One Last Gift

Cassie and her brother Tom are orphans; their parents died when they were young. Their mom’s sister, Claire took them in and raised them, but it wasn’t a very warm relationship. So Cassie and Tom became very close. But an unexpected event destroys their bond, and Cassie must manage on her own, with support from her friends. Except for Sam, her brother’s best friend, who Cassie has had a crush on for years. Until Sam became a hotshot lawyer and humiliated her in front of her friends, so she vowed to cut him out of her life.
But when Cassie finds a note from Tom, leading to one last annual Christmas scavenger hunt that he always arranged for her holiday gift, she feels as if she has her brother back with her for a while. What she ultimately finds leads to a new way of life and the love she’s always wished for. This novel felt like the winter equivalent of a beach read; it kept my interest and was a fun read. Fans of romance will enjoy this…

A Quiet Life

This character-driven novel begins by introducing three separate characters experiencing grief, loss and significant transition. An older man who is recently widowed can’t find a way to move forward without his wife. A single mother separated from her young daughter struggles to get through each day without her child. A young woman misses her father and the gaping hole he left in her life seems impossible to fill. Set in Pennsylvania, we are pulled in to their lives and feel the sadness and heaviness they each carry. The connections are slowly pieced together and the ordinariness is familiar and imaginable. I enjoyed glimpsing into their lives and watching as they learned to slowly pick themselves up and move on. Recommended.

If You Want Something Done…

The subtitle of this is “Leadership Lessons from Bold Women”, and the title comes directly from a quote by Margaret Thatcher: If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman. Nikki Haley profiles ten women who have inspired her during her life and the lessons learned from each of them. Each of the ten chapters focuses on a woman that she admires, and why. Many of the women were the first to break a barrier, including herself, and the book is indeed a fitting tribute to Haley’s role models; some famous (Margaret Thatcher, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Golda Meir) and some unknown to many people (Cindy Warmbier, whose son was imprisoned in a North Korean jail, and Nadia Murad, who was sold by ISIS as a sex slave.) Some of the stories related are difficult to read, but the strength and determination shown by these women is remarkable, and their stories need to be heard. This book demands to be read.

Daisy Darker

Alice Feeney’s new murder mystery is set on an island in England that is only accessible at low tide. Like the Christie plot of ‘And Then There Were None,’ Daisy Darker’s victims are isolated and begin getting killed one by one. The family reunites at the grandmother’s house on the island where she decides to read her will early so there will be no surprises after her death. Her son and grand daughters aren’t happy with their inheritance. We learn about the 3 grand daughters who never amounted to much as well as the self-absorbed son who abandoned the family to pursue his own self-interests. A surprise twist at the end is hard to believe, but may keep you entertained enough to read to discover who-done-it.