Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Ghostwriter by A.R. Torre

Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn't surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.

Now, I have one last story to write. It'll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.

Paperback, 321 pages
Audiobook, 9 hours 26 minutes
Published October 2, 2017 
by DCA
4/5 stars

This was an audiobook read for me.

It took me a bit to get into this story with all the different povs. With a print copy you can differentiate between characters and time lines, so it took a little to connect and feel the rhythm. I won’t even scary anyone off with the different timelines and voices. Once I got that this story took off.

It was mysterious waiting to discover what happened 4 years ago. A slow burn that detailed Helena’s career as an author, her relationship with spouse, daughter, mother and even rival author. At one point I found it hard to listen to more (sorry can’t say more), it was sad and a tad depressing but then the twist came - wow did not anticipate that at all.

Though I have been behind on my reviews I really feel the need to get this one done so I can try and forget about it, suffice to say it might stay with me for a bit.

Audiobook read through my Scribd account.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Beach Read by Emily Henry

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Paperback, 361 pages
PublishedMay 19, 2020 
by Berkley
3.5/5 stars

I received this book 2 years ago in a Beach Box by the fine folks at Sweet Reads Box, a recent trip to the beach was the perfect place to start this one. This is also my first book by Emily Henry, she has created quite the buzz on Instagram.

Beach Read got off to a great start. I definitely felt the vibe of writers block for both January and Gus. I was intrigued with January’s relationship with her father and how she came to his house. There were some funny laugh out loud moments with a plot that paved the way for some fun adventures. There was a nice mix of bookish and relationship issues to create layers to this story.

But, did you feel that but coming?  While these field trips they took together (in the name of research) worked until they didn’t. I couldn’t grasp the darkest of including a backwoods death cult in the mix. This is rom/com and I get the past hurts both January and Gus had and I would have liked to see that flushed out more - seeing more of Sonja and even January’s mom would have been nice.

Beach Read felt a little longer than necessary,  the writing was nice but I was left wanting a little more besides January and Gus’s relationship.

I have the author's People We Meet on Vacation on my shelf and have even preordered her new book Book Lovers (with a title like that how could I not).

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge #21

Monday, April 25, 2022

Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely—and inconvenient—sources.

Kara Sullivan’s life is full of love—albeit fictional. As a bestselling romance novelist and influential bookstagrammer, she’s fine with getting her happily-ever-after fix between the covers of a book.

But right now? Not only is Kara’s best friend getting married next week—which means big wedding stress—but the deadline for her next novel is looming, and she hasn’t written a single word. The last thing she needs is for her infuriating first love, Ryan Thompson, to suddenly appear in the wedding party. But Ryan’s unexpected arrival sparks a creative awakening in Kara that inspires the steamy historical romance she desperately needs to deliver.

With her wedding duties intensifying, her deadline getting closer by the second and her bills not paying themselves, Kara knows there’s only one way for her to finish her book and to give her characters the ever-after they deserve. But can she embrace the unlikely, ruggedly handsome muse—who pushes every one of her buttons—to save the wedding, her career and, just maybe, write her own happy ending?

Paperback, 317 pages
Published May 25, 2021
 by Graydon House
4/5 stars

This was a fun read and came recommended via bookish bestie Laurie from @bakingbookworm fame.

I enjoy rom/coms, especially after reading some heavy duty thriller books.

While there might have been a few things that I wasn’t a fan of there was lots I enjoyed here. Kara is a romance author with some serious writers block, there is lots of bookish vibes to go along with her influencer status. Throw in an ex boyfriend and his sidekick, Duke a bulldog with a bathtub fetish - how can you not love that?

Maybe Ryan cures the writers block but what follows is lots of book talk, dog walks and secrets discovered.

This book took a twist I didn’t anticipate and a few things didn’t quite jive for me but all in all an entertaining read and perfect for the beach this summer.

Talk Bookish to Me is not just a book included in my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge but also follows my April bookish books theme.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair is a beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder—and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.

Every story has its secrets.
Every mystery has its motives.

