The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen

Book Blurb:

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple – until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their eight-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

My Thoughts:

Greer and Sarah have done it again. They are definitely the queens of psychological thrillers in my book. This one probably ranks number 2 behind their first, The Wife Between Us (still my favorite) . Once again they have a compelling story with interesting characters, lots of possible outcomes and twists that keep you wanting more. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Karissa Vacker and Marin Ireland who did an excellent job narrating. I generally listen more than actually read books these days, and psychological thrillers lend themselves well to this format (as long as it is a well-written book which this was). Highly recommended.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Macmillan Audio/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Length: 11 Hours, 3 minutes

Print Length: 336

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Book Blurb:

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren’t actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?

My Thoughts:

I can’t believe this is a debut book! It was one of the best psychological suspense books I’ve read in a while. This book grabs you and sucks you right in. It is well-plotted with a gripping story. Although I did figure out part of the twists, I was never quite certain which kept me engrossed in the story, and there were so many directions the story could go. I did get a little frustrated with the main character not being forthcoming with information at times, but I can understand why she might have withheld information she did. I can’t say a lot more because I don’t want to give anything away. I did listen to the audiobook which was excellently narrated by Karissa Vacker. I would highly recommend both the book, and especially the audio version. Well done, Stacy Willingham!

Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan Audio and the publisher for an advanced copy to review.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Between the World and Me Ta Nahesi Coates

Book Blurb:

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

My Thoughts:

Wow. Ta-Nahesi Coates can write. This book is written as a letter to his son about his experiences as a black man where he wants to impart his words of wisdom to his son about what he has learned. He tells his story so lyrically I was completely drawn in. It’s especially meaningful to hear his words to learn his experience and help me broaden my understanding of what those experiences for POC are like. This book grabbed me on two levels – his story and his writing. Highly recommended.

My Rating: 5 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Text Publishing Co; UK ed. edition (July 16, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 166 pages

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

Book Blurb:

In this romantic and heartwarming novel, two strangers meet in chance circumstances during a blizzard and spend one perfect evening together, thinking they’ll never see each other again. But fate seems to have different plans.

On a snowy evening in March, 30-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone. All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear.

The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again, but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence. With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.

My Thoughts:

I adored this book. At first I wasn’t too sure about it, but once Noelle had left the school event and got stranded in the snow storm, the story started to grab me. Because of the title, I thought the whole book would be set during just hours, but that was not the case. That was just the beginning. This book just went in a direction I wasn’t expecting. It did seem at times, too, like there were a lot of coincidences, but that was all pulled together nicely for me at the end, and I like the idea of a little bit of fate lending a hand.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atria/Emily Bestler Books (September 28, 2021)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages

Two Book Reviews for the Price of One: The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby and How to Fight Racism by Jemar Tisby

The Color of Compromise Book Blurb:

An acclaimed, timely narrative of how people of faith have historically–up to the present day–worked against racial justice. And a call for urgent action by all Christians today in response.

The Color of Compromise is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don’t know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church.

My Thoughts:

Even though I grew up in the South and was well aware of racism, I’m trying to read more to educate myself about the subject. This is one that was studied by different church groups I’ve been involved with. I found it astounding to learn of the role church has played throughout history in justifying and perpetuating racism. Hopefully the more we learn, we won’t repeat past mistakes.

My Rating: 5 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Zondervan (January 7, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages

How to Fight Racism Book Blurb:

How do we effectively confront racial injustice? We need to move beyond talking about racism and start equipping ourselves to fight against it.

In this follow-up to the New York Times Bestseller the Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby offers an array of actionable items to confront racism. How to Fight Racism introduces a simple framework—the A.R.C. Of Racial Justice—that teaches readers to consistently interrogate their own actions and maintain a consistent posture of anti-racist behavior.

The A.R.C. Of Racial Justice is a clear model for how to think about race in productive ways:

  • Awareness: educate yourself by studying history, exploring your personal narrative, and grasping what God says about the dignity of the human person.
  • Relationships: understand the spiritual dimension of race relations and how authentic connections make reconciliation real and motivate you to act.
  • Commitment: consistently fight systemic racism and work for racial justice by orienting your life to it.

