Tuesday, August 31, 2021

At Lighthouse Point by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Blaine Grayson returns to Three Sisters Island with a grand plan--to take Camp Kicking Moose to the next level. Her dream starts to unravel when she discovers Moose Manor's kitchen has been badly remodeled by her sister, Cam, who doesn't know how to cook. Added to that blow is the cold shoulder given by her best friend, Artie Lotosky, now a doctor to the unbridged Maine islands.

As old wounds are opened, Blaine starts to wonder if she made a mistake by coming home. Little by little, she must let go of one dream to discover a new one, opening her heart to a purpose and a future she had never imagined.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the coast of Maine for a story that reminds you to release what doesn't matter and cling to what does: faith, family, and friendships.

320 pages, Paperback
First published May 1, 2021
by Fleming H. Revell Company
4/5 stars

This is the 3rd book in the Three Sisters Island Series which is set on an island off the coast of Maine.  I enjoyed the first 2 books and this was equally as enjoyable.  While each book revolves around this family they do centre on one sister, with this book it's Blaine.

Having returned from 2 years abroad Blaine returns a different person to an island and family that are also changing. Again the author has woven the past to reflect what is taking place in the present.  For me I found this one relevant to society today in terms of some of the issues being dealt with - no I can't say more because the blurb doesn't talk about them either.

At Lighthouse Point is a story of relationships, faith and love.  It was written with some humour and sensitivity.  It is Christian fiction and that does shine through here.  I am not sure if this is the final book in series, I know that I am already missing this group.  Definitely an author and series I recommend.

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The Bookseller's Secret by Michelle Gable

After a broken engagement and facing a bad case of writer’s block, bestselling author Katie Cabot flees Virginia for her best friend’s home in Mayfair, London. As she takes time to regroup, Katie finds comfort in the nearby Heywood Hill bookshop, a book lover’s paradise that has survived both world war and the internet.

When a customer arrives one day seeking a lost manuscript written by the iconic Nancy Mitford, eldest sister of the famous aristocratic family, Katie thinks she’s stumbled on the perfect distraction. During World War II, Nancy worked as a bookseller at Heywood, where she hosted midnight literary salons, and spied on French officers for the British government. But the more involved in the search Katie becomes, the less it seems she can avoid her own reality. And when her quest reveals a surprising link between the past and present, she’ll have to decide if life can ever measure up to fiction or if she’ll need to redefine the idea of a storybook ending.

Alternating between wartime and contemporary London, and featuring fascinating historical figure Nancy Mitford and the real-life Heywood Hill bookshop, The Bookseller’s Secret is Michelle Gable’s most thrilling novel yet. 

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published August 17th 2021 
by Graydon House
3/5 stars

This is my first time reading Michelle Gable, I was drawn to this book partly because of the bookish theme but also it's fun to discover new authors.

Told from 2 POVs, with one being author Nancy Mitford during WW2.  She is also a new to me author, I was hoping to feel that desire to read some of her books. I enjoyed getting to know her and her family dynamics, what an assorted bunch, and the setting of an actual bookstore, Heywood Hill's was nice.

Current day is Katie who has an obsession with Nancy Mitford.  I found it interesting how she arrived in England, a recent separation from fiancée/writer's block (she is also an author). While searching for inspiration discovers Heywood Hills and begins a search for a long lost manuscript.

The Bookseller's Secret is a dialogue driven story and while that works (sometimes) I missed the atmospheric elements and feeling the era. While I struggled to connect with the characters I did enjoy the history lesson of Mitford's life but given the time period I would have liked more of a connection to the war to have felt more of an impact it had on the lives of Nancy and her friends.

For me The Bookseller's Secret was an okay read, while I didn't love it I have The Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable in my TBR pile and will give it a go.

My thanks to Graydon House (via Netgalley) for an e-arc of this book.  It is on sale now.


The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever

Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.

The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other. 

Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 29th 2020
 by Graydon House
3.5/5 stars

I knew nothing about the Chanel Sisters and to be perfectly honest I usually steer clear of books with Hollywoodish/ritzy type stories.  But The Chanel Sisters was included in a recent book box (Thank you SweetReadsBox) and they haven't disappointed me yet.

Beginning when this sisters are young and living in a convent they still managed to stay together.  They are determined to be more then what society views them as.  It was nice getting to know how the Chanel brand was established and all that they went through.  Told from the POV of only one sister, Antoinette I think it would have been nice to hear from Coco as well, especially since it's her name that resonates with many.

The locations spans many countries and I love it when one is close to my home, this unknown piece of their history surprised me.  Who knew?

All in all an entertaining read, knowledge gleamed and a new author discovered.

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

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Names in a Jar by Jennifer Gold

Twelve-year-old Anna Krawitz is imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto with her older sister, Lina, and their father. Happy days spent reading about anatomy and science in Papa's bookshop are long gone, and the knowledge they have is used to help their neighbors through the illnesses caused by starvation and war.

With no hope in sight and supplies dwindling, Anna finds herself taking care of an orphaned baby. With a courage she didn't know she had, Anna and the baby leave behind all they know and go into hiding with a Catholic family, changing their names to hide their identity, but Lina is not so lucky and winds up in the infamous Treblinka Camp. Can Lina survive and find her way back to Anna? Will the two sisters even recognize each other after such a long time?

A story filled with hope, courage and reconciliation.

Kindle, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 14th 2021
by Second Story Press
4/5 stars

The cover is what drew me to this book.  I love reading middle grade and that was my initial impression.  However, its geared more for teens and YA.  Even though Anna is only 12 years old when this story begins we get to watch her become a teen and grow up before her time.

Though the eyes of these two sisters, Anna and Lina, a clear picture is shown of what life was like before being expelled to the Warsaw Ghetto and what transpired there.  At times heartbreaking to read and maybe for a younger audience it might be a little much, it isn't graphic but you get a clear picture what takes place.  

One of the things I love about reading HF is learning, and once again I was education.  From the Treblinka Camp to Irena Sendler (Jolenta is based on her and I would have loved to read more) to Catholics taking in Jewish children, unknown parts of that era to me.

Names in a Jar is a story of survival, heartache and family.  One I recommend but don't let the whimsical cover deceive you.

My thanks to Second Story Press (via Netgalley) for a e-arc in exchange for a honest review.  Look for this book on Sept 14th. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

On a Coastal Breeze (Three Sisters Island #2) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can't wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island--they're all too young, too old, or too weird--Maddie feels like she's finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not one.

And then Ricky O'Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again--the one who'd been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance--parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O'Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await. 

Paperback, 306 pages
Published May 5th 2020 
by Fleming H. Revell Company
4/5 stars

Suzanne Woods Fisher is one of my go to authors.  Her writing is reminiscent of getting together with some old friends and catching up. 

Set on an island off the East coast it's the perfect beach read about three sisters and a dad (who buys a holiday retreat on a whim).  Each sister is totally different in personality and ambition.  This, book 2 revolves around Madison mostly and her new status as the islands family therapist.  What follows is a journey of self discovery, righting wrongs, family and second chances.

On a Coastal Breeze is a fun romp around the island, with wit and some serious decision making. I enjoyed how the author wove history into this book (and actually the series) giving this reader a clear view of what transpired in the past.

 Definitely an author and series I recommend.  Be on the lookout next week when I review At Lighthouse Point.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds

Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Ruta Sepetys, this sweet, summery romance set in Nantucket follows seventeen-year-old Abby Schoenberg as she uncovers a secret about her grandmother's life during WWII.

Seventeen-year-old Abby Schoenberg isn't exactly looking forward to the summer before her senior year. She's just broken up with her first boyfriend and her friends are all off in different, exciting directions for the next three months. Abby needs a plan--an adventure of her own. Enter: the letters.

They show up one rainy day along with the rest of Abby's recently deceased grandmother's possessions. And these aren't any old letters; they're love letters. Love letters from a mystery man named Edward. Love letters from a mansion on Nantucket. Abby doesn't know much about her grandmother's past. She knows she was born in Germany and moved to the US when she was five, fleeing the Holocaust. But the details are either hazy or nonexistent; and these letters depict a life that is a bit different than the quiet one Abby knows about.

And so, Abby heads to Nantucket for the summer to learn more about her grandmother and the secrets she kept. But when she meets Edward's handsome grandson, who wants to stop her from investigating, things get complicated. As Abby and Noah grow closer, the mysteries in their families deepen, and they discover that they both have to accept the burdens of their pasts if they want the kinds of futures they've always imagined. 

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 15th 2021 
by Razorbill
4.5/5 stars

The Summer of Lost Letters was such a delight to read.  Right from the beginning I enjoyed this book.  Hannah Reynolds is a new to me author, this being her YA debut (she also writes as Allison Parr).

I loved the location, Nantucket, it was descriptive with that quaint island setting.  Abby was such a likeable character, searching she gets more than she bargains for.  This book was mysterious as Abby sets out to discover her grandmother's past. Without giving too much of the story away, I loved the historical elements, it's something I was unfamiliar with. so thank you Hannah Reynolds for educating me.  Abby worked in a bookstore which had those bookish vibes with some title droppings.   

The Summer of Lost Letters is a story of betrayal, family and friendships.  Though it was a slower paced story, and a couple parts didn't really add much to the story, it was the writing that stands out for me.  With its one liners easy banter  and an ending that I didn't see coming I was entertained.

My thanks to the Instagram reading community for bringing this book to my attention.

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

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

'One death, in exchange for thousands of lives - it's simple arithmetic!'

A new translation of Dostoevsky's epic masterpiece, Crime and Punishment (1866). 

The impoverished student Raskolnikov decides to free himself from debt by killing an old moneylender, an act he sees as elevating himself above conventional morality. Like Napoleon he will assert his will and his crime will be justified by its elimination of 'vermin' for the sake of the greater good. 

But Raskolnikov is torn apart by fear, guilt, and a growing conscience under the influence of his love for Sonya. Meanwhile the police detective Porfiry is on his trial.

It is a powerfully psychological novel, in which the St Petersburg setting, Dostoevsky's own circumstances, and contemporary social problems all play their part. 

Kindle Edition, 544 pages
Published September 1st 2017 
by Oxford University Press (first published 1866)
3.5/5 stars

Sometimes it's good to read out of ones comfort zone.  Such is the case with Crime and Punishment. In my endeavour to read more classics our newly created Family Book Club started with this one.

I'll confess to struggling a few times just because I'm not used to the writing of that era. Plus it took me 3 tries before I found a translation and format to my liking.

Raskolnikov has done the unthinkable and the repercussions almost destroy him (or do they?).  I enjoyed reading what life was like, how they lived and just how society functioned in 1860's Russia. On one hand it's a slow paced story when compared to contemporary novels but the slow pacing worked to really get into Raskolnikov's head.

While I wouldn't have picked this book up myself, I'm glad I read it. Also happy to move another book off my TBR shelf to my READ one. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

When a family obsessed with true crime gathers to bury their patriarch, horrifying secrets are exposed upon the discovery of another body in his grave in this chilling novel from the author of Behind the Red Door and The Winter Sister .

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen.

With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic façade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin. 

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 17th 2021
 by Atria Books
3/5 stars

I'm not really sure what to make of this book.  Right from the beginning that creepy vibe took over as Dahlia tells how she got her name. She was named after the Black Dahlia a murder victim - it was a violent scene and the case still remains unsolved. So explaining that to a 4 year old wasn't the right foot to start of on (imho).

Dahlia is the only POV we get and it would have been nice to hear from some of the other players, there were times I needed a break from Dahlia's repetition. I might add not many were that likeable, except for Ruby I liked her - even if she was rather spooky.

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of her brother Andy and the other things that happened on this island was intriguing, it kept me wondering.  The setting was kinda creepy with the paths, shed and freaky neighbours.  But it was the family dynamics that I struggled with.  Dysfunctional puts it mildly, something was missing to even make this group feel like they were related.  All the pieces didn't fit together smoothly and I was left scratching my head a bunch of times at the ending.

My thanks to Atria Books (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Falling by T.J. Newman

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 6th 2021
by Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster
4/5 stars

What can I say, decisions, decisions what a horrible one to have to make.

Dubbed the 2021 Best Don't Read on a Plane winner is the perfect way to describe this book. T.J. Newman's debut is a fast-paced story that kept me wondering how this mess of an issue would be resolved. 

Without going into too much detail of the why and how that goes on here, the author approached this book in a manner that was tense (to say the least) and heartbreaking for all.   While the opening chapter didn't really do a lot for me the rest of the book flowed nicely. With alternating POV's the visual was felt right down to the support cast on the ground.

I loved the story behind this book, the 41 rejections before #42 accepting this manuscript.  Talk about perseverance!! She wrote idea and plot points on cocktail napkins while being a flight attendant. This book had an authentic feel on the aircraft with the lingo spot on - my husband is a pilot so I'm kinda familiar.

Falling released last month and part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (the wait was way too long at the library)


Monday, August 9, 2021

Not a Happy Family: A Novel by Shari Lapena

The new domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door and Someone We Know who has sold more than 7 million copies of her books worldwide.

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets—even the dead.

Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there, and Fred and Sheila Merton certainly are rich. But even all their money can't protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of the siblings is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you'd know. 

Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 27th 2021
 by Doubleday Canada
4.5/5 stars

I've read a number of Shari Lapena and this is by far the best.  It has everything that I love in mystery/thriller.

What do I love in this genre you wonder?  Well I love the unputdownableness (if it becomes a real word I lay claim to it). With shorter chapters it was easy to just squeeze in another chapter until I got to the point where I couldn't put it down and read the last third in one sitting.

The characters were a mixed bunch and honestly I didn't feel much empathy for any of them, and that's fine because it just made me look at everyone with suspicion.  They were each flawed and coming from the different POV's made it fascinating see things through their eyes.  Learning the family dynamics, motivation and relationships might sound daunting with this larger cast of characters but it wasn't hard to keep everyone straight.

The mystery was great, just when I'd think I solved it there would be another twist.  I was kept on my toes while trying to connect the dots.

Not a Happy Family is the story of relationships within a dysfunctional family, where money is high up on everyone's priority list.  It is so well written, suspenseful and full of  secrets making everyone a suspect.

Definitely a book I highly recommend.

This book is part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge, obtained from SweetReadsBox (the suspense box).

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

The bestselling author of the The Swap—praised by Samantha M. Bailey, author of Woman on the Edge, as “wickedly delicious, addictive, utterly compelling”—explores what happens when a seemingly perfect family is pushed to the edge by cruel, vindictive, and increasingly dangerous attacks.

Thomas and Viv Adler have a picture-perfect family. Affluent and attractive, with two well-mannered kids almost out of the nest, they live in a beautifully restored Craftsman house in a well-to-do neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Their jobs are secure; their children are thriving; the world is their oyster.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find that their house and car have been pelted with eggs. Thomas dismisses it as the work of a few out-of-control kids, but when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and the tires on their BMW are punctured, he begins to worry. The family installs surveillance cameras but they show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. Unable to identify the perpetrators, they are helpless as the assaults escalate. The police assure them that this is just the work of bored teenagers. But no one in the Adler family believes it. After all, each of them has a secret—kept not only from the outside world but from each other.

Seventeen-year-old Tarryn is dabbling in a seedy online world; her older brother, Eli, has dropped out of college and refuses to tell his parents why; and Thomas and Viv have their own secrets that began as harmless fun and relief from the pressures of everyday life, but have grown into something darker and more dangerous. As the Adlers grapple with their guilt, fear, and shame, the assaults grow deadly. Their “perfect” façade is crumbling, and it may be too late for any of them to do anything about it in this addictive and twisty suspense novel that will keep you turning pages until its explosive ending. 

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2021 
by Gallery Books
4/5 stars

The Perfect Family might look like the perfect family from the outside but as we all know looks can be deceiving.  I wouldn't exactly call this a thriller but rather a family drama where each of them has secrets that appears to be known to someone else.  But which someone else is the one wreaking havoc on the sanity of all four of them - Viv, Thomas, Tarryn and Eli?

Told from the POV of all 4  makes for a great view of how this family functions and their relationship.  I can't say that I liked them all, in fact Eli is the only one I actually felt some compassion for. As the story progressed and more of the past comes to light the tension ramps up.

This is my 3rd book by Canadian author Robyn Harding, I like her writing style with the shorter chapters that had me reading just one more chapter. She kept my attention throughout and also kept me guessing. I liked the ending, it was fitting and worked for me.

The Perfect Family releases on August 10th, my thanks to Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster CA) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.