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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Audio Review: Alexander Graham Bell by Edwin S. Grosvenor, Morgan Wesson

". . . rarely have inventor and invention been better served than in this book."
– New York Times Book Review

Here, Edwin Grosvenor, American Heritage's publisher and Bell's great-grandson, tells the dramatic story of the race to invent the telephone and how Bell's patent for it would become the most valuable ever issued. He also writes of Bell's other extraordinary inventions: the first transmission of sound over light waves, metal detector, first practical phonograph, and early airplanes, including the first to fly in Canada. And he examines Bell's humanitarian efforts, including support for women's suffrage, civil rights, and speeches about what he warned would be a "greenhouse effect" of pollution causing global warming.


Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published May 12th 2016
by New Word City, Inc. (first published September 1st 1997)

Audiobook : Narrated by: Donald Corren
Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins


I wanted to read more non fiction in 2020, didn't really happen as this book is only my 2nd one...maybe in 2021.  I was attracted to the life of Alexander Graham Bell not just because his roots are close to home here in Southern Ontario, but rather to know more about him. Knowing next to nothing other then the invention of the telephone I was intrigued to learn more.

The author is the great grandson of Bell which just added that extra spark.  Beginning with Bell's early years in England and Scotland and progressing to his relocation to North America.  I was surprised with all the different things he was involved with and the people he rubbed shoulders with.  I don't recall any of this from history classes, especially how the telephone is the most valuable patent ever issued.  The blurb above lists some of his other accomplishments.  

It was a relatively quick read in that the audio was 6 1/2 hours long but it did pack a punch with not just his business adventures but personal life as well.  Not just an entertaining listen but educational without being bogged down with too many details but a great look at the life of Alexander Graham Bell.

My audiobook was from my personal library via Audible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Review: Before the Crown by Flora Harding


Before the crown there was a love story…

Windsor Castle, 1943

As war rages across the world, Princess Elizabeth comes face to face with the dashing naval officer she first met in London nine years before.

One of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, Philip represents everything she has always been taught to avoid. Instability. Audacity. Adventure.

But when the king learns of their relationship, the suitability of the foreign prince is questioned by all at court.

He is the risk she has never been allowed to take. The risk not even the shadow of the crown will stop her from taking…

Step through the palace gates and discover a captivating historical novel of royal secrets and forbidden love exploring the tempestuous courtship between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the wake of WWII.

Kindle Edition, 267 pages
Published Dec. 10th, 2020 
by Harper Collins, Australia
4/5 stars


Fans of The Crown will enjoy a more detailed look at the courtship of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Beginning when she was only 13 years old (Philip is 6 years older) it was an eye opener into proper protocol for the royal family.

I’m not really what you’d call a diehard royal follower but I find them an interesting bunch - tuning in to weddings and such. While this is a work of fiction it was an entertaining read that had me feeling a wide range of emotions into the plight of these 2 individuals whose life choices needed approval for the good of the realm.

Before the Crown was a slower paced book and I enjoyed glimpsing inside Buckingham Palace, seeing another side of King George VI and his wife and even Princess Margaret. Also this book explored more of Prince Philip’s background through family and conflicts that arose.

This is the author’s debut, so hats off to writing a story where we all know the ending already. The journey to the alter was not smooth, there were obstacles to overcome, approval to be won and internal struggles to be fought. A wonderful debut that will appeal to fans of the Royal family and those that love a fairy tale ending.

My thanks to Harper Collins (Australia) for an advance digital copy (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review: Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life. The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family that couldn't be put back together. It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over. She doesn't want to be found. Or at least, that's the story. But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

The night Molly disappeared began with a storm, running out of gas, and a man in a truck offering her a ride to town. With him is a little girl who reminds her of the daughter she lost years ago. It feels like a sign. And Molly is overcome with the desire to be home, with her family—no matter how broken it is. She accepts the ride. But when the doors are locked shut, Molly begins to suspect she has made a terrible mistake.

When a new lead comes in after the search has ended, Molly's daughter, Nicole, begins to wonder. Nothing about her mother's disappearance makes sense.

Nicole returns to the small, desolate town where her mother was last seen to find the truth. The locals are kind and eager to help. The innkeeper. The bartender. Even the police. Until secrets begin to reveal themselves and she comes closer to the truth about that night—and the danger surrounding her.

