A Town called Solace by Mary Lawson: Absolutely wonderful novel! I devoured this in a day. I want to live in this town of Solace, where everyone watches out for each other, where healing takes place. A lovely, uplifting book but with so much realism. Pain of loss, joy of redemption — this one is beautifully told. Highlight recommended.
The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth. I adored this story of twin sisters, told from each of their perspectives in alternating chapters. Their childhood, told in bits and pieces through Rose’s journal, was traumatic, and a single event haunts them both. Rose seems to feel the weight of responsibility for Fern, who has a sensory processing disorder and lives a perfectly satisfying life as a librarian. Meanwhile, Rose’s life is falling apart —she desperately wants a baby but has fertility issues, and also she and her husband are separated. Fern gets a great idea: she’ll get pregnant and give the baby to Rose. And the story takes off from there. Highly recommended.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Oh man, was this psychological thriller ever good! I just wanted to sit on the couch and read it all day. Libby inherits a mansion on her 25th birthday, bequeathed to her by her deceased biological parents. Thousands of miles away, Lucy’s phone reminds her that it’s “the baby’s birthday.” Chapter by chapter, Libby uncovers the story behind the mansion and the people who lived there.
Dragonfly by Leila Meacham: I overloaded on WWII fiction a few years ago (some of it badly written) and haven’t read much since, but this was a book club pick and so I had to. No regrets! This was a totally engaging, well-written story of five civilian Americans, all in their early 20s, who were recruited as spies and sent to German-occupied Paris. I loved each of their stories, and their characters were beautifully crafted. I had a hard time putting this one down.
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead. Another thriller, and a mesmerizing one at that, but in the end of gave it 3 out of 5 stars because too much happened. This is the story of a group of college friends who return for their 10-year reunion. Jessica vows to wow them all — and this part really bugged me. She was well liked in her group yet she was determined that she’d show them all how successful she’s become. That just didn’t fit with the rest of it. Anyway, one of their group was murdered during their senior year, and the murderer was never found. So, of course, the reunion serves as a device for hearing all their stories and revealing the murderer. There were just so many holes in this, but also too much going on. Some good scenes, some bad scenes. Meh.
The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose: Gah. This thriller started well but it just got ridiculous. The dialogue was terrible, the plot predictable, and the characters wooden and annoying. Skip it.