Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before her daughter was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get ‘to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

“Laugh-out-loud, sweet, charming, and humorous” (Library Journal, starred review), The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

Paperback, 355 pages
Published August 5, 2021
by Simon & Schuster CA
4.5/5 stars

Christina Lauren is an author(s) I am slowing making my way through their back-list since reading Love and Other Words. It was an awesome read, you should read if you haven’t already.

One would think after I loved their previous book I’d jump at the next, right? It’s been patiently sitting on my shelf since it’s release last May. Though I am kicking myself for waiting so long, it was the book to get me out of a reading slump.

This was such a fun (and hot at times) read. One can’t help love Jess, single mom to Juno. Juno is an awesome 6 year old, it was a pleasure to read about a non-whiny annoying child for a change. Best friend Fizzy is a hoot and totally made this book.

This book was a pleasure to read, it had great character development, there was depth, I really got to know them and could feel the vibes they emitted. The plot was unique and totally worked.

The Soulmate Equation is a book about relationships, integrity and choices that something are beyond our control. Oh you noticed that I haven’t mentioned Dr. River Peña, that snobby, stuck-up guy known as Americano, well you can guess how that turns out, right?

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#16)

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright

Two women, separated by time, must confront a wickedness that not only challenges who they are but also threatens their lives, and the lives of those they love.

Wren Blythe has long enjoyed being among the Northwoods, h
elping her father with programming at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess, who still roams the woods. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coons cabin ruins and a rotting porcelain doll. But even more terrifying is seeing her name etched on the doll's foot like a sinister omen.

In 1930, Ava Coons has spent the last ten years carrying the mantle of mystery since she emerged from the forest as an eight-year-old girl, spattered with blood, dragging a logger's axe. She has accepted she'll never remember what happened to her family. When a member of the town of Tempter's Creek is murdered, rumors spread that Ava's secret is more malicious than previously imagined.

Both women discover that to save the innocent, they must face an insidious evil.

Kindle, 352 pages
Expected publication April 5, 2022
by Bethany House
5/5 stars

Jaime Jo Wright has been a favourite since reading her first book, The House on Foster Hill.
This her new book The Souls of Lost Lake releases next week.

I have yet to be disappointed with any of her books and this book is no exception. Told in my favourite format - dual time period between Ava and Wren. One can’t help feeling sorry for young Ava, losing her whole family and still having suspicion thrown at her.

Ava is only 8 years old when she walks out of the forest covered in blood and her family is no where to be found. What follows 10 years later forces her to face that night over again and deal with the consequences, even when she can’t remember it.

Something isn’t quite right in the various relationships Wren has, she is searching but not sure for what. I loved being there to watch her journey, whether following her gut instinct regarding the lost girl or her search for belonging.

This book seamlessly wove back and forth in time with that mysterious, suspenseful vibe I love. A nice variety of characters , the scenery has me not venturing into the woods by myself anytime soon.
The plot was intriguing and kept me on my toes, lots of twists and turns and with an ending I loved.

This is another example why Jaime Jo Wright is one of my favourite authors. Plus let’s just pause to look at that cover! The perfect invitation to be read.

My thanks to Bethany House (via Netgalley) for this eARC in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect--a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases--a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea's surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth's mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she's not looking, and she could swear she's seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn't right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 15, 2022 
by Berkley
5/5 stars

Simone St James turned into an auto read for with The Broken Girls, it’s a book that I still recommend when given the chance.

The Book of Cold Cases is divided between 1977 and 2017 that centres around the Greer house, a double murder dubbed the Lady Killer Murders and Shea Collins’ past.
The Greer House = “An awful thing that was tolerated because it was made with money and pretended to have class“
I loved reading this book. Yes there are things that go bump in the night as is true St James fashion. This book flows nicely between the past and present with ease. While I liked Shea, Beth kinda gave me the creeps - her mysterious vibes floated off the pages.

The Book of Cold Cases had the paranormal aspects I enjoyed, it was the perfect length and ended at the right time. The conclusion worked on a number of levels. Now the story itself was addicting, mysterious and suspenseful. The central focus was the house, tragic events and a past that came full circle. It kept me guessing and had a nice blend of ghosty vibes with healing and growth.