Hardcover, 342 pages
Published September 15th 2020
 by St. Martin's Press
4/5 stars

Don't Look for Me is a story of grief and the effect it has on everyone in the family.  Sometimes its just easier to blame somebody else then to deal with it.  So on the 5th anniversary of her daughter's death does Molly Clark deliberately walk away or does something more sinister happen?

Don't Look for Me is a mystery with some unreliable characters. There are a lot of characters to keep straight but it's possible especially as the desire to read just one more chapter was prevalent the whole way through.  With enough red herrings I was kept theorising over and over again.

This is my first time readying Wendy Was, I picked this up from the library after reading rave comments on social media, so fingers crossed that it would live up to the hype.  It did!!  If you are looking for a fast paced mystery I recommend giving this one a turn.



Monday, November 16, 2020

Review/Giveaway: His Castilian Hawk by Anna Belfrage

For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.

Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.

Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.

Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years.

Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.

Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?

Publication Date: September 28, 2020
Troubador Publishing
4.5/5 stars

Genre: Historical Fiction

Available on Amazon


I was excited to hear about this new series by Anna Belfrage. Her Graham Saga is one of my absolute favourite series - historical, family drama, mystery, adventure all mixed with some time travel.

His Castilian Hawk is the start of another series set during the reign of the first King Edward and it’s during the Welsh conflict that this book centres on. It didn’t take long to get sweep away into the pages. With an unlikely couple, Robert FitzStephan and Eleanor d’Outremer, who are forced upon each other. I felt a real connection with these two, different backgrounds both conflicted, one committed to the King and the other part Welsh. Throw in a disgruntled Edith, some treason worthy secrets and it’s a match well worth watching.

With so many layers going on Anna has once again delivered a yummy historical drama that was authentic, emotional and entertaining. Her knowledge of history shines through once again. There are scenes of battle and of love - if you've read any of her books you know exactly what I mean.

I can’t wait to see what’s next as this series continues with The Castilian Pomegranate. If you haven't read an Anna Belfrage book I highly recommend both The Graham Saga and The King's Greatest Enemy

My thanks to Amy at HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour. Also to the author for a print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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About the Author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.

Find out more about Anna on her website or on her Amazon page. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


click on banner for more stops, including interviews and excerpts on this tour



Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of His Castilian Hawk! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on November 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Castilian Hawk


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Review: The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson

A broken family, a house of secrets—an entrancing tale of love and courage set during the Second World War.

After Rebecca’s mother dies, she must sort through her empty flat and come to terms with her loss. As she goes through her mother’s mail, she finds a handwritten envelope. In it is a letter that will change her life forever.

Olivia, her mother’s elderly cousin, needs help to save her beloved home. Rebecca immediately goes to visit Olivia in Cornwall only to find a house full of secrets—treasures in the attic and a mysterious tunnel leading from the cellar to the sea, and Olivia, nowhere to be found.

As it turns out, the old woman is stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her house is made habitable again. Rebecca sets to work restoring the home to its former glory, but as she peels back the layers of paint and grime, she uncovers even more buried secrets—secrets from a time when the Second World War was raging, when Olivia was a young woman, and when both romance and danger lurked around every corner...

A sweeping and utterly spellbinding tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of war and the lengths to which she’ll go to protect those she loves against the most unexpected of enemies.

Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: November 17th 2020 
by Simon Schuster
4/5 stars

Right from the beginning I was draw in after being introduced to Rebecca. A sympathetic character mourning the loss of her mother. The old house overlooking the sea is one I would classify as a character, it had secrets to share because we all know secrets don’t stay hidden forever.

Jump over to a distant relative, Olivia, elderly and a force to be reckoned with. Her personality was not just nasty, her companion, Gabriel, well... lets just say they made a good pair. The past story line interested me, I was curious as to why Olivia was the way she was. What happened during WW2 in Cornwall?

This is my first time reading Jane Johnson (not for lack of desire, I have a couple books on my shelf). As the puzzle pieces clicked into place I find myself anxious to read more of her books. Her characters are authentic with issues relevant today as they were in the past. An interesting plot that kept me guessing

The Sea Gate is a story of the war that extends past Europe, it’s about discovering oneself and coming to terms with the past. New beginnings and heartache. While I am usually partial to the past story lines the present day one had me just as intrigued.

The Sea Gate releases next week and is available for preorder.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster for a print ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cover Reveal: Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham

 One of my highly anticipated books of 2021 has revealed the cover and blurb (and I want now).


