The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan

Growing up, we seldom had babysitters, let alone a full-time live-in nanny, so I was always fascinated when authors would weave stories of characters who grew up with nannies. I relived this fascination when I picked up Gilly Macmillan’s newest book, The Nanny. This book tells the story of one nanny’s power over an entire family and their struggle to find out the truth.

The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan drops readers right into the world of Jocelyn Holt. Told in alternating points of view, readers learn about the lives of Jocelyn Holt and her family as Jocelyn makes the trip back home. Having to return to the Lake Hall estate after the death of her husband, Jo is not happy to be dropped back into a life that doesn’t seem to have changed since she left. Her childhood wasn’t all that bad, that is before nanny Hannah left. Hannah and Jo were inseparable up until the summer of 1988 when Hannah left without a trace, leaving seven-year-old Jocelyn devastated and with no one to confide in.

Left with no answers as to where Hannah went, Jocelyn’s childhood at Lake Hall with her parents became more troubled. She grew up bitter and distant towards her parents, mostly to her mother, whom she blamed for Hannah’s abrupt departure. As soon as she was able to, Jo left Lake Hall and her parents’ stuffy aristocratic life behind.

Thirty years later, Jo finds herself back at Lake Hall with her young daughter in tow after the sudden and unexpected death of her husband. With nowhere else to turn, Jo is forced to confront and rebuild the troubled relationship she has with her mother. When Jo’s daughter and her mother start growing closer, she’s unsure whether or not this is a good thing. Right as the three reach a somewhat truce, human remains are found in a lake on the Lake Hall estate which makes Jo question if the events that she remembers from her childhood are actually true.

In the aftermath of this shocking discovery, an unexpected visitor shows up at Lake Hall. Jo and her mother are left reeling yet again as the identity of this visitor is revealed to be someone it can’t possibly be. Not finding any satisfactory answers, Jo digs into her past to figure out the truth surrounding her nanny’s disappearance, who her nanny really was, and what her mother has been hiding for over thirty years.


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Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

Mistakes you make in high school can have the ability to destroy your life. Lisa Scottoline talks about these mistakes and their life-long consequences in her newest novel, Someone Knows.

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline is a page-turning novel about how one decision can destroy family, friendships, and hope of a positive future in a split second. This domestic thriller dives into the choices of a group of high school friends who are forced to keep a secret and how it affects each of them.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers are spending the summer hanging around the suburb that they live in in Philadelphia. Fifteen-year-old Allie Garvey has had a rough childhood. Her older sister Jill has cystic fibrosis and that diagnosis has changed her entire life as well as that of her family. Hanging around with three other teenagers, Allie is finally able to experience a normal teenage life. When a new boy moves to town, the relationships the four have developed are put to a test.

One night, they end up drinking and partying in the woods. After deciding to play a dangerous prank, the night turns deadly. Running for their lives and in shock, the teenagers decide to keep what happened a secret. Each believes that being caught or telling someone in authority what happened would make the situation even worse for them.

Allie has lived with this secret for 20 years. It’s eating her up inside, especially since she had never told anyone. Allie distances herself from her family, friends, and her husband. Heading back home to Philadelphia for a funeral of one of her childhood friends, Allie struggles with grief, panic, and shame. Clearly the others have been facing the same struggles as her and one had reached the breaking point.

Coming to terms with this unexpected death, Allie realizes that she can’t keep living life the way she has been. She must make a change, but doing so means she would utterly destroy and lose everything. Allie wants to learn the truth about how the prank turned deadly. While she’s searching for answers, Allie learns things that shock her and change the events that she thought were true.

This novel is a fascinating examination of what it really means to want justice and to receive it. Family, marriage, love, and friendship are all tested throughout. I enjoyed the twists and turns this novel took with an ending that I did not expect. Check out the book and let me know what you think in the comments below!


This book is available in the following formats:

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

From the outside, certain families may look like they have everything together. They all get along and everyone new is welcomed in with open and loving arms. The ultimate goal: the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is whole and loving. Sally Hepworth takes this idea of the perfect family and destroys it in her newest novel, The Mother-in-Law.

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth tells the story of the complicated relationship between Lucy and her mother-in-law Diana. Told through flashbacks between the past and present, readers learn about how their relationship began. This story is also told from different point of views, which allows secrets to flourish between each character.

When Lucy first met Diana, she noticed something was off about her. Diana is always unfailingly polite to everyone and generous, but she never completely warms up to Lucy. Lucy knows she isn’t the wife that Diana envisioned for her son, but despite that she still tries to win her over. Diana has been happily married for years, works hard as a recognized figure in the community, and advocates for female refugees in order to help them succeed. All of these things form a bubble of likeability and lovability around Diana. Everyone loves her. Lucy doesn’t. Try as she might, she just can’t think of a nice thing about her.