And while The Broken Girls remains my favourite Simone St. James book, this book follows closely behind. It released just last week and available for purchase in all formats.

This book was part of my 2022 Readingnoff my shelf challenge (#18)

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley


I read this book last year and feel bad that it took so long to post this review. I received it in the spring YA box from the fine folks at SweetReadsBox.

Coming in at almost 500 pages it is a big commitment but honestly I was so captivated with this read that the time just flew by. Some chapters I listened to the audiobook, which was great because I got to hear the proper pronunciation for the Ojibwe words.

Eighteen year old Daunis tells her story of the past while dealing with secrets both past and present. This book is so well written and researched. 

There are many layers to this story, I actually reversed my usual blurb first then review just because the blurb gives so much of the story away with things that happen during the last half of the book. I went in blind, not knowing a thing and loved it.

The Firekeeper’s Daughter is more than a story about her life, it’s also about the injustices being biracial with a past that doesn’t let go. It’s about the Ojibwe way and learning their traditions and why. While marketed for a YA audience I highly recommend for all. This book offers so much, mystery, family drama, friendship, culture and a gorgeous cover.

This is Angeline Boulley’s debut, I can’t wait to see what comes next. But I have to say she has set the bar high. One of my favourite reads of 2021 and even after all this time this book has stayed with me.

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published March 16th 2021
 by Henry, Holt and Co. (BYR)
5/5 stars

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Horror. Romance. Science. A classic tale that would be a fright to miss!

The idea for the story came to the author, Mary Shelley, in a dream she had about a scientist who had created life and was horrified by what he had made. This Gothic-style romance is among the first of true science fiction novels, if not the first. A young scientist named Victor Frankenstein, after going through his own near-death experience, decides to play God and create life in the form of a grotesque creature, which turns into a nightmare. Through his experience, he learns that the gift of life is precious, not disposable. His journey and personal transformation has deeply affected readers.

Paperback, 255 pages
Audiobook, 8 hours, 35 minutes
Originally published  Jan 1, 1818
3.5 stars

Mary Shelley has been seen as a one-novel author in her life time with Frankenstein. However it wasn’t until years later that more books were discovered. After read Frankenstein I am inclined to read more.

I had no idea what to expect with this book. My only knowledge of this book was through the movie Young Frankenstein, so really nothing.

This is more than a story about a monster but rather Victor Frankenstein the creator. I actually felt sorry for the creature, he didn’t ask to be created yet he was and then abandoned. There isn't anything to tell how he was created, which would have been interesting.

Even though I had the book on my shelf I listened to the audio via Audible and the Plus Catalog (free reads for members.) the reader was Dan Stevens, he did a great job.

The blurb that came with the audio pretty much sums up my thoughts"
Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court by Michelle Moran

National bestselling author Michelle Moran returns to Paris, this time under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his beautiful wife to marry a Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir.

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.

As Pauline's insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline's jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire's peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.

Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

Kindle Edition, 448 pages 
Published August 14, 2012 
by Crown (Random House Imprint)
4/5 stars

As much as I love historical fiction I usually shy away from France. I’m not really sure why, I love the country but court life just hasn't grabbed me, could be all  the king Louis's just confused me. But for some authors I will make the exception and Michelle Moran is one of those exceptions. It’s been a while since I’ve read one of her books and finding this buried on my Kindle I started reading

Told from 3 different POVS around the year 1809 I was treated to look into the life at the French court of Napoleon. Paul, a Haitian servant to Pauline, sister to Napoleon and alternating with Maria Louise , a 19 year old destined to be Napoleon's 2nd wife.

Through Paul I glimpsed the brother and sister relationship between Pauline and her brother Napoleon like I said I don’t know much French history but their relationship was kind of icky, and possibly incestuous. She isn't a likeable character, but I did feel sorry for her.  Her's is also the another view point.

Maria Louise,  the second empress also a distant relative of Marie Antoinette. From Austria she was sent for but not everyone is happy about it, especially her, having never even met Napoleon before.