Letters Across the Sea is the next book by bestselling historical fiction writer Genevieve Graham.


Letters Across the Sea is the story of a Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour who are growing up in Toronto, against the backdrop of the Depression, and then the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and a wave of hate that would ignite the Second World War.

Graham, who is from Nova Scotia, has written several novels that highlight Canadian history. Her other books include At the Mountain's Edge, Tides of Honour, Come From Away and The Forgotten Home Child.

Letters Across the Sea will be available on April 27, 2021.

You can read an excerpt from Letters Across the Sea by clicking here

It's about the last stand during the Second World War, when Canadians fought against the Japanese in Hong Kong in 1941.

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Monday, November 2, 2020

The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge #0) by Ken Follett

It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages. England is facing attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Those in power bend justice according to their will, regardless of ordinary people and often in conflict with the king. Without a clear rule of law, chaos reigns.

In these turbulent times, three characters find their lives intertwined. A young boatbuilder's life is turned upside down when the only home he's ever known is raided by Vikings, forcing him and his family to move and start their lives anew in a small hamlet where he does not fit in. . . . A Norman noblewoman marries for love, following her husband across the sea to a new land, but the customs of her husband's homeland are shockingly different, and as she begins to realize that everyone around her is engaged in a constant, brutal battle for power, it becomes clear that a single misstep could be catastrophic. . . . A monk dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a center of learning that will be admired throughout Europe. And each in turn comes into dangerous conflict with a clever and ruthless bishop who will do anything to increase his wealth and power.

Hardcover, 913 pages
Published September 15th 2020
 by Viking
4.5/5 stars

 Pillars of the Earth is one of my favourite reads, I love getting lost in a story with characters that I've come to connect and cheer for.  Add the historical element and well...I'm in my happy place. We so much hype and positive feedback about this new book I find it hard to write a review.

With The Evening and the Morning I was once again ready to me immersed though it has been awhile since I've tackled a book this size. I will confess that I finished the last 300 pages by listening to the audio book.  John Lee is the reader and again did a stellar job.

I was pulled right in with the first chapter, a Viking attack is the start of a journey for a young man left with nothing.  Follett had the right blend of history, setting and customs that kept me entertained.  There was heartache, love and betrayal, trust issues, violence and power struggles that kept me on my toes. The characters were developed nicely, and even though this had a large cast it wasn't hard to keep everyone straight.  Definitely a great read during this weird year of 2020 to get lost within the pages off.

Even though this is a prequel there is no reason to read Pillars of the Earth first. I might do a reread (via audio book) of Pillars before proceeding with World Without End.

This book is part of my 2020 Reading off my Shelf Challenge.





Saturday, October 31, 2020

Review: Horrid by Katrina Leno

Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiralling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all -- it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more... horrid?

Hardcover, Owlcrate Edition, 322 pages
Published September 15th 2020 by 
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
3.5/5 stars

I went into this read blind, no idea what it was about. If it wasn’t for the fact it showed up in my September OwlCrate box I don’t think I would have given it the time of day - I mean look at that cover (not a fan).

Moving clear across the country is how Jane’s story begins. I enjoyed the writing, it was my first time reading Katrina Leno. She grabbed me right away with some quirkyness (don’t think that’s a word) and a character that I felt compassion for.

There is this old family home that’s been empty for a couple years. There is the history that this small town remembers and some hostile people. There are the things her mother won’t share and things that go bump in the night. All the makings for a creepy read, perfect for this time of year.

As the story developed I’ll admit to being stumped as to what was going on, so hats off to the author for keeping me in the dark. Horrid had the ghosty vibes, secrets and things that go creak along with the unexplainable. 

It was a solid 4 stars until I got to the ending. I was left with some unanswered questions that had me scratching my head. I get the conclusion but in hindsight left wondering about some issues. That being said it could very well just be me as there are lots of 5 stars out there for this read.

This book was part of my 2020 Reading Off my Shelf Challenge

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Audio Review: The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her baby brothers behind.

