The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself ?

Review –

I would classify book as “historical fiction” because the basic story is true. It’s hard to believe today  in our world of instant gratification, social media, iPhones, and fake news but in 1917 it was a very different time and people needed a distraction from the seriousness of war and hard times and so found it easier to believe in the fairy story and also it happened in England, where fairies, gnomes and “the wee little people” were often discussed.

“In 1917, while the world was in the midst of a war, cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright staged photographs to make it appear that Frances was surrounded by fairies. Although they never intended for the faked photographs to be seen by anyone outside their family, the photos became famous enough that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publicly claimed they were real. With so much attention directed toward them, Elsie and Frances promised to keep the truth a secret. One hundred years later, in the present day, Olivia Kavanagh inherits her grandfather’s bookshop in Ireland. But Olivia’s grandfather didn’t just leave her the bookshop—he also left a manuscript written by Frances, and it details exactly how (and more importantly, why) she and Elsie staged their photographs and maintained their hoax for so many years. Olivia has her own troubles to deal with—extracting herself from an unhappy engagement, caring for her ill grandmother, and facing a diagnosis of infertility—but she soon discovers that, as her grandfather told her, stories choose “the right readers at the right time.” Just as Frances realized that people needed to believe in fairies to find hope during WWI, Olivia finds that believing in a little bit of magic helps her reconnect with the woman she used to be. The insight into the true story of the Cottingley fairies is interesting, and it’s easy to understand why two girls might play along with an innocent trick that became a worldwide sensation. Olivia’s struggles are never quite as compelling, and readers may find themselves eager to slip back into the world of the fairies.” from Kirkus Review

It was a joy to read and if you want to read more about the actual story, here is a link complete with the photographs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

 

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Stuck Up Suit by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It started out like any other morning on the train.
Until I became mesmerized by the guy sitting across the aisle.
He was barking at someone on his phone like he ruled the world.
Who did the stuck-up suit think he was…God?
Actually, he looked like a God. That was about it.
When his stop came, he got up suddenly and left. So suddenly, he dropped his phone on the way out.
I might have picked it up.
I might have gone through all of his photos and called some of the numbers.
I might have held onto the mystery man’s phone for days―until I finally conjured up the courage to return it.
When I traipsed my ass across town to his fancy company, he refused to see me.
So, I left the phone on the empty desk outside the arrogant jerk’s office.
I might have also left behind a dirty picture on it first though.
I didn’t expect him to text back.
I didn’t expect our exchanges to be hot as hell.
I didn’t expect to fall for him―all before we even met.
The two of us couldn’t have been any more different.
Yet, you know what they say about opposites.
When we finally came face to face, we found out opposites sometimes do more than attract―we consumed each other.
Nothing could have prepared me for the ride he took me on. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for where I’d wind up when the ride was over.
All good things must come to an end, right?
Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

Review –

I love it when a contemporary romance has substance to it, like a plausible plot, instead of just sex for the sake of sex.

In this stand alone novel a rich, stuck up, angry man in a suit loses his phone on the train and an Italian girl with a smart mouth and color on the tips of her hair finds it and after a few days returns it to him with a few pictures of her legs,butt and cleavage plus her number. Graham finally discovers who she is and the two start a hot and heavy relationship. The sex scene, which did not happen at their first meeting, was very well written and not over the top. What made it so good was the chemistry they had and their suggestive texts to one another.

They both come into the relationship with baggage, she has trust issues because of her father leaving when she was young and he not wanting to get hurt again after his fiancée cheated on him with his best friend.

It was fun watching Mr. Stuck Up Suit soften and allow his real self to emerge from his tough exterior and to watch her learn to trust again and take a chance on love.

Along the way there is a death, an ex-girlfriend/fiancée , a new-found daughter, and a happily ever after. 

( But it takes awhile to get there.)

I really enjoyed this book and will now look for more books by this team of authors.

 

Last Words (Mark Novak #1) by Michael Koryta

Book Description:

Published: August 18, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Still mourning the death of his wife, private investigator Mark Novak accepts a case that may be his undoing. On the same day his wife died, the body of a teenage girl was pulled from the extensive and perilous cave system beneath Southern Indiana. Now the man who rescued the girl, who was believed to be her killer, begs Novak to uncover what really happened.

Garrison is much like any place in America, proud and fortified against outsiders. For Mark to delve beneath the town’s surface, he must match wits with the man who knows the caverns better than anyone. A man who seemed to have lost his mind. A man who seems to know Mark Novak all too well.

Last Words is a pulse-pounding thriller of one man’s undoing; you just may not know which man.

Review –

PI Mark Novak has not done well since his wife, Lauren, was murdered on her way to an interview on behalf of the Florida firm that specializes in exonerating death-row inmates for which the couple worked. Two years later, Mark, who’s at risk of being fired by that firm, receives an unusual request. Ridley Barnes, an eccentric cave explorer, wants him to look into the decade-old murder of 17-year-old Sarah Martin, who disappeared inside Trapdoor Caverns in Garrison, Ind. Barnes was a prime suspect in that case, though he was never charged. The tragedy plunged the town into an economic depression after the cave’s owners sealed it, cutting off the tourist trade. In Garrison, Mark encounters people who refuse to talk—and violence. 