Flash forward five years.

Diana’s dead.

A suicide note is found by her body.

The family is devastated. Thinking that the cancer that has run through her body finally killed her, the family tries to come to terms with it. Major problem: the autopsy finds no cancer. What it finds instead: Poison and evidence of suffocation.

Police begin an investigation into Diana’s death and start asking questions of the family members. Diana changed her will close to her death and disinherited both of her children and their spouses. There’s no way for them to access any of her money or possessions. Could that be motive for her murder? Lucy doesn’t seem too concerned or broken up over Diana’s death: something that quickly marks her as a suspect.

The Mother-In-Law is ripe with hidden secrets, disintegrating relationships, and complex motives for little actions. Check it out and let me know what you think!


This book is also available in the following formats:

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Reese Witherspoon has been knocking it out of the park lately (in my opinion) with her book club picks. Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine Book Pics are all listed on her website. I encourage you to pop over there to see both what she is reading and what she is encouraging others to read. Looking at her list at the beginning of August, I decided to give her July 2019 pick a try, knowing that the content would be controversial, triggering, and relatable in today’s times.

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker is Reese’s July 2019 pick. Like mentioned before, this book may be triggering for some as it discusses sexual harassment. Whisper Network is described online and in press materials as a book that takes the #MeToo movement and turns it into an empowering, fierce, and funny legal thriller with elements of shocking soap opera revelations. While some reviewers loved this book, others thought it trivialized the movement. Since reviews of this book ranged the spectrum, I wanted to read it to gain my own perspective of a book that covers such a sensitive topic.

Whisper Network looks into the whispers that circle around companies on a daily basis. The facts, rumors, speculations that slip through office spaces form a network where people learn only the information that is passed through the grapevine. The whispers that swirl between staff are ignored, swept under the rug, and easily explained away by superiors. What’s the controversy? It all starts with Ames.

Truviv, Inc, an athletic apparel brand in Dallas, Texas, is undergoing a change. The CEO of the company has unexpectedly passed away, leaving an opening for a new CEO. This could be an issue.

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv for years. All working mothers who live in the shadow of their male boss, the women know how to navigate their working lives. Knowing what they do about the organizational structure and through talking with others, word quickly gets out that their boss, Ames, will likely become the new CEO. This is problematic for multiple reasons. While each woman has their own relationship with Ames, whispers surround Ames as someone the women in the office all need to look out for.

Whenever a new woman is hired, Sloane, Ardie, and Grace struggle with how to let her know since those in charge brush their concerns aside. Ames’s promotion will tumble the unsteady relationships each woman has developed with him. They are wary. When a new woman joins the office and begins getting close to Ames, the women decide that they need to take action. When word gets out that Ames has been making inappropriate moves on a colleague, the women are fed up. Watching from the sidelines isn’t changing anything. Enough is enough.

Sloane, Grace, and Ardie all decide to handle the situation in different ways, but ultimately work together to bring Ames’s behavior to light. They fight back. Tired of covering up for Ames’s conniving ways, the women become aware of a ‘BAD Men’ list circulating around Dallas. Someone has added Ames’s name to the list.  A shift happens in the office as a result bringing down a major and catastrophic change to their normal working lives.

Everyone has lies and secrets that they hope will remain hidden. In order to bring about change, these lies and secrets will be exposed, but that is not necessarily a good thing. Personal and professional lives will drastically change as a result of the women’s many actions, leaving some of them utterly destroyed and someone dead.


This book is also available in the following format:

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Stuart Turton’s debut novel, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, is a twisty book that requires readers to pay close attention to what’s happening in order to catch the murderer.

Evelyn Hardcastle is going to be killed tonight. This isn’t the first time she’s been killed though and it probably won’t be the last.

Evelyn’s parents have invited the same people who were at their house for a weekend nineteen years ago back to their house for a party to celebrate the return of their daughter Evelyn from Paris. Why the nineteen year gap? Nineteen years ago to the day, their son Thomas was murdered by the lake near Blackheath, their home. Seldom returning to Blackheath, this party is a reunion for all.

The party is meant to be a celebration, but as the clock strikes 11:00pm, Evelyn is killed by the reflecting pool as fireworks explode overhead. As one of the guests brought to Blackheath eventually realizes, that is not the first time Evelyn will be killed and it won’t be the last. Until he can solve her murder and until he delivers the name of the murderer to an interested party, this guest is destined to repeat the day of Evelyn’s death over and over.

