Category Archives: Rated B

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

Title: The Child by Fiona Barton
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense.

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

Review:

The Child by Fiona Barton is an intriguing mystery about a newspaper reporter who is pursuing a story about the recent discovery of a baby’s skeleton at a construction site.

Newspaper reporter Kate Waters’ instincts are immediately piqued after reading a story about of the unearthing of baby’s skeletonized remains and she quickly begins looking into the case. At the same time, the newspaper story is quite upsetting to Emma Simmonds, an emotionally fragile wife of a university professor and Angela Irving, whose newborn daughter was kidnapped from a maternity ward in 1970.  Kate’s research leads her to Angela who has never given up hope she will one day find out what happened to baby Alice and she eagerly co-operates with both Kate and the police who trying to identify the remains. Emma, on the other hand, is immediately filled with dread as she scours the newspapers daily for new developments in the case. Kate is, of course, interested in breaking a big story but she also becomes emotionally involved in learning the truth after she interviews Angela.  Will Kate uncover the truth about the baby’s identity?

Kate’s newspaper is in the midst of another round of employee cuts so she is definitely feeling the pressure to break a huge story. She has been in the business long enough to have a decent list of police contacts who give her just enough information for her to begin her investigation.  Initially keeping quiet about the story she is researching, Kate is instrumental helping the police discover the identity of the baby’s remains. The case then takes an unexpected turn and Kate is hot on the trail of story that she knows is going to be huge.

Angela cannot help but hope the discovery of the baby’s skeleton will finally give her the answers she has been searching for about baby Alice’s disappearance.  Despite having her hopes raised and dashed a few times over the years, Angela is certain the remains are Alice’s.  If she is correct, will she find out the truth about what happened to her daughter? Or will she forever wonder who is responsible for kidnapping her baby?

Emma’s emotional troubles first surfaced when she was a teenager but her depression and anxiety have been much improved for quite some time. The newspaper article sends her on a downward spiral and she is very distracted as the story unfolds. It soon becomes obvious she is heavily burdened by a secret from her long ago past, but Emma finds it impossible to discuss what is haunting her. With every new revelation about the baby, Emma becomes even more fearful that the truth about what she has been hiding will be discovered.

The Child is initially somewhat slow paced as Fiona Barton introduces readers to the key players in the unfolding mystery. Kate tenaciously follows each and every lead she uncovers but she is having a very difficult time figuring out exactly how the disparate pieces of the puzzle fit together.  Angela is desperate for answers about what happened to her baby and she is a very sympathetic character. Emma is a little harder to read and the truth about her past takes a very long time to be revealed.  Astute readers will mostly likely figure out the connection between the various storylines fairly early, but this knowledge does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the novel. While there are very surprises left by the novel’s conclusion, there is one final revelation that is instrumental in tying up all of the loose ends.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Fiona Barton, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Child

Review: Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

Title: Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.
Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can’t bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.

If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw’s whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact…

I’ve spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn’t been another girl.

And now there is.

Review:

Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin is a gritty, suspense-laden mystery.

In the ten years since her pedophile kidnapper inexplicably freed her, Laine Moreno has never fully recovered from her three year ordeal. Now twenty-three, she holds down two jobs to support herself and she relies on alcohol and drugs to keep her dark memories at bay. Laine comes face to face with her past when ten year old Olivia Shaw goes missing and Detective Sean Ortiz suspects there is a connection between Laine’s still unsolved case and Olivia’s kidnapping. Laine wants nothing more than to help find the young girl, but will she help or hinder the investigation?

Laine’s ordeal at the hands of abductor was horrendous but little was done to find her captor after her release. The daughter of a junkie, Laine was quickly forgotten as she became a ward of the state and soon turned to unhealthy methods of coping with what happened to her. Now on probation and still undergoing counseling, Laine is her own worst enemy as she numbs her pain with a plethora of prescription drug addictions and alcohol. She wants to help rescue Olivia, but Laine is impulsive and unable to cope with the traumatic memories from her time in captivity.

