Sunday, October 31, 2021

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

Hardcover, 449 pages
Published by November 17, 2020
 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
3.5/5 stars

First off, look at that cover! I love it. The gold is raised and my copy signed by the new to me author.

This was a combo audio and book read.  I seem to be doing that a lot this year and its kinda fun.

 I loved the sounds of a Romeo and Juliet retelling.  It's also the first book in a series, knowing that ahead of time made it easy to prepare for some unfinished business and little more of the stage being set for the sequel.

It's 1926 and Shanghai literally felt like a war zone.  Add in some supernatural elements and you've got a  unique story.

While I didn't feel the Romeo and Juliet vibe until closer to the end I definitely felt the era and location.  It was dark, atmospheric and complex as different gangs battle for control. The tension was felt and the plot intricate.

Both Juliette and Roma are strong characters, pressured by family to do the right thing.  The monster element might have been a bit over the top (just my opinion), but needed to further the plot line.

Like I said at the beginning this book set the stage for Our Violent End which releases in just a few weeks.  I've already preordered and look forward to another gorgeous cover on my shelf.

This book was part of an Owlcrate Book Box and part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Warrior's Heart by Misty M. Beller

Brielle Durand is a key defender and hunter for her people's peace-loving French settlement in the Canadian mountains. When a foreigner wanders too near to their secret homes, she has no choice but to disarm and capture him. She won't allow another massacre like the one that killed her mother a dozen years before. But now, what to do with this man who looks at her in a strange way?

Evan MacManus was on assignment to find among the caves the mineral pitchblende that might help America win the War of 1812. Despite being taken prisoner, Evan is determined to complete his mission. But when that assignment becomes at odds with his growing appreciation of the villagers and Brielle, does he follow through on the promise he's made to his government or take a risk on the path his heart tells him is right? Either choice will spell death for someone.

Paperback, 320 pages, Paperback
August 31, 2021
 by Bethany House Publishers
3.5/5 stars

Misty M. Beller is a new to me author, which is the reason I jumped at the chance to review this book.  Also with a Canadian setting in the mountains just made it all the more enticing.

I loved the idea of a settlement hidden in the mountains away from the world. I wasn't sure what to expect but with the opening scene I envisioned an action paced story.  While there was action, suspicion and betrayal this a slow paced story about 2 individuals with past hurts making it difficult to trust.

A Warrior's Heart is the first book in the Brides of Laurent Series (how many books I am not sure). This is more a story of relationships verse action, though that could change as the series progresses.  I usually find the first book sets the stage for what comes next.  I loved the setting, the characters and how this group of people overcame to protect themselves and establish a community.

How much is based on fact remains to be seen, I would have loved some author notes at the end to give more information.  All in all a nice story and a series will be continue to read - no release date yet for book 2.

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.


Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.


Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth--no matter what that truth may bring to light--in Diane Chamberlain's riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages 
Expected publication January 11, 2022
by St. Martin's Press
4.5/5 stars

It was so nice to jump into a new Diane Chamberlain book. The Last House on the Street takes place in 1965 South Carolina with repercussions felt in 2015.

I loved this time period, it's one I don't read often and this book was a definite eye opener. As usual I was drawn to the past story (history geek), I was educated with the SCOPE program and the workings of it.  The author vividly showed the prejudices that were front and centre.  Ellie has a mind of her own and determination to go against her family's wishes that places her where she never imagined.

The Last House is a well written historical story with authentic characters and setting.  It's a story about forbidden love and family, mysterious, it showcases injustices and the ties that bind the past to the present.

I have yet to be disappointed with a Chamberlain book, while I am slowly making my way through her back-list I highly recommend this book...The Midwife's Confession was great also.

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Sister's Tale by Beth Powning

A novel of orphans and widows, terror and hope, and the relationships that hold us together when things fall apart.

With murder dominating the news, the respected wife of a New Brunswick sea captain is drawn into the case of a British home child whose bad luck has turned worse. Mortified that she must purchase the girl in a pauper auction to save her from the lechery of wealthy townsmen, Josephine Galloway finds herself suddenly the proprietor of a boarding house kept afloat by the sweat and tears of a curious and not completely compatible collection of women, including this English teenager, Flora Salford. Flora's place in her new family cannot be complete until she rescues the missing person in her life, the only one who understands the trials she has come through and fresh horrors met since they were separated years before.

Reconnecting with characters of Beth Powning's beloved The Sea Captain's Wife, The Sister's Tale is a story of women finding their way, together, through terrible circumstances they could neither predict nor avoid, but will stop at nothing to overcome.

