Friday, December 31, 2021

Excerpt and Spotlight of The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard



A poignant, heartfelt, and very timely novel from beloved author Jacquelyn Mitchard.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard’s newest release is a gripping story about a mother who must help her son after he is convicted of a devastating crime.
Perfect for book clubs and fans of Mary Beth Keane and Jodi Picoult, this novel asks the question: how well does any mother know her child?

Publication Date: January 18, 2022





I was picking my son up at the prison gates when I spotted the mother of the girl he had murdered.

Two independent clauses, ten words each, joined by an adverb, made up entirely of words that would once have been unimaginable to think, much less say.

She pulled in—not next to me, but four spaces over—in the half circle of fifteen-minute spots directly in front of the main building. It was not where Stefan would walk out. That would be over at the gatehouse. She got out of her car, and for a moment I thought she would come toward me. I wanted to talk to her, to offer something, to reach out and hold her, for we had not even been able to attend Belinda’s funeral. But what would I say? What would she? This was an unwonted crease in an already unaccustomed day. I slid deep into my down coat, and wished I could lock the car doors, although I feared that the sound would crack the predawn darkness like a rifle shot. All that Jill McCormack did, however, was shove her hands into the pockets of her jacket and lean against the back bumper of her car. She wore the heavy maroon leather varsity jacket that her daughter Belinda, captain of the high school cheer team in senior year, had given to her, to Stefan, and to me, with our names embroidered in gold on the back, just like hers.

I hadn’t seen Jill McCormack up close for years, though she lived literally around the corner. Once, I used to stop there to sit on her porch, but now I avoided even driving past the place.

Jill seemed smaller, diminished, the tumult of ash-blond hair I remembered cropped short and seemingly mostly white, though I knew she was young when Belinda was born, and now couldn’t be much past forty. Yet, even just to stand in the watery, slow-rising light in front of a prison, she was tossed together fashionably, in gold-colored jeans and boots, with a black turtleneck, a look I would have had to plan for days. She looked right at my car, but gave no sign that she recognized it, though she’d been in it dozens of times years ago. Once she had even changed her clothes in my car. I remember how I stood outside it holding a blanket up over the windows as she peeled off a soaking-wet, floor-length, jonquil-yellow crystal-beaded evening gown that must, at that point, have weighed about thirty pounds, then slipped into a clean football warm-up kit. After she changed, we linked arms with my husband and we all went to a ball.

But I would not think of that now.

I had spent years assiduously not thinking of any of that.

A friendship, like a crime, is not one thing, or even two people. It’s two people and their shared environs and their histories, their common memories, their words, their weaknesses and fears, their virtues and vanities, and sometimes their shame.

Jill was not my closest friend. Some craven times, I blessed myself with that—at least I was spared that. There had always been Julie, since fifth grade my heart, my sharer. But Jill was my good friend. We had been soccer moms together, and walking buddies, although Jill’s swift, balanced walk was my jog. I once kept Belinda at my house while Jill went to the bedside of her beloved father who’d suffered a stroke, just as she kept Stefan at her house with Belinda when they were seven and both had chicken pox, which somehow neither I nor my husband, Jep, ever caught. And on the hot night of that fundraising ball for the zoo, so long ago, she had saved Stefan’s life.

Since Jill was a widow when we first met, recently arrived in the Midwest from her native North Carolina, I was always talking her into coming to events with Jep and me, introducing her to single guys who immediately turned out to be hopeless. That hot evening, along with the babysitter, the two kids raced toward the new pool, wildly decorated with flashing green lights, vines and temporary waterfalls for a “night jungle swim.” Suddenly, the sitter screamed. When Jill was growing up, she had been state champion in the 200-meter backstroke before her devout parents implored her to switch to the more modest sport of golf, and Belinda, at five, was already a proficient swimmer. My Stefan, on the other hand, sank to the bottom like a rock and never came up. Jill didn’t stop to ask questions. Kicking off her gold sandals, in she went, an elegant flat race dive that barely creased the surface; seconds later she hauled up a gasping Stefan. Stefan owed his life to her as surely as Belinda owed her death to Stefan.

In seconds, life reverses.

