Sunday, July 31, 2022

My Wife Is Missing by D.J. Palmer

When a woman disappears with her two children, one husband will do anything to find them—even confront the secrets of his own past—in D. J. Palmer's My Wife Is Missing, a twisty thriller from the author of The New Husband...

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Michael Hart when he discovers his wife and two children have disappeared from their New York City hotel room. Horrified, he fears they’ve been kidnapped. Michael’s frantic search to find them takes a shocking turn when he discovers that his wife, Natalie, appears to have left quite willingly, taking their children with her. The police want to know why, and so does Michael. But there may be a reason why Natalie ran, something Michael can’t tell the police—the truth about his past.

While untangling his deceptions might be the key to locating Natalie, Michael knows it could also be his undoing. To find his wife, he must now turn to the one person capable of exposing all that he’s been hiding. Natalie thinks she has Michael all figured out and has hatched a plan to escape from him permanently. One detail, though, threatens to derail her efforts: sleep—or more accurately, the lack of it. Since the moment the shocking revelations about her husband came to light, Natalie’s insomnia has worsened to the point that she now suffers from delusions.

Are her fears about Michael valid—or a symptom of her condition? With her children’s lives at risk, the stakes for Natalie could not be higher. On her own, running low on energy and resources, avoiding increasingly close calls with Michael—who is on the hunt and closing in fast—Natalie needs someone to turn to for help. But who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself?

Audiobook, 11 hours, 8 mins
Narrated by Karissa Vacker
Published May 10, 2022 
by Macmillan Audio
4/5 stars

What begins as a family getaway turned into a nightmare for Michael when left in New York City with no idea where his wife and two children have disappeared to.

This is my first time reading DJ Palmer, I went with the audio book which comes in just over 11 hours giving it enough time to develop the characters and plot. Weaving back and forth between Michael and Natalie‘s point of view we also see through her eyes the past that led to her disappearance.

There are many layers to this story along with many secrets. I enjoyed the authors writing style and how he flawlessly went back-and-forth in time, I was kept in the dark as I tried to unravel the clues myself . My wife is Missing is a domestic story with the relationship between husband and wife, secrets of the past along with murder and much more.

I grabbed this audio book via Scribd because of all the hype I was seeing on Instagram about Palmer. I’m glad I did the impulse listen and highly recommend this book for those that like to be kept on their toes.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Librarian Spy: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Bookshop in London comes a moving new novel inspired by the true history of America’s library spies of World War II.

Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.

Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.

As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published July 26, 2022
by Hanover Square Press
3.5/5 stars

This was one of my anticipated reads of 2022, I really enjoyed the authors previous book The Last Bookshop in London not just for its bookish theme but reading another part of history I was unfamiliar with. The Librarian Spy follows suit in that it takes place in Portugal, which was neutral territory during the war.

Told from two different POVs with one being a French resistant worker in Lyons and the other an American sent to work in Lisbon, Portugal. I enjoyed reading about the historical details that occurred not just in Nazi occupied France but from the perspective of life in Portugal.  It wasn’t just about the lifestyle there but the work that was done for the war effort was something new to me.

The Librarian Spy is a story of heartache, resilience and perseverance. It was well written and the author definitely did her homework with her knowledge of the time shining through. Reading the author notes and knowing the extent of her research made me appreciate that aspect of the story. However, for me it didn’t draw me in like I was hoping it would, there wasn’t a lot to separate this book from other WW2 novels, or maybe I have just read too many and my expectation level is elevated.

All in all I enjoyed my read and look forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for a honest review

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.

With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy surprises, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake unveils more than one twist that will shock readers until the very last page.

Hardcover, 349 pages
Published June 21, 2022
 by Dutton
2.5, maybe 3 stars

I have read all of Riley Sager's books. I loved Home Before Dark and The Last Time I Lied. His other three were OK reads for me and honestly I went into this book with low expectations - mostly because of comments I’ve read on social media.

This book starts out slow but still intriguing, filled with unreliable and unlikable characters the plot slowly unravels. It wasn't till past the halfway point where I was actually captivated that the first twist hit. In all honesty I am not even sure how I felt about this book after that. This twist was a big one and I felt it came out of left field which broke the momentum. I also kinda felt cheated, like this author didn’t know what else to do.

Once I grudgingly accepted this twist the mystery slowly unravelled with more twists and turns to an ending that was acceptable.

All in all not my least favourite Sager book, but coming in pretty close. 

