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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Review: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

The author of the “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

With evocative, vivid, and unputdownable prose and plenty of disturbing twists and turns, Jewell’s latest thriller is another “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author).

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: October 13th 2020
 by Atria Books
3.5/5 stars

Lisa Jewell has been a go-to author for a number of years. Her books are uniquely themed they are mysterious, suspenseful and keep me guessing.

Invisible Girl released last month in the UK and for us folks in North America it hits bookshelves in a couple of weeks.

I’ll confess that this got off to a slow start for me, I was a little confused with the cast of characters and how they fit together. But really I didn’t need to know the connections right away but just needed to sit back knowing the author would connect the dots.

So there is this family that obviously has secrets. To be honest I found them to be an odd bunch, they just had that vibe. The mom, Cate, is one of the view points. She made me nervous and paranoid.

Then there is the weird guy across the street, Owen Pick he lives with his aunt and yea he is a tad strange also and another POV. There were some things I didn't need to know about,  but alas it was needed for the story (like an online presence called incel - didn't know it was a thing).

Add a 17 year old girl named Saffyre (which is a cool name) and this makes for some interesting dynamics, she is final POV. It was hers that I enjoyed hearing from, as her past comes to light I couldn’t help but have motherly feeling for her. But her actions left me scratching my head at times.

So basically this book is about some odd characters that somehow are connected.
It wasn’t until the last half of the book where I was really invested, that had me doing a marathon read.
I'd call this a darker Lisa Jewell book, I was forewarned back in January when I had the awesome privilege of meeting the author.

While this might not be my favorite Jewell book, that honor goes to Then She Was Gone, though it might change as I continue reading her backlist.

This book was part of my '2020 Reading off my Shelf' Challenge - I was impatient and order via BookDepository.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Audio Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Overwhelmed by tragedy, a woman desperately tries to save her marriage in award-winning author Jennifer Hillier's Little Secrets, a riveting novel of psychological suspense.

All it takes to unravel a life is one little secret...

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family—until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.

Permanently.

Audiobook, 9 hours, 40 min
Published April 21st 2020 
by Macmillan Audio 
4/5 stars

Little Secrets is a parents worst nightmare. One second your child’s hand is firmly in yours and the next gone, 480 seconds is all it took. Now 400 plus days later Marin still relives those seconds over and over again.

I’m glad I went with the audio book for this one, Kirsten Potter is the reader who does a great job bringing this book to life.

Little Secrets is a multi layered story told from the POVs of two women. Marin being one, her character shines through with visits to support groups, a PI, work and friends. It’s full of secrets, relationships and deception. I can’t even begin to image what she went through and the author gave a clear picture of her emotional state that was realistic and relatable.

Kenzie is the other POV, the other woman with an agenda that gave this book a clear view of Marin's husband.  What kind of secrets are both these 2 playing at?

I’ve only read one book by Jennifer Hillier, Jars of Hearts (which I really enjoyed). While this one wasn’t as dark it was suspenseful with the twists and turns that kept me guessing and concluded with a satisfying ending.

Definitely a book I recommend to those that love to get lost in an addictive read.



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Review: Alone in the Woods by Rebecca Behrens

From the author of The Disaster Days comes a thrilling survival story about two former best friends who must work together to stay alive after getting lost in a remote national forest.

Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends...until they aren't. Jocelyn's not sure what happened, but she hopes the annual joint-family vacation in the isolated north woods will be the perfect spot to rekindle their friendship.

But Alex still isn't herself when they get to the cabin. And Jocelyn reaches a breaking point during a rafting trip that goes horribly wrong. When the girls' tube tears it leaves them stranded and alone. And before they know it, the two are hopelessly lost.

Wearing swimsuits and water shoes and with only the contents of their wet backpack, the girls face threats from the elements. And as they spend days and nights lost in the wilderness, they'll have to overcome their fractured friendship to make it out of the woods alive.

Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2020
by Sourcebooks Young Readers
3/5 stars


The story of friendship between Jocelyn (Joss) and Alex (Lexie) and how everything changes over a 2 week separation. Told mostly from Joss’s pov it also jumps back to Alex sharing what happened during those 2 weeks and the rest of the summer before 8th grade.

It was a quick read for me and for the most part I enjoyed myself. Towards the end of their time lost in the woods I’ll admit that it kinda dragged on a little. Joss is somewhat of a nature nerd so the info dumping of animal/nature characteristics matched and I did learn some things. Alex is somewhat of a whiny adolescent and honestly I had a hard time feeling any sympathy for her.

