Monday, May 30, 2022

A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast-paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university's large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition's departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor's name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
published by Crooked Lane Books
Audiobook 8 hours, 13 minutes
published by Dreamscape
on June 7, 2022
3/5 stars

Set in 1923 this book is a combination cozy mystery and historical fiction. I was drawn to this book from the stunning cover.

I did a combination read and audiobook listen, thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for those arcs.

Saffron is a young woman who is determined, resourceful and at times a little foolish. Driven to clear the name of a mentor she impulsively does things that put her own life and others at risk.

It was a fun read and an entertaining listen. With an interesting cast of characters, some likeable some not so much. The mystery played out nicely with adventure, wit and risk. There was a satisfying ending as well. I am not sure if this is the beginning of a series or not but it does have the makings for one.

While there are some comparing this book to Deanna Raybourn‘s Veronica Speedwell Series I don’t think I would go that far.

My thanks to Crooked Lane Books and Dreamscape Media for advanced copies in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson

Aidan holds the winning Powerball numbers.

Is today the best day of his life... or the worst?

Aidan Marlowe is the superstitious type—he's been playing the same lottery numbers for fifteen years, never hitting the jackpot. Until now. On the day of his wife's funeral.

Aidan struggles to cope with these two sudden extremes: instant wealth beyond his imagination, and the loss of the only woman he's ever loved, the mother of his twin children. But the money gives him and his kids options they didn't have before. They can leave everything behind. They can start a new life in a new town. So they do.

But a huge new house and all the money in the world can't replace what they've lost, and it's not long before Aidan realizes he's merely trading old demons for new ones. Because someone is watching him and his family very closely. Someone who knows exactly who they are, where they've come from, and what they're trying to hide. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want...

Paperback, 384 pages
Audiobook 9 hours 22 minutes
Published April 12th 2022 
by Poisoned Pen Press
3/5 stars

This was an audio read for me. Again it’s another author I read a lot about on Instagram and had to see for myself what the hype was about.

The author doesn’t waste any time getting to the heart of this story. During his wife’s funeral Aidan discovers his Powerball numbers finally came up. What follows is a change of direction and new beginning for him and their children.

Part of me feels I would have liked this book better if I had read the book. Aidan is an unreliable character and while the story started out strong and had the power to continue it started to falter for me. The pacing slowed between back story and the present day threats just couldn’t keep my attention. 

The mystery was intriguing but I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, there were issues unresolved that made it feel flat.  I know I am in the minority with my thoughts, so it could just be a me thing.

My audiobook was obtained through my Scribd account.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house on Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

Kobo (via CloudLibrary), 432 pages,
Published May 10, 2022 
by Atria Books
2.3/5 stars

I'm relatively new to Jennifer Weiner, this being my 4th read and my least favourite - yes I am going against popular opinion.

The Summer Place is the story about a young couple getting married 4th of July weekend in Cape Cod - post pandemic. With only months to pull this off, it’s where the past meets up with the present.

The majority of this book is back story as family members go back in time to revisit ghosts of the past. At times confusing and long winded with very little about the happy couple. With the volume of characters it was hard to connect and in some cases to even like them. Selfishness was a common trait as was infidelity along with many secrets.  Though I did like Ruby's mom and appreciated her views and honesty.

I started out by reading and alternated with the audiobook (via Scribd).  Both formats were good but I preferred the audio just to listen and get through the book.

The ending was almost comical on a couple levels. Suffice to say not my favourite Jennifer Weiner.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson

Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke - until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor.

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next....

Kobo Edition, 320 pages
Published March 15, 2022
 by William Morrow
2.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Peter Swanson book, it had quite the buzz on IG where I caved to peer pressure and grabbed a copy via CloudLibrary.

As the title implies this book starts with 9 people being introduced. With a digital copy it’s hard to flip back pages for a refresher on who’s who. I wish I’d kept a cheat sheet.

This is a murder mystery with some unsavoury characters and no clue what was going on. The story at times goes off in tangents that just aren’t relevant to the story - almost like filler. I was bored at times, even contemplating dnf'ing, but being somewhat curious I continued.  While the story was slow paced, the chapters were short and it turned into a quick read.

