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Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight

USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight brings together a brilliant dual-narrative story about Nancy Mitford—one of 1930s London’s hottest socialites, authors, and a member of the scandalous Mitford Sisters—and a modern American desperate for change, connected through time by a little London bookshop.

1938: She was one of the six sparkling Mitford sisters, known for her stinging quips, stylish dress, and bright green eyes. But Nancy Mitford’s seemingly dazzling life was really one of turmoil: with a perpetually unfaithful and broke husband, two Nazi sympathizer sisters, and her hopes of motherhood dashed forever. With war imminent, Nancy finds respite by taking a job at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in Mayfair, hoping to make ends meet, and discovers a new life.

Present Day: When book curator Lucy St. Clair lands a gig working at Heywood Hill she can’t get on the plane fast enough. Not only can she start the healing process from the loss of her mother, it’s a dream come true to set foot in the legendary store. Doubly exciting: she brings with her a first edition of Nancy’s work, one with a somewhat mysterious inscription from the author. Soon, she discovers her life and Nancy’s are intertwined, and it all comes back to the little London bookshop—a place that changes the lives of two women from different eras in the most surprising ways.

Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 12, 2022 
by William Morrow Paperback
3.5/5 stars

It has been ages since I’ve read a Eliza Knight book. Prisoner of the Queen is one of my favourites, taking place during the reigns of Queen Mary and Elizabeth.

The Mayfair Bookshop takes place in the years preceding WW2, I haven’t been reading much HF lately and was anxious to get back at it. Coming in 400 pages I did alternate between print and audiobook.

The past storyline revolves around author Nancy Milford’s life in England and that of her family. I knew she had sibling who were supporters of Hitler but not to the extent it was. This book was a learning curve.

The present day story was minimal in content and to be honest wasn’t really necessary.

The Mayfair Bookshop is well written with details of Mitford’s relationships with family, her husband and the Heywood Hill Bookshop. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what the plot was - the war, marriage or her family. The last 100 pages are where things livened up as she took control of her life. I have added Mitford's book The Pursuit of Love to my tbr since that is the book she wrote during that time period.

The Mayfair Bookshop released on April 12 and available for purchase in all formats.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Truth About Ben and June by Alex Kiester

A heartfelt debut that explores the complexity of a modern-day marriage when a new mother vanishes one morning and her husband must retrace events of their recent past to bring her home.

Love isn’t something that happens to you; it’s something you must choose every day.

From the moment Ben and June met in a hospital waiting room on New Year’s Eve, their love has seemed fated. Looking back at all the tiny, unlikely decisions that brought them together, it was easy to believe their relationship was special. But now, after several years of marriage, June is struggling as a new mom. At times, she wonders about the life she didn’t choose—what might have been if she hadn’t given up the lead role in a famous ballet to start a family. Feeling like a bad mom and more alone than ever, she writes to her deceased mother, hoping for a sign of what she should do next.

One morning, Ben wakes to the sound of his baby and quickly realizes that June is gone, along with her suitcase. As Ben attempts to piece together June’s disappearance, her new friends mention things he knows nothing about—a mysterious petition, June’s falling-out with another mom, her strange fixation on a Greek myth. The more Ben uncovers about June, the more he realizes how little he actually knows her. And now the only way to bring June home is to understand why she left.

Told through alternating perspectives of husband and wife, The Truth About Ben and June is a witty and wise page-turner about life’s many crossroads and a heartfelt reminder that we create our own destiny.

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication June 28, 2022 
by Park Row
3/5

The Truth About Ben and June is a thought-provoking story that explores issues that are real and sometimes overlooked.

Told from Ben’s POV and also from letters June wrote to her deceased mother. June talks a lot about the Greek tragedy Medea (I’m not a big fan of Greek mythology but this kind of worked here). New parents Ben and June are an interesting couple and while I struggled to connect with Ben I did feel for June, both before and after the birth of their son. Her struggles were vividly expressed in her letters and I could feel her pain.

The Truth About Ben and June is a story of relationships, whether between husband and wife, mother and daughter, and between friends. This last relationship I struggled with and can’t quite figure out why.

