Thursday, August 3, 2023

Books 14-24

 The Event by Whitney Dineen

There’s a reason Emmeline Frothingham left her hometown of Creek Water, Missouri as soon as humanly possible. That reason is small-minded, judgmental people who wouldn’t know the truth if it was coughed up on them like an errant furball.
After graduating from college, Emmie gets her dream job in New York City. As the head buyer at Silver Spoons--a high-end boutique, and single girl about town, her  life is ideal. That is, until the night of The Event, her company’s annual award's ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nerves plus too much tequila leave Emmie dealing with a wicked hangover, the unemployment line, and a surprise to end all surprises
Facing the repercussions of her wild night, Emmie is forced to go home to work in her family's business. But her return puts her dead in the sights of the gossipy country club harpies who drove her away in the first place.
Will Emmie make peace with her past and embrace the love of her family? Will she discover that the man who seems to be judging her most has a secret of his own?
This was your typical cozy romance.  Takes place in a small town in one of the southern states where everyone knows everyones business.  It was pretty predictable but an enjoyable and easy read.

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade.
Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis-and makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent's human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.
This was a really good book. It was  a disturbing tale that conveys a vivid description of the world-wide female slavery and under-age sex trade, computer pornography markets and the use of these enslaved children as captive drug smuggling mules. This was all very  informative.   Priya, Thomas's wife, is portrayed as an unreasonably prissy homebody who was far too inwardly focused, narcissistic and simply self-serving. It was very difficult to like her and therfore easy to wish that he would just move on.        

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

There are a few things Jeremy Marsh was sure he'd never do: he'd never leave New York City; never give his heart away again after barely surviving one failed marriage; and, most of all, never become a parent. Now, Jeremy is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, married to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the birth of their daughter. But just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, an unsettling and mysterious message re-opens old wounds and sets off a chain of events that will forever change the course of this young couple's marriage.
Dramatic, heartbreaking and surprising, this is a story about the love between a man and a woman and between a parent and a child. More than that, it is a story that beautifully portrays how the same emotion that can break your heart is also the one that will ultimately heal it.
Found this to be kind of an odd story

Snow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher
Caroline travels to Scotland, hoping to make contact with a brother she hasn't seen for years, and return in time for her wedding to the man her strong-willed stepmother thought so suitable. Then a sudden snow strands her in an isolated house with a young man recovering from tragedy. Both are on the brink of terrible mistakes, but perhaps they can save each other.
This book was like a Hallmark move or a Harlequin romance novel.  It was so predictable and sooooo unrealistic.  I did read the Shell Seekers many years ago and my memory is that it had a little more substance than this book. I see another one of her books on my bookshelf that someone gave to me.  I will read it but this is an author I would not spend money buying her books.

The Sugar House by Laura Lippman

Tess Monaghan's life is back on course. She is where she likes to be - downtown Baltimore, her relationship with her boyfriend Crow is getting serious, she's beginning to make a name for herself as a PI, she's even banking good money. And then her father asks her a favor: to investigate the death in prison of a friend's brother convicted of killing an unidentified girl, otherwise known as 'Jane Doe'. Tess's search for Jane Doe's real identity soon reveals that she is Gwen Schiller, a teenage heiress with a serious eating disorder who has recently escaped from 'the Sugar House', an institution where bulimics and anorexics are subjected to the most brutal regimes. Tess's enquiries as to Gwen's subsequent movements lead her first to a bar, Domenick's, where the proprietor supplies something a lot more murky than food and wine, and then to the State Senate where two of the leading politicians appear to be living a double life. But it is the links between Tess's father, a liquor licensing officer, and Domenick's that worry Tess the most. What favors has her father done the Baltimore underworld in order to stay in business? Why is he scared enough to beg Tess to drop the case? It is not until her parent's house is set on fire and a body pulled from the wreckage, that she realizes that her life may have taken a very wrong turning indeed - one from which there is no going back ...
This was a good mystery. It starts out with P.I. Tess doing a favour for her father, investigating the murder of an inmate and then runs through many additional murders and lots of corruption. This book relies heavily on politics and the kind of 'favours' one official might do for another official or friend.  Tess is a bit of a 'smart ass'  and independent and likeable.

The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil

Housemaid wanted.
Skills required: Discretion, and the willingness to go the extra mile.
It seems like the perfect job. Great wages, accommodation provided, and all located within the walls of Highwood Hall, a stunning stately home owned by the Howard family. Not many little girls dream of becoming a maid, but this is an opportunity for me to get back on my feet. And for me to revisit my past...
But I soon realise I've made a mistake. The strict housekeeper, Mrs Huxley, watches my every move, emerging from the shadows when least expected. Lord Howard's son, Alex, takes an interest in me, and as a former addict, I find myself drawn to him because I know he's bad for me.
There's a general atmosphere of unease at Highwood Hall, from the narrow tunnels laced throughout the sprawling house, to the abandoned north wing, rumoured to be haunted. It's easy to imagine the secrets hidden within these walls, like the secrets I hold close.
On my first day, I receive a mysterious package. I open up the pretty gift box to find a miniature doll version of me trapped inside a dollhouse. In this scene I'm dead, lying in a pool of red paint at the bottom of the perfectly recreated staircase. Someone sent this threatening diorama to me, but who even knows I work at the hall? And what do they want?
I know only one truth: my perfect job is turning into my perfect nightmare.
This book is quite creepy and the ending was a bit of a surprise! I didn't find that there was any real closure for any of the characters though.

