Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Where I Left Her

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~







Synopsis:  

From the author of WHEN I WAS YOU comes a spine-tingling new thriller about a mother's worst nightmare come true, when she goes to pick up her daughter from a sleepover, and she's nowhere to be found.


Whitney had some misgivings when she dropped her increasingly moody teenage daughter off for a sleepover last night. She's never met the friend's parents, and usually she'd go in, but Amelia clearly wasn't going to let something so humiliating happen, so instead she waved to her daughter before pulling away from the cute little house with the rosebushes in front.


But when she goes back to get her, an elderly couple answers the door--Amelia and her friend are nowhere to be found, and this couple swears she's at the wrong house. As Whitney searches for Amelia, she uncovers a trail of secrets and lies her daughter has told her--from Finsta accounts to rumors of a secret relationship. Does she really even know this girl she's raised, and can she find her before it's too late?

WHERE I LEFT HER

Author: Amber Garza

ISBN: 9780778332060

Publication Date: August 24, 2021

Publisher: MIRA Books




Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 




Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they're real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @ambermg1

Instagram: @AmberGarzaAuthor

Facebook: @AmberGarzaAuthor

Goodreads


Excerpt:  

1

FRIDAY, 5:00 P.M.

DROP-OFF



WHITNEY WANTED TO get rid of her daughter.

How awful is that?

Not forever, of course, but for the night. She was weary of the sixteen-year-old attitude. The rolling of eyes, stomping of feet, the judging glances and biting remarks.

That’s why she wasn’t paying as much attention as she should’ve been when dropping Amelia off at Lauren’s. Her mind was back in their apartment, her butt planted on the couch, bare feet propped on the table, a pint of ice cream in her lap.

“The destination is on your right.” She turned the steering wheel, following the instructions given by the disembodied voice of the GPS in her daughter’s phone. Amelia held it up, giving the illusion that her palm was talking. The house in front of them was nondescript. A tract home, painted tan with beige trim, a cream door, two large windows overlooking the narrow front walkway. The only thing that set it apart from the others was the row of rosebushes lining the left perimeter of the yard, scarlet red petals and thorny, jagged stems.


Whitney pulled her car over, tires hugging the curb.

Amelia hopped out the minute her mother’s foot pressed down on the brakes, as if she was desperate to be free of her.

“You sure this is her house?” Whitney asked.

Amelia shrugged, glancing down at her phone and then back up. “This is the address she gave me.” Her tone was impatient, irritated. That’s how she’d been lately. Distant and moody. Everything her mom said and did annoyed her.

Originally, she’d planned to walk Amelia up to the front door and meet Lauren’s mom. But on the way over here, Amelia had begged her not to do that, pointing out that she was no longer a little girl.

As much as Whitney hated to admit it, she could see her point. Amelia was sixteen. As soon as she finished her driver’s training and passed her test, she’d be driving on her own and then Whitney wouldn’t even have the option of dropping her off at her friend’s. It was time she learned to let go, loosen the death grip a little.

Instead of following her daughter, Whitney stayed inside the car, watching through the smudged glass of the passenger-side window. Amelia’s dark hair swished down her spine as she sped to the front door. When she reached it, she readjusted the blue overnight bag that was secured on her shoulder while lifting her other hand to knock.

Lauren appeared in the doorway, flashing a smile at Amelia. She wore a pink headband that made her look much younger than seventeen. Amelia peered over her shoulder before stepping forward, her lips curling at the corners as she threw her mom another wave. It was the largest grin Whitney had gotten in days, and she welcomed it, grabbed hold of it and then gave it back.

After watching them both disappear inside, Whitney pulled away from the curb. Without even looking in the rearview mirror, she sped toward her night of freedom, dreaming of a couch to herself and a movie Amelia couldn’t make fun of.



SATURDAY, 10:00 A.M.

SEVENTEEN HOURS AFTER DROP-OFF


Whitney had been up for hours, and still hadn’t heard from Amelia. Last night was restful. Quiet. Peaceful. All the things Whitney had wanted it to be. Much needed. But this morning she was suffering from a serious case of mom guilt. She missed her daughter. Was anxious for her to come home, attitude and all. Unlocking her phone, she shot her a quick text: Ready for me to pick you up?

