Put a Spring in your Reading

As the winter doldrums give way to Spring showers (and–hopefully soon–flowers), I’ve been enjoying some thrilling reads that got my pulse racing and my eyes flying over the pages to see what happens.

I highly recommend any and all of the below for you to enjoy as the snow gives way to sunshine. . .

1. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

IMG_4034

This pic is aptly framed, as this read was red-hot with intriguing twists and razor-sharp prose.

Back of the Book Summary: “Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.”

2. The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon

IMG_4052

Excellent domestic suspense with an ending you won’t expect!

Back of the Book Summary: “Abby looks forward to meeting the family who just moved in across the street—until she realizes they’re the one couple who could expose her deepest secrets

After a night of fun back in 1992, Abby is responsible for a car crash that kills her beloved brother. It’s a mistake she can never forgive, so she pushes away Liam, the man she loves most, knowing that he would eventually hate her for what she’s done, the same way she hates herself.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the driver who first came upon the scene of Abby’s accident, the man who pulled her to safety before the car erupted in flames—the man who could not save her brother in time. It’s this guilt, this regret, that binds them together. They understand each other. Or so Nate believes.

In a strange twist of fate, Liam moves into the neighborhood with his own family, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the terrible secrets they’ve both been carrying…”

3. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel by [Meloy, Maile]

Exotic locales, exquisite prose, and the threat of a new danger with each turn of the page. . .

Back of the Book Summary: The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.
 
The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed.
 
Do Not Become Alarmed is a story about the protective force of innocence and the limits of parental power, and an insightful look at privileged illusions of safety. Celebrated for her spare and moving fiction, Maile Meloy has written a gripping novel about how quickly what we count on can fall away, and the way a crisis shifts our perceptions of what matters most.”

4. Sleep No More by P.D. James

IMG_4046

Despite all of Jasper’s evidence to the contrary, this collection of short stories from my beloved P.D. James is perfectly titled–read and remember once again why she’s called the “Queen of Crime Fiction.”

Back of the Book Summary: “No one gets inside the head of the murderer—or makes it a more thrilling read—than the late, great P. D. James. Fast on the heels of her latest best seller: a new, fiendishly entertaining gathering of previously uncollected stories, from the author of Death Comes to Pemberley and The Private Patient.

It’s not always a question of “whodunit?” Sometimes there’s more mystery in the why or how. And although we usually know the unhealthy fates of both victim and perpetrator, what of those clever few who plan and carry out the perfect crime? The ones who aren’t brought down even though they’re found out? And what about those who do the finding out who witness a murder or who identify the murderer but keep the information to themselves? These are some of the mysteries that we follow through those six stories as we are drawn into the thinking, the memories, the emotional machinations, the rationalizations, the dreams and desires behind murderous cause and effect.”

Have you read this book? You should. Like, now.

I met Daniel Lowe this past Fall at Littsburgh’s Passages and Prose event , and we had such a lovely time chatting about writing, teaching undergraduate students, and our families. And, as often happens when authors attend literary events, we took home a signed copy of each other’s books. I had the best intentions of reading his debut novel, All That’s Left to Tell, because I loved the premise (think Scheherazade for the 21st Century) and because I so enjoyed talking with Daniel about his craft.

           “Every night, Marc Laurent, an American taken hostage in Pakistan, is bound and blindfolded. And every night, a woman he knows only as Josephine visits his cell. At first, her questions are mercenary: is there anyone back home who will pay the ransom? But when Marc can offer no name, she asks him a question about his daughter that is even more terrifying than his captivity. And so begins a strange yet increasingly comforting ritual, in which Josephine and Marc tell each other stories. As these stories build upon one another, a father and daughter start to find their way toward understanding each other again.”

Then, of course, the typical happened. His novel found a spot in my To-Be-Read Pile, where it sat and sat for months. Because there are just so many good books to read out there, and also because I trend in my reading towards books similar to the novels I write (i.e., thrillers, suspense, and mystery) rather than literary fiction.

Until finally–finally!–I picked it up and cracked it open (after re-reading Daniel’s very kind and warm inscription he’d written inside) and began to read.

Left to Tell

Once I started, dear readers, I couldn’t stop.

It is like no book I have ever read before.

All That’s Left to Tell is an exquisite, viscerally human story that we all know–a father and daughter estranged, a family ripped apart with loss–told in a way that makes it searingly relevant to us once again.

Go read this book. Now. You won’t regret it.

DLfWnAgUMAAv6zg
Our Panel at Passages and Prose: Myself, the fabulous Wendy Walker, and Daniel Lowe.