“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman. It’s a particular feeling, the urge to murder. It takes over your body so completely, it’s like a divine force, grabbing hold of your will, your limbs, your psyche. There’s a joy to it. In retrospect, it’s frightening, but I daresay in the moment it feels sweet. The way justice feels sweet.”

The greatest mystery wasn’t Agatha Christie’s disappearance in those eleven infamous days, it’s what she discovered.

London, 1925: In a world of townhomes and tennis matches, socialites and shooting parties, Miss Nan O’Dea became Archie Christie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted and well-known wife, Agatha Christie.

The question is, why? Why destroy another woman’s marriage, why hatch a plot years in the making, and why murder? How was Nan O’Dea so intricately tied to those eleven mysterious days that Agatha Christie went missing?

Kindle, 320 pages
Audiobook, 10 hours, 23 minutes
Published February 1, 2022
 by St. Martin's Press
4/5 stars

Confession time, I have never read an Agatha Christie book. But the buzz on Instagram had me wanting to be one of the cool kids and read it.

There are 2  distinct povs in The Christie Affair. One is that of Christie herself and the other of Nan O’Dea, The woman having the affair with Christie’s husband Archie

This was an audiobook read for me, Lucy Scott was the narrator who did a great job. Alternating between the past brought this story full circle . I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was treated to a multi layered story that was intriguing, mysterious and entertaining. I got to learn more about Christie, her family and the times she lives in. The pressure placed about this writer and the twists and turns kept me listening.

The ending was fitting bringing a nice conclusion to this historical fiction read.

My audiobook was obtained through Scribd.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Oy! to the world

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.

But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.

Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.

Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 28, 2021 
3.5/5 stars

Sometimes a rom/com is what this reader needs, I read this just before Christmas while in a ‘read more holiday books’ kick. The world was still in limbo and rom/coms, when done right are a nice distraction.

The blurb for The Matzah Ball sounds fun. Rachel has a secret, she loves Christmas but given that she is Jewish and her father is a well known Rabbi complicates things. Oh, and Rachel is also the author of Christmas romance novels, that’s her big secret.

On one hand this was a fun read, the animosity between her and old time friend Jacob played out with comical situations as they are thrust together after avoiding each other for years. Working together has Rachel rethinking her life, her beliefs and the past.

Now on to the other hand. I struggled to really understand the falling out that caused this great division between Rachel and Jacob, suffice to say it didn’t really work for me. The ending wrapped things up nicely and for a Christmas rom/com that’s a good thing.

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

Friday, April 22, 2022

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?

Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 10, 2015
by Atria Books
2/5 stars

I jumped on the CoHo train recently, having read Verity and It Ends With Us, I continued with November 9. Lots of buzz on IG for all her books but this one followed the bookish theme I’ve been reading this month. I figured it was the perfect beach read while I was on holidays.

I’ll just start by saying I am going against popular opinion of November 9. That’s not to say the book was a complete waste. I enjoyed the twist—it threw me for a loop because I didn’t see it coming, and it explained a number of things that happened. And I appreciate how the story addressed issues of grief, loss, and physical flaws.

However, Instalove is just not my thing, the YA feel didn’t help either. But ultimately my biggest problem with November 9 was Ben.

Right from the get go Ben comes off as arrogant, controlling,and untrustworthy. He is pushy even to the point of telling Fallon what to wear and how she should feel. His behaviour, and the way he continually treated Fallon with disrespect, was my major issue with the book—especially since the narrative seemed to actually support his actions.

Finally, the chapters aren’t numbered. Weird I know, but really minor compared to the rest

I switched over to the audiobook for 90% of the book (I can't read on a plane), with an excellent narrator I was able to finish though if I continued to read the book I most likely would have dnf it.

I'll continue on my journey to read Colleen Hoover's back list, like I said the 2 I've read I really enjoyed.

This  book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#22)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.

There's just one problem: Connor didn't write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.

Connor's problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma--admit he didn't write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student's manuscript.

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia--and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.

When a student disappears and is presumed dead, her professor passes off her manuscript as his own--only to find out it implicates him in an unsolved murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of The Request.

