One Night by Georgina Cross

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of Publication: August 1st, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Family, Fiction, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

One night. That’s all the time a family has to decide what to do with the man they believe murdered their daughter: Do they forgive him, or take justice into their own hands? An electrifying novel by the author of Nanny Needed. . .

The anonymous letters arrive in the mail, one by one: To find out what really happened to Meghan, meet at this location. Don’t tell anyone you’re coming. In one night, you’ll find out everything you need to know.

Ten years after her murder, the letters tell Meghan’s family exactly when and where to meet: a cliffside home on the Oregon coast. But on the night they’re promised answers, the convicted killer–her high school boyfriend, Cal, who spent only ten years in prison for murder–is found unconscious in his car, slammed into a light pole near the house where the family is sitting and waiting. Is he the one who invited them to gather?

As a storm rampages along the Pacific Northwest, the power cuts off and leaves the family with no chance of returning to the main road and finding help. So they drag Cal back to the house for the remainder of the night. How easy it would be to let him die and claim it was an accident. Or do they help him instead? As the hours tick by, it becomes an excruciating choice. Half of the family wants to kill him. The other half wants him to regain consciousness so he can tell them what he knows.

But if Cal wakes up, he might reveal that someone in the family knows more than they’re letting on. And if that’s the case, who is the real killer? And are they already in the house?

First Line:

It was stupid to walk away. You can’t trust anyone in the dark.

One Night by Georgina Cross

The night Meghan was killed was the night that her family shattered. It fractured even more when her alleged killer, Cal, was released from jail after only serving ten years. Her entire family is invited to a beach house on the Oregon shore two years later. As tensions rise inside, a massive storm rampages outside. When Cal is found injured and unconscious in his car, the family moves him inside. Half of the people there want to kill him, and the other half want to keep him alive so he can tell them what he knows. But someone in that group is hiding a secret. A secret so big that it could destroy them and the other family members. Did Cal kill Meghan? If he didn’t, who did? Will Cal survive the night? Will he tell people what he knows?

I have read a lot of mysteries lately. That is a good thing; I enjoy a good mystery, and the mystery angle initially attracted me to this book. I figured that I would like this book. I hate to say it, but I was “meh” about One Night.

One Night is a fast-paced book in the tourist town of Bandon, Oregon. The storyline did suit the pacing, but there was a lag in the middle and end of the book.

There were two main storylines in One Night. The first was Meghan’s murder, who did it, why, and how Cal fit into it. The second storyline centers around Meghan’s family, the house, the storm, and Cal. While both storylines were well written, I was more interested in the first storyline. The second storyline should have held my attention.

The storyline with Meghan, her murder, who did it, why, and how Cal fit into it was very twisty. I didn’t like Meghan. She was dishonest and abusive and had her mother wrapped around her little finger (I will get more into her mother later). The details of her murder, though, weren’t revealed until the very end. While I did have the correct people involved, I didn’t have the timeline right. So, I was surprised when the murderer was revealed.

The storyline with Meghan’s family, the aftermath, the invite to the house, the storm, and how Cal fit into everything was strange and often didn’t make sense. In this storyline, I did figure out who invited everyone to the house (it was very apparent, and the person did make some telling statements with the magazines). The storm was just the backdrop to a surreal and strange situation that started unfolding in the house. When Cal showed up, I wasn’t surprised who wanted to kill him. By the end of the book, I was sick of everyone in this storyline, and I couldn’t wait for it to be done.

I wouldn’t say I liked any of the characters. Except for Sam and Cal, they all got on my one last nerve.

I liked the book’s mystery angle, and it was well-written. As I stated above, I did think I had figured out who killed Meghan, but I was surprised at how it ended. I also did figure out who sent the invites out. But, the reason why surprised me.

The end of One Night was confusing. The author ended the present-day storyline in a way that I did not like. I agreed with Cal’s statement.

I would recommend One Night to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations, but there is violence and language.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, NetGalley, and Georgina Cross for allowing me to read and review One Night. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to One Night, then you will enjoy these:

Other books by Georgina Cross:

North of Nowhere by Allison Brennan

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: August 8th, 2023

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Suspense, Contemporary, Family, Crime, Action

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

New York Times bestseller Allison Brennan’s latest standalone is an unputdownable race to the dramatic finish.

After five years in hiding from their murderous father, the day Kristen and Ryan McIntyre have been dreading has arrived: Boyd McIntyre, head of a Los Angeles crime family, has at last tracked his kids to a small Montana town and is minutes away from kidnapping them. They barely escape in a small plane, but gunfire hits the fuel line. The pilot, a man who has been raising them as his own, manages to crash land in the middle of the Montana wilderness. The siblings hike deep into the woods, searching desperately for safety—unaware of the severity of the approaching storm.

Boyd’s sister Ruby left Los Angeles for the Army years ago, cutting off contact in order to help keep her niece and nephew safe and free from the horrors of the McIntyre clan. So when she gets an emergency call that the plane has gone down with the kids inside, she drops everything to try save them.

As the storm builds, Ruby isn’t the only person looking for them. Boyd has hired an expert tracker to find and bring them home. And rancher Nick Lorenzo, who knows these mountains better than anyone and doesn’t understand why the kids are running, is on their trail too.

But there is a greater threat to Kristen and Ryan out there. More volatile than the incoming blizzard, more dangerous than the family they ran from or the natural predators they could encounter. Who finds them first could determine if they live or die. . .

