Wednesday, August 31, 2022

New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan

After the local French teacher scandalizes the fishing village of Little Cove, Newfoundland, by running off with a priest, the school looks to the mainland to fill the job quickly. They want someone who can uphold their Catholic values and keep a motley group of largely unwilling students in line.

The position is filled by mainlander Rachel O’Brien—technically a Catholic (baptized!), technically a teacher (honors degree!)—who’s desperate to leave her current mess of a life behind. She isn’t surprised that her students don’t see the value of learning French. But she is surprised that she can barely understand their English… Is it a compliment or insult to be called a sleeveen? (Insult.) And the anonymous notes left on her car, telling her to go home, certainly don’t help to make her feel welcome.

Still, she is quickly drawn into the island’s traditional music and culture, and into the personal lives of her crusty but softhearted landlady, Lucille, her reluctant students and her fellow teacher Doug Bishop. But when her beliefs clash with church and community, she makes a decision that throws her career into jeopardy. In trying to help a student, has she gone too far?

Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 11th 2021
 by Graydon House 
4/5 stars

New Girl in Little Cove was a fun and charming read, actually I ended up listening to most of it. Marnye Young is the narrator, who did a great job not just with the story but with the dialect and accents transmitting that Newfoundland feeling.

This book is about Rachel, a teacher from Toronto as she begins teaching high school in Little Cove, a factitious town in Newfoundland. The 1985 setting was a treat - no cell phones or internet to cause distractions, but rather highlights not just the time but the place and the people in this tight knit community.

This one year was at times funny as Rachel learns the lay of the land with some quirky characters and traditions.  It isn't always easy and real life does intervene with controversy, romance and even a tad mystery.  I enjoyed my time listening to this well written debut.  A sweet story that had me smiling at some of the expressions and language I am not used to. This book has left me with a craving for fish and chips and listening to some funky music.

My thanks to the bookish community on IG for bringing this book to my attention.  I purchased it which means this was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #61

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

By Way of the Moonlight by Elizabeth Musser

Two courageous young women, tied together by blood and shared passion, will risk everything to save what they love most.

For as long as she can remember, Allie Massey, a gifted physical therapist, has dreamed of making her grandparents’ ten-acre estate into a trauma recovery center using equine therapy—a dream her grandmother, Nana Dale, embraced wholeheartedly. But when her grandmother’s will is read, Allie is shocked to learn the property has been sold to a developer.

Decades earlier, headstrong Dale Butler’s driving passion is to bring home the prized filly her family lost to the Great Depression, but with World War II looming, she’s called upon in ways she never could have imagined. And while her world expands to include new friends and new love, tragedy strikes close to home one fateful night during the Battle of the Atlantic, changing her life forever.

As Nana Dale’s past comes to light in Allie’s search for answers, Dale’s courage and persistence may be just what Allie needs to carry on her grandmother’s legacy and keep her own dreams alive.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 2nd 2022 
by Bethany House Publishers
4.5/5 stars

Elizabeth Musser is a new author for me. I jumped at the chance when offered a copy to review,  she's been on my radar for a while and comes highly recommended.

This is a dual time period story. Beginning in March 2020, just before the world blows up,  Allie is still mourning the loss of her grandmother followed by the shock in learning that her promised inheritance has been taken away by a underhanded land developer.

Going back to the 1930's Dale is a teen living through the depression and then the war. I enjoyed reading this part of the story, not just for the aggressive and determined teen but also for the historical lesson. I never knew about how the US struggled along the eastern seaboard and what entailed in keeping the coast safe.

This was a wonderful book to read. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and even though it comes in at almost 400 pages (sometimes it might’ve felt a bit long especially in places at the beginning) I was captivated with both stories lines. Allie‘s journey through grief, disappointment and possible resolution as she obsesses about finding a way to right this wrong while losing sight of what she truly loves. Dale story is equally as captivating.

