Thursday, April 30, 2020

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail

The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail

Publication Date: April 30, 2019
A John Scognamiglio Book/Kensington
Genre: Historical Fiction

In her sweeping debut, Diane C. McPhail offers a powerful, profoundly emotional novel that explores a little-known aspect of Civil War history—Southern Abolitionists—and the timeless struggle to do right even amidst bitter conflict.

On a Mississippi morning in 1859, Emily Matthews begs her father to save a slave, Nathan, about to be auctioned away from his family. Judge Matthews is an abolitionist who runs an illegal school for his slaves, hoping to eventually set them free. One, a woman named Ginny, has become Emily’s companion and often her conscience—and understands all too well the hazards an educated slave must face. Yet even Ginny could not predict the tangled, tragic string of events set in motion as Nathan’s family arrives at the Matthews farm.

 A young doctor, Charles Slate, tends to injured Nathan and begins to court Emily, finally persuading her to become his wife. But their union is disrupted by a fatal clash and a lie that will tear two families apart. As Civil War erupts, Emily, Ginny, and Emily’s stoic mother-in-law, Adeline, each face devastating losses. Emily—sheltered all her life—is especially unprepared for the hardships to come. Struggling to survive in this raw, shifting new world, Emily will discover untapped inner strength, an unlikely love, and the courage to confront deep, painful truths.

 In the tradition of Cold Mountain, The Abolitionist’s Daughter eschews stereotypes of the Civil War South, instead weaving an intricate and unforgettable story of survival, loyalty, hope, and redemption.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



Praise for The Abolitionist's Daughter

"Diane McPhail excavates a nearly forgotten corner of American history and brings it to full, beating life. This is a fascinating and heartfelt look at the kinds of stories that don't always make it into the history books." -Louis Bayard, author of Courting Mr. Lincoln

 "A contender, a deeply felt, thoroughly researched story . . . as good as it deserves to be." -Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author "Complex, vivid, and emotionally engaging. This is a story of harsh realities written with a tenderness that shines through and honors the account of one woman's struggle to overcome her society's rules and her circumstances in the face of inconceivable devastation. I couldn't put it down." -Carol E. Anderson, author of You Can't Buy Love Like That

"What an impressive book this is! Diane McPhail works a spell on the reader, transporting us to Mississippi in the 19th century, introducing us to a family torn apart by the time and place in which they live. She tells a dark tale, yet it's laced with lyricism and compassion. This is a powerful, imaginative, captivating book-I'd say, even urgent, considering the time we find ourselves in now." -Judy Goldman, author of Together

 "A tender, sparkling debut that bears gentle witness to the abominations of slavery and oppression while heralding the grace, power and necessity of righting wrongs and choosing love. McPhail is full of talent and heart." -Ethel Rohan, author of The Weight of Him"


About the Author

Diane C. McPhail is an artist, writer, and minister. In addition to holding an M.F.A., an M.A., and D.Min., she has studied at the University of Iowa distance learning and the Yale Writers’ Workshop, among others. Diane is a member of North Carolina Writers' Network and the Historical Novel Society. She lives in Highlands, North Carolina, with her husband, and her dog, Pepper.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of The Abolitionist's Daughter! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

 Abolitionist's Daughter

Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Sister Dear
Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half-sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages

Expected publication: May 26th, 2020
 by MIRA 
Hannah Mary McKinnon is a new author to me.  She comes highly recommended and hails from my neck of the woods - bonus points!  Plus for the past 6 or so weeks Hannah Mary McKinnon has at 11:30 EST every day been hosting something called First Chapter Fun and I love it.  She highlights a book (coming sooner or already available) and with her lovely voice reads the first chapter.  Needless to say I have preordered and bumped other books up my TBR pile.  Follow this link to her Facebook page, you can catch up on those in the past.     

Also be sure to come back on May 20th when I will be hosting a yummy excerpt!!
Sister Dear was an addictive read for me, it's hard to put into words my thoughts really.  It's one of those books that I read at times through my fingers as I cringed at what Eleanor was doing, I wanted to tell her to stop but alas she wouldn't listen.

