Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan

Across the Winding River
A woman unlocks the mystery of her father’s wartime past in a moving novel about secrets, sacrifice, and the power of love by the bestselling author of Daughters of the Night Sky.

Beth Cohen wants to make the most of the months she has left with her elderly father, Max. His only request of his daughter is to go through the long-forgotten box of memorabilia from his days as a medic on the western front. Then, among his wartime souvenirs, Beth finds a photograph of her father with an adoring and beautiful stranger—a photograph worth a thousand questions.

It was 1944 when Max was drawn into the underground resistance by the fearless German wife of a Nazi officer. Together, she and Max were willing to risk everything for what they believed was right. Ahead of them lay a dangerous romance, a dream of escape, and a destiny over which neither had control.

But Max isn’t alone in his haunting remembrances of war. In a nearby private care home is a fragile German-born woman with her own past to share. Only when the two women meet does Beth realize how much more to her father there is to know, all the ways in which his heart still breaks, and the closure he needs to heal it.

Kindle Edition, 301 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2020
by Lake Union Publishing
4/5 stars

Aimie K. Runyan has long been a go-to author for me.  First introduced with her Canadian HF Series, Daughters of New France, I've watched her transition to WW2 HF with her last few releases.  She is one of the few authors that I've managed to keep up-to-date with each new book.

Across the Winding River is new ground with 3 story-lines and characters that overlap, it might sound overwhelming but it isn't.  Taking place in Germany during the war I was treated to a view of sisters, strong sisters, sisters with secrets that if they came to light could (and most likely) have deadly consequences.  It was a glimpse at what life was like for those that didn't willing follow to Hitler.

I always find the author's writing engaging, well researched and opens my mind to parts of history I'm unfamiliar with. Across the Winding River is a story of love and loss, taking risks and perseverance. Another entertaining read and one I recommend.

My thanks to Lake Union Publishing (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

02_Promised to the Crown

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night Swim

In this new thriller from the author of The Escape Room, a podcast host covering a controversial trial in a small town becomes obsessed with a brutal crime that took place there years before.

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name—and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating—but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2020
by St. Martin's Press
4.5/5 stars

I knew going into The Night Swim that there were triggers but not to the extent it was, definitely a book that will stay with me.

To say this is an emotional story doesn't really give it the extreme it is due. It's one thing to have the current day story but to add the 25-year- old one really adds that extra punch.  Told mainly with 2 points of view, a current day with podcaster (is that a word?) Rachel, she hides behind a face that is unknown even though her voice is.  The mysterious notes and what they reveal goes back 25 years where things aren't as they appeared. I’ll admit that the podcast angle isn’t a favorite but with this story I get the role it played making it a good fit.

The Night Swim is a sad, disturbing and emotional story that had me frustrated, angry, heartbroken and out for justice. There is some serious subject matter that the author handled authentically with feeling and respect. It is well written with characters that I couldn't help feeling for.  I think I read the last 70% in like a day, not only did I need to know what was going to happen but was curious as to the author's direction, I didn't know what to expect with the ending.  Maybe I will stop right there before I reveal too much.

Megan Goldin is a new author to me, her novel The Escape Room is getting rave reviews, so that is now added to my TBR pile.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press for a digital arc (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Audio review: The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm by Hilarie Burton Morgan

The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm
The beloved actress and star of One Tree Hill, White Collar, and Lethal Weapon, Hilarie Burton, tells the inspiring story of leaving Hollywood for a radically different kind of life in upstate New York with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan—a celebration of community, family, and the value of hard work in small town America.

While Hilarie Burton’s hectic lifestyle as an actress in New York and Los Angeles gave her a comfortable life, it did not fulfill her spiritually or emotionally. After the birth of their first son, she and her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the star of The Walking Dead, decided to make a major change: they bought a working farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and began a new chapter in their lives.

The Rural Diaries chronicles her inspiring story of farm life: chopping wood, making dandelion wine, building chicken coops. Burton looks back at her transition from urban to country living—discovering how to manage a farm while raising her son and making friends with her new neighbors. She mixes charming stories of learning to raise alpacas and buying and revitalizing the town’s beloved candy store, Samuel’s Sweet Shoppe with good friend Paul Rudd and his wife Julie, with raw observations on the ups and downs of marriage and her struggles with infertility. Burton also includes delicious recipes that can be made with fresh ingredients at home.