Although I am not a horse person they do play a big part and learning about equine therapy and how that trait followed from grandmother to granddaughter, the good it does and what a wonderful resource it is was so interesting to discover this great service.

By Way of the Moonlight is a generational story of grief, determination, and faith. It was authentic, well written, and one I highly recommend.

This book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communication in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Take My Husband by Ellen Meister

Only one thing stands in the way of Laurel Applebaum's happiness…Doug Applebaum.

In this darkly comic novel about a wife whose rope is so frayed it's about to snap, Laurel gets a call that her husband has been in an accident. She imagines the worst. But as she is on the way to the ER, another emotion seizes her. Relief. Doug's death could solve all her problems. No more catering to his incessant demands. Then there's the insurance money. Laurel's dreams seem so close. There's just one problem: Doug is very much alive. Now Laurel has to decide if she is going to do something about it.

Subversive, irreverent and surprisingly poignant, Take My Husband probes the deep corners of a marriage and emerges to find the light. For anyone who's spent a little too much time with a significant other and thought, One of us has got to go.

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2022
 by MIRA
4/5 stars

From reading the blurb one is expecting a funny story about a wife who is just fed up with her husband. Which that is exactly what you get.

Take My Husband
in some ways felt like a throwback to the 50's/60's in terms of what Laurel had to put up with. She is fed up and decides to take matters into her own hands. This sets up a chain reaction of situations that are both comical and sad. Sad in the sense that some women can relate to the frustrations of what she is going through.  

My only complaint about this book is that it comes in at 400 pages and that was a tad too long, but what to exclude would be a hard decision.  While this book might not appeal to everyone I enjoyed reading it, I enjoyed watching the change in Laurel, I enjoyed the writing and how engaged I was with the story.  There were twists I didn't anticipate, as for the ending, yea it was perfect.

This is my first time reading a Elaine Meister book, I will be taking a look at her back list to add to my TBR.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2022

By the Book (Meant to Be) by Jasmine Guillory

A tale as old as time—for a new generation…

Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing right out of college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, living at home, still an editorial assistant, and the only Black employee at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves.

All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a quick pep talk or three. How hard could it be?

But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and—it turns out—just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn't there before.

Best-selling author Jasmine Guillory’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is a romantic triumph of love and acceptance and learning that sometimes to truly know a person you have to read between the lines. 

Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 3rd 2022
 by Hyperion Avenue

This is the second book in the A Meant To Be Novel Series, each one stands alone. This one is a retelling of  Beauty & the Beast which is what grabbed my attention. It’s also my first time reading this author.

I really enjoyed this read, I enjoyed getting to know Izzy and her drive. It's 2 years since her career in publishing began, but then becomes disillusioned with her job. She doesn’t know what she signs up for when giving this 'pep talk' to Beau. A celebrity supposedly writing a tell all memoir. What follows is a story with a fairy tale feel, a journey of discovery not just for Izzy but Beau as well. Plus some twists with good character development and plot. Add to that, the library making it a perfect fit for bookish book lovers and those that love a feel good story.

The previous book in this series is If The Shoe Fits, which I am taking to mean a Cinderella inspired story.

By The Book was from my bookshelf and part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

In this romantic and heartwarming novel, two strangers meet in chance circumstances during a blizzard and spend one perfect evening together, thinking they’ll never see each other again. But fate seems to have different plans.

On a snowy evening in March, 30-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone. All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear.

The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again, but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence. With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.

Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 28th 2021 
by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
3.5 stars

The cover of this book might invoke the feeling of a Christmas story but really it isn’t. The story does start out during a snow storm which is the only reference really to the season. Noelle‘s caught in a blizzard, stranded she meets Sam and together they have eight hours to get to know one another until they separate the next morning.

Part of the story resonated more for me in Noelle‘s role as she takes care of her mother following a stroke. Her life is essentially not her own, she isn't living the life she truly wants. Essentially putting her life on hold for the time being.

