REVIEW: SIX WEEKS TO LIVE, BY CATHERINE MCKENZIE

A gripping psychological suspense novel about a woman diagnosed with cancer who sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up, from the bestselling author of the “addictive and fast-paced” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author) thriller You Can’t Catch Me.

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone else who wanted her dead.

 

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From the very first page of Six Weeks to Live, I was hooked. I have loved every book by this author, and this one did not disappoint.

The book is full of family drama with characters you love to hate, including our first-person narrator Jennifer. Is she guilty, too? Or are others in her family circle to blame?

In the beginning, we all want to point our fingers at the horrible ex-husband Jake, but as more is revealed about each daughter, we can’t stop peeling back the layers to find the truth.

By the very last page, we have our answers, but I was still stunned by what we had learned. But then again, sometimes the least likely person becomes the villain.

A brilliant read that earned 5 stars.

***

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.

***

REVIEW: PORCH LIGHTS, BY DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK

81gSHXsF3XL._SL1500_After Jackie McMullen’s husband Jimmy is killed in a fire while working as a firefighter, her whole world centers on her ten-year-old son Charlie. She returned from Afghanistan, where she had been an army nurse, to their home in Brooklyn. But the loss of her great love Jimmy has turned her world dark. Worried about Charlie, who is unable to eat or sleep, Jackie makes a choice. And off they go to Sullivans Island near Charleston…where she grew up and where her parents still live.

Of course, Annie and Buster Britt have been residing in separate abodes, ever since they fought over Buster’s tendency to leave his fishing gear all over the place. Buster left, and that was eleven years ago.

Home to Jackie is where she can find her connections…and where the porch lights come on to welcome friends and family in the evening. Evenings on the porch are full of good drinks, food, and conversation.

Narrated alternately by Annie and Jackie, Porch Lights soon encircles us in warmth and Southern friendship, making us feel as though we are sitting right there on the porch with them.

Next door is Dr. Steve, a widower, but Jackie takes awhile to warm up to him. But after he “hires” Charlie to walk his dogs, and they become inseparable, before long, he is a regular on the porch.

Nevertheless, after a few weeks, Jackie feels she must go back to Brooklyn, to where she and Jimmy began their lives together. But Charlie wants to stay on the island. So, on the night before a fierce hurricane comes roaring through, Charlie does something so impulsive, so reckless, that all of their lives will be changed.

Will Charlie’s actions bring them all together, at last? And how will Annie and Buster finally resolve their differences? Will Jackie and Steve find romance?

This story was a beautiful portrait of family life, full of all the disagreements and the everyday annoyances, as well as the gorgeous food and conviviality that speak Southern living to a reader like me. I could not put it down. Recommended for those who love family drama and Southern settings. Five stars.