First Line:

Tony Reed was alive today because he always listened to his gut.

North of Nowhere by Allison Brennan

For five years, Kristen and Ryan lived under an assumed name in the small town of Big Sky, Montana. For five years, Tony had kept them safe from those who should have protected them. But it is all over when Tony notices strangers in town. The children’s father, the head of a crime family, has found them and is coming to take them back. When their escape plan is derailed thanks to someone shooting at the airplane and striking the fuel line and Tony injured, the children strike out on their own, not knowing that a blizzard is about to descend on Big Sky. With their father, aunt, and a local rancher on their trail, it is a matter of time before someone catches up with them. But it isn’t their father, the storm, or the wildlife that the children have to worry about. Something more dangerous than the wildlife and the storm await them back on the ranch. Will the children escape?

I had seen Out of Nowhere floating around the blogosphere for a while. While I was interested, this was a book that I would eventually read in my own time. So, you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from St. Martin’s Press with a widget attached. I was even more surprised when I realized I had requested this book from their influencer program and forgot about it.

North of Nowhere is a fast-paced book set in the state of Montana. The pacing of this book fits the storyline. There was little lag, and the author was able to keep the main focus on the three different storylines.

The main storyline of North of Nowhere centered around the kids (Kristen and Ryan), Boyd, Ruby, and Nick. The story is told through the eyes (3rd person) of Kristen, Boyd, Ruby, and Nick. I am not a fan of multiple storylines or storylines that swap back and forth between characters, but in this case, it worked. The more urgent the storyline became, the more the author switched between the characters.

What I also liked about this book is that the characters were human. Take, for instance, Tony and Boyd. They both were ruthless killers, and they had some psychopathic tendencies. But, and I stress but, they were willing to set those tendencies aside for the kids. Tony did this for five years, and Boyd did it while searching for the kids. Each of the characters, main and otherwise, was well-written and fleshed out.

The storyline of why Tony took the kids and ran was heartbreaking. I did think that the author dragged it out longer than it should have been, but it was all good with me. Kristen did annoy me with her screaming at Boyd, but in her defense, he deserved it. I also was a little irritated with Boyd and how blind he was to everything until it was almost too late. Even I knew who was behind everything.

The storyline with Boyd, his search for the kids, and everything else he did was interesting. I liked how the author first portrayed him as a mob boss going in and getting a job done (getting his kids). But, as that storyline progressed, a different side of Boyd was seen. He genuinely loved his kids and would stay in a blizzard to find them. By the end of the book, I was rooting for Boyd to do the right thing. I wasn’t expecting what happened to him. It took me by surprise.

Ruby’s storyline was complicated. I understood why she helped Tony (she discovered what Frankie was doing to Kristen). I also understood why she shut herself off from the kids (in case a situation like this happened). But, when push came to shove, she was able to face her demons (aka her mother) and help those kids out. Her refusal to do what Frankie wanted at the end of the book was a significant turning point in her storyline.

There were points in the book where I wondered why Nick was involved. But, as soon as he tracked the plane and saw what happened, I understood. Nick was the only one around who could survive the blizzard coming through. Plus, he found Boyd’s story a little fishy and wanted to ensure the kids would be safe. The author put Nick through the wringer in his storyline, but I was happy with his outcome.

The kids’ storyline was complicated and twisty. Kristen witnessed two murders by the time she was eleven. She was damaged because of that. She also knew who was behind the murder of her mother and was terrified of this person. In her five years with Tony, she learned to care for herself. More importantly, she took care of her younger brother, who was deaf.

Let’s talk about Frankie for a minute. The author discusses her quite a bit during the book’s first half. Man, she was cold and was willing to sacrifice/do whatever it took to protect the family and her business. So be it if that meant drugging a ten-year-old to become more cooperative. Frankie becomes essential towards the end of the book. She was scary, manipulative, and just plain evil.

The thriller angle of North of Nowhere kept me on the edge of my seat. The author didn’t let up with it. From the escape to the book’s final scenes, I felt I couldn’t breathe.

The mystery angle of North of Nowhere was well written. There were some things that I figured out early in the book, and there were others that surprised me when the author revealed them. The author kept me on my toes.

The end of North of Nowhere almost seemed anti-climatic. I liked how the author wrapped everything up. I hope that the author writes another book in this universe. There were a couple of surviving people that I would love to read about.

I would recommend North of Nowhere to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations, but there is graphic violence and language.

Many thanks to Saint Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Allison Brennan for allowing me to read and review North of Nowhere. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to North of Nowhere, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Allison Brennan:

California Golden by Melanie Benjamin

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Delacorte Press

Date of publication: August 8th, 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Adult, Adult Fiction, Family

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two sisters navigate the turbulent, euphoric early days of California surf culture in this dazzling saga of ambition, sacrifice, and longing for a family they never had, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife

Southern California, 1960s: endless sunny days surfing in Malibu, followed by glittering neon nights at Whisky A-Go-Go. In an era when women are expected to be housewives, Carol Donelly is breaking the mold as a legendary female surfer struggling to compete in a male-dominated sport–and her daughters, Mindy and Ginger, bear the weight of her unconventional lifestyle.

