New Release Spotlight! Mary Alice Monroe’s Latest Beach Read Summer of Lost and Found

Pull out the beach chairs! Mary Alice Monroe has given us a new beach read. I’m a sucker for southern women authors so I’m kicking off my summer reading frenzy with this one!

The New York Times bestselling Beach House series returns with this tender and compassionate novel following the Rutledge family as they face a summer of upheaval and change with perseverance, unity, and a dose of humor, discovering unexpected joys and lessons that will endure long past the season.

The coming of Spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, Spring 2020 threatens stagnation. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her—and her family—finances, emotions, and health teeter at the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time?

Love in the time of the coronavirus proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons learned during this summer than opportunities lost, that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards. In The Summer of Lost and Found, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired fans for decades.

Mary Alice Monroe once again delves into the complexities of family relationships and brings her signature “sensitive and true” (Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling to this poignant and timely novel of love, courage, and resilience.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe

New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to coastal South Carolina. Already a successful author, she was captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home. Her experiences living in the midst of a habitat that was quickly changing gave her a strong and important focus for her novels. She writes richly textured books that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. Her novels are published worldwide. With the same heart of conservation, Monroe has written two children’s picture books as well. She lives with her family on a barrier island outside Charleston, South Carolina and is an active conservationist, serving on the South Carolina Aquarium Board Emeritis, The Leatherback Trust, The Pat Conroy Literary Center Honorary Board, and Casting Carolinas Advisory Board. For additional information on the environmental topics in Mary Alice’s novels, visit her Conservation page.

Connect with Mary Alice Monroe

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Note: I am an Amazon Associate and may receive a small commission from book sales.

Books I Love! Harmels’ The Book of Lost Names is Swoonworthy

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice NetworkThe Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

My Take

I am newly in love with this author, Kristin Harmel. The Book of Lost Names is a World War II novel told from the resistance movement in France that is engrossing and full of the “feels,” a love story, a war story, and so much more. Definitely swoonworthy.

Eva is a young college student interested in not much more than books, a good Jewish girl who strives to please her parents. But when the Nazis tear them apart she is thrust into a new world that puts her and her mother in danger for their lives and introduces her to a priest and a young forger, Remy, furiously working to save as many Jews as they can. Together they work at their own peril to create the “papers” that will allow these people – including children – to escape to Switzerland and safety.

The story is told in two parts: Eva looking back as an old woman and the story’s unfolding in real time during the war. We learn of Eva and Remy’s slow growing deep love for each other, and Eva’s mother’s refusal to accept what is really happening to them, and the fate of her husband, who was sent east to Auschwitz, and her bitterness at her daughter’s dedication to the resistance. Through it all we see Eva’s efforts to remain true to her Jewish faith and her parents’ expectations for her, resulting in her losing the love of her life.

This is a gripping read that I will remember for a long time. I’m especially thrilled that this author has an undiscovered backlist for me to enjoy this summer. Highly recommended for those who like World War II dramas based on actual circumstances and rich research.

About the Author

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into 28 languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE magazine while still in college and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features–tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz and has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She is the co-founder and co-host of the popular web series and podcast FRIENDS & FICTION.

Connect with Kristin Harmel

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The Grief Diary: Mother’s Day

Exploring the Aftermath of Love and Loss. This is the sixth in this series.

No mother deserved accolades for Mother’s Day more than mine. Widowed at 48 with four children aged 10 to 15, she worked as a key punch operator for a men’s clothing retailer, a job she would hold for 25 years. She managed to hang on to our house. We were never hungry and did not know how precarious our financial situation was from week to week. She raised all of us to adulthood with an iron fist, ensuring we’d escape the missteps many young people raised in the city often make: unintended pregnancy, dropping out of school, substance abuse, incarceration. This was due to her fierce discipline, unconditional love, and huge faith.

A Life Built on Faith

Mom was deeply religious – 12 years of Catholic school – and had a commitment to God and church that lasted all of her 91 years. As a girl and as a young woman she went to church daily, a habit she picked up again after her retirement. She’d be out the door before 8 am for morning mass well into her mid-80’s. She prayed constantly. “I don’t make a move without Jesus,” she said. She often prayed to win money on lottery tickets or at Bingo to cover unexpected expenses, and she won, big jackpots. A $500 win once or even twice a month was not a surprise. She was lucky, or, as she said, “blessed.”