Since Olivia is from a wealthy family, her disappearance is a high profile case with intense media scrutiny. There is also a great deal of pressure on the police to locate the missing girl and Sean’s reason for reaching out to Laine is two-fold: rule her out as a suspect and check to see if she has recalled any new details about her own case.  Laine implicitly trusts Sean due to their history but is her faith in him misplaced? Laine soon discovers she can rely on no one but herself as she continues trying to find Olivia on her own while she becomes progressively more paranoid as her downward spiral continues.

With plenty of unexpected twists and turns and an increasingly unreliable narrator, Girl Last Seen is a somewhat dark mystery that delves into some difficult subject matter. Although Laine is initially a sympathetic protagonist, it is easy to become frustrated with her erratic behavior and poor choices.  Sean is not exactly impartial when it comes to Laine and he, too, makes some very ill-advised decisions. Nina Laurin brings the investigation to an adrenaline-fueled (but slightly improbably) conclusion and the novel ends on a surprisingly upbeat note.

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Filed under Contemporary, Girl Last Seen, Grand Central Publishing, Mystery, Nina Laurin, Rated B, Review, Suspense

Review: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron

Title: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

An addictive novel of psychological suspense from the award-winning author of Night Night, Sleep Tight, about three generations of women haunted by a little girl’s disappearance, and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to the truth . . .

Seven-year-old Lissie Woodham and her four-year-old sister Janey were playing with their porcelain dolls in the front yard when an adorable puppy scampered by. Eager to pet the pretty dog, Lissie chased after the pup as it ran down the street. When she returned to the yard, Janey’s precious doll was gone . . . and so was Janey.

Forty years after Janey went missing, Lis—now a mother with a college-age daughter of her own—still blames herself for what happened. Every year on the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places a classified ad in the local paper with a picture of the toy Janey had with her that day—a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll—offering a generous cash reward for its return. For years, there’s been no response. But this year, the doll came home.

It is the first clue in a decades-old mystery that is about to turn into something far more sinister—endangering Lis and the lives of her mother and daughter as well. Someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and is desperate to keep it hidden.

Review:

You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery that centers around the forty year disappearance of Janey Woodham.

Every year on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Miss Sorrel Woodham runs a newspaper ad offering a reward for the return of Janey’s porcelain doll which vanished along with the long missing girl. This year, a young woman brings a doll that Miss Sorrel is certain belongs to her daughter. However, Lis Strenger, who continues to feel guilty for her sister’s disappearance, is not as convinced. That same evening, an inexplicable explosion injures both women and when Lis’s daughter Vanessa returns to the family home, she is confused to discover Miss Sorrel’s prized doll collection has been stolen.  Equally puzzling is next door neighbor and family friend Evelyn Dumont’s insistence that Miss Sorrel’s conviction the porcelain doll belongs to Janey is nothing more than wishful thinking. Lis and Vanessa decide to locate the young woman who delivered the doll but will they find the answers they are searching for?

Lis wants nothing more than to find out the truth about what happened to Janey, so she is impatient with the local police department’s lack of urgency in locating the woman who brought them the doll. With Vanessa’s help, they quickly uncover the identity and address of the person they are searching for. Their arrival at the Maggie Richards’ home is just the first of many surprises surrounding Maggie and her mom, Jenny.

Despite police assurance they are taking the situation seriously, Lis continues her own investigation. She is puzzled when information she uncovers is quickly contradicted by the police.  Are her results wrong? Or is there a more sinister reason for the discrepancy?  Lis cannot begin to guess who would want to interfere with the investigation but she refuses to stop searching for the truth about what happened to Janey. The discovery that another young girl connected to her mother’s porcelain doll business also disappeared years after Janey’s kidnapping is yet another shocking bit of news and Lis is determined to continue looking for the truth. How far will the perpetrator go to keep their long buried secrets from being uncovered?