Bernice Groves has become lost in grief and bitterness since her baby died from the Spanish flu. Watching Pia leave her brothers alone, Bernice makes a shocking, life-altering decision. It becomes her sinister mission to tear families apart when they’re at their most vulnerable, planning to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

Waking in a makeshift hospital days after collapsing in the street, Pia is frantic to return home. Instead, she is taken to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum – the first step in a long and arduous journey. As Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost in the months and years that follow, Pia must confront her own shame and fear, risking everything to see justice – and love – triumph at last. Powerful, harrowing, and ultimately exultant, The Orphan Collector is a story of love, resilience, and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

Paperback, 304 pages
Audiobook, 15 hours, 51 minutes
Published July 28th 2020
 by Kensington Publishing Corp.
4/5 stars

I went the audio version for one main reason- I anticipated the emotional impact this book would have on me and knew time was lacking for a proper sitdown read. I knew once started I'd need to finish. That being said I didn’t read the blurb but judging from comments on social media and the title I got a feeling of what was to come.

The audio, which comes in at 15 plus hours fit perfectly into my plans for the week, - I was painting, painting and a little more painting. My gut instinct was that once I started I would need to finish, which is exactly what happened.

The Orphan Collector begins in 1918 and the Spanish flu has broken out, kinda fit right in with the world today minus social media. I connected right away with Pia. The author put me right there, I felt the emotional and physical struggles she was going through. I should add that she is only 13 years old. The story was told through her eyes as well as Bernice. I didn’t like her much even though lost in her own grief is no excuse for what she does.  Both are authentic characters.

I won’t go into the events that transpired, I went in blind and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Suffice to say this is a captivating story, heartbreaking and sad. Remember it’s based around history and through nurse Bernice is fictional I am sure things similar could have happened.

Ellen Marie Wiseman is a new author for me, I like her pose and ability to draw me in with a unique story set during a time of turmoil. Her knowledge of the era is evident. The Orphan Collector is a well written book that has me searching for the authors backlist.

My audio copy was through  Scribd.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Review: Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti

Haunted by her sister’s disappearance, a troubled woman becomes consumed by past secrets in this gripping thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year.

When Hannah Maloney’s aunt dies in a car accident, she returns to her family’s castle in the Catskills and the epicenter of a childhood trauma: her sister’s unsolved disappearance. It’s been seventeen years, and though desperate to start a new life with her fiancĂ©, Hannah is compelled to question the events of her last summer at Brackenhill.

When a human bone is found near the estate, Hannah is convinced it belongs to her long-lost sister. She launches her own investigation into that magical summer that ended in a nightmare. As strange happenings plague the castle, Hannah uncovers disturbing details about the past and startling realizations about her own repressed childhood memories.

Fueled by guilt over her sister’s vanishing, Hannah becomes obsessed with discovering what happened all those years ago, but by the time Hannah realizes some mysteries are best left buried, it’s too late to stop digging. Overwhelmed by what she has exposed, Hannah isn’t sure her new life can survive her old ghosts.

Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2020
 by Thomas & Mercer
3/5 stars

This book had a great premise- a missing sister, creepy castle and an unexpected death. Perfect for this time of year.

It started out with a bang and even the first couple of chapters kept up the momentum. It was atmospheric and the writing kept that feeling throughout, that being said there were aspects that left me wondering - like the basement. The castle setting had more of an English feel to me vs in US, but whatever.

Hannah was an unreliable narrator, she told the story with flash backs as her relationship with her sister is revealed.  I couldn’t connect to her, her behaviour was too flighty, impulsive and didn’t always jive with her thoughts. Her relationship and treatment with her fiancĂ© was odd and I felt sorry for him. .

All in all I kept reading because I was genuinely curious about what happened in the past. But there were scenes that left me confused (one I think I've blocked from memory) and situations unrealistic. The pacing slowed down and to be honest the ending left me somewhat confused with unanswered questions.

Girls of Brackenhill releases Nov 1st.  My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Review: The Arctic Fury: A Novel by Greer Macallister

A dozen women join a secret 1850's Arctic expedition—and a sensational murder trial unfolds when some of them don't come back.

Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband's lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge.

A year later, Virginia stands trial for murder. Survivors of the expedition willing to publicly support her sit in the front row. There are only five. What happened out there on the ice?

Set against the unforgiving backdrop of one of the world's most inhospitable locations, USA Today bestselling author Greer Macallister uses the true story of Lady Jane Franklin's tireless attempts to find her husband's lost expedition as a jumping-off point to spin a tale of bravely, intrigue, perseverance and hope.

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: December 1st 2020
by Sourcebooks Landmark
3/5 stars

The Arctic Fury had me with that cover.   I got the chills just looking at it and I'm coveting that jacket/cape - looks like the perfect thing for the location. From the blurb I found it hard to imagine a dozen women (or anyone for that matter) braving the Arctic elements in search of Franklin.