Playing bingo at the Club House.

A Promise

One sunny morning, years ago, we sat at the kitchen table having coffee, plotting our next adventure. She suddenly became serious and grasped my hand tightly in hers. “Look at me,” she said, and I gave her my full attention. “When I die,” she continued, “don’t be sad, don’t cry, because I’ll be with Jesus, and I’ve been waiting for that all my life.”

I took her words to heart, even pronounced them at her funeral to let others know not to be sad she’s gone. And for the most part I’m not sad she’s no longer here. I think of her every day, several times, but most of the time tears do not sting my eyes. I remember her words and think of her with Jesus, with my dad, and her second husband, and her mom, and all the others who left this earth before she did, and now my brother Vic. They must be having a good time together in heaven. I hope there’s Bingo, and lots of lottery scratch tickets.

Remembering the Laughter, and the Fun

On this Mother’s Day I think of her and send kisses up to heaven, hoping she’ll catch them. I remember how funny she was, especially at the end of her life. I enjoyed her company so much during that time, in spite of her illness and debility and the difficulties they caused. We always made time to laugh.

Mom loved to be the center of attention and loved to have her picture taken. These shots were taken in the Memorial Garden at the nursing facility where she recovered from a fractured hip. I posed her with the blue hydrangeas and my daughter snapped the photos of her making funny faces, pure Marge. Then she added Snapchat filters and boy, did Mom laugh to see herself this way. She was a ham, and God, did I love her.

I miss her.

I know that Mother’s Day can be controversial. No one is guaranteed a good mother. Women who have been the best of mothers are still abandoned or neglected by their children. Women who yearn for children may never have them.The world is full of women with broken hearts, and hurting children too. Mother’s Day can open wounds, trigger old pain and hurt. On this day, let’s celebrate the women in our lives who have nurtured us, regardless of our relationship. Mothering can come in many ways.

A Mother’s Day Giveaway

In honor of mothers – birth moms, step moms, grandmothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, pregnant mothers, mothers of lost children – I have two free books to offer you. One is my novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. All of my stories have strong women at their core, and Sara, in Blue Hydrangeas, who has lost a daughter and carried on, is one of them. The Kindle edition is free through May 10th. Get it here.

And I’m offering free copies of AlzAuthors first anthology Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiving Stories for free on Kindle as well. AlzAuthors, my non-profit, is the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience to light the way for others. In this book, 58 authors tell their deeply personal stories about caring for a loved one, often a mother. The stories are short and make for good reading if you’re a caregiver or just interested in the disease. Get it here through May 10th.

Please share both free books with your moms, friends, family, and fellow readers or caregivers.

An Invitation

Please take this journey with me. We can communicate with one another in the comments, perhaps find healing together. Subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications of new posts. Thank you.

New Release Spotlight! Start Your Beach Reading with Family Reunion, Nancy Thayer’s Latest

I can never wait for a new release by one of my favorite authors, Nancy Thayer, whom I had the privilege to meet a few years ago at a bookshop on Nantucket. She graciously accepted the gift of a copy of my newly published Blue Hydrangeas. I wonder if she ever read it? Here she is again with another one of her charming Nantucket stories sure to bring me back to The Faraway Land. You should go there, but if you can’t, read Nancy’s books.

Description

A longtime Nantucket resident is trying to make the best of a lonely summer. Her spirited granddaughter is learning what she wants out of life. Unforgettable surprises await them both in this magical, multigenerational novel from New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer.

Eleanor Sunderland loves living on Nantucket, in a gorgeous cliffside home that has been in her family for decades. Yet this year she can’t help but feel a bit isolated, even as the island begins to come alive with summer tourists and travelers. Her best friend has skipped town on a last-minute cruise, leaving Eleanor feeling lonely and nostalgic about her family’s weekend trips to the island, made less frequently in the years since her husband’s passing. Now, her money-driven children contact her mostly to complain and to beg her to sell her beloved home for a steep payout. Hoping to kick the season off on a good note, Eleanor decides her seventieth birthday may be the perfect occasion for a much-needed reunion.