I was attracted to this book because the author wrote Dear Emmie Blue back in 2020 which was a five star read for me. Eight Perfect Hours is a charming story of two strangers fated to be together but with many obstacles in the way. It is also a journey of Noelle and her relationship with her mother and brother.  Even though it isn’t wasn’t a five star read for me I did enjoy it.  This was another combo read/audiobook. Emma Powell being the narrator this book comes in at 8 hours and 12 minutes. My first time with this narrator, I will be on the lookout for more since she did a great job.

This book was from my personal library and part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge, the audiobook was through Scribd

Friday, August 26, 2022

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was wrongfully convicted of plotting to murder her husband.

Now she's finally free, Olivia has three goals: repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, clear her name, and bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her? Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life… 

Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 28th 2022 
by Avon
3.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a C.L. Taylor book.  It was an impulse purchase during a recent Chapters sale.

The blurb is intriguing, the cover signifies the deep chasm between this couple and the revenge sounds enticing.

Well this book started out with Olivia just wanting to reconnect with her daughter, it quickly escalates as she discovers things of the past and the possibility that there is proof of her innocence. Now she just has to find the evidence and retrieve it.

The Guilty Couple is a book told from a number of points of view with lots of red herrings, twists and good narration. It's a fast paced story with shorter chapters, some suspense and mystery. There are also a number of subplots throughout that fit together nicely at the end.

I did a combo read/audiobook and managed to polish this off in a day and a half. The narrator was Claire Corbett who did a very good job. Coming in at just over eight hours it was a little faster after I ramped up the speed a tad.

Well I didn’t find this book to be an unputdownable suspense read like I'd hoped it was enjoyable and entertaining. I will definitely lookup more by this author.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

A trio of second-born daughters set out to break the family curse that says they’ll never find love on a whirlwind journey through the lush Italian countryside by New York Times bestseller Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List.

Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.

Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 17th 2020
 by Berkley
5/5 stars

I love Italy, this book took me across the country and brought back memories of my last vacation, reinforcing how this is one of my favourite destinations.

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany started out with a great fable of the past and curse upon the second born daughters. What follows here is the story of Emilia who along with her cousin Lucy accompany estranged Aunt Poppy back to Italy in an attempt to break the curse.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I found the authors writing style captivating, the witty banter  worked well. This is a dual-time story as Poppy reflects on her past as she approaches her 80th birthday. The plan is to meet the love of her life even though they have not communicated for decades.

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany is the story of relationships, between sisters, cousins and in this case of family members. They are Italian so there are lots of them. What follows is not just a journey across the country but of self discovery and courage. Told from the point of view of Emilia as well as Poppy reminiscing about her past and what brought her to America. This book was a pleasure to read it was well written, it highlighted the struggles faced in Italy and of those seeking a new start in America. Definitely an author and book a highly recommend, I will be seeking out the authors back list

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge #52

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming....

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves. 

Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 3rd 2022 
by Berkley
5/5 stars

I went into this book a little cautious because of my past experience with Beach Read. Yes, I am one of those that did not absolutely love it like everyone else on social media did. Suffice to say with this reading you can see it was a totally different experience.

I loved Nora, I loved her life of books, not just her reading but her job, her independence and her loyalty to her sister Libby. Which is why she ends up spending a month in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina – which happens to be the setting for one of their favourite books.

I found Book Lovers to be a witty story with so many things going for it. It isn’t just a story of the love of books but also the relationship with family, the bonds of sisterhood and grief. With that enemies-to- lovers trope, this was an entertaining and captivating progression to watch, the tension was there and felt.

There really isn’t much more I can say without giving away part of the story, suffice to say it’s another five stars for me and I read in a matter of days. I have not read Emily Henry’s previous book People We Meet on Vacation but it has definitely moved closer to the top of my TBR.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

A coven of modern-day witches. A magical heist-gone-wrong. A looming threat.

Five octogenarian witches gather as an angry mob threatens to demolish Moonshyne Manor. All eyes turn to the witch in charge, Queenie, who confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments. Still, there’s hope, since the imminent return of Ruby—one of the sisterhood who’s been gone for thirty-three years—will surely be their salvation.