Burton’s charisma, wide eyed attitude, and fortitude—both internal and physical—propels this moving story of transformation and self-discovery. The Rural Diaries honors the values and lifestyle of small-town America and offers inspiration for anyone longing to embark on their own unconventional journey.

Audible Audio, Unabridged , 8 hours
Published May 5th 2020
by HarperAudio
3/5 stars

I'll confess that One Tree Hill was one of my guilty pleasures way back when.  I didn't realize that Hilarie Burton married Denny Duquette from Grey's Anatomy fame until I started listening to this audio book.

It's not a long book coming in just shy of 8 hours (or 227 pages).  It would have been nice to have the book to see pictures and maybe that would have bettered my thoughts on this book, I'm not sure.  Suffice to say I am going against the majority that loved this book.

For me when reading an autobiography/memoir I expect to walk away from it gaining some inspiration, encouragement but instead I felt it was just a story of a family and some recipes - which really don't work well in audio.  The author read the book herself which worked.

All in all I liked it but obviously missing something other readers caught.

This audio was listened to through my Scribd app.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Review: The Suicide House (Rory Moore/Lane Phillips #2) by Charlie Donlea

The Suicide House
A Publishers Weekly Summer Reads 2020 Editors' Pick

A chilling murder in a prestigious prep school is at the heart of this riveting new novel from acclaimed author Charlie Donlea, featuring forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips.

Inside the walls of Indiana's elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont's students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house--to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn't ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win--or to survive. . . .

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2020
by Kensington Publishing Corporation
3.5/5 stars

The Suicide House is the 2nd book in the RoryMoore/Lane Phillips Series.  I have not read the previous book, Some Choose Darkness, and feel this works fine as a stand-alone.  However saying that I will definitely be reading the previous book as my curiosity to Rory's past is begging for an answer.

The title, cover and blurb give enough clues that this will be a dark story. Especially when an abandoned house plays center stage.  I read this in a matter of days, having the need to find out what was going on.  The chapters aren't long making it perfect for JustOneMoreChapter.

The Suicide House is a complex story with many layers, characters and even time periods. Yes, I kept notes.  It's a slow-paced story with a couple of mysteries on the go, though in the end it mostly works out. Yea there were a couple of things that didn't sit well.  But all in all, this was well written and intricately pieced together.  The author kept me entertained with some of his metaphors. I liked Rory and Lane but didn't feel they got enough time with this story. Having not read book #1 so I can't say if this is the norm.

Charlie Donlea is a new author to me, one I've been hearing good things about.  Will be reading more of his books.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Review: The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin
sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp.

In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War.

Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows.

As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated.

Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.

Paperback, 244 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2020
by Sparkpress
3/5 stars

For the Lubinski's arriving in the USA was a fresh and new start.  A time to put the past behind them, as well as try to forget. I haven't read a book like this one in a while.  For Aron and Dyta (Judy) along with twin daughters crossing the ocean is the perfect opportunity.  As the girls get older they learn about the Holocaust, witness things and begin to question their parents. I love the cover and feel it reflects twins with different personalities and looks.

The author definitely researched a lot for this book. There is a wide cast of characters in these 244 pages with lives linked by friendship, the past and their faith.  Touching on a lot of different subjects aside from WW2 made it hard to feel a connection to the players here.  Very much a telling book verses a show.

Like I said the author painted a picture of life in the '50s and '60s in terms of mental illness and women's roles. A new perspective of healing after a horrible time in history.

My thanks to iRead Book Tours for an advanced print copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The Last Time I Lied
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it's immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

In the new novel from the bestselling author of Final Girls, The Last Time I Lied follows a young woman as she returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.

Hardcover, 371 pages
Published July 3rd 2018
by Dutton Books
5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Riley Sager book, he comes highly recommended - which elevated my expectation level.

