The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

 

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My Review:

Combine late hours working at the hospital with an irresistible, handsome, charming and persistent doctor…friendships and disasters go hand in hand in Kimmery Martin’s debut, The Queen of Hearts.  Zadie and Emma are best friends, from medical school to the present, currently living in North Carolina and both practicing doctors.  But as close as they were and are, there are still deep secrets they haven’t shared with each other, and when an old colleague moves to town, it conjures up the past memories, and they are forced to reveal some painful truths from their youth.

Kimmery Martin shows us how relationships evolve and grow overtime, so much so that when lives become intertwined, lifelong friendship can prevail and even the worst betrayal can be forgiven.

I do love a love triangle in a medical setting, and for those who enjoy tv shows like ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Med, this wonderful tale of the heart is for you!

As Seen on Goodreads:

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

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About the Author:

Kimmery Martin is a physician, book reviewer, author interviewer, travel blogger, obsessive reader, and general all-around literary nerd who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three children. The Queen of Hearts is her first novel.

 

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Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

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My Review:

Suspense/thriller Author Rebecca Drake takes us to a suburban town where four close friends each hide dirty secrets that are slowly revealed as the fast paced story in Just Between Us unfolds.  This domestic drama, similar in some ways to Big Little Lies, showcases their perfect, small town existence, but behind the public facade, there is darkness.

Three friends believe the other is in an abusive marriage and when the husband is found dead,
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The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

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My review:

Inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal in 2008, author Randy Susan Meyers takes us on an emotional journey inside a fictional Wall Street investment firm to witness how a Ponzi scheme could actually play out and the destruction of lives it could leave in its wake.  The Widow of Wall Street begins when Phoebe is visiting her incarcerated husband, Jake, in jail.  We then start at the beginning, when the couple meets as teenagers, and follow their relationship as the get married, raise children and grow a successful business and a nonprofit.  Phoebe is a hardworking mother of two and a trusting wife of her high school sweetheart.  Jake dreamed of financial success and dedicated himself to have the means to provide the conveniences and luxuries wealth brings.  Throughout his career he was focused, put in long hours and provided well for Phoebe, their children, and others close to him.  When he was charged with fraud upon the discovery of the Ponzi scheme he developed, Phoebe’s life was in shambles.  So many trusting friends and colleagues lost their fortunes, businesses lost funding and families lost their nest eggs.  Did Phoebe know what her husband was doing all those years?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Widow Of Wall Street.  With her thoughtful, well developed characters, Randy Susan Meyers recreated the tragedy of the real life scandal from the perspective of the woman behind the criminal.

I felt Phoebe’s devastation as her life crumbled; the happiness she embodied was built on lies and Jake’s crime caused her to lose her husband, her money, family, friends, home, and her identity, essentially her entire life as it once was.  She trusted him, hoped he was doing the right thing, and had been content in her life enough to choose not to inquire about things she wasn’t sure she really wanted to know about…finances and other women.  This is a cautionary tale as well as a story of love, trust, success, failure, betrayal and destruction. For some, the need for success becomes a compulsion and morality can fall by the wayside.  Relationships, emotions and commitment can cloud logic and truth and unfortunately the ripple effect is devastating.  With suspenseful storytelling and insight into the illusion of what seemed like a storybook marriage Randy Susan Meyers definitely delivered;  I highly recommend this book!

As seen on Goodreads:

What’s real in a marriage built on sand and how do you abandon a man you’ve loved since the age of fifteen?

Phoebe sees the fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers in Brooklyn. Eventually he creates a financial dynasty and she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

When Phoebe learns—along with the rest of the world—that her husband’s triumphs are the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. Lies underpin her life and marriage. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Did she partner with her husband in hustling billions from pensioners, charities, and CEOs? Was she his accomplice in stealing from their family and neighbors?

Debate rages as to whether love and loyalty blinded her to his crimes or if she chose to live in denial. While Jake is trapped in the web of his own deceit, Phoebe is faced with an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning Jake, a man she’s known since childhood, feels cruel and impossible.

From Brooklyn to Greenwich to Manhattan, from penthouse to prison, with tragic consequences rippling well beyond Wall Street, The Widow of Wall Street exposes a woman struggling to redefine her life and marriage as everything she thought she knew crumbles around her.