The book started out strong with the mysterious disappearance but slowed down, though my interest was there as I was genuinely curious as to what happened. A good debut that would make a good book club read for a variety of discusses. The ending was okay somewhat convenient and though I didn’t connect (or like) Ben or Kirsten that might have affected my thoughts

My thanks to Park Row Books and Harper Collins Canada for a print ARC (in exchange for a honest review.)  The Truth About Ben and June can be found in book stores next week.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

You can save hundreds of lives. Or the one that matters most.

A claustrophobic thriller set over twenty hours on one airplane flight, with the heart-stopping tension of The Last Flight and the wrenching emotional intensity of Room, Hostage takes us on board the inaugural nonstop flight from London to Sydney.

Mina is trying to focus on her job as a flight attendant, not the problems of her five-year-old daughter back home, or the fissures in her marriage. But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina's assistance and who knows exactly how to make her comply.

It's twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.

Paperback, 339 pages
Published June 22, 2021
by Sourcebooks Landmark
3.5/5 stars

Be forwarned, I am so going against the flow in my thoughts for Hostage.

The premise for Hostage is intriguing, it sounds suspenseful and the type of thriller I would enjoy. I think my biggest problem with this book was I couldn’t connect with the characters nor feel any emotional connection to the story. Given other reviews this seems to be a me issue. At one point I even went so far as to grab the audio book from CloudLibrary. One female reader for all the different povs. That would have worked if the book is told from a female pov but it wasn’t and the male parts just didn’t work.

The story is told from a number of different POVS, mainly Mina and Adam, husband and wife with their daughter Sophia. There’s back story here that plays a big part of what transpires and the author wove that seamlessly into the story. There are other points of view scattered throughout which made everything connect at the conclusion. As for the ending, I mean the very ending, the last couple of chapters I really enjoyed those.  The twist that I didn’t see coming.

Hostage is very much a story of 'what would you do if you were in that situation' and honestly I can’t imagine and therefore can’t judge Mina for what transpired. This is my first time reading a Claire Macintosh book, I will continue and give her another try.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge -#38

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Stranger Diaries (Harbinder Kaur #1) by Elly Griffiths

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary: "Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me."

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time? 

Paperback, 338 pages
Published March 5th 2019 
by Mariner Books 
4/5 stars


Elly Griffith is a new to me author and this her 1st book in brand new series grabbed me with its bookish theme.

The Stranger Diaries is told from three different POVS along with a short story written by a fictional Gothic writer (RM Holland.) Getting those different points of view created a sense of mystery and suspicion the further this read went. Add in the mysterious writing left in an old diary gave the story a supernatural feel.

Though this book got off to somewhat of a slow start for me but it didn’t take long to become captivated with the mystery surrounding the murder of English teacher Ella. I can’t say that it was a huge cast of characters but there were enough to keep me on my toes as to who was who and the connections. I enjoyed the mystery, I enjoyed the red herrings and the furry friend was an added bonus.

I will continue with this series and look forward to seeing Detective Harbringer again.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Find You First by Linwood Barclay

The New York Times bestselling author of Elevator Pitch and master of psychological suspense returns with a riveting thriller in which the possible heirs of a dying tech millionaire are mysteriously being eliminated, one by one.

“Find You First starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. . . . It’s the best book of his career.” — Stephen King

Tech millionaire Miles Cookson has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of—except time. He has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and there is a fifty percent chance that it can be passed on to the next generation. For Miles, this means taking a long hard look at his past . . .

Two decades ago, a young, struggling Miles was a sperm donor. Somewhere out there, he has kids—nine of them. And they might be about to inherit both the good and the bad from him—maybe his fortune, or maybe something much worse.

As Miles begins to search for the children he’s never known, aspiring film documentarian Chloe Swanson embarks on a quest to find her biological father, armed with the knowledge that twenty-two years ago, her mother used a New York sperm bank to become pregnant.

When Miles and Chloe eventually connect, their excitement at finding each other is overshadowed by a series of mysterious and terrifying events. One by one, Miles’s other potential heirs are vanishing—every trace of them wiped, like they never existed at all.