Paperback, 431 pages
Published July 6, 2021 
by Berkley Books
3/5 stars

Continuing with a theme I started this month of reading bookish books I was starting to crave something other than a rom/com. Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell sounded like it would fit the bill. This is my first time reading this author.

It definitely sounded enticing, widowed writer with some serious writers block publishes a book written by former student who just happened to disappear 2 years previous. Guess he was still grieving the loss of his family when a young woman is murdered and the scene in the book is kinda the same and he didn't take notice.  Enter the police and a whole cast of characters to unravel this one.

I started out reading and switched over to the audio. Weaving back and forth in time between Connor, Madeline and Rebecca kept me on my toes. At times maybe a little slow but there is a lot going on, so I had to pay close attention to absorb all the clues. The mystery took turns and ultimately finished off nicely. Maybe not so bookish at I would have thought but still a good read with unreliable characters and a look at university life.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Favor by Nora Murphy

A gripping debut domestic suspense novel, The Favor explores with compassion and depth what can happen when women pushed to the limit take matters into their own hands.

Staying is dangerous. Leaving could be worse.

Leah and McKenna have never met, though they have parallel lives.

They don’t—ever—find themselves in the same train carriage or meet accidentally at the gym or the coffee shop. They don’t—ever—discuss their problems and find common ground. They don’t—ever—acknowledge to each other that although their lives have all the trappings of success, wealth and happiness, they are, in fact, trapped.

Because Leah understands that what’s inside a home can be more dangerous than what’s outside. Driving past McKenna’s house one night, she sees what she knows only too well herself from her own marriage: McKenna’s “perfect” husband is not what he seems. She decides to keep an eye out for McKenna, until one night, she intervenes.

Leah and McKenna have never met. But they will.

Kindle, 288 pages
Expected publication May 31, 2022
by St. Martin's Press
4.5/5 stars

This book grabbed me right from the beginning. Two women, at one time successful in their careers but now carry a secret neither can share.

It wasn’t long before I was engulfed in the story of these 2 women. There is a fair amount of jumping through time to know their past and what transpired to get them in this current situation and to understand what happened and why.

For me it was a pretty quick read, not just because of the short chapters but I was genuinely intrigued. Though it isn’t hard to figure out what is going to happen it’s the ‘what happens next’ question I kept me going.

I really liked the Detective, and fingers crossed that maybe I will see more of him in future books.

This is Nora Murphy's debut, great job, can’t wait to see what comes next.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press for a digital arc in exchange for honest review. You can find The Favor on books shelves May 31, 2022 and it is available for preorder now.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Lady's Mine by Francine Rivers

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to the California frontier in this sweeping, romantic tale of a displaced New England suffragette, a former Union soldier disinherited by his Southern family, and the town they join forces to save.

1875. When Kathryn Walsh arrives in tiny Calvada, a mining town nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, falling in love is the farthest thing from her mind. Banished from Boston by her wealthy stepfather, she has come to claim an inheritance from the uncle she never knew: a defunct newspaper office on a main street overflowing with brothels and saloons, and a seemingly worthless mine. Moved by the oppression of the local miners and their families, Kathryn decides to relaunch her uncle's newspaper--and then finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom, pitted against Calvada's most powerful men. But Kathryn intends to continue to say--and publish--whatever she pleases, especially when she knows she's right.

Matthias Beck, owner of a local saloon and hotel, has a special interest in the new lady in town. He instantly recognizes C. T. Walsh's same tenacity in the beautiful and outspoken redhead--and knows all too well how dangerous that family trait can be. While Kathryn may be right about Calvada's problems, her righteousness could also get her killed. But when the handsome hotelier keeps finding himself on the same side of the issues as the opinionated Miss Walsh, Matthias's restless search for purpose becomes all about answering the call of his heart.

Everyone may be looking to strike it rich in this lawless boomtown, but it's a love more precious than gold that will ultimately save them all.

