REVIEW: FINDING MRS. FORD, BY DEBORAH GOODRICH ROYCE

Mrs. Ford leads a privileged life. From her Blenheim spaniels to her cottage on the coast of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, she carefully curates her world. Hair in place, house in place, life in place, Susan Ford keeps it under control.

Early one morning in the summer of 2014, the past pays a call to collect. The FBI arrives to question her about a man from Iraq—a Chaldean Christian from Mosul—where ISIS has just seized control. Sammy Fakhouri, they say, is his name and they have taken him into custody, picked up on his way to her house.

Back in the summer of 1979, on the outskirts of a declining Detroit, college coed Susan meets charismatic and reckless Annie. They are an unlikely pair of friends but they each see something in the other—something they’d like to possess. Studious Susan is a moth to the flame that is Annie. Yet, it is dazzling Annie who senses that Susan will be the one who makes it out of Detroit.

Together, the girls navigate the minefields of a down-market disco where they work their summer jobs. It’s a world filled with pretty girls and powerful men, some of whom—like Sammy Fakhouri—happen to be Iraqi Chaldeans.

What happened in that summer of 1979 when Susan and Annie met? Why is Sammy looking for Susan all these years later? And why is Mrs. Ford lying?

 
 
 
 

Flipping back and forth in time, and narrated by two separate characters, Finding Mrs. Ford kept my interest…for the most part. But the pace was slow and the characters were often glib and even unlikable.

I had to keep reading, however, because I wanted to know what would happen. I began to suspect the eventual twist, but why it took the turn it did puzzled me. Also, the connection between the young women and the Iraqi characters could have been more understandable if their motives had been clear. Instead the men seemed to be criminals and drug addicts typical of their circumstances and the times in which they lived. I kept waiting for something that would make me care about any of them. But that did not happen.

The book was interesting enough, but I wasn’t invested in what happened to any of them. Therefore, this book earned 3.5 stars from me.

 
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REVIEW: THE SILENT WIFE, BY KARIN SLAUGHTER

 

 

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . .
 
 
 
 
 


In The Silent Wife, Will Trent returns to the series, and is reeled into the case of a possible serial killer, along with the possibility of a corrupt law enforcement official.

Sara Linton, Will’s girlfriend, is the widow of the police chief that was involved in the case from eight years ago.

Our story flips between the past and the present, spotlighting the officers involved in each case, as well as the new victims in the present.

Similarities between the cold cases and the present seem to be connected by some very intriguing items lost or stolen from the victims.

I liked the character of Will, and the connection between him and Sara felt real, as they had their issues. As the story takes us between the time periods, we see how the two of them struggle to connect when they are having disagreements.

One of the characters, another police detective, was very unlikable. Lena is someone who cuts corners and seems quite unethical in her approach. I was hoping she would be disciplined, but that didn’t happen in this book.

An enjoyable read that kept me guessing until the end…and I was surprised by the reveal.. 4.5 stars
 

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REVIEW: THE LOST FOR WORDS BOOKSHOP, BY STEPHANIE BUTLAND

 

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

 
 
 
 

The Lost for Words Bookshop opens to reveal a young, socially awkward woman trying to hide from her past and her pain, burying herself in books. Working in a second-hand bookshop sounds like the perfect place for her.

Her boss, Archie, is so much more, having found her and nurtured her by hiring her and mentoring her. Like a guardian angel, he has surrounded her with support and comfort. He has also kept some secrets from her, most of which she will discover just when she needs to know them.

Other characters surround her, some good and some not so good. Having survived a family broken by violence, she is careful with her heart. But somehow bad characters find a way to pierce her armor. And then they do their worst.

The story started slowly, gradually filling us in on her daily routines and activities. Then, as more and more secrets are revealed to us, we see the danger that is approaching…and I held my breath until the final denouement. In the end, I had some hope for her. 4.5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: THE LIBRARY OF LOST & FOUND, BY PHAEDRA PATRICK


Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

From the beginning of The Library of Lost and Found, we are brought into the inner world of Martha Storm as she finds herself immersed in numerous tasks for others. Keeping busy seems to be her way of doing good, and perhaps it is a way to fill in the gaps in her family life. She has no husband or lover, although we do learn about a former fiance she planned to marry years before, but whom she lost when she chose taking care of her parents over going to the states with him. Did her self-sacrifice stem from some missing pieces in her family life? Did her call to duty develop due to her losses?

Grandmother Zelda played a huge role in Martha’s life, whereas her father’s voice in her head scolding her for various actions appeared to drive her choices when she no longer had her grandmother assisting her. Zelda’s mysterious “death” was definitely a turning point for her.

But then something happens in the present in the form of a mysterious book, and suddenly everything begins to change. I liked how Martha seemed to grow a spine and stand up for herself, and I especially wanted her to do so when it came to her sister, who constantly abused Martha’s need to help.

This book kept me rapidly turning pages because I enjoyed watching Martha grow and change, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to her next. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: WHEN SHE WAS GOOD, BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

 

Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return in this mesmerizing new thriller from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham, a writer Stephen King calls “an absolute master…with heart and soul.”

Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case in Good Girl, Bad Girl. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…


Alternating narrators tell the story in When She Was Good. From Cyrus, to Evie, the story unfolds. Another player shows herself along the way in the form of Sacha, the young woman who had found Evie hiding out in a closet.

A child with a dark past and no current connections to those who could fill in the blanks, little Evie is almost grown and still hiding from the truth about her past.

Who is still searching for her and trying to do her harm? Can Cyrus protect her by helping her hide the truth, or must he finally discover the answers?

A fascinating tale that was slow in revealing itself, the intensity builds toward the end. 4.0 stars.