You’ll Never Know, Dear is an intriguing mystery that fans of the genre will enjoy. The storyline is unusual and the creepy porcelain dolls are shudder inducing.  While it is rather easy to guess the identity of the kidnapper, the motive for the crime remains elusive.  Hallie Ephron brings this suspense-laden mystery to an action-filled, satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Hallie Ephron, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow, You'll Never Know Dear

Review: The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

Title: The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 378 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all…

Review:

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is an emotional family drama about a movie star and her dysfunctional relationship with her three daughters.

Ronni Sunshine never quite reached the pinnacle of stardom she hoped for and her quest for success and self-centered behavior took a huge toll on her marriage and daughters.  Her three daughters dealt with her volatile behavior in very different ways. Oldest daughter Nell is indifferent to her mother’s rage-filled diatribes and she shuts down when faced with conflict. Middle child Meredith is a people pleaser with extremely low self-worth due to her mother’s cutting remarks about her appearance and weight. Youngest daughter Lizzy is spoiled, selfish and acts without considering how her choices affect others. The three girls left home as soon as possible and over the years they have grown estranged from their mother and each other.  Living completely separate lives with little interaction with one another, Nell, Meredith and Lizzy come together at Ronni’s request but is it too late to repair their fractured relationships?

Nell found solace working on a farm not too far from her family’s home and after becoming a single mom at a young age, she devoted her life to her son.  Content to raise her son on her own while running the farm, she never really thinks too much about her lack of companionship.  After her son goes off to college then grad school, Nell is finally ready to begin dating but has the time for romance passed her by?

Meredith calls England home and despite the distance between her and Ronni, she still lacks confidence and turns to food for comfort. Now an accountant, she is engaged to a handsome, successful man that no one in her family cares for.  Meredith is not exactly thrilled with how he controls nearly every aspect of her life, but her insecurities make it impossible for her stand up for herself. The trip back home is fraught with tension but Meredith is enjoying the freedom to express herself without her overbearing fiancé by her side.  When faced with the prospect of returning to her regular life, will Meredith be able to go back to a life that no longer feels right?

Lizzy has a wildly successful career as a chef but her selfish and thoughtless choices might destroy her marriage.  She is impulsive but well-liked and respected by the people who work for her. Never having dealt with the consequences of her actions, is it too late for Lizzy to repair the mistakes she has made?

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is an engrossing novel of forgiveness, healing and redemption. Ronni’s decision to bring her daughters to her side is not exactly selfless, but the reunion does provide Nell, Meredith and Lizzy the opportunity to reconnect and move past some of their emotional wounds. The storyline is bit predictable, but the growth of the characters is quite satisfying. An overall entertaining read with emotional depth that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Jane Green, Rated B, Review, The Sunshine Sisters, Women's Fiction

Review: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

Title: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In this powerful, affecting debut, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.

Review:

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan is an intriguing novel about a young woman who is haunted by the death of her best friend ten years earlier.

Although Julie Portland managed to escape from the small southern town where she grew up, she  is still haunted by the death of her best friend Reba McLeod. While the events surrounding Reba’s fateful fall from a bridge are hazy, Julie is certain she is responsible for her friend’s death. Haunted by her memories, she is barely getting by as she raises her five her old daughter, Beck, in New York City. When Reba’s former boyfriend August Elliott tracks Julie down and begs her to return to Lawrence Mill, Mississippi to find Reba’s diary, she reluctantly agrees to his plan. Will finding Reba’s long lost diary provide Julie and August the answers they both need to finally lay the ghosts of their pasts to rest?

Best friends from the moment they met when they were five years old, Julie and Reba are thick as thieves until their senior year in high school. The two begin growing apart soon after the school year starts and Julie begins practicing for an upcoming play. Reba continues working in the local flower shop where she meets newcomer August Elliot. Immediately attracted to the young man, the two begin secretly dating since Reba’s bigoted father will not approve of his daughter having an African American boyfriend.