Jill and I once talked every week. It even seemed we once might have been machatunim, as they say in Yiddish, parents joined by the marriage of their son and daughter. Now, the circumstances under which we might ever exchange a single word seemed as distant as the bony hood of moon above us in the melting darkness.

What did she want here now? Would she leave once Stefan came through the gates? In fact, she left before that. She got back into her car, and, looking straight ahead, drove off.

I watched until her car was out of sight.

Just after dawn, a guard walked Stefan to the edge of the enclosure. I looked up at the razor wire. Then, opening the window slightly, I heard the guard say, “Do good, kid. I hope I never see you again.” Stefan stepped out, and then put his palm up to a sky that had just begun to spit snow. He was twenty, and he had served two years, nine months and three days of a five-year sentence, one year of which the judge had suspended, noting Stefan’s unblemished record. Still, it seemed like a week; it seemed like my entire life; it seemed like a length of time too paltry for the monstrous thing he had done. I could not help but reckon it this way: For each of the sixty or seventy years Belinda would have had left to live, Stefan spent only a week behind bars, not even a season. No matter how much he despaired, he could always see the end. Was I grateful? Was I ashamed? I was both. Yet relief rippled through me like the sweet breeze that stirs the curtains on a summer night.

I got out and walked over to my son. I reached up and put my hand on his head. I said, “My kid.”

Stefan placed his huge warm palm on the top of my head. “My mom,” he said. It was an old ritual, a thing I would not have dared to do in the prison visiting room. My eyes stung with curated tears. Then I glanced around me, furtively. Was I still permitted such tender old deeds? This new universe was not showing its hand. “I can stand here as long as I want,” he said, shivering in wonderment. Then he said, “Where’s Dad?”

“He told you about it. He had to see that kid in Louisville one more time,” I told him reluctantly. “The running back with the very protective grandmother. He couldn’t get out of it. But he cut it short and he’ll be home when we get back, if he beats the weather out of Kentucky this morning, that is.” Jep was in only his second season as football coach at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, a Division II team with significant chops and national esteem. We didn’t really think he would get the job, given our troubles, but the athletic director had watched Jep’s career and believed deeply in his integrity. Now he was never at rest: His postseason recruiting trips webbed the country. Yet it was also true that while Stefan’s father longed equally for his son to be free, if Jep had been able to summon the words to tell the people who mattered that he wanted to skip this trip altogether, he would have. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to say it’s a big day, our son’s getting out of prison.

Now, it seemed important to hurry Stefan to the car, to get out of there before this new universe recanted. We had a long drive back from Black Creek, where the ironically named Belle Colline Correctional Facility squatted not far from the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Black Creek. Stefan’s terrible journey had taken him from college to prison, a distance of just two miles as the crow flies. I felt like the guard: I never wanted to see the place again. I had no time to think about Jill or anything else except the weather. We’d hoped that the early-daylight release would keep protestors away from the prison gates, and that seemed to have worked: Prisoners usually didn’t walk out until just before midday. There was not a single reporter here, which surprised me as Jill was tireless in keeping her daughter Belinda’s death a national story, a symbol for young women in abusive relationships. Many of the half dozen or so stalwarts who still picketed in front of our house nearly every day were local college and high-school girls, passionate about Jill’s work. As Stefan’s release grew near, their numbers rose, even as the outdoor temperatures fell. A few news organizations put in appearances again lately as well. I knew they would be on alert today and was hoping we could beat some of the attention by getting back home early. In the meantime, a snowstorm was in the forecast: I never minded driving in snow, but the air smelled of water running over iron ore—a smell that always portended worse weather.


Excerpted from The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Copyright © 2022 by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.



From one of America’s most beloved storytellers, #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard, comes the gripping novel of a mother who must help her son after he is convicted of a devastating crime. Perfect for book clubs and fans of Mary Beth Keane and Jodi Picoult—this novel asks the question, how well does any mother know her child?

For Thea, understanding how her sweet son Stefan could be responsible for a heinous crime is unfathomable. Stefan was only 17 when he went to prison for the negligent homicide of girlfriend, college freshman Belinda McCormack—a crime he was too strung out on drugs even to remember. Released at 21, he is seen as a symbol of white privilege and differential justice by his local community, and Belinda’s mother, Jill McCormack, who also happens to be Thea’s neighbor, organizes protests against dating violence in her daughter's memory.

