My December 2015 Reading List.

A Taste For Nightshade by Martine Bailey
Bailey’s strong heroines, Grace and Mary, may not be equally appealing but both find themselves at the mercy of Michael Croxton, the calculating and privileged heir of a wealthy businessman. Croxton’s heartless dealings with Mary result in her imprisonment and come back to haunt his wife, Grace, when she unwittingly employs vengeance-seeking Mary as the household’s cook. As Grace’s naïve hope for a happy marriage crumble, her burgeoning friendship with Mary threatens to destroy them all. A Taste for Nightshade is an intoxicating and suspenseful novel filled with sumptuous period recipes and well-researched historical details that make it a delightful read.

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey
With some bouts of sensitivity that prevent her leaving this room for several months at a time, Lyndsey shares the excruciatingly considered routines, games, audiobooks, people, and inspiring moments that keep her alive, as well as the slow progress in diagnosing and finding viable treatments to alleviate her symptoms. By turns introspective, humorous, thought-provoking and inspiring, Lyndsey gracefully shares her journey while instilling admiration for both her spirit and the remarkable courage and strength that allows for thriving under adverse circumstances.

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
Letters to famed director Alfred Hitchcock, and the creepy, mostly abandoned Tower Motel (ghosts? monsters?) of London, Vermont take center stage in this atmospheric tale of sibling rivalry, declining family fortunes, and murder.  McMahon delves into three generations of strong and secretive women, several narrative perspectives and a time spanning nearly sixty years as she briefly introduces reader to a doomed wife and mother contemplating the demise of her family in the face of a deadly secret. You’ll guess until the very end as the layers of the past are revealed,  and clever writing with hairpin plot twists raise the stakes and tension as yet another family’s life hangs in the balance.

God Help The Child by Toni Morrison 
Self-styled Bride has overcome a painful childhood to remake herself as a formidable and successful beauty executive. When a mysterious woman from Bride’s past is released from prison, and her release coincides with the painful breakup of her most recent relationship, Bride spirals into a dangerous bout of self-doubt and intense soul searching. Morrison masterfully and poignantly explores how the quest to gain a mother’s love can have tragic consequences for the grown up child, and all that surround her.

A God In Ruins by Kate Aitkinson
Whether read as a companion piece to Life After Life or as its own considerable reward, A God in Ruins, is Aitkinson’s finely attuned and nuanced novel following Teddy Todd through his career as a WWII pilot, and the quietly shattering transition and turmoil of the aftermath.

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
While we’re accustomed to the idea of identity theft, most of us think about replacing credit cards and securing passwords and other sensitive information. Ann Morgan’s brilliant debut, Beside Myself, takes it to a completely different level when a seemingly innocent game between sisters has drastic and life changing consequences. When Ellie assumes the role of her identical twin, and better-loved sister, Helen, the real Helen is left to muddle through a life with fewer prospects and resources than her favored former self. Morgan’s finely attuned examination of the components of identity, sibling rivalry, and mental illness delivers a riveting psychological thriller that’s nearly impossible to set aside.

After The Crash by Michel Bussi
Michel Bussi’s utterly absorbing mystery centers around the infant survivor of a deadly plane crash that kills all the other passengers. The trouble begins when as two families step forward to claim the baby girl—one poor, and one with unlimited wealth and enough power and resources to guarantee their custody of the child. Though readers are soon apprised of the resolution, lingering questions cloud the issue, and startling revelations and steadily ratcheting suspense exist through the final pages of this intense novel about forbidden love, betrayal, and murder.

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