Part of my problem was there really wasn't any main characters that played central to this story, no one to rely on, which I think might have held this together. The investigation to these crimes lacked and honestly the big reveal came a little too late for me. Maybe if the back story was dispersed throughout the book that would have brought about of a more satisfying end for me.

Like I said this is my first Swanson book, I might try another one or I might not.  I'm not in any big hurry at the moment.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Gallant by V.E. Schwab, Manuel Sumberac (Illustrator)

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

Hardcover, 334 pagesr
Published March 1, 2022
 by Greenwillow Books
3.5/5 stars

Though I wasn’t a huge fan of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue I wanted to give this author another try.

This book starts off with me connecting right away to Olivia, it wasn’t hard when first introduced to Olivia and learn about her experiences at this place called Merilance. The author vividly put me in that location with its derelict and abandon outbuildings the feeling of her desolation with no friends and uncompassionate caregivers. But her personality shines through in her cunning and smarts. She leaves this place for new adventures and hopefully with family at a place called Gallant. I should add that Olivia cannot speak.

Gallant is where things start to get strange and unsettling. What follows is not what was hoped for or envisioned. It is mysterious with that supernatural element.

When I felt the middle part drag a little I listened to the audiobook for the remainder. The last part was fast paced, which would have been nice for the middle part. I did follow along with the book for the illustrations and extra letters apart from the story.

Marketed as YA it had more of a middle grade feel to it. Thankfully I like MG .

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

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Impossible to Forget by Imogen Clark

In this poignant novel from the bestselling author of Where the Story Starts, an extraordinary final wish brings five lives together forever.

Just turned eighteen, Romany is on the cusp of taking her first steps into adulthood when tragedy strikes, and she finds herself suddenly alone without her mother, Angie, the only parent she has ever known. In her final letter, Angie has charged her four closest friends with guiding Romany through her last year of school—but is there an ulterior motive to her unusual dying wish?

Each of the four guardians possesses an outlook on life that Angie wants to give her daughter as a legacy. Three of them have known each other since university: the eternally nomadic and exotically named Tiger; the shy and practical Leon with his untapped musical genius; and Maggie, a brilliant lawyer who doesn’t know her own abilities. But the fourth guardian is a mystery to the others: they’ve never even heard of former model Hope before…

As the guardians reflect on their friendship with Angie, it becomes apparent that this unusual arrangement is as much about them as it is about Romany. Navigating their grief individually and as a group, what will all five of them learn about themselves, their pasts—and the woman who’s brought them all together?

Kindle, 384 pages
Published February 1, 2022
 by Lake Union Publishing
4/5 stars

I can’t believe that I finished this book back in February and just getting to my review now.

Impossible to Forget was a Kindle Read First pick. The cover and blurb is what grabbed my attention.

This is a story about friendship with an unlikely cast of characters and how a last wish pulls everyone together even when strangers are brought into this circle.

The story begins present day and then goes back in time as 3 university students meet. This is a character driven story, it wasn’t hard to get to know these characters, who they are and what makes them tick. Spanning a couple of decades what is mysterious at the beginning comes full circle to a story of friendship, struggles and self discovery. 

This is my first time reading a Imogen Clark book, I will be on the lookout for more.

My digital copy was obtained through Amazon as part of their Kindle First Reads program, in exchange for a honest review. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

In every person's story, there is something to hide...

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all. 

Kindle, 288 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2022
 by Sourcebooks
3.5/5 stars

I love books set in places I’ve visited, though I’ve been to Boston I did miss the library. After it’s description in this book it’s high up there on my list to checkout.

The Woman in the Library is essential a story within a story within a story. Honestly I was confused at the onset and at times throughout.  The premise starts good, four strangers connect after hearing a scream in the Boston library and when I say connect it’s like within hours they become the best of friends. 

Here is the thing, because the blurb above doesn't give a detailed synopsis and name names I don't feel that I should either.  If you want that you can check out other reviews on Goodreads. Suffice to say this is a complex story that did kept me on my toes, the characters were developed nicely and mystery was, well mysterious.

The Woman in the Library is a story about friendship, about the past coming back to haunt you and trust. My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.  This book can be preordered now with a Jun 7th release date.

Monday, May 16, 2022

And There He Kept Her by Joshua Moehling

They thought he was a helpless old man. They were wrong.