How is this possible, you may ask? This book isn’t your typical murder mystery. The main character repeats the same day eight times. If he doesn’t solve the crime by the end of the eighth day, his memory is wiped and he begins the loop again. Every day, he is told that if he brings the name of the murderer to a person waiting at the edge of the lake at 11pm, he will finally be allowed to leave Blackheath. He must fight against many forces beyond his control in order to stay alive. He only has 24 hours in each host, but if he is killed in a host before his 24 hours are up, he bounces to the next host. As each day begins anew, he wakes up in the body of a different guest with the task to solve Evelyn’s murder. He finds himself struggling against the hosts he has inhabited and also against the people working to stop him from ever leaving Blackheath.

This high concept murder mystery is certainly not for the faint of heart. Like I mentioned before, readers must pay attention to what is happening in the book in order not to be lost amidst the many shifting plot lines. Read this book and let me know what you thought! I’m curious what others think of the plot structure and the many twists and turns.


This book is also available in the following formats:

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Have you ever recognized someone on the street or in a picture online, but you just can’t place where they’re from? Alice Feeney uses that as a piece of her main character’s development in her latest novel, I Know Who You Are.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney is twisty thriller following an actress working to make a name for herself. Aimee Sinclair has the face of someone that most people recognize, but they can’t remember where she is from. Even Aimee has trouble keeping her past life and present life separate. You see, Aimee has a past that she has never shared with anyone and with that past comes a devastating secret that, if uncovered, would have the power to destroy the life she has carefully crafted for herself. There is just one problem: Someone knows Aimee very well. They know her past, what she did, and who she really is.

Aimee seems to have everything going for her, but bubbling just under the surface of her life, things are preparing to destroy everything. Coming home one night, Aimee finds her husband missing. She is at a loss of what to do since his cell phone and wallet are still sitting on the dining room table alongside a giant bouquet of apology flowers. While she is worried, she isn’t in a full-on panic because the night before they had gotten into a heated argument where they both exchanged words that they did not mean and he did things that she will never be able to forget.

Thinking that he will eventually come home, Aimee gets up the next morning for a run and a trip to her favorite coffee shop, only to discover her card has been denied. Calling the bank, Aimee finds out her account has been emptied, theoretically by her. This unnerves her. After reporting her husband missing, detectives show up at her door to question her. Telling them what happened, detectives begin to believe that she is hiding something. They aren’t wrong. Unwilling to divulge everything she knows, Aimee unwillingly sends the police in the wrong direction while the police work to prove that Aimee is behind her husband’s disappearance. Actions come to a head when both sides come up against a wall regarding Aimee’s husband’s disappearance. Aimee’s past has finally come back to haunt her and demands acknowledgment in such a dangerous way that has the power to destroy everything around her.

This novel takes everything that we think we know about ourselves, actors and actresses, the police, and disappearance cases and turns it all on its head. I’ll admit that I thought I had the plot twist figured out pretty early on, but the ending of this book quickly caught me off guard. Check out this book and let me know what you think in the comments below!


This book is also available in the following formats:

Sadie by Courtney Summers

I spend a lot of time in the car either driving to work or driving to explore. This means that I have so many hours to fill that the music on the radio starts to repeat itself. I have learned to spend this time listening to podcasts and audiobooks instead. Looking at award-winning book lists, I found Sadie by Courtney Summers: a book that is presented like a true crime podcast. This sounded perfect to me.

Sadie by Courtney Summers highlights the story of Sadie and her sister Mattie. When thirteen-year-old Mattie goes missing from her small Colorado town and is eventually found murdered, her nineteen-year-old sister Sadie is devastated. Sadie has been raising Mattie by herself for years ever since their mother left. While she had some help from her surrogate grandma, Sadie took on the bulk of the responsibilities associated with her and Mattie’s welfare. When Sadie all of a sudden disappears about a year after Mattie is found, her surrogate grandma reaches out for help.

West McCray is a radio personality who has been slowly making his way across the country to work on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America. While stopped in one such town, he overhears a local talking about Sadie’s disappearance. Shortly after, West is contacted by Sadie’s surrogate grandma and finds himself drawn into the case. West decides to turn his examination into the disappearance of Sadie and the murder of Mattie into a true crime podcast called ‘The Girls’.

When Sadie runs away, rumors abound about why she left and where she’s going. Told in the alternating perspectives of both Sadie as she runs away and West’s podcast about her disappearance, readers are able to follow this story from both points of view. While Sadie has run away in order to track down her younger sister Mattie’s killer, West and the rest of her family don’t have access to that information and struggle to find out why she’s gone, where she is, and what has happened to her.