Audiobook, 15 hours, 19 minutes
Published February 8, 2022
 by Recorded Books Audio
3.5/5 stars

This was one of my highly anticipated book of 2022. Francine Rivers has written some of my favourite books, The Masterpiece, Redeeming Love and her Mark of the Lions Series. So maybe my expectations were is a tad to high. That being said, after I finished reading I discovered that the author has made it known she wrote something lighter this time around.

The Lady’s Mine follows the arrival of Kathryn to any unknown area and basically to fend for herself. It’s a time when women are suppose to cater to the men, to be at their beck and call and forgo their own desirers, but such is not the case for Kathryn.

I liked her determination, her strength and the way she stands up for herself. She is smart and doesn’t bow down to those against her, no matter the danger.I also loves how she stood up for others, those being taken advantage of or just with no one to lend a hand.

The story was lighter than what I am used to, so that took a bit of adjustment. This book took me to the era of saloons, mines and printing presses. There was mystery, intrigue and of course, romance.

Not my favourite Rivers book but still entertaining. I went with the audiobook, narrated by Kate Forbes, who did a great job.

This audiobook was obtained through my subscription to Scribd, if you would like to try it for free for a month let me know and I can send you link.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Wish Upon a Crawdad by Curtis W. Condon

Wish Upon a Crawdad takes place in rural America during the waning years of the Great Depression. Times are still lean, but there are glimmers of hope—especially for resourceful kids, like Ruby Mae Ryan.

Ruby isn't your typical, depression-era twelve-year-old. For one thing, she's got a jar full of coins, thanks to her crawdad business and other odd jobs. But she doesn't let the money go to her head. She's too busy trying to make more. That's because she's got something special in mind, and time is running out. So, Ruby calls on crawdads for help.

A lot of people wish on the first star at night. Ruby does that, too, but she also wishes on the first crawdad of the day. She figures the odds are better. "Not many folks wish upon a crawdad," Ruby says. To convince doubters of their magic, Ruby points to a wish coming true as the story unfolds. Electricity: she's never had it--no one in the valley has--until she wished upon a crawdad.

But now, Ruby has another wish. She wants something so badly she won't even say what it is out loud, afraid that might jinx the wish. Instead, Ruby calls it her "secret surprise." The only other people who know about it are Daddy and her best friend, Virginia. And they'll never tell. Or will they?

Wish Upon a Crawdad is all about friendship and adversity, courage and fear, heartbreak and triumph, and it has as many channels and curves as the creek running through it. Along the way, Ruby searches for a legendary place called Crawdad Haven, kisses a pig, "dances" with an angry dog, escapes death, and even has a chance encounter with a famous dignitary. Not bad for a twelve-year-old, crawdad-catching girl from farm country.

Historical note: The story unfolds during a pivotal time in America. The Great Depression is not yet a memory, and the country is only eighteen months from another world war. Ninety percent of villages and farms don’t have electricity. But that’s begun to change, thanks to rural residents banding together to form their own power companies called rural electric cooperatives. Such is the backdrop for the story, which takes place in 1940 in a valley near the fictional village of Crossroads, Oregon. It’s a fitting name, given rural America—and the entire country—are at the brink of a new age.

Kindle, 235 pages
Expected publication May 3, 2022 
by Heart of Oak Books
3.5/5 stars

The cover is what drew me to this book. The girl actually reminded me a little of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. My intuition was confirmed.

Wish Upon a Crawdad is about Rudy, a 12 year old and her adventures one summer. She is spunky, careful and has a secret - a goal to save her money to buy something special. We don’t know what that something is until the end…mysterious. So her summer is spend catching crawdads and doing other odd jobs - some not always successful. She is feisty, daring and has a short fuse.

This was a fun story, getting to know Rudy, her family and the way of life on a farm in the 1940's. I feel that the finished copy would be best to read, hopefully with some illustrations to showcase the story fully.

Wish upon a Crawdad releases May 3rd and available for preorder now.

My thanks to Heart of Oak Books (via Netgalley) for a digital arc in exchange for honest review.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Death Comes For Christmas by PJ Donison

A beloved aunt dies mysteriously. Fentanyl shows up in all the wrong places. Can a burned out lawyer with a drinking problem figure out who killed Auntie Freda?