What I loved about this book was the fact the author used real letters and other documentation not just in her research but throughout the story. She stayed true to history as to what took place making this book have that authentic feel.  As you can read from the blurb it is a it is not a peaceful time. 

Like I stated before Michelle Moran is a favourite of mine.  Here are some of her others books I've enjoyed.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Bluebird by Genevieve Graham

A dazzling novel set during the Great War and postwar Prohibition about a young nurse, a soldier, and a family secret that binds them together for generations to come—from USA TODAY and repeat #1 bestselling author Genevieve Graham.

Present day

Cassie Simmons, a museum curator, is enthusiastic about solving mysteries from the past, and she has a personal interest in the history of the rumrunners who ferried illegal booze across the Detroit River during Prohibition. So when a cache of whisky labeled Bailey Brothers’ Best is unearthed during a local home renovation, Cassie hopes to find the answers she’s been searching for about the legendary family of bootleggers...


Corporal Jeremiah Bailey of the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company is tasked with planting mines in the tunnels beneath enemy trenches. After Jerry is badly wounded in an explosion, he finds himself in a Belgium field hospital under the care of Adele Savard, one of Canada’s nursing sisters, nicknamed “Bluebirds” for their blue gowns and white caps. As Jerry recovers, he forms a strong connection with Adele, who is from a place near his hometown of Windsor, along the Detroit River. In the midst of war, she’s a welcome reminder of home, and when Jerry is sent back to the front, he can only hope that he’ll see his bluebird again.

By war’s end, both Jerry and Adele return home to Windsor, scarred by the horrors of what they endured overseas. When they cross paths one day, they have a chance to start over. But the city is in the grip of Prohibition, which brings exciting opportunities as well as new dangerous conflicts that threaten to destroy everything they have fought for.

Pulled from the pages of history, Bluebird is a compelling, luminous novel about the strength of the human spirit and the power of love to call us home.

Kindle, 384 pages
Expected publication April 5, 2022
by Simon & Schuster CA
4/5 stars

Genevieve Graham is a go to author for me.  She is a Canadian author who loves history especially Canadian history and it shines through in her books. I love how she goes off the beaten track with pieces of history that I am totally unfamiliar with and keeps me entertained while being educated at the same time.

Bluebird is a dual timeline story set in present day and also beginning in 1917 - Belgium during World War I. While the majority of the story is the latter time. It following the lives of Jeremy Bailey and nurse Adele as they return home, each of them scarred in their own ways from the war. Set in Windsor, Ontario across the river from Detroit during Prohibition. I loved the setting, the speakeasies, rum runners and learning about the Canadian Tunneling Company from the war - see what I mean, educational.

Again Graham has written a captivating story, it was well written (as usual) that kept me intrigued, she had me caring about Jerry and Adele and rather intrigued how the past played into the current storyline. Definitely an author and book I highly recommend. 

My thanks to Simon & Schuster CA (via Netgalley) for a digital arc in exchange for honest review.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Girl They Left Behind: A Novel by Roxanne Veletzos

A sweeping historical romance that is “gripping, tragic, yet filled with passion and hope” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author), offering a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest during World War II and its aftermath—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger so the girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind.

As a young woman in Soviet Romania, Natalia crosses paths with Victor—an important official in the Communist regime that she used to know as an impoverished young student. Now they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.

Paperback, 368 pages 
Published October 9, 2018 by
Atria Books
4.5/5 stars

This book came highly recommended so I jumped at the chance to do a combo read and audiobook. It wasn’t until I finished and read the author notes that I realized this book is based on the author's own family’s history. Her mother was the little girl left behind, making this book all the more compelling.

This story begins in January 1941 with the hardest decision a couple must make, I can’t even imagine. What follows is decades of struggle for this girl now called Natalia. Adopted by loving parent, growing up during the war, then behind the Iron Curtain with all the struggles.

The Girl They Left Behind is a well researched and well written captivating story of hope, family and history. I never knew about the Bucharest Pogroms or what living behind the Iron Curtain was like. This book opened my eyes to how much history I don't know. I highly recommend to those that love historical fiction or just a good read.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge #4/17

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.

