A COLD TRAIL
Our favorite homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite returns to her hometown of Cedar Grove to build a home with her new husband, Dan, and their baby girl.
Tracy intends to stay home with the couple’s baby, but she’s soon recruited by the local police to help with a case. A police officer’s wife who worked as a journalist was murdered while investigating a cold case involving the murder of another young woman in the town. Now Tracy has to try to protect her own family while solving the new and old murders.
A GOOD MARRIAGE
I’m not usually a fan of Stephen King. I love his writing style, but I don’t like the Sci-Fi genre, in general. My husband listened to this book, which is one of King’s short stories, and told me I should do the same. I’m glad I listened. I listened to the book and watched the movie in the same week, amazed by how much King modeled the story after the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader. The movie also was good and followed the book closely.
Darcy Anderson’s husband of more than 20 years is away on a business trip when a search for batteries in the garage results in a horrific discovery. Darcy knocks over a box under a worktable and finds evidence that her husband is a rapist and murderer.
What do you do when you discover that your husband, the father of your children, is a serial killer? Do you keep his secret to protect your own life and theirs?
A Man Called Ove
Ove, the main character in A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, is a grumpy old man who sees the world in black and white and has no problem telling people exactly what he thinks when they don’t follow the rules. Neighbors are put out by Ove and his bad attitude, but they refuse to leave him alone. It is through these repeated disturbances from a host of colorful characters that we learn the truth behind Ove’s personality. It’s not anger, but sadness that shaped his personality.
A MOTHER’S CONFESSION
Olivia’s husband, David, committed suicide. Olivia is trying to put her life back together while being somewhat of an outsider in the town where David and his parents have long been a dominant family.
Olivia has to figure out how to process the death, and the abuse that came before it, to do the right thing for herself and her infant daughter.
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
We never want our children to suffer, but how do you come to terms with it when your child is the one who causes the suffering? Even more, how do you cope with never having seen it coming.
Sue Klebold writes about these issues in A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. In case you don’t recognize the name, Sue is the mother of Dylan Klebold. Dylan and his friend, Eric Harris, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others before killing themselves on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Columbine was the first mass school shooting and remain the worst on record.
Sue writes candidly about her grief, what she thinks about her son’s crimes and what she now knows she missed.
A SPARK OF LIGHT
Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, rushes to a women’s reproductive health services center where a gunman is holding hostages. Once he arrives, he discovers that his sister and his 15-year-old daughter, Wren, are inside the clinic.
Only Jodi Picoult could write characters like those described in A Spark of Light. The reader relates to each character, whether they are drawn to the clinic out of love of hate. And of course the father fighting to save the lives of all of those in the clinic, especially his daughter’s, even while he doesn’t understand why she’s there.
No one knew Miles Taylor was the author of this book when I read it. Still, it was clear that the man, who also wrote a Sept. 5, 2018 essay in The New York Times knew a lot about what was happening inside the Trump White House.
The book attracted my attention because the author isn’t anti-Trump. It’s clear that he wanted the President to succeed, but he also provided repeated examples of why he just didn’t think it was possible. Taylor also gave the reader a look into how the White House operated under Trump and some of the concerns about the administration from the beginning.
I appreciated that Taylor ended the book talking about the importance of the presidency and restoration of the Republican party. He also offered suggestions for how we can move forward as a more united country. It was refreshing to see optimism pair with specific recommendations.
ABUSED: SURVIVING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND TOXIC GYMNASTICS CULTURE
When Larry Nassar was accused and later convicted of sexually assaulting gymnasts under his medical care, it was difficult to understand how the girls didn’t know what he was doing was wrong or that their parents didn’t know what was happening.
It may have been difficult to understand how Nassar’s abuse was able to carry on for so long because outsiders of the world of competitive gymnastics don’t really understand the sport’s culture.
Rachel Haines is a two-time National Team Member, two-time National Champion and was a Division I college gymnast at the University of Minnesota. Haines also is one of Nassar’s victims. Haines tells the story of the sport she loved and its culture that allows terrible things to happen to young athletes.
Louisa Clark is struggling to live her life without Will Traynor. She works at a job she hates, lives in an apartment she doesn’t like and drinks too much. It seems she is just existing, not living.
When an accident forces Lou to return home and live with her family, she is back where she was before she met Will.
Then Will’s daughter appears and changes everything Lou thought she knew about love and family.
ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN
Jenny Kramer, a high school student, is brutally raped outside a local house party. While in the emergency room, her parents consent for Jenny to be given a new drug to medically erase her memory of the rape. The problem is that, while Jenny forgets the details of the attack, she is left with the emotions that result from it. Basically, Jenny feels anger and uncontrollable sorrow, but she doesn’t remember anything about why, which makes her rape even more emotionally traumatic for her.
Jenny’s father, Tom, is obsessed with finding out who attacked his daughter and didn’t really agree with giving her the drug to start with. Her mother, Charlotte, just wants everyone to forget all about the terrible night and move on.
When Jenny can’t regulate her emotions, her parents take her to a therapist who thinks the best way to help her recovery is for her to remember what happened that night. As he helps Jenny uncover her memories, he realizes he has a vested interest in keeping her memories hidden.
ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood is amazing and terribly sad. You want the main characters to be together, but you’re also not certain theirs it isn’t an abusive and inappropriate relationship. Either way, the book gives the reader a lot to consider.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is the story of Wavy, a little girl wise beyond her years. Wavy is the daughter of a meth dealer and a mentally ill woman. As essentially the adult in the household, Wavy is responsible for herself and her 8-year-old brother, Donal. That is, until Kellen, an ex-con who works for her father, takes a special interest in helping her.
Kellen takes care of Wavy throughout her youth, but, when she becomes a teenager, their relationship develops into more. When Wavy’s aunt finds out about the relationship, she does everything in her power to make sure the couple isn’t together, tearing Wavy apart yet again in the process.
ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR
Professor George Clare comes home to his New York farm one afternoon to find his wife murdered and his 3-year-old daughter alone. Of course, George becomes the primary suspect, perhaps rightfully so.
George’s parents try to rescue him from the mess, while he keeps looking increasingly guilty. It soon is discovered that George just isn’t a nice man.
Three teenage brothers also become part of the mystery after it’s discovered that the Clares moved into their childhood farm, which has a dark past of its own.
All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage is the story of the Clare family, the events leading up to the murder and all of the secrets a house can hold.
Shane Bauer, an investigative journalist, goes undercover for four months in 2014 as a prison guard in Winnfield, Louisiana.
The book is a combination of what Bauer saw and experienced as a guard, as well as the history of for-profit prisons in America. It gives a look at the prison system, including the poor treatment of inmates and the dysfunctional work environment of guards.
AN ANONYMOUS GIRL
Jessica Farris decides to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. The struggling make-up artist actually sneaks into the study because she needs the money.
But the more Jessica learns about Dr. Shields’s experiment and the further she becomes involved, the less she’s certain it’s a good idea. In fact, Jessica may be in danger.
ARE YOU SLEEPING
Josie Buhrman is a woman who has spent the last 10 years trying to escape her past. Josie ran away to New York where her live-in boyfriend, Caleb, doesn’t even know her real name, let alone her history. But Josie can’t hide any longer.
An investigative reporter named Poppy Parnell has launched a podcast about the murder of Josie’s father 13 years ago. Since the murder, Josie’s mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister, Lanie, married Josie’s high school sweetheart. More importantly, there’s a man on death row for their father’s murder and the reporter is using the podcast to prove his innocence.
AS NIGHT FALLS
Sandy and Ben Tremont have just finished eating dinner in their secluded, state-of-the-art cabin when two escaped convicts walk into their kitchen. As Ben tries to fight the men, Sandy’s goal is keeping them unaware of the couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Ivy, who pouted in her room instead of joining them for dinner. But Ben is badly injured in the fight and Sandy can’t keep Ivy a secret for long, despite the other secrets we learn she has kept from her family.
ASK AGAIN, YES
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. It’s more than being on the job together that weaves the families together, especially Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, who are born six months apart and become best friends.
Is their friendship enough to survive the tragedy that Peter’s family causes Kate’s? Is it possible that two people who seem meant to be together have the odds stacked against them from the beginning?
ASKING FOR IT
I was uncomfortable with some of the language and examples in Kate Harding’s book, Asking for It. But, you know what? Rape is an uncomfortable, harsh topic, so is the treatment of rape survivors and the perpetuation of rape culture.
After being a journalist and researching journalism and trauma, I’ve reported about and read a ton about sexual assault. Harding’s book is the best assessment of rape culture I’ve ever read.
Don’t think there’s such a thing as rape culture? Don’t think you’d ever perpetuate it? Read Asking for It.
Private investigator Jessica Shaw is hired by Rue Hunter’s sister to try to keep the murderer from being executed.
Rue doesn’t remember what happened 30 years ago when her two high school best friends were murdered. What’s clear is that she ended up with the murder weapon, blood all over her clothes and a terrible nightmare of when the killings occurred. Now Jessica has to figure out what really happened before it’s too late for Rue.
We know that habits are important, so I appreciate any book that makes them easy to understand, set and keep.
Jen Sincero has great snark, even related to this important (life-changing?) topic. She approaches habits in her typical practical way, which makes it easier to understand how we fail with them and how to improve. The book is especially helpful because it includes a 21-day guide for ridding ourselves of bad habits and developing new ones.
Sincero’s book is worth reading and re-reading for anyone who enjoys self-improvement and is always looking to up their game. I confess that I listened to this book and likely will go back and read it in print to get even more from it.
Beauty in Broken Places
Allison Pataki’s story is the kind of thing we’re all afraid of but don’t think will ever actually happen to us.
Allison was five months pregnant and headed on a vacation with her 31-year-old husband, Dave, when he had a life-threatening stroke on the plane. The pilot made an emergency landing and Allison found herself in a Fargo, N.D., hospital uncertain if her husband would even live through the night.
Dave survived, but he was without his short- and long-term memories, and the former surgeon had to learn even basic things again.
Allison found herself caring for a new baby and a husband trying to become himself again. This memoir is letters Allison wrote to Dave during that time.
Becoming by Michelle Obama was everything I hoped it would be.
The former first lady is an inspiration to women everywhere, having grown up loved but not privileged, and working her way from the south side of Chicago to being one of the most well-educated, influential women in the world.
I loved reading about Michelle’s upbringing and the strong role models her parents were for she and her brother. I also admire how she worked hard every step of the way through her education and into her law career. Her parents modeled hard work and the importance of knowledge for her. They also instilled in her a self confidence that she often showed beyond her age and even when she didn’t feel it. As a parent, I can only hope that my children will look back on me with the fondness and pride that Michelle Obama shows for her parents.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for me about the book is that Michelle didn’t initially like or find herself attracted to Barack Obama. She thought he was a little too casual and slightly arrogant. She wasn’t interested in him right until she was. When she decided she was, she was already in love. This mirrors my own marital relationship, so I’m sure that’s why it attracted my attention. I also found it interesting that Michelle was never interested in Barack being in politics. In fact, she frequently hoped that he would lose elections because she wanted out of the public eye and just to live a “normal” life as a mother. But, of course, he did not lose and she supported him, even when it meant adjusting her own life trajectory.
Becoming gives the reader insight into Michelle Obama’s life, not just as a first lady, but as a mother, wife, woman, and leader. It’s an inspirational book for young, powerful women everywhere.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP
Christine suffered a head trauma and loses all of her memories each time she goes to sleep. Christine wakes up every morning knowing who she is, but not much else.
When Christine starts keeping a journal to remind herself of what she learned the day before, she starts to understand that the pieces of her life her husband, Ben, is providing for her don’t fit together.
The more contradictions she discovers, the more she wants to uncover what really happened to her and to understand why Ben isn’t telling her the truth.
Behind Closed Doors
Jack and Grace seem to live a perfect life. They’re wealthy, charming, intelligent, and obviously adore each other. But you don’t know what goes on in people’s homes unless you live there.
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris has a creepy, unique plot line that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. You’ll also wonder who has a mind that create this stuff.
Between Breaths by Elizabeth Vargas is the TV personality’s memoir, focused on her alcoholism and trying (unsuccessfully) to hide it while working as an on-air television journalist.
Vargas traces the roots of her alcoholism back to her anxiety-riddled youth, anxiety that never went away, even while she was reporting the national news.
It’s difficult to believe that Vargas is able to do her uber public job so well with the emotional illness. It’s even more difficult to believe that she was able to hide her second illness, alcoholism, for so long.
Vargas seems candid and honest with her story. But, the reader can’t help but wonder, even as she bares her soul, if she’ll fall off of the wagon again. It’s a sad look at how addiction can happen to anyone and how well it sometimes can be hidden.
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget is Sarah Hepola’s candid memoir about her struggle with alcoholism. What first seems like an independent, strong woman becomes recognizable as someone with a sad illness when you read about all of the blank spots in Hepola’s memory. Her addiction resulted in dangerous choices and embarrassing behavior, and that’s just what she can remember or was told. Then Hepola writes honestly about trying repeatedly to force herself to give up drinking, even though she really never wanted to.
Bring Me Back
Finn stops as a highway rest stop to use the restroom while he’s vacationing with his girlfriend, Layla. When he returns to the car, Layla is missing.
A decade later Finn assumes Layla is dead. He’s moved on with his life and is, ironically, engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen.
Just before Finn and Ellen are set to get married, people keep seeing Layla, then strange gifts that only the three of them understand begin appearing everywhere Finn and Ellen are.
Are the gifts secret messages from Layla?
Does she want Finn back or is she threatening him for the secrets he’s kept all of these years?
Maggie Cabot answers the door to find two detectives there looking for her husband.
Maggie knows what the detectives want. Her husband, James, used to date a woman who disappeared 25 years before. It’s a tragedy that James doesn’t like talking about, but now remains have been found at a campsite in the Florida Keys and James is the prime suspect.
Hannah Nilsson, 21 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen on a camping trip with a group of friends—including her fiancee, James. Everyone on the trip assumed a drunken Hannah wandered off and drowned while they were asleep. But the discovery of her body, buried half a mile away from the campsite, makes it clear that Hannah was murdered.