Tisby offers practical tools for following this model and suggests that by applying these principles, we can help dismantle a social hierarchy long stratified by skin color. He encourages rejection passivity and active participation in the struggle for human dignity. There is hope for transforming our nation and the world, and you can be part of the solution.

My Thoughts: This is a follow-up book by the same author. He really researches things well and writes well. What I really appreciated about this book is that he gave some concrete, practical suggesstions. Recommended.

My Rating: 5 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Zondervan (January 5, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 5, 2021
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 227 pages

An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

Book Blurb:

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

My Thoughts:

One of my co-workers is a big fan of Patrick Taylor’s series, so I decided to try a stand alone Christmas novel. I can see why she likes this series. It has likeable characters that I was interested in reading about and had a charming story as well. It’s a perfect Christmas read.

My Rating: 4 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Forge Books; 1st edition (October 12, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 208 pages

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

Book Blurb:

Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

My Thoughts:

I was in the mood before Christmas for some light Christmas books and decided to try one of Debbie Macombers’s. This was actually my first Debbie Macomber book which is hard to believe considering how popular she is. I definitely enjoyed this one, and it was just what I wanted. It’s a cute story with a bit of a different take on internet dating. You’ve got to love two people who are signed up on a service and use a picture of their dog as their profile picture. Macomber provides lots of humor in the story and created characters that I was pulling for.

My Rating: 4 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ballantine Books; First Edition (October 3, 2017)
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 272 pages

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

Book Blurb:

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love―but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit―beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

My Thoughts: Reading a Mary Kay Andrews book is like spending some cozy time with a good friend. She always tells a good story and captures my attention. This one was no exception, and I loved the sweet Christmas story. Although I’m writing this after Christmas, if you are still in the mood, read this quick book. If not, be sure to put it on your list for next year, and you won’t be disappointed.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ St. Martin’s Press (September 28, 2021)
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 224 pages

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Book Blurb:

Everyone has something to hide…

Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive, who just happens to be her white boss. But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice arrives in the executive suite and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.

And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.

But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace her boss. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined…

My Thoughts:

I have had this book on my radar for a while now after hearing the author being interviewed, and the fact that she lives in the area where I grew up, Atlanta, also drew me in. What a spectacular debut thriller she has created, too! I am so glad I finally decided to dive in. It is a wild ride thriller in the world of corporate lawyers with a fast pace that kept me engrossed in the book. If I didn’t know it was a thriller, I would have thought she was a well-seasoned author who has been publishing for years. In addition to the mystery of who killed one of the lawyers and the secrets uncovered, this book also portrays the difficulties women face in trying to climb the ladder to the top of their careers, and the added difficulties of being a black female. She also had an additional hurdle with a difficult past she is trying to put behind her. Racism is a theme in this highly recommended thriller. I’m eager to see what she does next.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow Paperbacks (November 2, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 2, 2021
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 384 pages

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Book Blurb:

LibraryReads Pick and named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Library Journal and Goodreads

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.

My Thoughts:

With my love of books and my library, it’s hard not to like a book about a library. What made this one special is that it is based on a true story about protecting the library and books during World War II. It is another historical fiction novel that is set during two time periods. The first is just before the war and moves into the war period while the other period is set in the 1980s. Even though both periods were necessary for the telling of the story, I enjoyed the one during the war the best. I think that was because there was always that element of suspense as to how they were going to manage and make it through a terrifying period. A friend of mine made a comment in her review that I often feel. The trend in books these days is to switch either between time periods or characters. They often are done well, but sometimes I just long for a chronological story with one narrator. This is one that I feel might have been better if that had been these case. I did enjoy the book and would recommend it lovers of historical fiction, WWII fiction and have a love of books.

My Rating: 4 Stars

  • Publisher : Atria Books (February 9, 2021)
  • Hardcover : 368 pages