Nostalgia Meets Suspense in Jess Lourey’s The Quarry Girls

The Quarry Girls transports readers to St. Cloud, Minnesota, in 1977, where the summer holds more than just fun and games for teens Heather and Brenda. This seemingly idyllic town is known for late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and adventures in the mysterious tunnels beneath the city. However, the summer turns dark when the friends witness something unforgettable in the tunnels and make a pact to keep it secret. Their vow is tested when their friend becomes the second girl to vanish in a week, and the authorities show a disturbing reluctance to investigate. As Heather and Brenda dig into the town’s hidden past, they uncover […]

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A Journey Through the 12th Century

  The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou is the first book in the Crusades trilogy, set in the 12th century. The story follows Arn Magnusson, a young nobleman in Sweden destined for greatness. Born into the powerful Folkung clan, Arn receives an exceptional education at the Varnhem Abbey, where he learns both religious doctrine and the art of warfare. His path takes an unexpected turn when he falls in love with Cecilia, a noblewoman, and their forbidden relationship leads to Arn being sentenced to serve 20 years as a Knight Templar. This richly detailed historical novel brings the 12th-century world vividly to life. Guillou masterfully blends historical accuracy with […]

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Hauntingly Beautiful

4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Only the Beautiful is a poignant historical novel set during the 1930s and 1940s that masterfully intertwines the lives of two remarkable women. The story begins in 1938 with sixteen-year-old Rosanne, whose life is shattered by the tragic deaths of her parents and brother in a car accident. Taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her entire life, Rosanne soon uncovers a dark secret about her new guardians. The narrative then shifts to 1947 Austria, where Helen Calvert witnesses Adolf Hitler’s ruthless pursuit of racial purity. Upon returning to her brother’s vineyard in California, Helen unravels the mystery of […]

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A Mother’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 The Necklace by Matt Witten is a riveting, page-turning thriller that centers on Susan Lentigo, a mother seeking justice for her seven-year-old daughter Amy, who was brutally raped and murdered two decades ago. The prime suspect, Ray Jansen, a drifter with a criminal record, confesses to the crime but recants before his trial. Nevertheless, the court finds him guilty and imposes the death penalty by lethal injection. On the eve of Jansen’s execution, Susan embarks on a road trip from her home in Lake Luzerne, New York, to North Dakota to witness the execution and find closure. During her journey, she discovers shocking new evidence […]

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Thrills and Chills in the Depths

In Drowning by T. J. Newman, a routine flight turns into a nightmare when a plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean, sinking 200 feet below the surface with twelve passengers trapped inside. As water floods the cabin, a desperate race against time unfolds. A small pocket of air keeps them alive, but the clock is ticking. The story shifts between the passengers fighting for their lives underwater and the frantic rescue team on the surface, working against the clock to save them. Amidst the chaos and fear, the characters reveal their strength, courage, and humanity. Newman delivers a heart-pounding and authentic portrayal of survival, hope, and the indomitable human spirit […]

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A Cultural Exploration of Redemption and Family Secrets

3.5 stars rounded up to 4. “There is no room for hope in the museum of failures. Even if it hangs on the walls for a moment, it usually comes crashing down.”― Thrity Umrigar, The Museum of Failures. The Museum of Failures is a poignant novel that delves into themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the beauty of second chances. Remy Wadia, the protagonist, is tasked with curating an exhibit on failures, a project that parallels his tumultuous personal life. Having left India with resentment towards his indifferent mother, Remy returns years later to adopt a baby and visit his ailing mother, only to grapple with past grievances and newfound revelations. The […]

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A Fever in the Heartland

A Fever in the Heartland is set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties when the Ku Klux Klan spread beyond the old Confederacy to the Heartland and the West. Their ranks included ministers, politicians, judges, policemen, bankers, and businessmen, all united in their belief in White supremacy. Aligned with the eugenics movement, the Klan even helped pass the nation’s first forced sterilization law. Timothy Egan’s meticulous research is clear, with dialogue and internal monologues drawn directly from court testimony, oral histories, autobiographies, letters, diaries, and newspaper quotes. The book reveals the frightening power and reach of the KKK during this era. The book’s characters are vivid, though they sometimes […]

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A Thrilling Tale of Espionage, Friendship, and Unfinished Business

Former spy Maggie Bird, at 60, has settled in the seaside village of Purity, Maine, hoping to leave her dangerous past behind. She lives a quiet life on her chicken farm, enjoying cocktails with her close-knit group of friends—all retired CIA operatives. But when a body is dumped in her driveway, and someone takes shots at her, Maggie soon realizes her past isn’t done with her yet. Enlisting the help of her “Martini Club,” Maggie dives back into the world of espionage to uncover who’s trying to kill her and why. Complicating matters is Purity’s acting police chief, Jo Thibodeau, who is more used to handling rowdy tourists than homicides […]

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Safari Turned Hostage Drama

The Lioness is an enthralling tale of glamor, danger, and survival. Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Serengeti in 1964, the novel follows Hollywood elite Katie Barstow and her new husband, David Hill, as they embark on a honeymoon safari with their closest friends. What starts as an idyllic adventure quickly spirals into a horrifying ordeal when Russian mercenaries hijack their camp. Author Chris Bohjalian masterfully intertwines the allure of 1960s Hollywood with the raw beauty of Africa, crafting a narrative rich in historical detail and description. The African scenes are so vividly portrayed you can almost feel the oppressive heat and see the majestic wildlife. However, the true […]

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Ice-Cold Justice: Unraveling Mysteries with Martha Ballard in The Frozen River

Ariel Lawhon’s The Frozen River plunges readers into the harsh winters of 1789 Hallowell, Maine, with a historical mystery that’s as chilling as the Kennebec River. At the heart of this riveting tale is Martha Ballard, a 54-year-old midwife and healer with connections that stretch from Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, to Mary Hobart, one of America’s pioneering female physicians. When Martha is called to examine a man found frozen in the river, she uncovers signs of foul play. The deceased, Joshua Burgess, appears to have been beaten and hanged prior to his icy entombment. Adding layers to the mystery, Martha recalls her earlier documentation of […]

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