After the discovery, Maggie begins her own investigation, desperate to discover the truth and clear her husband’s name.
“Water” awaken as “Jane Doe.” She was beaten and left for dead in an Oregon field and has no idea who she is or what happened to her when she wakes up in the hospital.
As she settles into a new life in a rural town with the help of her doctor, she renames herself “Water” and begins to try to remember her old life.
Interestingly, the person with all of the answers is a lot closer than Water thinks.
Jan. 21. It’s the day that Charlene Grant is certain she will die. It’s the day each of her childhood friends was killed, and she knows she next.
But Charlene has been planning. She learned to box and shoot. She’s in amazing physical condition. Her goal is to at least harm her killer or get some DNA to help the police find the killer once she’s murdered. That’s where Det. D.D. Warren comes in.
Charlene recruits Boston’s top homicide detective in the weeks before Jan. 21 to help investigate her murder, even though it hasn’t happened yet. Can the detective save Charlene before her time runs out?
Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours
Kaitlin Roig-Debellis is the first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who saved her class of 15 students on Dec. 14, 2012 by piling them into a classroom bathroom.
Roig-Debellis is a hero who protected the lives of 15 children, only to be treated like she was unfit to be in the classroom by school administrators who weren’t even in the building that day.
Despite everything bad that happened to her, including being told she couldn’t see her students because she refused to back down on demands for greater safety precautions in the temporary school, Roig-Debellis chose to take the tragedy and turn it into something positive and hopeful. Now she uses her charity, Classes 4 Classes, to teach and model servant leadership to children.
Roig-Debellis is one of the great teachers in the world.
CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45
Be careful who you sit next to on the train.
Selena Murphy strikes up a conversation during her evening commute with a woman sitting next to her, Martha. Pretty soon the two women are sharing a snuck drink and confessions. Martha is having an affair with her boss. Selena’s husband is having an affair with the nanny.
The women part and Selena thinks that she’ll never see Martha again. She’s actually pretty embarrassed to have told her secrets to some stranger on the train. But then she starts getting texts from Martha and the nanny disappears.
Could Martha be involved? Is Selena’s husband involved? How does she stop whatever she’s accidentally set into motion?
Donna Freitas is an author and respected scholar who travels around the country speaking about topics like Title IX, consent and sex on college campuses. So it may be surprising for some to learn that Freitas also is a victim.
Freitas was stalked by her graduate school professor, who was an ordained priest, for more than two years. At first, Freitas thought the professor was just being friendly and caring toward her, his student and advisee. But then the professor filled her mailbox with letters, called her nonstop, befriended her mother who was suffering from terminal cancer, and even was caught looking in Freitas’s apartment window.
Freitas struggled with the questions that plague many victims. She was uncertain at first that what her professor was doing crossed any lines. Once it was obvious that his actions were inappropriate, she was scared that she had some how encouraged him, and she didn’t know how to make him stop. Reporting her professor seemed to be her only option, but, as is the case with many victims, even that didn’t go as planned.
DAN RATHER: STORIES OF A LIFETIME
If you’re not following Dan Rather on Twitter, you’re missing out. The thought and insight he puts into a single tweet is indicative of what a great storyteller he is. His Audible original set of stories is as captivating as one would expect.
In the book, Rather takes the reader through his life, including some of the biggest stories he covered during his 66-year career as a journalist. Through the stories, Rather reminds the reader of why, despite its flaws, a free press is critical to American democracy.
The parents of a missing young woman hire private investigator Jessica Shaw to find their daughter. What Jessica discovers instead is that three women have gone missing through the years on the same rural stretch of Twentynine Palms Highway.
Jessica and her partner, Matt Conner, discover a link between all three of the woman and a group of men who were in the same fraternity years ago. As soon as they begin questioning the group and others from their defunct university, the parents suddenly want the investigation to end. But Jessica can’t let it go until she discovers the truth.
Det. Erika Foster has divers searching for a drug stash, but with it they find a child’s skeleton. The remains are identified as belonging to Jessica Collins. The 7-year-old went missing 26 years ago while walking down the suburban street in her neighborhood to a friend’s birthday party.
To solve the case, Det. Foster has to piece together old evidence, including that from the original detective, who became an alcoholic after failing to solve the case. In the process she learns more about the family’s secrets and those within her own department.
Edward Adler, 12, is flying to Los Angeles with his parents and older brother when the plane crashes. Edward is the only survivor.
Edward has no choice but to live with his mom’s sister and her husband as he tries to make a life for himself outside of the media attention of being a miracle survivor.
Edward tries to piece together his feelings about the family he lost and the new family he has while everyone treats him like he’s the lucky one. But he’s not certain that a part of him wasn’t permanently attached to the other people who died in the plane crash and he wants to know all of their stories.
Beth has planned every detail of how she’ll get away from her abusive husband, and now it’s time for her to implement the plan.
Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. She’s taken almost nothing with her, but Jeffrey soon learns that she’s left a lover and a lot of questions behind. It seems Sabine was planning to leave him, and he becomes the main suspect in her disappearance.
The detective on the case wants to know what happened. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? It seems death is the only way to get away from an abusive husband.
DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING: PUTTING LIFE BACK TOGETHER WHEN YOUR WORLD FALLS APART
Sometimes the right book comes to you at just the right time. That’s what happened for me with Rachel Hollis’s new book. The book released right when I needed it, even though I didn’t know it’s what I needed.
Hollis has experienced what she calls the “hard seasons” of life. In fact, she and her husband divorced as she finished writing this book. But, like many of us, she can compare this hard time to the absolute worst thing that happened in her life — her brother’s death.
Hollis’s book teaches readers how to hold on when you feel like giving up, and how to move forward through growth when life deals you an unfair hand.
Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck
We already have everything we need for the career of our dreams, we just have to learn how to develop our relationships, skills, character, and hustle in the ideal way. This ideal way is all about creating your Career Savings Account, so you always have options waiting and never feel stuck.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT: MAKE EASIER DECISIONS, STOP SECOND-GUESSING AND BRING MORE JOY TO YOUR LIFE
Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing and Bring More Joy to Your Life is Bogel’s newest book about overthinking. Bogel herself is a recovering overthinker. In the book, she provides readers with practical tools to overcome negative thought patterns, which are repetitive, unhealthy and unhelpful.
DON’T SAY A WORD
Allie Callahan is a single mother with a history of mental illness who lives with her son, Sammy, and her adoptive mother, who also happens to be a foster mother. The little family seems to be getting along just fine until late one night when social services agents arrive with Zoe and Carrie, 12-year-old twins whose parents were killed in a double murder.
Allie and her foster mother soon discover that whoever murdered the girls’ parents is still out there and seems to know where the girls are. They have to figure out how to keep themselves and the girls safe until the police catch the killer.
DON’T YOU CRY
Quinn Collins isn’t sure what to do when her roommate, Ester Vaughan, doesn’t come home. So she does what most women in her position probably would do… she searches Ester’s room for clues as to where she may have gone. In the process she discovers that Ester seems to have planned to live another life, even changing her name. In the end, it’s not at all what she expected.
The book, by Tammara Webber, is the first in the Contours of the Heart series. It begins with Jacqueline, a college student, leaving a party and being attacked by her ex-boyfriend’s fraternity brother. That’s how she meets Lucas, the rebellious barista she’s never noticed in her economics class. He saves her from her attacker. Of course, we want Jacqueline and Lucas to get together right from the beginning. I mean, he saved her from the most terrifying thing most of us can imagine. But, in the end, we learn that they really have the ability to save each other.
EDGAR AND LUCY
Edgar Fini, 8, doesn’t remember how his father died, but he knows he’s gone and it causes his grandmother, the woman he loves more than anything, great sadness.
When his grandmother dies, Edgar is left with his mother, Lucy, who hardly seems fit to raise her son. Then Edgar meets a man who seems to understand him more than anyone ever has.
As Lucy searches for her kidnapped son, Edgar learns how to deal with the ghosts that have always been in his head.
Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone is the story of Evelyn Tester, a suburban housewife who is married to a prestigious, wealthy psychiatrist and spends her days volunteering at her teenage son’s school. Evelyn gets a call one night to come help her husband who has been in an accident. But, when she arrives, her husband’s mistress is with him.
The book is about Evelyn trying to come to terms with her husband’s affair, the accident that killed a young woman and the kind of man her husband really is.
Every Last Word
Samantha McAllister is a popular high school junior working overtime to keep up the careful facade she created. What no one but family (and her therapist) knows about Samantha is that she has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her disorder causes repetitive, obsessive behaviors, but also abnormal amounts of worry, much of which is unfounded.
One of Samantha’s realistic worries is that her life-long group of popular girlfriends would ostracize her if they found out about her illness. So, Samantha obsesses about keeping them from learning the truth. But, when Sam meets Caroline, she discovers that maybe she’s better off without the popular girls and that she can find real friends elsewhere. For the first time in her life, Sam begins to feel normal and connected with her new friends in Poets Corner. But Sam learns that her new best friend is anything but normal.
EVERY NOTE PLAYED
Richard is a famous concert pianist who is diagnosed with ALS. In less than a year, Richard finds himself unable to play the piano or do many of the other day-to-day tasks it takes to care for himself. Richard knows he won’t be able to live on his own much longer, but his fame and ego meant he burned most of the people in his life at one time or another.
When Richard’s ex-wife Karina finds out about his illness, she must determined what (if any) responsibility she has to help him. And, together, they have to figure out how to minimize the stress his illness might put on his already damaged relationship with their college-aged daughter.
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
Everybody Writes is the writing book for this decade. The premise of Ann Handley’s book is simple—we may not all be journalists or authors, but we’re all writers. Why? Because, from social media updates to email messages, we’re all writing every day.
Ann then provides writing rules on everything from basic grammar to writing headlines for marketing content.
Everybody Writes is a must-read for everyone who writes… which, if you’ve been paying attention, you know is everyone.
EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE
I’ve listened to Marie Forleo’s podcast for awhile, so it’s not really surprising that I loved her book. What was surprising was how I just couldn’t put the book down.
The concept of Forleo’s book is based on something her mother said to her. She told Forleo: “Nothing in life is that complicated. You can do whatever you set your mind to if you roll up your sleeves. Everything is figureoutable.”
It seems that I must have picked up the phrase “everything is figureoutable” from Forleo’s podcast because I really believe it.
Forleo’s book works through how to apply the mantra to achieving your goals, overcoming problems with money, better using your time, dealing with criticism, and crushing thoughts that you aren’t worthy.
Sometimes you don’t choose love, it chooses you. That’s what happened to Emma Montague when she left her wealthy British life for an equally posh one in New York only to tire and flee to a waterfront town in Westport, Connecticut. It’s there that she falls in love with her landlord, Dominic, who is everything that Emma never thought would interest her.
Far from the Tree
Grace is only 16, and she certainly isn’t ready to be a parent.
Grace, who was adopted at birth, decides to give up her baby for adoption, but giving away her baby girl makes her want to know more about where she came from.
Grace begins searching for her birth mother. What she discovers instead are two half siblings—Maya, 15, and Joaquin, 18. Each of the teens has lived different lives based on who they were adopted by (or not), but they discover what family really means by finding each other in the end.
Fatal by John Lescroart is the story of 44-year-old Kate. Kate and her husband, Ron, are happily married and seem to be living a blessed life, until Kate cheats on Ron with Peter, a friend of a friend she meets at a dinner party.
Kate is ready to move on with her life after the indiscretion, but Peter has other ideas. There are some things that he just might not be able to let go.
Insert a terror attack and several other murders and you’ve got a ton of plot twists to keep you reading.
Flora Dane was kidnapped during a college Spring Break trip. Flora was held hostage for 472 days before police found her.
It’s been seven years since her kidnapping, but Flora still hasn’t adjusted to “normal” life. Instead, she’s become a vigilante of sorts. She seems obsessed with finding other missing girls.
When Flora goes missing for the second time, Detective D.D. Warren knows she must find her quickly. The detective is almost certain that her obsession with finding kidnapped girls is what got Flora kidnapped again and will result in her murder if she isn’t found quickly.
Simon Connolly doesn’t know what to think about his son, Jake. He responds in a frenzied panic when he learns that shots were fired at the high school his son and daughter attend. When he arrives at the school, he finds out that his daughter is safe, but teens are dead and Jake is the only living suspect.
Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon tells the story of the Connolly family (through the eyes of Simon Connolly) as they try to locate Jake before the police do and struggle with their beliefs of his guilt or innocence.
FINDING THE NEWS: ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG REPORTER
Finding the News: Adventures of a Young Reporter is Peter Copeland’s story of his career in journalism. I loved the detail of the story, which starts with Copeland as a night cops reporter in Chicago and works its way to him as a war correspondent, then a national politics reporter in D.C.
If you love journalism or you’re just curious about the profession, you’ll enjoy reading about Copeland’s career. Personally, I was in awe of how tough he must be to have been a war reporter. This is one journalistic assignment I’ve never aspired to have. I just don’t have the kind of grit.
One thing that struck me about Copeland’s story is that he, like many other writers I know, doesn’t seem to give himself enough credit for his work. He writes about how he worked hard, but he also writes about how many times he feels like he lucked into being at the right place at the right time or was just somehow able to send a story from abroad. Copeland’s success as a journalist wasn’t luck at all. He didn’t plan to be a journalist, but his passion for storytelling and his desire to tell others’ stories accurately and to just be good at his craft made him strive to excel.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
I have never laughed as hard at a book as I did Furiously Happy. I wasn’t even finished with the introduction and I was laughing so hard that I was crying.
The only time I stopped laughing was when Jenny Lawson took a moment to give readers a glimpse of her struggle with depression, anxiety and personality disorder. Those moments were so honest that I couldn’t help but love them too.
All in all, Lawson’s book is a funny look at a serious topic, which is an approach we probably all need more.
Get Your Sh*t Together
Get Your Sh*t Together by “anti-guru” Sarah Knight helps you to stop self-sabotaging and get what you want.
Sarah teaches the reader ways to get it together like how to spend less, ways to manage anxiety, how to conquer your fear of failure, and, perhaps most importantly for people like me, how to avoid avoidance.
