Category Archives: William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Quiet Child by John Burley

Title: The Quiet Child by John Burley
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.

It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.

Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer—and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.

Review:

Set in the small town of Cottonwood, CA in 1954, The Quiet Child by John Burley  is a suspenseful mystery about the search for two kidnapped children.

How can an entire town blame a mute six year old boy for the ill health and death that have plagued them in recent years? Apparently quite easily in the absence of any other logical explanation. So when young Danny McCray and his ten year old brother Sean are kidnapped, does anyone outside of their parents, Michael and Kate, want them found? Thankfully part time Sheriff Jim Dent is not about to let fear and suspicion prevent him from doing everything he can to track down the kidnapper and rescue the boys before it is too late.

From the very second a stranger drives off in the McCray family car with Danny and Sean, there is an intense sense of urgency to locate the boys before something dire happens to them. Sheriff Dent is committed to finding the boys and he is completely honest with Detectives John Pierce and Tony DeLuca about the town’s opinion about Danny right from the very start. However, like Dent, both Pierce and DeLuca do not allow rumor and speculate interfere with the investigation and all three are committed to solving the crime. They are making very little progress in the days after the kidnapping but will Dent’s realization that Michael has gone looking for his sons change the course of the investigation? This discovery is the break they have been waiting for but can Dent, DeLuca and Pierce locate Michael in time to rescue him, Danny and Sean from a possibly dangerous situation?

While The Quiet Child is mainly a mystery, there is also a bit of a supernatural element to the storyline due to the speculation that Danny is somehow responsible for the town’s ill health and bad luck. The story weaves back and forth between the boys’ experiences at the kidnapper’s hands and the increasingly desperate manhunt and massive police search to locate them.  With no discernible motive for the kidnapping, plenty of action and some absolutely jaw-dropping plot twists, the novel is incredibly fast-paced with a compelling storyline. John Burley brings the novel to an astounding, twist-filled conclusion that will stun readers.

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Filed under Historical, Historical (50s), John Burley, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Quiet Child, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

Title: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In the vein of Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Renée Knight’s Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

Review:

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood slowly builds into a suspense-laden mystery with very unexpected twists and turns.

War correspondent Kate Rafter’s return to her childhood home following her mother’s death contributes to her increasingly fragile mental state. Her recent experiences in Syria are horrific and the events leading up to her last assignment play a fairly large role in her declining emotional stability. Kate is suffering from extensive post traumatic stress disorder which makes her an increasingly unreliable narrator when she begins seeing and hearing things that cannot be corroborated by anyone else. Much of her story is revealed through her sessions with Dr. Shaw and no one is quite sure what to believe about Kate’s recounting of extremely traumatic events that have recently occurred.

Kate’s narration comes to an abrupt and shocking end and the perspective then switches to that of her younger sister, Sally, who is a raging alcoholic. Their relationship is badly fractured but Kate make a valiant effort to get through to her sister on her visit home. Sally consumes copious amounts of wine and spends her days in a drunken stupor as she laments the rift with her daughter, Hannah, whom she has not seen in several years. Her husband, Paul Cheverell is incredibly patient with her but their marriage is definitely breathing its last gasp. After a surprise visitor appears on her doorstep, Sally finally sobers up long enough to remember a desperate request from Kate. Will she then uncover the truth about whether or not Kate’s experiences at their childhood home are real or imagined?

A dark, twisted and incredibly atmospheric tale, My Sister’s Bones is an intriguing mystery that is initially somewhat slow-paced but dramatically hurtles to a twist-filled and shocking conclusion. Nuala Ellwood’s extensive research and subsequent portrayal of the devastating effects of PTSD are hard-hitting and incredibly realistic. Kate is a sympathetic character whose intentions to expose the damages of war are noble and eventually take a horrific toll on her psyche.It is impossible to predict what direction the storyline is going until the absolutely jaw-dropping plot twist. From that point, the novel moves at a breakneck speed in the aftermath of stunning revelations. An outstanding debut that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, My Sister's Bones, Mystery, Nuala Ellwood, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

Title: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear
Butternut Lake Series Book Five
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear brings you home to Butternut Lake and a novel filled with irresistible characters who you will want to call your friends.

It’s summertime on Butternut Lake, where the heat of noon is soothed by the cool breezes of the evening, where the pace grows slower, and sometimes, just sometimes, the summer light makes everything clearer…

For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the place she feels most at home, even though lately she feels the only one listening to her is Murphy…her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke’s father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones where everything ends in perfection.

But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past—the death of her father, the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy, even the return of Wesley, will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others…and realize that happiness doesn’t always mean perfection.