Camelia Belmont is struggling to manage a stressful job, an escalating anxiety disorder, and a few too many cocktails. She just needs a nice, quiet family holiday back in Saskatchewan, away from her demanding law practice and a very unhappy boss to get her head straight. But when her beloved Auntie Freda dies suddenly, the Phoenix attorney is determined to find the killer. As she digs into the circumstances leading up to her aunt’s death, Camelia discovers a link to a local drug dealer and an exploding opioid crisis.

Despite scanty evidence, a keen RCMP retiree, and uncooperative relatives, Camelia is convinced the killer is one of their own. Tracking down clues despite their protests, Camelia worries her tactics could seriously alienate her closest family members, including her husband. Can she discover what happened before the RCMP take over and the whole mess blows up in her face?

Death Comes for Christmas is Camelia’s Origin Story and the first book in the suspenseful Camelia Belmont Murder Mystery series. If you like soft-boiled whodunnits with a smart female sleuth, true-to-life characters, and dark insights into the opioid epidemic, you’ll love PJ Donison’s debut literary mystery.

A sudden death. A deadly toxic drug. A squabbling family. Can Camelia Belmont find out who really killed Auntie Freda?

Kindle Edition
Published March 2, 2022
4.5/5 stars

I am super excited to share my thoughts about this book. But disclaimer first. I first meet Pamela back in 2017 where we became part of Table 17 at SIWC. I jumped at the chance to read this book and share my thoughts, which in no way is influenced by our relationship.

Death Comes for Christmas has a wonderful mix of characters, some I loved right off the bat (Freda), others I didn’t and there were even a couple that creeped me right out.

There are many layers to this story, which also marks the beginning of a new series. Picture the dysfunctional family setting where alcohol plays a big part for some, there are secrets and a mysterious death.  As you can read from the blurb above there is a lot going on.

I enjoyed the writing, getting to know the characters came naturally, it was atmospheric with the chilly Canadian winter storms and chilly vibes from this lot of players.

There were little droppings of clues along the way that left me scratching my head. But alas all things were wrapped up nicely with an ending I didn’t see coming at all.  

Death Comes for Christmas is available for purchase in both print and digital (it's only $1.26!!).  I recommend this for those that love a good whodunit with some savoury characters.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Drowning Kind comes a genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, that brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.

1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist Dr. Helen Hildreth is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.

Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.

Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.

2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.

Kindle, 352 pages
Expected publication: April 26, 2022
by Simon & Schuster CA
4.5/5 stars

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Jennifer McMahon book. This one sounded so interesting and I went in reading Frankenstein a couple weeks ago. It’s not necessary but I’m glad I did.

Alternating between 1977 and 2017, more so the past story line and that is the one that really appealed to me.

In 1977 you know something isn’t quite right and with the appearance of Iris, out of the blue sets Vi out to discover where she came from. All three kids, Eric, Vi and Iris are obsessed with monsters which leads to The Book of Monsters which is dispersed throughout this story.  

In 2017 the story continues 40 years later with mysterious disappearances and the past resurfacing. I enjoyed the intrigue and couldn’t quite figure things out.

This was a mysterious creepy read, there was suspense, intrigue and that genuine ghosty feel throughout.  There were twists that threw me a couple times. But while I found the ending to be good and satisfying the execution lacked the tension and suspense that would have completed the vibes created in this book.

The Children On The Hill releases April 26 and available for preorder now.

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

Monday, April 11, 2022

Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon

First comes love. Then comes murder.

Lucas Forester didn't hate his wife. Michelle was brilliant, sophisticated and beautiful. Sure, she had extravagant spending habits and that petty attitude, a total disregard for anyone below her status. But she also had a lot to offer. Most notably, wealth that only the one percent could comprehend.

For years, Lucas had been honing a flawless plan to inherit Michelle’s fortune. Unfortunately, it involved taking a hit out on her.

Every track was covered, no trace left behind, and now Lucas plays the grieving husband so well he deserves an award. But when a shocking photo and cryptic note show up on his doorstep, Lucas goes from hunter to prey.