It's the mid 1850's when Victoria is approached and takes on the challenge to discover the fate of the Franklin exhibition.  I had hoped this was based on fact but alas, while there were multiple searches made for the crew this isn't one of them.  

Told with a dual narrative that are not too far apart, time wise.  The journey is told mostly via Victoria but also a few snippets from a couple of the other women - that I liked and wished for more, just to connect and really get to know the different personalities on board.  That being said there is a large cast of characters to keep track of. The interaction I was hoping for didn't happen till later on and for me that might have been a little too late to get a true picture of the relationships.

The other narrative was the murder trial and Victoria's incarceration.  That was a little slow moving and repetitive in terms of accommodations and also frustrating to read, so hats off to the author for creating that kind of emotion in this reader.

Greer Macallister created an atmosphere story that reflected the times, from the streets of Boston, paddling the lakes, the cold of the north and finally back to Boston.  The Arctic Fury was an interesting concept which will appeal to readers that like something off the beaten path.

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



Thursday, October 22, 2020

Review: The Woman Outside My Door by Rachel Ryan

 From an unforgettable new voice in suspense fiction, The Woman Outside My Door is a thrilling page-turner about a young mother who can’t shake the feeling that her son’s “imaginary” friend is putting him in very real danger, and she will stop at nothing to keep him safe—perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Mary Kubica.


All children have imaginary friends, Georgina tells herself. It’s perfectly normal, and they all grow out of it in the end. But when her seven-year-old son, Cody, tells her about New Granny, the new friend he’s met in the park, Georgina is instantly suspicious. Something—call it maternal instinct—tells her he isn’t making it up.

But maybe Georgina is losing her mind. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. And with her own mother’s recent death leaving her bereft and trying to cope with life as a busy working mom, it’s no wonder she’s feeling paranoid that Cody has invented a “New Granny” to replace his beloved grandmother.

Her husband, Bren, becomes the voice of reason, assuring Georgina that it’s just a game, the product of their son’s overactive imagination. But what if Cody’s imaginary friend is not so imaginary after all?

Kindle, 288 pages
Expected publication: November 24th 2020 
by Simon & Schuster Canada
3/5 stars

It's always fun discovering a new author, especially when highly recommended by some of my favourite authors.

The first half of The Woman Outside My Door might have been slow but it was interesting as Cody begins talking about his New Granny six months following the death of his real one. Things were a little repetitive for that first half, which I took as the stage being set for the last half. 

There was lots of gas lighting and red herrings going on that paved the way for different outcomes. Everyone was suspicious in my eyes. Was Georgina losing it? Or was Cody, though he seemed older than his seven years. The husband was just bland and untrustworthy. Perfect setting, right? 

Things changed about 52% and I finished that day, needing to find out if my suspicions were correct. Were they? The fun part, for this reader, is playing sleuth, unravelling the clues and seeing if I can solve the mystery before the big reveal.  Didn't happen here,  hop on over to my Goodreads review and see my thoughts hidden by the spoiler button

This is the authors debut and while I wasn’t thrilled with the endings execution she did write an engaging story that had me genuinely curious to what was going on.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Review: The River (River #1) by Michael Neale

"You were made for The River . . ."

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something holds him back--the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old--something no child should ever see.

Chains of fear and resentment imprison Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He remains trapped, afraid to take hold of the life awaiting him.

When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest--and bravest--thing he has ever done.

Kindle Edition, 296 pages
Published September 18th 2012
 by Thomas Nelson
3/5 stars

I found this buried deep on my kindle.  It was a quick read and I loved that the blurb didn't give too much of the story away.

Beginning when Gabriel is only 5 years old and progresses till he is an adult. The River is his journey of self discovery, it's about coming to terms and understanding the past. 

Like I said it was a quick read that I found lacking in depth and felt rather flat as did Gabriel's character.  The story moves fairly quickly not leaving a lot of time to connect or appreciate all he goes through. It kinda felt like a short story but longer.  The scenery was nice, made me crave summer and spending time in the outdoors.

Deemed Christian Fiction it didn't touch on anything on that front, maybe the second book -  Into the Canyon, does.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Review: Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter

The bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls returns to uncover a faith healer’s elusive and haunted past.

Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist and faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the eight years since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation—and her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder…

Tuscaloosa, 1934: a wily young orphan escapes the psychiatric hospital where she was born. When she joins the itinerant inspirational duo the Hawthorn Sisters, the road ahead is one of stirring new possibilities. And with an obsessive predator on her trail, one of untold dangers. For a young girl to survive, desperate choices must be made.

Now, to protect her family, Eve will join forces with the investigative filmmaker and one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother. But will the truth set her free or set her world on fire? 

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: October 20th 2020
by Lake Union Publishing
3.5/5 stars

The Weight of Lies was my introduction to Emily Carpenter, an intriguing mystery that kept me glues to the pages.

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters is a dual time period story about Dove Jarrod and her granddaughter Eve.  There is a lot going on, Dove escaping from an asylum and her journey to become a famous faith healer.  It's the family secrets that face exposure that forces Eve to uncover the truth before damage can be done.

I really enjoyed the historical setting, it was during the 1930's that Dove's story begins.  There are revival meetings in the south that added charm but at times I was overwhelmed with the large cast of characters. The past story line was my favourite, there was a little bit of mystery, southern charm and an era with its faith healers that interested me, I would have loved for the whole book to take place in 1934.

It wasn't until afterwards that I realised this is the sequel to The Honeysuckle Girls (which I haven't read). Though Revival worked as a stand along I do wonder if I knew more about Dove if it would have impacted this read.

Revival of the Hawthorn Sisters releases today and available for purchase.

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

Monday, October 12, 2020

Review: The Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe

Born into a basket of clean sheets—ruining a perfectly good load of laundry—Emmeline never quite fit in on her family's rural Nova Scotian farm.

After suffering multiple losses in the First World War, her family became so heavy with grief, toxicity, and mental illness that Emmeline felt their weight smothering her. And so, she fled across the Atlantic and built her life in England. Now she is retired and living in a small coastal town with her best friend, Vera, an excellent conversationalist. Vera is also a small white dog, and so Emmeline is making an effort to talk to more humans. When she joins a memoir-writing course at the library, her classmates don't know what to make of her. Funny, loud, and with a riveting memoir, she charms the lot. As her past unfolds for her audience, friendships form, a bonus in a rather lonely life. She even shares with them her third-biggest secret: she has liberated hundreds of spoons over her lifetime—from the local library, Cary Grant, Winston Churchill. She is a compulsive spoon stealer.


When Emmeline unexpectedly inherits the farm she grew up on, she knows she needs to leave her new friends and go see the farm and what remains of her family one last time. She arrives like a tornado in their lives, an off-kilter Mary Poppins bossing everyone around and getting quite a lot wrong. But with her generosity and hard-earned wisdom, she gets an awful lot right too. A pinball ricocheting between people, offending and inspiring in equal measure, Emmeline, in her final years, believes that a spoonful—perhaps several spoonfuls—of kindness can set to rights the family so broken by loss and secrecy.

The Spoon Stealer is a classic Crewe book: full of humour, family secrets, women's friendship, lovable animals, and immense heart. 

Kindle Edition
Published September 30th 2020 
by Vagrant Press
4/5 stars

This book comes highly recommended from a number of sources and sometimes that’s not always a good thing, expectations are elevated.

The location drew me right in, a Canadian setting by a new-to-me Canadian author, that’s bonus points right off the bat. It wasn’t hard to like Emmeline, the story opens with her attending a memoir writing class. The Spoon Stealer is her story told in dual time periods. Making new friends is a bonus from this class that highlights how important having good friends is.

The year is 1968, it’s a lot of living for someone born in 1896. The author doesn’t hold back in all the challenges Emmeline faced, heartbreaking at times to read. However, the author has a knack for making me smile at some of her antics and dealing with family.

The Spoon Stealer is a story of relationships, good and bad, perseverance and the significance of the simple spoon. Lighthearted with serious undertones that mesh together nicely. Emmeline’s friend Vera stole the show for me, great addition that added that extra sparkle to this book.

The only thing I struggled with was the length especially towards the end, it was just a tad long winded but I totally get the direction the author was going.

My thanks to Nimbus Press, via Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Review: The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich

Inspired by the true story of one woman's fight to survive during the 20th century's darkest hour.

Paris, 1935. A dark shadow falls over Europe as Adolf Hitler's regime gains momentum, leaving the city of Paris on the brink of occupation. Young Madeleine Levy—granddaughter of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish World War I hero—steps bravely into a new wave of resistance and becomes the guardian of lost children.

