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We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartels


A box of photos, an elderly aunt the main character didn’t know about, and an old house.

Was it fate that Elizabeth had lost her job as a journalist because of a story she was covering?

Was it fate that James Rich found her and wanted her to return some photos to a Nora Balsam?

Was it fate that Elizabeth fell in love with Aunt Nora and with her home the minute she met her and stepped inside the family home?

As the chapters alternate between the three Balsam women, we meet Elizabeth present day as she is finishing up a story and gets fired because of the story and as Elizabeth meets James Rich who has a task for her she doesn’t want to do until she finds out that Nora is her great aunt.

We meet Nora in her younger days and in present time.  Going through her house and seeing the beauty that was once there pulled me in.

We also meet Mary Balsam dating back to 1861 and the first inhabitant of the house Nora now lived in.

I love old photos, old houses, and stories that our older relatives have to tell us about their lives and the time period which they lived in and how they lived.

Elizabeth found all of those things, with the best things being the old house with stories of its own and the stories of the three women’s interesting lives.

One problem, though, was that Nora wouldn’t talk about the house or tell any stories at all about her past life.

When Elizabeth finds locked rooms, gravestone markers, and many beds lined up in the attic my interest peaked.

Those readers who enjoy historical fiction, secrets, surprises, and an unraveling of the past will thoroughly enjoy WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS.

And, of course, the characters were simply wonderful. I didn’t want the book to end because of them.

WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS has a warmth that will linger with you and a wonderful history lesson.

Ms Bartels’ debut novel has flawless writing and a marvelous story line. 5/5

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

Annelies by David R. Gillham

Anne Frank has always been of interest, and Mr. Gillham creates a heartbreaking re-telling of what she and her family endured and what her life could have been had she survived.

We follow Anne before, during, and after the war that describes her family’s confinement and the horrors they endured at the concentration camps.

Mr. Gillham brings Anne back to life and fictitiously lets us see how she is trying to put her life back together as she reunites with her father who in actuality is the only surviving family member.

Mr. Gillham shows us how Anne is trying to acclimate herself to normal life again but has a difficult time because of how she was forced to eat quickly and put food in her sweater or sleeve to save for someone else or to eat later.

The detailed writing and re-telling will hold your interest from the minute you begin reading.

This book is a tribute to all of those who suffered, survived, perished, and helped in any way possible during history’s darkest hours.

Mr. Gillham did an outstanding job of researching as well as using a creative method of portraying Anne Frank’s life as it may have been even though she did not survive the Holocaust.

Through Mr. Gillham’s marvelous writing style we are transported back in time as we experience what Anne experienced during her captivity and as she tries to re-enter her previous life that is always filled with the presence and reminders of her captors and how she had to comply.

ANNELIES is a beautiful, heartfelt book you will want to absorb with attention to every detail.  

Anne seems as though she was and would have been a feisty young lady the world has missed and could have learned from.  5/5

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


No Exit by Taylor Adams

A phone call that her mother had cancer, a snow storm, a rest stop with strangers, and worst of all a child locked in a cage in a van.

Could it get any worse for Darby?

Who was the child, which one of the strangers in the rest stop was the kidnapper, and what can Darby do about it since there is no cell signal and no way the police could get there anyway in all that snow?

NO EXIT has us sharing a rest stop with the other stranded people trying to make time pass, but as time passes the tension and danger builds because Darby finds out who the kidnapper is and is secretly threatened to keep quiet.

As you read, you feel Darby’s terror about the safety of herself and the other strangers and wish the snow would stop, cell service would be available, and some help would arrive.

If you have always thought rest stops were creepy places, you will be even more wary after reading NO EXIT.

NO EXIT has characters that unfortunately could very well be exactly as they are portrayed whether they are at a rest stop or at a resort.  The kidnappers were pretty evil and had no regard for human life.

Mr. Adams keeps you turning the pages, worrying, and wondering how it all will turn out as he slowly and expertly reveals who is who and what is happening.

Talking about an intense read, we need to capitalize INTENSE.

NO EXIT has so much tension your heart will be pounding, and you won’t want to stop reading.

When you think you have figured out what is going on, another surprise pops up.

If you thrive on thrillers, NO EXIT will not want to be missed. 5/5

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


The Au Pair by Emma Rous


Does Laura, the au pair, have the answer to the question that no one would ever answer?

Does she know why Seraphine’s mother threw herself off a cliff right after she gave birth?

Seraphine hopes so because she must know the answer now that her father has also passed away, but no one wants to talk about it.

Well…not until Seraphine tells her grandmother she would like to talk to Laura to see if she can shed some light on what happened. Her grandmother panics and pleads with Seraphine to NOT talk to Laura.

This arouses more curiosity for Seraphine.

Grandmother Vera also tells Seraphine that Summerborne House will go to her brother Danny and not her.  That news has Seraphine running out of the house.

Why will it go to Danny and not her when she lives there? But Grandmother Vera didn’t say why and won’t say why.

Of course, Seraphine does not listen to her grandmother’s request and apparent warning.

What she finds out causes more questions and more danger, but who are the ones that are in danger and what does what she finds out mean?