Someone is onto him. And they’re closing in.

Told with dark wit and a sharply feminist sensibility, Never Coming Home is a terrifying tale of duplicity that will have you side-eyeing your spouse as you dash to the breathtaking end.

Kindle, 384 pages
Expected publication May 24, 2022
by Harlequin Trading Publishing (MIRA)
4/5 stars

Canadian author Hannah Mary McKinnon is releasing this, her pandemic book on May 24, 2022.

Never Coming Home is somewhat of a switch from her previous novels in that we know the bad guy right from the get go - no spoiler it’s right there in the blurb. With meticulous care Lucas planned everything, covering all his tracks with precision. But did he really??

Never Coming Home is mysterious, lots of red herrings with unreliable (and unlikable) characters. It is well written with moments of wit, disbelief and shock.  There is a dog, which is always a great addition. All in all an addicting read with an ending that was fitting.

My thanks to MIRA for a digitial arc in exchange for honest review.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The People’s Princess by Flora Harding

Buckingham Palace, 1981

Her engagement to Prince Charles is a dream come true for Lady Diana Spencer but marrying the heir to the throne is not all that it seems. Alone and bored in the palace, she resents the stuffy courtiers who are intent on instructing her about her new role as Princess of Wales…

But when she discovers a diary written in the 1800s by Princess Charlotte of Wales, a young woman born into a gilded cage so like herself, Diana is drawn into the story of Charlotte’s reckless love affairs and fraught relationship with her father, the Prince Regent.

As she reads the diary, Diana can see many parallels with her own life and future as Princess of Wales.

The story allows a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in the palace, the tensions in Diana’s relationship with the royal family during the engagement, and the wedding itself.

Paperback, 384 pages, Paperback
Expected publication March 31, 2022 
 by One More Chapter
3.5 stars

I really enjoyed the author’s previous book, Before the Crown and did an impulse purchase of this book when I saw it at the bookstore. Sounds super intriguing, right?

Alternating between the 2 time periods worked for me but other things didn’t.   I really enjoyed getting to know Charlotte, I didn't even know who she was before reading this book.  She is a spunky character, has a mind of her own and back in 1812 that was frowned upon for women let alone someone in line for the crown.  I'm not a fan of insta love but watching her journey and learning about that era was nice.

Maybe because I know so much of Diana's story I found it slow and repetitive. There wasn't a lot of interaction between her and the royal family and what was glimpsed wasn't impressive. After 100 pages or so I ended up switching over to the audiobook, Julie Teal was the narrator and did a great job (though I did find the voice of Charles made me not like him, he was gruff and uncaring.)

For those that like stories on the Royals, this fits the bill nicely.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Friday, April 8, 2022

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

An evocative novel in the vein of Kate Morton and Daphne du Maurier, in which the thrill of first love clashes with the bonds of sisterhood, and all will be tested by the dark secret at the heart of Applecote Manor.

Four sisters. 
A house with a past.
 One secret summer.

When fifteen-year-old Margot Wilde and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the arrival of two handsome neighbors divides the sisters' loyalties, Margot is drawn into the life Audrey left behind and the mystery of her vanishing. Fifty years later, Jessie is desperate to move her family out of their London home, and gorgeous Applecote Manor seems like the perfect solution. But once there, Jessie finds herself increasingly isolated, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor. Rich with heat and angst, in The Wildling Sisters the thrill of first love clashes with the bonds of sisterhood, taking readers on a breathless journey into the darkest secrets of the human heart.

Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 3, 2018
 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
3.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Eve Chase book.

Four Sisters
A house with a past.
One shocking summer.

Sounds intriguing right? It was. Told in 2 time periods added to the suspense.

Back in 1959 three sisters arrive to spend the summer at Applecote Manor. Their cousin disappeared 5 years ago with no trace of since. What follows is a time of adjustment for the sisters, with a nervous aunt and uncle trying to safeguard the sisters while also holding out hope for their daughter's her safe return.