The Donnelly sisters grow up enduring their mother’s absence–physically, when she’s at the beach, and emotionally, the rare times she’s at home. To escape questions about Carol’s whereabouts–and chase their mom’s elusive affection–they cut school to spend their days in the surf. From her first time on a board, Mindy shows a natural talent, but Ginger, two years younger, feels out of place in the water.

As they grow up and their lives diverge, Mindy and Ginger’s relationship ebbs and flows. Mindy finds herself swept up in celebrity, complete with beachside love affairs, parties at the Playboy Club, and USO tours to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Ginger–desperate for a community of her own–is tugged into the vibrant counterculture of drugs and cults. Through it all, their sense of duty to each other survives, as the girls are forever connected by the emotional damage they carry from their unorthodox childhood.

A gripping, emotional story set at a time when mothers were expected to be Donna Reed, not Gidget, California Golden is an unforgettable novel about three women living in a society that was shifting as tempestuously as the breaking waves.

First Line:

The surf giveth, and the surf taketh away-thus said the Surf God every morning, noon, and night.

California Golden by Melanie Benjamin

Growing up the daughters of one of the only female surfing legends was hard. Mindy and Ginger learned, at a young age, that their mother’s attention was solely on surfing and the beach. To get their mother’s attention, the girls learn to surf. By the mid-1960s, the girls have grown apart. Mindy has become a legend in the surfing circles.. She gets caught up in the celebrity lifestyle and is soon doing a USO tour in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Ginger has become embroiled in the drug and cult counterculture. Their relationship is put to the test when Ginger commits the ultimate betrayal and asks Mindy for help. Can Mindy and Ginger overcome the emotional damage they both carry to do the right thing?

California Golden is one of those books you will love or hate. For me, I was on the love-it side of the scale. I enjoyed reading about Mindy and Ginger’s unconventional childhood and how their lives drastically changed as teenagers. I also enjoyed reading about the surfing/drug and cult subcultures portrayed in the book.

Usually, I’m not too fond of time hopping or switching back and forth between main characters in books. Nine out of ten times, I need help figuring out who I am reading about (usually because the author doesn’t label the beginning of the chapter). But, in California Golden, I had no such issue. Each chapter was tagged Mindy, Ginger, or Carol. It also had the year that particular chapter was set in (the book spans from 1944 to 1980).

I am also not a massive fan of having three separate main characters for the reasons stated above. I also have them run together in my mind. But, in this book, that didn’t happen. The author created three distinct personalities and kept them separate throughout the book.

I liked Mindy, and I also felt terrible for her. She had so much responsibility put on her at a young age. She also knew, as all children do, that she and her sister were unwanted, and she devised a way to get and keep her mother’s attention: surfing. Mindy genuinely loved surfing, and it shone through in the beginning chapters. So I was surprised when her storyline went in the direction it did. The focus would have stayed on her surfing.

While I liked Ginger, I predicted how her storyline would go. Unfortunately, that is the path of many children who had childhoods like hers. It did get to a point where I didn’t even like to read her storyline. But, at the same time, I liked the look the author gave into the drug/cult subculture of the late 60s. It was frightening and fascinating at the same time. It also drove Ginger to do what she did with Jimmy and what she asked Mindy to do later.

I didn’t like Carol, but at the same time, I felt terrible for her. She never wanted to be a wife and a mother. But she was forced to be anyways. She had no feelings for her girls and neglected them. When her husband finally left, and she discovered the girls were still there, her first thought was, “Why didn’t he take them.” She was selfish and remained selfish until the end of the book.

The end of California Golden was a surprise. I liked how things came full circle for Mindy, Ginger, and Carol. But I disagreed with the very end of the book. Was it good that Ginger had gotten her life together and figured things out? I didn’t think so, which might not be the correct opinion because of what was at stake. I wish there were an epilogue showing what life was like ten years later. I would have loved to see where everyone ended up.

I would recommend California Golden to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and sexual situations. I also want to warn you that there are scenes of neglect, drug use, and domestic violence.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Delacorte Press, NetGalley, and Melanie Benjamin for allowing me to read and review California Golden. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books like California Golden, then check these out:

Other books by Melanie Benjamin:

Take the Honey and Run (A Bee Keeping Mystery: Book 1) by Jennie Marts

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Date of Publication: July 18th, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Family, Contemporary

Series: A Bee Keeping Mystery

Take the Honey and Run—Book 1

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

The town is all abuzz when a murder occurs in Jennie Marts’ debut cozy mystery, perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Amanda Flower.

As a successful mystery author, Bailey Briggs writes about murder, but nothing prepares her for actually discovering the dead body of the founder of her hometown of Humble Hills, Colorado. Bailey grew up at Honeybuzz Mountain Ranch and was raised by her beekeeping grandmother, Blossom Briggs, aka Granny Bee, and her two eccentric sisters, Aster and Marigold—which is why she drops everything to come home and help Granny Bee after a bad fall.

A broken foot doesn’t stop her grandmother from ruling The Hive, her granny’s book club, or continuing to prepare and package her bee-inspired products. But when Bailey’s grandmother’s infamous “Honey I’m Home” hot spiced honey turns out to “bee” the murder weapon and her granny is now the prime suspect, Bailey has no choice but to use her fictional detective skills to help solve the murder and ‘smoke-out’ the real culprit.

