Friday, July 23, 2021

A Terrible Tide by Suzanne Meade

November 18th, 1929

In her small village in Newfoundland, Celia is setting the table for her 13th birthday celebration when the house starts to shake. It's an earthquake, rumbling under the Atlantic Ocean. A few hours later, the sea water disappears from the harbor, only to rush back in a wave almost 30 feet high, destroying nearly everything in its path. Buildings, boats, and winter supplies of fish and food are washed away, and Celia and her community are devastated. With their only phone line cut off and no safe route to get help, they are isolated and facing a long, cold, hungry winter.

Their house destroyed and village in ruins, Celia and her family must band together and share the work needed for the community to survive. Can Celia find the courage to help her injured loved ones? Will help arrive before it's too late

Based on the true story of an earthquake that shook Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, A Terrible Tide tells the tale of this forgotten disaster from the point of view of a young girl whose life is turned upside down. 

Kindle, 208 pages
Expected publication: September 28th 2021 
by Second Story Press
4/5 stars

A Terrible Tale was an educational lesson for me. Being a lover of Canadian HF this one fit the bill nicely with a part of our history I was unfamiliar with.  Taking place in 1929 in Newfoundland, A Terrible Tale follows the story of 13 year old Celia whose world is turned upside-down when an earthquake strikes the Atlantic Ocean sending water to her village.

What follows is a story told through her eyes of what her family, friends and neighbours endured.  Geared for the middle grade reader it gives enough detail to get a clear picture of the aftermath and the struggle to survive.

A Terrible Tale is a story of family, survival and discovering whats really important.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Entitled: Life isn't easy when you're a book by Cookie Boyle

Entitled is the story of a Book seeking to find a home as it is passed from one Reader to another. Along the way, it reveals its own story, The Serendipity of Snow.

As it is read, misplaced, loaned and abandoned, our Book, like the Readers of its pages, discovers love and heartbreak, loneliness and friendship, and ultimately becomes the author of its own journey.

In the end, Entitled examines the pull between the story we are born with and the one we wish to create for ourselves.

Paperback, 306 pages
Published November 24th 2020
by Bespoken Word Press
4/5 stars

Canadian author Cookie Boyle has penned a fun story about a book.  The fun part is it's from the pov of said book, The Serendipity of Snow. A unique prospective as this book does some travelling, meets a variety of personalities - though not all of the literary kind.

Entitled is a great summer read, especially for bookish folks who like books with a bookish theme. It's for those that can easily imagine this setting and feel for Serendipity. While it might sound light Entitled is a book about feeling alone, making friends and creating your own path.

My thanks to the author for reaching out and gifting me with a copy of Entitled (which in no way affected this review).

"Books come into out lives for a reason.  They might not know it themselves. 
 You might not know it.  But there's a reason.  There has to be," says a collection of stories by Joyce Carol Oates.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Hide Away (Rachel Marin Thriller #1) by Jason Pinter

From the bestselling author of the Henry Parker series comes a page-turning thriller about a vigilante who’s desperate to protect her secrets—and bring a killer to justice.

On the surface, Rachel Marin is an ordinary single mother; on the inside, she’s a fierce, brilliant vigilante. After an unspeakable crime shatters her life, she changes her identity and moves to a small town in Illinois, hoping to spare her children from further trauma…or worse. But crime follows her everywhere.

When the former mayor winds up dead, Rachel can’t help but get involved. Where local detectives see suicide, she sees murder. They resent her for butting in—especially since she’s always one step ahead. But her investigative genius may be her undoing: the deeper she digs, the harder it is to keep her own secrets buried.

Her persistence makes her the target of both the cops and a killer. Meanwhile, the terrifying truth about her past threatens to come to light, and Rachel learns the hard way that she can’t trust anyone. Surrounded by danger, she must keep her steely resolve, protect her family, and stay one step ahead, or else she may become the next victim.

Kindle Edition, 365 pages
Published March 1st 2020 
by Thomas & Mercer
5/5 stars

This was another hyped up author on Instagram and Twitter with the release of A Stranger at the Door - book 2 in this series.  I jumped at the kindle deal for Hide Away which is the first book in the Rachel Marin Series.  

It's been awhile since a mystery has grabbed my attention like this one did.  I was invested right away with Rachel, caring about her family and what happened in the past.  She gets herself involved in something that sets off a chain reaction of events that quickly evolve into something dangerous.

This fast paced story was filled with well-developed characters, the easy banter involving Rachel made for a fun read - can I say fun when it's filled with suspense, secrets and intrigue?

The mystery itself was interesting, it kept me on my toes guessing at the outcome. As for the outcome, I loved it!  I was thoroughly entertaining and can't wait to read book 2 in this series. 