Who is the vicious killer—another heir methodically erasing rivals? Or is something even more sinister going on?

It’s a deadly race against time . . .

Paperback, 496 pages 
Published October 26, 2021
 by William Morrow
4.5/5 stars

This is my second Linwood Barclay novel in as many weeks. I loved Take Your Breath Away and immediately dove to this one, fingers crossed that I would get the same five star read. Maybe not five stars but pretty darn close with 4 1/2 stars.

Miles Cookson has just been handed a diagnosis nobody wants, it sets him on a journey to the past with deadly repercussions. Intermixed with other POVs I found this to be a mysterious, entertaining story with a unique premise and its well written.

To say I’m a new Linwood Barclay fan would be an understatement. I enjoy his writing, he knows how to draw me in with the mystery, keep me captivated with the twists and turns as well as keeping me on my toes as I try to unravel what is going on, not an easy task with the many layers.

Find You First is a story of longing, corruption/greed and family. There were characters I liked and others not so much

If you are in Canada and want to give this author a try, for the month of June his books are all on sale at Chapters and you can even pre-order his new release entitled Look Both Ways which releases in October.

My copy was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge - #37

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens—a journey of ambition, love, and the far-reaching effects of our actions.

Paperback, 344 pages
Published August 28, 2018
 by Sourcebooks Landmark
4/5 stars


I’ve had this book on my shelf for a number of years, I was hesitant to pick it up because of that cover. To me it spells heartache, sadness and could be a depressing read.

It’s 1931 and both Ellis Reed and Lillian Palmer work for a newspaper. As they both strive for newsworthy events they also both have secrets and guilt from the past. But when a picture draws them together and sets them on a journey to heal a fractured family they get more than they bargained for.

This is my first time reading a Kristina McMorris book, she wrote this book inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stocked a nation. The author did her homework and depicting the time vividly. There were the struggles of the depression along with the desperation of families and those that take advantage of them.

Sold on a Monday is a story of family, redemption and righting wrongs. It will tug at your heart strings and draw you right in to its captivating ending.

I listened to the audio book and which is almost 10 hours long narrated by Brian Hutchison, who did a great job.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 10, 2022
 by Berkley
5/5 stars

Are you on Instagram?  Then I am sure you have seen all the hype for Every Summer After by debut author Carley Fortune. It reads nothing like a debut.

I know summer reads are really just whatever you want in the summer time when life tones done and relaxes a little (well hopefully it does). But this book is actually the perfect summer read.  The Canadian setting with cottage country, ice cream shops and the lake grabbed me right away. As did the characters, bookish people spending lazy hazy days on the dock reading, jumping in to cool off and swimming The author put me right there and I didn't want to leave.

Every Summer After is a well written story of relationships, guilt and second chances.  There is wit, realistic bantering and young love in this coming of age story.  Told in dual time periods beginning when Percy is 13 years old. This budding friendship, though predictable (at times) was a pleasure to read - which I might add I did in a matter of days.

Definitely adding Carley Fortune to my auto buy list for her future books. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick

In the winning new novel from the beloved author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, the house cleaner of a famous reclusive author must carry out her employer's life-changing last wish...

Have you ever wished you were someone else?

Mother of two Liv Green barely scrapes by as a maid to make ends meet, often finding escape in a good book while daydreaming of becoming a writer herself. So she can't believe her luck when she lands a job housekeeping for her personal hero, megabestselling author Essie Starling, a mysterious and intimidating recluse. The last thing Liv expected was to be the only person Essie talks to, which leads to a tenuous friendship.

But when Essie dies suddenly, a devastated Liv is astonished to learn of her last wish: for Liv to complete Essie's final novel. But to do so Liv will have to step into Essie's shoes, and as Liv begins to write, she uncovers secrets from the past that reveal a surprising connection between the two women--one that will change Liv's own story forever...

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 31, 2022
 by Park Row
3/5 stars


This is my first Phaedra Patrick book.  The cover, title and blurb called my name, there is that bookish theme that radiates.