When two teenagers break into a house on a remote lake in search of prescription drugs, what starts as a simple burglary turns into a nightmare for all involved. Emmett Burr has secrets he's been keeping in his basement for more than two decades, and he'll do anything to keep his past from being revealed. As he gets the upper hand on his tormentors, the lines blur between victim, abuser, and protector.

Personal tragedy has sent former police officer Ben Packard back to the small Minnesota town of Sandy Lake in search of a fresh start. Now a sheriff's deputy, Packard is leading the investigation into the missing teens, motivated by a family connection. As clues dry up and time runs out to save them, Packard is forced to reveal his own secrets and dig deep to uncover the dark past of the place he now calls home.

Unrelentingly suspenseful and written with a piercing gaze into the dark depths of the human soul, And There He Kept Her is a thrilling page-turner that introduces readers to a complicated new hero and forces us to consider the true nature of evil.

Kindle, 320 pages
Expected publication: June 14th 2022
by Poisoned Pen Press
3.5/5 stars

Debut author Joshua Moeling has penned a novel that started with a bang (literally) and ended with a splash. So much happened in between. I'm not usually a fan of books where I know the bad guy from the start, but here it worked.

We don’t know the why of what happened or even the other who’s but what follows is a twisted journey both to the past and through the present. Between feuding neighbours, dysfunctional families, love & loss and drug use I was kept on my toes with a vast cast.

It’s a disturbing story with lots of backstory into the life of Ben Packard and has the feels of the start of a new series. The characters here are so flawed both through their own doing, society and privilege. The story moved along at a nice pace but knowing so much at the beginning kinda took some of the suspense away.

While this wasn’t the page turned I expected it was an entertaining read.

My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for an e-arc in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Shadow of Memory (Kate Hamilton Mysteries #4) by Connie Berry

In Connie Berry’s fourth Kate Hamilton mystery, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton uncovers a dark secret buried in Victorian England.

As Kate Hamilton plans her upcoming wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, she is also assisting her colleague Ivor Tweedy with a project at the Netherfield Sanatorium, which is being converted into luxury townhouses. Kate and Ivor must appraise a fifteenth-century painting and verify that its provenance is the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate learns that the halls of the sanatorium housed much more than priceless art.

Kate is surprised to learn that Will had been the first boyfriend of her friend Vivian Bunn, who hasn’t seen him in fifty-eight years. At a seaside holiday camp over sixty years ago, Will, Vivian, and three other teens broke into an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had died under bizarre circumstances two years earlier. Now, when a second member of the childhood gang dies unexpectedly—and then a third—it becomes clear that the teens had discovered more in the house than they had realized.

Had Will returned to warn his old love? When Kate makes a shocking connection between a sixty-year-old murder and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she suddenly understands that time is running out for Vivian—and anyone connected to her. 

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: May 10th 2022 
by Crooked Lane Books
4/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Connie Berry book. I had my doubts when accepting this copy since it is book 4 in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series, but it was fine. If anything it has piqued my interest in reading the rest of the series.

This is a multi layer mystery (the best kind).  American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton literally stumbling across a body in the local cemetery sending her on a search for answers.

Spanning events from decades ago to the present day mystery of not just the cemetery discovery but also a fifteenth century painting kept me reading and scratching my head. Just when I thought I had things figured out there would be a twist.  Suffice to say a well written and well executed story with likeable characters this whodunit was a pleasure to read.

My thanks to Crooked Lane Book for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Spotlight: The Lawless Land by Boyd & Beth Morrison

First in a fast-paced Templar Knight adventure series from New York Times-bestselling author Boyd Morrison and expert art historian Beth Morrison.

By Boyd and Beth Morrison
Publication Date: May 12, 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus

Canterbury, 1351.

Ex-communicated knight Gerard Fox is a battle-hardened warrior whose ancestral home was unjustly taken from him. Now, he roams across the known world of Europe looking for work as a man-at-arms. Equipped with only his Damascus-steel sword and war bow, Fox takes out tyrannical and dishonorable men in a land still blighted by the Black Death.

In his ongoing crusade to deliver justice, Fox comes to the aid of Lady Isabel, who is fleeing from her brutal betrothed. But she hasn't told him the whole story. Isabel is guarding a priceless holy relic. One many men would kill for.