But the mob is only the start of their troubles. One man is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy he claims was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. Then things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle instead of the solution to all their problems.

The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but their aging powers are no match for increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline to save the manor approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

Funny, tender and uplifting, the novel explores the formidable power that can be discovered in aging, found family and unlikely friendships. Marais’ clever prose offers as much laughter as insight, delving deeply into feminism, identity and power dynamics while stirring up intrigue and drama through secrets, lies and sex. Heartbreaking and heart-mending, it will make you grateful for the amazing women in your life.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 23rd 2022
by Harlequin Trade Publishing
4/5 stars

I love witchy books and just by the title I knew I wanted to read this one. Bianca Marais is a new to me author and I loved discovering that she is from Toronto, just adding to what a talented bunch of authors we have from here.

Think the Golden Girls meets Practical Magic, that’s what the buzz is saying, I'll agree even though I have never watched Practical Magic.

The Witches of Moonshine Manor is the story with a deadline, the past finally catching up and a spunky 12 year old who infiltrates the lives of these elderly witches. This was a fun read with an eclectic cast of characters along with Widget the crow. I enjoyed the author's writing style, how she weaved in the past and how this group came to be with their vastly different personalities, talents and secrets.

The Witches is the story of friendship. It is witty, mysterious and had a nice ending. There’s a large cast of characters and I wish I had made a cheat sheet right from the beginning just to keep a record of who’s who’s, their special abilities. That being said it didn’t take too long to keep it all straight and enjoy this ride.

Releasing tomorrow it is available for purchase, my thanks to HarperCollins Canada for a digital ARC in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett's father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett's long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval's mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season's Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away. 

Paperback, 418 pages
Published May 1st 2018
 by Flatiron Books
3.5/5 stars

Stephanie Garber is not a new to me author. I thoroughly enjoyed her book Once Upon a Broken Heart and while I eagerly await its sequel next month I am starting to go through her back list. Caraval was her debut and the first in a trilogy.

I did a combo book/audiobook and well the book was lovely to read, keeping my attention and all that, I found I myself enjoying the audio for the majority of the time. Rebecca Soler did a good job with the narration.

Two sisters, Scarlet and Tella are opposite in personality and family loyalty. Most of the book centres around Scarlet as she embarks on a journey with reluctance but determination to bring her sister home, then wed a Count though they have never met. What follows is an adventure through a game (but, is it really) that paved the way for two more books.

Caraval is a well written story with some wonderful world building, it was fast paced and a fun read. I didn’t care for all the characters (looking at you Tella) and had trust issues with some.  The ending works while also leaving the door open for the sequel.

While I didn’t love this book as much as Once Upon a Broken Heart, I look forward to Legendary and continuing this series.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist. 

Paperback, 357 pages
Published June 6th 2021 
by Atria
2.5/5 stars

The Other Black Girl is the story 26 year old Nella Rogers who works as an editorial assistant. She lacks confidence and tends to second-guess herself.

I wanted to love this book, I heard so many great things on Instagram but I just struggled to connect on a number of different levels. I liked the blurb and the mystery it eluded to but while The Other Black Girl started out strong (for me) sadly went down hill with a very slow paced story with most of the action happening in the last quarter of the book. What happened at the end left me scratching my head. 

This started out as a combo book/audiobook but I ended up just listening to the audio and to be honest I'm not sure I would have finished if I read the book. Though I was genuinely curious about the conclusion getting there wasn't easy. There was a fair amount of repetition and characters I just didn’t like or care about.

There was also a backstory here from 30 years ago interwoven to present day. The big twist at the end was OK but I think at that point I was just happy to have finished listening to this book.

Given those I follow on GR it appears I might be in the minority with my feelings.

This book was part of my 2022 Readingoff my shelf challenge.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

For fans of A Man Called Ove, a charming, witty and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope, tracing a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus.