Getting off to a slow start this book stirred a wide range of emotions, how Liv was treated by her clients (she cleans homes and businesses) and worse yet by her husband and adult sons. It was difficult to read at times and I just wish she stood up for herself rather then be constantly taken advantage of.  

The premise was interesting and had potential. This mystery why Liv was named to complete the novel of a recently deceased author was a slow burn reveal and the many layers was a tad too drawn out.

I am a big book nerd, I love books about books and eagerly looked forward to this read.  I enjoyed the literary name dropping and how Liv loved audiobooks.  But ultimately I just felt sorry for Liv throughout this read, she craved something but lacked support.

The last third of the book picked up somewhat, I was a little curious about the connection between Essie and Liv. It was a neat and tidy ending but didn't wow me.

I've heard great things about the author's previous book The Library of Lost and Found (which is in my TBR pile) and will give that a go.

My thanks to Harper Collins CA for a print ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Meant to Be Mine by Hannah Orenstein

From the author of Playing with Matches, a sweeping love story in the vein of Rebecca Serle and Chloe Benjamin about a woman who knows the date she’ll meet her true love—only he isn’t quite as perfect as she always imagined.

What if you knew exactly when you’d meet the love of your life? Edie Meyer knows. When her Grandma Gloria was a young woman, she had a vision of the exact day she would meet her soul mate—and then Grandpa Ray showed up.

Since then, Gloria has accurately predicted the day every single member of the family has met their match. Edie’s day arrives on June 24, 2022, when she’s twenty-nine years old. She has been waiting for it half her life. That morning, she boards an airplane to her twin sister’s surprise engagement, and when a handsome musician sits beside her, she knows it’s meant to be.

But fate comes with more complications than Edie expected and she can’t fight the nagging suspicion that her perfect guy doesn’t have perfect timing. After a tragedy and a shocking revelation rock Edie’s carefully constructed world, she’s forced to consider whether love chooses us, as simple as destiny, or if we choose it ourselves.

Kindle Edition, 285 pages 
Published June 7, 2022 
by Atria Books
3/5 stars

Imagine being able to know the date that you will meet the love of your life, your soulmate, the one you are destined to spend the rest of your life with. But what happens if you meet someone on that date and it isn’t insta love, love at first sight or you’re just not feeling the vibes. Let me introduce you to Edie because this is her story.

Meant to be Mine was a quick read with a unique premise and a main character determined to follow the predictions of Grandma Gloria, she’s been right every time in the past so this should be the case also. This had more of a Womens Fiction feel verse a Rom/Com. Relationships played centre, whether between grandmother/granddaughter, or twin sisters. Edie's journey was a little slow at times and not as witty as I anticipated. 

There was a nice ending, though I would have enjoyed spending more time during the last 1/4 of the story.

Meant to be Mine released in the 7th of June and available for purchase now. My thanks to Atria Books for an advanced copy in the exchange for a honest review


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

A paranoid single mom is forced to confront the unthinkable act she committed as a desperate teenager in this addictive thriller with a social media twist.
Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn't she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren't. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria's sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she'd severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there's more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what's known to Maria--or whoever's pretending to be her--is known to all.

Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Published September 5, 2017
 by Grand Central Publishing
4/5 stars

Friend Request is a dual time period story where secrets of the past don’t stay hidden.

Back in 1989 Mean Girls was thriving and the repercussions roll over to 2016 just in time for the 25th Class Reunion.

This book had so much going for it, mysterious past, ghosts of the past and when those ghosts show up years later what follows is a twisted thriller with an unexpected ending.  

For Louise it’s a question of protecting not just her son but her mind. As she confronts the past and who this mystery person is (could it actually be Maria?) she also needs to reconcile to what happened and the role she played. This book had me questioning everyone Louise came in contact with, the time switches were nice and smooth, the mystery slowly unravelled to an fitting conclusion. It was a great ride.

This is Laura Marshall’s debut, looking forward to more of her books.

My thanks to Grand Central Publishing for a digital copy in exchange for a honest review.