The ending wasn’t what I expected but it worked and to be honest it was a more realistic outcome.

This is my first time reading Rebecca Behrens, I’ve added her to my list of MG authors to be on the lookout for.

Alone in the Woods releases Oct 1st and is available for preorder now.

My thanks to Sourcebooks for an advanced copy (via Netgalley) in the exchange for an honest review.



Monday, September 7, 2020

Review: The Simple Wild (The Simple Wild #1) by K.A. Tucker

 
City girl Calla Fletcher attempts to reconnect with her estranged father, and unwittingly finds herself torn between her desire to return to the bustle of Toronto and a budding relationship with a rugged Alaskan pilot in this masterful new romance from acclaimed author K.A. Tucker.

Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago.

It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published August 7th 2018
 by Atria Books
5/5 stars

How did I not know about KA Tucker before now?!  A Canadian author from close to home, a slew of books out and it was only through a couple Zoom meetings (put on by the Kitchener Public Library) that had a number of authors recommending this book that had me (finally) reading The Simple Wild.

So if I say that if I could I’d give this book more than 5 stars, would that convey my feelings? It’s difficult to find fault with this story. The character development is spot on, realistic and relatable. It’s a book that made me laugh out loud on many occasions, rereading scenes for an additional smile. I was also stirred to tears numerous times and that's a challenge to make happen.

What made this book for me was the writings. Everything revolves around the writing from character development to plot and that was spot on.  Calla and the gang were, relatable and unique giving a wonderful look at the way of life in rural Alaska as well as the hustle and bustle of Toronto living. There were nice little touches that just added that extra sparkle. It's a book about relationship, fractured from the past and those off to rocky starts - how to mend/build before it's too late.

I'm not sure I can adequately share my feelings for this book without giving even a little bit of the story away. The author made me care for everyone and I was sad to see the book end - well that is until the sequel Wild at Heart arrived in my mailbox.

Definitely a book I highly recommend to...well...everyone.

My copy obtained from the public library via Overdrive - though I can see myself purchasing this for my personal library.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Review: The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and da Vinci's Italy by Laura Morelli

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction during World War II.



Milan, 1492
: When a 16-year old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace—and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.

Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back. 

Two women, separated by 500 years, are swept up in the tide of history as one painting stands at the center of their quests for their own destinies.

Paperback, 496 pages
Expected publication: September 8th 2020
 by William Morrow Paperbacks
4.5/5 stars

This is my second book by Laura Morelli, she has written a number of books taking place in Italy - one of my favorite holiday destinations.  These days armchair travel appears to be the norm and this fit the bill nicely.

Yes there are 4 points of view here, it wasn't hard to keep track of, each was unique and interesting.  One just needed to be patient to see how they would intersect.  

In 1939 Edith is placed in a position that goes against everything she believes and struggles throughout the war with her actions. She was authentic, well written showing the control the Nazis had over its citizens.

In 1944 Dominic, a US soldier, has a passion for sketching but sees and experiences heartache that leaves him disillusioned. The Monument Men play a part here and I loved that angle.

Leonardo da Vinci leaves Florence behind journeying to Milan where he is commissioned to paint a portrait that plays center stage. I enjoyed learning of his ambitions which weren’t limited to sculptures and paintings.

Cecilia in 1492 has her dowry wasted away and takes matters into her own hands to avoid the nunnery. Only 16 years old she is driven beyond her years.

There are many layers that don't revolve around the painting that reflect what was taking place in Germany to its citizens, especially those deemed flawed. I loved the number of real historical figures included and yes I did google after I finished. 

The Night Portrait was a refreshing change of scenery for a WW2 book. It's well written, full of passion and rich in history, which again shows the authors passion for the location and art world.

The Night Portrait releases on Sept 8th and is available for preorder. My thanks to both the publisher and author for a print ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, August 31, 2020

Review: The Ghost in the House by Sara O'Leary

What if a ghost were haunting your house? What if you were the ghost?

Everything in Fay's life is perfect--living in the house she dreamed of as a child, married to a man she loves, and planning her life as an artist. Her life seems full of possibility. Then, late one night, Fay realizes that something has gone wrong.

Things have altered in the house and some-how time, and Fay's husband, Alec, seem to have gone on without her. Fay--who thought her life was on the verge of beginning--finds it has abruptly ended. And she comes to learn that sometimes the life you grieve may be your own.

This glimmering and darkly comedic novel explores both the domestic and the existential, delving into the dark heart of marriage and the meaning of a life.

Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 7th 2020
 by Doubleday Canada
3.5/5 stars

This is a quick little book coming in at 190 pages.

It’s hard to put into words my thoughts on this one. It’s a unique story, funny at times but also sad. Faye seemed a little confused in the beginning, kinda like myself but it didn’t take long to grasp the storyline and feel her wide range of emotions. That being said I think another 50 pages or so would have been great to get a good handle on the situation, even to hear from Alex would have been a welcome addition, though I understand the direction the author was going for - which was to get Faye's perspective.

This is my first time reading Canadian author Sara O’Leary and I’ll be in the lookout for more.

This book is part of my 2020 Reading off my Shelf challenge

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

1928

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the "Watchman," she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa's search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day

The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk's shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot's history, she's also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

Kindle Edition
Bethany House
Expected publication: September 1st 2020
4/5 stars

I have been a big fan of Jaime Jo Wright every since reading her debut The House on Foster Hill. She writes dual time period story’s that don’t just have a great mystery but tackles issues that are relevant and usually affects me on a personal level.

The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus is no exception. I’ll confess that circus books are not my thing but because of who penned this one I dove right in. Between the 1928 story line and present day this is a book about courage, of taking a stand but also having the courage to accept assistance.

There is everything that makes for a great mystery - unsolved murder, an old haunted train depot, secrets disappearances and suspicious characters, including a serial killer. All in Jaime Jo Wright fashion everything clicks into place with a satisfying conclusion.

Anyone who loves a good mystery should give her a try. This is what I call Christian Fiction at it’s finest, meaning it isn’t overly preachy but the message of faith, love and finding acceptance is predominant.
“Remember, what to us seems like God’s biggest errors, to Him they are His largest promises.”

My thanks to Bethany House (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Hardcover, 371 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 
by Dutton Books
3/5 stars

I discovered Riley Sager just this past summer. Last Time I Lied is a book I’ve been recommending, it has that nice blend of mystery, suspense and ghosty vibes. Likeable characters and an intricate plot that I loved. Home Before Dark was darker, ghostier (not really a word I know) and creepy but it still worked for me. Going through his back list I cracked open Lock Every Door and I got stuck. Reading just over 100 pages I struggled, my interest waned with the slow pace. I switched over to the audiobook and quickly loved it. A coincidence that the book pickup for? Maybe but I highly recommend the audio.

The Bartholomew is a fictional place, I can certainly envision such a place. A place for high society, mysterious and full of scandals. Jules was an interesting character with a past that she keeps close to the surface.  As weird things happen she becomes entangled in an unimaginable web of betrayal and scariness.

As for the ending...well...I don’t even really know what to say without causing a major spoiler. So suffice to say I have mixed feelings. On one hand it was unique and kinda worked, but also came out of left field. But on the other hand it irked me and if you want to know why follow this link to my spoiler on Goodreads.

Though this might not have been a perfect fit for me it isn’t enough to dis sway me from reading more Riley Sager books.

My copy obtained from the public library

Monday, August 24, 2020

Review: The End of Her by Shari Lapena

The new domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door and Someone We Know .

In upstate New York, Stephanie and Patrick are adjusting to life with their colicky twin babies. The girls are a handful, but Stephanie doesn't mind being a stay-at-home mom, taking care of them while Patrick does the 9-5 to pay the bills.

And when a woman from Patrick's past drops in on them unexpectedly, raising questions about his late first wife, Stephanie supports her husband wholeheartedly. She knows the car accident all those many years ago was just that--an accident. But Erica is persistent, and now she's threatening to go to the police.

Patrick is afraid his job--and his reputation--will be at risk if he doesn't put an end to Erica's questioning immediately. And when the police start digging, Stephanie's trust in her husband begins to falter, and Patrick is primed to lose everything. As their marriage crumbles, Stephanie feels herself coming unglued, and soon she isn't sure what--or who--to believe. Now the most important thing is to protect her girls, but at what cost? 

Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 28th 2020
 by Doubleday Canada
4/5 stars

I really enjoyed a couple of Shari Lapena’s books (that I've read so far) and that is the reason that I went into this one blind.  It's fun and can also be dangerous in terms of not knowing what to expect. 

The End of Her has a number of different points of view. On one hand I had to pay attention but on the other hand I was so curious as to what was going on I couldn’t stop reading. With short chapters it was easy to just read one more and then next thing I knew I was done.