After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she's been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn't dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors--until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova's son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late.

Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible. 

Audiobook, Unabridged, 11 hours, 16 minutes
Marin Ireland (Narrator)
Michael Urie (Narrator)
Published May 3rd 2022
 by HarperAudio
5/5 stars

To be honest this was a book that was not on my radar even when I started seeing the buzz on Instagram. But when a few of my favourite Instagrammers started raving about it I wanted to be one of the cool kids. I went the audio route and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The narrators (noted above) did a great job bringing this book to life.

Told from a number of POVs (including the non human kind) these different characters who at the beginning have no connection. I loved watching the different journeys and to see how all the pieces fit together. Marcellus the giant octopus who lives at the aquarium where Tova works made this story. He was wise, smart and sneaky.

Remarkable Bright Creatures is a debut novel, it is well written, gripping and was hard to put down.  Humorous at times it’s a story of grief, friendship, loneliness and family.

Well I can’t comment on whether I would’ve felt the same if I had read this book, though I imagine I would.  I highly recommend the audiobook to those that feel inclined and are fans of that method of reading.

My copy was obtained through Scribd as part of my monthly subscription


Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven't spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they're forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they'd do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they've hated each other for the past three years isn't easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Paperback, 317 pages
Published January 25th 2022
 by Berkley Books
3.5/5 stars

I went on a kick a few months ago in reading bookish books, The Roughest Draft fitted that theme perfectly.

Written by two authors, a man and a woman kind of matches the story from the point of view of a man and a woman, Katrina and Nathan. At one time they were best friends, authors of books that were on the bestseller‘s list. But then something happened four years ago and they haven’t spoken since. And no one really knows the truth. They are back together, each with their own reasons as they write another book. 

This was a combination read and listen for me and I’m glad I went that route. The book started off good but slow down a bit as Kat and Nathan worked on this book but basically not talking. It does jump back in time to slowly tell the reader what transpired four years ago.  I loved friend Harriet, that spark that creates tension breaks and wish she played a bigger part.

The Roughest Draft is a story of miscommunication, discovering oneself and tension. At times frustrating to read, which is great to switch over to the audiobook. It’s only in the last quarter of the book were things start to happen. The previous conflict is revealed and an ending that predictably worked.

All in all a fun read, perfect for those into bookish books.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Four women. One family heirloom. A secret connection that will change their lives—and history as they know it.

Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. Meanwhile, her grandmother Babs is also feeling shaken. Still grieving the death of her beloved husband, she decides to move out of the house they once shared and into a retirement community. Though she hopes it’s a new beginning, she does not expect to run into an old flame, dredging up the same complicated emotions she felt a lifetime ago.

1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own. Asheville, North Carolina has always been her safe haven away from the prying eyes of the press, but as she explores more of the rapidly changing world around her, she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the exciting future that lies beyond Biltmore’s gilded gates.

In the vein of Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Wedding Veil brings to vivid life a group of remarkable women forging their own paths—and explores the mystery of a national heirloom lost to time.

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 29th 2022
 by Gallery Books
4.5/5 stars

The Wedding Veil was a fun and entertaining read for me. I really enjoyed the author's previous book, Under the Southern Sky, it was my first time reading a Harvey book, I will definitely be reading more.

The Wedding Veil is more than the story of Julia and her upcoming wedding. Cut short with startling revelations she embarks on her honeymoon alone. This book is told not just from Julia‘s point of view but also her grandmother, Babs, who is still grieving the loss of her husband. Going on a journey with these two was enjoyable to read, to watch their progression as life changes and to see the outcome. I love Babs, I loved her wit, strength and character.

Jump back to 1914, Edith Vanderbilt, also a recently widow is struggling, trying to keep afloat the Vanderbilt legacy, as well as the mansion.

I love the historical aspect, I don’t know much about the rich and famous in the US but the Vanderbilt name evokes money and power. The Wedding Veil is a story of three women, their strengths and weaknesses and how they overcame in ways we wouldn’t expect.