When Madeleine meets a small girl in a tattered coat with the hollow look of one forced to live a nightmare—a young Jewish refugee from Germany named Anna—she knows that she cannot stand idly by. Paris is full of children like Anna—frightened and starving, innocent casualties of a war barely begun. Madeleine offers them comfort and strength while working with other members of the resistance to smuggle them into safer territories. But as the Paris she loves is transformed into a theater of tension and hatred, many people are tempted to abandon the cause—and the country. And amidst the impending horror and doubt, Madeleine's relationship with Claude, a young Jewish Resistance fighter, as passionate about saving vulnerable children as she is, deepens. With a questionable future ahead of them, all Madeleine can do is continue fighting and hope that her spirit—and the nation's—won't be broken.

A remarkable, paranoramic novel, The Paris Children is a story of love and tragedy that illuminates the power of hope and courage in the face of adversity.

Kindle Edition
Published September 1st 2020
by Sourcebooks
3/5 stars

 The Paris Children is inspired by real historical events and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy this genre so much. Madeleine Levy is the granddaughter of a WW1 hero who happens to be Jewish. Once the 2nd World War hits hero or not this family is now a target by the SS.

This was an interesting story and more on the tell side verses show. Written in 3rd person there were aspects I enjoyed - courage, family, dedication and love but ultimately I found the details a little much. The slower pace also slowed my reading down and I found it hard to connect with the characters.

That being said I enjoyed the historical aspect, learning about this family I was unfamiliar with has me googling and educating myself a little more. The author definitely did her homework in the research department.

My thanks to the publisher, Sourcebooks, for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Review: Borrowed Life by Kerry Anne King

From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Whisper Me This comes an emotional and sharply witty novel about how life’s unexpected detours can ultimately bring you home.

For twenty-six years Liz has perfectly played the part of Mrs. Thomas Lightsey, exemplary pastor’s wife and mother. But maintaining appearances for the congregation and catering to her demanding husband takes a toll, and she’s lost herself in meeting the expectations of others. When Thomas suddenly dies, Liz feels shock, grief, and, to her surprise, the siren song of freedom. Dare she dream of a life to call her own?

Despite the resistance of her daughter, Abigail, to even the smallest changes, Liz lands a role at the community theater. Inspired by new friends and the character she plays, she explores life’s possibilities, including an unexpected—and steamy—relationship with her leading man.

........ can Liz find a way to rebuild her dream life one more time?

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published September 22nd 2020
by Lake Union
4/5 stars

This is my second book by Kerry Anne King, I loved Whisper Me This last year.

A Borrowed Life is a story of relationships, whether husband/wife, mom/daughter and between friends -old and new. It’s about self discovery after years and years of living in the shadow of someone who is suppose to be a partner not a dictator.

Liz suddenly finds herself a widow, adjusting to a world of opportunities if she chooses to grasp all she has missed over the years. To follow long abandoned dreams and take risks. I liked Liz, she was real and honestly she could be anyone.  There were times I felt like we were back in the 50’s with the life she was forced to live.

Kerry Anne King again wrote an emotional story that had me feeling a wide range of emotions, from disbelief and anger to hopeful and compassionate.

You might not notice but I didn’t include the whole blurb up there. Anything that is mentioned and happens at the 60% mark is just a spoiler IMHO.

If you’re looking for a book to curl up with and read in a couple sitting I recommend giving Kerry Anne King a try.

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

Monday, September 21, 2020

Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Everyone's invited. Everyone's a suspect.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 
by William Morrow Paperbacks
3.5/5 stars

Sounds like a great time together with friends right? Hummm..when I first started reading I thought to list who was who to whom etc., but it actually wasn’t hard to keep the relationships straight. Aside from each chapter telling who the narrative was coming from I got to know the players.

What can I say, the guests were a superficial group of friends that left me wondering how they could be friends. A mixed bag of personalities which just added to the mystery.

For me this was a slow burn suspense mystery. The setting was cold as well as some personalities and I felt it. There were many red herrings that kept me stumped for the longest time and the ending wasn’t what I expected but it worked with everything clicking into place.

Lucy Foley is a new author for me, The Guest List promises to be another winner, which I already have in my TBR pile.

My copy was part of my '2020 reading off my shelf challenge' and obtained from my Spring Thriller Box by the fine folks at SweetReadsBox


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