Even after several minutes, no response came. Not that she was shocked. When Amelia had friends over, they stayed up all night giggling and talking. No matter how many times Whitney would remind them to keep it down, within minutes their muffled voices would return, drifting through the adjoining bedroom wall. Most likely, she’d done the same at Lauren’s and they were both still asleep.

The house smelled like Saturday morning—coffee, creamer, maple syrup.

French toast had been a weekend tradition for years. When Amelia was little, she’d wake up early and bound into her mom’s bedroom, eager for breakfast. But lately it seemed Whitney ate alone more often than not. Even when Amelia was home, there was no guarantee she’d join her. Amelia lived in her room, earbuds perpetually plugged in her ears, as if she’d grown another extremity. Still, Whitney couldn’t bring herself to stop the tradition altogether. The French toast would get eaten, even if it took a couple of days. Whitney didn’t mind leftovers, anyway. Not that she had many this morning. She’d gone for an extra-long jog and had been ravenous.

After cleaning up the kitchen, Whitney went back into her phone and clicked on the Snapchat app. Amelia may have been quiet around the house lately, but she had no problem sharing her life with the rest of the world. Whitney expected to be greeted by smiling selfies of her and Lauren, maybe some photos of the food they were eating, proof to all the other teenagers on social media that they were having a blast on their Friday night together. But nothing had been posted on her story in the last twenty-four hours.

With slick fingertips, Whitney closed out of Snapchat and checked Instagram. Nothing there either. A chill brushed over her neck, causing the hairs to stand on end. She shook the feeling away with an abrupt jerk of her head. Whitney had always been like this. Anxious. A worrier, especially when it came to Amelia. Perpetually thinking the worst. Amelia hated it. So had her ex-husband. It was one of the many things they fought about. And it was probably one of many reasons why Dan had ended up marrying that sunny, smiling, high-pitched preschool teacher. If Whitney had to take a guess, she’d say there were no skeletons in Miss Karen’s closet. No past indiscretions she was afraid of coming to light. No monsters from her past lurking around the corner.

No secret buried inside, so deep the roots had become invisible.

When Dan married Karen, Whitney remembered thinking how he had succeeded in finding someone completely opposite from her, just like he said he would. It didn’t take him long either. He’d met Karen less than a year after they’d split up. He and Karen were friends for a while, and then dated for several years before marrying.

That was how he always defended it.

We were friends first.

We took it slow.

But that was never the point. He should have made Amelia his priority. Whitney hadn’t dated at all while Amelia was growing up—she’d only started within the last couple of years. Once Amelia hit high school and started having a life of her own, Whitney figured it was time she did too.

Leaning against the counter, she stared out the kitchen window. There wasn’t a view. The window overlooked the apartment across the way. A man stood in his kitchen, his back to Whitney as he drank coffee. His build vaguely reminded Whitney of Jay, and it made her smile.

Going into her last text thread with him, she typed, I miss you.

Then she bit her lip. Too forward? Too soon?

They’d been dating for a couple of months, and he’d only been on an overnight business trip. He was returning later today. She didn’t want to come on too strong.

Backspace. Delete. She tried again: Hope your trip was good.

Too formal?

Whitney paused, thinking.

Why am I making this so hard?

She really liked Jay. That was the problem. He was the first guy in a long time she felt hopeful about. Usually by month two of dating someone, the red flags popped up and her interest waned. That hadn’t happened yet with Jay.

Turns out, she didn’t need to stress over what to text. Jay beat her to it.

Boarding the plane now. Will call you when I’m back, he texted.

Sounds good, she responded.

It was 10:30. There were a million things on the agenda today and waiting around for Amelia wasn’t one of them.

After hitting the grocery store and Target, Whitney swung by Lauren’s, using the memory of how they’d gotten there yesterday as her guide. It was a little tricky, since she hadn’t paid enough attention to Amelia’s directions yesterday, but after a few minutes of circling the neighborhood, she came upon a familiar street and turned on it. A couple of houses in, she recognized the rosebushes.

