A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN by Susan Meissner


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women past and present in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life .

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.


Wonderful book! A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN is a lovely blending of ghost story, historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction. The story is told from differing points of view in multiple time periods, mainly during WWII, just after WWII ends, and also present day. It may feel a bit disjointed at first, but I promise the book quickly finds a nice flow and all the pieces come together for an amazing ending.

The majestic ship, the RMS Queen Mary, has served many purposes since its maiden voyage in 1936, one being a vessel to transport thousands of European war brides across the Atlantic to their new husbands in America. In February 1946, two of those brides are Simone Deveraux from France, and Annaliese Lange from Germany. The war years were horrific for both of them, and both women are looking forward to a new beginning in the US. Unfortunately, fate has other plans…

In present day, Brette Caslake is struggling with her special, yet burdensome, gift of being able to see and communicate with ghosts. She’s spent years trying to ignore them, but her experiences during a visit to the Queen Mary has made Brette rethink her position on restless spirits.

A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN is a unique take on WWII historical fiction. I enjoyed the compelling characters, the paranormal elements, and the multi-layered mystery. Susan Meissner writes beautifully, and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her work.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard (Audiobook)


Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Release Date: February 2, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads, “I’m sorry—S” sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate—and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…


As I was listening to Catherine Ryan Howard’s nerve-racking debut thriller, I kept wondering if the book was sold in cruise ship gift shops. If so — eek! Nothing like adding some paranoia to your vacation! Seriously though, DISTRESS SIGNALS was an amazing read. There are many layers to this complex mystery, and the characters really stand out.

When Adam Dunne’s girlfriend Sarah doesn’t return from a business trip, he manages to track her last whereabouts to a Mediterranean cruise ship called the Celebrate. Was she the victim of foul play, or did she decide to disappear on her own? The cruise ship company is less than helpful, and Adam soon discovers that these ships are like their own little cutoff worlds. Maritime law can be a tricky and frustrating thing. When Adam learns of another woman’s disappearance on the same ship a year earlier, he ends up on the Celebrate himself to search for answers.

I enjoyed this book very much. It felt realistic as to what someone would go through to find a missing loved one. Nice build up of tension watching Adam goes through the steps, and trying to figure out how the other characters connect with Sarah’s disappearance. I loved as the layers unfolded, leading up to a surprising twist that changed everything. DISTRESS SIGNALS is going on my 2017 favorites list!


Audiobook • 11 hrs, 42 mins • Narrators: Alan Smyth, Bronson Pinchot, Suzanne Toren

Wonderful performances all-around for the audio version of DISTRESS SIGNALS. Alan Smyth was the voice of Adam, and he did a great job conveying Adam’s desperation and confusion during his search for Sarah. To avoid spoilers, I don’t want to go into detail about Bronson Pinchot’s and Suzanne Toren’s characters, but I will say that their performances were spot-on too, capturing their characters’ nuances. I’d highly recommend giving this book a listen!


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE ROANOKE GIRLS by Amy Engel


Publisher: Crown
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Source: ARC from Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★


After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.


I was excited to see a suspense novel set in Kansas! Unfortunately, though, I don’t think THE ROANOKE GIRLS will endear anyone to my state. Oh boy.

Considering that the big dark secret is revealed in the beginning, I wouldn’t classify this book as suspense; it’s more of a major dysfunctional family drama. The subject matter is disturbing, but what really bugged me was that everyone was so matter-of-fact about it. That’s just how it was, and the characters weren’t particularly offended by it, at least not to the level you’d think they’d be. Weird.

The story held my interest, and I was very curious to learn why cousin Allegra disappeared, and to see if Lane would be able to escape Roanoke again. In the end, I guess I was hoping for a little something more. I’ve seen many positive reviews for this book, and some negative. I’m somewhere in the middle, just like Kansas. ;-)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.