I loved the fun, insightful self-help book. I was able to take and utilize advice from the book immediately, and I am likely to reread this one.
Girl in Pieces
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is about Charlie Davis, a 17-year-old girl who started cutting and other reckless behaviors after her father died. When Charlie is released from an institution, she is once again homeless and must figure out how to create a life for herself without falling back into the dark place where she was before.
GIRL, STOP APOLOGIZING
I loved Hollis’s book, Girl, Wash Your Face and enjoy following she and her husband, Dave Hollis, on Instagram. I loved Girl, Stop Apologizing even more.
Where the first book was more about women’s empowerment in their home and personal lives, the second one struck me more as a professional development/empowerment book for women. In the book, Hollis encourages women to discover themselves and what they really want from life, without making excuses or feeling paralyzed by the possibility of failure.
GIRL, WASH YOUR FACE
Rachel Hollis is the writer behind The Chic Site and the owner of her own media company. Rachel’s book focuses on lies she once believed that left her feeling like she wasn’t good enough or doing anything well. The book is a honest look at the lies we tell ourselves that belittle and destroy us.
Give teenagers were attacked while hanging out in Gitchie Manitou State Park, but the book really is about the lone surviving woman and her attempt of moving on with her life after being labeled the “Gitchie Girl.”
The authors wrote the book through interviews with her after years of silence about the crimes that shaped the rest of her life.
GO ASK ALICE
I had to look it up to determine if this book was real or fiction. It’s fiction, but it’s written in a diary format that makes it seem real.
The book is the first-person account of a girl named Alice’s drug addiction. Alice’s addiction started innocently enough. She was served a soft drink laced with LSD at a party. She had such a great time with the popular kids that she decided there was no harm in just trying other drugs, just to see what they were like. Soon Alice is an addict, running away from home, doing unspeakable things to get a fix and leaving her family to pick up the pieces every time she tries to get clean.
Gone Again by James Grippando is about the death of teenager Sashi Burgette. At least we think it is. But maybe it’s really about her disappearance because it’s possible that she’s not actually dead.
Defense lawyer Jack Swyteck is defending a death-row client. It just so happens that his client was charged and convicted of Sashi’s murder. Jack is almost positive that Dylan Kyle raped Sashi, but he’s not convinced that his client murdered her or that she was murdered at all. Her mother certainly doesn’t believe so.
Jack has to figure out the truth about what happened to Sashi before his client is put to death.
Sam Statler and Annie Potter are newly married and beginning their life together in Sam’s hometown in upstate New York. Unfortunately, things aren’t exactly what Annie expected when they moved out of New York City. Sam, a therapist, sets up a practice in a first-floor office while Annie spends most of her time alone.
What Sam doesn’t know is that all of his clients’ sessions can be heard through a vent in the room upstairs. Pretty soon, the intimate details of his patients’ lives are no longer a secret and the doctor/patient relationships will cost him.
Good Girl, Bad Girl
A girl is found hiding in a secret room in the same house as a man who was tortured to death. Starving and filthy, the girl won’t tell anyone her name, age or where she came from.
No one is sure who the girl is or what happened to the man, even six years later when psychologist Cyrus Haven meets “Evie Cormac” at a children’s home.
Cyrus must decide if Evie is ready to go free. He plans to gather this information by fostering Evie in his home.
While the two attempt to adjust to their new normal, Cyrus is called on to investigate the murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan.
Could Evie give him insight that will help solve Jodie’s murder?
GRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE
It’s not the smartest or most talented people who succeed in life. It’s the people who refuse to quit.
Angela Duckworth found this through years of researching and interviewing people in difficult situations, those who overcame tough odds and those who run major corporations.
Duckworth found that passion coupled with an unwillingness to give up are the true markers of success, regardless of any other factor.
Have You Found Her: A Memoir
Janice Erlbaum returned to volunteer at a homeless shelter she lived in more than two decades ago, hoping to meet and help a girl like she used to be.
The 34-year-old writer became the “bead lady,” taking jewelry making materials to the shelter once a week to share with the women who lived there. Her hope was to met a kindred spirit while gathered around the table making bracelets and earrings.
She met Sam, a 19-year-old unbelievably smart junkie. And she knew immediately that Sam was the girl she was meant to save.
But saving Sam proved a lot more difficult than Erlbaum expected, especially since Sam really didn’t want to be saved.
HE WILL BE MY RUIN
Maggie Sparkes, a rich philanthropist, comes to New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after the woman committed suicide.
But Maggie isn’t convinced that Celine killed herself.
The more she discovers in her apartment and through her friends, the more convinced Maggie becomes that Celine was murdered and her lover was involved. Unfortunately, Maggie also finds herself attracted to Celines former lover.
HER EVERY FEAR
Kate Priddy is trying to start her life anew after being kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend who locked her in a closet and killed himself.
The London native decides to push herself through her anxiety by switching apartments with her cousin from Boston. She thinks the temporary change might be just what both of them need to reset.
Unfortunately, Corbin’s neighbor is murdered right after Kate arrives and she finds herself entwined in a mystery, wondering if history is repeating itself.
HER FINAL BREATH
Her Final Breath is part of Robert Dugoni‘s Tracy Crosswhite series.
In Her Final Breath, Tracy has returned to the police force after her sister’s killer’s trial. And, of course, she immediately is put on the case of a serial killer. Not only is “the Cowboy” killing women, but he seems to have a special interest in Tracy, who needs to figure out who he is an arrest him before she becomes his next victim.
HER LAST WORD
Kaitlin Roe was the only witness when her cousin, Gina, was abducted 14 years ago while the two teenagers walked home from a party. All these years later, Kaitlin is reviving her cousin’s cold case through a true crime podcast.
But soon women Kaitlin interviews are found murdered or missing, leaving her and authorities thinking that perhaps she’s drawn her cousin’s killer out of hiding.
The only thing better than the murder mystery in Her Last Word by Mary Burton is the fact that you can read the book free on Kindle Unlimited.
HOUR OF NEED
Hour of Need is part of Melinda Leigh’s Scarlet Falls series. The series focuses on Barrett siblings—Grant, Mac and Hannah.
In Hour of Need (the first book in the series), Maj. Grant Barrett learns that his brother and sister-in-law have been murdered, so he returns home from the war to care for his orphaned niece and nephew. Grant soon realizes that whoever killed his family didn’t do so randomly and now the murderer is a threat to the children. Grant has to solve his brother and sister-in-law’s murder before the killer takes someone else from him.
HOW TO BE FINE
I’d never heard of Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer’s podcast, By the Book, when I read their book, which is a more in-depth version of their podcast concept of following the advice in self-help books and reporting back on the results.
As a self-improvement junkie, this book cracked me up. Greenberg and Meinzer have really different personalities, which makes it fun to hear how their results from following the books vary. Also, these women have no problem calling bullshit on self-help authors who don’t have credentials to support their advice or just try to get readers to do unrealistic things.
Needless to say, now I listen to the podcast too. Who can’t use a little self-help self-help?
How to Walk Away
Margaret Jacobsen is living the dream. She excelled in business school and just landed her dream job. She has a handsome boyfriend she adores, and she has a feeling that they’re about to start their lives together as husband and wife. Then, during what should be a fairytale proposal, Margaret is injured in a plane crash. She’s lucky to survive, but her life thrown far off path.
Margaret is hospitalized and trying to learn to deal with her injuries, which include burns and paralysis. At the same time, she has to cope with her family’s quirks, her fiance’s ghost act and her annoying physical therapist. But Maggie’s new normal becomes something even she couldn’t have planned for.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
Dale Carnegie actually should have titled this book “Using the Manners Your Momma Taught You.” I read it every fall with public relations students, and I get something from it every time. Carnegie’s advice is simple: Smile, be a good listener and remember people’s names. It’s also a great reminder about how to treat others through the busyness of life and business.
I AM WATCHING YOU
Ella Longfield overhears two young men flirting with two teenage girls on a train. Her maternal instincts kick in and she almost intervenes, telling the girls to stay away from the boys. In the end, she decides to mind her own business and says nothing. The next day, she sees on the news that one of the girls is missing.
A year later, Anna Ballard still is missing and Ella is riddled with guilt about what she should have or could have done to save the girl. As the anniversary of Anna’s disappearance gets closer, what really happened that night begins to become apparent.
I FOUND YOU
When a man shows up outside Alice’s beach house in Ridinghouse Bay, she takes him in out of the rain only to discover that he doesn’t know who is he or why he’s there.
The rest of I Found You by Lisa Jewell is about the man remembering little-by-little why he came back to the small costal town and remembering more than he even knew he’d forgotten.
I Let You Go
Jenna Gray walks away from her life and moves into a cottage as an unknown woman. But, even in her new life, Jenna can’t escape the memories of a young boy being hit by a car and the responsibility she feels for his death.
I REGRET NOTHING
I love all Jen Lancaster non-fiction. Heck, I love everything Jen Lancaster. I Regret Nothing was no exception.
My husband and I listened to this book on a road trip. He rolled his eyes at me when it first started, but he soon was laughing along as Jen realizes she middle aged and attempts to fulfill her bucket list.
Jen is just funny. Every time I read her writing, I want to write a book of my own. Then I remember that I’m not funny.
I SEE YOU
Zoe Walker is a creature of habit. Just like most of us, she takes the same route to and from work every day. She uses the same trains, stands in the same place on the platform, etc. It’s all part of that mindless routine we’re all subject to performing.
One night on the way home, Zoe sees a classified ad with a photo of herself in the local newspaper. The ad provides a phone number and the web address FindTheOne.com.
Zoe is spooked enough that she begins paying attention to the ads, even though she’s not certain the grainy photo is her. Soon she discovers that the women featured in these ads are all victims of violent crimes, and she may be next.
I’D RATHER BE READING: THE DELIGHTS AND DILEMMAS OF THE READING LIFE
I love Anne Bogel’s book blog, Modern Mrs Darcy, but even an avid reader like myself was skeptical of a book about reading. How interesting could that possibly be? The answer: extremely.
I’ve finally found someone as nerdy as I am! Another person who understands the crush of recognizing there aren’t enough hours or days to read all of the great books out there.
Anne’s writing is super relatable and easy to read as she takes the author through discovering and feeding her love of reading.
IN AN INSTANT
Finn Miller has a normal 16-year-old life with a teenage crush, a fashionable best friend and an annoying family. When a devastating car accident sends her and 10 others over the side of a mountain, Finn watches from between worlds as her family and friends try to survive the wreck.
Finn watches as her brother also dies, her parents struggle with blame and reveal secrets, her best friend searches for the truth of what happened while the group fought for survival, and her sister copes with grief and her own personal injuries.
IN HER BONES
If your mother is a serial killer, what might that say about you
Lilith Wade was arrested 15 years ago for murdering six woman. Her now 30-year-old daughter, Edie Beckett, is just trying to live her life out of the spotlight.
But Edie also has a secret. She’s obsessed with the families of Lilith’s victims and spends most of her time learning everything about them.
When the husband of one of her mother’s victims is found murdered, Edie’s strange hobby comes to light and she is the prime suspect.
IN THE CLEARING
In the Clearing is part of Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series.
In the Clearing is about the suspicious death of a Native American high school girl 40 years ago. Tracy is asked by a friend whose detective father just died to solve the one case he was never able to let go. Of course, she does.
IN THE NAME OF THE CHILDREN: AN FBI AGENT’S RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THE NATION’S WORST PREDATORS
Any book about child abuse is difficult to read. This book is about FBI Special Agent Jeff Rinek, who was known during his 30 years on the force for having a special talent for getting child predators to confess.
Rinek worked hundreds of investigations involving crimes against children during his career. But what struck me more than his ability to catch predators was the toll Rinek’s career took on his own mental health and the harm it did to his family.
INSIDE THE O’BRIENS
Lisa Genova writes about Joe O’Brien, a 44-year-old Boston police officer and father of four. Joe is diagnosed with Huntington’s, a neurodegenerative disease with no treatment or cure. What’s worse is that each of his children has a 50 percent chance of also having the disease.
The book is the story of the O’Brien family and how they each learn to cope with Joe’s worsening health and the possibility of their own disease.
Is Rape a Crime?
Don’t let the title of Michelle Bowdler‘s book fool you. Bowdler knows better than most how terrible a crime rape truly is.
Bowdler survived a multiple stranger break-in and rape in 1984. I cried as Bowdler described her rape and how it crushed her sense of safety and self.
Bowdler spent her career working in public health, moving from issues like addiction, sex education and HIV prevention to social justice issues related to rape and violence. She privately fought the demons being a survivor left her while helping others. Bowdler, who now serves as the executive director of Health & Wellness at Tufts University, recognized that she couldn’t fully serve others until she figured out what happened with her case.
Bowdler’s memoir, published this year, starts with her rape and details her investigation into how law enforcement handled the search for her attackers. What she learned, coupled with years of research on rape and sexual assault, is a devastating read that makes any reader want to fight for better treatment of rape survivors.
If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it fall?
If rapists aren’t punished, is rape a crime?
IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME
Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers. They’re so close that they’ve always been just like family. Tyler even was Amber’s lifeline when she nearly died from an eating disorder.
But Tyler always has secretly loved Amber and hoped they would end up together.
Amber comes home to live for the summer after college graduation, then she plans to move with her fiance. While she’s home, she starts spending more time with Tyler. Then, one alcohol fueled night, Tyler does something that destroys their friendship forever.
IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND
Three super different college roommates—Kate, Aubrey and Jenny—vow in college that they will always be there for each other. It’s the typical college promise, which they make without even always liking each other.
Fast forward 20 years and one of them is dead. The other two try to figure out what happened to their friend, while trying to protect themselves and their small-town lives in the process. The more they learn, the more they question if they were ever really friends at all.
IT’S. NICE. OUTSIDE.
Ethan, 19, has a developmental disability that results in him acting like a toddler. His Dad, John Nichols, sets off with him to drive across multiple states to his older sister’s wedding. During the trip, John has to find ways to cope with all of the challenges that are Ethan. He also has to figure out how to reconnect with his two older daughters and his ex-wife.