My copy obtained from the public library.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Are You Sara? by S.C. Lalli

Two women named Sara each get into a rideshare. . . but only one makes it home alive. Which Sara was the real target?

Law student Saraswati “Sara” Bhaduri holds down two jobs in order to make her way through school, but it’s still a struggle. She’s had to do things to pay the bills that most people wouldn’t expect from “a nice Indian girl.” It seems like an ordinary busy Tuesday night at the local dive bar until her boss demands Sara deal with a drunk girl in the bathroom.

The two become fast friends. Why? Because they both have the same name. And despite their different circumstances, the two connect. When they both order rideshares home, they tumble in the back of the cars and head out into the night.

But when Sara awakes in her rideshare, she finds she's on the wrong side of town—the rich side—and she realizes: she and Sarah took the wrong cars home.

With no money, Sara walks back to her apartment on the shady side of town only to discover police lights flashing and a body crumpled on her doorstep: Sarah.

Was Sarah Ellis or Sara Bhaduri the target? And why would anyone want either of them dead?

In this smart, twisty novel about ambition, wealth, and dangerous longing, the layers are peeled back on two young women desperate to break out of the expectations placed on them, with devastating results.

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication August 9, 2022
published by Harper Collins CA
3.5/5 stars

When Sara/Sarah get their car ride mixed up, is it a case of mistaken identity or not? Such is the premise of Are You Sara?

This was a dual story line plot, going back in time between the 2 of them. Starting out really strong I was intrigued about the mixup, the mystery and who these 2 vastly different women were.  The story progressed at a slower past and didn't have that unputdown feature I crave in a thriller but curiosity won out with that 'I gotta know what happened here vibe. It definitely went in a direction I didn't anticipate.

Lots of red herrings kept me guessing. Though I wasn't a fan of most of the characters, one was given more time than the other and ultimately the ending worked even if I wasn't a huge fan of it.

All in all a solid debut. My thanks to Harper Collins Ca for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Chasing Shadows by Lynn Austin

Lena is a wife and mother who farms alongside her husband in the tranquil countryside. Her faith has always been her compass, but can she remain steadfast when the questions grow increasingly complex and the answers could mean the difference between life and death?

Lena’s daughter Ans has recently moved to the bustling city of Leiden, filled with romantic notions of a new job and a young Dutch police officer. But when she is drawn into Resistance work, her idealism collides with the dangerous reality that comes with fighting the enemy.

Miriam is a young Jewish violinist who immigrated for the safety she thought Holland would offer. She finds love in her new country, but as her family settles in Leiden, the events that follow will test them in ways she could never have imagined.

The Nazi invasion propels these women onto paths that cross in unexpected, sometimes-heartbreaking ways. Yet the story that unfolds illuminates the surprising endurance of the human spirit and the power of faith and love to carry us through.

Paperback, 420 pages
Published June 8, 2021
 by Tyndale House Publishers
4/5 stars

This book has been patiently waiting on my TBR pile since June 2021 when it was first released. Not only am I drawn to Lynn Austin as an author but this book drew me in with the blurb about three women during World War II in the Netherlands. As much as I love reading historical fiction I love reading historical fiction that relates to my families heritage and this one fit the bill perfectly. It takes place during a time that my parents lived through and rarely talked about so for me this was a glimpse into what they went through during the war.  I know it wasn’t pretty and this book showcased that only the residences of the country but for Jews escaping Germany finding themselves again hiding persecution from the Nazis.

Told from three different points of view gives a broad view of the story. There is Ans, a young woman who craves adventure and moves to the city just before the war breaks out. She gets more than she bargained for. There is Miriam, a young Jewish violinist who escaped Germany for the safety of Holland only to be caught in the grips of the Nazis yet again. Then there is Lena, wife, mother to Ans who lives in the country with her husband and other children, she relies on her faith to get her through this terrible time.

Chasing Shadows is not just a story of survival but it is a story of faith, trust and sacrifice. It is well written, heartbreaking as is most World War II stories are but it also showcases a country that comes together to fight for their rights and freedom. 

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

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


Friday, July 15, 2022

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier

When Paris Peralta is arrested in her own bathroom—covered in blood, holding a straight razor, her celebrity husband dead in the bathtub behind her—she knows she'll be charged with murder. But as bad as this looks, it's not what worries her the most. With the unwanted media attention now surrounding her, it's only a matter of time before someone from her long hidden past recognizes her and destroys the new life she's worked so hard to build, along with any chance of a future.

