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.

HIMSELF: A NOVEL by Jess Kidd


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


Having been abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, lovable car thief and Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives an anonymous note suggesting that foul play may have led to his mother’s disappearance, he sees only one option: to return to the rural Irish village where he was born and find out what really happened twenty-six years ago.

From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony’s presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider ways cause a stir among the locals, who receive him with a mixture of excitement (the women), curiosity (the men), and suspicion (the pious).

Determined to uncover the truth about what happened to his mother, Mahony solicits the help of brash anarchist and retired theater actress Mrs. Cauley. This improbable duo concocts an ingenious plan to get the town talking about the day Mahony’s mother disappeared and are aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, both living and dead.

Himself is a simmering mixture—a blend of the natural everyday and the supernatural, folklore and mystery, and a healthy dose of quintessentially Irish humor. The result is a darkly comic crime story in the tradition of a classic Irish trickster tale, complete with a twisting and turning plot, a small-town rife with secrets, and an infectious love of language and storytelling that is a hallmark of the finest Irish writers.


HIMSELF is one of the most unusual mysteries I’ve read; the experience was like getting pulled into a vivid 20th century Irish folk tale. Set in the small village of Mulderrig, this wild story alternates between the 1970s and 1940s/50s. Mahony grew up in a Dublin orphanage, with very few clues about his beginning. When he finally gets a lead, 26-year old Mahony travels back to Mulderrig determined to find out what became of this mother, stirring up all kind of chaos in the process. The book is full of quirky, funny, tragic characters, both living and dead. Mahony can communicate with the dead, sometimes they’re helpful, other times not so much. Loved that Mahony was referred to as “a [County] Mayo Heathcliff.” I enjoyed the blending of magical realism into the twisted mystery. The lyrical language and dark humor were also a delight. Impressive debut!

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