It had been well over an hour since she’d sent the last text to Amelia. Although there hadn’t been any response yet, Whitney was sure she was up by now. Probably hoping to buy more time with her friend.

Whitney had gotten Amelia a bag of gummy worms. She pulled it out of one of the grocery bags. It crinkled as she set it on the passenger seat. Amelia probably wouldn’t even eat them. Certainly, they didn’t fit within the parameters of her latest diet, but, still, Whitney couldn’t resist. Whitney’s habit of picking up treats at the store had started back when Amelia was a toddler, when she’d surprised her with a bag of cookies one afternoon when picking her up from preschool. Whitney would never forget how wide Amelia’s eyes got, how broad her smile became as she clutched the little bag. A lot of things may have changed between them over the past few years, but Whitney didn’t want that to be one of them.

After getting out of the car, she slipped the key ring around her finger and walked up the front walkway, flip-flops slapping on the pavement. It was a warm, spring day. Kids played outside a few houses down. A lawnmower kicked on. A couple rode their bikes past, bright neon helmets bouncing up and down like beach balls bobbing in the waves. Amelia used to love to ride bikes. For a while, it had been a weekend tradition. Whitney couldn’t remember the last time they’d hit the trails together, but she made a note to ask her about it. Most likely her answer would be a big resounding no, coupled with the same cringey, horrified look she had whenever Whitney suggested they hang out. Still, it was worth a shot. Sometimes Amelia surprised her with a yes, reminding Whitney of the girl she used to be before the teenage monster took over.

When Whitney reached the door, she lifted her hand to knock the same way she’d watched Amelia do the day before. A minute passed and no one answered. That funny feeling returned, but she shoved it down, feeling silly.

She knocked again, this time so hard it stung her knuckles. The girls were probably listening to music or something. Or maybe they were in the backyard. It was a nice day. Ears perked, she listened for the sound of her daughter’s voice or of music playing inside. Hearing neither of those, she frowned.

Finally, Whitney caught the hint of footsteps inside.

The door creaked open, an older woman peering out, eyebrows raised. She looked to be in her late sixties, maybe early seventies.

Whitney was taken aback. She’d never met Lauren’s mom, but there was no way this was her. Maybe Lauren’s grandparents lived with them. Recently, Whitney had watched a news report about how the cost of living had gone up, causing multigenerational homes to become a growing trend. And Lauren had mentioned that her parents were divorced. Whitney knew firsthand how financially taxing it was to raise a child alone.

“Hi, I’m Whitney. Amelia’s mom.” Smiling, Whitney jutted out her hand.

But the elderly woman just stared at it, not saying a word. She glanced over her shoulder where a man around her same age stood. He furrowed his brows and stepped forward. Whitney’s body tensed.

Maybe she’s got dementia or Alzheimer’s or something. Whitney caught the old man’s eyes. “Hi, I’m Amelia’s mom. She spent the night here.”

“Nope. Not here.” Shaking his head, he came closer. “You must have the wrong house. They all kinda look the same in this neighborhood.”

Whitney glanced around. Hadn’t she thought the same thing yesterday? She must’ve turned down the wrong street or something.

Face warming, she backed away from the door. “I’m so sorry to have bothered you.”

“No bother at all,” the man said, and the woman offered a kind smile.

Whitney turned on her heels and made her way back to the car. She turned on the ignition and pulled away from the curb. The couple had already disappeared inside. Whitney drove to the main street and turned right. When she came up on another street, she turned onto it. The man was right. There were lots of houses that looked like theirs. She pulled up in front of one, scanning the yard.

Nope. No roses.

That’s what had set the other house apart. The one she dropped Amelia off at.

She moved farther down the street, carefully looking to the right and to the left, searching for a one-story house, roses lining the perimeter. Coming up empty, she swung the car around. Maybe her mistake had been turning right at the main street.

Backtracking, this time Whitney turned left.