Fox and Isabel soon find they are being chased across the continent and try to evade those who seek the relic. But as more assassins close in, Fox realizes they will stop at nothing to possess the sacred treasure that Isabel has sworn to protect...

BOYD MORRISON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve thrillers, including six collaborations with Clive Cussler. His first novel, The Ark, was an Indie Next Notable pick and has been translated into over a dozen languages. He has a PhD in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech.

BETH MORRISON is Senior Curator of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has curated several major exhibitions, including ‘Imagining the Past in France, 1250-1500,’ & ‘Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World.’ She has a PhD in the History of Art from Cornell University.

“Exceptional series launch.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Fantastic—suspenseful and historically fascinating... Gerard Fox could be Jack Reacher’s ancestor, 700 years ago. Highly recommended!" —Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Better Off Dead

“The Lawless Land is a compulsively readable, immersive tale of chivalric adventure and dangerous romance in a war-torn, plague-stricken Europe... A hugely entertaining historical novel!” —Eric Jager, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Duel

“The Lawless Land is a fantastic start to a brilliant new adventure series that you won’t want to miss... Boyd and Beth Morrison bring the Middle Ages to life in vivid detail with historical authenticity and a sense of fun... this thriller has it all!” —Graham Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fast Ice

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Sari, Not Sari by Sonya Singh


This delightful debut rom-com follows the adventures of a woman trying to connect with her South Asian roots and introduces readers to a memorable cast of characters in a veritable feast of food, family traditions, and fun.

Manny Dogra is the beautiful young CEO of Breakup, a highly successful company that helps people manage their relationship breakups. As preoccupied as she is with her business, she’s also planning her wedding to handsome architect Adam Jamieson while dealing with the loss of her beloved parents.

For reasons Manny has never understood, her mother and father, who were both born in India, always wanted her to become an “All-American” girl. So that’s what she did. She knows next to nothing about her South Asian heritage, and that’s never been a problem—until her parents are no longer around, and an image of Manny that’s been Photoshopped to make her skin look more white appears on a major magazine cover. Suddenly, the woman who built an empire encouraging people to be true to themselves is having her own identity crisis.

But when an irritating client named Sammy Patel approaches Manny with an odd breakup request, the perfect solution presents itself: If they both agree to certain terms, he’ll give her a crash course in being “Indian” at his brother’s wedding.

What follows is days of dancing and dal, masala and mehndi as Manny meets the lovable, if endlessly interfering, aunties and uncles of the Patel family, and, along the way, discovers much more than she could ever have anticipated. 

Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 5th 2022 
by Simon & Schuster CA
3/5 stars
'only you know who you are, and no one else can change that about you.'
Sari, Not Sari was a quick, sweet read. It was also an impulse purchase for an IG readalong.

Manny runs a unique business, the breakup business. Rather than awkward face to face breakups her company writes the emails - kinda a weird concept but let’s go with it. Each chapter begins with a plea for help, witty and unique actually.

But Manny is struggling with her Indian identity and what follows is a fast paced lesson in that area. I learned a lot about the culture, family traditions and relationships. There were fun characters, some twisters, instalove and a predictable conclusion (it’s romance, that’s kind of a given.)

All in all a fun read by this Canadian author. Sari, Not Sari is readily available for purchase now.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge #26

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Sisters of the Snake by Sarena & Sasha Nanua

A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published June 15, 2021
 by Harper Teen
4/5 stars

This is one of my Owlcrate books. I cancelled my subscription this year so I could spend time getting caught up reading those I received last year.

With Sisters of the Snake I love that the authors are twins and that twins are central in this book - the snakes not so much. But I have to say by the end these slithering creatures grew on me.

Picture The Parent Trap in a fantasy realm, one a princess and the other an orphaned street thief. The story was unique, entertaining with nice world building. Each chapter alternated between Rani and Ria POV, flowing at a nice pace. Though fantasy isn't really my thing I have enjoyed the books I received from Owlcrate.  The stories leave me with something to walk away with and expand my reading horizon. This book was rounded out nicely with a cast of characters that enhanced the story, which was mysterious, magical and a pleasure to read.