Eleanor went from an insecure, lonely young woman who could do nothing right in the eyes of someone every child usually knows unlimited love and support from - her mother. She is deemed unloveable, worthless, and not amounting to much so when she finally takes matters into her own hands, well things happen.  Man things happened!  

I will confess that this book got off to a slow start (for me), just for the first few chapters but after that I wasn't sure what to expect nor what the following chapters would reveal.  There were twists and turns, my brain went into overdrive trying to guess the outcome, eventually, I did but it was so close to the reveal that I'm not sure that counts as predictable or not, lol.

With everything going on in the world these past few months I am finding myself drawn to fast-paced, mysterious books and Sister Dear fit the bill nicely.  It releases on May 26th in all formats, yes even audio.

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

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Review: The Butterfly and the Violin (Hidden Masterpiece #1) by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly and the Violin (Hidden Masterpiece, #1)
A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Kindle Edition, 335 pages

Published July 15th, 2014 
by Thomas Nelson

The Butterfly and the Violin is the first of 2 books in A Hidden Masterpiece Novel (A Sparrow in Terezin, is #2).  It's a dual time-period story where the present-day folks search for a missing painting - each having their own different reasons.  The past story is about how the painting came to be.

Set in Vienna beginning in 1942 it's an emotional story, which stands to reason given the time and location.  The author doesn't hold back when describing what Adele goes through.  As the blurb above holds back on saying all she went through so will I.  Given the title it's no secret that music plays a big part and that I found interesting and loved the way the author built this story around that.

As much as I love dual timelines there are times where the past holds more interest for me and that was the case here. The current day was ok but I think I wouldn't have minded if the book was just in the past.  I found myself more invested in the past, it was interesting and captures my attention more than Sera and William's story.

I love the cover for this book, as well as A Sparrow In Terezin. 
A Sparrow in Terezin (Hidden Masterpiece #2)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Review: This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

This Is How I LiedEveryone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces, and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: May 12th, 2020 
 by Park Row 

Heather Gudenkauf is an auto-read for me, I have yet to be disappointed in anything she has written.  She knows how to grab this reader and doesn't let go until the last page.

The fun part of reading this book was going in blind, I didn't read the blurb and was sucked in with the first chapter.  Weaving not just between time periods (present-day and 25 years ago) but also there are different POVs. There was 16-year-old Eve, her deliciously creepy sister Nola (like seriously what a character), and Maggie.  

The story itself was well rounded, the puzzle pieces fit together nicely with a fitting conclusion but what a ride getting there. I had to take my theories apart and reassembly numerous times.  The author has a knack for twists and turns.  She also connected me to each of these 3 teens, I got to know them which just made me connect all the more with this story.

This Is How I Lied is a well-written murder mystery that is dark, mysterious, suspenseful, and full of secrets. Definitely a book and author I highly recommend.

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

Spotlight: Forged by Iron by Eric Schumacher

Forged by Iron by Eric Schumacher

Publication Date: April 15, 2020
Legionary - A Next Chapter Imprint
Series: Olaf's Saga, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction

From the bestselling author of Hakon’s Saga comes Forged by Iron, the first in a series of thrilling tales about Olaf Tryggvason, one of the most legendary and enigmatic kings of the Viking Age.

 Norway, AD 960. The fabric that has held the Northern realm together is tearing. The sons of Erik Bloodaxe have returned and are systematically killing all opposition to the High Seat. Through treachery, Harald Eriksson slays Jarl Trygvi, an heir to the throne, and then he comes for Trygvi’s wife, Astrid, and son, Olaf. Astrid and Olaf flee their home with the help of Astrid’s foster father, Torolv Loose-beard, and his son, Torgil, who are oath-sworn to protect them.

The group escapes east, through the dark, forested land of the Swedes and across the treacherous East Sea, all the while evading the clutches of Harald’s brutal henchmen. But the gods are fickle and the group is torn apart, leaving them to fend for themselves in Forged by Iron, a must-read for all who enjoy action-packed historical fiction.