With the help of Bailey’s witty bestie, a pair of meddling aunts, the feisty members of The Hive, and her computer-savvy daughter, this amateur sleuth is determined to solve the case. A malicious attack and an ominous threat reveal that someone wants Bailey to butt out of the investigation, but there’s no way she’s backing down. She must use her skills to uncover the truth and catch the clever culprit before her grandmother ends up bee-hind bars.

First Line:

The speedometer ticked up another notch, matching Bailey Brigg’s pulse as she and her daughter drove down the two-lane highway heading toward her hometown of Humble Hills, Colorado.

Take the Honey and Run by Jennie Marts

Famous mystery author Bailey and her daughter Daisy are going home to Humble Hills, Colorado, to care for her grandmother, Granny Bee. Granny Bee had broken her foot and needed help around the apiary and cattle ranch. Soon after arriving, Bailey witnesses her grandmother run off the town’s mayor, Werner Humble, and threaten to kill him. Wanting to smooth things over (and figure out what was happening), Bailey goes to Warner’s house and sees him lying dead, covered in her grandmother’s signature hot honey. When her grandmother is brought in for questioning, Bailey is determined to clear her name. But in doing so, Bailey uncovers decades of deceit and blackmail. Warner wasn’t the upstanding citizen that the town thought he was. With Sawyer, the sheriff and her long-lost love, investigation tightening, Bailey is on a different deadline: To clear her grandmother’s name. Who killed Warner and why? Is Granny Bee innocent?

I had initially been on the fence when I saw this book. But I kept seeing it popping up in emails and on NetGalley’s homepage. It was a sign for me to download. I am glad that I did because I really enjoyed this book!! I was laughing my butt off at some of the jokes and quips sprinkled throughout the book. It isn’t often that a mystery combines with humor and works.

Take the Honey and Run was a medium to fast-paced book set in Humble Hills, Colorado. The pacing for Take the Honey and Run was good, but it could have slowed down some. I kept having to go back and reread the passage because I felt I missed something.

Usually, I would fill this with doom and gloom about reading previous books. But I’ll skip that because this is book one, and there are no previous books. Take the Honey and Run is the first book in the A Bee Keeping Mystery series.

The main storyline in Take the Honey and Run is the mystery of Warner Humble’s death, Granny Bee’s involvement (or noninvolvement), and Bailey’s investigation. I will say that this is the first time a honey allergy has been used (to my knowledge) to kill off a character in a mystery. I found it unique. I was very puzzled by who killed Warner. When Bailey started investigating, 3-4 other suspects besides her grandmother appeared. It made sense to me (and it should have to Bailey, with her being a mystery writer) that her grandmother would be the number one suspect because of the threat she made against him in front of the sheriff. I wasn’t a fan that Bailey took it upon herself to interrogate suspects and then didn’t share information with the sheriff. That is a pet peeve of mine when reading mysteries. It drives me up the wall when the heroine gets info and sits on it. But, saying that, Bailey did get some good leads and several great reasons why Warner would have been murdered.

A bunch of more minor secondary storylines fed into the main one. The author did use most of these as red herrings. And these storylines also outlined what scumbag Warner was.

I liked Bailey. Her wanting to clear Granny Bee’s name came from a good place, and I know she thought that with her background in writing mysteries, she could maybe stay one step ahead of the killer. But, honestly, while she got some great leads, she could have been better at it. The scene where she broke into Warner’s house and got her foot stuck in the toilet was funny and proved my point. I also liked that she brought a PI friend into the investigation, and that friend has sparks with Evie, Bailey’s best friend. I also guessed at her secret (the one she kept alluding to). It wasn’t tough to figure that out.

The secondary characters made this book. The Hive, as they are called, were the best friends a woman could have. They flocked (or buzzed?) around Granny Bee when everything happened. I liked that they were willing to take down a grown man (oh, did that scene make me laugh) because they suspected he killed Warner. But they also didn’t let a man come between them. Instead, it made their relationships stronger. Daisy and Evie also should be mentioned. Daisy because she was an awesome kid, and I liked that the author had her get into mischief while Bailey was out investigating. Evie, because she was Bailey’s ride-or-die. She was willing to help Bailey do anything with the investigation, including breaking and entering.

The mystery angle was well written. This plot was very twisty, with red herrings and misdirections being thrown like confetti. It made the book much more interesting to read. The reasoning behind Warner’s killing was sad and a little funny at the same time. I had no idea who the killer was. So, when it was revealed, I was shocked. I kept shaking my head and going, “No way.

There was a hint of a love triangle between Mateo, Bailey, and Sawyer. It was enough to get me wondering. Will Bailey choose between her high school sweetheart or her best friend’s hot older brother?

Also, what intrigued me was why Sawyer disappeared. Bailey and Sawyer referenced it several times during the book. But it was when Evie and Bailey found the files, and Bailey gave Sawyer his file, the author answered that question. It wasn’t right what was done to him, and I am glad that the sheriff decided to go back. I do wonder what was in the Delgados and Granny Bees. The author revealed Bailey’s at the end, but nothing was said about it. It was very frustrating.

The end of Take the Honey and Run was exciting and sad. How will the missing files, what was in Granny Bee’s and Bailey’s files, and the want-to-be love triangle work out in the upcoming books? As I said, I didn’t see a twist about how the murderer was and why that person killed Warner. The author did leave the series open to book 2, though.

I recommend Take the Honey and Run to anyone over 16. There is mild language, moderate violence, and no sexual situations.

Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Jennie Marts for allowing me to read and review Take the Honey and Run. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Take the Honey and Run, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Jennie Marts

The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: June 6th, 2023

Trigger Warnings: confinement, death, genocide, racism, sexual violence, xenophobia, trafficking, grief, death of parent(s), murder, forced abandonment, deportation, war, child abuse, child death, pedophilia, stalking

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical, Contemporary, Family, Holocaust, World War II, Adult Fiction, Adult

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

This powerful and moving novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea weaves together past and present, tracing the ripple effects of war and immigration on one child in Europe in 1938 and another in the United States in 2019.

Vienna, 1938. Samuel Adler was six years old when his father disappeared during Kristallnacht—the night their family lost everything. Samuel’s mother secured a spot for him on the last Kindertransport train out of Nazi-occupied Austria to the United Kingdom, which he boarded alone, carrying nothing but a change of clothes and his violin.

Arizona, 2019. Eight decades later, Anita Diaz, a blind seven-year-old girl, and her mother board another train, fleeing looming danger in El Salvador and seeking refuge in the United States. However, their arrival coincides with the new family separation policy, and Anita finds herself alone at a camp in Nogales. She escapes through her trips to Azabahar, a magical world of the imagination she created with her sister back home.

Anita’s case is assigned to Selena Duran, a young social worker who enlists the help of a promising lawyer from one of San Francisco’s top law firms. Together they discover that Anita has another family member in the United States: Leticia Cordero, who is employed at the home of now eighty-six-year-old Samuel Adler, linking these two lives.

Spanning time and place, The Wind Knows My Name is both a testament to the sacrifices that parents make and a love letter to the children who survive the most unfathomable dangers—and never stop dreaming.

First Line:

A sense of misfortune hung in the air. From the early morning hours, a menacing breeze had swept through the streets, whistling between the buildings, forcing its way in through the cracks under doors and windows.

The Wind Knows My Name by Isabel Allende

Samuel was six years old when his father, a doctor, disappeared during Vienna’s infamous Kristallnacht. Saved by a veteran neighbor, Samuel’s mother secured passage for him on the Kinderstransport, a train taking Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied Austria. Samuel was delivered to England and, after being bounced between a couple of foster homes, was adopted by a Quaker couple. Eighty years later, Anna Diaz, a blind seven-year-old, was captured with her mother trying to cross the border into the United States illegally. She is separated from her mother and put into a detainment camp for unaccompanied minors. Her way of dealing with the trauma of being separated from her mother and the horrors of abusive foster homes is to escape to an imaginary place called Azabahar. Samuel and Anna’s paths cross when a social worker and lawyer do pro-bono work and find that Anna has a relative in the San Fransisco area. That relative is Samuel’s housekeeper, and she has been living with Samuel since Covid shut the country down. While Anna gets settled with Samuel and Leticia, the lawyer and the social worker continue their search for Anna’s mother. Will Anna and her mother be reunited?

What attracted me to The Wind Knows My Name was the cover. That is why I wished for it to begin with. What also attracted me to this book was the plotline (which I did try to summarize in the paragraph above). I usually don’t read books that closely follow recent (think within the last 3-4 years) events but something about this book and how the blurb was written made me want to read it. I am glad I did because this book was a great read.

There are numerous trigger warnings in The Wind Knows My Name. I won’t lie and say they weren’t graphic; some triggers were. But, and I stress this, the ones that involved children, the author only did the bare bones. She explained enough for me to get the gist of what was happening and then left it. The triggers are:

  1. Confinement (non-graphic, on page): Anna was confined to a center where the border patrol agents took unaccompanied minors after they were captured crossing the border. Samuel and Leticia were limited to the house during the pandemic.
  2. Death (mostly non-graphic, on page): Death was a running theme throughout the book.
  3. Genocide (slightly graphic, on page): Samuel escaped Nazi Austria and discovers his mother and father died in concentration camps. Leticia and her father, by pure luck, escape their village in El Salvador, being decimated by rebels.
  4. Racism (graphic, on page): Samuel and Anna experience racism during the book.
  5. Sexual Violence (non-graphic, on page): Both Anna and her mother experience sexual violence towards them during the book.
  6. Xenophobia (mostly non-graphic, on page): Anna and her mother experience xenophobia while trying to cross the border. Anna experiences it while living in foster homes. Leticia experienced it growing up in the United States.
  7. Trafficking (mentioned, off-page): One of the villains worked for a human trafficker.
  8. Grief (graphic, on page): Samuel experiences grief over his parents’ deaths and when he is forced to leave his mother. He also grieves over his wife’s death. Anna mourns the death of her sister, her mother leaving, and leaving her grandmother in El Salvador. Leticia grieves the death of her mother, siblings, and grandmother. Leticia’s father grieves for his lost family.
  9. Death of parent (s) (non-graphic, on page): Samuel’s mother and father were killed in concentration camps. Anna’s father was killed when she was very young. Leticia’s mother, grandmother, and siblings were killed.
  10. Forced Abandonment (graphic, on page): Samuels’ mother sent him away to England. Anna’s mother was forced to leave Anna at the detention center.
  11. Deportation (graphic, on page): There are several scenes where immigrants were forcibly deported. Anna’s mother was deported to Mexico without her.
  12. War (semi-graphic, on page): Samuel survived World War II. Leticia’s village was decimated during a civil war in El Salvador.
  13. Child Abuse (semi-graphic, on page): Anna is forced to do her foster mother’s chores. She was verbally abused when she wet the bed. In one scene, she was locked in a closet for hours, only to be taken out by her social worker. A foster father attempted to abuse Anna sexually.
  14. Child Death (nongraphic, off-page): Anna’s younger sister was killed in an accident that caused Anna to go blind.
  15. Pedophilia (semi-graphic, on and off page): Anna and her mother were chased by a man who wanted to molest Anna. He had forced Anna to touch him once. Anna’s foster father attempted to molest her.
  16. Stalking (non-graphic and off page): A corrupt ex-police officer stalked Anna and her mother in El Salvador. He stalked them to the United States border.