THE AU PAIR takes us from past to present as we learn about the Mayes family and the situations and activities that took place twenty-five years ago that are still puzzling today.

We hear Laura’s voice from the past as she familiarizes herself with the house and the family when she first arrives and her life as the au pair at Summerbourne.

Then we hear Seraphine’s voice present day as she searches for answers from her brothers, her grandmother, and anyone who may have known her mother. 

There is plenty of mystery to keep you intrigued along with Ms Rous’s alluring writing and secretive characters.

The flashbacks and description of life at Summerbourne at that time were marvelous.  Old estates with all those rooms, the estate’s family, and the folks that work on an estate are always a draw for me.

THE AU PAIR will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy secrets, mysteries, family dynamics, time travel, and descriptions that put you in the book with the characters.

Nothing can top a good old mystery with family secrets, right? 5/5

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


An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Answer some questions anonymously for $500?  Who would say no?  How difficult could the questions be?

Jessica finds out just how difficult the questions are once the survey gets started.  The anonymous interaction by Dr. Shields while answering the questions at the beginning is unsettling to say the least, but Jessica needs the money so she continues.

When Jessica is asked to meet Dr. Shields in person, she thinks this will be much better than replying on a computer. I wouldn’t have continued, but everyone has reasons why they would or why they wouldn’t continue.

At their first in-person session, Dr. Shields tells her that the research has been cancelled and that Jessica is her sole focus.  Should Jessica worry about this?

Maybe Dr. Shields can help Jessica with a secret she has been keeping her entire life or perhaps she can’t help her and her secret will get out?

The more Jessica thinks about this arrangement with Dr. Shields, the more frightened and paranoid she becomes that she really doesn’t know what she has gotten herself into and what Dr. Shields really has in mind.

We find out about Jessica as well as Dr. Shields in alternating chapters.  Both seem like troubled people, but Dr. Shields seems to have the upper hand with her devious, obsessive plans of using Jessica to help solve her problem or at least find an answer to them.

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL had me tense as I was reading and worrying what was going on.   Jessica’s worry seemed to consume her all day and even at night.

I didn’t like Dr. Shields the minute I met her and disliked her even more as time went on.  She actually was quite frightening, evil, cunning, manipulative, and needed some therapy herself.  If you want to hate a character, Dr. Shields is the person you are looking for.

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL definitely will keep your interest up as well as your blood pressure.

If you enjoy a book that you won’t be able to put down just because what’s happening is unbelievable, then THE ANONYMOUS GIRL is that book.

And…if I must compare the books by these authors, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL was much better for me than THE WIFE BETWEEN US.  5/5

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

She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge


What could have happened to Aurora?   Someone knows but isn’t telling.

Uncovering bones from a thirty-year-old disappearance/murder case wasn’t something the police thought would happen after their very thorough search and investigation back then.

The remains of fourteen-year-old Aurora Jackson was a shock to the six teens that had been with her as well as the town and her parents.  Everyone believed she had been kidnapped or had run away not murdered.

SHE LIES IN WAIT goes back and forth from 1983 to the present telling the story of what happened at the campsite, how the investigation was exhaustive and came up with nothing, and moves to present day with the interviewing of the now-adult teens and the re-opening of the case.

Opening the case meant bringing the six friends together at the station for a meeting.  Was that a good idea or had there been collaboration beforehand?  Are they all only going to try to save themselves?  Will one of the friends say things that had not been said before and reveal something that could get that person arrested?

The investigation turned up some facts that had been overlooked and involved a person that was not one of the six friends.

SHE LIES IN WAIT moves smoothly from one chapter to the next and holds your interest because of all the questions about what really happened and who was lying back then and who was still lying now.

If you enjoy being a detective, you will definitely enjoy SHE LIES IN WAIT.

The story line is good and nicely carried out with some twists and of course secrets being kept.  5/5

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


Freefall by Jessica Barry

Allison by her own choice had no contact with her mother for two years, and then her mother found out that Allison had been killed in a plane crash.

Maggie had not talked to her daughter since her husband had passed away, knew nothing about her life, and was at a loss to answer questions about her daughter.

Maggie did what every mother would have done to keep in touch, but to no avail, and I admired her for searching out details about her daughter’s life under the circumstances.

Maggie could find no one who knew anything about her daughter or rather anyone who would say anything about her.  They became silent when she asked.  Maggie wondered what the reason for that was.

Maggie had an inkling that her daughter hadn’t perished in the fiery crash but kept that thought to herself for her own sanity.

We follow Maggie and Allison in alternating chapters both past and present as the story unfolds.

Allison’s life the past two years had been a bit tough at first, and she had a secret that prevented her from her wanting to be found.

The tension mounted on Allison’s side of the story as we find out things about her past, what she was up to, and perhaps the reason for the crash.

FREEFALL keeps you rapidly turning the pages, has good writing, great detail, and enough suspense that you won’t want to put the book down.  

Through bits and pieces everything slowly came together, the mystery unraveled, and the intensity of the situations increased.

If you enjoy suspense, secrets, and twists, FREEFALL fits the bill.

It takes a few pages to grab your interest, but be sure you don’t have anything else to do because you won’t be able to put this book down.  5/5

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