The One Who Fell by Kerry Wilkinson

In the seaside town of Whitecliff, everyone looks out for each other. Everyone knows your name. And everyone knows your secrets…
Moonlight falls on the figure of the girl standing on the red-tiled roof. Her white dress and blonde hair flutter in the freezing night wind. And suddenly – she is gone.
Volunteering at the local nursing home is Millie Westlake’s one escape from the rumours that swirl around Whitecliff about her past. But speaking with elderly resident, Ingrid, as they play board games, Millie gets chills at her strange story about a young girl being pushed from a roof, somewhere across the valley…
Everybody thinks Ingrid is confused: but Millie knows how it feels to not be believed. Her parents died a year ago, and the residents of Whitecliff – such a quiet place, other than crashing waves and cawing seagulls – are convinced Millie killed them.
Desperately searching for evidence to find the girl Ingrid saw, a broken roof tile could prove Ingrid was telling the truth. But when strange footprints appear in Millie’s garden, she’s certain someone out there is watching.
Have Ingrid and Millie stumbled across something terribly dangerous? And with the town against her, will Millie have to face up to her own secrets to solve the mystery before it becomes deadly?
This was an interesting story. A retired journalist, elderly residents of a nursing home, a panther and a girl falling(?) off a roof.  It all comes together in the end.

Carolina Moon by Nora Rroberts
Tory Bodeen grew up in South Carolina, in a small run-down house, where her father ruled with an iron fist and a leather belt--and where her dreams and talents had no room to flourish. But she had Hope, who lived in the big house just a short skip away and whose friendship allowed Tory to be something she wasn't allowed to be at home: a child.
After young Hope's brutal murder, unsolved to this day, Tory's life began to fall apart. And now, as she returns to her hometown, with plans to settle in and open a stylish home-design shop, she is determined to find a measure of peace and free herself from the haunting visions of the past. As she forges a new bond with Cade Lavelle--Hope's older brother and the heir to the family fortune--she isn't sure whether the tragic loss they share will unite them or drive them apart. But she is willing to open her heart, just a little, and try.
Living so close to those unhappy memories will be more difficult and frightening than Tory could ever have expected, however. Because Hope's murderer is nearby as well...
I enjoyed this book. It was good though Tory had moments that got on my nerves. It was a very interesting story even though it had a paranormal aspect to it. I figured out the killer fairly early on, but kept considering other possibilities throughout the book.

Little Girl Missing by J G. Roberts
How can a little girl vanish into thin air?
Five-year-old Cassie Bailey’s mother tucked her into bed and kissed her goodnight. This morning she’s missing, her unicorn bedcovers are empty, and her parents are frantic.
DCI Rachel Hart knows that the first few hours after a child goes missing are the most crucial, and that the Baileys are living every parent’s worst nightmare. Rachel knows, because as a child her family lived through it too, when her sister was taken.
The days are ticking by with no sign of Cassie, and the cracks in the Baileys’ marriage are beginning to show. But are the holes in their stories because they’re out of their minds with panic – or because they’re lying?
Rachel’s convinced that Cassie knew the person who took her, but can she find the little girl before she’s lost forever?

There are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing as to who had taken Cassie.  I did guess correctly half way through who had taken her, but not their reason for doing it. 

The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.
Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.
It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?
She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.
But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.
As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether she will find him alive and make it home safely herself...
This is a cozy mystery so there is lots of sillyness and groan worthy happenings.  Light, quick read-but don't expect much!

Divine Evil by Nora Roberts
A decade ago, sculptor Clare Kimball fled Emmitsboro, Maryland, to take the art world by storm. Now she’s celebrated as the artist of her generation. But no amount of success can eclipse the nightmares that haunt her—or the memories of her father’s suicide. Just as her star is shining brighter than ever, Clare leaves it all behind to face her demons.Emmitsboro sheriff Cameron Rafferty loved Clare from afar all through high school. Now that she’s back, they form a bond that grows stronger each day—fueled by an attraction that’s been simmering for years. But Clare’s past soon rises up with a vengeance, rocking the town with a sinister murder that is clearly linked to her return. As an investigation gets under way, Clare and Cameron will learn that evil can linger anywhere—even in those you love and trust the most. But it’s a discovery that may come too late to save them.
This was pretty creepy with a quite shocking ending!

I gave up on 2 books this last week.  First was A Grave Mistake by Stella Cameron.  I found it very creepy with inappropriate family things talked about that didn't sit well with me so I decided not to continue with it.
The other one was, believe it or not, 1984 by George Orwell.  I've had the book for years but never got around to reading it.  When I did start to read it I found it very boring and it took me ages to read the first 100 pages and so I gave up on it.
There was a time I would never give up on a book but I have 100's of books still to read so I'm not wasting my time on something I'm not enjoying!