them, but so many things seem out of whack that she decides to help. Two cats have been killed and several staff members dismissed for criminal behaviors. Mrs. Tredgold is a mystery herself appearing at times to be weak and at other times manipulative. 

The plot of False Account by Veronica Heley is complicated and fast moving. More crimes occur, some putting Bea, her ex-husband Piers, and her ward Bernice in danger. Mrs. Tredgold’s family spends money as if there is a never ending supply and have developed a strong sense of entitlement which makes them unpleasant to be around. There are many surprises as the plot unwinds over the course of several chapters resulting in a quite satisfying conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #12 in the Bea Abbot Agency Mystery Series. It could be read as a standalone, but would probably be enjoyed more having read others in the series. I have read 6 out of the 12 in the series, and there has never been a problem in keeping up with the characters.

Publication:   April 1, 2019—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Someone clunked a mug down on Bea’s bedside table. She realized it was time to wake up. She didn’t want to wake up. She might not have her eyes open yet but she already knew that a large black cloud was hanging over the day. 

“The thing is, you can’t stop people being stupid, can you?”

“Is that bacon you’re cooking? I was thinking of going vegetarian but maybe I won’t start just yet.”

The Year of Starting Over: A Feel-Good Novel about Second Chances and Finding Yourself. 

The Year of Starting Over

by Karen King

The Year of Starting OverI don’t know any honest person who won’t admit, at least to themselves, that there is something that they wish they had done differently. Since there are no “do-overs” in life, I am grateful for second chances and that is what The Year of Starting Over is all about. Its subtitle is A Feel-Good Novel about Second Chances and Finding Yourself. 

In Karen King’s novel, Holly is confronted with both the need and opportunity to hit the reset button on her life when it becomes apparent her relationship with boyfriend Scott will never lead to the type of loving marriage her Nanna and Pops enjoyed. Her job as a care assistant for the elderly is not the path to fulfillment for Holly as an artist. Holly is left money by her Pops giving her a chance to change those circumstances and begin living for herself. 

Holly has to sort through relationships as she reinvents herself in this gentle romance. She travels from England to Spain to help her friends, Fiona and Pedro, establish an artists’ retreat. With an adventure in another country, the interesting characters, and a female lead who steps out of her comfort zone, you may well be pleasantly reminded of Under the Tuscan Sun. The plots play out differently, but the feel-good aura is present in both.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Bookouture for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Publication:   February 7, 2019—Bookouture

Memorable Lines:

Although her family had always praised her designs, Scott had dismissed it as her “hobby” and had never taken much interest.

Holly felt frustrated as she listened to them, wishing she knew the language better. She’d improved since she’d started taking lessons with Felipe, but not enough to understand conversations, especially when they spoke so quickly.

Her family had been pretty poor, he knew that from what she’d told him, but they’d been happy. His family were rich by comparison, but there was no closeness between them.

Thread Herrings–innocent beginning to a deadly plot

Thread Herrings 

by Lea Wait

Thread HerringsHow could a faded and deteriorated needlework piece featuring a coat of arms possibly be the motive for murder? Join Angie as she goes to her first auction with her friend Sarah, an antiques dealer. When Angie buys a large, framed work of needlecraft that others pass over, she is getting more than she bargained for—including trouble and danger.

Thread Herrings’ author Lea Wait delves into the world of auctions, Maine history, and embroidery samplers in this interesting cozy that ties several modern day crimes into a mystery from the 1700’s. Angie, whose business, Mainely Needlepoint, is located in the small coastal town of Haven Harbor has returned to the frigid north from a stint as assistant to a private investigator in Arizona. With that background she takes more chances than perhaps are wise. An appealing setting, a plot with plenty of twists and turns, and characters that are likable wrap up this cozy mystery like a package just waiting to be opened by the reader.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #7 in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series, but works surprisingly well as a standalone

Publication:   October 30, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

I was certainly nervous. The haddock I’d eaten for lunch was swimming circles in my stomach.

True, February in Arizona was warm and bright, but nothing was warmer than this room full of friends on a snowy night in Haven Harbor.

Tonight’s snowstorm would only result in four to six inches. (My friends in Arizona would have been freaked out by that much, but in Maine it was only borderline “plowable snow.”) Nothing to worry about.

Where the Fire Falls–Yosemite National Park

Where the Fire Falls

by Karen Barnett

Where the Fire FallsThemes abound in Karen Barnett’s work of historical fiction, set in Yosemite National Park, and they intertwine and work together well. In Where the Fire Falls, the Park itself almost seems like a character as it and its God-created beauty are central to the book. The novel has the Christian focus of man’s relationship with God through His grace. The two main characters have pasts they are struggling to both hide and overcome: Olivia, a rising watercolor artist, and Clark, a former pastor and currently a guide for tourists who want to mule pack into the wilderness.

The main characters are likable and the plot is surprisingly complex with some chaste romance throughout. Supporting characters include socialite patrons, an art agent, rangers at the park, other workers at Yosemite, a hermit, and Olivia’s two younger sisters and her Aunt Phyllis. Olivia has to overcome fears of the past, her inexperience with the outdoors, and her own naiveté. She has to peel off the mask she has created as a shield for herself and as a tool to promote herself in the art world. Clark seeks God’s guidance and direction but is unable to hear it because he feels unworthy.

The descriptions in this book are so well written that I can imagine standing at the various scenic spots as I am taken in by the beauty. Likewise, I can almost picture Olivia’s priceless watercolors that attempt to evoke an emotional response rather than provide a realistic depiction.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first in the series as the plot held more puzzles and surprises. The characters in the two books do not overlap so each actually is a standalone. It is my hope that the author will continue the Vintage National Park Series with new characters in a different national park.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to WaterBrook (Random House) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Christian

Notes : A Vintage National Parks Novel

 

Publication:   June 5, 2018—WaterBrook (Random House)

Memorable Lines:

The impulsive decision now hung on her like a dress two sizes too large.

“Scripture says faith can move mountains, but I’ve found time spent in the mountains sometimes moves us toward faith.”

“God saved up the best bits of creation and spent them here.” Viewing it from this angle, she could almost imagine a divine artist smiling as He carved the valley away from the giant monoliths.

Dis-grace is a human term, Clark. God invented grace. No one can take it from you.”

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