Hardcover, 464 pages
First published February 2, 2021
by St.. Martin's Press
4.5/5 stars

Kristin Hannah is a go to author for me mainly for her historical fiction. I looked forward to reading this book and even pre-ordered it, but with all the buzz around I waited a bit so that my expectation weren’t too high. When I did start it it was a combination read and audiobook. Julia Whalen was the narrator and she did a stunning job.

I am not at all familiar with the Dust Bowl and what transpired there so this book was a real eye-opener. Following the story of Elsa as she navigate through this horrible time in history was hard to read at times, heartbreaking with the whole situation ultimately made this a hard book to put down.

I love the historical aspect and the educational lesson. It wasn’t just the Dust Bowl but the reactions of those they seeked help from, be it people or the government. Even now 10 months after reading this book it has stayed with me (yea I’m behind in my reviews.)

The Four Winds is an engaging novel, while it a story set during the 1930's it’s also a story of relationships, perseverance and family. Kristin Hannah has solidified herself yet again as a go to author.

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

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Maid by Nita Prose

A dead body is one mess she can't clean up on her own.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life's complexities all by herself. No matter--she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly's orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what's happening, Molly's unusual demeanour has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black. But will they be able to find the real killer before it's too late?

Both a Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different--and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 4, 2022 
by Viking
4.5/5 stars

The buzz was crazy on Instagram for The Maid, (are you on IG? Come follow me  

Molly is an endearing character, a bright light, a breathe of fresh air.  I love her enthusiasm and dedication to not just her job but life. She was misunderstood and loved & criticized by others.  When I finished reading The Maid I had the urge to clean something, but the fear of discovering a corpse quickly put that thought to rest.  Thus that is how this story began.

The Maid is a layered story, between the infamous Mr Black, unreliable characters and Molly's naivety made this a nice rounded read. With murder and mayhem its also about relationships and trust.

I loved the way the author flawlessly wove the past to showcase Molly's upbringing, mainly her relationship with her Gran.  Lots of words of wise thoughts to ponder.
"Everything will  be okay in the end.  If it's not okay, it's not the end."
“That’s the trouble with pain. It’s a contagious as a disease. It spreads from the person who first endured it to those who love them most. Truth isn’t always the highest ideal. sometimes it must be sacrificed to stop the spread of pain to those you love.”

I am happy that I caved to IG pressure and read this book, the beginning might have been a tad slow but I read the last half in one day.

My copy obtained from my local public library - but truly I would love a copy in my library.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Scary Fairy in Wicked Wood by Jana Bauer

Have you ever met a fairy that romps about, disturbs the peace, corrupts the young and swears? 

Watch out, here comes Scary Fairy!

 Banished by her grandmother after breaking one of her beloved china teacups, she decides to search for pastures new, landing at the whim of Southern Wind in Wicked Wood. Wicked Wood is only occasionally wicked, but full of delightful animals with strong characters. 

Living in Wicked Wood are motherly Owl, and thoughtful Bear, grumpy Hedgehog, highly-strung Squirrel, poetic Salamander and many others. 

The animals of Wicked Wood have no idea how dramatically the stubborn, brave and crafty Scary fairy will change their lives.

DIgital copy, 106 pages
Published April 19th, 2022
by Kind Word Publishing
3.5/5 stars

This was a digital read for me, on my tiny screen the illustrations were lovely so I imagine that a print copy would really nice.  The colors are subtle enough to showcase the characteristics of this forect critter group.

Given the title Scary Fairy in Wicked Wood sets the stage for a little bit of a darker story with some mean spirited animals.  The story progresses in chapter form with a variety of characters and events. It's perfect for a chapter a night bedtime story.  

Scary Fairy is a whimsical story, funny at times and also might appeal to an older audience because of

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Match by Harlan Coben

'At the age of somewhere between 35 and 45 - he didn't know exactly how old he was - Wilde found his father ...'

Wilde has grown up knowing nothing of his family, and even less about his own identity. All he knows is that, as a young child, he was found living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey.

