Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer

In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality--and that it's the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Using Sara's credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara's cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm's way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever.

From Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, The Warsaw Orphan is the unforgettable story of Elzbieta and Roman's perilous attempt to reclaim the love and life they once knew. 

Expected publication: June 1st 2021
 by Graydon House
4/5 stars

The Warsaw Orphan is a heartbreaking story told from the POV of both Elzbeita and Roman.  Teens caught in the war that destroyed so much, shattered lives and wiped out generations of families.

Both Roman and Elzbeita have strong personalities, are so determined in their quests making me forgot their ages (14 years when the book begins). A part of me struggled with that aspect, but on the other hand the war caused a lot of people to grow up before their time.

The author didn't hold back in her descriptive story and what wasn't verbalized was definitely felt.

I missed the author notes - this was an arc so hopefully the finished copies will have them.  I would have loved to known what was based on fact vs. fiction.  Part of me feels much of this book is not made up, how can so much bad be consciously imagined?  But rather this was a true reflection of what took place and that in itself will stay with me for a long time.

The Warsaw Orphan was an emotional reading, depressing at times. It showed a side of the war in Poland I haven't visited before. But it also showed the strength and determination of those that fought back and survived.

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

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Vow So Bold and Deadly (Cursebreakers #3) by Brigid Kemmerer

Grey has been revealed as the rightful prince of Emberfall. But the kingdom is crumbling fast, torn between his claim and that of the reigning Prince Rhen and Princess Harper.

Newly crowned as Queen of the enemy kingdom Syhl Shallow, Lia Mara struggles to rule with a gentler hand than her mother. But as Grey moves closer to claiming the crown of Emberfall, both Harper and Lia Mara are forced to question where they stand - and how far they can follow the dictates of their hearts.

Brigid Kemmerer's heart-pounding saga comes to a thrilling climax, as two kingdoms come closer and closer to conflict - and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all.

Paperback, 405 pages
Published January 26th 2021
 by Bloomsbury YA
3.5/5 stars

A Vow So Bold and Deadly, the final book in the Cursebreakers Series continues right where the last book left off.  Though it hasn't been that long since I read the last two books my memories were refreshed in a non info dumping way.

Like the previous books this is told from a number of different POVs - Harper, Grey, Rhen and Lia Mara. While it was nice to get the different perspectives it did take time and I found my attention waning with the back and forth and very little in the way of action.  

I'm not sure that I can totally fault the book for my feelings.  Since covid hit I have been craving faster paced stories, ones with more mystery and suspense. This was a slower paced story that did pick up speed for the last 1/3, thank goodness! The ending was fitting but nothing spectacular.

When put together as the whole series I really did enjoy it, especially the first two books.

This book was part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #35.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Whispering Dead (Gravekeeper #1) by Darcy Coates

USA Today bestseller and rising queen of atmospheric horror Darcy Coates returns with a ghost story that will haunt you long after the final page. She hears them whispering...

Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper's cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.

The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time... and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, Keira digs into the spirit's past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.

But the past is not as simple as it seems, and Keira's time is running out. Tangled in a dangerous web, she has to find a way to free the spirit... even if it means offering her own life in return. 

Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 4th 2021 
by Poisoned Pen Press
4/5 stars

It was the cover that drove me to this book, it has that eerie creepy look that screams don't read late at night. The thing is it isn't as dark as I thought.  Now don't get me wrong that doesn't mean it wasn't a good read because it was.

Kiera forgot her past and I suppose she forgot to be afraid of the dark and creepy situations - like a cemetery late at night. While I say this wasn't dark it was still an interesting mystery that had ghosts of the past mixed with some likeable and kinda quirky characters in the present and it has a cat.

I liked the small town setting, with an eclectic, mysterious cast this was an intriguing story that kept me guessing.  Plots with that ghosty vibe are some of my favourites to read.  Being the first book in a brand new series The Whispering Dead leaves room to fill in the blanks that weren't resolved in this book.  