Without going into too many details I devoured this over the weekend. So lets see,  there is the happily married couple, Stephanie and Patrick who are sleep deprived new parents to twins. The story pretty much revolved around them when the past comes back it adds more drama and sets in motion a roller coaster ride of lies and red herrings. Erica Voss is the past that invades not just their lives on a number of different levels. She seems to be the connection to all the plots but is she telling the truth?

 I had trouble liking some of the characters let alone trusting them. As for the ending I couldn’t figure it out, so hats off to Shari Lapena for keeping me in suspense for so long. The ending was neat and tidy but still left me scratching my head a little.

This book was part of my 2020 reading off my shelf challenge


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Review: How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior

A curmudgeonly but charming old woman, her estranged grandson, and a colony of penguins proves it's never too late to be the person you want to be in this rich, heartwarming story from the acclaimed author of Ellie and the Harpmaker.

Eighty-five-year-old Veronica McCreedy is estranged from her family and wants to find a worthwhile cause to leave her fortune to. When she sees a documentary about penguins being studied in Antarctica, she tells the scientists she’s coming to visit—and won’t take no for an answer. Shortly after arriving, she convinces the reluctant team to rescue an orphaned baby penguin. He becomes part of life at the base, and Veronica's closed heart starts to open.

Her grandson, Patrick, comes to Antarctica to make one last attempt to get to know his grandmother. Together, Veronica, Patrick, and even the scientists learn what family, love, and connection are all about.

Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 16th 2020
 by Berkley
4/5 stars

What’s not to love about a feisty older lady with attitude? She is opinionated, has some weird fetishes but ultimately is lonely and while thinking of the future must address the past. Add in an unemployed unknown grandson, Patrick, who smokes pot it’s a great mix of entertainment.

It may sound far fetched, someone hopping on a plane heading to a desolated penguin research facility in the Antarctic- especially when one is 85 years old but sometimes you just need to suspend your disbelief and go with the flow. And it works.

As the story alternates between these two characters Veronica's past comes to light shining light on who she is and how she got there. The penguins are adorable and just add so much to the story.

How the Penguins Saved Veronica is a story of letting go of the past, no matter the pain or ones age and going forward. Of opening your heart and embracing life. It was a fun read, another new author (to me) and has me looking at penguins a little differently now.

This book was part of my 2020 reading off my shelf challenge, obtained in my June 2020 Callistocrate Box

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

Hardcover, 409 pages
Published June 30th 2020 
by Dutton Books
4.5/5

This is my second Riley Sager book, The Last Time I Lied was my first - loved it!

There are 2 different story lines going on. From Maggie’s pov it’s her story as she returns to Baneberry Hall, an abandoned building that used to be home until the family fled in the middle of the night over 20 years ago. Is it haunted? Maggie has very little recollection and the book her father penned, House of Horrors is too unbelievable to be true (that’s the other pov).

My inner voice was already telling Maggie not to return, but alas no one in bookland ever listens when I give my opinions.

This book was darker then Lied, it had that tension, suspense feel throughout. ‘Every house has a story’ and what a story it was. As I dove deeper into the book I honestly I had a hard time figuring things out. The book within the book was a nice touch. Yes I was creeped out a few times, I gave up trying to predict the ending and just enjoyed the ride - through a few times enjoyed wasn’t exactly the term that conveyed my feelings. Atmospheric and tension filled is a good description for this book that I finished off in a couple days.

My reading likes have changed during this pandemic, I find myself reading more thriller, suspense books. These two Riley Sager books fit the bill nicely.

‘My copy obtained from the public library’



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Audio Review: Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen (Six Tudor Queens #3) by Alison Weir

A novel of the devout young woman who became the unwilling object of King Henry VIII's ardor - and the mother of his only son.

In this third book in the epic Six Tudor Queens series, the acclaimed historian and best-selling author brings new insight to this dramatic story, showing how pure fear for her life determined Jane Seymour's actions.

Twenty-five-year-old Jane Seymour wants nothing more than to become a nun. But her ambitious father has forced her to live at court as lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon, a fellow Catholic whom she soon comes to love and admire. So Jane is appalled when King Henry shunts Katherine aside in his lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn, but even more so when he takes Anne's life in his rush to wed - Jane herself!

Unwilling to marry but terrified to resist Henry's advances for fear she might share Anne's fate, and propelled by her family, Jane becomes queen of England a mere 10 days after Anne's execution. She knows she must produce a male heir without fail. Her very life depends on it.