Stefan is sincere in his desire to start over and make amends, and Thea is committed to helping him.  But each of their attempts seems to hit a roadblock, both emotionally and psychologically, from the ever-present pressure of local protestors, the media, and even their own family.

But when the attacks on them turn more sinister, Thea suspects that there is more to the backlash than community outrage. She will risk her life to find out what forces are at work to destroy her son and her family…and discover what those who are threatening them are trying to hide.

This is a story in which everything known to be true is turned inside out and love is the only constant that remains.



#1 New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard has written nine previous novels for adults; six young adult novels; four children’s books; a memoir, Mother Less Child; and a collection of essays, The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship.

Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, and  later adapted for a feature film. Mitchard is a frequent lecturer and a professor of fiction and creative nonfiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

She lives on Cape Cod with her husband and their nine children.




Barnes & Noble





Author Website

Facebook: Jacquelyn Mitchard

Twitter: @JackieMitchard

Instagram: @jacquelynmitchard



Friendly Fill-Ins - 12/31/21


1. I had hoped to _______in 2021 but didn't. 

2.A goal I have for 2022 is _________.

3. I'll be _____ when 2021 ends.

4. I hope 2022 brings _____.

1.  I had hoped to travel in 2021 but didn't.
2.  A goal I have for 2022 is to keep reading and stay healthy.
3.  I'll be ok when 2021 seems as if it had just begun.  This year just flew by.
4.  I hope 2022 brings health, happiness, and the end of COVID.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Celebrating The Paperback Release of Journey to Paradise by Paula Greenlees


Journey to Paradise

By Paula Greenlees

Published by Arrow, NOW IN PAPERBACK

30 December 2021, £7.99

A beautifully atmospheric historical romance novel set in 1950s Singapore.

An unforgettable historical romance.

'A beautiful, immersive tale that will keep you turning the pages until the end' - JENNY ASHCROFT

'Guaranteed to transport you to exotic climes and engross you in the story of its troubled heroine...A terrific debut for Paula Greenlees.' - LIZ TRENOW

'Paula's novel transports the reader to a long-forgotten and fascinating time...An enchanting, evocative debut! LOUISE FEIN



Singapore, 1949

When Miranda moves to the Alexandra Quarter with her husband Gerry, she hopes it will bring the fresh start they need.

Though their life in ex-pat society is full of luxury, Miranda can't help feeling like an outsider, and her relationship with Gerry becomes increasingly distant.

When doctor Nick Wythenshaw encourages Miranda to work within the local community, she finds new purpose away from her protected world that opens her eyes to a new way of life.

But as riots erupt across the region and danger draws close to home, Miranda must make an impossible choice.

Will she sacrifice everything she holds dear to find happiness?



Paula Greenlees has lived in various places, including Singapore, where she was based for three years. It was while living in Singapore that the first seeds of her debut novel, Journey to Paradise developed.

The crumbling buildings and the modern high-rises popping up almost overnight seemed to be a metaphor for the social diversity and change in Singapore at that time. However, as a young mother living there, she wondered what it must have been like as a post-war colonial wife living miles away from the familiarity of home.

Despite the gloss and glamour of colonial living, women were frequently stuck in unhappy marriages, often unable to follow careers or have the independence to divorce if things went wrong – which they inevitably did.

Her writing, although set against exotic backgrounds, is set on the cusp of change – the shift from colonial dominance to independence. She likes to dig into a variety of issues, and her main protagonist is, in many ways, a metaphor for the events surrounding her at that time. It isn’t always an easy journey, but in the end, success comes her way.

Paula Greenlees has an undergraduate degree in English and European Thought and Literature, and a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. She spent three years living in Singapore surrounded by the history and culture that provided the inspiration for her first novel, Journey to Paradise.

For further information, including social media and blog posts visit Paula's website


For more information, please contact Isabelle Ralphs, Cornerstone Publicity | 07584540165 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan


She was at the party, and now she is dead.

Who saw Candace when she left the party
after an argument three years ago ?

Where was Candace for a week before they found her in the lake?

Candace was a popular sorority sister, and the publicity for the sorority with the re-opening of this case through podcasts is not what they wanted.