He became known simply as Wilde, the boy from the woods.

Now Wilde has had a hit on the DNA website he has been researching. A 100% match. His father. They meet up, and Wilde soon realises that his father doesn't even know he had a son and is as mystified as Wilde is by his existence.

Undaunted, Wilde continues his research for his family on DNA websites where he becomes caught up in a community of online doxxers, a secret group committed to exposing anonymous trolls.

Then one by one these doxxers start to die, and it soon becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting this secret community - and that his next victim might be Wilde himself ...

Kindle Edition, 400 pages 
Expected publication March 15, 2022
by Grand Central Publishing
4.5/5 stars

The Match releases today and is the highly sought after sequel to The Boy From the Woods.

The opening lines set the tone, opening the door for intrigue, mystery and some belief suspending.
"At the age of somewhere between forty and forty-two - he didn't know exactly how old he was - Wilde finally found his father.'
What follows is a journey of discovery with some wonderful characters being revisited.  I was gently reminded of things from the previous book in a non-dumping way. It was a twisty story in the sense of lots going on and that feeling of uncertainty with some unreliable characters.  I enjoyed getting to know Wilde better, what makes him tick and the same could be said for Hester, how old wounds needed to heal. (I need to read Coben's backlist to see more of her). 

The Match could be read as a standalone but I feel for the full experience you should read The Boy from the Woods first. It is a well written, intricately woven story with many layers that all mesh together nicely in the end. As for the ending, it was fitting, it explained a lot and figures cross this series will continue.

My thanks to Grand Central Publishing for an advanced digital copy in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Watch Out for Her by Samantha M. Bailey

Wherever you go…
she’ll be watching.

Sarah Goldman, mother to six-year-old Jacob, is relieved to move across the country. She has a lot she wants to leave behind, especially Holly Monroe, the pretty twenty-two-year-old babysitter she and her husband, Daniel, hired to take care of their young son last summer. It started out as a perfect arrangement—Sarah had a childminder her son adored, and Holly found the mother figure she’d always wanted. But Sarah’s never been one to trust very easily, so she kept a close eye on Holly, maybe too close at times. What she saw raised some questions, not only about who Holly really was but what she was hiding. The more Sarah watched, the more she learned—until one day, she saw something she couldn’t unsee, something so shocking that all she could do was flee.

Sarah has put it all behind her and is starting over in a different city with her husband and son. They’ve settled into a friendly suburb where the neighbors, a tight clique of good citizens, are always on the lookout for danger. But when Sarah finds hidden cameras in her new home, she has to wonder: Has her past caught up to her, and worse yet, who’s watching her now?

A tense psychological thriller about a mother who must keep watch at all times if she wants to keep her family safe—from USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author Samantha M. Bailey.
A spine-tingling, page-turning novel from USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author Samantha M. Bailey, Watch Out for Her is psychological suspense at its very best—a chilling look at trust, voyeurism, and obsession in the modern age, and how far we will go to watch out for those we love.

Kindle, 272 pages
Expected publication April 19, 2022
by Simon & Schuster Canada
4.5/5 stars

Canadian author Samantha Bailey has yet again hit it out of the park with this suspenseful story that kept me guessing right till the end.

Told from 2 POVS and set between Toronto and Vancouver (I love a Canadian setting) it was spaced out over a matter of months that kept me intrigued, reading 'just one more chapter' was my motto for this book.

Holly just wants a family who lovers her for herself and for Sarah she just wants to forget the summer that caused her to move clear across the country and start over.  But she can't move on when things start happening.  When everyone looks suspicious. When panic sets in. 

Watch Out for Her is an addicting read, it was well written and kept me on my toes with its twists and turns.  It's a story of searching, relationships and secrets, so many secrets.  Though it doesn't release till next month it is available for preorder now and it's one I highly recommend.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

Paperback, 332 pages
Published March 1, 2019
 by Lake Union Publishing
4.5/5 stars

This is yet again one of those 'Instagram made me do it' reads. The cover was also calling my name.

The past couple years have been hard (that’s putting it mildly) for Joanna, but a summer in the country watching the habits of nature seem to be what the doctor ordered. She craves the solitude and quiet. Then a 9 year old alien child appears out of no where.