Paperback, 328 pages
Published May 25, 2021
 by Knopf Canada
4/5 stars

The Sister's Tale is a vivid picture of life for women in the late 1800's. Women lacked rights and left to the decision making of men, men controlled their lives.  The suffragette movement was just starting.

The characters were a mixed lot that included 2 girls who came from England as part of the Home Child Program.

This was an interesting story, maybe slow at times.  Frustrating in parts where the treatment of women is shown.  Heartbreaking in the treatment of these girls. Encouraging to watch women begin to take a stand.

The Sister's Tale is a journey for the women in this book.  A journey of healing through loss, healing through pain and guilt, healing through injustices and being brave enough to accept, change and take a stand.

Beth Powning is a new to me author.  She is Canadian and with a Canadian setting I was anxious to read this book. I have a couple of her previous books and I look forward to reading more.

This book is part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge #57

Friday, October 22, 2021

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

Working as a lady's companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never been out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young woman consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

  Paperback, 428 pages,
July 16, 2015 by Virago
first published Aug 1, 1936
4.5/5 stars

This book has been in my tbr pile for years.  Recently our Family Book Club drew this title out of the hat and we all hunkered down for a group read. A couple read the book and 2 did an alternate read and listen.  Our feelings were similar.

We enjoyed this read.  Written in 1936 it was labelled as a romance, maybe that is because of the female author and era.  There was romance in the sense of a newly married couple but the story was more mysterious.

Rebecca unfolds nicely, introducing both likeable and unlikable characters - of course some that draw suspicion to themselves, while others that were rather annoying.  Lots of red herrings, an eerie setting and that Gothic feel made this an enjoyable read.

This was my first du Maurier book.  Her writing style was captivating with attention to detail, a well written story.  I look forward to reading more from her.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Getaway by Zoje Stage

A cinematic and terrifying new novel from "the master of the psychological thriller" and the bestselling author of Baby Teeth and Wonderland, about three friends who hike into the wilds of the Grand Canyon—only to find it’s not so easy to leave the world behind (Entertainment Weekly).

It was supposed to be the perfect week away . . .

Imogen and Beck, two sisters who couldn't be more different, have been friends with Tilda since high school. Once inseparable, over two decades the women have grown apart. But after Imogen survives a traumatic attack, Beck suggests they all reunite to hike deep into the Grand Canyon’s backcountry. A week away, secluded in nature . . . surely it’s just what they need.

But as the terrain grows tougher, tensions from their shared past bubble up. And when supplies begin to disappear, it becomes clear secrets aren’t the only thing they’re being stalked by. As friendship and survival collide with an unspeakable evil, Getaway becomes another riveting thriller from a growing master of suspense and “a literary horror writer on the rise” (BookPage).

352 pages, Hardcover
Published August 17, 2021
by Mulholland Books
3.5/5 stars

This is another book that grabbed my attention on Instagram.  I love hiking and the thought of going off with a couple friends for some away time, hiking the Grand Canyon sounded awesome.

Of course, things don't go according to plan for Beck, Imogen and Tilda.  Sisters and friend who have grown apart and are together for the first time in years. The first part of the book  included a lot of hiking lingo that might have been interesting for those with no knowledge of the outdoors and all the gear that comes with it.  For me I felt it took some of the story away.

While I didn't feel an emotional connection to these women I was intrigued as to the outcome, how were they going to get out of this mess.  The author painted a vivid picture of the elements and has me wanting to dawn my hiking shoes again.

This book was obtained from my local public library.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

A feel-good, holiday-themed romantic comedy about identical twins who switch lives in the days leading up to Christmas--perfect for fans of Christina Lauren's In a Holidaze and Josie Silver's One Day in December.

All they want for Christmas is a different life.

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell--both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie's identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family's bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won't get the memo that they're over.

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven't done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician's assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins' identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published - October 5, 2021
 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
3.5/5 stars

I am new to reading Christmas books.  I think because I usually find them along the lines of Hallmark movies which I don't usually watch.  But just after the world blew up I read a rom/com and now find myself reading that genre and loving it.  Being a fan of Maggie Knox (aka Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley) I jumped at the chance to read The Holiday Swap.

The theme is baking, be it the bake shop or tv show, I enjoying the atmosphere.  It had me itching to get in the kitchen and bake. Told from 2 POVS showed how similar these twins are and yet how different. Of course one must suspend your belief and remember that this is Christmas time. It was a fun read, a little slow at times but with a good feel good get ready for the holidays vibe.

