ON THE SHELF: Take a look at these page-turners

Published 3:56 am Saturday, April 15, 2023

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features New Adult Fiction.

Diane Marie Brown pens a warm family drama with a magical twist with her novel “Black Candle Women.” Four generations of Montrose women — Augusta, Victoria, Willow — have always lived together in their quaint bungalow in California. They quietly keep to themselves never venturing very far from home. They make an array of tinctures and spells that provide an unspoken bond between them. When young Nickie brings home a boy for the first time, their quiet lives are thrown into turmoil. Their surprise guest will force each woman to face their own past choices. They are forced to tell Nickie the terrible family secret: any person a Montrose woman falls in love with will die. As new truths about their curse emerge, only a story hidden in a mysterious book in New Orleans’s French Quarter in the 1950s holds the answers to the questions they have about life and love.

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“The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi” is a tale of magic and mayhem set on the high seas by Shannon A. Chakraborty. Amina al-Sirafi should be happy with her life. After her storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s retired after having survived double-crossing rakes, vengeful pirate princes, several husbands, and one actual demon. She lives a life of piety and motherhood with absolutely no hint of anything supernatural. When she is tracked down by a former crewman’s insanely wealthy mother, she is offered a job that no bandit could refuse — retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter and be paid a king’s ransom. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will take care of her family’s future seems like an obvious choice. The more Amina investigates the girl’s disappearance, the more she becomes convinced there is more to this job than she has been led to believe. There’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor a bit more power…and it may just cost you your soul.

Ren DeStefano has penned a page-turning thriller with her latest “How I’ll Kill You.” A set of identical triplets have a nasty habit of killing their boyfriends. Their motto: Make him want you, make him love you, make him dead. Sissy is the youngest and the most careful and cautious of the family. She has handled the cleanup while her serial killer sisters have left a path of carnage across the United States. When they arrive in the Arizona heat, it’s Sissy’s turn to step up and embrace the family pastime. Her first target? A young widower named Edison with whom she feels a mutual attraction. As her relationship progresses, Sissy’s family is reminding her to think about picking out burial plots instead of china patterns.  Then something happens that Sissy never anticipated: she begins to feel protective of Edison and she can’t help the fact that she has fallen in love. With her sister’s becoming restless, it’s clear that the burial plot she chooses will hold a body; if she betrays her family, it may just be hers.

“A House with Good Bones” is a Southern Gothic novel from suspense master T. Kingfisher. What twisted roots lurk beneath the veneer of a perfect family and home? Sam Montgomery’s brother’s words linger in her ears as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives. “Mom seems off.” Sam puts the words out of her mind as she looks forward to the two of them drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and playing “guess the killer.” But stepping inside the house, Sam realizes something is wrong. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white and her mom jumps at the smallest sound and looks over her shoulder even when there is no one else in the room. When Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the well-manicured rose bushes, and vultures are circling above the garden. Sam will have to dig for the truth, but some secrets are better off buried.

Bestselling author Fern Michaels’ latest novel is called “On the Line.” Mateo Castillo is a rising star chef in Manhattan who is just about to reap the rewards of his hard work and skill by being featured on a major TV cooking competition. When he collapses in his restaurant’s kitchen and wakes up in the emergency room, he learns that if the security guard had not found him, he would have bled to death. His sudden illness is as mysterious as it is worrying, and Mateo and family undergo a barrage of genetic testing. Mateo’s parents fled their home in Columbia years ago wanting refuge from the drug cartels. Their test results uncover a dark secret that exposes his family to dangers from the past and cloud the investigation into what is happening to Mateo in the present.

“Loyalty” is the latest novel by Lisa Scottoline. Franco Fiorvanti is a handsome lemon grower who dreams of owning his own grove, but the rigid class system of Sicily keeps him bound to the estate of a baron. Franco is determined to secure a better future and will do anything to prove his loyalty to the baron. When the baron asks him to kidnap a little boy named Dante, Franco makes a decision that changes his life — and the history of Sicily — forever. Gaetano Catalano is an idealistic young lawyer and member of the Beati Paoli, a real-life secret society of aristocrats who investigate crime in Palermo. Gaetano sets out to find Dante and punish his kidnapper, but his mission leads him to a darker place than he could have ever imagined. Meanwhile, Mafalda Pancari is a new mother rejoicing in the birth of her daughter when disaster strikes. And Alfredo D’Antonio is a recluse who is under constant threat of being discovered as a Jew. In this epic tale of good versus evil, each will learn that loyalty can either save a soul or destroy it.