Fresh off the heels of her college graduation, Eleanor’s dear granddaughter, Ari, has just ended an engagement that felt less like true love and more like a chore. She longs for a change of scenery and to venture far from her parents’ snobbish expectations. Taking advantage of her newfound freedom, she heads to Nantucket to clear her head before graduate school, moving in with her grandmother and taking a job at the local beach camp. As she watches Eleanor begin to form a bond with an old acquaintance, Ari herself becomes completely smitten with a friend’s charming older brother. But just as grandmother and granddaughter fall into a carefree routine, a few shocking discoveries throw them off course, and their ideas of the future seem suddenly uncertain.

Eleanor and Ari make exciting connections, old and new, over the course of an unpredictable, life-changing few months, and learn to lean on each other through every new challenge they face in life and love, in this tale filled with Nancy Thayer’s signature Nantucket magic.

“Readers come to Nancy Thayer novels for the idyllic Nantucket beaches and lifestyle, but they stay for the characters.”—New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe

About the Author

I grew up in Kansas, surrounded by prairie, but thirty-five years ago I came to Nantucket to visit a friend who introduced me to the love of my life. Charley and I have now lived on Nantucket for 33 years–year-round, as we say, so I have a special feeling for this island and for the people who come here. I love the island most in the winter when the waves crash dramatically on the shore.

I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and I still go to KC often to visit my darling baby sister, who inspires many of the characters in my book. Yes, she is blond, and yes, she is 9 years younger than I am. I still love her.

For a few years, I taught freshman English in several states, and had short stories published in literary reviews. My first novel, Stepping, was published by Doubleday in 1980, and started me off on the career I’ve always wanted. I was a Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 1980 and in 2015, I received the RT Career Achievement Award.

I’ve published 30 novels–all available on Amazon–including Secrets in Summer, The Island House, The Guest Cottage, Nantucket Sisters, and Island Girls. A Nantucket Wedding was my 30th. The upcoming Surfside Sisters will be out July, 2019! Champagne for everyone!

When I’m not writing novels–all 30 are available on Amazon–I’m walking the beach with my husband or entertaining our 4 grandchildren & their parents & our friends. All my novels are about family and friendships, which I believe are the foundation of a happy, if complicated, life.

Connect with Nancy Thayer

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Books I Love! The Girls Are All (Not) So Nice Here, a Chilling Thriller

Two former best friends return to their college reunion to find that they’re being circled by someone who wants revenge for what they did ten years before—and will stop at nothing to get it—in this shocking psychological thriller about ambition, toxic friendship, and deadly desire.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

My Take

Don’t start this if you have to get up early. This one will keep you flipping pages and then leave you with a book hangover. I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters at the heart of the story, Ambrosia and Sully, two of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever encountered. They’re so much “girls you love to hate” that I couldn’t look away. Both of them are beautiful, narcissistic, insecure, dangerous villains who team up to wreak havoc on the guys and girls who unfortunately enter their orbit at school, resulting in the tragic death of an innocent girl who unwittingly gets in their way. I think the story goes a little too far and the ending is a bit neat, but Ambrosia and Sully each meet satisfying (and well deserved) endings. Recommended for those who like a suspense novel with characters you love to hate.

About the Author

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a former model who lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and three children. She is the author of three young adult novels: Firsts, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, along with Last Girl Lied To and All Eyes on Her, under the name L.E. Flynn. Her adult debut, The Girls Are All So Nice Here, has sold in eleven territories and has been optioned for television by AMC. Visit her website LaurieElizabethFlynn.com or connect with her on Twitter @LaurEllizabeth.

New Release Spotlight! Brenda Novak’s Latest, The Bookstore on the Beach, a Perfect Summer Read

I’m definitely putting this one into my beach bag! I’ve never seen a bookstore on the beach but I have seen one of those Little Free Libraries, where you can leave a book for someone else to pick up, on Cape Cod at Corn HIll Beach in Truro. Fun Fact: A pivotal scene in my novel Blue Hydrangeas takes place at this beach.

