Category Archives: Books Books Books

Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Patriarchy and colonialism force strong-willed, 18th-century Trinidadian Rosa Rendon eventually to the Crow Nation in Bighorn, Montana. Circumstances cause her to take her son back to her beginning, both of them outsiders everywhere. This is a tale of what happens when strangers dictate the life of a young woman with an independent mind, a woman who becomes a fierce mother. It’s a good read, an excellent portrayal of fighting against cultural norms and bracing historical eras. I recommend it. I also recommend researching the cultures and peoples in the story. I received a digital copy from the publisher Atlantic Monthly Press through NetGalley.

The Apartment by K.L. Slater

Freya accepts a too good to be true offer of an inexplicably affordable luxurious apartment in a desperate moment, exposing herself and her daughter to nefarious landlords. Slater leads the reader on a curving, dipping trail of hidden agendas and friendly facades, reminding us that we are never truly alone and nothing is ever truly private. Fans of Catherine Steadman and T.M. Logan will love the suspense and wicked reveal. I highly recommend this thriller. I was fortunate to receive a copy from the publisher Thomas & Mercer through NetGalley.

The Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms

Social media influencer Mia Bell transitions cold turkey to real life, unaware that a fan’s sister takes over her account to save her sister, who believes in Mia. Harms leads her troubled characters to a fated collision in order to eventually find balance in their lives. This story is a brilliant look at how powerful social media can be, and the expectations of followers, as well as the integrity (or lack) of those they follow. Though this book feels like a quick, easy read, it delves deep enough into the dangers to show that the lives of real people are affected by seemingly casual posting. It also shows the connections that can be made online and IRL. I highly recommend this book and pretty much anything written by Harms. Fans of Ann Garvin and Kelly Simmons will appreciate her style. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this wonderful story from the publisher Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley.

The Essence of Darkness by Tom Clearlake

FBI Special Agent Elliott Cooper investigates five unexplained child disappearances from a small town. He uncovers something beyond the FBI’s jurisdiction, something that literally changes him. Although this novel has a few inconsistencies, such as things working when the story requires them to work, it’s a fun tale of evils beyond the hand of man, the importance of loyalty, and astonishing graphically detailed descriptions of physical transformations and emotional turmoil. I recommend it for anyone who likes the stuff of nightmares born from the mind of a horror writer like Straub or Koontz. I was fortunate to receive a review copy from the publisher Moonlight through NetGalley.

The Dark Continent by Scott Reardon

An incredible tale of an attempt to create the super soldier meets the Island of Dr. Moreau is an interesting read. The main characters are fully flawed, sympathetic saviors of humankind. Though the author lays out a save the world kind of trope, the story focuses on the US being attacked. I received this graphic, violent drama from NetGalley for an honest review, but NetGalley summaries don’t inform reviewers if the book is part of a series.

Rain: A Collection of Short Stories by Steve Carr

From a dystopian Earth of radical climate unlivable for humans, to a ghost exacting payment in the form of a child, these stories will plunge you deep and whip you back up into the air. Carr writes about the human condition while delving into fantasy, science fiction, and psychological horror, bringing readers to the edge and nearly dropping them. Neighbor fears neighbor in a world gone nuclear, an old man brings life back to the soil through magical wind chimes, and a neglected wife flies away on a hummingbird. Carr’s style is intense, lingering with readers. I highly recommend all of his books.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Shay finds herself taken in by the glamorous Moore sisters, astonished at being included in their circle. A circle that turns out to have been founded for an insidious purpose, for which the Moore sisters turn Shay’s life upside down. She must go off the grid to clear her name and protect herself. These authors write very well together, though it seemed at the end to become a different story. This made it not so much confusing as simply delving into an undeveloped subplot that turned highly significant. Still, this is a good story about loyalty, friendship, and deceit, a dark take on feminism. I received a digital copy of this novel from the publisher St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer…pub date April 14, 2020

Believing she is a bad mother, Beth does not address her postpartum depression. After she and her siblings move their father into a care facility due to his deepening dementia, she volunteers to clean out their family home. Behind the padlocked door to their childhood playroom, Beth discovers her father’s mysterious paintings that seem to correspond to notes left by her mother, unlocking a family secret that may provide a connection with her mother and become her saving grace. Rimmer presents a complex family dynamic to which many could relate, and then explodes it with a secret so horrifying, it remained hidden for decades. Anyone who has discovered their family secret will definitely identify with the feelings of betrayal and questioning their identity. I received a digital copy of this wonderful story from the publisher Graydon House through NetGalley.