The author sensitively portrays regret and grief while plunging the reader into exciting, claustrophobic scenes deep inside the massive cave, and the best and most suspenseful parts of the book by far are the ones set underground, particularly the scene in which bad guys drug and strip Novak and deposit him inside the cave. Koryta evokes the pitch-dark, damp, bone-cold setting so well, it’s easy to share the claustrophobia and eerie visions the character experiences. 

The ending is not what I expected  but served the purpose.

 

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Book Description:

Published: July 12, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

Review-

“The traumatic memories of a teenager’s rape are medically erased, but lingering thoughts of the attack remain, infecting everyone in her close-knit community.

15-year-old Jenny Kramer thought the party she’d been invited to would be the moment when she’d finally blossom, maybe even get a moment alone with the dashing Doug Hastings. Instead she found herself drunk, in the woods, the victim of a vicious hourlong rape, of which Walker spares the reader no detail in this unnecessarily explicit debut. After she’s rushed to the hospital, Jenny’s parents—blubbering car salesman Tom and tightly put together homemaker Charlotte —decide to give her an experimental drug cocktail to erase her memories of the attack. If the process were successful, there’d be no book, so enter the skin-crawlingly smug narrator, soon introduced as psychiatrist Dr. Alan Forrester, who begins treating Jenny, along with her whole family, after her nearly successful suicide attempt. It’s difficult to empathize with a character—our narrator no less—who looks at a 15-year-old assault victim and wonders to himself “why [he] could not see the rape in her eyes.” As the well-to-do enclave of Fairview, Connecticut, tries to regroup in the wake of zero viable suspects, Tom Kramer makes it his mission to find Jenny’s rapist, jumping on every slim lead, like the sighting of a blue Honda Civic near the party and  a boy in a blue sweatshirt.  The introduction of one of Alan’s other patients, a soldier who endured the same treatment as Jenny, merely clutters an already busy story whose resolution is anything but satisfying.

A repugnant narrator, even an unreliable one, makes it difficult to focus on the true victim, one who is crushed under the weight of this ridiculous plot.” from Kirkus Reviews

I couldn’t have said it better. As the book went on I began to wonder if indeed the rape of Jenny and her well-being was the focus of the story or if it was the Doctor Forrester and his well-being. To tell you the truth, I still don’t know.

Don’t waste your time.

 

Fatal by John Lescroart

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kate loves her life. At forty-four, she’s happily married to her kind husband, Ron, blessed with two wonderful children, and has a beautiful home in San Francisco. Everything changes, however, when she and Ron attend a dinner party and meet another couple, Peter and Jill. Kate and Peter only exchange a few pleasant words but that night, in bed with her husband, Kate is suddenly overcome with a burning desire for Peter.

What begins as an innocent crush soon develops into a dangerous obsession and Kate’s fixation on Peter results in one intense, passionate encounter between the two. Confident that her life can now go back to normal, Kate never considers that Peter may not be so willing to move on.

Not long after their affair, a masked man barges into the café Kate is sitting in with her best friend, firing an assault weapon indiscriminately into the crowd. This tragedy is the first in a series of horrifying events that will show Kate just how grave the consequences of one mistake can be.

 

Review-

“Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive”  Sir Walter Scott

This simple statement perfectly sums up the moral of this story, and what a story it is!

This was  my first reading of a John Lescroart book and I loved it.  I found the storyline to be very on point and the characters very credible. 

In today’s society of “instant gratification” the consequences of actions are rarely considered and that was the problem with Kate having a “one night stand” with Peter.

Along with her infidelity, there is a domestic terror attack, a murder and multiple suspects, and a friend who doesn’t know her best friend as well as she thought she did.

The author  serves up a brilliant whodunit mystery that had me holding my breath until the very end, which is perfect, by the way, if not a little frustrating.

Fantastic standalone read.

Five stars!!!!!

 

No One Left to Tell (Baltimore #2) by Karen Rose

Book Description:

Published: June 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A car crashes in front of rookie PI Paige Holden’s home. And suddenly, she finds one of her pro bono clients dying in her arms—from a gunshot wound. With her last breath, the woman whispers cryptic words into her ear and hands her a blood-smeared flash drive.

Five years ago, State’s Attorney Grayson Smith put a murderer behind bars. But when Paige Holden shares the flash drive with him, its contents cast doubts on the conviction—and lead him and Paige into a world of blackmail, dark secrets, and a decades-long string of murders. An investigation they’ll survive only by trusting each other—and the truth.