This book is from my personal kindle library.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

What's Done in Darkness by Laura McHugh

Abducted as a teenager, a woman must now confront her past and untangle the truth of what really happened to her in this dark thriller from the author of The Wolf Wants In.

"Laura McHugh expertly delivers a harrowing tale of a world where little is what it first appears to be."--Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena

Seventeen-year-old Sarabeth has become increasingly rebellious since her parents found God and moved their family to a remote Arkansas farmstead where she's forced to wear long dresses, follow strict rules, and grow her hair down to her waist. She's all but given up on escaping the farm when a masked man appears one stifling summer morning and snatches her out of the cornfield.

A week after her abduction, she's found alongside a highway in a bloodstained dress--alive--but her family treats her like she's tainted, and there's little hope of finding her captor, who kept Sarabeth blindfolded in the dark the entire time, never uttering a word. One good thing arises from the horrific ordeal: a chance to leave the Ozarks and start a new life.

Five years later, Sarabeth is struggling to keep her past buried when investigator Nick Farrow calls. Convinced that her case is connected to the strikingly similar disappearance of another young girl, Farrow wants Sarabeth's help, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it, even if that means dragging her back to the last place she wants to go--the hills and hollers of home, to face her estranged family and all her deepest fears.

In this riveting new novel from Laura McHugh, blood ties and buried secrets draw a young woman back into the nightmare of her past to save a missing girl, unaware of what awaits her in the darkness. 

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 22nd 2021
by Random House
4/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Laura McHugh book, I thank all the hype over on Instagram for bringing this book to my attention.  It definitely lived up to the buzz.

What's Done in Darkness comes in at 256 pages and packs a punch.  There was the mystery that played out with before and after points of view.  It shows a dark side of a Christian but honestly I don't feel there were Christians at all but rather dominating people who wanted control without any form of compassion or love. 

There were many twists and turns making it hard for me to unravel this mystery.  The setting felt like going back in time when husbands took control, made all the decisions and ruled with an iron fist.  While I found the mystery interesting with its many layers it was Sarah's journey that spoke to me.  Definitely an author I will read more of.

I obtained this book from my local public library.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Hunted by Roz Nay

The Beach meets The Woman in Cabin 10 in this twisty new thriller about two couples who meet backpacking through Africa, but what begins as friendship quickly turns to obsession, with deadly consequences—from bestselling author Roz Nay.

Stevie Erickson is looking for a fresh start. The sudden loss of her grandmother has sent her life into a tailspin, dredging up old losses and putting a strain on her relationship with her boyfriend, Jacob. So when Jacob is offered a job as a diver for GoEco, a dive operation for ecotourists on Rafiki, a beautiful, secluded island off the coast of Tanzania, he thinks it’s just the adventure they need and Stevie reluctantly agrees to go with him.

Their trip gets off to a rough start with a nighttime scare at their first hostel. Already fragile, Stevie can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. Things improve when they meet seasoned backpackers Leo and Tamsin, a drop-dead gorgeous couple who instantly take a shine to Stevie and Jacob.

But on Rafiki Island, their new friendship is put to the test, as is Stevie and Jacob’s own relationship. And when innocent flirting goes too far, past truths surface, exposing a killer in their midst—a killer whose sights are set on Stevie.

A high dive into the dangers of obsession, this sinister and seductive thriller will leave you breathless. 

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: July 6th 2021 
by Simon & Schuster
3.5/5 stars

This is my second book by Canadian author Roz Nay and also her 3rd book.

The Hunted started with a bang that set a creepy tone beginning that sense of suspense and mystery I love in this genre.

Stevie needs a fresh start and gets way more than she bargained for.  When her boyfriend Jacob gets a job in Africa it seems like a good place to start. Told with alternating POVs between Stevie and Leo, someone they met during their travels. The travel was an adventure in itself, not the travelling I'm used to, it gave the real sense of being in another country altogether. 

The Hunted was a wild ride, especially given a 'oh my goodness he's crazy' character.  I was kept on my toes and honestly thought I had things figured out but alas I was wrong. I might not have liked the majority of the characters but the story was mysterious, suspenseful with an ending that surprised me.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster CA for a digital ARC (via Netgalley)
 in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Blackberry Beach (Hope Harbor #7) by Irene Hannon

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted--fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn't she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she'll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss--and he has no plans to change the life he's created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He's had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites you to come home to Hope Harbor--where hearts heal . . . and love blooms. 

Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 6th 2021 by
 Fleming H. Revell Company
3.5/5 stars

Just like the cover implies this is a perfect beach read.  

Blackberry Beach is the 7th book in the Hope Harbor Series, I haven't read any of the previous books. While my interest in the past books has piqued this one works fine as a stand alone.

I loved the descriptive nature of the landscape, especially the beach, I really want to walk on that beach and rent a place there.  It was nice to visualise the setting with the cafe, taco food truck and the neighbourly setting. The characters are supportive, each in a unique way rounding out the story nicely.