If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book.

There are four plotlines in The Wind Knows My Name. When I figured that out, I was a little wary. In my experience, books with more than one plotline confuse the everliving out of me. I am happy to say that this book did not. The author marked the chapters, stating whose plotline it was and, in some cases, where in time that person was.

The first plotline centered around Samuel. It starts when he is six, and his world implodes during Kristallnacht. The plotline isn’t linear; it does jump around from past to present quite a bit. But, and I stress this, I was not confused or couldn’t figure out where in time it was. Samuel’s singular plotline ends when Leticia and then Anna move in.

The second plotline centers around Leticia. Now, this was a linear plotline, and it follows Leticia from a young girl recovering from ulcer surgery to her growing up in the United States. It details her rebellious youth and how that shaped her into the woman she grew into. Her singular storyline ends when she moves in with Samuel.

The third plotline centers around Selina and Frank. This plotline starts in the middle of the book. But it goes into Selina’s immigrant background and Frank’s white privilege background. This storyline intermingles with Samuel, Leticia, and Anna throughout the book.

The fourth storyline centers around Anna. This is a linear storyline and is told through Anna’s POV. Anna’s storyline details her horrific journey to the United States border and her horrible experiences in foster care/detention. I do want to note that her storyline is also in 2nd person. She is talking to her dead sister through her doll, and it is freaking heartbreaking.

Several secondary storylines flow throughout the book. The main secondary storyline was about Anna’s mother and where she could be. I was heartbroken by the way it ended. I did expect it to end the way it did, but at the same time, I was hoping it wouldn’t.

The characters in The Wind Knows My Name was well-written and well-fleshed out. Even the secondary characters had depth to them. The characters, along with the storyline, made this book.

When I realized that this book would take place during the pandemic (and I realized it fairly early in the book), I did almost DNF it. I did not want to read about the pandemic because I lived it. But the pandemic took a backseat to Anna’s story. But Anna’s storyline was so compelling that I chose to overlook that. I am glad that I did because this book was fantastic.

Immigration was a massive point in this book. The author didn’t sugarcoat what the border was like in 2019/2020 or how overwhelmed the agents were. Instead, she gave a good look into the chaos. And when Covid hit, the chaos just grew. There were some references to the political atmosphere during that time, and you know what? I agreed with what the author wrote. I never agreed with separating families; the author’s details were chilling when she wrote about that.

I liked Samuel, but he did not have it easy in life. I thought his being raised by Quakers was fascinating and wished that more detail had gone into his life with them. His traumatic past was why he was so attracted to Nadine and kept returning to her. Their relationship was exciting and different. The author could have written a whole book could have been written about that alone. Samuel, later on in life, was a better person than when he was younger. He was willing to do whatever it took to help Anna overcome her traumatic past. He was a gem, and I enjoyed his character.

I only got to know Leticia once the author explored her background. It was then that I started to understand her. She was like Anna in a way. She had lost her entire family in a rebel attack that wiped out her village, and she crossed the border illegally (with her father). Her reaction to being Anna’s only relative in America was spot on. But she had a big heart and couldn’t let that little girl stay in foster care. She was one of my favorite people in this book.

I loved Anna and was so mad for her throughout the book. Time and time again, she was let down by the adults in her life. I wanted to reach through the book, hug her, and tell her it would be alright. By the time she arrived at Leticia and Samuel’s house, she wasn’t the same girl she was at the beginning of the book. But, her time with Leticia and Samuel did heal her. She acted like a normal child instead of the withdrawn fearful child she was when she arrived.

The end of The Wind Knows My Name didn’t shock me. I figured it would end the way it did. I did like that Anna got her HEA, though. She deserved it after everything she had been through.

I recommend The Wind Knows My Name to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and mild sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning list.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and Isabel Allende for allowing me to read and review The Wind Knows My Name. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Wind Knows My Name, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Isabel Allende:

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: May 9th, 2023

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Literary Fiction, Adult, Death, Novels, Family, Adult Fiction, Literature

Trigger Warnings: Death

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mikki Brammer’s The Collected Regrets of Clover is a big-hearted and life-affirming debut about a death doula who, in caring for others at the end of their life, has forgotten how to live her own, for readers of The Midnight Library.

What’s the point of giving someone a beautiful death if you can’t give yourself a beautiful life?

From the day she watched her kindergarten teacher drop dead during a dramatic telling of Peter Rabbit, Clover Brooks has felt a stronger connection with the dying than she has with the living. After the beloved grandfather who raised her dies alone while she is traveling, Clover becomes a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process.