Twenty-five years earlier, Ruby Reyes, known as the Ice Queen, was convicted of a similar murder in a trial that riveted Canada in the early nineties. Reyes knows who Paris really is, and when she's unexpectedly released from prison, she threatens to expose all of Paris's secrets. Left with no other choice, Paris must finally confront the dark past she escaped, once and for all.

Because the only thing worse than a murder charge are two murder charges.

Things We Do in the Dark is a brilliant new thriller from Jennifer Hillier, the award-winning author of the breakout novels Little Secrets and Jar of Hearts. Paris Peralta is suspected of killing her celebrity husband, and her long-hidden past now threatens to destroy her future.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication July 19, 2022
by Minotaur Books
4/5 stars

Canadian author Jennifer Hillier is a go to author for me. Her previous books have been captivating and some of my favourites.

Things We Do in The Dark releases next week and again she has written a captivating story that is a touch grittier and comes with trigger warnings.

After her arrest Paris isn't 100% concerned about the murder charge, well she is but it’s her past that she has worked hard to bury that could come back to haunt her. Told from a couple POV and jumping to the past this book was addicting in its mystery and heartache. There was a diverse cast of characters, some I could barely tolerate and others I wanted to hug.  This is a dark domestic gritty story of despair, hope and strength. There is abuse and violence, so not for the faint of heart. 

On one hand I liked the ending, it was satisfying but it did leave me wondering, well honestly I can't say much more without giving something away.

I did a combo read and listen. Carla Vega was the reader and did a great job bringing Paris's story to life.  She is always a pleasure to listen to.

My thanks to Minotaur Book and Macmillan Audio for advanced copies in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers—a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget—permanently.

A complex thriller that unfolds at a breakneck speed, Stay Awake will keep you up all night.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Audiobook, 10 hours, 59 minutes
Expected publication August 9, 2022
 by St. Martin's Press
3.5/5 stars

This is my second Megan Goldin book, I loved The Night Swim and eagerly awaited this her new book.

This book sounded familiar as soon as I started reading it with reminders of Before I Go to Sleep, fingers crossed the plot was not similar. This was both an audio and a digital read for me. I was very thankful to have the audio and managed to polish it off in just over a day.

Liv wakes up in a taxi and when arriving home finds it’s 2 years later. Where has she been all this time? That’s the million dollars question.

Stay Awake is told from Liv’s pov as well as a detective. Though I couldn’t connect with Liv this was an intense read.  Taking place over a one day period there were glimpses to the past to bring this story full circle. It was part repetitive not just with the 'stay awake' and other messages written on her hand but in other aspects also which took away from the mystery and intrigue.

The ending was okay and actually I didn't see it coming but it did lack some parts to make it feel authentic. All in all an fun read.

My thanks to  Macmillan Audio and St. Martin's Press for advanced copies in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn¹t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

As the two women's lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood¹s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 7, 2019
 by Bonnier Zaffre
2.5/5 stars

I grabbed this book not just because of it’s gorgeous cover but the subject matter, Pendle Witch Trials.  I'm familiar with the Salem witch trials from 1692 but I know nothing about the Pendle trials.

Whether my expectations were too high or not I am going against the flow with my thoughts on this book. Well I appreciate that the author used real historical figures to tell the story of this dark time in history I was craving more information about the witch trials themselves rather than fleeting glances. The Familiars is a story of a 17-year-old pregnant woman and her obsession with Alice Gray, a young midwife.

The writing for the story was good I just found the story itself underwhelming. The main focus was Fleetwood’s pregnancy, her 4th at this young age. Her relationship with her mother, her husband and midwife Alice are center stage. The slow pace didn't keep me as captivated as I would have liked and the ending was just brushed upon without too much fanfair.

Even though The Familiars was a miss for me I will give the author another go with her latest book, Mrs. England, which was getting lots of hype when released.  

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

Saturday, July 9, 2022

The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

Idealistic Nikhil, a wealthy Bengali landowner, encourages Bimala, his tradition-minded wife, to venture out into the world. Bimala's gradual political awakening leads to her attraction to charismatic Sandip, a revolutionary who stops at nothing — neither robbery nor murder — to achieve his ends. Their love triangle unfolds against the backdrop of the 1905 Partition of Bengal, during India's long fight for independence from British rule. This brilliantly poetic novel explores the psychology of its three protagonists, capturing the turmoil that results when personal relationships and family life are exposed to the chaos of social and political change.

Originally written in Bengali and published in 1916, The Home and the World is the vision of Rabindranath Tagore, Asia's first Nobel laureate. 

