December TBR

I realized I haven’t shared my TBR in a while, a lot of the books are ARCs which aren’t published yet. But that’s okay because you can share in my excitement for them and maybe expand your TBR. Let’s get right into it.

A Dark and Secret Place, Jen Williams
Thriller
I started this one last night, and so far, the atmosphere is perfectly creepy.


Blurb:
When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother’s baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery–stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The “Red Wolf,” as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.

What did Heather’s mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well.

The Cousins, Karen M. McManus
YA/Thriller
This one is already out, and I started it yesterday as well. I’m not far enough in to comment yet, so I’m excited to see where this goes.

Blurb:
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Lana’s War, Anita Abriel
Historical Fiction
I can’t wait to start this, WWII Historical Fiction is my favorite

Blurb:
Paris 1943: Lana Antanova is on her way to see her husband with the thrilling news that she is pregnant. But when she arrives at the convent where he teaches music, she’s horrified to see Gestapo officers execute him for hiding a Jewish girl in the piano.

A few months later, grieving both her husband and her lost pregnancy, Lana is shocked when she’s approached to join the resistance on the French Riviera. As the daughter of a Russian countess, Lana has the perfect background to infiltrate the émigré community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers, including the man who killed her husband.

Lana’s cover story makes her the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist and fellow resistance member, in whose villa in Cap Ferrat she lives. Together, they gather information on upcoming raids and help members of the Jewish community escape. Consumed by her work, she doesn’t expect to become attached to a young Jewish girl or wonder about the secrets held by the man whose house she shares. And as the Nazis’ deadly efforts intensify, her intention to protect those around her may put them all at risk instead.

What Could Be Saved, Liese O’Halloran Schwarz
Literary Fiction
I admit, the cover of this is what drew me in to the blurb. It sounds so good, and I’m a huge fan of alternating timelines done right. I had to request this to review.

Blurb:
Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Bea as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared forty years earlier when the family lived in Bangkok, Laura ignores Bea’s warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true. But meeting him in person leads to more questions than answers.

Bangkok, 1972: Genevieve and Robert Preston live in a beautiful house behind a high wall, raising their three children with the help of a cadre of servants. In these exotic surroundings, Genevieve strives to create a semblance of the life they would have had at home in the US—ballet and riding classes for the children, impeccable dinner parties, a meticulously kept home. But in truth, Robert works for American intelligence, Genevieve finds herself drawn into a passionate affair with her husband’s boss, and their serene household is vulnerable to unseen dangers in a rapidly changing world and a country they don’t really understand.

Alternating between past and present as all of the secrets are revealed, What Could Be Saved is an unforgettable novel about a family shattered by loss and betrayal, and the beauty that can exist even in the midst of brokenness.

The Other Mother, Matthew Dicks
Coming of Age
This was another book where the cover got me. But the title is very “Coraline-esque” and after reading the blurb, I knew this was going to be right up my alley.

Blurb:
The one he loves most, is the one he knows least.

Thirteen-year-old Michael Parsons is dealing with a lot. His father’s sudden death; his mother’s new husband, Glen, who he loathes; his two younger siblings, who he looks after more and more now that his mother works extra shifts.

And then one day, Michael wakes up and his mother is gone. In her place is an exact, duplicate mother. The ‘other mother’. No one else seems to notice the real version is missing. His brother, his sister, and even Glen act as if everything’s normal. But Michael knows in his heart that this mother is not his. And he begins to panic.

What follows is a big-hearted coming-of-age story of a boy struggling with an unusual disorder that poses unparalleled challenges—but also, as he discovers, offers him unique opportunities.

The Children’s Blizzard, Melanie Benjamin
Historical Fiction
I think the blurb speaks for why I would be drawn to request this one for review.

Blurb:
The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a punishing cold spell. It was warm enough for the homesteaders of the Dakota Territory to venture out again, and for their children to return to school without their heavy coats—leaving them unprepared when disaster struck. At the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning. Schoolteachers as young as sixteen were suddenly faced with life and death decisions: Keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn’t get lost in the storm?

Based on actual oral histories of survivors, this gripping novel follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen, two sisters, both schoolteachers—one becomes a hero of the storm and the other finds herself ostracized in the aftermath. It’s also the story of Anette Pedersen, a servant girl whose miraculous survival serves as a turning point in her life and touches the heart of Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman seeking redemption. It was Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured northern European immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land. Boosters needed them to settle territories into states, and they didn’t care what lies they told these families to get them there—or whose land it originally was.

At its heart, this is a story of courage, of children forced to grow up too soon, tied to the land because of their parents’ choices. It is a story of love taking root in the hard prairie ground, and of families being torn asunder by a ferocious storm that is little remembered today—because so many of its victims were immigrants to this country.

The Beginning of Everything, Robyn Schneider
YA
I grabbed this one from the local bookstore before the pandemic really hit. I have quite a few I need to work through and I’m glad I’m able to fit this one into my schedule.

Blurb:
Varsity tennis captain Ezra Faulkner was supposed to be homecoming king, but that was before—before his girlfriend cheated on him, before a car accident shattered his leg, and before he fell in love with unpredictable new girl Cassidy Thorpe.

As Kirkus said in a starred review, “Schneider takes familiar stereotypes and infuses them with plenty of depth. Here are teens who could easily trade barbs and double entendres with the characters that fill John Green’s novels.”

Funny, smart, and including everything from flash mobs to blanket forts to a poodle who just might be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby, The Beginning of Everything is a refreshing contemporary twist on the classic coming-of-age novel—a heart-wrenching story about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

A Totally Awkward Love Story, Tom Ellen
YA/Comedy
I got this one at the same bookstore trip from above. I like to find YA books that I can read, and hopefully, I love them so much, I can have my daughter read them too. I’m hoping this is one of those books.

Blurb:
The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, she does. She just wishes she’d caught his name.

For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start. But after five minutes with some strange and hilarious girl, he’s head over heels. With his luck, though, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.

But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a misunderstanding drive them apart. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

Well, there you have my immediate TBR. Depending on the speed of my reading, there may be others. I can’t wait to share my reviews with all of you. So, what are you reading? What should I add to this TBR?

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