This street was almost identical to the other two she’d just been down. Same tract homes. Manicured lawns. Shuttered windows. A sea of tan paint and beige trim. The odd red door or colorful lawn art. But, again, no roses. At least, not in the correct spot.

Turning onto another street, she finally found it. The simple house. The roses lining the side.

After parking in front, she leaped out and hurried to the front door. It was answered after only a couple of knocks.

She gasped, taking in the elderly man standing in the doorway. The same one she’d just spoken to a few moments ago.

Oh, my God.

She’d ended up right back where she’d started. As she backed away from the door, apologizing profusely, she took in the shuttered windows, the manicured lawn, the roses lining the perimeter of the yard. Peering back at her car, she envisioned Amelia in the front seat holding her phone, the voice of the GPS speaking in her palm.

There was almost no doubt in Whitney’s mind—this was where she’d left her.


Excerpted from Where I Left Her by Amber Garza, Copyright © 2021 by Amber Garza. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

When The Summer Was Ours

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~



Synopsis (from Amazon):  Hungary, 1943: As war encroaches on the country’s borders, willful young Eva C├ęsar arrives in the idyllic town of Sopron to spend her last summer as a single woman on her aristocratic family’s estate. Longing for freedom from her domineering father, she counts the days to her upcoming nuptials to a kind and dedicated Red Cross doctor whom she greatly admires.

But Eva’s life changes when she meets Aleandro, a charming and passionate Romani fiddler and artist. With time and profound class differences against them, Eva and Aleandro still fall deeply in love—only to be separated by a brutal act of hatred. 

As each are swept into the tides of war, they try to forget their romance. Yet, the haunting memory of that summer will reshape their destinies and lead to decisions which are felt through generations.

From the horrors of the Second World War to the tensions of the 1956 Hungarian uprising and beyond, When the Summer Was Ours is a sweeping story about the toll of secrets, the blurred lines between sacrifice and obsession, and the endurance of the human spirit.






One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I was brought into Eva's story right from the very beginning. I was trying to find out how she appeared to have so much in her life while a war was going on. When she met Aleandro, I thought I knew where the book would take us, but I was wrong (as I often am).  The trials and heartbreak that Eva goes through after falling in love with Aleandro but engaged to marry Eduard. Will she follow her heart or her families (father's) expectation and marry Eduard. 

On top of this the Nazi's have invaded Hungary and Aleandro is taken off to Dachau concentration camp. We witness his struggles of living in a concentration camp and his dreams of Eva. What happens after the war and Eva and Aleandro find each other and what happens to Eduard? You will need to read When The Summer Was Ours to find out. 




Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania and moved to California with her family as a young teen. Already fluent in English and French, she began writing short stories about growing up in her native Eastern Europe, at first as a cathartic experience as she transitioned to a new culture, then simply to pursue what had become an unrelenting passion. She has worked as an editor, content writer, and marketing manager for a number of Fortune 500 companies and has been writing fiction since 2012. Her first novel, THE GIRL THEY LEFT BEHIND, is based on her family's true story.

Friday, August 27, 2021

How To Kill Your Best Friend

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~







Synopsis:  Sweet Bronwyn, fun-loving Georgie, and bold-and-beautiful Lissa were inseparable at university. The trio added Adam and Duncan to their crowd after joining the swim team, and even years later, their pastime unites them across time and long distance. But now, nearing 40 years old, the old pals find themselves gathering in tropical paradise for a more tragic circumstance: Lissa’s memorial service.

 

Nobody knows exactly what happened on the fateful night that Lissa went out for a swim at Kanu Cove and never returned. Lissa knew the spot well―after all, she and her husband, Jem, had been living on the lush tropical resort they newly owned together. And everyone on the island knows that something dangerous is rumored to lurk beneath the crystal-clear waters of the Cove.

 

So why would Lissa go for a swim at Kanu Cove, alone, at night? Is it likely that a champion swimmer really drowned―or was something more sinister at play?