The novel reflects Tagore's own inner conflict between embracing modern ideas and rejecting Western domination. His vivid historical setting, realistically portrayed characters, and philosophical insights form a compelling drama of the clash between old and new, realism and idealism, and good and evil.

Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 16, 2018
 by Dover Publications
3/5 stars

The Home an The World is a poetic story originally published in 1916. It is part of our Family Blessings Book Club where our theme is ‘let’s read some classics.'

This is a story with many layers, there is the relationship between husband and wife as well as between wife and a revolutionary taking place in 1905.

This was another audio read for me. I grabbed the edition with 3 distinct voices. Coming in with 176 pages (or 8 hours for the audio) there aren’t any fillers but a direct story that I had to pay attention to. It’s definitely not my normal read and I probably wouldn’t have picked it otherwise but still it was enlightening and enjoyable.

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

Friday, July 8, 2022

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

Lucy Clairmont's family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it's Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she's discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers--and the healing--they so desperately seek.

Paperback, 352 pages 
Published June 30, 2020
 by Bethany House Publishers
4/5 stars

Amanda Dykes is not a new to me author, I have only read one of her books Whose Waves These Are, which I absolutely loved.

This was an audio read, coming in at 12 1/2 hours and narrated by Shiromi Arserio who is a new to me narrator. Stellar job!

It isn't a secret that I enjoy dual timelines and here was the case again. In current day Lucy Claremont is fascinated with the high seas, she grew up in a story filled world where her father kept her entertained with stories and legends. With riddles that gave a fairy tale feel.

Two hundred years ago a boy named Frederick tells his story of the high seas, a girl named Juliette and a cave.

This was an interesting story spanning years with family time, tragedy, heartache and separation. Connecting the dots to this 2 timelines was intriguing and while usually I like one era more than the other, here I enjoyed both equally.  Set the Stars Alight is a well written, mysterious time in history. The cover speaks volumes of the stars, the sea and the power of the past to heal in the future.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka "bodyguard"), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Kindle, 320 pages
Expected publication July 19, 2022
by St. Martin's Press
Audiobook, 10 hours, 30 minutes
Macmillan Audio
4.5/5 stars

I read this book after reading a couple of dark psychological thrillers, it was exactly what I needed, in terms of switching up genres.

Katherine Centre is a new-to-me author, I was unfamiliar with her books but this one grabbed my attention for the cover and interesting blurb. It releases in a couple weeks and I was given both a digital arc and audiobook for review. The audiobook comes in just under 11 hours with Patti Murin doing a great job reading, it was a pleasure to listen to.

The Bodyguard is definitely a rom/com and while a fun one it does contain some serious subject matters that haunts this cast, it was written with respect and tastefully handled.

Movie star legend, Jack Stapleton reluctantly agrees to an Executive Protection Agent (aka a bodyguard) against an obsessive corgi carrying fan.

Hannah also deals with the recent passing of her mother and betrayal from friends.

Like I said this a a fun read/listen. It was well written, I laughed, cringed and cheered on Jack and Hannah as they navigated their time together along with the obstacles they encountered. Basically it's the type of Rom/Com I enjoy because it doesn't lack the Com part.  This a book and author I recommend, I will be searching out her backlist.

My thanks to both St. Martin's Press and Macmillan Audio for advanced copies in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, July 4, 2022

First Born by Will Dean

From the acclaimed author of The Last Thing to Burn, a psychological thriller about the dark secrets that emerge when a woman’s twin sister is murdered, with his signature “intense, gripping, taut, terrifying, moving, and brilliant” (Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author) prose.

Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.

Paperback 368 pages
Expected publication July 5, 2022
by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
3.5/5 stars

Will Dean is an author I heard about through his previous book, The Last Thing to Burn.  I haven't read it yet but it does come highly recommended.

First Born might have gotten off to a slow start for me but it was still rather intriguing. I was advised of a twist at the halfway mark which kept me reading. The twist took me totally by surprise which in turn opened the door to more questions and kept me turning the pages.

Ultimately First Born is a story about the relationship between twin sisters. With glimpses into the past one realises the differences between Molly and Katie (KT) and slowly the mystery unravels. There were many times I had to suspend my belief but the author made me genuinely curious about this story.  It had the surprise ending and though I still had questions I was satisfied.   Also I might not have connected with the characters but this still was an entertaining read.

First Born releases today and available for purchase.

My thanks to Atria Books for a print arc in exchange for a honest review.