What a pleasure this was to read. As Jo slowly bonds with Ursa so does this reader. How hard can it be to witness 5 miracles? What follows is a tender story of trust, hearts opening and healing. Yes there were a few times I had to suspend my belief but that was part of the magic to this mesmerising story.

When the Forest Meets the Stars is a heart warming mysterious story that was hard to put down, it’s well written and has me craving campfires and marshmallows.

An awesome debut by Glendy Vanderah, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#14)

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio

Margaret Beck is proud of her work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard sewing stars onto the Stars and Stripes, but she yearns to contribute to the war effort more meaningfully. She's angling for a promotion to the mechanic section, but she doesn't want to wait to make a difference. So with her two best friends, she decides to start a knitting club, where they will knit socks for the boys at the front. Thinking of the young men so far from the comforts of home, Margaret slips a note into her first pair of socks, offering a connection to an unknown soldier that will forever change her life.

For Thomas Powell serving his country was not only his duty but an honor, and he wore his Army uniform with pride. Yet being on the frontlines, witness to unspeakable tragedy and despair, has shaken him. The one shining light is Margaret’s letters—written to his best friend William. When William is killed, Tom doesn’t have the heart to write the warm, generous, and hopeful Margaret and tell her the news. Not about William’s death and not about the way he’s fallen in love with her—across an ocean, amidst the darkness of war, and through the letters she never intended for him.

Instead, he picks up his pen and responds to Margaret’s latest letter, signing it William. As the war intensifies, so does the affection between Tom and Margaret, and Tom knows he owes her the truth. But as he heads out for his most dangerous mission yet, Tom wonders—will he ever get the chance to tell her?

Kindle edition, 384 pages
Expected publishing date, March 1, 2022
by Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
3.5/5 stars

Camille Di Maio is not a new author for me, I enjoyed her book The First Emma for its historical lesson and interesting characters.  Until We Meet is another historical fiction but set during the war.

While the blurb talks about Margaret and Thomas, there is more to this story.  With 3 women working in New York during the war, it's a story of their friendship, uncertainty and of waiting. I loved how the correspondence started and what it yielded even though laced with heartache.

Overseas Thomas and 2 new friends bond over training and action. This part was a little slow for me, it wasn't until the last half of the book where things took off and then it got rather gritty.  

Again I enjoyed the authors writing style, the back and forth played out nicely.  The ending was nice though I will confess that I wasn't totally taken with a few aspects of it.  .

Until We Meet is unique story that I recommend for the historical fiction lovers and those that just like a good book to read.  

My thanks to Forever Books for a digital ARC in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Kamila Knows Best by Farah Heron

Jane Austen's Emma goes Bollywoood in this delightful retelling from the highly acclaimed author of Accidentally Engaged, perfect for fans of Abby Jimenez and Jasmine Guillory.

Kamila Hussain’s life might not be perfect, but, whew, it’s close. She lives a life of comfort, filled with her elaborate Bollywood movie parties, a dog with more Instagram followers than most reality stars, a job she loves, and an endless array of friends who clearly need her help finding love. In fact, Kamila is so busy with her friends’ love lives, she’s hardly given any thought to her own . . .

Fortunately, Kamila has Rohan Nasser. A longtime friend of the family, he’s hugely successful, with the deliciously lean, firm body of a rock climber. Only lately, Kamila’s “harmless flirting” with Rohan is making her insides do a little bhangra dance.

But between planning the local shelter’s puppy prom, throwing a huge work event, and proving to everyone that she’s got it all figured out, Kamila isn’t letting herself get distracted—until her secret nemesis returns to town with an eye for Rohan. Suddenly, it seems like the more Kamila tries to plan, the more things are starting to unravel—and her perfectly ordered life is about to be turned upside down.

Kindle, 368 pages
Publication date - March 8, 2022
by Forever
3.5/5 stars

This is my second book by Canadian author Farah Heron, Accidentally Engaged was a 5 star read. While these are 2 completely different stories that share the common theme of food. Add is some puppies for Kamila though.