PROLOGUE

Grace

September 14, 1957

I am alone in a crowded family these days, and that’s the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. Until these past few years, I had no idea that lone­liness is worse than sadness. I’ve come to realize that’s because loneliness, by its very definition, cannot be shared.

Tonight there are four other souls in this house, but I am unreachably far from any of them, even as I’m far too close to guarantee their safety. Patrick said he’d be home by nine tonight, and I clung on to that prom­ise all day.

He’ll be home at nine, I tell myself. You won’t do anything crazy if Patrick is here, so just hold on until nine.

I should have known better than to rely on that man by now. It’s 11:55 p.m., and I have no idea where he is.

Beth will be wanting a feed soon and I’m just so tired, I’m already bracing myself—as if the sound of her cry will be the thing that undoes me, instead of something I should be used to after four children. I feel the fear of that cry in my very bones—a kind of whole-body tension I can’t quite make sense of. When was the last time I had more than a few hours’ sleep? Twenty-four hours a day I am fixated on the terror that I will snap and hurt someone: Tim, Ruth, Jeremy, Beth…or myself. I am a threat to my children’s safety, but at the same time, their only protection from that very same threat.

I have learned a hard lesson these past few years; the more difficult life is, the louder your feelings become. On an ordinary day, I trust facts more than feelings, but when the world feels like it’s ending, it’s hard to dis­tinguish where my thoughts are even coming from. Is this fear grounded in reality, or is my mind playing tricks on me again? There’s no way for me to be sure. Even the line between imagination and reality has worn down and it’s now too thin to delineate.

Sometimes I think I will walk away before something bad happens, as if removing myself from the equation would keep them all safe. But then Tim will skin his knee and come running to me, as if a simple hug could take all the world’s pain away. Or Jeremy will plant one of those sloppy kisses on my cheek, and I am reminded that for better or worse, I am his world. Ruth will slip my handbag over her shoulder as she follows me around the house, trying to walk in my footsteps, because to her, I seem like someone worth imitating. Or Beth will look up at me with that gummy grin when I try to feed her, and my heart contracts with a love that really does know no bounds.

Those moments remind me that everything changes, and that this cloud has come and gone twice now, so if I just hang on, it will pass again. I don’t feel hope yet, but I should know hope, because I’ve walked this path before and even when the mountains and valleys seemed insur­mountable, I survived them.

I’m constantly trying to talk myself around to calm, and sometimes, for brief and beautiful moments, I do. But the hard, cold truth is that every time the night comes, it seems blacker than it did before.

Tonight I’m teetering on the edge of something horrific.

Tonight the sound of my baby’s cry might just be the thing that breaks me altogether.

I’m scared of so many things these days, but most of all now, I fear myself.

Excerpted from Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer, Copyright © 2020 by Lantana Management Pty Ltd. Published by Graydon House Books.

I Know How This Ends by Amy Impellizzeri

Journalist Rory Garcia struggles in her relationship and her career, seeking stability in both. On her way to cover a protest, she is thwarted by roadblocks, yet she finds herself investing in a story that calls to her despite her skepticism of its veracity. Kate and Ian return in their friend Dee’s tale to Rory of their time-bending romance, as they make their way to their daughter Hope’s graduation, valedictorian of a special class, those born on or close to 9/11. Impellizzeri moves her characters in and out of time and dimensions and lives carefully and credibly, so that by the end, Dear Reader is fully satisfied by not only the romance at the crux of the tale, but by all the connections and possibilities. I received a digital copy of this wonderful story from the author for an honest review. Although I was a bit confused throughout the story, the ending pulled it all together beautifully and left me with a book hangover.