Julia Maxton can’t imagine anything worse than losing one of her three daughters—until Haley, 17, runs a stop sign, killing her younger sister Caitlin.
The family falls apart after the wreck until Julia decides to take the girls on a cross-country drive to pull them back together. During the trip, they learn what they all mean to each other and how to cope with an accident they all regret.
JOY AT WORK: ORGANIZING YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE
I was intrigued when I saw that Marie Kondo had an organization book for our professional lives.
I wasn’t crazy about her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I just don’t have the need to thank my coat for keeping me warm. Also, I’m not the kind of person who keeps stuff. I don’t have an emotional attachment to things. The book didn’t hit for me.
But, if you’ve ever seen my desk, it’s always a mess and my digital clutter is even worse. I decided to give Kondo’s second book a try.
Kondo wrote Joy at Work with Rice University business professor Scott Sonenshein. Together the authors provide advice for overcoming workplace messes that drain your energy and kill your productivity. The book provided a lot of strong takeaways that made it worth reading. Now if I would just implement some of them…
KNOW MY NAME
Chanel Miller is tired of people not knowing her name. She has been known as “Emily Doe” since her victim impact statement went viral on BuzzFeed.
Miller was attacked in 2015 while unconscious from drinking at a fraternity party at Stanford University. Two students stopped the attack, chased her attacker and held him down until the police arrived. Her attacker, Brock Turner, was a Stanford student. He was tried and convicted of three counts of sexual assault, for which he served only three months in jail.
Miller decided to reclaim her identity in September by publicly releasing her identity and powerfully telling the story of her trauma in her book.
The general concept of Mark Schaefer‘s book is becoming known as an influencer or expert in a certain area.
Mark doesn’t encourage readers to become known in their passion. As Mark writes, telling people to follow their passion assumes that they have just one, that they can identify it and that other people care about it. Instead Mark encourages readers to find their place, an interest they want to be known for, and their space, a niche of people who care about that thing.
The book helps readers identify their place and space, then make the most of it.
Lacy Eye is about a couple, Joe and Hanna, and their daughters, Dawn and Iris.
Iris is the stereotypical beautiful, popular teen. She’s the daughter Joe and Hanna don’t have to worry about.
Dawn is plain, awkward and frequently teased at school. She’s the daughter that gives the couple constant worry.
The couple is happy when Dawn seems to be settling in at college, and they hope she’s finally found a place where she fits in. They are less-than-impressed when Dawn brings her boyfriend, Rud, home for her sister’s wedding. There is just something off about the first man in their daughter’s life, although they try not to focus the possibility that it’s because they can’t figure out why someone so handsome would be with Dawn.
After a Thanksgiving dispute among the four, Hanna and Joe are attacked in their home. Joe is killed and Hanna is beaten severely, causing a head injury and memory loss. Rud is convicted of the crime and, while Dawn initially is thought to be involved, she is not indicted by a grand jury.
When Rud is given an appeal, Dawn returns home to live with her mother, who desperately tries to remember what happened that night so she can keep Rud in jail and exonerate her daughter for good.
Last Seen Leaving
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig seems to address a myriad of issues facing today’s teens, with a murder mystery or two entwined in the plot.
The book is about Flynn, a teenage boy whose girlfriend, January, is missing. As January’s boyfriend, Flynn is the prime suspect. But, as Flynn begins to learn more he didn’t know about his girlfriend, he realizes that there was a lot he didn’t know about January. In the process, he becomes more honest about himself too.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Leeds doesn’t until he meets Layla. Then he’s certain that he’ll spend the rest of his life with the captivating woman. It appears Layla feels the same way.
Then, just before the couple gets engaged, they are attacked by Leeds’s crazy ex-girlfriend and Layla is left fighting for her life. When she finally recovers, Layla isn’t the woman she used to be. Leeds tries to be understanding of the changes, which he thinks likely are the result of trauma, but he misses the woman he fell in love with.
In an effort to try to rekindle their romance, Leeds takes Layla back to the bed and breakfast where they met and fell in love. The place is now abandoned. When even stranger things start happening with Layla after they arrive, Leeds is left with another important question. Does he believe in ghosts?
Maribeth Klein is running around like a crazy person, taking care of everyone else. She’s so busy that she doesn’t even want to take time to be in the emergency room when she has a heart attack.
Leave Me by Gayle Forman is the story of post-attack Maribeth who runs away from her husband and children to try to figure out her life.
Lifescale is about how distracted we’ve become, mostly because of technology, why we need to reclaim our lives and how to do so.
While there were parts of the book that I related to more than others, I found the advice to be practical. I was able to begin applying some of it immediately, which is always important to me when I’m reading something to learn from it.Some of my favorite parts of the book were about how to:
- Identify sources of distraction and become more productive,
- Resist the manipulative techniques of our digital devices,
- Find meaning and purpose to guide our time, and
- Focus on deep, purposeful work.
Lifescale probably has the best method of setting your goals and priorities that I’ve read. While going through the process might seem intimidating, Brian leads the reader through it step-by-step. I set meaningful goals for the year, based on my life priorities, in about four mornings while drinking my coffee.
Liz and Jess have been friends for a decade, raising their children together. Liz admires Jess. Jess seems to be a perfect stay-at-home mom. The Pinterest Mom to Liz’s Amazon Mom.
Then Jess shows up at the hospital with an injured baby and a story that doesn’t add up. Liz, who happens to be the doctor on call, can’t fathom that Jess would ever hurt her child, but the little girl has a head injury and the only explanation Jess can provide is full of holes.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
The Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights is a bit Stepford like. Everything is planned and uniform, just like Elena Richardson’s life.
Elena grew up in Shaker Heights, always planning to marry and nice man and raise a good family there. It’s exactly what she’s done, and it’s a lifestyle she intends to protect.
When Mia Warren, a single mother and artist, shows up in town with her daughter, Pearl, life in Shaker Heights becomes a little less perfect. Even the Richardsons aren’t immune to the drama that Mia and Pearl bring to town.
LOCK EVERY DOOR
No visitors, nights spent away from the apartment or bothering the guests. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Aside from her best friend, Jules doesn’t have anyone who would want to visit or anywhere to go, so the job seems like a great fit.
Jules, who is broke and sleeping on her best friend’s couch, sees the apartment sitting job as a way to press reset on her life. The pay is excellent, the location is one of her dreams and the offer seems too good to be true. Maybe because it is?
As Jules learns more about the Bartholomew, she begins to discover that apartment sitters there disappear. Will she be one of them?
Love Your Life, Not Theirs
In Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel Cruze, who is Dave Ramsey’s daughter, explains in practical terms how to best use your money and create habits that help you live a life that satisfies you instead of constantly comparing your life to others’.
MAID: HARD WORK, LOW PAY AND A MOTHER’S WILL TO SURVIVE
Many Americans know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, but even most of them don’t know the struggles when even those paychecks aren’t close to enough money to live.
A single parent in the U.S. cannot survive on minimum wage. That’s the reality Stephanie Land, 28, comes to terms with this as a single mother of a young daughter, working as a housekeeper and trying to make ends meet.
Stephanie, who had no family support, used government programs for housing, food and subpar medical care. She lived in fear that her daughter’s father would take her away because the little girl was constantly sick from the poor living conditions, unhealthy food and terrible healthcare.
In the meantime, all of Stephanie’s clients lived in excess they didn’t fully understand while something as small as offering her a sandwich for lunch while she was cleaning or giving a small Christmas tip made a big difference in her life.
Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, is haunted by the death of his mother when he was a teenager. Sarah and Jack return to Penny Gate, Iowa, when another accident happens at the family’s ranch. It isn’t long before Sarah begins to wonder if the murder and the “accident” have anything in common and why all of the women in Jack’s life seem targeted. Is her husband capable of murder? Does she really know him at all?
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Krakauer’s book told the story of some of these women and the men accused of raping them. It also explained how police and university officials rarely handled these reports properly, especially where members of the college’s beloved football team were concerned.
It seemed important to Krakauer for readers to understand why rape happens so frequently on college campuses (the statistic I’ve heard is one-in-five women are raped during their four years at university) and why these assaults rarely are reported. He also wanted to make clear the distinction between stranger and acquaintance rape, with rape by someone familiar to the victim being much more frequent and less likely to be reported.
Krakauer’s book sheds light on a horrifying problem in our nation’s education system that we must find a solution for. Otherwise, we’re not just educating our students, we’re creating an environment where they’re becoming victims at an alarming rate.
No. 7 Ocean Drive is a beautiful beachfront mansion in the Hamptons with terrible secrets. The home, which is rumored to be cursed, was the scene of a series of murders that never were solved.
Det. Jenna Murphy knows, when she begins investigating a double murder in the abandoned house, that there’s more to the house’s haunting history than most people care to admit. She doesn’t believe in curses, so she intends to find out what exactly is happening at Murder House and who is responsible.
MY DARK VANESSA
Vanessa Wye, 15, develops a relationship with her 42-year-old English teacher, Jacob Strane. At least she thinks it’s a relationship, a true love… sometimes.
As Vanessa gets older and more worldly she begins to question if what she thought was a relationship all these years actually was sexual abuse. She struggles with what Jacob, who she’s still in contact with, is to her as he is accused of sexual abuse by another former student.
The other victim reaches out to Vanessa and she has to decide whether to stay silent and cling to the belief that she was an equal participant in the relationship or admit what she’s denied all these years—that the man she thought was her first true love actually was her abuser.
My Lovely Wife
My Lovely Wife is about a suburban tennis coach and his realtor wife, Millicent. The couple and their two teenagers live what looks like a perfect, cookie cutter life in their upscale neighborhood, until you find out that they’re murderers.
Millicent was supposed to have killed and dumped Lindsay, a woman who went missing a year before she was found in an abandoned hotel. The couple kidnapped Lindsay to spice up their marriage, but Millicent apparently held her captive for a year without her husband knowing. Millicent says she tried to throw police off of their crime by adopting the methods of a local serial killer, Owen Oliver Riley. Her husband thinks this is a good idea initially, until he learns more about Riley and realizes that the story won’t work.
My Sister Milly
It look Gemma Dowler 15 years to tell the story of serial killer Levi Bellfield kidnapping, raping and murdering her 13-year-old sister on March 21, 2002 as she was walking home from school.
Milly’s body was found months after her disappearance, but it took years for the police to have any real suspects.
Gemma tells the story of her family’s grief and survival during the most difficult period of their lives. She discusses the perceived failings of the police, including focusing almost solely on her father as a suspect, withholding critical information to her sister’s case and outing family secrets while protecting Milly’s murderer. And Gemma writes candidly about media coverage of her sister’s kidnapping and murder, including the falsehoods and the damage it all did to the family.
My Sister’s Grave
Tracy Crosswhite is tough. Being a detective doesn’t phase her because she’s already been through the most difficult experience she’ll ever have.
Tracy watched 20 years ago as her younger sister, Sarah, pulled away in her red truck, never to be seen again.
Edmund House, a convicted rapist, later was jailed for Sara’s murder. Sara’s body was never found, and the evidence used to convict House never sounded quite right to Tracy. She left her hometown filled with bad memories and became a detective, hoping to give other families the closure hers never got.
When Sara’s remains are discovered, Tracy is more convinced than ever that something isn’t right about the case against House. She fears the wrong man is in prison and her sister’s killer is running free.
As she searches for the truth, Tracy discovers that the heartache she experienced losing Sara was just the beginning.
MY SUNSHINE AWAY
This book is about how a community copes with the rape of a teenage girl in their neighborhood and how the rape changes them all.
Lindy Simpson, 15, was raped one evening in 1989 while riding her bike home to her Baton Rouge neighborhood. The story of how things changed (and sometimes how they did not) after Lindy’s rape is told through the eyes of the boy who lives across the street and who loves her. He also was a suspect in the student athlete’s rape.
NEVER LET YOU GO
Lindsey Nash took her daughter and ran away from her abusive husband. The same night, her husband, Andrew, was driving under the influence, causing a wreck that killed a woman. He’s been in prison for 11 years
The book begins with Andrew’s release, followed by his steps to form a relationship with his daughter and a series of frightening “coincidences” that Lindsey is certain he is responsible for. When Charlie is released from an institution, she is once again homeless and must figure out how to create a life for herself without falling back into the dark place where she was before.
Conrad Carter is shot three times in his home office. His computer is shot 12 times by his pregnant wife, Evie Carter. Evie found her murdered husband, destroyed his computer to hide evidence, then is holding the gun when the police arrive.
Evie is not unknown to the police. Det. D.D. Warren immediately recognizes her from an old case. Evie’s father was shot and killed years ago, and Evie was responsible for the accident that killed him.
But Det. Warren isn’t the only one who recognizes someone. Flora Dane, survivor turned police informant, sees a news report about Conrad Carter’s murder and recognizes him as a man her former captor tried to sell her to. Could this be the computer evidence that Evie Carter attempted to destroy?
Darby Thorne is driving to Utah from Colorado to visit her dying mother when she gets caught in a snow storm. The roads are closed, so she is forced to wait out the storm in a highway rest stop building with four other strangers.
Darby wanders outside after meeting her strange companions because she’s trying to find a cell phone signal to at least call home and tell her sister where she is. While she’s walking around with her phone in the air, she sees something shocking in the van parked next to her car. There is a little girl in there, locked in an animal crate.
Darby has to figure out which of her companions the van belongs to and how she can save the little girl when they’re all trapped by the weather.
Cady Martino knows something isn’t right. Her 16-year-old sister, Savannah, didn’t meet her after school like they planned. Then Cady has a sort of vision and sees her twin dying. The girl’s body was found shortly after in an abandoned house. The police rule Savannah’s murder a random attack.
Years later, Cady still communicates with her deceased sister through dreams and is more determined than ever to find out who killed her. The problem is that there sometimes are things you don’t want to know about people you care about.
Odd Child Out
Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are best friends, but, when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol’s Feeder Canal, Abdi becomes temporarily mute and won’t provide Noah’s family with information about what happened.