Clover spends so much time with the dying that she has no life of her own, until the final wishes of a feisty old woman send Clover on a trip across the country to uncover a forgotten love story––and perhaps, her own happy ending. As she finds herself struggling to navigate the uncharted roads of romance and friendship, Clover is forced to examine what she really wants, and whether she’ll have the courage to go after it.

Probing, clever, and hopeful, The Collected Regrets of Clover turns the normally taboo subject of death into a reason to celebrate life.

First Line:

The first time I watched someone die, I was five.

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer

Since her kindergarten teacher died when she was five, Clover has been fascinated with death. That fascination leads her to get a master’s degree in thanatology and then to her career as one of the only death doulas in New York City. Besides her dog, two cats, and her elderly neighbor, Leo, Clover is alone. But a chance meeting with an enigmatic man turns into a job preparing his grandmother for death makes Clover realize that there is more to life than death. With the help of a new friend and her client, Clover starts navigating the often tricky road of romance and friendship. Will Clover be able to open up to people finally? And will she have the courage to go after what she wants?

So, I will admit this; I hadn’t planned on accepting the invite for this book. I would decline it after reading the email and continuing with my life. But I wasn’t paying attention (I had a couple of emails in a row from the publisher), and I accepted it before I realized what I was doing. Since I got the invite at some point in 2022 (I am not going to look, and yes, I am lazy), I put off reading The Collected Regrets of Clover. When I saw that it was coming up on my reading schedule, I was going to put it off again and decided that enough was enough, and I would read it. Well, I am glad that I did. This book was great; I regret putting it off for so long.

The Collected Regrets of Clover’s storyline centers around Clover and her gradual realization that there is more to life than focusing on death. I have never heard of a death doula or even getting a master’s degree in thanatology before this book. I did some research after reading this book and both subjects fascinate me. But I am not here to discuss how fascinated I am by this subject. We are here to talk about the storyline. So back to the subject.

I thought The Collected Regrets of Clover’s storyline was well written and kept my attention on the book. The book does split into two storylines for a while. One storyline details Clover’s early life up to when her grandfather dies. The other is the present day which shows how lonely Clover is. The author was able to merge both storylines later in the book. Usually, I wouldn’t have liked the dual storylines, but in this case, it worked. I got to see how Clover was shaped into who she was, and I got to see how she was dealing in the present day.

For a book about death and dying, I didn’t feel that the focus was solely on that. The author did a great job keeping Clover’s issues (and her awkwardness) front and center while she tended to her client. Never, at any point in the book, did I get the feeling that this book was morbid. I thought it was a beautiful homage to dying.

I liked Clover, and I did form a connection with her. I was slightly amazed that she never had a relationship with anyone her age (which I put between 35-39). There was a point in the book where I did get an asexual vibe from her (which was fine with me), but then the author did a 180 with that. I was also amazed by how naive she was. There was only one thing that weirded me out: she constantly spied on her across-the-street neighbors. But it was explained, and she did use their relationship as a comparison. But still, it was weird.

The end of the book was thoughtful. I liked how the author wrapped up the storylines. It was respectful and very touching. I also loved seeing Clover’s growth. The Clover at the beginning of the book would have never been able to do what the Clover at the end of the book did.

I would recommend The Collected Regrets of Clover to anyone over 21. There are nongraphic sexual situations, mild violence, and language.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Mikki Brammer for allowing me to read and review The Collected Regrets of Clover. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed this review of The Collected Regrets of Clover, then you will enjoy these books:

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: November 15th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary, Family, Mystery, Adult

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powell’s | IndieBound | Indigo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ohioana Book Award finalist Ruth Emmie Lang returns with a new cast of ordinary characters with extraordinary abilities.

Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.

Zadie’s estranged younger sister, Finn, can’t see into the future, but she has an uncannily good memory, so good that she remembers not only her own memories, but the echoes of memories other people have left behind. On the afternoon of her graduation party, Finn is seized by an “echo” more powerful than anything she’s experienced before: a woman singing a song she recognizes, a song about a bird…

When Finn wakes up alone in an aviary with no idea of how she got there, she realizes who the memory belongs to: Nora.

Now, it’s up to Finn to convince her sister that not only is their mom still out there, but that she wants to be found. Against Zadie’s better judgement, she and Finn hit the highway, using Finn’s echoes to retrace Nora’s footsteps and uncover the answer to the question that has been haunting them for years: Why did she leave?

But the more time Finn spends in their mother’s past, the harder it is for her to return to the present, to return to herself. As Zadie feels her sister start to slip away, she will have to decide what lengths she is willing to go to to find their mother, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she could lose them both for good.

First Line:

Nora Wilder was supposed to be a bird.

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

When I first read the synopsis of The Wilderwomen, I was very intrigued. I am a big fan of anything fantasy or paranormal, and with what the blurb said, it was right up my alley. And it was. But, as I got into the book, I realized that it wasn’t what I thought it would be, which kept me from truly enjoying it.

The plotline for The Wilderwoman was interesting. It centers around two sisters, Zadie and Finn, and their search for their mother, Nora. Aiding in that search is Zadie’s ability to see glimpses of the future and Finn’s ability to see echoes of the past. On their journey, they meet people that can help them find their mother. Can Zadie and Finn find Nora and confront her? Or will this trip tear them apart for good?

Before I do anything else, I will throw up a trigger warning. There are two significant triggers in The Wilderwomen; they are the abandonment of children and mental illness. If any of these trigger you, I highly suggest not reading this book.