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As seen on Goodreads:

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, where I quickly moved from playing with dolls to incessantly reading, spending most of my time at the Kensington Branch Library. Early on I developed a penchant for books rooted in social issues, my early favorites being “Karen” and “The Family Nobody Wanted.” Shortly I moved onto Jubilee and The Diary of Anne Frank.

My dreams of justice simmered at the fantastically broadminded Camp Mikan, where I went from camper to counselor, culminating in a high point when (with the help of my strongly Brooklyn-accented singing voice), I landed the role of Adelaide in the staff production of “Guys and Dolls.”

Soon I was ready to change the world, starting with my protests at Tilden High and City College of New York, until I left to pursue the dream in Berkeley, California, where I supported myself by selling candy, nuts, and ice cream in Bartons of San Francisco. Then, world-weary at too-tender an age, I returned to New York, married, and traded demonstrations for diapers.

While raising two daughters, I tended bar, co-authored a nonfiction book on parenting, ran a summer camp, and (in my all-time favorite job, other than writing) helped resurrect and run a community center.
Once my girls left for college, I threw myself deeper into social service and education by working with batterers and victims of domestic violence. I’m certain my novels are imbued with all the above, as well as my journey from obsessing over bad boys to loving a good man.

Many things can save your life–children who warm your heart, the love of a good man, a circle of wonderful friends, and a great sister. After a tumultuous start in life, I’m lucky enough to now have all these things. I live in Boston with my husband, where I live by the words of Gustave Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

 

Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

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As stated in Goodreads:

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

 

My thoughts:

While on a vacation solo, Violet meets a stranger she falls for and cannot forget.  All she knows is that they both live in the same city but they have no way to reach each other.  For several years Violet pines for this mystery stranger, wondering what could have been, and one day an ad appeared in the local paper describing her and their brief encounter on vacation and asking her to meet him.  The connection survived the set of time and their love grows: this second chance meeting was a sign for Violet that she and Finn, her mystery man, were meant to be.

Violet and Finn, now happily married, take their 3 year old adored son, Bear, to the beach where they first met for a special vacation, and while Violet is relaxing at the ocean, Finn and Bear mysteriously disappear without a trace.

Caitlin, Finn’s old friend from high school, and her husband George and their twins live next door to Violet and Finn back home.  Finn and Bear shockingly appear in Caitlin’s house asking her to hide them, and threatening to blackmail her with secrets that will ruin her family.

Violet is alone and distraught waiting for her son to be located, Finn is desperate and looking for a safe place where he can think things through, and Caitlin is faced with harboring a kidnapper and his son or divulging secrets that will surely ruin her marriage.

This gut wrenching debut is fast paced and well written as the details of the past trickle in and the truth is revealed.  The tangled web of lies by omission has the lives of Violet and Finn along with friends Caitlin and George hanging in the balance.  “All the wrong people know all the wrong secrets” and in Almost Missed You, author Jessica Strawser skillfully shows us the price one pays for keeping it under wraps in this suspenseful story of love, loss and the quest for a happy life.

Buy your copy of Almost Missed You HERE.

 

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Jessica Strawser for providing me with an ARC.

 

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By day, Jessica Strawser is the Editorial Director of Writer’s Digest magazine, North America’s leading publication for aspiring and working writers since 1920. By night, she is a fiction writer with a debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, forthcoming in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press and another stand-alone novel to follow in 2018. And by the minute, she is a proud wife and mom to two super sweet and super young kids in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A Pittsburgh native and “Outstanding Senior” graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, she counts her New York Times Modern Love essay and her Writer’s Digest cover interviews with such luminaries as Alice Walker, Anne Tyler and David Sedaris among her career highlights.

NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW by Maggie Kneip

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As stated in Goodreads:

After a fairy-tale courtship in 1980s New York City, Maggie’s young marriage shatters when her “perfect” husband–a star editor at The Wall Street Journal–is diagnosed with and dies of AIDS, leaving her with two young children in a city electrified by paranoia about the new epidemic. Devastated by his betrayal, Maggie struggles to protect herself and her children from stigma, keeping the circumstances of her husband’s death a secret for nearly twenty-five years. It is only when a journey of self-discovery aligns with her children’s coming of age and a new world of sexual tolerance that she can finally embrace the truth and set herself free.