Many sorority members were nervous when, Lucas, a friend of Candace’s started podcasts to try to get people to remember that night in hopes that after three years new clues would surface and help find her killer.

There was only one suspect the police looked at, and this homeless man was seen disappearing the same day they found Candace's body, and he still hasn’t been found.

When other things start happening, questions pop up….could it be that the homeless suspect isn’t the real killer? But…where can he be?  

Hints about other friends knowing things and becoming nervous makes the tension increase as Regan comes on the scene to help Lucas with his podcasts.

Someone is hiding something that they know about Candace and the sorority, but what is it?

We follow Regan and Lucas as they
put themselves in danger as they begin to uncover the truth.

THE SORORITY MURDER is engaging, has a great story line, and complicated, interesting characters.

One character is pretty evil and cunning.

Thriller fans and amateur detectives will really enjoy this book especially when the tension ramps up as they get closer to solving the mystery. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

In 2021 - My Life in Books


Photo Courtesy of Shelleyrae of Book'd Out


I found this clever idea on Shelleyrae's blog, Book'd Out

I decided to give this difficult, but fun idea a try.

Will you try it? 

If you give it a try, please post your list in the comments on my blog and on Shellyrae’s blog.

Complete the prompts using titles from the books you have read in 2021

2021 was the year of: ALL HER LITTLE SECRETS

In 2021 I wanted to be:  THE KEEPER OF HAPPY ENDINGS



In 2021 I lost:  THE FAMILY PLOT

n 2021 I loved: THE NEWCOMER


In 2021 I learned: THE SOCIAL GRACES

In 2021 I was surprised by: THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER

In 2021 I went to: EMILY'S HOUSE

In 2021 I missed out on: THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES

In 2021 my family were:  OFF THE WILD COAST OF BRITTANY

In 2022 I hope: SOMEBODY'S HOME


My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle


What a day!!

Cam’s restaurant burned down in the morning, and his family is being held hostage in their home with a ransom of some odd, outrageous amount. 

How could Cam come up with $734,296 by 7 p.m. that same day when the banks were about to close in three hours and he didn’t have that kind of cash?

Can he get the money?

Why did the intruder choose his family?

What is the significance of that odd amount?

A terrifying read that brings out more than what is seen as a perfect family.

You will be with the characters sharing the terror they are experiencing.

Ms. Belle always keeps you biting your nails, and this book has nail biting galore.

Another great read her fans won’t want to miss or be able to put down. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author:

Photo Credit:  Brandon Wattson

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of seven novels, including her latest, My Darling Husband (December 2021). 


Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy.


She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options.


A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Social Links:

Author website:

Facebook: @KimberlyBelleBooks

Twitter: @KimberlySBelle

Instagram: @kimberlysbelle


Monday, December 27, 2021

The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane

How many wives has Josh really had?

They keep popping up and disappearing…some are secret wives, some are not.

Well...Josh had two wives…one that Elisa had no idea about and one that had an accident that to Elisa really wasn’t an accident. 
Then he had a girlfriend that disappeared, and he now has another girlfriend, Rachel, that Elisa needs to warn.  Something always seemed to happen to the women in Josh’s lives.  Rachel might be next.

THE REPLACEMENT WIFE focuses on an accident Elisa witnessed at work, Elisa's detective work to find out about the two wives and the missing girlfriend in Josh’s life, and characters that have secrets.

Elisa seems to be so concerned with the disappearance of Josh’s girlfriend, Abby, and the wives that she ignores her own problem of dealing with the trauma of the work accident that is affecting her well being.

Crazy things are happening, and Elisa seems to be in the middle of them. She really seems to be going off the deep end, but everyone seems to be causing these incidents that involve her.

THE REPLACEMENT WIFE has a slow buildup with background info on each character being revealed in bits and pieces.

You will be kept on your toes and asking yourself: Just what is going on?  Who is the one keeping secrets?  Who is trying to drive Elise crazy and why?

THE REPLACEMENT WIFE is one for thriller fans.  You don’t know which way this is going to go or who to trust

The ending took me completely by surprise. I bet it will surprise you too. 4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It's Monday!! What Are YOU Reading? - 12/27/2021
I hope you had a great reading week.
This is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at BOOK DATE!

