Books We Can’t Wait to Share!

Review by Shannon Gray-Winter: Senior Marketing Copy/ARC Manager

In acclaimed author T. Greenwood’s vividly lyrical drama, a former child star is forced to confront the darkest secrets of her youth when a controversial photo taken of her as a preteen on the night of New York City’s blackout in 1977 ignites a media firestorm. It is a deeply moving story that touches on today’s headlines while exploring the often complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, the precarious lines between girl and woman, art and obscenity.

Alternating between a tranquil town in Vermont in the 90s to the seedy grit of New York City in the late 70s, Greenwood’s contrasting settings perfectly complement the dichotomy of protagonist Ryan Flannigan’s experience. Living a quiet life with her daughter in Vermont, the woman Ryan is today couldn’t be more different from the child star she became in the late 70s. But it all comes flashing back when a harrowing call comes from her oldest friend Gilly—a compromising photo of her as a preteen has resurfaced, taken during the darkest night of Ryan’s life, the ’77 blackout in New York City. To make matters worse, her estranged mother Fiona is wanted by the FBI amid accusations her connection to the photo could land her in prison. Then her dear friend who took the photo meets an equally dark end, forcing Ryan back to the city to face the past she desperately tried to leave behind. Returning to her artsy childhood apartment building in the West Village stirs up a lot of suppressed emotions for Ryan who must now make peace with her childhood and break down the walls she’s built around herself. As she unpacks her buried trauma, Ryan will finally address the questions she’s avoided for decades: Can she forgive her fame-hungry stage mom after all the exploits, especially after her connection to the photo? And what about the other adults in her life as a preteen, what roles did they play in a time that forced girls to grow up too fast?

From chapter one, you’ll be invested in Ryan’s journey, the mystery around the photo, and how it all will play out. Greenwood has crafted a novel you’ll want to share with friends or book clubs, it was tailor-made for discussions. Like the best art, be it a striking song, painting, or riveting read, this novel will have you transfixed, thinking about it long after the last page has turned. I was so inspired by brave little Ryan, I made a companion playlist of evergreen songs from the 70s to revisit her world; I hope it transports you too: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5HGRrlDUYCoGQ5NY140YEF

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Michaela Hamilton: Executive Editor

Black ops veteran Leo J. Maloney again takes thriller readers into the world of international intrigue with his action-driven new novel, BLAST WAVE.  Protagonist Alex Morgan, the daughter of legendary agent Dan Morgan, proves herself just as tough and resourceful as her dad in her latest caper, which catapults her from the clandestine corridors of power in London to Tokyo’s vibrant street racing scene – and into the heart of danger. Leo J. Maloney’s thrillers, like the James Bond novels and films, feature fast cars and motorcycles, cutting-edge technology, breathtaking action scenes, down-to-the-minute timing, and vibrant, exotic locales. I love this feisty, strong, smart, fast-on-her-feet heroine.  If you’re looking for a thriller that runs on pure adrenaline, BLAST WAVE will blow you away.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Kait Johnson: Assistant Social Media Manager

I don’t usually read holiday books until it’s closer to November, but as soon as I heard about this book in a meeting, I knew I’d be reading it as soon as possible. Thank goodness for ARCs!

A tabloid catastrophe sends Los Angeles event planner, Morgan Ross, back home to her small town in the rugged mountains of California…but that’s the last place she’d like to return. Still, an email about a last-minute fundraiser there could be the perfect way for her to fix her reputation. It turns out that the email was from a meddling friend (Ben) who was trying to lure her back home. One of the reasons Morgan has avoided Fern Falls? Rachel Reed, her one-time best friend turned crush. And that’s just the beginning of this unforgettable second-chance rom-com with a steamy sapphic spin.

Truly, if you love Hallmark movies but are looking for something with a little more heat, then this is the book for you. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to start all over again and return to Courtney Kae’s world of Fern Falls. I’ll be rereading this one, but closer to December and with a nice cup of hot chocolate! I also cannot wait for Ben’s story, coming in August 2023!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Lauren Jernigan: Assistant Director of Social Media

With social media being such a big part of my life OF COURSE I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder by Valerie Burns! This was such a fantastically fun and refreshing kick off for a brand new series centered all around Maddy Montgomery. Maddy is a social media star who finds herself taking over her great-aunt’s bakery (and discovering a dead body along the way). I absolutely loved how Valerie wove in Maddy’s disastrous skills in the kitchen (#relatable) with her desire to make a change and do something with her life. The mystery was fun and had me guessing at the clues every step of the way while rooting for Maddy and her pawsitively perfect pup-sidekick, Baby, to whip up the truth. 11/10 must recommend to anyone who loves a fun and modernly snarky character with a penchant for burning baked goods.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Barbara Bennett: General Counsel