Abdi’s silence makes what first looks like an accident seem potentially sinister. Soon the public creates a story of a Somali refugee boy killing his British best friend.
It’s up to the police to determine what actually happened to Noah that night and end the cultural friction in the community.
On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
William Zinsser’s class writing book is THE book on the craft of non-fiction writing. If you haven’t read it, you must.
ONE BY ONE
The founders of Snoop, a tech start-up, organize a retreat for their team at a ski chalet in the French Alps. There are some tensions between the cofounders because of a big buyout option, but everything else seems to be pretty normal, although some of the team likes one another better than others.
Then an avalanche leaves the group without power and stuck at the chalet. Even worse, one of the cofounders never made it back from skiing on the mountain. While they’re trying to decide if it’s safe to go looking for her, more and more of the team winds up either missing or dead. It becomes clear that someone among them is a murderer, but who and why?
Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, but she has no idea the trouble the simple post will bring. She deletes the photo, but it’s too late. Lauren begins being harassed and threatened by someone wanting to know who the woman is, someone who seems to be watching Lauren and her daughters.
Lauren has to confess to the woman, later joining forces with her to try to determine who this dangerous online stalker is.
One Click by Andrea Mara is a modern-day mystery. This book had my attention from the beginning. I didn’t realize until I was writing this post that I’m currently reading another of Mara’s books, The Other Side of the Wall. Both of these books also are available to read free on Kindle Unlimited.
Kristen Hadeed made a ton of mistakes while she was building her cleaning company, Student Maid.
Kristen started the company almost by accident 10 years ago while she was still a college student. She had no idea how to manage a company or the people in it
Kristen now is a sought-after business speaker, but it really does seem that she learned almost everything the hard way and she’s willing to share her mistakes to help others.
PIECES OF HER
Andrea Cooper is having a Saturday lunch with her mother, Laura, at a mall diner when a gunman begins shooting through the window. But what happens next really surprises Andrea. Her mom turns into some kind of super hero, disarming, then shooting the gunman. Who is this person and what has she been hiding from Andrea for 30 years?
The day after Laura survives the mall shooting, she is back in the hospital, shot by an intruder who seems to have been looking for her. And Andrea is on the run, trying to piece together her mother’s past before it catches up with her.
Pete and Maddie are busy raising their 2-year-old son, Theo, when they get news that changes their lives forever. Theo isn’t their son. It seems their son and Theo, who actually belongs to Miles and Lucy Lambert, were switched at the hospital at birth. To make matters more complicated, Pete and Maddie’s birth son, David, has many developmental delays and needs around-the-clock care.
At first it seems like they can work together with the Lamberts to raise both boys, who already are accustomed to their environments. But then it becomes apparent that the uber-wealthy Miles will stop at nothing to get his perfect son back. But is the Lamberts’ home the best place for Theo? Also, Maddie, who once thought the Lamberts’ money was best to provide care for David, is growing increasingly concerned about her biological son’s treatment.
Present Over Perfect
While Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist is written through a spiritual lens, it’s a book almost every woman can related to, regardless of her spirituality.
The book’s foundation is to live a meaningful life with real connections instead of trying to do everything and be everything to everyone.
The story is told through Niequist’s own life experience of realizing that it was time to stop pushing herself so hard and focus on what was really important.
Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister, Julia, disappeared more than 20 years ago. The two women haven’t spoken since. Claire is the beautiful trophy wife of a millionaire. Lydia is a single mother and former drug addict who dates an ex-con.
A secret brings the women back together after Claire’s husband is killed, but they never imagine it will led them to their sister’s murderer.
PRETTY GIRLS DANCING
Kelsey Willard disappeared years ago and was presumed dead, tearing her family apart. Now another teenage girl is missing and the Willards are suffering all over again. Could this case be tied to Kelsey’s? Is it the same person? Could Kelsey still be alive?
Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant had a lot of twists and turns. This book also can be read free with Kindle Unlimited.
The true story of the 1993 brutal rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston.
Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena just happened to walk through the wrong place at the wrong time. The girls were headed home from a friend’s house and took a secluded shortcut so they would make it home on time for curfew. What happened instead is they ran into a gang of six killers.
Jon Acuff explains how to harness your dream and start achieving it while still having the security of a full-time job.
Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott is all about how to have difficult conversations as a leader.
The book gives practical advice for leading individuals or teams, and how to give and solicit real, helpful feedback. I found myself applying what I learned from the book immediately as I was reading it.
For anyone who leads a team or wants to, Scott’s book is a must read.
Bob Woodward is one of the most prolific journalists of all time. I trust his reporting, so I was interested in his take on President Donald Trump.
What Woodward showed as a result of 17 interviews with Trump and observations while covering the Trump White House is a president out of his depths. In an attempt to maintain control and make the decisions necessary of his office, Trump rules by force and fear, both of which are intertwined with his own clear mental illnesses.
The most important findings in Woodward’s reporting is that Trump was warned in January 2020 about the COVID-19 pandemic. The president, according to Woodward’s reporting and the president’s own recorded words, understood the severity and implications of the pandemic, but still refused to respond immediately and appropriately.
Cara’s boyfriend, the love of her life, died in an accident 20 years ago. Cara’s sister, Anna, went to prison for killing him and has struggled with drug addiction since her release.
Anna’s life is in shambles, but Cara always pauses her successful livelihood (great job, successful husband, beautiful daughter) to rescue her sister. But when Anna decides to come clean, for real this time, she begins to remember things that others in her life can’t afford for her to recall.
Redemption Road by John Hart has a host of unlikely, intertwined characters including a little boy who wants revenge for his mother’s murder, crooked cops (actual and perceived), a rogue detective who you want to win, a senile attorney who is brighter than everyone else, and a preacher with more problems than the whole lot of them.
Estelle Paradise wakes up in a hospital severely injured and missing and ear. As she comes to, Estelle remembers that her infant daughter, Mia, is missing. But she doesn’t remember anything aside from finding Mia’s crib empty and Mia and her things (diapers, clothes, bottles, etc.) gone. Of course, Estelle, who suffered from postpartum depression that she tried unsuccessfully to hide, is the police’s primary suspect. Witnesses come forward who have seen her acting strangely toward the colicky Mia. To clear her name and find her daughter, Estelle must recover her memory, but she’s not certain she wants to because the truth may be more than she can handle.
Novelist Ted Chapman and his trophy wife, Grace, seem to live a fairy tale life. They are successful, with a beautiful home, a high society standing and a devoted daughter.
But we all know looks can be deceiving.
Ted actually has terrible rages, and Grace is afraid to make a wrong move in her own home.
When Grace hires a new assistant to help her cope with Ted, she finds herself questioning her marriage, her reputation and her sanity. The question becomes how much the new assistant, Beth, has to do with Grace’s problems.
SECONDS TO LIVE
Seconds to Live is part of Melinda Leigh’s Scarlet Falls series. The series focuses on Barrett siblings—Grant, Mac and Hannah.
In Seconds to Live, Mac Barrett returns to Scarlett Falls when he learns that his father is dying. The night his father dies, he crashes his Jeep to keep from hitting a naked woman lying in the road. But, when Mac comes to, the woman is gone. He gives the woman’s description to Det. Stella Dane only to discover that the woman he saw fits the description of a missing woman. Mac and Stella work together to solve the mystery and catch the woman’s kidnapper.
SHE SAID: BREAKING THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT STORY THAT HELPED IGNITED A MOVEMENT
For many years, reporters tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power.
During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees and other sources, Kantor and Twohey proved the importance of solid journalism and an unwillingness to give up. They exposed Weinstein as a serial predator who paid off anyone he feared may expose him.
But Kantor and Twohey did more than expose Weinstein in their Oct. 5, 2017 story. They empowered women all over the world to come forward with their own traumatic stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. They ignited a movement that hopefully will continue to empower women around the world to say enough is enough
SMALL GREAT THINGS
Ruth Jefferson is an experienced labor and delivery nurse. She is making her rounds and stops to check on a baby, only to be told later by a supervisor that the baby’s parents, who are white supremacists, do not want her touching their little boy.
Ruth is shocked, angered and hurt by the mandate to stay away from the infant, but moves on doing her job.
The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is the only one in the nursery. Ruth hesitates, but helps the baby. When he dies, Ruth is charged with his death.
Smart Money, Smart Kids
Rachel Cruze gets her Dad, Dave Ramsey’s help in explaining to parents how to teach their kids responsibility with money. We are implementing some of these changes at our house. While it will be difficult for our kids to adjust to initially, the authors explain that the worst thing parents can do for their children’s financial futures is to act like an ATM every time they need money. This book is a must read for any parent. I wish I had read it earlier.
SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE
I cannot believe how many people are racist and otherwise inappropriate when it comes to Black women’s hair.
The thing with the hair — how people somehow think it’s ok to talk about, judge as unprofessional and even touch Black women’s hair without their permission — was just one of the things I learned about from Ijeoma Oluo’s book.
I worked more than ever before in 2020 to be a better ally. That work included reading a series of “the best” books on racism and white privilege. This book was by far my favorite because it made talking about race and racism seem much less frightening for those of us who are afraid to get it wrong.
Allie Garvey returns home for the funeral of a childhood friend and confronts a secret she’s kept for 20 years.
As teenagers, Allie and a group of her classmates were drinking in the woods and played a prank that turned deadly. The secret has haunted Allie and shaped all of their lives since.
Now Allie has to decide whether telling the truth will heal her or make her life worse. And what about the others? Will revealing the truth help them or exacerbate their issues?
Someone We Know
What would you do if you teenage son confessed to breaking into your neighbors’ houses and hacking into their computers?
Even worse, what would you do if one of those neighbors was found murdered and your son’s fingerprints were all over the house?
After two anonymous letters are received from an apologetic mother, gossip starts to circulate in a New York neighborhood. When the woman down the street is found murdered, it seems that every is (and should be) a suspect.
But it appears that the secrets discovered by a teenager involved in his own crimes could solve the murder, even though they may also hurt the ones he loves most.
SOMETIMES I LIE
When Amber Reynolds wakes up in a hospital she can’t remember what happened to put her there.
Amber can’t move, speak or open her eyes, but she can hear what others around her are saying. It’s through their words and conversations with each other that Amber starts to piece together what happened and realizes that she may still be in danger.
But how do you protect yourself when you can’t speak or move?
Son: A Psychopath and His Victims
Author Jack Olsen recounts the 1980s arrest and conviction of Fred Coe, a serial rapist in Spokane, Wash.
Coe is a psychopath from a well-to-do family who raped an unknown number of women (He was convicted for raping three women, but the number is thought to be more than 30.). His social status, unusual beliefs and heinous crimes make the book interesting.
Our favorite Jojo Moyes character Louisa Clark is back!
Louisa has arrived in New York ready to embrace her new life while hoping to keep her relationship with Sam alive, even though he’s across the ocean.
Louisa’s new job is for Agnes Gopnik, the young wife of the super rich Leonard Gopnik. The job puts Louisa in the middle of the posh New York upperclass and has her running around doing chores she never even knew people did.
As Louisa tries to keep her relationship and her life together she discovers that everyone has secrets, some people’s are just bigger than others. She also discovers who her true friends really are.
Imagine this. A man drives his car into your house, and you discover that the garage you thought was your husband’s wood workshop is actually a torture chamber where he’s been murdering women.
That’s what happened to Gina Royal, a housewife with two children, who goes on the run, disguising her identity and that of her children to protect them from people who think she knew about her husband’s crimes and protected him.
When the trio ends up at Stillhouse Lake, Gina (now Gwen) begins to finally feel at home and like they might be able to stay for awhile. But then a dead woman is pulled from the lake and threatening letters begin arriving from her ex-husband, who is in jail for his crimes.
SUCH A FUN AGE
Alix Chamberlain is scandalized when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler at a local high-end supermarket.
The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping 2-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.
But Emira, 25, is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. As Alix works to do what she thinks will better Emira’s life, the women discover that they have someone in common who has the ability to change both of their lives.
TEAR ME APART
Competitive skier Mindy Wright is having the run of her life, qualifying for the Olympics, right until she crashes. With her leg in pieces, Mindy goes into surgery.
The good news is that doctors are able to repair the leg, and it looks like Mindy will ski again. The bad news is that doctors discover Mindy has leukemia and needs a stem cell transplant to live.
Mindy’s parents struggle to come to terms with the real tragedy while also figuring out how to tell Mindy that she’s not actually their daughter. Now they have to find Mindy’s birth parents to save her life.
TELL ME LIES
In Tell Me Lies, Psychologist Margot Scott has a life most women would envy, including a husband, two children, and a successful career. But when their home is set fire with the family in it, Margot begins to understand that one of her clients is trying to harm her. Suddenly everyone she talked to in her practice seems like a suspect. Margot just needs to figure out who it is and why they’re after her before her family is in further danger.
TELL ME MORE
In the book, the author shares with us 12 essential phrases that she’s learned to use in her life and the stories of those lessons. Some of Kelly’s 12 hard things she’s learning (or has learned) to say are things we all need to learn to tell others.
Toni Murphy was not a perfect teenager. She drank, did drugs, had a rebel boyfriend, and lied to her parents, further straining an already difficult relationship. Despite Toni’s flaws, she wasn’t a murderer.
When Toni’s younger sister is brutally murdered, she and her boyfriend, Ryan, are convicted of the crime and sent to prison.
Once they’re out on parole, Toni and Ryan (who aren’t allowed to be in contact) end up back in the small town of their youth, trying to clear their names.
THE 5 A.M. MIRACLE
You don’t need to wake up at 5 a.m. to apply the productivity concepts in The 5 a.m. Miracle. It’s about the high-achieving, motivational concepts, not the time. The book will teach you how to work your morning with an intentional routine and provides seven steps to use to accomplishing amazing levels of productivity.
The 5-Second Rule
In The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins teaches readers to treat their ideas like a shuttle launch and 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… just do it. Without this tool, we will talk ourselves out of doing things we don’t feel confident doing or that we don’t want to do.
I’ve used the five second rule to accomplish numerous household chores, run errands I didn’t want to run, write when I didn’t feel like writing, and make phone calls, which I hate. I even used the five second rule to complete an important task that’s been on my to do list for a full semester.