Kamila is a force, in her late 20’s she is confident, caring and has her own style. She has friends, a good job and Bollywood Movie Nights. What she doesn’t have is love.

The beginning might have been a little slow for me, but I was totally immersed for the last half. There are many layers to Kamila's story, which is a bonus on many levels - makes for more interest and getting to know the characters better. I liked the openness of mental health/therapy.

Kamila Knows Best is a well written story about family and friends, relationships and overcoming the past. It will make you drool for biryani and other Indian cusine (some recipes are included). If you like a friend to lover trope as well as enemies to friends then I recommend this book - it’s out in the world today.

My thanks to Forever Books for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, March 7, 2022

An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher

“I’m going to kill her. You’d better come if you want to save her.”

Lorraine—“Rainy”—lives at the top of Tiger Mountain. Remote, moody, cloistered in pine trees and fog, it’s a sanctuary, a new life. She can hide from the disturbing past she wants to forget.

If she’s allowed to.

When Rainy reluctantly agrees to a girls’ weekend in Vegas, she’s prepared for an exhausting parade of shots and slot machines. But after a wild night, her friend Braithe doesn’t come back to the hotel room.

And then Rainy gets the text message, sent from Braithe’s phone: someone has her. But Rainy is who they really want, and Rainy knows why.

What follows is a twisted, shocking journey on the knife-edge of life and death. If she wants to save Braithe—and herself—the only way is to step back into the past.

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication date - April 26, 2022
by Graydon House
4/5 stars

An Honest Lie is a dual time period story that eventually weaves the timelines together.  She was Summer before she became Rainy and the transformation does draw on the heart strings.  The blurb doesn't relate what happens in the past for Rainy so I won't expound on that, suffice to say it was gripping, frustrating to witness and made this reader totally understand Rainy's desire to live far away from her past.

Present day, against her better judgement Rainy ends up in Vegas, a little to close to comfort.  But of course the past can't stay hidden.

An Honest Lie is a well written dark story, there is mystery, suspicious characters, secrets of the past and present.  I enjoyed Fisher's writing, her ability to draw me in and care about Rainy.  As usual I was drawn to the past storyline, it held my attention and I craved more where as the present day had too many characters I didn't really trust or even like.  But putting that aside, this was an entertaining read and also my first Tarryn Fisher book, look for it on April 26th.

My thanks to Graydon House for this print ARC.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Believing that her French guardian is about to abandon her to an orphanage in the city, ten-year-old Lucky runs away from her small town with her beloved dog by her side in order to trek across the Mojave Desert in this Newbery Medal–winning novel from Susan Patron.

Lucky, age ten, can't wait another day. The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions in her brain make running away from Hard Pan, California (population 43), the rock-bottom only choice she has.

It's all Brigitte's fault -- for wanting to go back to France. Guardians are supposed to stay put and look after girls in their care! Instead Lucky is sure that she'll be abandoned to some orphanage in Los Angeles where her beloved dog, HMS Beagle, won't be allowed. She'll have to lose her friends Miles, who lives on cookies, and Lincoln, future U.S. president (maybe) and member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. Just as bad, she'll have to give up eavesdropping on twelve-step anonymous programs where the interesting talk is all about Higher Powers. Lucky needs her own -- and quick.

But she hadn't planned on a dust storm.

Or needing to lug the world's heaviest survival-kit backpack into the desert.

Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 7, 2006 
by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
3/5 stars

This book is part of my reading of the John Newbery Medal winners, The Higher Power of Lucky was the winner in 2007.

Told from Lucky's pov, a 10 year old who resides in a place called Hard Pan with a population of 43, one less when her mom died but then one more when her guardian, Brigitte showed up.  She likes to eavesdrop behind dumpsters, imagine things and begins to suspect her guardian doesn't want her any more.

Lucky is a visual story telling what life is like in a small place on the edge of a desert.  While I found it entertaining enough I did end up listening to the audio version for the last couple of hours.  The ending was fitting for the story but unlike other Newbery winners it didn't wow me.

This book was not only part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#12) but also my John Newbery Challenge.