Kristy Woodson Harvey has turned into a go-to author for me, I love her writing style, the southern charm and how she weaves various time pieces together in what looks and feels effortlessly. I read this book when it was first released, how I missed reviewing until now was an oversight. I highly recommend both the author and this book.

I obtained this book from the library but honestly I wish I had bought it to put on my shelf.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Two best friends torn apart by a life-altering secret. They have one summer to set the record straight.

When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 14th 2022
 by Berkley Books
4/5 stars

This was an impulse purchase for me, the cover made it look fun, beachy and the perfect summer read.

Told for the POVs of two half sisters, Kat and Blake.  They meet at summer camp, become fast best friends and wham discover they have the same dad.  Each of them feels betrayed by the other and what once was a bubbling friendship shatters. Fast forward 15 years when they are forced together again. With no other option they work together on a project even when they can’t stand being around each other.

The Beach Trap is a story of relationships, not just the one between Kate and Blake but also within them themselves. That summer forces them to take stock of their lives and it was a fun journey to watch. I like the strength of these women and their determination even though they needed to get past the past hurts. I like the ending I think it was a very fitting and worked, it was fun to be on the journey with Kat and Blake.

Allie Brady is a pen name for two friends who each have previous books out in the market. The writing together worked, I didn’t even know it was a duel effort until I was writing this review. 

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn

A heartwarming, poignant, and charming debut novel for fans of Nick Hornby and The Rosie Project, about a father and son overcoming their grief in surprisingly inventive ways.

Danny’s life is falling apart. He’s become a single father to eleven-year-old Will—who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash a year earlier—and Danny has just been fired from his construction job. To make matters worse, he’s behind on the rent and his nasty landlord is threatening to break his legs if he doesn’t pay soon. Danny needs money, and fast.

After observing local street performers in a nearby park, Danny spends his last few dollars on a tattered panda costume, impulsively deciding to become a dancing bear. While performing one day, Danny spots his son in the park, and chases off the older boys who are taunting him. Will opens up for the first time since his mother’s death, unaware that the man in the panda costume is his father. Afraid of disclosing his true identity, Danny comforts his son. But will Danny lose Will’s trust once he reveals who he is? And will he be able to dance his way out of debt, or be beaten up before he has a chance?

Filled with a colorful cast of characters, Bear Necessity is a refreshingly unpretentious and ultimately uplifting story of a father and son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Hardcover, 312 pages
Published August 4, 2020
by Scribner
Audiobook, 8 hrs and 6 mins
By Simon & Schuster Audio
4.5/5 stars

From the cover one would think Bare Necessity is a comedic story involving a panda bear. It is that and so much more. Since the loss of his wife over a year ago Danny has been lost in his grief and struggle to connect with his 11 year old son Will, who hasn’t spoken a word since losing his mother.

I went the audio route with this book and it was fantastic, the accents for the location were spot on and gave the characters life, Rupert Holiday Evans was the narrator and I highly recommend listening to more books by him.

Bare Necessities is the story of the relationship between father and son and of grief - it affects everyone differently and that is shown here.  Desperate times call for desperate measures when Danny finds himself unemployed.  One thing leads to another with Danny ending up in a Panda suit street dancing.  What follows is a heartwarming, at times funny story along the bumpy road of healing and reconciliation.  The unique cast of characters provided the levity needed. 

All in all Bear Necessity was a well written story by a new-to-me author. Highly recommend both book and author.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge (#49)

Monday, August 1, 2022

Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel

In this haunting, groundbreaking, historical novel, Danielle Daniel imagines the lives of her ancestors in the Algonquin territories of the 1600s, a story inspired by her family link to a girl murdered near Trois-Rivières in the early days of French settlement.

