The Stolen Lady by Laura Morelli

One woman is the person in the painting while the other woman is trying to save it.

We meet Lisa Gherardini in 1497 whose wealthy husband wanted a portrait of her, and we meet Anne Guichard in 1939 who is employed at the Louvre and trying to keep this famous painting, The Mona Lisa, out of the hands of the Nazis.
 
Leonardo Da Vinci is the artist who painted Lisa’s portrait.  

Many interesting facts about this painting that traveled far and wide to keep it safe.

All three people are tied together by this one painting even though the connection is hundreds of years apart.

Lisa’s maid, Bellina Sardi, is a side part of this trio, but she has an important role of keeping her mistress safe, but is also asked to spy on and steal from the wealthy family she works for by the Medici.

Marvelous research as always and an educational trip through history as we learn about the woman behind that Mona Lisa smile, Leonardo Da Vinci, how the Mona Lisa took many trips and was hidden many times, and life during this time in history.  5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Inheritance by Joann Ross

Three sisters who didn’t know each other existed needed to get together after their father passed.

They didn’t know each other because each sister had a different mother, and their father never really kept in touch.

As the attorney handling the estate of their father met each sister at her home and invited them to the reading of the will, he was worried they wouldn’t comply.
 
They did comply, and two of the three sisters were shocked when they saw the house that looked like a house in France and when they met a grandmother they never knew about who was born in France and was part of the French Resistance.  The attorney declared success!!

A slow start to this book did lead to a terrific story line about the sisters, the house, and the information their grandmother relayed about her life as a member of the French Resistance.

Readers are treated to a book about the joy of finding family, finding love, and realizing happiness can come at any time in your life no matter how late.

An enjoyable read for women’s fiction fans and WWII fans.  4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad

Only three children left on an orphan train heading west.
 
We know we aren’t going to get picked. What should we do?
 
What they do is jump from the train.
 
Charles, Patrick, and Opal struggle for a few days on their own sleeping outside and searching for food.
 
They then come upon the Stewart farm and are taken in by the family, but they have to work hard and assure the family they are worth adopting as they hide from the The Children’s Aid Society so they won’t be sent back to their dreadful lives in New York.
 
We follow the harsh treatment of hard work doled out as well as the love the orphans receive from the Stewarts.
 
YOU BELONG HERE NOW takes the reader back to the early 1900’s when an orphan train traveled across the country placing children who had no one into homes.
 
A very touching story.  You will cry with the characters as well as be happy with them as they realize that having a family and forgiving others are the most important things in life.

Those readers who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy this book.  5/5

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Defending Britta Stein by Ronald H. Balson

Ninety-two-year-old Britta Stein was charged with spray painting the restaurant of Ole Henryks once he was slated to be honored as a hero during WWII.

Britta said he was not a hero…he was a Nazi collaborator.

Britta needs an attorney, and Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert team up to defend her.

DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN takes the reader to Denmark during the war with detailed information of the situation the citizens were under during the Nazi occupation. 

Very interesting to learn how Denmark dealt with this part of history.

The book goes back and forth in time as Britta tells the story of her life during the occupation and back to today as she prepares for her trial with Catherine, Liam, and her granddaughter, Emma.  

Britta also wants her story told so her granddaughter finally knows her family history which has been kept from Emma.

Britta is definitely a feisty, enjoyable character.  Between her and Mr. Balson’s impeccable research, DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN is another winner for him.

Any fan of Mr. Balson will not want to miss his newest.

The way he has Britta telling her story, and how he ties the present-day situation into the past makes the book difficult to put down.

His talent definitely shines through in DEFENDING BRITTA STEIN.  5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Necklace by Matt Witten

Twenty years after the murder of her daughter, the man who murdered her seven-year-old daughter will be put to death.

Susan is on her way to the execution and begins to panic because something she saw may prove that this man is innocent and the real killer is still out there.

Could she be correct, though?  All the evidence pointed to him, so how could the wrong man have been in jail all these years?

Susan did not have a smooth trip so maybe she is just imagining what she saw. Her money was stolen, her car broke down, and she isn’t sure she will make it in time to save this man.

We re-live the nightmare of the trial as well as present day.

Mr. Witten’s writing style flowed smoothly, and the story line kept my interest even though the book was tense with some upsetting situations.

You will be with Susan and feel her anxiety and her questioning herself about if she is right.

A nice twist at the end. 5/5

This book was given to me by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Where could Tallulah and Zach have gone after they left a party at the mansion called Dark Place?

Tallulah had a baby, and her mother, Kim, knew she would never leave him.

Kim checked with friends, and they had stories that didn’t match up about when and where Tallulah was and where she left the group.

After waiting twenty-four hours, Kim called the police and the search began.

Tallulah and Zach were never found, but as the book moves forward in time, we meet Sophie who moved into a house close to Dark House. 

On the property where Sophie and her boyfriend are staying, she finds a sign that says:  DIG HERE.  Being curious about what that means, Sophie walks in the woods and finds Dark House abandoned and neglected.

What could this connection be?

Could this sign be a connection to the cold case?

Could it be a story for her to write about or to turn into her new novel?

The story of the missing teenagers is something Sophie couldn’t forget about and kept investigating.

THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED goes back and forth from the year Tallulah and Zach disappeared to present day as we find out background information, how little the investigation team did, and how finding the sign that says DIG HERE brings back the nightmare of the missing teens for Kim.

Ms. Jewell keeps her reader as curious as the characters about what happened. 

The house seemed to be a character in itself and definitely added to the suspense.

So many possible suspects, but who is the right one?

Ms. Jewell has given us another tense read with an ending you will be talking about.

You won’t want to miss THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED if you are a fan of Lisa Jewell, spooky houses, and multi-layered characters.  4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

The beloved library can’t be shut down.

What will the people of Chalcot Library do without this meeting place and the books?

June worked as a library assistant and was a very shy, sheltered person.

Learning that the city was going to shut down the library was devastating to her. June knew nothing else.

Her library wasn’t just about books, it was also about the people in the town having some place to go to socialize.

When some of the older patrons decided to fight about keeping the library, June joined in too.

THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY is a sweet, feel-good read and has great characters.

Some are funny, some are feisty, and some are just loyal library patrons.

Fighting to keep libraries open is a great theme, and one that is echoing all around.

If you need a read that will make you smile, add this book to your reading queue.

It is a tribute to libraries, the comfort they provide for its patrons, and for everyone who uses the library for books and friendship.

I KNEW I was going to like this book, but I LOVED it!!

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman

We meet Joan who has just had an article published that was three years in the making and that exposed Caspar Osgood.

The joy of being published was marred by her being attacked when she arrived home. 

Joan was suffering from a concussion from the attack and a concussion that she wouldn’t get taken care of.

She also was offered a seven-figure book deal the next day that she accepted and wasn’t sure she could even write because she had blurry vision.

She also moved into a secure building that used to be the Magdalene Laundry building that housed wayward girls.

Will she get the book done?

We also meet Lillian – a 96-year-old neighbor across the hall from Joan who lived in the Magdalene Laundry building and who gave Joan the history of herself and the building.

Then we meet the widow of Caspar Osgood who must now find a job because her husband committed suicide which voided the life insurance policy and she had also found out there was no money left in any bank account.

All three women share chapters as we find out what is going on with each of them. 

They all have secrets, and they all seem to be connected in some way. The building even has secrets.

I enjoyed learning about the Magdalene Laundry and the building. 

The book is slow at first, but once you learn of what these three women are doing and what is in their past, the book picks up.

Could the stranger behind you really be a stranger or someone you know and trust?

THE STRANGER BEHIND YOU was different from Ms. Goodman’s other books, but well written as always.

It has a great wrap-up ending so don’t give up too soon as I almost did. 4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Riviera House by Natasha Lester

A building, the Jeu de Paume, filled with stolen paintings during the occupation of France during WWII and a mansion on the Riviera in present day is where we meet Eliane and Remy. 

WWII…Eliane was summoned to help sort out the stolen paintings and get them prepared to be sent to Hitler and Goring’s private collections. 

Eliane didn’t want to do this, but she had no choice.  She did have the choice to not let the Germans know she spoke their language so she could spy on them and carry on Resistance work.

PRESENT DAY…Remy is in her mansion, Cap-Ferrat, in France, meets new neighbors, tries to continue to overcome her grief, and finds a painting in a catalog that lists the paintings Goring had taken for his own.

She is shocked to see a painting that she has in her home in Sydney. 

How can that be?  That was 70 years ago.

We move back and forth in time and find out the connection between the two time periods and the two women as well as the men they love and the house one had visited and one was living in now.

When names from the past started to surface in the present-day story and the connection to the house became apparent, the intrigue ramped up.

THE RIVIERA HOUSE pulled me in and didn’t let go.  This book is very well written and flows nicely.  

Ms. Lester’s research is impeccable.

THE RIVIERA HOUSE is a beautiful read with authentic, mostly likable characters.

And, of course, you can’t have a book set in France without some romance.  🙂

Historical fiction fans, photography fans, vintage clothing fans, and art fans will not want to miss this book.

Another book that MUST be added to your summer reading list. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

WHERE I LEFT HERE by Amber Garza

A moody teenager who had changed the past few months and an overnight with a friend didn’t turn out well.

The nightmare began when Amelia didn’t show up the next day and her phone was turned off. 

Amelia wasn’t where her mother left her off when she went to pick her up in the morning, and the house where she thought she left daughter had an older couple living there and said no girls lived there.

The police were called, but Whitney, Amelia’s mother, didn’t have much to give them other than that her daughter hadn’t been herself lately, her daughter had a boyfriend she didn’t know about, and she was talking to an older man.

The days dragged, and Amelia still wasn’t found.  Where could she be?  What could have happened to her?

WHERE I LEFT HER goes back and forth from the childhood of Amelia to present day as well as back and forth with Whitney’s life.

I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I was with WHEN I WAS YOU.

There was a lot of back story that could have been left out, but there are some very tense moments in the back stories and present-day stories.

It truly was slow and didn’t hold my interest until three quarters of the way through when the secrets and truths were revealed.

WHERE I LEFT HER isn’t a bad read, but could have gotten there more quickly.

The ending was worth the wait, though, and took my rating up a notch.

Excellent ending so don’t give up.  4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.