V.S. Alexander’s WWII story is set largely in Warsaw, beginning at around the time the Nazis marched into Poland and continuing through the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto, its liquidation, and the uprising staged by a group of resisters who refused to go quietly to the Nazi death camps. The book features three brave women: Stefa Majewski, who lives with her family in the Ghetto, but when her family manages to escape the Ghetto, she stays with the man she loves and pursues a higher purpose; Stefa’s sister Hanna, who left Warsaw before the war, rejecting her family’s traditional ways in favor of living in England, but who returns to Warsaw as a spy for the British, using her connections and skills for her own objectives; and Janka, a Polish Catholic woman who, defying her hateful drunkard of a husband, helps Jews escape the Nazi persecution she finds abhorrent.

As with all of Alexander’s books, THE WAR GIRLS is populated with strong female characters who make things happen.  Stefa, who spends her time in the Ghetto helping the poor and hungry, takes a stand against her father, choosing her own husband instead of having an arranged marriage as was the custom.  When given the opportunity to escape the Ghetto and Poland itself with her parents and brother, she instead makes the brave decision to join her husband and a band of intrepid resistance fighters in standing up to the Nazis.  Hanna is in Poland working for the British with instructions not to contact her family, as such contact could compromise her mission, but she defies that order and takes tremendous risks to save them.  And Janka does what she knows in her heart is right, facing terrible danger to help the Majewski family and others by passing along strategic information she hears from her husband and his Nazi friends.

Meticulously researched and wonderfully dramatic, THE WAR GIRLS is a book I’ll long remember!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Michaela Hamilton: Executive Editor

What do you think of when you see the name Tesla? A stylish electric car? An inventor who enabled us to enjoy all the benefits of electricity today? A scientific genius whose portrait hangs on Sheldon’s wall in “The Big Bang Theory” – and appeared on the cover of Time magazine? Nikola Tesla’s impact on the modern age has been vast. But few people realize that world leaders competed to acquire his inventions for use as devastating weapons. Tesla’s plans to build a particle beam weapon, often called the death ray, set off an international frenzy.  Marc Seifer, author of the definitive Tesla biography WIZARD and star of “The Tesla Files” on the History Channel, delves deep into original sources to present a compelling narrative of a scientific genius in the vortex of global conflict.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Kait Johnson: Assistant Social Media Manager

I wish there was a way to rewind and read Twice a Quinceañera for the first time again.

Nadia has finally taken a stand against her terrible fiancé and calls off their wedding a month beforehand. It’s also a month before her thirtieth birthday. All she has to do now is tell her family who are flying in and figure out a way to use the venue she’s already booked. When she reads about having a second  quinceañera, Nadia decides to switch gears from throwing a wedding to throwing herself a quinceañera (times two) for her thirtieth birthday. But figuring out the venue leads Nadia to reconnecting with her college fling who might have been more than just a fling.

My favorite genre when it comes to movies or books has always been romcoms. I’ve watched all of the classics repeatedly, so I couldn’t wait to read  Twice a Quinceañera by Yamile Saied Méndez once it was available. In romcoms, I love the meet cutes and the romance. Most of all, though, I love the journey that the characters go on as they not only find love but discover more about themselves. Throughout the story, Nadia is discovering her own confidence and I promise, readers, you’ll definitely be cheering her on from start to finish while also falling for Marcos…

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Jackie Dinas: Associate Publisher

THE SCANDALOUS HAMILTONS delves into the backstory of the impoverished Eva and the scion of the Hamilton family, Ray and how their lives intersected and resulted in a scandal that was so famous in its time you can’t believe you’ve never read about it before! This book gives meaning to the phrase "fact is stranger than fiction". The story has so much packed into it: scandal, wealth, baby farms, prostitution, attempted murder! It’s a fascinating look into the past and the ways we have developed (or not!) as a society.

The author does a stellar job of utilizing primary sources to tap into the sensationalism of this infamous 19th century trial and case while also analyzing how this kind of journalism drove and affected culture. Both main characters were products of their time and circumstances and while Eva was quite villainous, I think the author does a good job of showing how she may have arrived to such dire decisions.

I would recommend to any historical true crime fans or readers interested in the Gilded Age, Journalism, or the Hamilton family.

