Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Closer You Get: A Novel by Mary Torjussen

The Closer You Get: A Novel. Mary Torjussen. She Writes Press. April 21, 2020. pb, 368 pp.; ISBN #: 9781984804587.

Ruby leaves her husband, Tom, on a Friday night.  She’s uptight about it but determined!  She’s determined and he’s cooperative.  But she’s in for a shock when she gets to her hotel and her lover, Danny, doesn’t show up.  It gets worse when on Monday she discovers she’s got no job.

As the story is told from two points of view, Ruby’s and Emma’s (the wife of Danny) one begins to find feelings of compassion for Ruby.  But really?  Tom is sending her notes throughout the weekend including that he’s left her some extra money in her bank account.  Really?  She doesn’t respond and say thanks until later but isn’t this the opposite of what you’d expect?

Emma is interested in breaking this woman who doesn’t think twice about breaking up a marriage.  She even says it, so we think it’s her when the notes and follow through, things start happening.  It’s a good premise, really, except are you sure? 

The notion that she’s now single and is being stalked isn’t so far from reality.  She certainly deserves no less, doesn’t she?  Pages and pages follow filled with elements of this stalking and she’s no less than one very afraid woman.

Anyway, she’s out of a job and heck, out of everything.  Now she’s being stalked.  There are notes that someone is leaving in her hallway and phone messages.  Who’s behind this?  You may think you’ve got this figured out but you’ll be wrong.

For a “who done it?” it’s a thriller.  By the end of the novel, you’ll wonder who is the stalker and who’s out for Ruby?   Interesting read and recommended!

Beyond the Ghetto Gates - A Novel by Michelle Cameron

Beyond the Ghetto Gates: A Novel. Michelle Cameron. She Writes Press. April 7, 2020. pb, 456 pp.; ISBN #: 9781631528507

The ghetto isn’t any nicer in the late 19th century than it was later on.  This is the time when Napoleon’s French troops have invaded the Italian city of Ancona.  They’ve taken down the wall that separates Jews from Christian, but that’s about it.  Mirelle is the heroine of this novel and she’s got to make a decision that will have life changing ramifications. She’s a talented woman who is gifted in her father’s business.  But now she is told that she should not be working there because she’s a woman. Should she marry the older man who can give her everything or marry the Christian soldier who has made such a dashing appearance. 

There’s a picture of Mary that’s become everything to Italians.  It has been seen to be weeping, smiling, and when its gazing at Napoleon scowling.  Francesco, the wife of a man who is murdered for his hatred of Jews, is determined to steal the statue and blame them. What does it mean, vowing to stand by the theft of this picture?

Mirelle is a normal human being who loves being outside, who is happy being outside where she can smell the sea nearby.  But all of that changes when her father dies.  Her home is no longer hers but her aunt who hates her and her work.  How will she move past this barrier and both marry for love and keep her passion for business?

Beyond The Ghetto Gates is a book for women.  It raises this problem about woman in an age when things were mired in tradition.  Read it and celebrate! 
This is historical fiction that is memorable and life-changing!  It’s about the love that goes beyond words to bring change that is meaningful!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Prisoner's Wife: A Novel by Maggie Brookes

The Prisoner’s Wife: A Novel. Maggie Brookes. Penguin Publishing Group. May 2020. pb, 400 pp.; ISBN: 9780593197752

A Czech farm girl, Isabel, meets a British Prisoner of War, Billy and it’s love sparked from the first look and touch.  Billy is a prisoner and they have to keep their love secret or the German guards would exact a horrible retribution on both of the lovers.  Isabel’s father and brother were taken away by the Germans and she is the only one to help her mother on the farm.  Billy begins to help her in so many ways but they know their relationship must change and it can’t be in their present conditions. However, they eventually escape and trek their way from the countryside until they are finally caught by the Nazis.  Isabel cuts her hair and dresses like a boy.  She acts as a mute would and they tell the soldiers that she was suffering from the results of a horrific battle at Tobruk. 

This novel is more than just a litany of horrendous prisoner of war conditions which are almost beyond belief.  Starvation, sickness, lice, and cruelty by captors are more than enough to break and even destroy the prisoners.  What truly stands out in this account, however, are the tremendous traits of compassion, loyalty and kindness by which men are bound and which they exert to protect Isabel’s female status.  Indeed, one of the men will die to protect Isabel’s life.  Billy sings and shares his musical harmonica talent to lift up the spirits of the suffering men. 

As the end of the war approaches, conditions begin to change as the Nazi soldiers fear retaliation if they are exposed to the Allies.  Billy and Isabel, however, are united in honoring and respecting men who treasured and shared books, meager portions of food and medical care, minimum as it was.  They all dream of returning to home and a decent meal.  One mourns as his fiancĂ© married his brother but he still finds courage to go on for this loving prisoner couple.

War often shows the world the worst in human beings but in Maggie Brookes’ novel it also shows the best human and superhuman qualities operating in the worst of wartime stress and difficulties.  Remarkable historical fiction that is a phenomenal read and highly recommended.  You won’t forget this novel for a very long time!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade

Who Rescued Who. Victoria Schade. Penguin Publishing Group. March 2020. pb, 352 pp.; ISBN #: 9780593098837.

Elizabeth, aka Bess, gets fired from her high tech Silicon Valley job at Dutchess Games.  It also seems that she knows something about the top woman of her former social media company that said much about the bad nature of the product they were selling. For now, Elizabeth is overwhelmed and is taking a short trip to England to visit her father’s relatives.  These are not people she even knew were alive before now; however, it turns out she has inherited a piece of property.  It seems vague and complicated but she will find out the answers to the dozen questions she has.