 

The peaceful weekend in memory of a lost friend turns chilling as trouble starts brewing in paradise, and violent events begin happening at the hotel. Bronwyn and Georgie are quick to suspect that a member of the friend group may be up to something deadly. Lissa’s death was only the beginning….


Purchase: How to Kill Your Best Friend at Amazon.


Lexie Elliott graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she swam and played waterpolo at university, and later swam the English Channel solo. She works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Other Me

 ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~







Synopsis (from Amazon):  Two lives. The one you wanted. The one that wanted you.

Her birthday should be like any other night.

One minute, Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She's got 12 years of the wrong memories in her head and she's married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.

Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly's search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him - including a connection to a mysterious tech start-up - tells her she shouldn't. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning. 

But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can't figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything....



Excerpt:    Read Excerpt and purchase here on Amazon


Sarah Zachrich Jeng grew up in Michigan and always had a flair for the morbid and mysterious (for her dad's thirty-fifth birthday, she wrote a story entitled "The Man Who Died at 35"). She had a brief career as an aspiring rock star before she came to her senses and went back to school to become a web developer. Sarah lives in Florida with her family and an extremely hyper rescue dog. The Other Me is her first novel. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Wait For It

 ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~







Synopsis:  A woman looking for a new lease on life moves to Arizona where she rents a guest house on a gorgeous property with a mysterious owner—a man who teaches her about resilience, courage, and ultimately true love, in this funny, bighearted novel about hope and healing from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.
 

Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She's not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.
 
When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there's no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.
 
Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

Purchase at Amazon.




Jenn McKinlay is the award-winning, New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. Her work has been translated into multiple languages in countries all over the world. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband's guitars.


Friday, August 13, 2021

Someone Else's Love Story

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~




Synopsis (from Amazon):  Someone Else's Love Story is beloved and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson's funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love, and learning that things aren't always what they seem—or what we hope they will be.
Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son.
Shandi doesn't know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It's been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn't define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Jackson does it again with great character development (like always in her novels).  Be prepared to be hooked from the very beginning all the way to the last word!  

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  Enjoy all of Joshilyn's books. Always look forward to the next "new" release.



Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of nine novels, including gods in Alabama, The Almost Sisters, and Never Have I Ever (July, 2019)

She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband and their two kids. She serves on the board of and volunteers with Reforming Arts, teaching creative writing inside Lee Arrendale State Prison, Georgia's maximum security facility for women. Through their education-in-prison and reentry programs, Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives. 

She's also an award winning audiobook narrator, performing most of her own work as well as novels by Lydia Netzer and Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Sold

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~




Synopsis (from Amazon): The powerful, poignant, bestselling National Book Award Finalist gives voice to a young girl robbed of her childhood yet determined to find the strength to triumph

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.

He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at "Happiness House" full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.

An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt-then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.

Lakshmi's life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother's words-Simply to endure is to triumph-and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision-will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?

Written in spare and evocative vignettes by the co-author of I Am Malala (Young Readers Edition), this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.



One (or more) Sentence Summary: Unbelievable is the first word that comes to my mind.  Speechless is the second word.  Powerful, powerful book that requires lots of kleenexes.  I am going to have to wait to watch the movie. I am embrassed to say this is another book that has been on my shelf for years.  



Patricia McCormick is a two-time National Book Award Finalist whose books include "Cut," "SOLD," "Never Fall Down," and the young readers edition of "I am Malala." SOLD, based on McCormick's research in the brothels of India, has been made into a feature film. www.soldthemovie.com 

Her first picture book, "Sergeant Reckless, The Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero," was called a rousing success by the New York Times. And her non-fiction book, "The Plot to Kill Hitler," was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten of 2016. 

Her debut novel, "Cut" is a sensitive portrayal of one girl's struggle with self-injury. "SOLD," a searing novel about child trafficking and "Never Fall Down," based on the true story of a boy who survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia, were National Book Award finalists.

She worked recently with Malala Yousafzai, on the young readers' edition of "I am Malala," the story of the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for standing up for her right to an education. 

For more information: http://www.pattymccormick.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricia-McCormick/150993641605301