A murder at a construction site in Atlanta turns into so much more when the victim is revealed to be an ex-cop. And not a good cop. Dale Harding is even more dark and troubled than anyone knows at the beginning of our story, but before the final denouement, his nefarious connections will be revealed.

Will Trent is one of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s agents called to the scene, and his lover, Sara Linton, is the medical examiner.

The crime scene soon reveals that the massive amount of blood found does not belong to Harding, and the search is on for the other victim.

As we meet each of the detectives, we soon learn that there is something off about one of them. The connections between Harding and others from Will’s past add layers to the story, and before long, we are offered a glimpse into his childhood abuse. We are introduced to some of the others caught up in the foster care system with him, one of whom was his wife Angie Polaski. A wife with whom he has not lived in a long while, but who somehow manages to insert herself into his life whenever she chooses, stalking him and Sara, and leaving notes in strange places. The somewhat symbiotic relationship between them causes all kinds of trouble for Will…and for Sara.

Early on, we are also introduced to a group of sports agents, headed by Kip Kilpatrick, whose goal is to protect their clients at all costs, even when they have committed crimes. What, if anything, does Harding’s murder have to do with Kilpatrick and his group? How do the dark pasts of Harding, Will, Angie, and others connect to the events in the present?

A somewhat convoluted story with alternating narrators that gradually reveal all kinds of connections, The Kept Woman was thoroughly engaging, keeping me glued to the pages throughout. At one point, we also got to see Angie’s perspective, which lent some insight into her actions. 5 stars.

cropped again 5***






When American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the dark woods, bloody and barefoot, she is subsequently hit by a car…and then discovered rather serendipitously by passers-by.

In a hospital, comatose, the police are at a loss to find out what happened to her. Even after she awakens, she is not very helpful, as she doesn’t remember the event…or her life.

Enter Molly Swift, a Boston journalist tasked with the story. How can she gain entry to Quinn’s room? Someone on staff assumes she is a relative, and Molly goes along with that identity. She becomes “the aunt.” Easy enough to pull off, since Quinn’s mother is dead and her father is somewhere, apparently not interested. That sent up a red flag for me.

The American Girl is told in alternating narratives, from the past, via Quinn’s blog entries, and in the present from Molly. Once Quinn awakens, she starts a video journal at the suggestion of her therapist and the police.

St Roch, France, is a very strange village, full of secrets, lies, and dark characters. The Blavette family, unlikeable to me from the beginning, seemed sadistic and dark. Emilie, the mother, was once a teacher, but something happened to a student—a death—and she was dismissed. The daughter, Noemie, a little younger than Quinn, was alternately child-like and seductive. Was she the victim of abuse of some kind? The father, Marc, had left a while before…and the eldest son, Raphael, seems to be attracted to Quinn…but is his game a lot more nefarious? Who is covering up the dark deeds of this family?

Then there is Freddie, a friend of one of the kids, who felt evil to me. Playing pranks, but with a darker agenda. Why is he always hanging around this family?

Inspector Valentin was also very mysterious. Was he trying to solve the case, or is his attraction to Molly genuine? How does he not realize that she is a journalist? What are his secrets?

The woods, the caves, the village…all are the perfect setting for such a dark mystery. What will ultimately happen to bring out the truth? Who will be caught in the mysterious web of deceit? An engaging story from start to finish, its ending did not really surprise me, as I had my suspicions for a while. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***







Crime and punishment, political aspirations, and family dynamics are the centerpiece for the disturbing novel, The Dinner.

Serge Lohman is a politician, but to his family and especially to his brother, he is a narcissistic control freak. When Serge and his wife Babette plan to meet for dinner at an expensive restaurant, accompanied by his brother Paul and wife Claire, he has an agenda.

At first they believe that they all have the same agenda, but after a long and often interrupted meal, they realize there is more going on.

As the narrator, Paul’s story wends its way into the intricacies of the dinner itself, and we learn a lot about his relationships, his personality disorder, and how he views the world. Both he and Claire seem sympathetic characters for a while…until troubling events crop up, and everything changes.

On the other hand, Serge is one of those characters we all love to hate. Full of himself, and someone who loves to hear himself speak, we might just want to clobber him.

Set in Amsterdam, we learn more than we thought we wanted to know as the agenda for the evening unfolds. Subjects: the two sons of Serge and Paul…and then Serge’s adopted son Beau, whose name doesn’t even come up during the meal.

I was frustrated at times by how the story kept weaving back and forth in time, but these forays into the past did offer up insights into the characters. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***






Wavy’s entry into the world was a precursor of things to come. She was born in the back seat of a stranger’s car, when her laboring mother was picked up while hitchhiking. Meth addict/dealing mother and father, Val and Liam Quinn, were the epitome of emotionally challenged, and as parents, they were so negligent that others often stepped into the parenting role. Liam’s various girlfriends, one of his employees (Kellen), and sometimes Val’s sister Brenda.

As well-meaning as Brenda might have been, she did all the wrong things, in my opinion, exacerbating an already tenuous situation.

