My Last Continent by Midge Raymond. Published by Scribner

Antarctica. The word conjures up visions of glaciers, howling wind and barren, desolate, frozen wasteland. For Deb Garner and Keller Sullivan, it is the place they are happiest. A place where the rest of the world, and their lives fade away, leaving the two of them, for a few short weeks each year, the chance to study the indigenous penguins, and to be with each other. This year, as usual, Deb wait aboard the ship that will transport she and Keller to their home base for the next few weeks. Deb is concerned when Keller fails to show and the ship sails without him. Shortly after leaving, Deb’s ship gets an emergency signal from a passenger ship is dire trouble on the Southern Ocean. The ship is sinking, and Deb soon learns that one of the crewmen aboard the doomed vessel is Keller. As Deb and her expedition ship race to the site, she is prepared to do whatever she can to rescue Keller, but is she also prepared to accept the worst? I’m not sure what part of this book I liked best, the descriptions of a vast frozen world at the bottom of the world, or the story of Deb and Keller. I guess it doesn’t really matter, because together, they made for an unforgettable book. Highly recommended


Baby Doll by Hollie Overton. Published by Redhook

After years of physical and mental torture, Lily has finally escaped the man who kidnapped her when she was 16. For years she has dreamed of reuniting with her mother, twin sister and boyfriend, but now that she’s finally home, the reunion is nothing like she imagined. Life has moved on without Lily, her boyfriend is now in love with her sister and no one seems to understand or even comprehend what Lily has been through. Told through the eyes of all four characters, this is a look at the fallout after a serious crime. This was an interesting take on the “happy ending” we see from time to time on the news, when some long held captive finally escapes and makes her way home. We never think much about how they re-enter the normal world or how they, or their family cope with all the horror.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Published by Random House

Edith Hind is a graduate student at Cambridge University when she goes missing. The case attracts extra attention because the young woman’s father is the Royal Family’s Surgeon. This is a case the police want solved quickly, so they call in DS Manon Bradshaw, one of Cambridgeshire’s best and brightest. Manon knows that all eyes will be on her and she’s determined to find Edith. At the very least it will draw the 39 year old detective’s mind off her ticking biological clock. Manon starts with the facts. Blood has been found in Edith’s kitchen, her front door left ajar and her keys and phone left behind. As is all police investigations, Manon begins with Edith’s inner circle, her family, her boyfriend and her closest friends. It soon becomes obvious the young student had an active and somewhat twisted love life. That coupled with her odd behavior of late leads Manon down a trail that will not only answer questions about Edith’s fate, but about the young detective’s as well. This is an extraordinary British police procedural; Manon’s worry about her future, her desire to have a family makes her character believable and likable.

Walking on Wild Air by Yvonne Marjot. Published by Crooked Cat

After the death of her beloved father, Shushila Mackenzie returns home to a remote island off the coast of Scotland. She is there to grieve and try to find a way to move forward. Lost and injured in a heavy fog, she encounters Dougie and his dog, who escorts her back to his home until the mist settles. There is something strange, almost dreamlike about Dougie, a man who seems to know too much about the island’s history, both recent and long past. Who is this mysterious man and what does he want with Shushila. Marjot’s depiction of Scotland and her islands is breathtaking, I truly felt like I was there. A lovely story

The Bee Friendly Garden by Kate Frey. Published by Ten Speed

I have long been fascinated by bees, and love nothing quite so much as sitting under my honeysuckle bush in spring and listening to the loud humming of bees of all kinds. And there are certainly all kinds. Frey discusses the many types of bees we have in North America (more than 250 types of bumblebees worldwide!) and explains their social and mating habits. Readers will learn what types of plants attract bees and how to prolong the season by planting a variety of plants that will bloom from spring until frost. Readers will also learn more about Colony Collapse and the other serious threats facing our favorite fuzzy pollinators, from pesticides, lack of habitat and climate change. I had no idea how much of what we eat depends on bees for pollination and while I have plenty of bee favorites in my garden, I will now be planting more. This is a fascinating and important book filled with beautiful full color photos; a must for anyone who cares about our environment.

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin. Published by Dutton

Jess Dunn has Hollywood in her veins.  A third generation wannabe star, Jess has failed to break into acting on the silver screen, but does finally land a job on the periphery of LaLa land life when she takes a job as a personal assistant to a movie music composer. She loves being around the rich and famous almost as much as she enjoys cooking.  It’s not long before her food stylings catch the eye of a new actress, Eve Carlton, who offers Jess a job working for her. Eager for a chance to get even deeper into the Hollywood lifestyle, Jess jumps at the chance. Then her mother, another washed up wannabe shows up…..  I was a little surprised that Jess would want the Hollywood life after being exposed to its seedier elements while she was growing up. Still, this is a snarky, fun take on the need to be famous


Love, Luck and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert. Published by Gallery

M.J. Boudreau is living an unhappy, unfilled life. She’s a wife and mom, but longs for much more. When she tales up gambling with her husband, Chris, she only does it so they can spend more time together. But over time, MJ discovers she really good at poker and the more she wins, the more she enjoys it. The game gets her out of the house and it’s a lot more exciting than her old life. Her skills soon land her in Vegas, where she catches the eye of a good looking fellow poker player. Talk about exciting – money and a hot guy interested in her! But MJ’s new life cannot co-exist alongside her old one and she will have to decide between her family and all the excitement she ever dreamed of. I have to admit I didn’t always care for MJ, she seemed a little selfish, but I could totally understand her desire for more in her life than just the day to day grind. A fun read