 

Review by Michaela Hamilton: Executive Editor

As you may imagine, I was pretty excited when my last name became the title of a bestselling book and then a mega-hit Broadway show. Even though, to my knowledge, my family has no direct link to the illustrious Alexander, I can’t help noticing that, on a ten-dollar bill, his nose looks a lot like mine.  So I did a double-take when author Bill Shaffer contacted me to pitch his book about yet another Hamilton – again, no relation to me, but still interesting.  Little did I realize how interesting!  Robert Ray Hamilton, the great-grandson of the Founding Father, was a Gilded Age superstar who fell into the clutches of a wily, ambitious social climber named Evangeline Steele.  As the saying goes, he loved her; she loved his money – and she set out to take it.  A drunken argument and a flashing knife led to a scandalous trial that splashed the Hamilton name on newspapers from coast to coast.  With a historian’s love of detail and a storyteller’s passion for narrative, Bill Shaffer takes readers into a world of celebrity worship that rivals that of the Kardashians.  Step into these pages and you’ll be transported to another time – but one that is strikingly like our own in many intriguing ways.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Ann Pryor: Senior Communications Manager

Almost three decades ago, Scott Lenga sat down with his father, Harry, and they talked about Harry’s life: how he and his three brothers had grown up in a Polish community, how the family was moved to a Jewish ghetto, then the three brothers shuttled together from one slave labor camp and concentration camp after the other during World War II.  They survived them all, including Auschwitz.

Mr. Lenga then transcribed the recordings and spent seven years turning them into a chronological monologue of his father’s own words, relating the Lenga family’s journey from Poland through the War to their liberation in 1945, and then onto St. Louis. The result is The Watchmakers, an extraordinary story of resilience, tenacity, faith, and the unique horological skills of his father and uncles that carried them through the War.

How did they survive? First, they made a vow never to be parted, in life or in death. Second, they were craftsmen bound together by the art, science, and mastery of watchmaking. This skill gave them a hand they could play to influence their fate. Plundered watches were pilfered, coveted and traded by German overseers in the black-market economy of the camps. The vast majority of watchmakers in Poland were Jews. Many of them would have been older men, or killed, or without the tools or personality traits to function in the oppressive labyrinth of the camp economy. Harry Lenga and his brothers were young men with skills, tools, and an entrepreneurial spark that would prove to bind them together and save their lives through the horrors of The Holocaust.

The power of Harry’s vow to survive was so powerful, so astonishing and steadfast, that it is rippling out through time, passing from to his son to this book, through me and onto you, the reader. Harry still has the power to instill hope and resilience. There’s a moment in THE WATCHMAKERS where Harry has everything to lose, and in an extraordinary moment, he casts his fate to the wind. I promise that when you come to this moment, you’ll hold your breath like I did.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Barbara Bennett: General Counsel

Amanda Skenandore writes well-researched historical novels with compelling characters facing tough challenges.  In THE NURSE’S SECRET, grifter and petty thief Una Kelly is barely scraping by as she picks pockets and steals trinkets that she can quickly sell for cash.  When she arrives in a dark alley to meet a potential fence for some the items she has stolen, she instead witnesses his murder and finds herself the prime suspect.  Una needs to lay low and avoid all the places the police might look for her, but she also must find a place to live and a way to survive.

When Una learns that Bellevue Hospital is training young ladies to be professional nurses, the program is the perfect answer to her dilemma.  All she needs to do is pass the interview and convince the program’s administrators that she is an educated, well-bred young lady; here, her grifter background stands her in good stead, and her interviewers believe that she is exactly who she claims to be.  Una is accepted into the program, and she finds that she enjoys the experience and is quite good at the practical aspects of caring for patients.

When Una notices that the deaths of several people at Bellevue (one of whom she knows from her grifter days) and the murder of the fence in the alley have some disturbing similarities, she investigates the circumstances of these deaths.  This scrutiny causes her former life and current life to collide, placing her in great danger and jeopardizing both her future in nursing and the romantic relationship she has been building with one of Bellevue’s doctors.

The indomitable Una is a fascinating character, and her story is engaging and powerful.  I’ve loved Amanda Skenandore’s previous books, and THE NURSE’S SECRET is another winner!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Kait Johnson: Assistant Social Media Manager

When Abigail inherits a treasure map and piece of gold from her grandfather, she finds herself pulled into an exciting but dangerous adventure. Because someone else is after the map. With the help of Gage Logan (a handsome professional treasure Hunter) she plans to uncover the treasure her grandfather was searching for before he died.