The Holiday Swap is somewhat a coming of age story but for adults. It's about self discovery with some comical relief and it has a dog, one can't go wrong when there are pets.

My thanks to Putnam & Sons (viua Netgalley) for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Greenwood by Michael Christie

From the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years. Cloud Atlas meets The Overstory in this ingenious nested-ring epic set against the devastation of the natural world.

They come for the trees. It is 2038. As the rest of humanity struggles through the environmental collapse known as the Great Withering, scientist Jake Greenwood is working as an overqualified tour guide on Greenwood Island, a remote oasis of thousand-year-old trees.

Jake had thought the island's connection to her family name just a coincidence, until someone from her past reappears with a book that might give her the family history she's long craved. From here, we gradually move backwards in time to the years before the First World War, encountering along the way the men and women who came before Jake: an injured carpenter facing the possibility of his own death, an eco-warrior trying to atone for the sins of her father's rapacious timber empire, a blind tycoon with a secret he will pay a terrible price to protect, and a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant from certain death, only to find himself the subject of a country-wide manhunt. At the very centre of the book is a tragedy that will bind the fates of two boys together, setting in motion events whose reverberations we see unfold over generations, as the novel moves forward into the future once more.

A magnificent novel of inheritance, sacrifice, nature, and love that takes its structure from the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood spans generations to tell the story of a family living and dying in the shadows cast by its own secrets. With this breathtaking feat of storytelling, Michael Christie masterfully reveals the tangled knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family's origin story. 

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 24th 2019
 by McClelland & Stewart
4/5 stars

This book grabbed my attention with the Canadian historical setting.  It comes in at just over 500 pages with a small print. For me it was hard to read which is why I waited for the audio via the library and did a combo read/listen.

Beginning in 2038 then going back in time to reveal an intriguing multi generational family saga that spans the country.  Most of the book takes place on Vancouver Island, its a place I love to visit so it wasn't hard for me to visualize the beautiful trees and feel the setting.  The story itself was well constructed with realistic threads that carefully fused together to create an interesting journey that eventually placed Jake where she ended up.

Greenwood is a well written story of perseverance, conviction and family - not necessarily ones you are born into.  This is my first time reading Michael Christie, will definitely be on the lookout for more.

“What if a family isn't a tree at all? What if it's more like a forest? A collection of individuals, pooling their resources by intertwined roots, sheltering each other from wind and weather and drought... what are families other than fictions? Stories told about a particular cluster of people for a particular reason. And like all stories, families are not born, they're invented. Pieced together from love and lies and nothing else.”

This book is part of my 2021 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge.  I received Greenwood from the fine folks at Uniquely Bookish Box.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

House of Glass Hearts by Leila Siddiqui

Maera and her ammi never talk about the Past, a place where they've banished their family's heartache and grief forever. They especially never mention the night Maera's older brother Asad disappeared from her naana's house in Karachi ten years ago. But when her grandfather dies and his derelict greenhouse appears in her backyard from thousands of miles away, Maera is forced to confront the horrors of her grandfather's past. To find out what happened to her brother, she must face the keepers of her family's secrets-the monsters that live inside her grandfather's mysterious house of glass.

Seamlessly blending history with myth, HOUSE OF GLASS HEARTS follows a Pakistani-American teen's ruthless quest to find her missing sibling, even if the truth would reveal her grandfather's devastating secret and tear her family apart. In a narrative that switches between colonial India and present-day America, this ambitious debut explores how the horrors of the past continue to shape the lives of South Asians around the world.

Paperback, 273 pages
Published: September 30, 2021
by Yali Books
3.5/5 stars

I was attracted to this book because of the Pakistani setting.  My son lived there for 4 years and it's where his wife was born.

Told from 2 different POVs it alternated between the present and the past, 1947 to be exact.  It was the backstory that grabbed my attention, while I knew 1947 was when the British left India to their own devices I didn't know about the bloodshed that ensued.  This lead to many discussions with my son and googling lots.  I love it when a book does that.

For me this book got off to a slow start. While I am familiar with the odd Urdu word I found myself looking up the meaning of words and other times I would guess.  Hopefully the finished book will have a glossary.  I also felt that I needed to know some of the history before hand.  The last half kept me captivated in colonial India, more of that would have been nice and a little less of the present day story.

My thanks to Yali Books for a print ARC in exchange for an honest review.  This book has released and available for purchase now in various formats.