Hardcover, 531 pages
Published May 3rd 2018
 by Headline Review
3.5/5 stars

Jane Seymour, the 3rd wife of Henry VIII and supposedly the one he truly loved (could it be because she gave him a son?).  There is very little historical info about Jane, she left no writings or anything behind to give a true sense of who she was.  The author notes were great on that level.

This is the 3rd book in Alison Weir's series on the wives of good old King Henry VIII and one I was really looking forward to reading.  While the story's do overlap - Jane was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine and again for Anne Boleyn, but coming from the point of view of Jane just gave another view of this time.  I enjoyed getting to know Jane through her life before arriving at court, her plans to be a nun along with her brothers (whom I am sure will show up in subsequent books).

As always I enjoy Alison Weir's writing, her knowledge of the time brings the era to life and the author notes explain some of the issues that could be up for debate. Heavily researched  I enjoyed getting to know Jane even though I felt the book dragged here and there a bit.  Definitely recommend for Tudor fans.

This book was part of my 2020 Reading of my Shelf Challenge #36

 


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Review: The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal

For fans of
The Paris Wife and The Crown , this stunning novel tells the true story of the American divorcĂ©e who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.

Bryn Turnbull takes readers from the raucous glamour of the Paris Ritz and the French Riviera to the quiet, private corners of St. James’s Palace in this sweeping story of love, loyalty and betrayal.
 
“Brimming with scandal and an equal amount of heart…a sweeping yet intimate look at the lives of some of history’s most notorious figures from Vanderbilts to the Prince of Wales… A must-read.”—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of When We Left Cuba and Next Year in Havana

“Bryn Turnbull takes a story we think we know and turns it on its head, with captivating results… A beautifully written, meticulously researched and altogether memorable debut.”—Jennifer Robson, USA TODAY bestselling author of The Gown

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published July 21st 2020 
 by MIRA 
3.5/5 stars
 
The woman before Wallis Simpson is Thelma Morgan and this is her story.  

From the title some might believe this to be a book about the royal family and abdication of King Edward. But really its about Thelma, her relationship with twin sister Gloria, her husband Duke and yes Prince Edward.  I'll admit most of my knowledge of this time came through watching The Crown which has piqued my interest - hence why I wanted to read this book.  In 1926 Gloria Vanderbilt is playing matchmaker for Thelma then jump to 1934 and the custody battle of the century is about to take place.  There is a lot that goes on in those years, I was kept on my toes with the transitions and the wide cast of characters.

The author definitely researched quite thoroughly, as the title says A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilt's and Royal Scandal.  But there is more, it's not just the lifestyle of those family's but society in general, even going through the depression it was interesting to read what the rich and famous were up to. How they hid indiscretions, or not. At times I might have felt it progressed a little slowly but all in all an enjoyable read.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Review: The Last Flight by Julie Clark

The Last Flight
Two women. Two Flights. One last chance to disappear.

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he's not above using his staff to track Claire's every move, making sure she's living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn't know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva's flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it's no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva's identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

The Last Flight is the story of two women―both alone, both scared―and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 23rd 2020
 by Sourcebook
5/5 stars 

It’s not that often that I can polish off a book in like a day and a half but honestly I had no choice with The Last Flight. Now I understand all the hype and 5 star reviews.

  The tension starts right away and doesn’t let go till the very end. I was like holding my breath through the last third of the book - enduring the wrath of some nasty mosquitoes along the way while eating cookies so my nails would stay intact.

 A chance meeting, a snap decision and viola Claire’s life is turned upside down. It needed a turn but it wasn’t what she had painstakingly planned and what Claire got was not the fresh start she was looking for. Told from the point of view of both Claire’s and Eva, we can’t forget about Eva. She tells her story of the previous 6 months.

 The Last Flight is the story of 2 women each taking drastic steps to get out bad situations. It’s about friendship, taking a stand and longing. It’s about standing strong when it is so hard to.

 Definitely, definitely (yea I said that twice) a book I highly recommend to those that love a good suspense physiological thriller. 

 This book is part of my 2020 reading off my shelf challenge #35

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Review: The Switch by Beth O'Leary

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch…

Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen's house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.

But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

Hardcover, 328 pages
Published April 16th 2020
by Quercus
4/5 stars

 

The Flatshare is one of my favorites reads this year. In fact, it might actually be my first rom/com, what have I been missing, right? So it only stands to reason that I preorder Beth O'Leary's new book The Switch from the UK. Release dates can be earlier there and BookDepository offers free delivery worldwide. A win-win.