Review:

The Light in Summer, the newest addition to Mary McNear’s delightful Butternut Lake series, is another heartwarming novel of family, love and new beginnings. Although this latest release is the fifth in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Single mom and head librarian Billy Harper is going through a bit of rough patch with her thirteen year old son Luke.  The normally co-operative and outgoing teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble and refusing to talk to his mom.  So when Billy meets Cal Cooper at a wedding, she is not sure the timing is right to bring a new man into their lives, but can she ignore the sparks that are flying between them?

After Billy unexpectedly became pregnant just as she finishing high school, her parents were extremely supportive and helpful.  However, five years earlier, Billy knew the time was right for her and Luke to strike out on their own and they moved to Butternut Lake. She and Luke have always been close so she is deeply trouble by the recent changes in her soon and she is at a loss as she tries to bridge the gap between them. Billy has not dated much over the years and she is quite surprised by how much she enjoys spending time with Cal.  The timing is definitely not right for a new relationship but Billy finds Cal much too irresistible to resist.

Cal’s life is in the midst of huge upheaval when he decides to spend the summer in Butternut Lake. He is looking forward to relaxing as he contemplates the next stage in his life.  Like Billy, Cal is not really looking for love but he is quite open to exploring their unexpected attraction. His laidback and easygoing acceptance of the complications in her life is quite refreshing but will their romance last once summer is over?

The Light in Summer is an engrossing, feel-good read that old and new fans of the Butternut Lake series are going to love. The characters are multi-dimensional with realistic strengths and true to life problems to overcome. Butternut Lake is a wonderfully charming community with eclectic yet caring residents.  Cal and Billy are appealing protagonists and their relationship is an absolute joy to watch unfold. Mary McNear continues to keep this wonderful series fresh and inviting with interesting storylines and the introduction of new characters.  Another outstanding visit in Butternut Lake that will leave readers grinning from ear to ear as Cal, Billy and Luke’s story comes to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mary McNear, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Butternut Lake Series, The Light in Summer, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction

Review: Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Title: Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis
Wildstone Series Book One
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes her first women’s fiction novel—an unforgettable story of friendship, love, family, and sisterhood—perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover, Susan Mallery, and Kristan Higgins.

They say life can change in an instant…

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.

Review:

The first installment in Jill Shalvis’s new Wildstone series, Lost and Found Sisters is a spectacular story that is part women’s fiction, part romance and 100% heartwarming.

Quinn Weller has a fabulous relationship with her parents and a wonderful job she loves as a sous chef.  However, in the two years since her beloved sister Beth’s death, she has been emotionally shut down as she tries to navigate through life without her best friend by her side.  She has not been interested in anyone romantically since she stopped dating her longtime friend Brock Holbrook.  Quinn’s world is turned upside down a second time when lawyer Cliff Porter gives her stunning news that leaves her questioning everything about her life. Quinn makes a snap decision to go to Wildstone, CA in an effort to sort through her confusion.

Mick Hennessey worked hard to leave Wildstone and his controlling father behind once he graduated from high school.  With a successful career and life in San Francisco, he has only returned to his small hometown sporadically over the years. However, after his father’s unexpected death, Mick finds himself traveling back and forth between Wildstone and San Francisco as tries to help his mom deal with her loss.  He is not looking for another complication in his life when he meets Quinn, but there is an incredible amount of chemistry between them that is impossible to resist.

The surprises keep coming once Quinn visits Wildstone but she is extremely conflicted about what to do with the unexpected changes that are occurring in her life. She is understandably upset about a shocking revelation and she is extremely hurt by a lie of omission. Quinn is charmed by Wildstone but she is quite happy with her life in LA. However, she is torn by a decision she needs to make that will have far reaching implications for many other people. Her unanticpated feelings for Mick add to her confusion, but can Quinn bring herself to give up the man who is responsible for bringing her long dormant emotions (and libido) back to life?

Mick also finds himself standing at an unexpected crossroad.  He is extremely satisfied with his life in San Francisco but he is also quite dismayed to discover his hometown is slowly dying.  As he sorts through the detritus of his dad’s life, Mick is surprised by his new perspective on his childhood and a new understanding of his father.  Despite the fact he was not looking for love, Mick is comfortable with his new relationship with Quinn and he is willing to give her the time and space she needs to figure out her life. However, his patience has limits and their future together is far from certain.

Lost and Found Sisters is a breathtaking journey of healing, new beginnings and love. Jill Shalvis brings the town and its inhabitants vibrantly to life. The characters are incredibly appealing as they navigate their way through the unexpected twists and turns.  I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this charming first installment in the Wildwood series to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jill Shalvis, Lost and Found Sisters, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Wildstone Series, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Title: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 528 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Review:

Featuring factual information about World War I and World War II, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is an enthralling novel about the real life network of women spies.