This book started out giving me a clear image of a flawed, emotional scarred Emma. A painter whose internal issues reflect on the canvas. Fifteen years ago at Camp Nightingale, a traumatic event is the root for her issues. Today the two worlds collide.

This story is told my Emma in present day but the author has a knack for weaving the backstory smoothing into the narrative. Being back at Camp Nightingale is hard enough for Emma, not everyone is happy to see her again. She is forced to revisiting ghosts and on a mission to finally figure out what happened and put the past to rest.

The Last Time I Lied is a well-written psychological thriller, it was hard to put down (only took 2 days to read), full of interesting characters (both likable and others not so much). A good mystery has me dawning my sleuth cap hoping to figure everything before the big reveal. Well my goodness I drew a blank, I'd figure something out and wham that theory gets blown to smithereens. So hats off to the author for keeping me guessing right to the end.

So needless to say I will be reading more of Riley Sager, his new book Home Before Dark is in my hot little hands right now.

My copy was obtained from the local public library.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Cover Reveal: The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

Mark you calendar, March 30th, 2021 for the release of Stephanie Dray's new book.  Scroll down for the big cover reveal - wowser!! Isn't it gorgeous. Scroll down a little bit more for a

 Q & A.


An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in three of humanity's darkest hours.

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women...

A founding mother...

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband's political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary...

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing--not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what's right.

A reluctant resistor...

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan's self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together in honor of those who came before us.

Expected publication: March 30th 2021


What made you fall in love with Adrienne Lafayette and why do you think readers will fall for her as you did?

 Thanks to a popular musical, the Marquis de Lafayette is known to a new generation as "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman"--and there's good reason for that. He's easily the most lovable of our Founding Fathers, and his wife, whom he called his dear heart, is just as lovable if not more so. Adrienne was our French Founding Mother, so right up my alley as a heroine, but at first I worried she was too sweet, devoted, and forgiving. In short, too gentle for a novel. Little did I realize that more than any other historical heroine I've ever written, Adrienne fought and sacrificed for her principles, courageously threw herself into danger, confronted tyrants, and endured trials that would have broken lesser mortals. She truly humbles me, and when I talk about the Lafayette legacy, I think of it as every bit as much hers as it is his.

 How long did it take you to write this book? Did the story evolve as you researched, or did you always know you wanted to take on the lives of these particular women?

 I was always interested in Lafayette--an interest that grew as Laura Kamoie and I co-authored America's First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton. I think I had the germ of the idea for a Lafayette novel at least seven years ago, but I had other projects in the way. And I was always in search of an angle that would be fresh and unique. That came to me when I discovered that Lafayette's castle in Auvergne, which had been purchased and renovated by Americans, served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. Knowing how deeply the Lafayettes both felt about religious freedom, I knew this would have pleased them, and it touched me. I was then determined to know which Americans had purchased the chateau, and when I found out, yet another glorious chapter in the Lafayette legacy was born. That's when the story took shape for me about one special place on this earth where, generation after generation, faith has been kept with principles of liberty and humanity. I find that very inspirational, now more than ever.

 The book is centered around Lafayette’s castle, the Château de Chavaniac, and the pivotal role it played during three of history’s darkest hours—the French Revolution and both World Wars. If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive) at Chavaniac, who would you choose and why?

 Believe it or not, this is actually a difficult choice because so many incredible men and women passed through those doors. I'd have to start with the Lafayettes--though I hope they would not serve me pigeons, which were a favorite at their wedding banquet. To join us for dinner, I'd choose the colorful stage-star of the Belle Epoque, Beatrice Chanler, because she was a force of nature without whom Chavaniac might not still be standing. Actress, artist, philanthropist, decorated war-relief worker and so-called Queen of the Social Register, she was as mysterious as she was wonderful, and even after all the startling discoveries I made researching her larger-than-life existence, I have a million questions about the early life she tried so hard to hide. I can't wait for readers to meet her!

Click here to check out Stephanie Dray's website

Monday, July 13, 2020

Review: Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

Dear Emmie Blue
In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: July 14th 2020
by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
4.5/5 stars

Lia Louis is a new author for me. Dear Emmie Blue is her 2nd book, though for me it got off to a slow start, it turned into one of my favorites for 2020.