The Wilderwoman is a fast-paced book in the Southwest, the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. Zadie and Finn started in Texas, stopped at a campsite in Arizona, followed Nora’s trail to a house in the Rockies, and ended the journey on the beaches of Oregon (or Washington, I wasn’t sure).

The book centers around three main characters: Nora, Zadie, and Finn. I will highlight what I liked/disliked about each character (instead of writing huge paragraphs).

  • Nora––The author didn’t spend as much time on her as I would have liked. Anything I got from her was from Finn’s echoes and Zadie’s memories (mostly not nice). The more I got into Zadie’s memories; the more Nora became unstable. The author did try to redeem her at the end of the book. But I had already made up my mind at that point.
  • Zadie—I had alternate feelings about Zadie. I pitied her for what had happened to her (her mother taking off and having an unplanned pregnancy). But, at the same time, she annoyed me. She had a woe-is-me attitude the entire book. I also wanted to shake her because she wasn’t the only one affected by Nora’s leaving. As for her secret, I understood why she wanted to keep it from Finn. Also, I didn’t understand why she was so afraid of her ability, but I guess if I could see glimpses of the future, I would have acted the same way.
  • Finn—I liked her. She was the exact opposite of Zadie in so many ways. She was upbeat. She was determined to use her ability to find Nora. At one point in the book, I got worried when it seemed like her ability threatened to overtake her life. I thought her storyline would go in another direction, and I was surprised by the turn it took instead.

Several secondary characters added some much-needed depth to the book. I liked them all except Finn’s foster mother. She annoyed the cr*p out of me. I could hear that high-pitched voice and see her facial expressions whenever Zadie was around. Uggh.

The Wilderwomen’s primary genre was magical realism and a bit of fantasy and mystery mixed in. I wasn’t a big fan of the magical realism angle. I thought it covered the fact that Nora took off on her kids. But I did like the fantasy and mystery angles. The fantasy was great, and I liked how the author showcased it differently. The mystery angle was also good. I liked that Zadie and Finn had to work to find Nora’s echoes. I also liked that they had to solve why she left them.

The end of The Wilderwomen was a little disappointing. The author did an excellent job of wrapping up all the storylines, but there was something off with it. I didn’t particularly appreciate how Zadie could accept things (same as Finn). It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Three reasons why you should read The Wilderwomen

  • Complex characters
  • Finn’s use of echoes to see the past
  • Zadie and Finn’s road trip

Three reasons why you shouldn’t read The Wilderwomen

  • Triggers of child abandonment and mental illness
  • Zadie’s attitude for 90% of the book
  • The ending. I wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did.

I would recommend The Wilderwomen to anyone over 16. There is no sex. But there is some mild violence and language. Also, see my trigger warning above.

If you enjoyed reading The Wilderwomen, you will enjoy these books:

My Song for You (Pushing Limits: Book 2) by Stina Lindenblatt

My Song for You: A Pushing Limits Novel by [Lindenblatt, Stina]

Publisher: Loveswept

Date of publication: September 6, 2016

Genre: Romance, Music, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Children, Disability, Fiction, Family

Series: Pushing Limits

This One Moment—Book 1

My Song for You—Book 2

I Need You Tonight—Book 3 (review here)

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a poignant romance from the author of This One Moment (“Hot, intense, and filled with emotion.”—Rachel Harris), the rock stars of Pushing Limits have hit the big time. But fame gets tough when love presents a fork in the road.

At twenty-one, Jared Leigh had been prepared to give up the life of a touring musician to be a father after getting his girlfriend pregnant. When she told him that she’d gotten an abortion, Jared was devastated. Now at least he has the groupies to keep him company—until a blast from the past rocks his world.

Callie Talbert hasn’t seen her sister’s ex since high school. But after Callie bumps into Jared while she’s grocery shopping with four-year-old Logan, there’s a spark that wasn’t there before. Jared quickly realizes that her deaf “son” is the same age his own child would have been. When Jared demands to know more about Logan, Callie panics. There are things she just can’t tell him. Besides, Jared’s a bad-boy rocker, not a dependable father figure. He’ll move on to his next gig soon enough . . . right?

Trouble is, Jared refuses to be pushed away, and the more quality time he spends with Logan, the more he’s captivated by the woman Callie has become. When the truth is revealed, Jared only hopes that the three of them have what it takes to become a real family.

I started reading this book and judging it. Yes, I judged a book by its cover and by the synopsis. Now, I am going to avenge myself. Read this book. It is that good.

I didn’t like Jared’s character in the beginning. I thought because he was a rock star, he was all about money and girls. The first chapter painted him like that. After he bumped into Callie and Logan, he started to change. I could see him falling in love with Callie. I could see the promise of what a great father he would be to Logan.

I didn’t like Callie. She lost her entire family in a freak accident when Logan was 1 year old, which is sad. Keeping Jared in the dark about his son was wrong. She wasn’t thinking straight and had been listening to her sister. The same sister who told Jared she had an abortion. But not telling him when he got in her life was wrong.

The romance between Callie and Jared was a slow burn, and it was delicious to read. The sex wasn’t that bad, either.

My only complaint is that it’s book 2 in a series. It can be read as a standalone book.

I would recommend My Song for You to anyone over 21. There is explicit sex, language, and mild violence.

If you enjoyed reading My Song for You, then you will enjoy these books: