A Winter Wonderland of Terrific Books, Coming in January!


After reading and enjoying The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, I knew I needed to read Reckless Girls!

I do love the trope of people stranded on an island. This book features Meroe Island, long rumored to have a history of murder and cannibalism.  The main character, Lux, is excited to get away to the South Pacific location, even with the dark history of the island. Her boyfriend is hired to take two young women to Meroe Island and  Lux is along for the ride. Once on the island, they meet another couple, and they all quickly bond and enjoy their time in the sun, on this island, drinking and eating and having a great time.

Their dreamy fun is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a stranger who lands on the island. And then all the secrets begin to come out and their sunny time turns much darker.

This was a fun read, I enjoyed the pace of the story and the unfolding of the secrets. It’s very atmospheric and you can easily visualize the island and imagine yourself there.


When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.



Another must-read author for me is Diane Chamberlain. Every book she writes is so good. I love the settings of the southeast where she sets most of her stories. The Last House on the Street is another excellent read that takes place in North Carolina where Kayla and her husband have created a gorgeous home at the end of the street. The happiness of this new beautiful home is darkened by the death of Kayla’s husband.  There are secrets and a dark history surrounding the area and Kayla has more questions than answers.



Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.


Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.


If you are anywhere near middle-aged, you are going to want to read Midlife Bites by Jen Mann. It’s humorous and relatable and you’ll want to hang out with Jen after you are done reading. No matter what, you aren’t alone in the midlife grind!


Jen Mann had what appeared to be the perfect life: a successful career as a bestselling author and award-winning blogger, a devoted husband, teenage kids who weren’t total jerks, and a badass minivan. So imagine her surprise when, at forty-seven years old, a midlife crisis kicked her straight in the ladybits.

Midlife Bites offers Jen’s trademark wit and honesty when it comes to important conversations and observations about women in midlife. Here, readers will be able to come together and find anecdotes and practical ideas to help navigate through this major point in their lives. For women who may feel isolated or overlooked, this collection of original essays offers valuable insights, takeaways, and, most important, a productive way forward. Jen shares her own story as well as advice and wisdom from the online community she built, tackling everything that bites about midlife, where nothing is off-limits: raging hormones; sex (after forty); finding your purpose; learning to make new friends (yes, even as a grown-up); moving out of your comfort zone; having conversations that count, no more small talk; and how to deal with rogue chin hairs (and other nuisances).

Jen Mann is leading the movement to create a new space where middle-aged women can share openly and honestly with one another. This no-BS collection of essays will help start the conversation and keep it going, because as women, we all have a right to be happy, fulfilled, and whole, no matter what stage of life.



The Accomplice by Lisa Lutz is an intense ride of a story! Owen and Luna are best friends. They never dated but remain close from when they met in college. Fast forward to 2019 and Owen’s wife is found murdered, her body found by Luna. What? Who could have murdered this woman and why?

The story moves between 2003 when Owen and Luna meet, to  2019  when Iris, Owen’s wife, is found dead in a cemetery. Everyone has secrets, even Luna and Own. What are they hiding from each other?

This isn’t a quick page-turner but a well-written story that contains an element of mystery that keeps you reading.


Owen Mann is charming, privileged, and chronically dissatisfied. Luna Grey is secretive, cautious, and pragmatic. Despite their differences, they form a bond the moment they meet in college. Their names soon become indivisible—Owen and Luna, Luna and Owen—and stay that way even after an unexplained death rocks their social circle.

They’re still best friends years later, when Luna finds Owen’s wife brutally murdered. The police investigation sheds light on some long-hidden secrets, but it can’t penetrate the wall of mystery that surrounds Owen. To get to the heart of what happened and why, Luna has to dig up the one secret she’s spent her whole life burying.



Heather Gudenkauf’s books just get better and better! I have read and enjoyed many of her novels and The Overnight Guest was another terrific, page-turning story that I loved from page one until the last page.

The setting of a remote cabin and a snowstorm was just perfect.  I love a story set in the middle of nowhere especially when the weather takes a turn and the character is stuck there with no help. Eeeeeek! Scary!


She thought she was alone

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.



You know when you sit down with a book by Kaira Rouda that you are in for a treat. There is going to be a twist or multiple twists and you will be kept guessing as to what will happen next and you will probably be wrong.

I devoured Somebody’s Home. Another fantastic book from Kaira and she is an author whose books I will always read, I don’t even need to know the plot. Get this book when it comes out, you won’t be sorry! Clear your schedule, grab some snacks and settle in for a gripping read.


