When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits a sexy essay to the “Become a Jetsetter” contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist who can’t seem to find a bride; and Regan, a harried mother who took it all wrong when Charlotte bought her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young and she was a single mother who meant everything to them. When she wins the cruise, the family packs all their baggage—literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso. As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the Perkins family is forced to confront the defining choices in their lives. Can four lost adults find the peace they’ve been seeking by reconciling their childhood aches and coming back to each other?
In the vein of The Nest and The Vacationers, Ward has created a delicious and intelligent novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood to cruise—we can only hope—toward joy.
I devoured this book, read it in under a day. I found the language the characters used to be a bit immature and stilted at times, but overall it was well done and fast paced. Most of it felt like a typical family drama, but there were a few surprises thrown in that I really enjoyed. The characters were all very unique and I wouldn’t say this book was predictable at all.
Author: Amanda Cox Publisher: Fleming H Revell Company Pages: 384 On Sale: September 8 2020 Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Christian Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.
Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.
In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
I don’t seek out Christian Fiction, but this book was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it was until I read other reviews. The characters were all very detailed and unique, and the dual-timeline was really well done as well. It varies between Harvey finding a baby in 1994 and coming to terms with being loved and wanted, and present day Ivy coming home to a funeral after leaving an abusive relationship. The book mentions a lot of hardships and struggles that some people may find triggering, but I felt they were well handled and acknowledged. The characters showed a lot of strength and realism and it was clear that Amanda Cox understands people and has done her research.
Author: Ling Zhang Publisher: Amazon Crossing Pages: 304 On Sale: October 1 2020 Genre: Historical, Fiction, Cultural, WWII Stars: 4/5
From the Publisher:
The eagerly awaited English translation of award-winning author Zhang Ling’s epic and intimate novel about the devastation of war, forgiveness, redemption, and the enduring power of love.
On the day of the historic 1945 Jewel Voice Broadcast—in which Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II—three men, flush with jubilation, made a pact. After their deaths, each year on the anniversary of the broadcast, their souls would return to the Chinese village of their younger days. It’s where they had fought—and survived—a war that shook the world and changed their own lives in unimaginable ways. Now, seventy years later, the pledge is being fulfilled by American missionary Pastor Billy, brash gunner’s mate Ian Ferguson, and local soldier Liu Zhaohu.
All that’s missing is Ah Yan—also known as Swallow—the girl each man loved, each in his own profound way.
As they unravel their personal stories of the war, and of the woman who touched them so deeply during that unforgiving time, the story of Ah Yan’s life begins to take shape, woven into view by their memories. A woman who had suffered unspeakable atrocities, and yet found the grace and dignity to survive, she’d been the one to bring them together. And it is her spark of humanity, still burning brightly, that gives these ghosts of the past the courage to look back on everything they endured and remember the woman they lost.
I was really impressed with the way this book was written. Set in China during World War 2 it introduced us to many different characters, and it did a very good job at keeping them all separate. The book switched perspective every few chapters and invited us into someone else’s viewpoint and background and often this can get confusing or tangled, but I didn’t find that in this case. I’m using this for the “A Book That Leaves You Thinking” part of my 2020 reading challenge because it’s not a story you can move on from quickly. Each character goes through a lot of trials and it was really interesting to learn how they handled each one and the repercussions from them years later.
Author: Heidi Perks Publisher: Gallery Books Pages: 336 On Sale: June 9 2020 Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
From the author of Her One Mistake , hailed as “chilling, captivating” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda, comes a riveting new suspense novel about three ambitious women whose lives are turned upside down in the aftermath of a horrifying fire, which destroys a successful advertising agency and threatens to expose a tangled web of lies.
Laura has returned to work at Morris and Wood after her maternity leave, only to discover that the woman she brought in to cover for her isn’t planning on going anywhere. Despite her close relationship with the agency’s powerful CEO, Harry Wood, she feels sidelined—and outmaneuvered—as she struggles to balance the twin demands of work and motherhood.
Mia was only supposed to be a temporary hire at Morris and Wood, but she’s managed to make herself indispensable to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Laura. If people only knew why she was so desperate to keep her job, they might not want her to stay.
Janie gave up everything to support her husband and the successful agency he runs. But she has her own dark secret to protect…and will go to any lengths to keep it safe.
I enjoyed this book and there was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t blow me away. It had a gentle, meandering plot and I liked that the perspective kept switching between the three women. At each chapter we are given a bit of the police report with the other staff of agency and I found it definitely helped to draw suspense and show the tension between the different parties. Overall I wasn’t able to guess most of the secrets and the ending did catch me by surprise, it just wasn’t the roller coaster that I had expected.
Author: Linda Castillo Publisher: Minotaur Books Pages: 320 On Sale: July 7 2020 Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
Linda Castillo follows her instant New York Times bestseller, Shamed, with Outsider, an electrifying thriller about a woman on the run hiding among the Amish.
Chief of Police Kate Burkholder’s past comes back to haunt her when she receives a call from Amish widower Adam Lengacher. While enjoying a sleigh ride with his children, he discovered a car stuck in a snowdrift and an unconscious woman inside. Kate arrives at his farm and is shocked to discover the driver is a woman she hasn’t seen in ten years: fellow cop Gina Colorosa.
Ten years ago, Kate and Gina were best friends at the police academy, graduating together as rookies with the Columbus Division of Police. But the reunion takes an ominous turn when Kate learns Gina is wanted for killing an undercover officer. Gina claims she’s innocent, that she was framed by corrupt officers who want her gone because she was about to turn them in for wrongdoing.
Kate calls upon state agent John Tomasetti for help and with a blizzard bearing down, they delve into the incident. But no one wants to talk about what happened the night Gina allegedly gunned down a fellow cop. Even Tomasetti is stonewalled, his superior telling him in no uncertain terms to back off.
With whisperings of corruption and the threat of rogue cops seeking revenge, Kate and Gina hunker down at Adam Lengacher’s farm. As Kate gets closer to the truth, a killer lies in wait. When violence strikes, Kate must confront a reality that changes everything she thought she knew not only about friendship, but the institution to which she’s devoted her life.
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and I was really impressed. I have not read the rest of the series but I felt this did great as a standalone. The book started with a lot of excitement and then it built up towards the finale very well. Kate seems like a really well put together character and I look forward to picking up the previous books in this series to learn more of her back story. Also, being set among the Amish community was a refreshing change of pace from the other mysteries and thrillers I have read lately.