This is my first time reading a Irene Hannon book, I enjoyed the change of pace from my usual genre.  This is Christian fiction, which is addressed throughout the read, but in  realisitc and non overbearing way.

Blackberry Beach is a book and author I recommend.  

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group
and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A Life No One Will Remember.

A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. 

Hardcover, 442 pages
Published October 6th 2020
 by Tor Books
3.25/5 stars

V.E. Schwab is a new to me author. With all the buzz before it's release last fall (on my birthday no less, it was a birthday present to myself) I was sweep up with all the hype but only recently did I finally sit to read it.  In fact this was a combo reading and audio book listen. Julia Whelan is one of my favourite narrators and as usual she did a great job.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue had an interesting premise, it was beautifully written with a lyrical voice that flowed smoothly.  The beginning had me rubbing my hands together, excited to read about Addie's life. Beginning in 1714 Addie had a desire for a life that wasn't a traditional one in an era when women had no voice.  One must be careful what they wish for. Adjusting to her new life I liked watching her journey and how she made things work.  The historical parts were just touched upon and at times I wanted more.

I'm glad I did the combo read, coming in at 441 pages this hardcover had a smaller font making it on the longish side - 17 hours for the audio and to me it was just too long. The beginning started strong but then a lull hit before it picked up the pace again just past the half way mark with the lull picking up steam again.  I know I'm in the minority with my rating but I just found that while the writing was lovely the story repeating itself a lot and could have been shorten somewhat.

I'm am not sure how this book is marketed, YA or adult but there was a definite YA feel to it.  I couldn't decide on whether to rate it 3 or 3.5, hence my 3.25.  Like I said at the beginning V.E. Schwab is a new author to me, I will definitely give her another try.

This book was part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#42)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

From Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, the bestselling authors of Meet Me in Monaco, comes a coming-of-age novel set in pre-WWII Europe, perfect for fans of Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Kate Quinn.

Three cities, two sisters, one chance to correct the past . . .

New York, 1937: When estranged sisters Clara and Madeleine Sommers learn their grandmother is dying, they agree to fulfill her last wish: to travel across Europe—together. They are to deliver three letters, in which Violet will say goodbye to those she hasn’t seen since traveling to Europe forty years earlier; a journey inspired by famed reporter, Nellie Bly.

Clara, ever-dutiful, sees the trip as an inconvenient detour before her wedding to millionaire Charles Hancock, but it’s also a chance to embrace her love of art. Budding journalist Madeleine relishes the opportunity to develop her ambitions to report on the growing threat of Hitler’s Nazi party and Mussolini’s control in Italy.

Constantly at odds with each other as they explore the luxurious Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and the sights of Paris and Venice,, Clara and Madeleine wonder if they can fulfil Violet’s wish, until a shocking truth about their family brings them closer together. But as they reach Vienna to deliver the final letter, old grudges threaten their reconciliation again. As political tensions rise, and Europe feels increasingly volatile, the pair are glad to head home on the Hindenburg, where fate will play its hand in the final stage of their journey. 

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 27th 2021
by Willow Morrow
4/5 stars

When grandma asks 2 estranged sisters to travel together it really isn't a question and the sisters can't say no to their beloved Violet.

Different in personality, goals, belief and fashion makes for a great story as they travel during a turbulent time in history.  Paris, Venice and Vienna are feeling birth pains as Hitler's reign is on the rise. It isn't a quick journey nor is it easy when the past, present and future are discovered, evaluated and unexpected insight in their relationship is tested.

I enjoyed getting to know Clara and Madeleine, constantly at odds they travelled in style. There were many historical settings making this a fun read - the Queen Mary, Orient Express and even the Hindenburg. While the physical journey was interesting it was the emotional one, watching each of them deal with things made for an entertaining read.

This is not the first time authors, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb have written together (Last Christmas in Paris), and once again they have delivered a well written heartwarming story that flowed nicely with no hint of different hands.  

My thanks to Heather Webb for a digital arc (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Excerpt: Last Flight to Stalingrad by Graham Hurley

 Excerpted from Last Flight to Stalingrad

by Graham Hurley. Head of Zeus, 2021. 

Reprinted with permission.

                      GRAMMATIKOVO, KERCH PENINSULA, CRIMEA, 20 MAY 1942


Oberstleutnant Georg Messner occasionally wondered whether he’d fallen in love with his boss.

 Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen was the legendary chief of Fliegerkorps VIII. In half a decade he’d routed the Reich’s enemies in Spain, Poland, France and the Balkans. His Stuka dive bombers, with the terrifying siren he’d invented himself, had become a battlefield code for instant annihilation, and even the vastness of the Soviet Union hadn’t daunted him. On the day German armour poured into Russia, Fliegerkorps VIII had destroyed no less than 1,800 enemy aircraft for the loss of just two planes. Even hardened Luftwaffe veterans couldn’t believe it.