Julie Jones has left her suffocating marriage. With her teenage daughter, Jess, she’s starting over. Their new house in Oceanside is the first step toward a new life. Even if it does come with the unexpected. The previous owners, a pastor and his wife, have left something—or rather someone—behind…

Tom Dean has a bitter hatred for the father who considers him a lost cause, and for the woman who’s moved into their family’s house. The only home he’s ever known. He’s never going to leave. She thinks he’ll be gone in three days, but Tom has the perfect plan.

For a newly single mother and her daughter, a fresh start is the beginning of a nightmare. Before the weekend is over, somebody is going to get exactly what they deserve.




The Other Family by Wendy Corsi-Staub was a good, solid read. I was engaged from start to finish, though it was totally creepy with a strange painting hanging in the house of a dead girl. Apparently, this kind of photo was common back in the 1800s and it just gave the house an extra weird vibe especially as a reader, imagining it hanging on the wall.

Nora and her family move into a haunted house in Brooklyn,  an unsolved triple homicide took place there over 25 years ago.  I would never move into a home where a  murder took place, NOPE. But Nora moves her family into it and soon becomes convinced someone is watching the house.

The premise was dark and suspenseful and this did keep me wondering what was going to happen next.


The watcher sees who you are…and knows what you did. 

It’s the perfect home for the perfect family: pretty Nora Howell, her handsome husband, their two teenage daughters, and lovable dog. As California transplants making a fresh start in Brooklyn, they expected to live in a shoebox, but the brownstone has a huge kitchen, lots of light, and a backyard. The catch: its previous residents were victims of a grisly triple homicide that remains unsolved.

Soon, peculiar things begin happening. The pug is nosing around like a bloodhound. Nora unearths a long-hidden rusty box in the flowerbed. Oldest daughter Stacey, obsessed with the family murdered in their house, pokes into the bloody past and becomes convinced that a stranger is watching the house. Watching them.

She’s right. But one of the Howells will recognize his face. Because one of them has a secret that will blindside the others with a truth that lies shockingly close to home—and to this one’s terrifying history.



Chloe Cates is Missing by Mandy McHugh centers around young Chloe, an internet star.  Her mother Jen absolutely drinks in the attention her daughter gets and is what you’d call a classic momager.

When Chloe disappears, Jen’s entire life is thrown upside down for many reasons.  Jen of course turns to social media to help but you can imagine how that goes, as the search intensifies and the attention on Jen is multiplied. I loved this timely story!


The disappearance of a young internet celebrity ignites a firestorm of speculation on social media, and to find her a detective will have to extinguish the blaze.

Chloe Cates is missing. The 13-year-old star of the hit YouTube series, “CC and Me,” has disappeared, and nobody knows where she’s gone — least of all ruthless momager Jennifer Scarborough, who has spent much of her daughter’s young life crafting a child celebrity persona that is finally beginning to pay off. And in Chloe’s absence, the faux-fairytale world that supported that persona begins to fracture, revealing secrets capable of reducing the highly-dysfunctional Scarborough family to rubble.

Anxious to find her daughter and preserve the life she’s worked so hard to build, Jennifer turns to social media for help, but the hearsay, false claims, and salacious suspicions only multiply. As the search becomes as sensational as Chloe’s series, Missing Persons detective Emilina Stone steps in, only to realize she has a connection to this case herself. Will she be able to stay objective and cut through the rumors to find the truth before it’s too late?


I find books like this one fascinating. If you are familiar with the enneagram, and even if you are not, The Story of You by Ian Morgan Cron is an interesting book that’s informative and helpful to making positive changes in your life. Its also a nice break to read a non-fiction book after reading lots of heavy, dark suspense novels!


In this powerful, transformative guide, Ian Morgan Cron demonstrates the life-changing power of the Enneagram. Cron challenges you to rethink the stale stories you tell yourself about who you are and offers lessons in using the Enneagram to help you change your story. As you free your mind from the outdated messages you learned in childhood and master your Enneagram profile, you unlock your own inner power for spiritual growth—and, ultimately, for becoming the true self God meant for you to be.

Drawing on his extensive counseling and personal experience, Cron examines each of the nine personality types and explains step by step how each can find happiness by understanding their origin story, harnessing your type’s strengths, acknowledging weaknesses, and creating space for an incredible—and more positive—new reality.



Whew! What a story! A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham started out slow for me but picked up speed as I hit the midway point and I could not tear myself away from the story. What a premise; a psychologist with a dark past plus the murders of young girls with an eerie resemblance to the rash of murders done by Chloe’s father when she was a young girl. What is the connection? Who is committing these murders? And why is Chloe connected?