Available on Amazon

About the Author

Eric Schumacher (1968 - ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego. At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God's Hammer, was published in 2005. To date, Schumacher has published three novels, collectively known as Hakon’s Saga, and one novella.

More information about him and his books can be found on his website.

You can also connect with Schumacher on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and AuthorsDB.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Forged by Iron!

To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.

– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

 Forged by Iron

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Spotlight/Giveaway: Face of Fortune by Colleen Kelly-Eiding

Face of Fortune by Colleen Kelly-Eiding

Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Phase Publishing
Paperback & eBook; 405 Pages
Series: The Shadows of Rosthwaite, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Charlotte Pruitt, an auburn-haired beauty whose soul is as wild as the northern mountains she loves, lives day to day, hoping against hope that James Clarke still lives. The love of her life and father of their son had attacked a nobleman whom he caught attempting to rape Charlotte. Pursued by soldiers and attempting to escape, James plunged into a raging river and was last seen being pulled under by the torrent.

 James who had fought to protect her and little Jack, is gone. Courage, strength, intellect, and a keen wit would have to be her guardians now.

 A weaker person would crumble under the pressure of running a business, raising a child alone, fending off unscrupulous men, while always aware that the horrific villain, Edward Hawkes is still alive and bent on her destruction. Instead, Charlotte focuses on those less fortunate than herself. She becomes dedicated to helping Jane Rourke, a weaver, who is falsely accused of crimes and sentenced to death. Charlotte is offered a way to save Jane Rourke, but at a terrible price to herself. And what of Hawkes? How will she save herself and little Jack?

From the dark and gritty streets of Spitalfields, hiding secrets both good and evil, to the haunted moors of Devon, and to the perilous heights of the northern English mountains where Charlotte’s greatest test will come, this epic saga of human kindness, passionate love, and horrifying evil never ceases to enchant…and terrify.


Available on Amazon


About the Author

Colleen Kelly-Eiding is a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild-American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, and Actors’ Equity. Her husband is an actor, as are their two adult daughters. Theatre, acting and above all, storytelling, are part of her family’s DNA.

 Colleen, was in the first class of women at Kenyon College in Ohio when the school went co-ed. She also studied drama and political science at the University of Manchester in England. She later received an MFA in acting from the University of Minnesota. She has been an actor, director, casting assistant, 3rd grade teacher, and audiometrist.

Favoured by Fortune and Face of Fortune have been occupying Colleen’s imagination for a quite a long time. After both daughters graduated college, she and husband Paul became empty nesters. The time seemed right for Colleen to bring young Ms. Pruitt, our heroine, to life and let Charlotte tell her story.

 During her time in Manchester, Colleen fell in love with the country. When she returned to England to do research for her series, she was beyond elated. She interviewed a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, spent time researching indictment records from the 1760‘s at the Guild Hall in London, and walked the route that the carts of the condemned travelled from Newgate Prison to the Tyburn Tree. Visiting the tiny village of Rosthwaite, located in the beautiful Borrowdale Valley in the Lake District, where much of the action takes place, helped give context and inspiration to Colleen.

 Colleen continues to act for stage and film. She studies sculpting and ceramics. And enjoys traveling to Comic Cons around the world, where her husband is a frequent guest.

Her series of historical novels is titled The Shadows of Rosthwaite. The second book in the series, Face of Fortune, was released on February 1, 2020.

 Published by Phase Publishing, LLC.

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Face of Fortune! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.  
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
 Face of Fortune

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Review: Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

Sin EaterThe Handmaid’s Tale meets Alice in Wonderland in this gripping and imaginative historical novel about a shunned orphan girl in 16th-century England who is ensnared in a deadly royal plot and must turn her subjugation into her power.

The Sin Eater walks among us, unseen, unheard
Sins of our flesh become sins of Hers
Following Her to the grave, unseen, unheard
The Sin Eater Walks Among Us.