Now the wonderful folks at Netgalley have launched a new app and offer audiobooks for review. It gets better...The Switch was available to listen to.  How could I say no to that? Well, I didn't and decided that a test of the app and a combination read/ listen was in order.

However, in the end, I ended up just reading it. The readers were wonderful in the audio but I just felt I’d enjoy the book more reading it myself.  Obviously this is my issue because most loved the audio.

The Switch is told from the pov of grandmother Ellen and her granddaughter Leena which gave this book a nice contrast in the narrative. Where Ellen is spunky and rather fearless in her adventures, Leena is burdened with past hurts but hid behind a cloud of keeping busy trying to ignore them.

The Switch is a delicious rom/com that tackles grief. Is that even possible? It takes a talented author that can do that with respect to the situation and make it work. Grief is such an individual thing, everyone handles it their own way and this book showed the effect it has on others.  I think I would have loved a little more interaction between a couple of players here on that level. But all in all, this was a great read and one I recommend.

Well done Beth O’Leary, you have cemented yourself as a go-to author, can’t wait to see what comes next...actually Road Trip does in 2021.

This book was part of my 2020 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #29

 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Review: The Giant: A Novel of Michelangelo's David by Laura Morelli

The Giant: A Novel of Michelangelo's David

As a colossal statue takes shape in Renaissance Florence, the lives of a master sculptor and a struggling painter become stunningly intertwined.

Florence, 1500. Fresco painter Jacopo Torni longs to make his mark in the world. But while his peers enjoy prestigious commissions, his meager painting jobs are all earmarked to pay down gambling debts.

When Jacopo hears of a competition to create Florence's greatest sculpture, he pins all his hopes on a collaboration with his boyhood companion, Michelangelo Buonarroti. But will the frustrated artist ever emerge from the shadow of his singularly gifted friend?

 
 
 
Paperback, 349 pages
Published May 12th 2020 
 by The Scriptorium 
4/5 stars
 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Review: Here and Now by Santa Montefiore

Here and Now
From internationally bestselling author Santa Montefiore—a touching and bittersweet intergenerational story about family and the power of memory.

Meet Marigold and Dennis, two happily married empty-nesters in their late sixties. They should be enjoying their golden years in the idyllic English village where they live. But when their two grown daughters, Daisy and Suze, move back into the family home, both mother and father must learn how to deal with the upheaval.

Meanwhile, as Daisy and Suze soak in the familiar comforts of home, they soon discover that their mother isn’t quite the same woman she was a few years ago. Sure, she is still kind-hearted and always willing to help, but something about their mom is different, and it’s becoming harder and harder for the family to ignore. For the first time in their lives, Dennis and his daughters find themselves caring for Marigold rather than the other way around.

Here and Now is a gorgeously evocative novel brimming with characters who are so recognizable they’ll walk right off the page and into your heart. This is a novel about what it means to grow up and to grow wise, and how the new generation learns to carry family memories and hope into the future.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published July 9th 2020
by Simon & Schuster
4/5 stars

Santa Montefiore is a go to author for me. It’s not just the stories but her writing that draws me in. Usually there is the historical elements that I love but with Here and Now she slows down with a family drama that was authentic and emotional.

Marigold was happy with her life, marriage, children, her own shop and then she started to forget and misplace things, she forgets names and faces and promises are unintentional broken. While there were times it reminded me of Still Alice, Here and Now had the added point of view through the eyes of her daughter Daisy.  Daisy has moved back home after being away for a number of years, she sees changes that others didn’t notice or don’t want to accept. Her view rounded out the story nicely.

Hearing from Marigold as she struggles with a wide range of emotions - confusion, denial, avoidance and ignorance, the family watches with the same set of anxiety.

As someone who has experienced this with a parent I couldn't help but connect with the characters on so many levels. Whether the frustration of words on the tip of your tongue, a walk with purpose and the destination that disappears into thin air. Or from the other side sitting with your mom who doesn't know who you are. So yes this was an emotional story.

Here and Now is a well written story that releases in Canada/US in a couple of weeks.

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


Cover Reveal: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer...

March 9th 2021
by William Morrow Paperbacks
Paperback, 400 pages


To preorder follow the links at Harper Collins here

Monday, August 3, 2020

Review: He Started It by Samantha Downing

He Started It
Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven't all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we'll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It's even harder when you're all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won't stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there's a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.
 

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 21st 2020
by Berkley
4.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Samantha Downing book and it’s a ride that I’m not going to be able to forget for a while.

I’m just going to come out and say that this was a whacked-out story that I couldn’t stop reading. Usually I’m not a fan of ‘tell’ verse 'show' books but this one worked so well I didn’t even realize how telling it was.