In 2009 a young family moves in ready for change and a new beginning. But tragedy is still fresh in the mind of one who doesn’t take well to the new surroundings. Then she becomes obsessed with the disappearance of so long ago.  What pique her interest are things she finds around the house and rumours. Plus she needs something to occupy her mind instead of dealing with the move and a stepmother she isn't fond of.

I enjoyed this book, aside from the mystery there is family dynamics, relationships and trust issues. There is some uncomfortable moments of hope and confusion. Secrets are finally exposed as well as grief revealed and bonding.

I'm glad I read this and look forward to Black Rabbit Hall, which I believe is the author's debut.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#13)

Monday, April 4, 2022

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Jamie Fraser, former Jacobite and reluctant rebel, is already certain of three things about the American rebellion: The Americans will win, fighting on the side of victory is no guarantee of survival, and he'd rather die than have to face his illegitimate son--a young lieutenant in the British Army--across the barrel of a gun.

Claire Randall knows that the Americans will win, too, but not what the ultimate price may be. That price won't include Jamie's life or his happiness, though--not if she has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, Jamie and Claire's daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Roger MacKenzie, have resettled in a historic Scottish home where, across a chasm of two centuries, the unfolding drama of Brianna's parents' story comes to life through Claire's letters. The fragile pages reveal Claire's love for battle-scarred Jamie Fraser and their flight from North Carolina to the high seas, where they encounter privateers and ocean battles--as Brianna and Roger search for clues not only to Claire's fate but to their own. Because the future of the MacKenzie family in the Highlands is mysteriously, irrevocably, and intimately entwined with life and death in war-torn colonial America.

With stunning cameos of historical characters from Benedict Arnold to Benjamin Franklin, An Echo in the Bone is a soaring masterpiece of imagination, insight, character, and adventure--a novel that echoes in the mind long after the last page is turned.

Paperback, 1087 pages
Audiobook, 46 hours
Narrated by Davina Porter
Published September 1, 2010 
by Orion
3/5 stars

Whew, finally I did it and finished the audio version of the 7th Outlander book. Coming in at 46 hours I did ramp up the speed a little which took it to 34 hours - still a big book. I am determined to get caught up with this series this year.

Davina Porter has narrated this whole series and does a great job.  She brings the story to life, one of my favourite readers.

So, the good. Picking up where the last book left back has Jamie, Clare and Ian leaving Fraser's Ridge behind and heading off to Scotland - with many detours along the way. I liked reading about the year 1777, familiar names and events in history. The lifestyle was depicted nicely. I'm even slowly starting to warm up to Brianne and Roger.  I enjoyed see some faces from the past, though some through sad circumstances.

The not so good. I am not a fan of John Grey, I tried the branch off series that focuses on him and just couldn’t get into it. John and ‘his’ son William took a lot of space that I found distracting but saying that I’m wondering if they play a bigger part in the next book. There were parts of this book where I wondered the point of some scenarios and if they were just fillers.

The ending left some doors open for what comes next. One part of the ending seemed rushed and given what happened should have been more emotional but rather downplayed not giving this reader time to absorb what happened (sorry can’t say more, spoiler.) 

All in all, not my favourite book in this series. I'm not sure when I will start Written in my own Heart's Blood it comes in at 57 hours (to scared to see how many pages that is) but hopefully by summertime.

This book was is part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#19)

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke

Don’t miss the brand-new chilling gothic thriller from the bestselling author . . .

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse.

A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse?

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 5, 2021 
by HarperCollins
3.5 stars

This was my anticipated read of 2021. I usually pick a spooky Halloween right and this was it. Coming in with rave reviews for its creepiness factor I jumped in.

Alternating between a couple points of view and time periods keep me on my toes. That being said I still had to think for a minute in terms of who was who for the different chapters and time period.

This was a story of folklore, witch trials and mystery. It was atmospheric, especially with the old lighthouse setting, mystic caves and history. There was some suspense surrounding the disappearances and danger. But there were a lot of characters to keep track of.

I know I am in the minority since there are so many 4/5 star reviews, but this ended up wavering between 3-3.5 stars for me. 

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