For the crime of stealing bread, fourteen-year-old May receives a life sentence: she must become a Sin Eater—a shunned woman, brutally marked, whose fate is to hear the final confessions of the dying, eat ritual foods symbolizing their sins as a funeral rite, and thereby shoulder their transgressions to grant their souls access to heaven.

Orphaned and friendless, apprenticed to an older Sin Eater who cannot speak to her, May must make her way in a dangerous and cruel world she barely understands. When a deer heart appears on the coffin of a royal governess who did not confess to the dreadful sin it represents, the older Sin Eater refuses to eat it. She is taken to prison, tortured, and killed. To avenge her death, May must find out who placed the deer heart on the coffin and why.

“A keenly researched feminist arc of unexpected abundance, reckoning, intellect, and ferocious survival” (Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Mere Wife) Sin Eater is “a dark, rich story replete with humor, unforgettable characters, and arcane mysteries. It casts a spell on your heart and mind until the final page” (Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters).

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2020 
 by Atria Books 

Sin Eater is a unique story that, believe it or not, is based on a practice that took place in the 15th century and continued for years.
“Sin eaters existed in parts of Britain...they ate certain foods to absolve those who died of their sins, different foods for different sins”
This book got off to a great start, it’s a dark tale as a young girl is forced to be a sin eater. She is young, confused and her journey to acceptance is vividly written here.

Sin Eater has that fantasy feel with fictional characters but it isn’t hard for those familiar with Tudor England to recognize the landscape, characters and historical details which I thought was kinda neat.

Like I said it’s a dark tale but an addictive read.  I wanted to know what was happened to poor May, the author made me care about her and feel the injustices taking place.  As the story unfolded and the mystery grew I was in the mind set of 'just one more chapter'.

I believe this is the authors debut, so hats off to Megan Campisi for writing a unque story, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Audio review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. ParrishAmber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

Paperback400 pages
Published January 11th 2018
 by HarperCollins 

Before I give my thoughts on The Last Mrs. Parrish I want to share this video.  On or about March 15th (when Canada received our stay at home orders) the lovely Hannah Mary McKinnon started somethings called First Chapter Fun, where each day at 11;30 EST she reads the first chapter of a book.  A few weeks ago it was The Last Mrs. Parrish's turn.  Check out this video for a quick peek - she does a great job (you can find McKinnon on Facebook and Instagram to follow along each day).


This is my first time reading a Liv Constantine book, it was the buzz that made me add this to my TBR, finally on impulse grabbing the audiobook (via Scribd).

I' m glad I went the audio route, even though it started off a little slow it picked up speed around the half way mark and I was finding excuses to plug in my AirPods.  I really didn't know what to expect and it wasn't what I received.  The first half of the book is from Amber's point of view I found her to be a deceptive character with very little in the way of a conscious, which had me wondering why she was doing what she was doing.  Yes it's no secret she was on a mission.

Things turned though when I got to hear Daphne's story, and that's when my brain really kicked in trying to figure out what was going on.  While it might be a little predictable towards the end it does take on a serious tone.

The ending wasn't as satisfying as I hoped but it still worked.  Again I am glad I went the audio route as I think if reading it I am not sure I would have enjoyed the say way.

This book is part of my 2020 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Review: Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

BASED ON THE THRILLING REAL-LIFE STORY OF SOCIALITE SPY NANCY WAKE, comes the newest feat of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia, featuring the astonishing woman who ******************* and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: THE WHITE MOUSE. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she--and the people she loves--will become.
***spoiler removed by me ;)

Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 31st 2020
 by Doubleday Books

Ariel Lawhon first drew my attention with I Was Anastasia, it was a unique story and I loved it!  She took real historical figures and wove a highly compelling story.  Hence why Code Name Helene was a pre-order for me.

There are so many things I loved about this book:

1. The length, including author notes was over 460 pages. The story wasn't rushed but with so much room for depth, not just characters but with a plot that was smooth even though it jumped back and forth in time as well as between characters.