In 1947, nineteen year old Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair has a “Little Problem” that her mother is taking her to Switzerland to fix. On a stopover in England, Charlie takes a detour to try and locate her cousin, Rose Fournier, who disappeared from Nazi occupied France in 1944. Charlie hopes to enlist the help of Evelyn “Eve” Gardiner but the hard drinking recluse is initially unwilling to aid her on her search. Eve’s interest is piqued once she realizes Rose is connected to a French restaurant owner named René, a name that she recognizes from her distant past.  Accompanied by Eve’s driver, Finn Kilgore, the trio quickly embarks on a journey that will hopefully end in redemption but could possibly result in might end in heartbreak.

Until deciding to search for Rose, Charlie has always gone along with her  parents’ plans for her with only a few minor rebellions. Despite her above average intelligence, she is expected to come back from college with a fiancé not a degree. However, after her family suffers a tragic loss, Charlie falls into a depression which leads to very uncharacteristic behavior, an out of wedlock pregnancy and no husband on the horizon. Her decision to find Rose is, in her mind, her last chance for redemption and Charlie refuses to believe that her search for her cousin might not provide her the answer she is hoping for.

Eve is battling plenty of demons of her own and she wants nothing more than to be left alone to drink her problems away. However, once she hears the name René and his connection to a restuarant, nothing will stop her from finding him and she agrees to use her contacts to help Charlie search for Rose.  Eve has a very good reason to find René but she will have to confront the very heartbreaking memories of her past during their quest.

Effortlessly weaving back and forth in time, The Alice Network is a poignant novel that does not downplay the horrors of war or its aftermath. Kate Quinn’s impeccable research brings both time periods and the various settings vibrantly to life. Historically accurate events and people are seamlessly combined with the fictional elements which results in a richly detailed and engrossing story that is impossible to put down. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this incredibly fascinating and emotionally compelling novel.

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Filed under Fiction, Historical, Historical (40s), Kate Quinn, Rated B+, Review, The Alice Network, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

Title: The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

From the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.

Review:

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day is an intriguing mystery about a missing young boy.

Anna Winger is a handwriting analyst who assists federal and local law enforcement with a variety of cases. When two year old Aidan Ransey goes missing, she is asked to aid Sheriff Russ Keller with the investigation. Keller reluctantly turns documents relevant to kidnapping over to Anna but the two continue to clash over his lack of cooperation with her requests. Anna is also growing increasingly concerned over her thirteen year old son Joshua’s increasingly troubling behavior.  When Joshua  begins asking difficult questions that she is reluctant to answer, Anna eventually has no choice but to face the past she has been running from for over thirteen years.

Anna was forced to make a rather decision years earlier which has resulted in an itinerant, solitary lifestyle for her and Joshua.  Having recently relocated to Parks, Indiana, Anna is already second guessing whether or not she made the right choice to settle in the small town. Seriously lacking the anonymity she desperately needs to feel safe, the missing person’s case attracts far more attention that she desires. She is also rather troubled by the parallels between herself and Aidan’s mom, Leila Ransey.  She is already struggling to maintain her objectivity as she examines the documents associated with the disappearance when she meets Aidan’s father, Bo. Their encounters bring back unpleasant memories of her own past and Anna continues to worry about whether or not she can remain impartial during the investigation.

Adding to Anna’s discomfort is Sheriff Keller’s skepticism about the veracity of handwriting analysis. His office is on the periphery of the investigation but he continues to follow leads in an effort to locate the missing boy.  A shocking murder adds another complication to the case and Keller reluctantly continues to seek assistance from Anna as they recover documents that are pertinent to the investigation. Their interactions continue to be a little adversarial as Anna offers her expert opinion on the evidence he provides for her analysis.

The pacing of the novel is somewhat slow as Anna becomes increasingly introspective during the investigation. Her self-confidence is gradually undetermined as she juggles her professional duties with the increasingly tense situation with Joshua. Completely out of her depth as she deals with her suddenly tumultuous relationship with Joshua, Anna is stunned when he takes matters into his own hands after she fails to give him the answers he desperately needs.  With nowhere else to turn, Anna is forced to return to the place where her life went so tragically wrong but will she find what she is searching for?

With an unusual premise and a unique lead protagonist, The Day I Died is a compelling mystery with plenty of twists and turns. Despite the suspense surrounding Aidan’s disappearance, the storyline quickly becomes bogged down in the secrets of Anna’s past. However, the various story arcs finally come together in a rather unexpected (and far too coincidental) manner. Lori Rader-Day brings the novel to an action-filled conclusion that neatly ties up all of the loose ends.

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Filed under Contemporary, Lori Rader-Day, Mystery, Rated C+, Review, Suspense, The Day I Died, William Morrow Paperbacks