Post the books completed, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish at some point.
Books Completed:
THE SECRET LOVE LETTERS OF OLIVIA MORETTI by Jennifer Probst - review will be on February 24.
Women's fiction fans won't want to miss this book...also those who love Italy.  :)
THE PARIS NETWORK by Siobhan Curham - review will be on February 21.
SO GOOD - historical fiction fans will love it.
THE LOBOTOMIST'S WIFE by Samantha Greene Woodruff - review will be on February 4.
Based on true events and people.
UNMISSING by Minka Kent - review will be on February 15.
REALLY good....thriller fans will love the unexpected surprises.
SECRETS OF OUR HOUSE by Rea Frey - review will be on February 9.
A so-so read for me.
THE NEXT SHIP HOME by Heather Webb - review will be on February 8, 2022.
SO GOOD...don't miss this one!!
THE ITALIAN ISLAND by Daniela Sacerdoti - review will be on January 15.
A wonderful getaway on a gorgeous island - both present and past.
THE GERMAN WIFE by Debbie Rix - review will be on January 14.
Excellent historical fiction.
THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR by Nina de Gramont - review will be here on February 1, 2022.
Very interesting...I didn't know Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days.
The book dragged a bit, but was very good and well written.  It turned out better as the book continued.
THE OVERNIGHT GUEST by Heather Gudenkauf - review will be on January 28.
Don't miss this one if you are a fan!!
THE MAGNOLIA PALACE by Fiona Davis - review will be on January 26, 2022.
THE NIGHT OF THE PARTY by Anna-Lou Weatherley - review will be on January 17.
Very suspenseful read with lots of twists.
LAST SEEN ALIVE by Joanna Schaffhausen - review will be on January 25, 2022.
Oh my goodness is this a heart pounding read.  SO GOOD!!
THE EX-HUSBAND by Karen Hamilton - review will be on January 19.
SOMEBODY'S HOME by Kaira Rouda - review will be on January 18, 2022.
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET by Diane Chamberlain - review will be on January 11, 2022.

THE MAID by Nita Prose - review will be on January 4, 2022.
LOVED this book and Molly the Maid.  

THE SORORITY MURDER by Allison Brennan - review will be on December 29.
Very good.
MY DARLING HUSBAND by Kimberly Bell - review will be on December 28.
Another FAB read by Kimberly Belle...don't miss reading it.
THE REPLACEMENT WIFE by Darby Kane - review will be on December 27.
Book Currently Reading:

SISTERS OF NIGHT AND FOG by Erika Robuck - review will be on March 2.
Books Up Next:

THE NIGHT SHIFT by Alex Finlay - review will be on March 1.
THE HEIGHTS by Louise Candlish - review will be on March 5.
THE GOLDEN COUPLE by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkannen - review will be on March 8.
UNDER THE GOLDEN SUN by Jenny Ashcroft - review will be on March 15, 2022.
THE BOOK OF COLD CASES by Simone St. James - review will be on March 16.
THE YOUNGER WIFE by Sally Hepworth - review will be on April 5, 2022.
THE SHADOW HOUSE by Anna Downes - review will be on April 6.
THE UNINVITED GUEST by Karen McQuestion - review will be on April 9.
LAST DANCE ON THE STARLIGHT PIER by Sarah Bird - review will be on April 12.

LITTLE SOULS by Sandra Dallas - review will be on April 26, 2022.
I'LL BE YOU by Janelle Brown - review will be on April 27. 2022.
THE SCHOOL FOR GERMAN BRIDES by Aimie K. Runyan - review will be on April 28.
MY WIFE IS MISSING by D. J. Palmer - review will be on May 10, 2022.
NEVER COMING HOME by Hannah Mary McKinnon - review will be on May 24.
THE MANY DAUGHTERS OF AFONG MOY by Jamie Ford - review will be on June 28.
THE PERFECT NEIGHBORHOOD by Liz Alterman - review will be on July 12.
THE NEW NEIGHBOR by Karen Cleveland - review will be on July 26.
THE ORPHANS OF MERSEA HOUSE by Marty Wingate - review will be on August 9.

THE WAR LIBRARIAN by Addison Armstrong - review will be on August 10.