This book was part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Coming March 2022

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cover Reveal: The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island by Heather Webb


The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island
by Heather Webb

Publication Date: February 8, 2022
Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Historical Fiction

Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures to ensure she will make it off the island, Alma fights for her dreams of becoming a translator, even as women are denied the chance.

As the two women face the misdeeds of a system known to manipulate and abuse immigrants searching for new hope in America, they form an unlikely friendship―and share a terrible secret―altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them.

Inspired by true events and for fans of Kristina McMorris and Hazel Gaynor, The Next Ship Home holds up a mirror to our own times, deftly questioning America's history of prejudice and exclusion while also reminding us of our citizens' singular determination. This is a novel of the dark secrets of Ellis Island, when entry to "the land of the free" promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, and when immigrant strength and female friendship found ways to triumph even on the darkest days.

Pre-order now!
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About the Author

Heather Webb is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. In 2017, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the Women's Fiction Writers Association award, and in 2019, MEET ME IN MONACO was shortlisted for both the RNA award in the UK and also the Digital Book World Fiction prize.

Up and coming, Heather's new solo novel called THE NEXT SHIP HOME: A NOVEL OF ELLIS ISLAND is about unlikely friends that confront a corrupt system altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them, and it releases in Feb 2022. Also, look for her third collaboration with her beloved writing partner, Hazel Gaynor, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, releasing this July! (2021)

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

For more information, please visit Heather's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

An unputdownable amnesia thriller that begs the question: how can you trust anyone when you can't even trust yourself?

Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it. 

Kindle Edition, 294 pages
Expected publication: May 25th 2021
by Mira
3.5/5 stars

This is only my 2nd novel by Hannah Mary McKinnon - The Secret Sister was my first.  I love this cover, it very much gives that trouble is brewing vibe.

You Will Remember Me is somewhat of a slower paced story with secret keeping characters. Told between a number of POVS its about trying to remember the past while adjusting to the future and having to trust an unreliable bunch.

McKinnon wove this story while slowly revealing the past and concluded with an ending that left me rather stunned.   The mystery itself was interesting enough, with both unreliable and unlikable characters.  Predictable on one hand but with an ending I didn't see coming - well done!

You Will Remember Me releases in just a weeks time and available in all platforms.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for a digitial arc in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, May 17, 2021

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Tell me what you see.

A world divided in two.

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court but at a steep cost. 

Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future and the future of a world torn apart.

"#1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sarah J. Maas expands Feyre s world beyond even her wildest imagination in this seductive and stunning sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses."

Paperback, 656 pages
Published May 2nd 2017
by Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books
5/5 stars

Though I've usually shied away from fantasy reads this series has grabbed my attention, especially when listed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling.

Book 2 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, continued right where book 1 left off. I found this book to be more action packed as more characters are introduced, more relationships developed and more of the past was revealed. Basically a lot more going on, but not in an overpowering way. 

Going the audiobook route was a great decision for me, while coming in at 24 hours in length with Jennifer Ikeda doing another great job narrating, the time flew by. The story was intricate, captivating and for this newbie fantasy reader the fantastical parts not overwhelming.

The ending was surprising and I loved it, not at all what I expected.  It has me anxious for the next book, A Court of Wings & Ruin, and trying to decide which reading route to go.

This book was part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#34).

Monday, May 10, 2021

Review: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried. 

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: May 18th 2021 
by Park Row
5/5 stars

This book started a tad on the emotional side.  It was heart wrenching and I questioned if my heart could handle it.  But I persevered through sheer desire to see the outcome.

This is my 3rd book by Mary Kubica and while I enjoyed The Good Girl and The Other Mrs., Local Woman Missing blew way past those two.

The story is spaced 11 years apart with multiple POVs.  It might sound like a bit much but I liked seeing the different sides to the story.  The transitions were nice and smooth, with characters that were likeable, seemed reliable which made it all the harder to figure the mysteries out. This was a captivating read, I finished in just over a day.  There were many twists and turns that kept me on my toes.  The plot was intricate with attention to detail evident, kinda like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces finally all fit together. I struggled to put this book down.

Local Woman Missing is a finely crafted book that hit all the marks for me in terms of an addictive, mystery/suspense filled thrilled that tugs at the heartstrings with a twist I did not see coming at all.  Thank you Park Row Books for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Audio Review: The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads delivers her next page-turner for the summer with The Newcomer.

In trouble and on the run...

After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”

With a trunkful of emotional baggage...

So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.

The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling...

And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn—or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

Audiobook, 14 hours, 30 minutes
Reader: Kathleen McInerney
Published May 4th 2021 
by Macmillan Audio
3.5/5 stars

Mary Kay Andrews is a new author for me and with The Newcomer I went the audio route (thank you MacMillian Audio for the e-audio).  The reader was Kathleen McInerney and as usual she did a great job.

Running from the recent past with her niece in tow Letty makes her way to Florida as she hides, trying to figure out her next move.  This was an interesting story, it has mystery, intrigue and suspense with a dash of romance added to the mix.  The writing was nice and the character development had me understanding the cast. The characters set the tone and environment The Newcomer takes place in. 

I'm glad that I went the audio route, this was a slow moving story and at times found myself wavering  with some unnecessary parts and feel it could have been a little shorter.  I felt a predictability but with some twists and turns I was proven wrong (I love it when that happens).

My thanks to Macmillan Audio for this e-audio in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Review: The Push by Ashley Audrain

A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family–and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for–and everything she feared.

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 5th 2021
 by Viking
4/5 stars

Just excuse me for a moment while I process this book. 

It's one of those books that made big waves when first released, which is why sometimes I like to let the dust settle before diving in.  In the end this was a buddy read with bestie reading buddy Laurie from TheBakingBookworm fame (click to see her review).

I struggled to find the right way to describe this book and came up with enticingly off-putting. I read it in like 2 1/2 days (and that's super fast for me).  This was like a roller coaster ride, the first few pages had me questioning what was going one, then the next few chapters started rolling right along until I got to a point I couldn't stop reading.  Then a lull in the middle and off it went again until I had to finish her off.

Told from Blythe's POV with pieces of her extended past giving light to her history. The characters were messed up as was the story (I mean that in a good way).  Honestly I didn't like the lot of them and that's what made the story what it was.  Unreliable, scary and kinda sad and disturbing really.  The ending was ok but I wanted a little more, even just another chapter or two. But what I really craved was hearing from the men in this story.  They came off as insensitive and spineless, I would have loved to hear their thoughts.

The Push is a story of motherhood, the struggles, bonding and even the desire to be a mother. This book will actually stay with me for awhile due to the emotional impact it had.

For a debut this was solid and given the 2 book deal the author signed I can't wait to see what the author comes up with next.

This book was part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge #32

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Review: In a Book Club Far Away by Tif Marcelo

From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.

Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.

That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.

As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds. 

Kindle Edition
Published April 6th 2021
by Gallery Books
3/5 stars

I was attracted to this book because of the book club theme.  In a Book Club Far Away is a story of friendship.  The friendship between 3 army wives, their life when the men folk are deployed for 9 months. Having not read much in that area of military life it was an eye opener, enlightening me to what life was like for those waiting at home.

Flash forward 10 years when the friendship fractured many years ago.  This was a slow paced story for me and contrary to popular opinion I struggled.  I struggled to connect with these women and the story itself left me with unanswered questions.  The book alternates between these women both present day and the past, so one had to pay attention. It didn't have the depth I craved and needed to really feel the warm and fuzzy friendship they claimed.

As for the book club part, it played a minor role but I did like a couple of the adventures they went on.  The book droppings piqued my interest in a couple titles though.

The ending was somewhat underwhelming and predictable.  Definitely what I would call chick-lit and maybe its a genre I should stay away from.

My thanks to Gallery Books for the digitial ARC (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.