Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula DalyTitle: Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Author: Paula Daly. This is her first novel.

Genre: Thriller, Women’s Fiction

Readers: Author Piper, foodie Kathy, project manager Andrea and at-home parent A Military Mommy.

Summary: Lisa Kallisto—overwhelmed working mother—is the not-so-perfect model of the modern woman. She holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, she cares for three demanding children, and she worries that her marriage isn’t getting enough attention. During an impossibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for a moment and her world descends into a living nightmare. Not only is her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter missing, but it’s Lisa’s fault. To make matters worse, Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear within the past two weeks. The first one turned up stripped bare and abandoned on the main street after a horrible ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and after having been publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. As she begins digging under the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be.

Our Take: A solid thriller that will leave mothers shaking in their boots. May keep you up reading for hours, great for beaches or plane rides.

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Help for the Haunted

Help for the Haunted by John SearlesTitle: Help for the Haunted

Author: John Searles. He’s the author of two previous suspense novels, including Strange But True.

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Readers: Production coordinator Joanna, event planner Kathy, freelance writer Piper,  small-business owner Samantha and librarian Mary Liz.

Summary: It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping “haunted souls” find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church’s red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.

As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family’s past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years.

Our Take: A ghost story light on the ghost and heavy on the character development. A teenage protagonist we loved. A family story about a very strange family that anyone can relate to.

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Save Yourself

Save Yourself by Kelly BraffetTitle: Save Yourself

Author: Kelly Braffet. She is the author of two previous books of small-town suspense, Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving.

Genre: Thriller

Readers: Stay-at-home Moms Dana, Katie and Krysta; lawyer Cait and event planner Kathy.

Summary: Patrick Cusimano is in a bad way. His father is in jail, he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store, and his brother’s girlfriend, Caro, has taken their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can’t quite shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn’t understand and doesn’t fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing him to his breaking point.

Meanwhile, Layla’s little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school. She’s become a prime target for her cruel classmates, not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents: Layla’s bad-girl rep proves to be too huge a shadow for Verna, so she falls in with her sister’s circle of outcasts and misfits whose world is far darker than she ever imagined.

Our Take: This is a dark book with complex and fully-formed characters. Our readers found it really captivating and compelling. Not a typical page-turner, but we got through it pretty quickly. While it may be too heavy for some book clubs, this is definitely one to consider for group discussion.

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The Uninvited

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Title: The Uninvited

Author: Liz Jensen. She is the author of several novels, including War Crimes for the Home, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Readers: Lawyer Cait, stay at home mom Colleen B., event planner Kathy,  copy editor Lori and victim advocate MJ.

Summary: A seven-year-old girl puts a nail gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious? As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry.

Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger’s Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioral patterns and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics. Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behavior of his beloved stepson, Freddy. But when Hesketh’s Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career, and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father. Continue reading

The Art Forger

Book: The Art Forger

Author: B. A. Shapiro, she is the author of several previous thrillers.

Genre: Commercial Fiction, Mystery

Reviewers: JoLee and Renee in higher education, retiree Nancy, event planner Kathy and research assistant Rosie T.

Publisher Summary: In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers bound and gagged two guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, and stole thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million. Despite thousands of hours of police work and a $5 million reward, the artwork has never been recovered. Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

After a scandal involving the provenance of an acclaimed modern painting derails Claire Roth’s career, the promising young Boston artist, now a pariah in the art world, makes a living reproducing famous works of art for the popular online retailer, Reproductions.com. In a desperate move to improve her situation, Claire makes a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner, to forge a Degas masterpiece stolen during the Gardner Museum heist, the largest unsolved art theft in history, in return for a one-woman show at his gallery. Their romantic entanglement adds danger to their business arrangement and heightens the possibility of betrayal as each struggles to achieve the end that initially drove them into their illegal pact.

But when the long-missing Degas painting—the one which had been hanging for 100 years at the Gardner Museum—is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may not be the original, but a forgery itself. As she begins her search for the truth about the painting’s origins and its possible link to a secret relationship between Edgar Degas and Isabella Stewart Gardner–revealed to the reader through Isabella’s letters to her niece—Claire finds herself in a breathless race through a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late 19th century may hold the key to the mysteries of the present.

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