Alternating narrators tell the tale of Wavy’s life, beginning in the 1970s. Set in Texas and Oklahoma, we are gifted with the life view of each character as each perspective shifted. We then add a few more pieces to the puzzle of all their lives.

Time moves forward, and we gradually see changes in Wavy, from the little girl who doesn’t seem to eat and hardly ever talks, into a burgeoning young woman who appears in many ways older than her teen years would suggest. Her small stature and frequent silences, however, are deceptively child-like.

The relationship between her and Kellen began serendipitously when his motorcycle crashed near her when she was star-gazing. Immediately they connected over their interest in the stars, and for Kellen, Wavy began to talk, to eat, and to realize that she liked being touched.

When the outside world sees what is going on between Wavy and Kellen, all hell breaks loose. No matter how you might feel about the relationship between the two of them, the fact that the author has been showing us the growing connection between them as a gradual and loving thing, you might find yourself saddened by what happens next.

In a story that spans the 1970s, the 1980s, and into the 1990s, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things kept me engaged and changed my perspective on events that would have been troubling in my professional life as a social worker. Was it possible that sometimes we might have to look at a situation and a relationship in ways not proscribed by our society? Is it possible that a relationship that might look “dirty” is anything but? I very happily kept reading until the very satisfying conclusion, rooting for the two of them.

cropped again 5***


June 3 - rearranged spaces - 1

Wow!  The months are ticking by, and we just said goodbye to September.  My total books read dropped by one from last month’s, but everything I read engaged me.  It was hard to pick just one favorite.

What did your month look like?  Let’s link up to Kathryn’s Book Date so we can visit others.

Here are my books, with the titles linked to my reviews.



1.Cruel Beautiful World, by Caroline Leavitt – 352 pages – (Literary Fiction) – 9/28/16 (NetGalley – 10/4/16)

2.Girl on the Run, by Daryl Wood Gerber – 290 pages – (mystery/suspense) – 9/11/16 – (Author Review Request)

3. If I Forget You (e-book), by Thomas Christopher Greene – 255 pages – (literary fiction) – 9/22/16

4.It Ends with Us (e-book), by Colleen Hoover – 384 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/5/16

5.I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline, et. al. -304 pages – (memoir) – 9/3/16

6. My Life, My Body, by Marge Piercy – 128 pages – (nonfiction) – 9/30/16

7. Sister, The (e-book), by Louise Jensen – 330 pages – (psychological thriller) – 9/9/16

8. Sunshine Beach (e-book), by Wendy Wax – 414 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/25/16

9.  They May Not Mean To, But They Do (e-book), by Cathleen Schine – 306 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/14/16

10.This Must Be the Place (e-book), by Maggie O’Farrell – 400 pages – (contemporary/historical fiction) – 9/2/16

11. Untethered, by Julie Lawson Timmer – 332 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/19/16 (Amazon Vine)

12.Watching Edie (e-book), by Camilla Way – 291 pages – (psychological thriller) – 9/16/16




BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                     120


It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover









As our old friends gather once again to plan another renovation, I was all set to curl up and enjoy the adventures in Sunshine Beach. The characters have tentatively landed a renovation of an old mid-century beach hotel.

I loved reviving old friendships with the characters while they planned the new project. They settle in at Bella Flora, the home Kyra, Maddie’s daughter, now owns, thanks to her son’s father. As usual, Avery is all set with her construction crew; Kyra is ready to film, and eager to do the project independently after the disaster of the Do Over show. A wrinkle in the production had morphed that experience into a reality show.

Nikki has some issues with her boyfriend, FBI agent Joe Giraldi, while her brother Malcolm, the one responsible for all of their financial worries, has reached out to her.

Maddie is still feeling bliss about her new romance with the rock star William Hightower…but insecurities threaten that bliss.

When Maddie’s ex, Steve, shows up and seems ready to make himself at home, they all feel the irritation born from his laziness and his inability to effectively help them.

What will happen to threaten the project? How will a mystery from WWII add conflict? How will they rise above the threats of their former bosses? Can they move beyond the challenges and find gratification once again? A very satisfying new chapter in the life of the characters, and enjoyable to this reader. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***






Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time.

My Thoughts: The alternating stories of Henry and Margot flipped between the present, with their chance encounter in 2012, to 1991, when the two of them fell in love.

They came from different worlds, and I love this kind of story. So much divided them that the chance of them meeting and connecting at all seems unlikely. And then the serendipitous meeting on the street is another moment in time that could have been fate.

How they were shockingly separated one summer night left indelible marks upon them. One might have expected that one of them would search for the other, their lost love. But each had their own reasons why they couldn’t do that.

Until that day in 2012 when they met on the street. And the pull of their intense connection stirred up feelings that had never left them.

They each have secrets to share, secrets that could bring another rift into their relationship. How will they move beyond the divide? What will ultimately bring them together again?

An engaging story that I could not put down. 5 stars.

cropped again 5***