Not only am I using the five second rule daily, I also am learning a ton from Mel’s daily video bonuses that come with the book.
And, the more I learn from her teachings, the more I realize that I really like Mel. I love that her story starts from the bottom (failing marriage, alcoholism, job loss, etc.) and she built her way to the top.
The 5 Second Rule gives the reader practical advice you can use to change your life immediately.
THE ART OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick gives you more than 100 practical tips and tricks for using the most popular social media platforms expertly. The guidance includes teaching the reader how to set up your profile appropriately on each medium, attract more followers and post great content.
The book is a great read for anyone who feels uncertain about the basics of social media, or who just wants amazing tips and tricks from people who know.
The Barefoot Executive
The Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson was one of those books that inspired me immediately.
In the book, Wilkerson tells about her transition from a teacher to a business owner. She helps you answer questions about why you want to work for yourself, what type of business you should have, and how to set goals and be successful.
Wilkerson’s advice is easy to understand and apply. Plus, her personality is just relatable, making the book fun to read.
The Boy in the Photo
Megan’s 6-year-old son Daniel disappeared when his abusive father picked him up from school and went on the run.
Six years later, after searching endlessly for him, Megan gets the call she’s been dreaming of. Daniel was found. He walked into a police station in a remote town just a few miles away.
Megan is thrilled that her son is coming home. But home is different from what he left. Not only does Megan live in a new house, she also remarried and has an infant daughter.
Megan isn’t the only one who’s changed. Daniel is just not the same. Daniel was able to escape his father after police say the man died in a fire. Megan is left to try to rediscover her son and help him heal.
Cass wasn’t sure if she should pull off of a deserted road in the middle of a rainstorm to help a stranded motorist. She pulled over and waited for the driver to flash the headlights for help. When that didn’t happen, she assumed the driver already had called someone and headed home. The next morning she finds out that the driver was murdered and she knew the woman.
As Cass struggles with her secret guilt, she starts forgetting things. She can’t remember where she left her car, if she took her pills, who she invited to dinner, or how to work the coffee maker. Cass is afraid something is seriously wrong with her. Even more so, she’s terrified by the silent calls she’s suddenly receiving at certain times of day and she’s certain the murderer is watching her. Cass’s husband thinks she’s losing her mind, but is she?
Caroline Cashion is suffering from headaches and numbness in her side, so her doctor orders an MRI. He discovers that Caroline has a bullet lodged in her head. How the heck can you have a bullet in your head without knowing?
Caroline does the obvious thing and questions her parents. They eventually come clean and tell her that she was adopted when she was 3 years old. Her biological parents were murdered in their home. Caroline was the only survivor, but she was shot and the doctors feared she would die if they removed the bullet.
Caroline returns to her hometown to find out everything she can about her parents and how they died. Her reappearance opens up the old case into their murder more than three decades before.
THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN
A man who known to his captives as “the Gardener” kidnaps women and tattoos their backs with the wings of the butterflies he names them after. When the “garden” is discovered by police, two FBI agents interview “Maya” to determine how the women got to the garden, what happened to them there and how they managed to get free.
The story is told through Maya’s interviews with the agents, going back and forth between the interview room and her time in the garden.
When Rachel answers the phone, the caller’s message isn’t anything she expected. Her daughter has been kidnapped from the bus stop on her way to school.
Rachel is now part of The Chain.
If Rachel doesn’t kidnap another child, her daughter will be murdered. If she follows through with the demand, and so does the person after her, her daughter will be released.
Rachel has to decide if she can do the unthinkable to continue the chain and save her daughter’s life. Or is there another way? A way to break the chain?
Kate Waters, a journalist, is investigating the discovery of a baby’s skeleton at a construction site in London.
As Kate tries to figure out the baby’s identity, she discovers that it could be a baby stolen from a maternity ward decades earlier.
The reporter ends up discovering one woman who desperately hopes the baby is hers and one who doesn’t.
The Corpse Had a Familiar Face
The Corpse Had a Familiar Face is former crime reporter Buchanan’s story of covering more than 5,000 deaths for The Miami Herald.
Buchanan was one of the first female crime reporters in the late ’70s. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and left reporting full-time in 1988 to become a novelist.
The Couple Next Door
Who on earth goes next door to a dinner party and leaves there infant baby asleep in the crib at home? Well, apparently Anne and Marco Conti do. And, of course, when they arrive back home, their baby is missing. Suspicion focuses on them, but then winds its way through their motley crew of family and friends. The most important thing is that someone find baby Cora before it’s too late.
THE CULTURE CODE
Anyone who leads a team should read this book, which gives advice for how to build and sustain a great team culture, using examples from companies like Pixar and Google.
I enjoyed the format of the book, which is a chapter introducing a concept, several applicable, real-world examples, then step-by-step instructions on how you can implement the concept within your own team. Practical takeaways are important.
This book gives you tools to help you create a strong group culture, regardless of size, that can accomplish great things together. It will change the way you think as a leader.
THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY
Here’s what I’ve learned about Ruth Ware. If you take her books to seriously, you won’t enjoy them. But, if you think of Ware’s writing as more chick-lit crime, you’re likely to love it. The Death of Mrs. Westaway was no exception.
Hal is beyond broke when she receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes that the letter was sent to the wrong person, but she’s desperate, so she goes to try to claim the money anyway. But was the letter really a mistake? And what’s wrong with these odd people who are the family of the deceased? Is Hal in over her head?
THE END OF HER
Stephanie and Patrick are happy, despite having colicky twin babies that are taking everything out of them. Then a woman named Erica shows up.
Erica is the best friend of Patrick’s first wife, who Patrick claims died in an accident. Erica says her friend’s death was no accident. She says Patrick murdered her and Stephanie is next.
Stephanie, who inherited a lot of money from her parents, doesn’t believe Erica at first. But the more she learns about her husband’s past and the more she observes his odd behavior where Erica is concerned, the more questions she has. Who should she trust? Maybe neither of them.
Olivia Randall, a cut-throat criminal defense lawyer in New York City, is called to defend her former fiance, Jack Harris. Jack has been arrested for a triple homicide, including a victim connected with his wife’s murder years before.
Olivia is convinced that Jack is innocent, but she can’t figure out who would frame him. Olivia feels like she owes Jack for her past actions against him, but, the deeper she digs, the less certain she is that Jack isn’t capable of the crime he’s been accused of.
THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED
After spending more than two years in a mental institution, Cassie O’Malley emancipates herself and leaves the home. Her mother, who put her in the institution against her will, paid for her to attend college, which is where she goes when she leaves. But Cassie doesn’t understand how to function in the “outside” world and struggles with friendships and her relationship with her mother. The book explores how Cassie came to be in the institution and her efforts to discover what really caused her problems.
THE GIRL BEFORE
A modern-day horror story about the house at One Folgate Street, the eccentric architect who built the home and the women who must give up all of their possessions and agree to constant monitoring by the house in order to live there.
THE GIRL WITHOUT A NAME
Dr. Zoe Goldman doesn’t know what to think of her new patient. The African American girl was found wandering the streets of Buffalo in a catatonic state.
The police brought the girl to the hospital and Zoe begins trying to heal her while working to figure out who she is. She soon discovers that someone is working just as hard to make sure the girl doesn’t remember who she is or how she ended up in the hospital.
THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET
Anna Roux was a professional dancer until she moved with her husband from Paris to Missouri. The move is good for him, but not for Anna, who spirals into depression and anorexia.
Anna weighs only 88 pounds and is near death with her husband checks her in as a patient at 17 Swann Street. It’s a final effort to save her life.
At 17 Swann Street, Anna meets other women whose suffering is similar and also different from hers. She makes friends and the women try to support each other through their healing.
THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS
Arden Maynor was a little girl when she was swept away by flooding waters during a rainstorm. Most people thought she was dead, but they continued to search and amazingly found the girl two days later, holding onto a storm drain.
Arden’s mother wrote a book, making her famously known as “the girl from Widow Hills.” But Arden didn’t love the attention that came with her notoriety. As she grew older, she decided to leave it all behind, moving and even going by her middle name, Olivia.
As the 20th anniversary of her rescue approaches, Olivia begins to think she’s being watched. Then she starts sleepwalking again, which is what she was doing when she was swept away in the flood. Only this time she wakes up standing over the dead body of a man from her hometown. It doesn’t take long for people in her new town to figure out who she is and for Olivia to begin questioning the story she was told about herself so long ago.
THE GOOD DAUGHTER
It’s a normal evening at the Quinn house until two armed men appear in the family’s kitchen on a mission against the father, a controversial local defense attorney. They murdered the mother and forced the two girls into the woods. Charlie ran. Samantha was shot and buried alive. Both were changed forever.
The next time Samantha got the chance, she ran. She’s nursing her disabilities and wounds while living a wealthy, successful life, despite her past.
The next time Charlie got a chance to run, she stayed. She still lives in Pikeville and is a lawyer sharing an office with her father.
Now, 28 years later, tragedy strikes the town again, bringing the sisters back together to deal with the present while coping with the past.
THE GUEST LIST
When a magazine publisher and a reality television star get married, the wedding has to be an event. That’s what leads a group of posh people to a remote island off the coast of Ireland, where the cell reception is bad and a storm is rolling in.
Pretty soon the drinks are flowing and some members of the wedding party and other guests start behaving oddly. Then, as the storm hits, a body is found and the whodunnit begins.
THE HEAVENS MAY FALL
Det. Max Rupert and Attorney Boady Sanden may not be friends after this case. The men have a long history, but they also both have history with Ben Pruitt.
Max is convinced that Ben killed his wife, Jennavieve Pruitt. Max doesn’t think Ben is an honest man, after the attorney presented false evidence against Max during a trial.
Boady is equally convinced that Ben, his client and the man who took over his law firm when he retired and went into academia, is innocent.
Both Max and Boady will have to deal with their pasts as they work on opposite sides of Ben’s case. Is Ben guilty or innocent? Will the right man win?
Bobby Nock, a 25-year-old black teacher, is about to be convicted of murdering his 15-year-old student, Jessica Silver. There’s just one problem for the prosecution—Maya Seale.
Maya is convinced that Bobby isn’t guilty or at least there is reasonable doubt. She persuades the rest of the jurors to return the verdict of not guilty, a controversial decision that changes all their lives.
A decade later, a true-crime film crew reassembles the jury. They want to retell the story, with a focus on Maya, who has become a defense attorney. When one of the jurors is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, she has to prove her own innocence while revisiting the original crime that brought the group together.
THE I-5 KILLER
The I-5 Killer by the late Ann Rule, my favorite true crime author, is about Randall Woodfield, a handsome star athlete and award-winning student turned serial killer. Woodfield even practices with the Green Bay Packers for a short time.
Woodfield killed at least 44 women in the mid-’70s through early ’80s along the I-5 highway through California and Washington before he was caught and convicted. It is my understanding that he later was linked to even more cold cases after he was in prison. He also sued Ann for writing this book.
Woodfield still is serving his prison sentence. He will never be released.
THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS
Anthony Peardew became the keeper of lost things after he lost his fiancee’s most prized possession on the day she died. Having tied her death to his irresponsibility, Anthony begins collecting and labeling things he finds that other people have lost. He does this for 40 years until his death, when he leaves his strange collection to his assistant, Laura.
Laura’s job is to take care of Anthony’s home and to reunite as many of the lost things with their owners.
The Last Mrs. Parrish
Amber Patterson thinks she deserves for her life to be better, so she sets her sights on what she thinks will give her the money and power she’s always wanted—Daphne Parrish’s husband, Jackson.
The problem is that Daphne and Jackson are such a fairy tale couple that it seems it will be impossible to split them up. Amber puts her plan into motion and soon has everything she’s always dreamed of, with a twist that she seriously wasn’t planning.
Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE
Lex is struggling with the suicide of her teenage brother, Tyler, who she thought she knew so well. As she tries to fit her life back together, she wrestles with her lack of understanding of his motives and what to do about the secret she’s kept about the last text message Tyler ever sent her.
THE LAZY GENIUS WAY
Just because you don’t live your life the way other people do doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
That’s the overwhelming message in Kendra Adachi’s book and I am here for it!
What it means to live well is something you define, not something others should define for you. Once you determine what living well looks like to you, it’s easy to embrace life in a guilt-free way that makes you fulfilled.
You can help define and live your best life by following Adachi’s 13 Lazy Genius Principles, which she identifies in the book. The principles are basically life hacks that help you let go of (or easily accomplish) the “shoulds” so you can move on to your wants.
THE LIES WE TOLD
When Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, goes missing, she discovers that the perfectionism she saw in his family was all a facade.
Clara discovers that Luke’s sister, who disappeared when he was much younger, and a strange girl named Hannah, who has been stalking and threatening him, may be connected.
Now Clara has to figure out the connection and find Luke before it’s too late. But first she has to convince his family to tell the truth about the secrets they’ve been keeping.
THE LIFE WE BURY
Joe Talbert is just trying to get an A in English. He is supposed to interview a stranger and write the person’s biography. He goes to a nearby nursing home to find a subject and meets Carl Iverson.
Carl is convicted of raping and murdering a teenage girl who lived next to him. He spent 30 years in prison before being medically paroled to the nursing home with terminal cancer.
As Joe learns more about Carl, he realizes that he’s found more than just an interesting topic for an English paper. He believes Carl was wrongfully accused and the girl’s murderer is still out there. But how can Joe prove Carl’s innocence before the man dies?
The Marriage Lie
Will wasn’t supposed to be headed to Seattle. He was going to a business conference in Florida, one Iris later finds out never existed.
The book begins with what’s basically every spouse’s worst nightmare—the death of the partner. Iris actually learns from a news report that her husband of seven years, Will, was on a Seattle-bound plane that crashed into a field, killing all of the passengers on board.
Iris tries to cope with the loss of her husband while uncovering more and more lies, and wondering if he was living some kind of double life. In the end, what she finds out is more disturbing than what she could have imagined.
THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER
Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret. She is the product of an abduction.