Emmie Blue is a complicated character, impulsive, insecure and a loyal friend.  At first I kinda thought meh but as I got to know her, meet her mother, friends and find out what made her tick I didn't just feel compassion but wanted to reach out and give her a hug and smack at the same time. Her upbringing shaped her in so many ways, as did her friendship with Lucas - finder of Emmie's balloon.

Dear Emmie Blue is a well-written coming of age story for a 30-year-old and that's a good thing.  As Emmie deals with things (the blurb doesn't specifically say what it is, so I won't either) she is forced to deal with the past as it takes her on a journey of self-discovery.  This journey was a pleasure to read as the author wove the past with the present seamlessly. It's a book that made me smile, laugh and shed a few tears. There were serious issues relevant today there are triggers as well as healing.

Though some things might be predictable it was a pleasure to read about Emmie. Lia Louis's debut, Somewhere Close to Happy is already in my TBR pile and I look forward to what she has coming out next.

My thanks to the publisher for an advanced digital copy (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Somewhere Close to Happy

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Review: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names
Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the international bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 21st 2020
by Gallery Books
4/5 stars

I love reading about strong women from the past, not just during the war but anytime. This book takes place during WW2 along with a few chapters in current time (but with no pandemic). There are a number of books that portray spies, those that infiltrate inner circles of the enemy, Book of Lost Names takes on a different view. Eva forges documents to help children escape Nazi terror, to keep them safe and give them a future. No spoiler, blurb says that. The process was intriguing, learning some of the tricks of the trade, educational and the risks was compelling.

This book is a story of Eva, her desire to not sit by but use her talents to help thousands of children escape France.  It's a realistic look at the times, to feel the heartache of what the citizens of France endured. Eva's mother is with her, I really felt for her. Her fear and confusion shines through, she ages so much that I can’t imagine what she is going through. The fear of what was happening, what the future holds when they planned and work so hard for the life they had and then taken away like that with just the clothes on their backs. Great character development!

Eva's passion to remember these children, to record them with the hope of reuniting families is evident and commendable. Whether that book actually exists, I'd like to believe it does.  The author notes highlight facts of the time, the forgers and sadly how many families were ripped apart.

Kristin Harmel has written a number of books now taking placing during WW2 (this is my 2nd), her knowledge of the time shines through. This is a book and author I recommend.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Review: Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella

A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.

Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions, and illusory enemies—but what tipped him over the edge? With her suspicions mounting, Cady herself begins to hear voices, seemingly belonging to three ghosts who walked the university’s hallowed halls—or huddled in its slave quarters. Among them is a person whose name has been buried for centuries, and another whose name mankind will never forget.

Does she share Eric’s illness, or is she tapping into something else? Cady doesn’t know how or why these ghosts are contacting her, but as she is drawn deeper into their worlds, she believes they’re moving her closer to the truth about Eric, even as keeping them secret isolates her further. Will listening to these voices lead her to the one voice she craves—her brother’s—or will she follow them down a path to her own destruction?

Hardcover, 480 pages
Published May 5th 2020
by Random House
4/5 stars

Have you ever seen a book and just by the title know you want to read it? That gut instinct that triggers something. That’s the way it was for me with this book, then a couple of zoom meetings with various authors clinched it.

Coming in at 480 pages it's a size I can sink my teeth into. There is time to develop characters, create the setting with depth and cast suspicions all around. So yes Ghosts is a slow burn that managed to keep my attention and bond with Cady.

Ghosts of Harvard is a book about grief and the different ways people handle it. For Cady she wanted to walk in her brother’s footsteps at Harvard, feel his experiences but she got way more than she bargained for. There is suspicion, mystery, healing and family drama that make this a well-rounded story. Oh and one can’t forget about the ghosts, who doesn’t love a good ghosty story?

Mental illness does take center stage here. As someone that has little experience with it I always appreciate the reminder of how it affects individuals, family, friends and society. 

Ten years in the making this is a solid debut for Francesca Serritella - though she has written nonfiction and collaborated with her mother Lisa Scottoline. I'm looking forward to reading more in the future.

My copy obtained from the public library in print form - been craving print format these days.