With a foreword by former Wall Street Journal editor Laura Landro and an afterword by psychologist Dr. Dale Atkins, a frequent commentator on NBC’s Today Show, NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW is an honest, unflinching look at the damaging nature of family secrets and an inspiring call to embrace every truth–the good, the bad, the ugly–that makes us who we are.

Tony Goldwyn, Actor and Director says:

“I first met Maggie Kneip when she was 9 months pregnant with her second child. Less than a year later, her husband John would die of AIDS. In the wake of this unspeakable trauma, I watched Maggie bravely, tirelessly rebuild her life and raise two extraordinary kids. Familiar as I was with her story, nothing prepared me for the transcendent power of NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW. Maggie’s unflinchingly honest memoir of loss, grief, and ultimately triumphant self-discovery is a book for anyone affected by the plague of AIDS, anyone who has struggled to process grief and make sense of the bewildering randomness of life and death.”

 

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Author Maggie Kneip (right) appearing with Psychologist Dr. Dale Atkins (left).

Maggie Kneip is a veteran of the publishing industry, with more than two decades in publicity and marketing at Bertelsmann, Scholastic Inc., and Abrams Books.  Often with Dr. Dale Atkins, she visits synagogues, churches, libraries and civic organizations to talk about NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW, and the challenge of relationship and family secrets. She has also met with book clubs to talk about NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW, coast-to-coast. Maggie has performed as a singer at such Manhattan clubs as the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Metropolitan Room.  Learn more about her at www.maggiekneip.com.

My thoughts:

Meeting Maggie today, a strong, independent woman with two gorgeous adult children, many interests and talents, involved with her community and lots of friends, one might be shocked when they read about her journey.  Maggie married John in the 1980s; he was the love of her life. Shortly after their second child was born he became ill and after a trip to the hospital and some tests he and Maggie were given the news…he had AIDS and just a short time to live.  No apology and no explanation; no conversations were to be had and no truths were revealed.  And while caring for two babies, taking over the running of the household and the finances, she graciously cared for him until his passing.

The times dictated secrecy due to fear and lack of education and information on the virus.  Maggie was not able to tell anyone what happened to her husband, she had to protect her children, move out of town, avoid the truth and project strength until her kids grew up and society became more sexually tolerant and developed life saving treatments for AIDS.

In this honest, beautifully written memoir, NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW, Maggie opens up and tells her story of love, disappointment, betrayal and secrecy, bringing to light the destruction and damage a secret can inflict on a loved one, a relationship and a family.

Order NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW HERE

 

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

 

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As stated in Goodreads:

The discovery of long-buried secrets brings three generations of women together to Cape Cod for the summer homecoming of a lifetime.

Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it’s paid off: on the cusp of thirty she has a handsome fiancé, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and her father’s hard-won admiration. But with one careless mistake at work, Marin suddenly finds herself unemployed and alone. Before she can summon the courage to tell her parents, a young woman appears, claiming to be Marin’s half-sister. Seeking answers, Marin agrees to join her on a soul-searching journey to Cape Cod, to meet the family she didn’t even know she had.

As the summer unfolds at her grandmother’s beachside B&B, it becomes clear that her half-sister’s existence is just the first in a series of truths that will shake Marin’s beliefs–in love, and in her own identity–to the core. Filled with shocking revelations, heartfelt romance, and resilient women banding together against the most unexpected twists of fate, THE FOREVER SUMMER is an emotionally resonant page-turner, and a delicious escape for any season.

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Jamie Brenner is the author of THE FOREVER SUMMER coming in April from Little, Brown. Her previous novels include THE WEDDING SISTERS (St. Martin’s Press). She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

 

My thoughts:

I literally could not put this book down – The Forever Summer was about so many things…love, loss, infidelity, illness, secrets, romance, commitment, revelations and personal truths. Each character has their own story, as in real life, and Jamie Brenner does a wonderful job showing the incredible strength in women and the undeniable power of family. Joining talented authors like Jane Green and Elin Hilderbrand, Jamie Brenner has written the next must read for your beach bag.  The New England Coast setting is my favorite for a juicy summer book – don’t miss this one!

Order The Forever Summer HERE