Helena’s mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the Michigan marshlands. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and, despite her father’s brutal behavior, she loved him, too, until she had to choose between him and her mother.
More than 20 year after sending her father to jail, Helena finds out he has escaped. She knows he’s headed for her and her family. She also knows it’s a reunion they won’t all survive. Can she stop him before he kills what’s most important to her?
THE MOMENT OF LIFT: HOW EMPOWERING WOMEN CHANGED THE WORLD
When women support women, the world improves. There is nothing that women can’t do when we support and uplift each other.
I love a strong woman, especially when she uses her strength and position to support other women. Melinda Gates does just this, and she wants the world to join her.
Gates spent the last 20 years discovering the secret to making the entire world a better place — support women. It’s that simple.
In her book, Gates shares lessons she’s learned from around the world about how women are and aren’t supported, and how much the world can change for the better when this inequality is addressed.
The Motivation Myth
Motivation is not a thing, and you certainly shouldn’t wait for it to appear so you can accomplish your goals.
Instead, motivation is the thrill of success when you’re actually accomplishing things. It’s the outcome, not the catalyst.
So, instead of waiting for motivation to appear or not working when it doesn’t, it’s more important to set goals and realistic steps to meeting those goals, then force yourself to do the work.
THE MURDERER NEXT DOOR
Did you know that 91% of men and 84% of women have fantasized about murdering someone?
I didn’t know this statistic until I read Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, where it is mentioned. Frankly, after reading it, I had to know more.
The Murdered Next Door is based on David Buss’s study on the psychology behind murder. The findings are interesting, including those on who is most likely to murder whom and why.
Clearly we should all be more mindful of who we wrong.
Did Jason Jones kill his wife? He’s certainly hiding something.
The beautiful, young teacher and mother disappeared from the couple’s home, leaving their 4-year-old daughter as the single witness to whatever happened. Her body hasn’t been found, but her husband also isn’t acting like he’s overly concerned about finding her.
Det. Sgt. D.D. Warren investigates the disappearance and the host of characters who may be responsible.
THE NEW ONE MINUTE MANAGER
Management certainly isn’t set it and forget it, so perhaps the title of this fundamental management book is a bit off. However, the book is packed full of important lessons and practical advice for leading others.
The book walks through a narrative of a man trying to learn why a certain leader is so effective. Through interviews with the leader and his staff, the man learns about the concept of the One Minute Manager and how it works.
The concepts of One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings and One Minute Re-Directs aren’t difficult to understand. It’s also not difficult to see why they work or identify when you’ve seen effective leaders apply them.
This book is worth reading (and re-reading) by anyone who manages a team.
THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL
Abi Knight gets the middle-of-the-night call that no parent wants to receive. Her daughter, Olivia, was in an accident and is in the hospital.
Olivia’s “accident” doesn’t seem right to Abi for many reasons. Her daughter is said to have fallen off a bridge and is brain dead. She also is pregnant, which is a shock to her mother. And, if Olivia was alone and fell, why are their bruises around her wrists like someone grabbed her?
Police rule Olivia’s fall an accident, but Abi doesn’t believe it. She does what any mother would do, she sets out to find out what really happened to her daughter.
THE NOWHERE CHILD
Jack and Molly Went’s daughter, Sammy, disappeared almost 30 years ago from their Kentucky home. Now Kimberly Leamy receives information that she’s the Wents’ missing daughter.
The woman she knew and loved as her mother is dead, so Kimberly goes to find out if she’s the Wents’ daughter and how she ended up being raised by another woman, in another country, with another name. She discovers is that her disappearance may have something to do with her birth mother’s involvement in a local, fanatic church. But some of the church’s leaders don’t want Kimberly to discover the truth, and they’re prepared to do what they have to do to protect their own.
THE NOWHERE GIRLS
Three girls unite a school of women after the rape of a fellow classmate.
The girls start a group, the Nowhere Girls, as a movement against the misogynist culture at their high school, which they soon discover is negatively impacting every girl in the school.
The Nowhere Girls are no one and everyone at the same time. United, they use their power to transform the lives of the victims around them and the boys who victimize them.
What if you could take a DNA test to find out who your soulmate is?
That’s the promise of a company of scientists who say they’ve found a gene that can determine the single other person you’re supposed to be with for the rest of your life. It sounds pretty amazing, but what happens if, for example, you are already married to someone else? Or if your soulmate is unexpectedly the same sex?
What seems like the end to the dating game results in relationships being destroyed. But what if there are mistakes? Or if the database is hacked? What happens if the science isn’t foolproof?
The One Thing
The One Thing by Gary Keller is one of those life-changing books that leaves you soul searching.
In the book, Keller encourages readers to find the ONE thing that, by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary. The goal is to help readers focus in on tasks that truly move them toward their goals and eliminate everything else.
Of course, first you have to identify your ONE thing, which sent me into a bit of a tailspin, but Keller offers advice for doing that too.
I encourage everyone who never feels like they’re getting enough done or doing what’s important to them… anyone who doesn’t feel as successful as they could/should be to read The One Thing.
THE PAIN EATER
Maddy Malone was on her way home from a school play one night when a group of boys from her school pushed her into a wooded area and gang raped her.
Maddy never told anyone what happened that night, but the truth, including who the boys were (they wore masks from the play) begins to come out through an English class assignment to write a collaborative novel.
THE PERFECT HUSBAND
There’s no such thing as a perfect husband, buck Tess really thought she’d found one. Jim Beckett swept her off her feet. He was a handsome police officer who doted on her. She was thrilled when he asked her to marry him and took her away from her unhappy, abusive home life.
Two years later Tess helped put Jim behind bars for murdering 10 women. Jim vowed to make Tess pay for turning him in.
Tess attempts to keep herself and her daughter safe from her killer husband after he escapes from prison. To do so, she enlists the services of an ex-marine who has a lot of problems of his own.
THE PHANTOM PRINCE: MY LIFE WITH TED BUNDY
There are a couple of serial killers that anyone interested in true crime knows entirely too much about. Ted Bundy is one of them.
I know a silly amount about Bundy, having read books and watched shows about him through the years. But Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir about her six-year relationship with Bundy showed me a different side of the serial murderer.
The most disturbing part of Kendall’s book for me was her description of Bundy’s relationship with her daughter, Molly Kendall. The new edition of the book also includes a chapter from Molly, who had never before shared her views on Bundy. If there was any way left to still romanticize Bundy (and there really shouldn’t be), reading about his treatment of Molly will change your mind.
The Poisoned City
This book about the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., seems like a story from an apocalyptic movie. Sadly, though, it’s true.
The state government made the poorly-informed decision to switch the city’s water supply to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. The decision was made mostly for economic reasons.
After the change, officials essentially ignored complaints from residents about the water’s foul smell and off color as the population began growing increasingly ill as a result of lead poisoning.
It took 18 months for state officials to finally admit that the water was poisonous. By then, 12 people had died and we still don’t know the long-term impact of their terrible decision.
The Productivity Project
Chris Bailey spent a year performing personal productivity experiments and interviews with productivity experts to determine what truly makes a person productive. The book documents that year.
It was interesting to read about what Bailey found successful and what he didn’t.
Bailey’s writing style also makes it seem as if he’s talking to the reader about what he learned through his experiments.
Julia lost her family in an accident two years ago. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their home. But the girl’s body was never found, and Julia believes she is still alive.
After her loss, Julia decided to open her house as a writer’s retreat. Enter a cast of unusual characters, including Lucas, a horror novelist.
When Lucas learns about Lily’s story, he sets out to determine what actually happened to her. He learns that the small town has a lot of secrets and urban legends just might be true.
THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES
Patricia Campbell is a bored housewife. She loves her family, of course, but taking care of two teenagers, a husband who is always at work and an ailing mother-in-law gets old. Trying to seem perfectly put together and happy while doing it gets even older. That’s why Patricia loves her book club.
In the beginning, the book club is just as fake as Patricia’s life. They pretend they’re going to read deep, meaningful, important books and have equally deep, meaningful discussions about them. Then they discover true crime books and the club starts getting real. They are obsessed with the cases and the killers.
Then strange things start happening in the neighborhood. Patricia is randomly attacked by an elderly rabid neighbor while walking home from book club one night. When the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, comes into town, the women start wondering if they’re living in their own true crime novel.
The Spiral Notebook
The Spiral Notebook explores why America keeps producing mass killers in their 20s.
The book uses the July 20, 2012 shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., as a sort of case study to reflect on mass killings by young people. It also includes interviews by individuals in the age group about why they think people in their peer age group choose to kill.
The Stranger Beside Me
It’s been more than years 40 since the name Ted Bundy became synonymous with the idea that anyone can be a murderer.
Bundy was handsome and charismatic… a preppy, frat-guy type. He approached women in public places, feigning an injury, disability or impersonating an authority figure, to gain their trust. He didn’t look frightening, so women didn’t know not to trust him until it was too late. He would overpower them, assault them and sometimes revisit their dead bodies to perform sex acts on them. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims, keeping their heads in his apartment as souvenirs. At one point, he escaped from jail and broke into a sorority house at Florida State University, killing two women and assaulting others while at least 30 women slept in the house.
It has been nearly 25 years since Bundy was executed for three murders. But the number we don’t know is the one that makes him one of America’s most intriguing serial killers.
We have no idea how many women Bundy murdered. When asked, Bundy said to “add a digit” to the known number of 36. He never explained what that meant.
Did he mean 37?
Were we to add some other random digit?
Was it possible that he meant 360?
We’ll never know.
Even a woman who knew him as well as anyone wasn’t able to get the answer.
Ann Rule worked the late shift at a crisis hotline with Bundy in the 1970s. The two became friends, sharing pieces of their lives between suicide calls. They remained friends until Bundy’s arrest, even talking on the phone when miles came between them.
Ann had been a full-time true crime writer since 1969. It wasn’t until she was covering the crimes as a reporter and, honestly, until he was arrested, that she realized her close friend was responsible for the murders.
The Stranger Beside Me tells of Rule’s relationship with Bundy and her reporting on his crimes. The simple, fact-based narrative allows you to uncover the story and association much the way Rule did. There’s no sensationalism, only storytelling.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is not another self-help book. In fact, it’s probably the opposite.
Manson isn’t necessarily telling us not to care about anything, despite the book’s title. His message to the reader is to care about the right things and quit thinking that everything has to be or will be perfect.
Instead, Manson says we should embrace our imperfections and figure out what really matters in life. After all, life isn’t about everything being perfect, it’s about how we respond when it isn’t.
THE SUN DOES SHINE
It’s better to be white, wealthy and guilty than it is to be black, poor and innocent.
Anthony Ray Hinton was poor, black and without appropriate legal representation when he was convicted of two murders he didn’t commit. For the next three decades he was trapped in solitary confinement on death row, watching as fellow prisoners were taken past him to the execution room.
Eventually his case was taken up by lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who managed to have him exonerated, though it took 15 years. During those 15 years, Hinton started a death row book club and helped the men there see that someone cared about them.
THE SUN DOWN MOTEL
Carly Kirk has never been able to get over the story of her aunt, Viv Delaney, disappearing from her job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel. When Carly’s mother, Viv’s sister, dies in 2017, Carly decides to return to Fell, N.Y., and try to solve the mystery of her aunt’s disappearance.
Wouldn’t you know it, when Carly arrives in Fell, the night clerk job at the Sun Down is available and the woman living in her aunt’s old apartment is looking for a roommate. Pretty soon Carly finds herself living a modern version of her aunt’s life, but not everyone in Fell, living or dead, is happy to revisit the past.
Kate Waters is sent to cover the story of two British teenage girls missing in Bangkok. She later finds out that the girls were killed in a fire at their hostel.
But the reporter becomes part of the story when it’s determined that her estranged son, Jake, was living at the hostel and may have been involved with the fire.
Now Waters has to step away from the story and try to protect her son, the primary suspect.
THE TRAPPED GIRL
A woman’s body is discovered in a crab pot in Puget Sound. Detective Tracy Crosswhite must determine not just who the woman’s killer is, but who the woman is as well. And, of course, Crosswhite’s life story continues to develop along the way.
THE WAY I USED TO BE
Eden’s world changes after she wakes up in the middle of the night being held down in her own bed by her brother’s life-long best friend. After he rapes her, the teen (who used to be like another brother to Eden) convinces her that no one will believe her if she tells. And that becomes her truth.
Eden keeps the horrible secret for years as it undoes her and damages every relationship she has. But there comes a time when Eden has to decide if some painful truths have to be told to protect others, even if it tears her apart.
Amber Smith’s book starts with a terrible crime and betrayal that shapes the rest of Eden’s life as we see it.
The Whisper Man
Tom Kennedy is trying to start over after his wife’s sudden death, so he moves to Featherbank with his son, Jake. But Featherbank may not be the best place to start anew.
Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. The killer, Frank Carter, was dubbed “The Whisper Man” because he whispered through his victims’ windows at night.
A boy vanishes just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home. Then Jake starts hearing whispers, suggesting that The Whisper Man may not have been caught after all.
How much did she know? That is the question everyone is asking about Jean Taylor. Jean’s husband died last week, but not before being accused of a terrible crime. Now that he’s dead, will Jean feel able to tell the truth. Does she know what happened to a missing little girl?
THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is not a book to be taken too seriously.
Lo Blacklock is a writer for a travel magazine chosen for an assignment on a weeklong, exclusive luxury cruise. Lo, who appears to drink too much and is basically a flake, is having the best time an insecure writer can have when she sees a woman being thrown overboard. When she reports the crime, everyone onboard treats her like she was drunk and is crazy, so she sets out to solve the mystery on her own.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
Anna Fox is a recluse in her New York City home.
Because she doesn’t go outside, Anna spends her days drinking too much, watching old movies and spying on her neighbors. It’s the spying that eventually gets her in trouble. Anna sees something she shouldn’t in the house across the street, and it sends her carefully protected life into a tailspin.
Then She was Gone
Ellie Mack disappeared when she was 15 years old. Her mother, Laurel, has spent the last decade trying to put her life together after her daughter’s disappearance and the location of her remains.