Description

How do you start a new chapter of your life when you haven’t closed the book on the previous one?

Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

“A heart-tugging romance. Readers are sure to be sucked in.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

A page-turner with a deep heart.”—Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Summer  

About the Author

It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s career as a bestselling author–she caught her day-care provider drugging her children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day. That was when Brenda decided she needed to quit her job as a loan officer and help make a living from home.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda says. But she sold that book, and the rest is history. Her novels have made the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including eight Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best, the Silver Bullet and the National Reader’s Choice Award.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are proud parents of five children–three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually raising funds for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). So far, Brenda has raised $2.6 million!

Join Brenda Novak’s Online Book Group on Facebook– http://www.facebook.com/groups/brendanovaksbookgroup/. We’re currently reading her newest release THE BOOKSTORE ON THE BEACH. Get an autographed copy in one of Brenda’s popular Book Boxes: http://www.brendanovakstore.com/.

Connect with Brenda Novak

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Books I Love! American Dirt is Enlightening and Humanizing

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

My Take

Quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read, although getting to the end of it was an arduous process. I first checked it out of the library to see what everyone was talking about, read a few chapters, but reluctantly returned it because it was overdue and my TBR list was massive. Then my book club decided to read it, so I checked it out again and ended up reading it in hardcover, Kindle, and audio before finally finishing it and I was gobsmacked. This is a real eye opener.

The tragic and terrifying plight of the people desperate to enter the US at the southern border are well known to me, but in Cummins’s hands they seem tangible and compelling. It’s one thing to read a news story or analysis of a Mexican immigrant caught at the border, but to witness the journey of a mother and her young son fleeing from their comfortable home in Acapulco, Mexico after the vicious murder of their family, desperate to stay alive to make it to the safety of “el norte,” had me putting aside pretty much everything to find out what happens. My heart raced each time they encountered a stranger they did not know if they could trust, and soared at the generosity of those who offered them comfort. I particularly liked the characters of the teenaged sisters, and Beto, as well as the coyote.

There is a lot of hype about this book. To each their own. I found it enlightening and humanizing and recommend it to anyone looking for something to take them out of their normal reading routine.

About the Author

Jeanine Cummins s the author of THE OUTSIDE BOY, THE CROOKED BRANCH, the true crime work A RIP IN HEAVEN, and AMERICAN DIRT, all of which are published by Tinder Press. She lives in New York with her husband and two children. You can follow Jeanine on Twitter @jeaninecummins.

New Release Spotlight! Sally Hepworth’s The Good Sister is Twisted and Compelling

Sally Hepworth, author of The Mother-In-Law, delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.

Description

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Take

Amazing! I was hooked from the start and found the characters of both sisters compelling in their own “twisted” ways. I especially loved the character of Wally. Well written and taut with tension, The Good Sister is a fascinating read into the mind of a narcissist, but the exploration of Fern on the spectrum was spot on. I recommend this for anyone looking for a great escape. Captivated me on a cross-country flight with a three hour layover. I also loved her novel The Things We Keep, which has a dementia theme.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, The Mother’s Promise, The Family Next Door, and The Mother In Law. Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

Connect with Sally Hepworth

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Books I Love: It’s Twisted All Right – Tarryn Fisher’s Latest Thriller, The Wrong Family

Description

Have you ever been wrong about someone? Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch. Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore. Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace.

But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel… She shouldn’t get involved. She really shouldn’t. But this could be her chance to make a few things right. Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

From the wickedly dark mind of bestselling author Tarryn Fisher, The Wrong Family is a taut new thriller that’s riddled with twists in all the right places.

My Take

This is my first book by this author and I’m hooked. It was a quick read that had me thinking and wondering about the crawl spaces in my own house: Is anybody in there? The Crouch family is so self-absorbed and overconfident they notice nothing odd going on in their hall closet, that a stranger has taken up residence there, privy to every conversation. Juno, their unknown squatter, eventually acts upon their most secret secrets, setting off a deadly chain of events. Could this really happen? I easily suspended my disbelief because the author had me questioning every plot element as I turned the pages. Who is Juno? What happened to her that she’s living in secret in someone else’s house? What’s wrong with Dakota? And what did Winnie do that messed up her marriage? So many questions, all wrapped up neatly in the end. Recommended for those who enjoy suspenseful dramas.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Tarryn Fisher is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Seattle with her children and husband.  Her heart is dark but she loves you with it anyway. Tarryn is the founder of Guise of the Villain, a fashion blog, and has written twelve published novels. Tarryn is a Slytherin.