Marie, an Algonquin woman of the Weskarini Deer Clan, lost her first husband and her children to an Iroquois raid. In the aftermath of another lethal attack, her chief begs her to remarry for the sake of the clan. Marie is a healer who honours the ways of her people, and Pierre, the green-eyed ex-soldier from France who wants her for his bride, is not the man she would choose. But her people are dwindling, wracked by white men's diseases and nearly starving every winter as the game retreats away from the white settlements. If her chief believes such a marriage will cement their alliance with the French against the Iroquois and the British, she feels she has no choice. Though she does it reluctantly, and with some fear--Marie is trading the memory of the man she loved for a man she doesn't understand at all, and whose devout Catholicism blinds him to the ways of her people.

This beautiful, powerful novel brings to life women who have literally fallen through the cracks of settler histories. Especially Jeanne, the first child born of the new marriage, neither white nor Weskarini, but caught between worlds. As she reaches adolescence, it becomes clear she is two-spirited. In her mother's culture, she would have been considered blessed, her nature a sign of special wisdom. But to the settlers of New France, and even to her own father, Jeanne is unnatural, sinful--a woman to be shunned, and worse.

And so, with the poignant story of Jeanne, Danielle Daniel imagines her way into the heart and mind of a woman at the origin of the long history of violence against Indigenous women and the deliberate, equally violent, disruption of First Nations culture--opening a door long jammed shut, so all of us can enter.

Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 8, 2022 
by Random House Canada
4.5/5 stars

I grabbed this book because of the Canadian historical fiction theme and time period. What I really liked was discovering, after I finished reading, the link between the author and the story.

Beginning in 1657 I was treated to a compelling story with vivid description of life between the French and the Weskarkin Deer clan. Taking place in New France, Trois-Rivières to be exact, as tension mounts between the different groups inhabiting the land.

Daughters of the Deer is a well written story highlighting the early history of Canada, the paths taken by France to populate and the extreme measures they took. I loved the history lesson, the characters were real, hurting with their own desires and needs that were ignored. Frustrating at times to read but also rewarding.

A powerful story that I stumbled across on IG, so glad I did an impulse purchase. I have since learned the author has a MG novel, Forever Birchwood. I’ve purchased it also.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge.

The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

Three couples. Two bodies. One secret.

Dark Fell Barn is a “perfectly isolated” retreat, or so says its website when Jayne books a reservation for her friends. A quiet place, far removed from the rest of the world, is exactly what they need.

The women arrive for a girls’ night ahead of their husbands. There’s ex-Army Jayne, hardened and serious, but also damaged. Ruth, the driven doctor and new mother who is battling demons of her own. Young Emily, just wed and insecure, the newest addition of this tight-knit band. Missing this year is Edie, who was the glue holding them together until her husband died suddenly.

But what they hoped would be a relaxing break soon turns to horror. Upon arrival at Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note claiming one of their husbands will be murdered. There are no phones, no cell service to check on their men. Friendships fracture as the situation spins wildly out of control. Betrayal can come in many forms.

This group has kept each other’s secrets for far too long.

Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 29, 2022
by William Morrow
4/5 stars

Sometimes, for no other reason then, a eerie cover will cause this reader to do an impulse purchase and that is what happened here. Though I was a tad nervous that this book would be another one of those stranded in one place with a deranged serial killer on the loose the whole time,  thankfully it wasn’t. 

The Long Weekend is a twisty dark story that spans over a couple of days. There is a lot going on with quite a few POVs but after a while it was not hard to keep track of who was who and the different relationships. It did got off to a slow start, but just after the half way mark I could not put this book down. The story was intriguing, the mystery creepy, that location dark and spooky. I read the last third of this book in one sitting, I had to know what was going on. I will confess that I had to suspend my belief a few times as more things continued to happen even right down to the very end. But still an entertaining suspenseful read that was a perfect fit for this long weekend here in Ontario.

Gilly McMillan is not a new author to me, while I enjoyed her book The Nanny I enjoyed this one much more just for the tension, suspense and a fun but dark read.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge and takes the honour of being book number 50