2. Based on a woman from history that I was unfamiliar with. Oh I've read about women spies but haven't been treated to a story with so much historical fact woven in.  Since finishing this book I've googled and come to appreciate that so much of Nancy Wake's personality shined through here. The author has definitely shown her research and knowledge of the not just Nancy but those around her.  Most of the figures here are from the history books making this such an emotional read.

3. It wasn’t just a WW2 story. When I say a love story there is so much more. It’s about sacrifice, bravery, compassion and heartache. Written in such a way that it was a pleasure to read, I was sad to see it end as I just wanted to read more the next chapter in Nancy's life.

Released only a couple weeks ago I highly recommend this book to not just historical fiction lovers but everyone.

This book is part of my 2020 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge.

 click on cover for my review

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Audio review: The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

For fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes comes a riveting family drama with a dark mystery at its core, from the internationally bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In.

In the early hours of a summer morning, a young woman steps into the path of an oncoming bus. A tragic accident? Or suicide?

At the center of this puzzle is Adrian Wolfe, a successful architect and grief-stricken widower, who, a year after his third wife’s death, begins to investigate the cause. As Adrian looks back on their brief but seemingly happy marriage, disturbing secrets begin to surface. The divorces from his two previous wives had been amicable, or so it seemed; his children, all five of them, were resilient as ever, or so he thought. But something, or someone, must have pushed Maya over the edge…

With psychological nuance that gets into the heart of its characters, The Third Wife is a gripping story about a man seeking the truth behind his seemingly perfect marriage and the broken pieces left behind.

Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 
 by Atria Book
2.5/3 out of 5
I become a die hard Lisa Jewell fan ever since reading I Found You back in 2016, while current with her new releases I am working my way through those I have missed.  I went the audio route with The Third Wife for a change.
Coming in at 9 hours and 22 minutes its a relatively quick listen and I am glad I went in that direction.  While the story was interesting enough, with a cast of 3 families, there were enough characters to make me suspicious of each as I tried to resolve the mystery.  But it was the story itself that I struggled with. It just seemed to perfect that Adrian could have such amicable relationships with his former wives and their children. Well I guess they didn't really, because someone definitely had other ideas.  

The Third Wife is story about relationships, growing up (and not just the children, but its never too late for an adult to grow up also) and secrets.  While this isn't a favorite Jewell book, I will still continue on my journey to read more.

This book was part of my '2020 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge'.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

 Hardcover, 403 pages
Published August 6th 2019
by Delacorte

Another book where it was the cover that grabbed my attention, what can I say!? But as they say, looks can be deceiving and yes I have been burned before. I am happy to say this one lived up to the cover.

Fairy tale retellings are fun to read, I did go ahead and read Twelve Dancing Princesses first and no there wasn’t anything more revealed that isn’t in the blurb above.

I wasn't sure what to expect here but suffice to say this was atmospheric and definitely had the chill factor. With that Gothic feeling, it was set overlooking the sea with its secret passageways, hintings of a curse, magic and a family that has been in mourning for years and years.

House of Salt and Sorrow is a well written debut. It had that raw plot to remind me fairy tales weren’t originally written for a young audience. With a slow start, the pace increased as the plot opened up to a wide range of characters and had me regarding each with suspicion.  I can’t say the romance worked for me, but that could just be me.

So 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. If you need something to escape to this would be one I recommend.

This book was part of my 2020 reading from my shelf challenge.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories await in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

Hardcover, 374 pages
Published September 10th 2019
by Redhook

I read this book back in January, the delay in posting my review is not from lack of enjoyment but rather plain laziness.

I loved the cover which is what drove me for a closer peek, isn't it gorgeous!?

This is the author’s debut of an intricate story with so many layers. With attention to the tiniest of details, I was drawn in. It’s an adventure story with its many doors to different worlds. A mystery that kept me guessing, trying to unravel on my own. Plus a love story that spans time and worlds.

It’s a book within a book that was well written and perfect for those you love timeslip, fantasy and a story to get lost in.

This book is from my personal shelves and part of my 2020 reading off my shelf.