  @tarrynfisher
  @guise_of_the_villain
  @authortarrynfisher
  @DarkMarkTarryn

The Grief Diary: Cause of Death

Exploring the Aftermath of Love and Loss. This is the fifth in this series

The end of life comes in many ways, some expected, some totally unexpected. I have witnessed both. I wonder which is best, and for who, and why, as if an answer exists.

Sudden Death

In my family, an early death is not uncommon, especially on my father’s side. Many of his 11 siblings passed before I came along: brother Victor at just 25; sister Helen at 27; brother Chester at 34, sister Gladys at 39. My dad died at 45. Others lived only into their 60’s. I’m told they contracted rheumatic fever during an outbreak in Boston in the 1930’s, which resulted in rheumatic heart disease, leaving them all vulnerable to valvular disease, heart failure, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest.

Most of these deaths were unexpected, in spite of our knowing the decedent had a heart condition. But they were not senseless. “They had heart trouble. What a shame.” Sad but not surprising: In their day, most people did not survive a heart attack. Cardiac care is much improved since then. People live a lot longer with “heart trouble.”

When my brother Vic died following an inexplicable motorcycle accident last summer, my brother Kenn asked, “Didn’t we already go through this with Daddy?” He went into cardiac arrest following a heart attack. Vic’s was a sudden death too, on the Fourth of July, a beautiful summer day, perfect. He had recently made some major life changes to fulfill a dream and was as happy as I’d ever seen him. We’d hosted a barbecue at my house that day with my husband’s family, the first time we’d gathered in many months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We stayed outdoors the whole time, enjoying the holiday, oblivious as we celebrated that our lives had taken a tragic turn due to an accident on a winding Vermont highway almost 300 miles away.

The call came: Vic and Deanna were in a motorcycle accident. They passed away. “Are you kidding?” was my first reaction to the friend who relayed this news, a reflex response. Of course he wasn’t. Why would anyone kid about something so serious? But it was unbelievable. And senseless. Vic didn’t have a motorcycle at the time (he was riding a friend’s). A bike ride wasn’t part of that weekend’s plans. Why was he even on a motorcycle? His partner Deanna was on the back of the bike. I’m told it was her first motorcycle ride. Why didn’t she stay behind? These thoughts tormented me for days and still do. We have so many unanswered questions. And like my father’s death, it was sudden, and the suddenness made it so much worse. Vic was just 57.

Protracted Death

Conversely, in 2017 we lost another family member after he endured a vicious cancer that took him in less than two years. He had surgeries, chemo, radiation, everything, and yet succumbed. As the weeks ticked on and the outcome looked bleak we prepared ourselves for the phone call, but at the same time prayed and hoped for a miracle. Where life exists, so does hope. But we knew days before his death there would be no miracle, and I was at work when I got the call. I expected it, but still felt as though the floor dropped out from under me.

And I wonder: Is it better to know ahead of time, to prepare yourself for loss, or is it better to be blissfully unaware of impending doom and get the news like a gut punch, jolting you out of your world? And who benefits either way: you or the decedent?

I’ve heard people say it’s best to simply die in your sleep, in an instant, no warning. That might be better for the decedent but for those left to mourn it’s horrible. There’s no closure, too much unsaid and undone.

In my nursing career I witnessed hundreds of people suffer a slow, painful death, hanging on to the last possible moment, until nothing remained of them. Believe me: the will to live is the strongest force in life. People can endure tremendous physical challenges. But this leads to anticipatory grief, which can last months if not years, and places a tremendous strain on all involved. The upside is time to plan for the end, to sort things out, to make amends, to say goodbye, to say “I love you” one last time. Is this better?

Is anything “better” about any of this?

An Invitation

Please take this journey with me. We can communicate with one another in the comments, perhaps find healing together. Subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications of new posts. Thank you.