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REVIEW: UNFOLLOW ME, BY CHARLOTTE DUCKWORTH

You can’t stop watching her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world—her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

But do you really know who Violet is?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal, and shocking consequences…


What is the pull that online fans have to Violet, a mummy influencer who is someone to envy? Do they really adore her, or are they just hoping she will fall on her face?

Initially, we meet a couple of fans: Yvonne and Lily. They each have their individual stories. One seems to be a true fan, but the other could be out to get Violet.

Alternating narratives lead us through the story and the pitfalls they each have stumbled over. Who has the most to gain by Violet’s destruction?

Something dark has happened to explain why Violet has disappeared, and as we peek into the world of fans Yvonne and Lily, we finally understand their motivations.

As Unfollow Me finally concludes, with many secrets revealed, each of the women we have followed along the way has faced major changes that scare them away from the world of online stalking. Will they redeem themselves,or just turn the page to a slightly different venue? 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: CLEO MCDOUGAL REGRETS NOTHING, BY ALLISON WINN SCOTCH

Cleo McDougal is a born politician. From congresswoman to senator, the magnetic, ambitious single mother now has her eye on the White House—always looking forward, never back. Until an estranged childhood friend shreds her in an op-ed hit piece gone viral.

With seven words—“Cleo McDougal is not a good person”—the presidential hopeful has gone from in control to damage control, and not just in Washington but in life.

Enter Cleo’s “regrets list” of 233 and counting. Her chief of staff has a brilliant idea: pick the top ten, make amends during a media blitz, and repair her reputation. But there are regrets, and there are regrets: like her broken relationship with her sister, her affair with a law school professor…and the regret too big to even say out loud.

But with risk comes reward, and as Cleo makes both peace and amends with her past, she becomes more empowered than ever to tackle her career, confront the hypocrites out to destroy her, and open her heart to what matters most—one regret at a time.

Politics do not mesh well with an ordinary life and a journey moving forward, which sometimes means fixing the mistakes of the past. In Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing, we meet a determined thirty-something woman who has suffered losses and in spite of them, decides to change her life. We get to see what fixing one’s life looks like up close and personal.Cleo is a delightful character who could have been your next-door neighbor or a best friend from high school, but her career in politics has made everything more intense, more focused. To make up for the void in her life, she has made her career and her teenage son the center of her life, to the exclusion of everyone else.The startling op-ed piece written by her former high school friend turns her life upside down and she finds herself determined to fix everything. Even if it means looking at that long list of regrets she created over the years.

I liked Cleo, in spite of, or maybe because of those errors in judgment. I didn’t like MaryAnne Newman, who turned a competitive action in high school into something so much more…and then wouldn’t let it go. But then again, she had made their competition into something that meant the whole world to her and explained everything that went wrong in her life. Teenage angst can linger long into adulthood, and in Cleo’s case, picking up the pieces became a goal. Something to work toward. Making amends and changing how she moved forward. Even confronting one of her biggest errors in judgment.

Social media and the hashtag experience figured into Cleo’s path forward and kept the story relevant and interesting. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: IMPERFECT WOMEN, BY ARAMINTA HALL

 

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?


They met at university, and for years, as their lives intersected, they were more closely entwined than siblings. Imperfect Women could have been an apt description of who they were and who they became, as their bonds seemed to unravel over the years, until finally, one of them would permanently alter the course of their lives.

Their stories alternated, but not in the usual way. Three sections were devoted separately to each of the women: Eleanor, Nancy, and Mary, in turn, would offer varying perspectives until we finally have the answers to the quandary of who murdered Nancy.

A dark story that reminds us that we “do have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to feel precious despite our failings. Because that’s how you learn there is no such thing as perfect.” A thoughtful journey that earned 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: UNTIL I FIND YOU, BY REA FREY

 

Since Rebecca Gray was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, everything in her life consists of numbers. Each day her world grows a little darker and each step becomes a little more dangerous.

Following days of feeling like someone’s watching her, Bec awakes at home to the cries of her son in his nursery. When it’s clear he’s not going to settle, Bec goes to check on him.
She reaches in. Picks him up.
But he’s not her son.
And no one believes her.

One woman’s desperate search for her son . . .

In a world where seeing is believing, Bec must rely on her own conviction and a mother’s instinct to uncover the truth about what happened to her baby and bring him home for good.


From the first moments that Rebecca realized that her son had been switched for another, the intensity of her search and her frustration at not being believed kept me rapidly turning pages. Until I Find You is this mother’s quest for her son, battling those who would not believe her while following clues as they arose.

I didn’t trust any of Rebecca’s friends, especially since they were so dismissive of her feelings and instincts. I decided that one of them must have been the culprit, but as much as I did believe that, it was almost impossible to find the truth until one day something totally unexpected happened.

How did Rebecca and her ex-boyfriend Jake finally zero in on a way to prove that the baby in her crib was not Jackson? I liked the cleverness of this action, which ultimately helped the truth come out.

An engaging read that earned 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

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REVIEW: THE SAFE PLACE, BY ANNA DOWNES

 

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

The story in The Safe Place unfolds slowly, almost like a lazy afternoon on a beautiful French estate. Emily is drawn to Nina and Scott, and to the life they share. But beneath the beauty, she senses something strange and secretive and mysterious about this family.

I was especially curious about Nina, whose behavior was very worrisome, and the things she hides behind cabinets and in cupboards…well, one might wonder what more she has hidden. But where is Scott in the mix? He is away most of the time, and whenever Emily wonders if she is in the wrong place, he reappears, seemingly pulling her into his web.

The slow pace felt like a drag at times, but then suddenly and unexpectedly the pace quickens and we begin to see bits and pieces of the hidden things. And they are alarming. From that point on, I was glued to the pages, wondering what would be revealed. 4.5 stars.

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