I stayed up way past my bedtime because I just HAD to know how the story was going to wrap up. I thought I figured out the murderer but then began to second guess my thoughts then went back to knowing who did and then changed my mind.

A super gripping story that will keep you reading past your bedtime too.


When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren’t actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?



I absolutely loved The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton! I’ve read all of her books and they were all excellent but this one just kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  I HIGHLY recommend this novel. I enjoyed the setting, characters, and the story as a whole.

The synopsis:

True: Charlotte has an unsavory past. She married the wrong man, got caught up in his con artist games, took what wasn’t hers. She got out, though: divorced Sam, started fresh.

False: She left him before things went too far. Nothing bad happened.

True: Sam is missing, and before he disappeared, he left cryptic messages about someone threatening him—someone who has been threatening Charlotte, too.

True: She’s on the straight and narrow, has accepted a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party on board a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella.

False: No one on board knows about her past, and she’s far away from anyone who means her harm.

As the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations—the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago—increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. Someone knows what Charlotte did. Is it the blushing bride? The seemingly placid mother-in-law? Or the mysterious heiress?

Someone knows, and someone wants revenge—before the ship reaches its final port.



This one caught my eye right away thanks to the cool cover! A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker puts us in Southern California in the late 1960s. The story centers around young Matt who sees a dead girl who had gone missing. With that image in his head, he worries about his sister who has suddenly gone missing. With all of his teenage angst swirling around,  he needs to find his sister with little help from the police or his pot-smoking mom.

A Thousand Steps is so rich in detail and you feel like you are in Laguna Beach in 1968 as you read it.


Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.

Matt Anthony is just trying get by.

Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.

All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.

If it’s not already too late.


Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski is a dark, character-driven thriller that takes place in the 1999s. In this book, we have a strip club located outside of Chicago, dancers, a missing person, a serial killer, and more. It definitely caught my attention from the description and the writing was excellent, it is compelling and keeps you turning the pages.

I know this is going to be a popular book when it comes out in January.


It’s 1999 and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club. She’s not used to mixing work and friendship—after all, between her jealous boyfriend and his young daughter, she has enough on her plate. But the newest dancer is so clueless that Samantha feels compelled to help her learn the hustle and drama of the club: how to sweet-talk the boss, fit in with the other women, and make good money. One night, when the new girl needs a ride home, Samantha agrees to drive: a simple decision that turns deadly.

Georgia, another dancer drawn into the ensuing murder and missing person investigation, gathers information for Holly, a grieving detective determined to solve the case. Georgia just wants to help, but her involvement makes her a target. As Holly and Georgia round up their suspects, the story’s point of view shifts between dancers, detectives, children, club patrons—and the killer.


I haven’t read these YET, but they are on my TO READ list and I cannot wait to dig into them!



Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne looks to be a fun story, described as a reverse of My Fair Lady. I was immediately hooked by the synopsis, let me know what you think-


Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser. Raised in the privileged world of Upper East Side Manhattan, she always says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. Violet would do anything for the people closest to her, especially her beloved grandmother. So when she asks Violet to teach the newly-discovered grandson of her friend how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet immediately agrees. Her goal? To get Cain Stone ready to take his place as heir to his family company…but to say he’s not exactly an eager student is an understatement.

Born and raised in rural Louisiana and now making his own way in New Orleans, Cain Stone is only playing along for the paycheck at the end. He has no use for the grandmother he didn’t know existed and no patience for the uppity Violet’s attempts to turn him into a suit-wearing, museum-attending gentleman.

But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.

I expect this to be a fun, light novel that is perfect for a cold afternoon!



Also on my To-Read List is Queen Bee by Nina Manning.  It appealed to me right away, who doesn’t love a book where the queen bee is taken down? What are the secrets? Who is Verity and why is Miranda threatened? I cannot wait to read this book. I’ve read other novels by Nina and they have been fantastic so I have high hopes for this one!


In the quiet village of Helesbury, Miranda Wallace prides herself on being the most popular member of her small social circle; the perfect friend, the best mum – the queen bee.
Until one day, Verity arrives. Cool and indifferent, Verity is everything Miranda isn’t, but she threatens to shatter Miranda’s picture-perfect life.

Suddenly plagued with insecurities, Miranda is certain Verity is hiding something. And Miranda knows all about secrets and the damage they can cause, because she’s hiding some of her own.  So when Verity threatens to reveal the truth about Miranda and destroy the perfect life she’s built, Miranda knows she has to act to protect the people she loves – even if the results are deadly.