This book comes in just over 500 pages, a nice size to really get to know the characters, get a lay of the land, so to speak and to also prepare for the sequel. Daughters of the Dawn releases 9/06/22

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenger (#25)

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Rip Through Time by Time Kelley Armstrong

In this series debut from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, a modern-day homicide detective finds herself in Victorian Scotland—in an unfamiliar body—with a killer on the loose.

May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Mitchell had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona's body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it's too late.

Outlander meets The Alienist in Kelley Armstrong's A Rip Through Time, the first book in this utterly compelling series, mixing romance, mystery, and fantasy with thrilling results.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication May 31, 2022
 by Minotaur Books
2.5/5 stars

It has been a long time since I’ve read a Kelley Armstrong book, mostly known for her YA books this I believe is not YA though it does have a YA feel.

I love the cover I think it invokes the time travel feel with a Gothic vibe. I like that the blurb tells readers right away that this is the beginning of a new series, which prepared me for possible cliffhangers and also setting up things for future books. I did not find any indication to say how big this series will be.

I'm just going to forewarn you that I am going against the flow in regards to my thoughts. It is a slow burn story told from the point of view of Mallory, a 30 year old in current time. But as she travels back in time she is 10 years younger. The adjustment of going from a modern day police officer with the world of electronics at her fingertips to a housemaid is, well an adjustment. How she jumped through time was a unique concept that raised the question of what happened to Catriona. Most of the story takes place in Mallory‘s head. We are privy to her thoughts for the majority of the book which I found repetitive as she rehashed so much over and over again.

This was very much a tell story vs show and sometimes that works but for me it didn’t in this instance. Another POV might have been nice to get a break from Mallory and her thinking. There were just too many inconsistencies to name them all.   But I preserved when the last third finally started to pickup with some action and a few questions sorta answered. 

I am so disappointed that my feelings didn't jive with most other reviews, but when it became a chore to pick up my kindle that is a tell tale sign that maybe I should give up.

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

Sunday, May 1, 2022

You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton

Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Joshilyn Jackson, Sarah Warburton's chilling thriller, inspired by the Moors Murders, explores the twisted side of suburbia.

Framed for embezzlement by her best friend Aimee, museum curator Kacy Tremain and her husband Michael move from New Jersey to a charming Texas suburb to escape their past. Kacy quickly makes new friends--preppy, inscrutable Elizabeth, chatty yet evasive Rahmia, and red-headed, unapologetic Lena. But good friends aren't always what they seem.

As she navigates the unexpectedly cutthroat social scene of her new town, Kacy begins to receive taunting postcards--and worse, discovers cameras hidden in the wall of her home. Lena and her husband, Brady, reassure her that the cameras are just relics of the paranoid previous homeowner . Once the cameras are removed and Kacy's fears are quelled, Kacy and Michael make the happy discovery that they are going to be new parents.

Months after the birth of their daughter, Michael accidentally makes a shocking discovery about Brady's past. And when Lena suddenly goes missing, Kacy and Michael begin to uncover the truth about their neighbors--and it's more terrible than anyone could have imagined.

Interlaced with transcripts of a chilling true crime podcast that follow the tangled threads of the drama, You Can Never Tell is a taut and complex psychological thriller that never lets up until its breathless conclusion.

Kindle, 288 pages
Published August 10, 2021
 by Crooked Lane Books
3/5 stars

You Can Never Tell had such a slow burn start that I switched over to the audiobook (via Scribd.)

Having been falsely accused of embezzlement Kacy and husband Michael move across the country for a fresh start. In the first few chapters she comes across as fragile, depressed and unstable but quickly that is shed as they make friends as a couple and Kacy, in her own branches out rather quickly.

Told from Kacy's POV and also including crime podcasts interspersed throughout. These podcasts, while interesting and added a nice change of pace, gave some of the mystery away at the same time it had me wondering how the two story-lines connected. But it wasn’t until  after the half way mark where things really picked up. I wonder if that was a little too late as the rest of the book felt rushed and impulsive.

The ending okay, I was hoping for some twists and even a feeling of satisfaction but that never came. All in all a mystery that wasn’t all that suspenseful and could have been so much more but was still an entertaining read.  Also the blurb gives too much of the story away (just mho.)

My thanks to Crooked Lane Books for a digital copy.