I enjoyed this book as it combines three of my favorite things: true crime, podcasts, and audiobooks. After looking at different reviews, flipping through the print book, and listening to the audiobook, I agree with others when they say that, if given the option, you should listen to the audiobook. By doing so, you are privy to the little audio clues present in the podcast sections that you would miss out on if you only read the book. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


This book is also available in the following format:

Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People  is another standout suspense / thriller novel from Louise Candlish, who expertly crafts domestic  thrillers with neighbors who are not exactly who they seem.  The narrative it told in alternating chapters of past and present, so the reader knows that some future tragedy has taken place but the who, what, where and why has yet to be uncovered.

Candlish’s latest novel takes place just south of London in a tiny enclave which encompasses the picturesque street of Lowland Way.  Comprised of upper class, professional couples whose homes are impeccable and whose children play harmoniously together, the neighborhood is shocked when “outsiders” Darren and Jodie take up residence in an inherited house.  Couples Ant and Em, Ralph and Naomi, Finn and Tess make up the neighborhood, along with recent widow Sissy.

Darren and Jodie are polar opposites of their neighbors.  They play their music loudly at all hours of the night, begin renovations without proper equipment and have a variety of abandoned vehicles on the property.  The residents of Lowland Way quickly lose patience with the new residents and emotions run high on both sides.  The neighbors are plotting among themselves all the different ways they can rid themselves of the new eyesores in the neighborhood.  Within the cluster of friends, alliances begin to form and betrayals begin.  Are they willing to do whatever it takes to bring “their” neighborhood back?

Events take a tragic turn when someone loses their life in the middle of the night.  Accusations fly and neighbors begin to undermine each other wondering who is to blame.  Then, another tragedy occurs and the rumors and speculation intensifies.  Candlish crafts a suspenseful tale where red herrings abound and the group of neighbors wonder who they can trust. Those People  has a tendency to build slowly with careful character development.  Even though the pace can move a little slowly, I recommend Those People as a domestic thriller with a unique twist.

Online Reading Challenge – July

Hello! Welcome to the July edition of the Online Reading Challenge!

We’re going over to the dark side this month, since July’s subject is: Crime!

Crime is actually a pretty popular subject at the library, between True Crime books (lots of serial killers and murderers in the 364.1523 Dewey section) and Mysteries (the majority of which involve a murder). There are (sadly) plenty of other crimes to consider, some that don’t even involve bloodshed! Here are some suggestions.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. A classic murder story that, even many years after it came out, will give you chills and make sleep difficult. Based on an actual murder, Capote delves into the background of the Clutter family and the two men who killed them. A masterpiece.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones follows the devastation and long-term consequences to a man and his family when he is wrongly accused of rape and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Kevin has been convicted of killing nine students when he went on a shooting spree at his high school. Kevin’s parents are devastated and try to come to terms with what their son did.

Prefer something a little less grim? Try Lawerence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series about a burgler based in New York City. Bernie takes great pride in a well-executed burglary and is offended when a dead body intrudes. Much lighter than Block’s Matthew Scudder PI series (which is excellent if you’re looking for something hard-hitting).

As always, check out the displays at each Davenport Library location for lots more suggestions!

I don’t usually read crime novels and only a few mysteries so it took me awhile to settle on a title. I finally decided to read Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf. It caught my attention for several reasons including that it’s set in Iowa and that the protagonist is deaf. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now, what about you? What will you be reading in July?

 

 

 

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

Publishing executive Chloe Taylor has the perfect life in Alafair Burke’s new stand alone thriller, The Better Sister.  Chloe’s career is on an upward trajectory, her husband, Adam, is a successful attorney and their son, Ethan,  is thriving as a high school student.  Splitting their time between New York City and their second home on Long Island, the family is the envy of all their friends.  But, the truth behind the facade tells a very different tale.

In reality, Chloe has had a strained relationship with her family for decades, especially her sister, Nicky, with whom she has been estranged since Ethan was a toddler.   Nicky has long struggled with jumping from men to men and job to job and has continued to make bad choice after bad choice.  Most who know Chloe and Adam would be shocked to learn that Adam was married to Nicky years ago and she is actually Ethan’s biological mother.

Shockingly, Adam is found dead in the family’s Long Island home, the victim of a burglary gone wrong.  Or was the attack more personal and the burglary just a cover?  When police believe the culprit may be someone within the family, the sisters put their past differences aside and come together.  The sisters must face their current troubles by revealing and acknowledging the deceptions in the past.

The Better Sister  is a highly recommended read and is another thrill ride from Alafair Burke.  It would appeal to readers of Ruth Ware, Clare Mackintosh, Gillian Flynn  or Laura Lippman.