 Now, Messner – who served as an aide to Generaloberst Richthofen – was sitting in a draughty tent on a scruffy airfield on the Kerch Peninsula. The meeting had started barely half an hour ago. Messner had flown in last night, anticipating a celebration at the end of Operation Trappenjagd. General Manstein was rumoured to be arriving in time for lunch.

 In ten exhausting days of incessant bombing, Richthofen’s Fliegerkorps VIII, working hand in hand with General Manstein’s 11th Army, had kicked open the back door to the priceless Caucasian oilfields. One hundred and seventy thousand Russian soldiers stumbled off into captivity. Two full Soviet armies, plus the greater part of a third, were destroyed. In raid after raid, the Heinkels had seeded the Soviet formations below with the new SD2 fragmentation bombs, tiny eggs that exploded feet above the pale earth and tore men to pieces. Coupled with bigger ordnance, Richthofen called it ‘giant fire magic’.

 On the first Sunday of the campaign, most bomber pilots had flown nearly a dozen sorties. A handful had gone three better. Fifteen take-offs. Fifteen landings. All in one day. Unbelievable. This was the way Richthofen organised his campaigns: violence without end, ceaseless pressure, an unrelenting urge to grind the enemy to dust.

 The results had been obvious from the air. Towards the end of the first week, personally supervising the carnage from two thousand metres, Richthofen had emerged from his tiny Fieseler Storch to tell Messner that the jaws of Manstein’s trap were about to close around the hapless Slavs. ‘Unless the weather stops us,’ he growled, ‘no Russian will leave the Crimea alive.’

 And so it went. By the third week in May, after a difficult winter, the road to the Crimean fortress at Sevastopol lay open to Manstein’s tanks and Richthofen’s marauding bomber crews. After a victory of this magnitude, Germany was once again on course to advance deep into the Russian heartlands. Messner himself was a Berliner and it wasn’t difficult to imagine the relief and rejoicing in his home city. Moscow and Leningrad were still under siege, but the real key surely lay here on the southern flank. The seizure of the oil wells would keep the Panzers rolling east. Grain from Ukraine would fill bellies back home. Yet none of the euphoria Messner had expected was evident around this makeshift table.

Messner had first served under Richthofen half a decade ago in the Condor Legion, fighting the Republican armies in the mountains of northern Spain. He knew how difficult, how outspoken this man could be. He treated superiors and underlings alike with a rough impatience which brooked no excuse when things went wrong. His men feared him, of that there was no doubt, but he brought them comfort as well because he was – more often than not – right.

 The story of war, as Messner knew all too well, was the story of things going wrong, but Richthofen had an implacable belief in willpower and the merits of meticulous organisation. In his view there was no such thing as defeat. There’d always be setbacks, certainly, occasions when plans threatened to fall apart, but the men under his command were expected to be masters of both themselves and the battlefield below. For Richthofen, the undisputed Meister of close air support, there was no sweeter word than Schwerpunkt, that carefully plotted moment when irresistible wrath descended on the heads of the enemy and put him on his knees.

Kindle Edition, 270 pages
Published June 4th 2020
 by Head of Zeus



Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry's enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven't spoken since.

Today, Dylan's and Addie's lives collide again. It's the day before Cherry's wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland--he'll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan's best friend, Addie's sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart--and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 1st 2021 
by Berkley

The Road Trip was one of my highly anticipated books of 2021.  I LOVED The Flatshare, it was my first rom/com and made me open my eyes to what I could be missing.  Next came The Switch which was just as enjoyable, so obviously I was looked forward to The Road Trip.

I am not sure if my expectation level was just too high or what but, yup there is a but. While I enjoyed parts of this book it didn't hit me like the other two did. 

The beginning was a bit slow, I didn't like Marcus at all and that's okay because there are always those characters around - reading would be a tad boring if one must like all the characters.  Part of the reason I steered away from anything to do with any type of romance novel is the insta-love trope and the aftermath.  For me this book was more of an insta-lust and it just didn't sit right.

The book alternates between Addie and Dylan's POV both in the now and then, I'm glad the author did that, seeing where they are now and what transpires in the past. I think Addie was the only one I really got to know and I loved her sister, Deb - she added that extra bit of hmp the book needed. 

The Road Trip is a story of second chances, self discovery and righting wrongs.  While it may not have been as laugh out loud funny as her previous books Beth O'Leary has touch on serious subject matters relevant today in a somewhat light hearted matter.  I liked the conclusion and for me that redeemed some of my feelings for the insta-lust part.

The Road Trip is in bookstores now.

This book was part of my 2021 Reading Of My Shelf Challenge.