So picture this, 3 estranged siblings are forced onto a road trip, kinda sorta similar to one they did 20 years ago but different. Throw in a couple of spouses, a secret diary, a black truck and a mitt full of secrets and lies. In a nut shell that is He Started It.

With nice short chapters it wasn’t hard to just read another chapter, sneak one here and there until finally I sat for 2 hours to finish it off. What a ride!

The characters are so flawed and at time unlikable and comical - what a bunch. The story itself is so messed up as it jumps back and forth in time that it totally worked. The mystery was...well mysterious and I didn’t have a clue what to expect nor could I predict the ending.

So hats off to my introduction to Samantha Downing - I’m off now to check out her previous book, My Lovely Wife.

My copy was obtained through my local public library.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Review: The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she finds herself drawn to Greenwich Village's new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women's rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she's forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she's wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie's running begin disappearing from the library's famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library's history.
 

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published August 4th, 2020
by Dutton
4/5 stars

The setting of The Lions of Fifth Avenue is the iconic New York City Library. A book about books taking place in a library, talk about an invitation for intrigue. Fiona Davis is not a new author for me, I have read all her previous books, each with a unique setting, dual time periods and interesting characters, bringing history to life with the different eras.

Beginning in 1913, its a different world for women as they face criticism and hostility for wanting to take control of their lives, whether from strangers or family. To depart from the traditional roles that have been around for centuries, to think for themselves and have a say in what they want to do.  Davis portrayed that nicely with Laura Lyons as her family lives in an apartment within the NYC library. 

In 1993 Lyons grand daughter, Sadie, is going through her own trials one of which is the disappearances of valuable books from the same library.  A coincidence?

There is a lot going on in this book, from the struggle for identity, acceptance, heartache and mystery that spans centuries. I enjoyed reading about the library, its procedures, rules and the stacks. Both in the past and current settling.  While I found the story slowed down for a bit it did pick up for the last past that made up for it. 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue releases tomorrow.  My digital copy was provided by the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.





Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan

Across the Winding River
A woman unlocks the mystery of her father’s wartime past in a moving novel about secrets, sacrifice, and the power of love by the bestselling author of Daughters of the Night Sky.

Beth Cohen wants to make the most of the months she has left with her elderly father, Max. His only request of his daughter is to go through the long-forgotten box of memorabilia from his days as a medic on the western front. Then, among his wartime souvenirs, Beth finds a photograph of her father with an adoring and beautiful stranger—a photograph worth a thousand questions.

It was 1944 when Max was drawn into the underground resistance by the fearless German wife of a Nazi officer. Together, she and Max were willing to risk everything for what they believed was right. Ahead of them lay a dangerous romance, a dream of escape, and a destiny over which neither had control.

But Max isn’t alone in his haunting remembrances of war. In a nearby private care home is a fragile German-born woman with her own past to share. Only when the two women meet does Beth realize how much more to her father there is to know, all the ways in which his heart still breaks, and the closure he needs to heal it.

Kindle Edition, 301 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2020
by Lake Union Publishing
4/5 stars

Aimie K. Runyan has long been a go-to author for me.  First introduced with her Canadian HF Series, Daughters of New France, I've watched her transition to WW2 HF with her last few releases.  She is one of the few authors that I've managed to keep up-to-date with each new book.

Across the Winding River is new ground with 3 story-lines and characters that overlap, it might sound overwhelming but it isn't.  Taking place in Germany during the war I was treated to a view of sisters, strong sisters, sisters with secrets that if they came to light could (and most likely) have deadly consequences.  It was a glimpse at what life was like for those that didn't willing follow to Hitler.

I always find the author's writing engaging, well researched and opens my mind to parts of history I'm unfamiliar with. Across the Winding River is a story of love and loss, taking risks and perseverance. Another entertaining read and one I recommend.

My thanks to Lake Union Publishing (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

02_Promised to the Crown

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night Swim

In this new thriller from the author of The Escape Room, a podcast host covering a controversial trial in a small town becomes obsessed with a brutal crime that took place there years before.

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name—and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating—but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered—and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2020
by St. Martin's Press
4.5/5 stars

I knew going into The Night Swim that there were triggers but not to the extent it was, definitely a book that will stay with me.