When Laurel begins dating a man she met in a cafe, she is struck by how much his youngest daughter, Poppy, reminds her of Ellie. Poppy even looks like Ellie.
Now Laurel must come to terms with the loss of her beloved daughter and form stronger bonds with her family, some of whom she didn’t even know existed.
THIEF RIVER FALLS
Author Lisa Power is essentially a hermit, living a remote farmhouse and using her writing to cope with the loss of her family in her hometown, Thief River Falls.
But when a boy shows up at her house in the middle of the night after witnessing a murder, Lisa has to figure out how to keep him safe, perhaps even from the police.
Can someone who has a history of losing everyone she cares about really help save this young victim?
TIPS FOR LIVING
There were times when Nora wanted her artist ex-husband and the woman he impregnated and left her for dead, but she didn’t kill them.
As if what they already had done to her wasn’t enough, the ex and his new woman move their family to the small town where Nora has rebuilt her life. The ex’s new wife even starts coming to Nora’s yoga class.
When the couple is found dead, Nora is the prime suspect. But, for her, everyone else seems guilty. Nora must figure out who killed the couple and framed her before she ends up in jail
TO CATCH A KILLER
When Erin Black was a toddler she survived for three days alongside the dead body of her murdered mother. The case was never solved. Now Erin is a teenager living with her mom’s best friend when she happens upon the body of her biology teacher. Could the teacher’s death be related to her mother’s? What others don’t know is that the teacher was trying to help Erin find out the truth about her past.
TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH
Lucy Harper is a bestselling novelist who writes thrillers with the same main character—a sort of twisted imaginary friend who has lived in her head since she was a little girl.
The “friend” was the only other “person” there when 9-year-old Lucy’s little brother, Teddy, went missing in the woods. Lucy was the last person to see the boy, who was never found.
When Lucy’s husband, Dan, goes missing after he buys a house near the same woods in her hometown, it looks like history may be repeating itself. The only commonality seems to be Lucy and the voice in her head.
True Crime Addict
James Renner was 11 when Amy Mihaljevic went missing. Seeing posters for the missing girl in his neighborhood sparked his life-long obsession with true crime, leading to a career as an investigative journalist and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
In 2011, James began researching the disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. His investigation leads to intriguing information about what may have happened to Maura, while exposing problems in his own life.
I read True Crime Addict in a single day. That probably says something about me and how I related to the author. Also, it’s just an interesting story.
TRUST NO ONE
Jerry Grey is a crime writer with early onset Alzheimer’s who begins to confuse reality with the crimes of the characters in his books.
Jerry becomes even more confused when he discovers evidence that some of his stories are real. Is he a murderer? He confesses to being one, but those around him are uncertain about what he’s done versus what he’s just imagining.
TWO BY TWO
Russell Green is a 32-year-old advertising executive who thinks he has it all until his wife tells him she’s leaving.
Russell was a relatable character, even if it was obvious to the reader that his wife was about to up and go for money and a posh lifestyle, leaving him to raise their 6-year-old daughter.
Two Can Keep a Secret
Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about the small town where her mom was the homecoming queen and her aunt went missing at age 17.
Ellery’s aunt’s disappearance, which her mother won’t discuss isn’t the town’s only mystery. Another homecoming queen was found murdered. Now Ellery, who is a bit of an amateur detective, has to move to Echo Ridge with her twin brother to live with her grandmother while her mom is in rehab.
The town has secrets, and Ellery is ready to uncover them, when someone begins threatening the upcoming homecoming court and another girl goes missing. The longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the more Ellery begins to think that the town’s secrets are more dangerous and guarded than she expected.
It seems important to first tell you that I consider Joe Hight, the author of Unnecessary Sorrow, a friend. I don’t think my relationship with Joe impacted my views on this book, especially since there were evenings while I was reading when I was so angry I could scream and others when I found tears in my eyes.
The book is about Joe’s brother, Paul Hight. Hight is living his childhood dream of being a Catholic priest when he begins showing signs of mental illness. The Church removes Hight from the priesthood as he becomes increasingly sick. Hight and his family struggle with his mental illness, trying to discover and keep him in the appropriate treatments. Hight was shot and killed in 2000 during an encounter with police that most likely would not have happened if it weren’t for his mental illness.
Joe’s book is an important statement on how we treat mentally ill people in our country. It also made me think more than once about those mentally ill people who do not have the family support that Paul Hight had and what happens to them.
Oliver Ryan seems like a pretty good catch. He’s a handsome best-selling author. It seems like his wife, Alice, adores him, but then he tries to kill her. The people who know Oliver best can’t seem to figure out why he would try to kill the woman he seemed to adore. But the people who think they know Oliver best don’t know him at all.
This book starts with a 14-year-old girl, Gloria Ramirez, escaping her rapist after a brutal Valentine’s Day night that she barely survived.
Gloria, nearly dead, somehow runs to Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house. Mary Rose meets her on the front porch, her own young daughter inside. Then, when Gloria’s attacker shows up, the pregnant Mary Rose holds him at gunpoint in the front yard until police arrive.
But justice doesn’t come easily in 1976 rural Texas. Mary Rose is criticized for protecting the hispanic girl and risking her own family. She is condemned in the court of public opinion and threatened by the men in town. Even her husband doesn’t appreciate how she saved Gloria’s life. But the strongest women in town somehow find a way to ban together and support each other.
Imagine that the husband of a world-famous author hires you to complete her last book. That’s what happened to struggling writer Lowen Ashleigh.
Jeremy Crawford hires Lowen to complete his bestselling wife’s books, which she is unable to write because of a permanent injury.
To finish the books, Lowen must visit the Crawford home to do research. She plans to only stay a night or two, but she uncovers a hidden autobiography manuscript in Verity Crawford’s office. Lowen becomes absorbed in the manuscript, which appears to tell all of the author’s secrets.
While reading the manuscript and researching the book, Lowen finds herself falling in love with Jeremy. She also becomes increasingly convinced that Verity is not as injured as she seems.
WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF ANXIETY: OBSERVATIONS FROM A REFORMING NEUROTIC
You know when you have to laugh or you’ll cry? Or when you just need a tough dose of reality? During those times, Jen Lancaster is your girl!
Lancaster seriously makes me laugh. Like belly laugh at a book. I love her snark so much. She is the witty, honest writer I aspire to be. Her newest book is no exception.
USA stands for “United States of Anxiety,” according to Lancaster. This, she says, is the result of us expecting the social media perfection we’re being greeted with every day while also being bombarded with news about what’s wrong in the world. Our realities conflict, which Lancaster handles in the most humorous way.
WHAT REMAINS TRUE
The Davenports are falling apart after 5-year-old Jonah is killed in an accident. The family members are grieving and full of guilt for what they see as their individual roles in the boy’s death.
Rachel Davenport, Jonah’s mother, can hardly get out of bed and seems on the verge of a breakdown. Sam Davenport, Jonah’s dad, is filled with regret for his choices. Eden Davenport, Jonah’s sister, is trying hard to find her new normal without her pesky little brother. And Aunt Ruth, Rachel’s sister, is trying to take care of everyone while dealing with her own personal issues.
I loved this book because its chapters are written from multiple viewpoints, including the dog’s. The story is sad, but it seems to be a realistic picture of how a family struggles to deal with loss.
WHAT WAS MINE
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you thought you might just take it? That’s exactly how Lucy Wakefield feels in What Was Mine. The problem is that Lucy acts on her desire to take the thing she really wants. The even bigger problem is that the “thing” is a baby.
Lucy, who tried unsuccessfully to have a baby of her own, takes a baby girl from a shopping cart. She raises the girl for more than two decades before the girl, Mia, discovers that she was stolen. Mia must then decide who her mother really is and what type of relationship, if any, she wants to have with the woman who gave birth to her and the woman who raised her.
WHAT WE SAW
Kate Weston doesn’t remember much about the party at high school star basketball player John Doone’s house. She remembers taking shots with Stacey Stallard. She remembers her lifelong friend and another star basketball player, Ben Cody, driving her home. That’s about it.
Kate has a terrible hangover when she wakes up the next morning, but it’s nothing compared to the headaches, heartaches and stomach aches she’s soon to experience.
A photo begins circulating online of Stacey passed out over another basketball player’s shoulder. Then Stacey claims that four of the basketball players raped her.
It may not even be fair to say the town is divided since everyone sides with the men. They’re good boys from good families. They couldn’t possibly have done what Stacey claims.
But when Kate uncovers a video of the night that most people thought had been deleted, she finds out the truth about what happened and who all was involved. Then she has to struggle with what to do with the information.
WHAT YOU DID
Six university friends, some of whom are married to each other, get together after 20 years for a sort-of reunion weekend at Ali and Mike’s house.
The night seems to be going well, with laughter, the sharing of old stories and perhaps a bit too much wine.
Most of the group has gone to bed when Karen, Ali’s best friend, stumbles into the kitchen, bleeding and claiming that Mike, Ali’s husband, raped her.
Karen is taken to the hospital, the police are called and Ali, a sexual assault victims’ advocate, has to decide who she believes, her best friend or her husband.
It seems that none of the relationships between the friends are what they seemed, but Ali is about to know more about her “friends” than she ever wanted to.
WHEN I WAS YOU
Brienne Dougray doesn’t leave her house after being injured in an attack that left her with terrible headaches and memory loss. But when she finds out that her identity has been stolen and a person is walking around living as her, she has no choice but to leave home and hunt her down.
Brienne discovers that the person she is hunting may not be pretending to be her. Is she the fraud? Or are others just trying to convince her of that?
WHEN NEVER COMES
Christy-Lynn’s has worked hard for the life she’s accomplished, rising from literally nothing. The wife of a bestselling crime novelist, Christy-Lynn grew up the daughter of addict and ran away when she was a teenager.
Christy-Lynn’s life is what she’s always wanted, until her husband’s car skids into the bay. When the car is pulled out, her husband’s body isn’t the only one in it. Apparently her husband had a mistress. Christy-Lynn later learns the mistress also had a child, something she and her husband agreed not to do.
Now Christy-Lynn is trying to put her life back together again and deciding what (if anything) her responsibility is to her husband’s child.
WHEN SHE RETURNED
Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station 11 years later, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she was abducted by a cult.
Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down—her husband is remarried and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before, and her husband’s new wife isn’t willing to blindly accept everything Kate says about where she was and what she is doing. She’s right. Kate is still hiding things, and those secrets endanger the life her family built without her.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Locals call Kya Clark the “Marsh Girl.” She’s lived alone in a shack in the North Carolina marsh since her family one-by-one left her there when she was a girl.
To survive, Kya lives a lifestyle that locals think is strange. She lives on little that doesn’t come from nature and doesn’t readily take to other people for fear that they will leave her alone again.
When Chase Andrews, the towns former quarterback superstar, is found dead, locals immediately suspect Kya. With one of the few people she’s allowed into her life dead, Kya has to turn to the others for support and protection.
Where They Found Her
The body of a newborn baby found in the woods near a university campus seems like the beginning of a book full of mystery, and it was. But, in Where They Found Her, Kimberly McCreight took too long to develop that mystery, leaving the reader bogged down and pushing through the text until about mid-book.
Molly Sanderson, a reporter for the local newspaper, is charged with covering the mystery of the baby’s death, which, as you would imagine, is the talk of the college town of Ridgedale. Molly, whose husband is a professor at the college, usually covers entertainment for the newspaper and is pretty far out of her element in covering crime. Molly also is dealing with her own personal issues, having moved to Ridgedale after the death of her own baby and the depression that followed.
The police chief, the creepy university security officer, the professor, the reporter, the dean of students, a society wife, a crazy friend, a local has been, a poor girl, a blessed girl, a traumatized youth, a questionable teen, a suspicious newspaper editor, and a foreign maid are just some of the characters in this book. Perhaps that’s the problem. The reader gets so bogged down in everyone and their backstories that it’s difficult to sludge through to the action. But, when those stories all start to come together, the book is a page-turner. The question is whether you can make it that far.
WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS?
You’ve probably heard of the case this book is about. On Dec. 6, 1991, in Austin, Texas, the naked, bound, burned bodies of four girls–each shot in the head—were found in a frozen yogurt shop.
Two suspects were tried, but their conventions were later overturned. The case has grown cold, making this one of those whodunnits that just sticks with people.
Beverly Lowry also caught my attention as the author of this book. She became a true crime writer after her 18-year-old son was killed in a hit and run. It seems gives her a unique perspective for writing these types of stories.
WHY WE CAN’T SLEEP: WOMEN’S NEW MIDLIFE CRISIS
I’m the kind of person who falls asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. I love to sleep and am known to nap, even after an ample night’s sleep. But I stopped sleeping through the night when I reached my 40s. I wake up almost nightly and it sometimes takes hours to fall back asleep. Apparently, I’m not alone.
Ada Calhoun researched why American women in my age bracket are so stressed out. What she found is that we have plenty of reasons not to be able to sleep, including being overly tired, terrified about our finances and overwhelmed by our lives. It seems that the generation raised to have it all is having a difficult time keeping up with that standard of living. Surprised? Me neither, but it was nice to learn that I’m not alone.
WILLPOWER DOESN’T WORK: DISCOVER THE HIDDEN KEYS TO SUCCESS
Benjamin Hardy is speaking my language in this book. I have no willpower. The older I get, the worse I get about buckling down and making new things happen. Imagine how thrilled I was to learn that Hardy thinks the forcing It approach is all wrong.
Instead of forcing ourselves or faking it until we make it, Hardy claims we should alter our surroundings to support our goals. That way, the goal we want to reach becomes more automatic because we aren’t fighting a bunch of environmental factors to make it happen.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Cassandra and Jane Moore are everything Shay Miller wants to be. The sisters are beautiful, stylish, rich, successful, and they seem to have the answers to every one of Shay’s problems, sometimes before she even knows she has them.
When the Moore sisters befriend Shay, she thinks her life is improving. But soon she realizes that they may have been involved in an “accident” she witnessed and could even be framing her for murder.
Shay finds that she may not be safe from these women or the rest of her new circle of friends. She needs to discover the truth before she has an “accident” of her own.