Julie knows that Reba is keeping a secret from her and after she sees her leaving her cousin Toby’s bedroom late one night, she is stunned by his revelation.  Julie and Reba have a huge fight over this disclosure and although they finally make up, things are not quite the same between them. Reba’s behavior is completely out of character and Julie wants to get to the bottom of what is happening with her best friend.  However, before she can uncover the truth, Reba is dead and soon after, Julie leaves for college.

Julie and August’s return to Lawrence Mill quickly resurrects their unsettled feelings about the events leading up to Reba’s tragic death. Despite repeated warnings to leave the past alone, Julie finally locates Reba’s diary.  The diary entries are somewhat shocking since Reba wrote detailed accounts of exactly what she doing in the months before falling from bridge. Both Julie and August are stunned to discover the truth about Reba but will this newfound knowledge help them come to terms with the demons that have plagued them for so long?

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan is a captivating novel of healing and redemption.  Written from multiple points of view (including Reba’s diary entries), the story unfolds in a leisurely fashion that quite is riveting. With unexpected twists and turns, this well-written, suspenseful read comes to a completely satisfying and somewhat surprising conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Haley Harrigan, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Secrets of Southern Girls, Sourcebooks Landmark, Women's Fiction

Review: Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow

Title: Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow
Colorado Ice Series Book Three
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

THE GAME OF HIS LIFE

Hockey player Ben Westmore has some serious skills—on and off the ice—and he’s not above indulging in the many perks of NHL stardom. When a night in Vegas ends in disaster, he realizes two things: 1) it’s time to lie low for a while, and 2) he needs a lawyer—fast. But the smoking-hot woman who walks into his office immediately tests all his good intentions.

Olivia Davis doesn’t need anyone derailing her career—or her dreams of starting a family—least of all a skirt-chasing player like Ben. But soon he’s unleashing a full-court press to convince her that he’s the real deal. She’s slowly falling for his sweet, rugged charm, but with so much on the line, Olivia has to decide whether Ben can truly change—or if he’s just playing the game.

Review:

Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow is an utterly charming and extremely heartwarming romance. Although it is the second installment in the Colorado Ice series, it can be read as a standalone.

Professional hockey player and MVP Ben Westmore does not need any distractions since his team is about to begin the playoffs. Unfortunately, what happens in Vegas does not necessarily stay in Vegas and Ben’s playboy ways has landed him in a very tricky problem. Desperately trying to extricate himself from the situation without attracting any publicity, Ben also has to deal with his unexpected attraction to opposing attorney Olivia Miles.

When the two first meet, Olivia is on the cusp of making some huge changes in her personal life. Professionally, she is a well-respected divorce attorney who represents the wives who are divorcing their professional athlete husbands. Olivia is also a little lonely since she recently moved to Denver from LA and her only living relative recently passed away. After meeting Ben, she begins to have a few doubts about a recent decision, but she does not let her misgivings stand in the way of pursuing her dream.

Ben cannot stop thinking about Olivia and although any type of relationship is completely inappropriate, he arranges a couple of “accidental” meetings between them. Neither of them can deny their attraction to one another but ethically, Olivia should not be seeing him since she is on the other side of his legal situation. However, once she disentangles herself from the case, Olivia and Ben are free to date. Despite her reservations, Olivia agrees to go out with Ben, but is there any chance for a future together once she makes a surprising announcement?

Maybe This Love is an entertaining romance with a wonderful cast of lovable characters. The premise of the story is rather unique and Jennifer Snow skillfully inserts a few obstacles for Olivia and Ben to navigate on their way to happily ever after. This newest addition to the Colorado Ice series is a captivating love story that old and new fans do not want to miss.

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Filed under Colorado Ice Series, Contemporary, Forever, Jennifer Snow, Maybe This Love, Rated B, Review, Romance