 

I was sold the minute I saw the treasure hunting aspect. Plus, the romance. Gage and Abigail are an exciting and passionate duo from the get-go, and I immediately couldn’t wait to uncover the story with them. If you love anything to do with maps, hidden treasures, and adventure this is one to check out.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Michaela Hamilton: Executive Editor

Thriller fans, this one’s for you.  Hostage rescue specialist Jonathan Grave is back in John Gilstrap’s newest release, LETHAL GAME.  Fans of the series know they can expect a high level of excitement from any Gilstrap novel.  For anyone new to the series, feel free to jump in, as every Jonathan Grave thriller can be read as a stand-alone.  As the story opens, Jonathan and his longtime friend Boxers are on a hunting trip in Montana when they come into a sniper’s crosshairs.  Their vehicle has been stolen. They’re cut off from all communication.  It’s getting dark, and the temperatures are sub-freezing.  But their adversaries have seriously underestimated this battle-hardened duo.  The ensuing action pits Grave and Boxers against high-level corruption and an international criminal conspiracy. Spoiler alert – the good guys win – and readers are in for a roller-coaster ride.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Barbara Bennett: General Counsel

“Hours into London’s most poorly attended ball, not a single gentleman had asked Lady Diana Harper to dance.”

When I read that first sentence of A DUKE FOR DIANA by Sabrina Jeffries, the first book in the new “Designing Debutantes” trilogy, I knew I was going to adore this book.  I wanted to get to know Diana.  I wondered why she was at a ball that very few others had attended, and why, even with such a sparse crowd, nobody had bothered to ask her to dance.  And as I devoured this book, I learned what a delightful lady Diana is, how unfairly she and her sisters have been treated by the ton because of things their parents did, and how the indomitable Harper sisters have forged their own path and are supporting themselves (and making significant contributions to several charities) by running Elegant Occasions, a successful party planning business.

Diana and her sisters Eliza and Verity, who are selective about the clients they take on, are both intrigued and confused by Geoffrey Brookhouse, who has recently and unexpectedly inherited from a distant relative the dukedom of Grenwood.  Geoffrey hires Elegant Occasions to plan his sister Rosabel’s debut and help her find a suitable husband.  Geoffrey is hiding a dark family secret, and he wants to ensure that “Rosy” will be protected and cared for by a respectable husband of means.

Diana handles matters of fashion for Elegant Occasions, and in addition to steering Rosy to styles and colors that accentuate her positive attributes, she encourages Geoffrey to abandon his country attire and begin dressing like a duke.  Diana is also the business mind of the enterprise, handling negotiations and dealing with their clients.  While Geoffrey is intrigued by Diana’s excellent instincts and inner strength and bewitched by her beauty, he believes that he cannot marry or even have a relationship until he solves the possibly disastrous problem posed by the ominous secret he has been afraid to share with anyone.

Innocent Diana isn’t sure she wants to marry, even if she can attract someone who will overlook her family’s unseemly past, but she is curious about the passion men and women can experience in a marital relationship.  Can Geoffrey help with her research?  As Diana and Geoffrey are increasingly drawn to each other, they must figure out what’s most important to them and learn to trust each other with their deepest secrets and most fervent hopes.

As I expected, I just loved this book!  I can’t wait for the next installment of the trilogy, which will see Diana’s sister Eliza finding love!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Larissa Ackerman: Senior Communications Manager, Cozy Mysteries, Historical Mysteries, Suspense, Crime Fiction

I don’t think that I can describe Amanda Flower’s latest Amish Matchmaker Mystery, Marriage Can Be Mischief, any better than this new review from Mystery Scene Magazine: “Flower has that special sparkle that some writers possess—that magical quality that makes the plot, characters, and setting fly through your reading fingers as fast as you can turn the pages. She makes her situations and characters truly come to life with a depth of emotion behind her characters that make them memorable.” If you’re a fan of her Amish Candy Shop Mysteries, then you’ll really love Millie and Co. from the Amish Matchmaker Mysteries—both series take place in Harvest, Ohio, the fictional town that Flower created. You’ll love amateur sleuth Millie, her best friend Lois, and—because it’s not truly an Amanda Flower cozy mystery without an adorable animal sidekick—Millie’s two rambunctious Boer goats, Phillip and Peter!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Barbara Bennett: General Counsel

Two widows are drawn together by happenstance and circumstance in this moving novel set in New Orleans in 1900.  Constance Halstead has set out to uncover her husband’s secrets, especially the reasons for his repeated demands for more and more of her money, which the Napoleonic Code prevents him from accessing without her consent.  And Alice Butterworth, who grew up in a prairie family, then moved to Chicago to make her way in the world, finds herself in New Orleans, alone, pregnant, and searching for the husband who has disappeared, seemingly abandoning her.