Review –

Bestselling author Karen Rose returns to Baltimore for this steamy follow-up to 2011’s You Belong to Me. Fledgling PI Paige Holden and Assistant State’s Attorney Grayson Smith start on opposite sides before becoming a formidable team delving into the deadly secrets behind a murder conviction. Holden hears the last words of a dying Elena Muñoz, who tells Holden cops were chasing her as she presses a flash drive into the PI’s hands. Elena’s husband, Ramon, a gardener, was framed for the murder of Crystal Jones during a party given by Rex McCloud at the estate of his grandfather, retired state senator James McCloud. Elena’s evidence and an attempt on Holden’s life prevented by Smith launch the pair on a mission for justice. Both Holden and Smith have carefully guarded secrets that keep their passions smoldering before bursting into flames. Rose’s deft combination of hot heroine and cool hero should please her many fans.
Lots of action and many unbelievable  near death attempts on Paige and Grayson but all in all it made for a great read.
 

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

Book Description:

Published: March 10, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – is perfect. Yet several years ago, Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she’s free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead.

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance. It’s a story about the wrongs in our past not letting go and how hard we must fight for second chances.

Review –

It took me forever to get into this book and I found it very convoluted and was indeed surprised by the ending but I still only gave it a three out of five stars.

Zoe’s step-brother, Lucas, had written a script for a movie/play where he revealed that his father abused his mother before she died.  Right before the concert, Lucas had emailed the script to Maria and Zoe as a warning that his father was dangerous.   Maria had kept Zoe’s criminal past from Chris and he found out about it the night she died.  It was Lucas who accidentally pushed Maria down the stairs, but he recorded everything on his cell phone.  Zoe convinced him to turn the video in and say that Chris was the murderer.  It worked.  The cops arrested Chris.

Sorry about the spoilers but if I hadn’t already read it, I would NOT read it. I really hope the next book I read by this author is better. To me, this one was a “bit of a time-waster”.

 

 

 

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: November 3, 2015  

Format: Audio/Library Book

A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.

Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

Review –
Always a pleasure to read a Stephen King book and this one was no exception.
The principal purpose of  the stories in this book is to entertain. Mr. King  says, “Although life experiences are the basis of all stories, I’m not in the business of confessional fiction.” No, he really isn’t, and the reason “The Little Green God of Agony” is one of the strongest stories in “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is that in this one, at least, King finds a serviceable horror metaphor for what’s on his mind, rather than trying to express it more directly. (He wrote this during his rehabilitation after his near fatal accident and all the pain he suffered)
There were some stories that I liked more than others but on the whole it was a delightful (if anything about Stephen King can be called delightful) collection of short stories concerning  various life changing subjects. What’s unusual about the tales in this volume is how many of its deaths are ordinary, mundane sorts of demises: deaths by cancer or heart failure or car accident or simple, non-­supernatural homicide. 
If you’re a “constant reader” or have never (GASP!) read Stephen King this is a great book to add to your TBR list or pile. Since it’s a collection of short stories it’s easy to commit to the book because you know you can read one story and put it down, but I doubt you will want to put it down after you start reading.
Loved it!

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

Review –

I will not tell you what happens in this book because there are so many twists and turns and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end and then you are left with your mouth agape.

No One Knows will have inevitable comparisons to Gone Girl, but this is a more realistic storyline. It will have readers guessing who can be believed and what are their ulterior motives.  Ellison messes with the character’s head as well as the readers with her many directional path changes.

I will say that I thought that Opryland in Nashville as  the scene of Josh’s disappearance was genius. It is huge and so very easy to get lost in. The author has said that it is a metaphor for this story because anyone who visits there can get turned around and see different things at different times.

I loved this book all the way through and got whiplash from all the twists and turns but loved every minute of it!

YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

Five stars.

 

 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: July 25, 2017   

Format: Audio/OverDrive

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Review –

This is a book that will keep you guessing at every chapter.  You think you know what’s going on and in the next sentence you discover you were totally wrong.  I LOVE books this this because you never get bored and it “strains the brain” to figure out what comes next.

I have now read all three books by this author and she out does herself with every one.  Were Alfred Hitchcock still around, he surely would have snapped up the rights because it would be right up his alley. Hitch would have more of a challenge, though, making “The Lying Game” into something memorable. This story stays scrupulously within the lines: to the degree it satisfies, it does so because — like a Lifetime movie — its premise, setting and characters are so comfortably broken-in. There’s even a haunted house, a dark and stormy night, a baby in danger and climactic trials by flood and fire. But even if the story hints at being a cliché, you can’t help but be drawn in.

The plot ambles back and forth between the women’s youth and their anxious present, they are four old school friends bound together by a terrible secret. Fifteen years ago, Isa Wilde arrived at Salten House, a boarding school on the south coast. She and three other girls, Fatima, Kate and Thea, form an inseparable clique impervious to the world around them. They spend their weekends at Kate’s home, the Old Mill, a ramshackle building overlooking the nearby estuary, under the watchful eye of her father Ambrose (the school’s art teacher), and in the company of Kate’s sort-of half-brother Luc.

Most of the girls’ time, however, is spent playing the Lying Game, competing with each other to get away with increasingly outrageous untruths: to “outwit everyone else – ‘us’ against ‘them’”. Then one day something terrible happens, and henceforth they’re “lying not for fun, but to survive”.

What is the secret they are hiding, who else knows about it, who is blackmailing Kate, who killed the sheep and is the note Ambrose wrote really a suicide note? These are just a few of the questions in this fantastic read.

  Five stars!!!!