Imagine her head in a whirlwind when she meets her Uncle, her father’s brother, who lives on lovely land and has amazing neighbors in Fargrove, UK.  Her father and Uncle parted over loving the same woman.  Uncle Rowan is an extremely talented artist as well as a sheep owner.  His wife Trudy is a warm, dynamic woman who is both understanding about the past and enthusiastic about the future.

Little by little Elizabeth becomes friendly with a beekeeper, a coffee shop owner, a brewery owner, and several gallery owners.  All are very dedicated to their business but unlike Elizabeth’s former colleagues are warm and inviting people who don’t put business over people. 

So who needs rescuing? It’s obviously Elizabeth or Bess and this is her story or her journey to discover what part of her past has meaning and what is just a way to push away what she can’t face from that past. Along the way she rescues a black and white puppy and loves her Uncle’s collie, dogs who are yearning for the same escape from loneliness and yearning for permanent, loving connection.  Pages and pages of beautiful descriptions demonstrate the delightful antics of these dogs who teach Elizabeth about the nature of true love. Could Fargrove be a similar end or the new beginning of a life for the rescuer of these charming canine friends?

The author uses this story to emphasize the depths of true love, friendship, trust, loyalty, and community.  This is contemporary fiction par excellence which is highly recommended warm, engaging and transformative fiction that promises to make readers cry and laugh out loud!  You won’t want it to end!

Act of Murder: A Doc Brady Mystery: A Medical Thriller by John Bishop, M.D.

Act of Murder: A Doc Brady Mystery. A Medical Thriller.  John Bishop M.D. Mantid Press. March 2020. pb, 281 pp.; ISBN #: 97817342511040.

In the spring of one year, a neighbor of Dr. Brady dies.  He’s hit by a car and that person doesn’t stop and acknowledge what’s been done.  The police detective says to the doctor that if he remembers anything, he should contact her.  He remembers a red car a few days later. 

This is the story of how the murderer is uncovered. It’s all tied in, the death of another twin.   A shared health problem.  The death of a doctor who could have been alive today had he been treated earlier.  The skills of his son, J. J. and his friend, who are computer whiz kids and are able to track bank accounts and people who just might be part of a connection. 

All in the middle of a busy orthopedic surgeon’s life. His practice is just as successful and he’s got a great relationship with his peers. He’s got a great wife and a talented son who helps him out in this case.  He’s unable to forget this case and it’s this linkage that keeps him going. 

What could a murderer do with what’s really a secret?  Not going to spoil this one but it’s upsetting to say the least!   

This is a great mystery and it’s done in a very realistic way that makes you keep reading! 

A medical thriller for sure!  Highly recommended reading!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Darling Rose Gold: A Novel by Stephanie Wrobel

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel. Simon & Schuster. March 2020. pb, 320 pp.; ISBN #: 9780593100066.

Rose Gold spent her first eighteen years of life as an ill child.  She had every disease one could think of, had to drop out of school because of the taunting of other children, and had the support and assistance of everyone in the neighborhood.  But it turned out that her mother Patty was just a really good liar and was responsible for her daughter’s ill health, now known as Munchausen disease.  It’s an illness that binds mothers to their children in a very sick way, literally. Patty was even quite good at spouting medical knowledge and suggesting solutions to doctors and nurses in offices and the local hospital.

Patty eventually serves five years in prison for her lies and has a plan for her daughter who is the one who turned her in to the police.  Meanwhile, Rose finally meets the father she thought was dead, the father with another wife and other children.  He says he wants her in his life but the reality turns out quite different.  Rose refuses to accept this. 

While all this is going on, even Rose’s good friends turn out to not be that loyal.  Rose deserves a break and the reader will definitely be rooting for something better to happen to her, not realizing how surprised they are about to be. At one point, there are some flashbacks in Patty’s life that make the reader feel a bit more compassionate about why she’s like she is.   This is definitely a very dark, stark and twisted tale.

Patty develops a complete plan by which she thinks she will have the last laugh over Rose and the snooty neighbors.  Patty, however, is not as sharp as she thinks because it’s really Rose who has a remarkable plan to get vengeance for her lost years of normal living.

All the appearances of “darling” are just that, appearances.  For those who love thrillers, this is your book.  Quite a contemporary fiction creation!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhy Bowen

Above the Bay of Angels. Rhys Bowen. Amazon Publishing. February 11, 2020. pb, 348 pp.; ISBN #: 9781542008259.

Queen Victoria is older and Albert has died.  Isabelle Waverly’s father life is slowly dulling because he drinks too much.  His two daughters will be all right; one will marry and the other one has unbelievable luck.  For she sees a woman die from being hit by a truck and she assumes the identity of this woman who has been invited to Buckingham Palace.  She has the background and becomes Helen Barton.

The position is hers and she works so very hard at becoming a junior cook.  Luck seems to follow her.  Despite the mockery of Roland Barton, she gets him a job as a follower of the Queen’s son.  Others try to push her but she holds off many, telling each she will not bed them as she is committed to honesty and integrity that go with marriage.  This makes for many tight moments!

Then one year the Queen decides to go to Nice in France!  There she pleases the Queen with her scones and her honesty.  The beauty and food of this locale please Helen and she learns to cook them via the French chef who becomes a friend.  She is challenged by the death of a German prince and is judged guilty of murdering him with a mushroom.  She manages to find the guilty party who did commit this horrendous crime and in so doing earns the care of her peers. 

Thus she agrees to marry the French chef, Jean-Paul Lepin and open their own French restaurant.  Alive and moving beyond its borders, this novel will satisfy you and also satisfy the mystery.  It’s a tale told in simplicity and honesty. 

It’s good, solid historical fiction that this reviewer highly recommends!