To say this is an emotional story doesn't really give it the extreme it is due. It's one thing to have the current day story but to add the 25-year- old one really adds that extra punch.  Told mainly with 2 points of view, a current day with podcaster (is that a word?) Rachel, she hides behind a face that is unknown even though her voice is.  The mysterious notes and what they reveal goes back 25 years where things aren't as they appeared. I’ll admit that the podcast angle isn’t a favorite but with this story I get the role it played making it a good fit.

The Night Swim is a sad, disturbing and emotional story that had me frustrated, angry, heartbroken and out for justice. There is some serious subject matter that the author handled authentically with feeling and respect. It is well written with characters that I couldn't help feeling for.  I think I read the last 70% in like a day, not only did I need to know what was going to happen but was curious as to the author's direction, I didn't know what to expect with the ending.  Maybe I will stop right there before I reveal too much.

Megan Goldin is a new author to me, her novel The Escape Room is getting rave reviews, so that is now added to my TBR pile.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press for a digital arc (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Audio review: The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm by Hilarie Burton Morgan

The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm
The beloved actress and star of One Tree Hill, White Collar, and Lethal Weapon, Hilarie Burton, tells the inspiring story of leaving Hollywood for a radically different kind of life in upstate New York with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan—a celebration of community, family, and the value of hard work in small town America.

While Hilarie Burton’s hectic lifestyle as an actress in New York and Los Angeles gave her a comfortable life, it did not fulfill her spiritually or emotionally. After the birth of their first son, she and her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the star of The Walking Dead, decided to make a major change: they bought a working farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and began a new chapter in their lives.

The Rural Diaries chronicles her inspiring story of farm life: chopping wood, making dandelion wine, building chicken coops. Burton looks back at her transition from urban to country living—discovering how to manage a farm while raising her son and making friends with her new neighbors. She mixes charming stories of learning to raise alpacas and buying and revitalizing the town’s beloved candy store, Samuel’s Sweet Shoppe with good friend Paul Rudd and his wife Julie, with raw observations on the ups and downs of marriage and her struggles with infertility. Burton also includes delicious recipes that can be made with fresh ingredients at home.

Burton’s charisma, wide eyed attitude, and fortitude—both internal and physical—propels this moving story of transformation and self-discovery. The Rural Diaries honors the values and lifestyle of small-town America and offers inspiration for anyone longing to embark on their own unconventional journey.

Audible Audio, Unabridged , 8 hours
Published May 5th 2020
by HarperAudio
3/5 stars

I'll confess that One Tree Hill was one of my guilty pleasures way back when.  I didn't realize that Hilarie Burton married Denny Duquette from Grey's Anatomy fame until I started listening to this audio book.

It's not a long book coming in just shy of 8 hours (or 227 pages).  It would have been nice to have the book to see pictures and maybe that would have bettered my thoughts on this book, I'm not sure.  Suffice to say I am going against the majority that loved this book.

For me when reading an autobiography/memoir I expect to walk away from it gaining some inspiration, encouragement but instead I felt it was just a story of a family and some recipes - which really don't work well in audio.  The author read the book herself which worked.

All in all I liked it but obviously missing something other readers caught.

This audio was listened to through my Scribd app.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Review: The Suicide House (Rory Moore/Lane Phillips #2) by Charlie Donlea

The Suicide House
A Publishers Weekly Summer Reads 2020 Editors' Pick

A chilling murder in a prestigious prep school is at the heart of this riveting new novel from acclaimed author Charlie Donlea, featuring forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips.

Inside the walls of Indiana's elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont's students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house--to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn't ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win--or to survive. . . .

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2020
by Kensington Publishing Corporation
3.5/5 stars

The Suicide House is the 2nd book in the RoryMoore/Lane Phillips Series.  I have not read the previous book, Some Choose Darkness, and feel this works fine as a stand-alone.  However saying that I will definitely be reading the previous book as my curiosity to Rory's past is begging for an answer.

The title, cover and blurb give enough clues that this will be a dark story. Especially when an abandoned house plays center stage.  I read this in a matter of days, having the need to find out what was going on.  The chapters aren't long making it perfect for JustOneMoreChapter.

The Suicide House is a complex story with many layers, characters and even time periods. Yes, I kept notes.  It's a slow-paced story with a couple of mysteries on the go, though in the end it mostly works out. Yea there were a couple of things that didn't sit well.  But all in all, this was well written and intricately pieced together.  The author kept me entertained with some of his metaphors. I liked Rory and Lane but didn't feel they got enough time with this story. Having not read book #1 so I can't say if this is the norm.

Charlie Donlea is a new author to me, one I've been hearing good things about.  Will be reading more of his books.

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