Alice, a very talented seamstress and designer, is teaching sewing skills to girls in a local orphanage when she is asked to design a Mardi Gras gown for Constance.  The collaboration between Alice and Constance fosters a deep friendship as they share their ideas for the gown and watch as it is created by Alice’s talented hands.  And as they, along with Constance’s housekeeper Analee, love and nurture Constance’s daughters and await the arrival of Alice’s child, a sisterhood is formed, and an unusual, wonderful family is created.

The story twists and turns as secrets are uncovered, and as Constance and Alice lean on each other, they find the inner strength that will sustain them as they move forward in a sometimes-dangerous city and a rapidly changing world.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Steven Zacharius : President & CEO

Cold Snap is the 4th  book in the fast-paced  Arliss Cutter series, featuring Deputy US Marshal Arliss Cutter and Lola Teariki, battling the brutal forces of nature in the Alaskan wilderness at the same time as trying to solve a murder and dealing with rugged maniacal felons.

The story begins when body parts start washing up on the Alaskan Coast and the police realize that they have a serial killer that is picking up the pace of his killings.  Most of the action takes place when Arliss is assigned to a routine transport assignment of four dangerous prisoners in a small prop plane that runs into trouble in treacherous weather in remote Alaska.  He has to try and survive while guarding the prisoners, until they can be rescued, because one of the prisoners has torched the plane.  With no way of making it to civilization, and no supplies left, coupled with conditions that are uninhabitable without food and shelter; it becomes a tale of man versus nature.

If you’re a fan of C J Box’s thrillers that take place in the outdoors in Wyoming, you’ll absolutely tear through Marc’s stories of the treacherous countryside and beauty of Alaska.  As a former US Marshall in Alaska, Cameron is uniquely equipped to write these stories, that are thrillers, but give you a real in-depth look at what it takes to be able to survive in the frigid weather of Alaska.

All of the Arliss Cutter books are standalone novels.  #1 New York Times bestselling author, Mark Greaney, says “Cameron’s books are riveting page-turners”, and I couldn’t agree more.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

Review by Kristin McLaughlin: Assistant Digital Marketing Manager

THE SECRETS WE SHARE tells a complicated and interwoven story of two sisters and a disastrous night long ago that follows them for twenty years. Even though their childhood may have appeared normal, nothing is quite what it and seems, and when young Glenn and Natalie’s father is discovered dead in the woods behind their home, this fateful night changes the course of their lives forever.  Just what happened that tragic evening and why? A shared secret will shock you.

Edwin Hill writes a complex and powerful book about what it means to be family and the lengths people will go to ensure that secrets remain hidden. I enjoyed every second of this book and guessed the ending wrong about one million times. If you enjoy a twisty suspense novel full of developed characters and great pacing, this is your next read!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Michaela Hamilton: Executive Editor

What could be a worse nightmare than the experience of an innocent person who is wrongly convicted of a crime and imprisoned? Innocence litigator Valena Beety takes readers into the heart of one of today’s top issues in her new book, Manifesting Justice: Wrongly Convicted Women Reclaim Their Rights. Drawing on her years of experience as a litigator, founder of the West Virginia Innocence Project, and board member of the national Innocence Network, Beety shows readers how and why things go wrong – and what we must do to protect the rights of the accused.  Mixing personal stories of actual cases with thoughtful analysis, Manifesting Justice offers solutions and inspiration. With helpful discussion questions at the end, this is a book that is sure to spark conversation.

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW

 

Review by Barbara Bennett: General Counsel

Honey Creek, Texas is a charming small town inhabited by people who are kind and caring … and sometimes lonely.

McCoy Mason arrives in Honey Creek jobless, abandoned by his fiancée, and recovering from an injury.  He stays with his curmudgeonly grandfather and spends his time making repairs to the badly neglected house.  He also helps his grandfather fight off developers who have their eye on his land. McCoy has never been successful in relationships, but when the town veterinarian catches his eye, he wonders whether his luck might be changing.

Jessica “Jam” Mackenzie runs a lovely and successful café in town.  While she serves romantic dinners to the town’s couples, she has been unlucky in love herself, and she thinks she will never find a special someone to fill the empty spaces in her heart.  But when Sergeant Tucson Smith saves a young woman who has fallen into the river and he and Jam try to identify her and help her recover, they are drawn to each other in ways neither of them expected.

Senior citizen Charles Winston lives a very orderly and predictable life.  He has a regular lunch date at Jam’s café with three local ladies.  When he decides to try for something more with one of the ladies, the very proper Lilly Lambert, he might upend his cherished routine, or he might find something much better.

The vividly drawn town and its kind but quirky residents are entertaining and heartwarming.  I’m looking forward to the next book in this delightful series, and I can’t wait to revisit Honey Creek!

 

READ A CHAPTER / BUY NOW