Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead... but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 28th 2022
 by Berkley
4.5/5 stars

Ashley Posten is not a new author to me. I have previously read her YA book, Among the Beasts & Briars, and loved it and honestly it wasn’t till I was partway through this book that I made the connection.

The Dead Romantics is a story about Florence Day, told from her POV. A ghost writer for a famous author she doesn’t just have writers block, she has romance block after a terrible break up. What follows is her return to the home she left, well, not exactly left, but was practically driven out of 10 years previous as word of her ability to converse with ghosts, was met with mockery, amongst other things.

The Dead Romantics is a book about relationships, about grief and healing past hurts. And there are ghosts which just blends in perfectly with the family business of a funeral home. What transpires is a heartwarming ghosty romance that was entertaining and fun to read. It was unique and I’m so happy I went into this story blind.

A big shout out to the IG reading community for highly recommending this one which had me grabbing it. My only beef is why I waited so long to crack it open.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading off my Shelf Challenge

Monday, September 26, 2022

The White Hare by Jane Johnson

In the far west of Cornwall lies the White Valley, which cuts deeply through bluebell woods down to the sea at White Cove. The valley has a long and bloody history, laced with folklore, and in it sits a house above the beach that has lain neglected since the war. It comes with a reputation and a strange atmosphere, which is why mother and daughter Magdalena and Mila manage to acquire it so cheaply in the fateful summer of 1954.

Magda has grand plans to restore the house to its former glory as a venue for glittering parties, where the rich and celebrated gathered for cocktails and for bracing walks along the coast. Her grown daughter, Mila, just wants to escape the scandal in her past and make a safe and happy home for her little girl, Janey, a solitary, precocious child blessed with a vivid imagination, much of which she pours into stories about her magical plush toy, Rabbit.

But Janey’s rabbit isn’t the only magical being around. Legend has it that an enchanted white hare may be seen running through the woods. Is it an ill omen or a blessing? As Mila, her mother, and her young daughter adjust to life in this mysterious place, they will have to reckon with their own pasts and with the secrets that have been haunting the White Valley for decades. 

Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2022 
by Simon Schuster
3/5 stars

This is my second book by Jane Johnson, I loved her last one, The SeaGate.  Her covers are an attention grabber with the mystical vibes that showcase a house on the moors with a story to tell.

The White Hare is told from the POV of Mila who along with her young daughter Jane and cranky mother Magda relocate to Cornwall.  Its a time of transition and a fresh start.

This got off to a good start with the eerie country side, mysterious rabbit/hare, a house that people are afraid of and an interesting cast of characters.  As the renovations begin of this manor so starts accidents, things disappearing and there is a chill in the air that promises a story with a supernatural vibe.  I was sucked in and felt those vibes.  

While there were things I enjoyed, I wanted to know more about Magda and what made her so darn miserable as well as more about the mysterious Jack. And while those thoughts are answered it wasn't till very late in the story.  In fact I found after the first 1/4 things just flatted out.

The White Hare is a story of relationships, secrets of the past and mystical vibes. A unique plot that is intricately woven, it was atmospheric with supernatural vibes. But with the slow moving plot and underwhelming conclusion this book didn’t wow me like The Seagate did.

My thanks to Simon & Schurster CA for a print ARC in exchange for a honest review.

Friday, September 23, 2022

The Green Dress (True Colors #6) by Liz Tolsma

Based on Strange, But True, History

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through a unique stories of historical romantic suspense. Collect them all and be inspired by the hope that always finds its way even in the darkest of times.

In Boston, 1886, Harriet Peters commissions Sarah Jane Robinson to make her a new dress. Both widows are struggling to make ends meet, and they strike up a quick friendship. Harriet feels sorry for Sarah Jane, who has suffered so much loss in her life. But Harriet’s friend, Dr. Michael Wheaton, has concerns that death seems to follow Sarah Jane in mysterious ways Still, Harriet can’t imagine any deceit in her friend, who she comforts through the deaths of her daughter and nephew. Will Harriet’s trusting nature lead to her own demise as a persistent stomachache starts to plague her?

Kindle Edition, 239 pages
Published June 1st 2020
by Barbour Books
3.5/5 stars

The Green Dress is book 6 in the True Colours Series, it is a series that takes real (and sometimes unheard of) historical events and turns them into a historical fiction story.  They aren't long books, which given the theme of some is fine. Right now there are approximately 12 books in the series and so far I have only read The Pink Bonnet, which after finishing that heartbreaking story made me pause in this series. Each book is a standalone so they can be read in any order and they are also written by a variety of Christian authors.

The Green Dress is the story of Harriet Peters, taking place in 1882 Boston. Her best friend has died suddenly and what follows is a story of her family and a mysterious illness that appears to be following them.

Given that this is based on fact makes the story all the more sad and horrendous. What follows was an entertaining read as I watched Harriet not just on a journey to figure out what was going on but also one that showed her commitment, strength and determination. Though I kinda figured out what was going on, it was the why and other bits that surprised me.  Harriet's faith journey also followed her through this process with a touch of romance.

The Green Dress released in June 2020 and is part of my Reading Off My Kindle Challenge

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Girl, Interrupted meets American Horror Story in 1970s Staten Island, in the evocative new book from the New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Collector. 

Fact, fiction, and urban legend blend in this haunting story about a young woman mistakenly imprisoned at Willowbrook State School, the real-life institution later shuttered for its horrendous abuses.

Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined . . . 

Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 30th 2022
by Kensington Publishing
3.5/5 stars

This is my second book by Ellen Marie Wiseman, The Orphan Collector was my first which takes place during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and one I enjoyed.

The first half of this book was taken up with visuals of Willowbrook, the treatment and behaviour of not just the patients but the stuff as well. It was hard to read it times, depressing and anger inducing

As for the story itself I struggled to connect with Sage but still it was an interesting story with the mystery of her sister that led to so many discoveries. It wasn’t until the last third of the book where things really took off with some twists and a satisfying ending.  They were parts that had me suspending my belief maybe just a tad too much but at the risk of spoilers I will not mention them.

Willowbrook started out as a read but after a bit I switched over to the audio (thank you Scribd).   The descriptive nature worked better as an audiobook for me.  And yes I did go to YouTube and watched Geraldo Rivera’s expose what was going on at Willowbrook, it was truly heartbreaking.

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook is a mystery story based on a real place.  There is family drama, grief and heartache.  It shows a dark time in US history that affected the most vulnerable in the worst way possible.  Not only did I watch the Rivera but I was sucked down a deep hole to watch how changes were made, it took a bit and my heart breaks for those involved.

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

Monday, September 19, 2022

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world. 

Paperback, 432 pages
Published 2016 
by Simon and Schuster
4.5/5 stars

Being Canadian I know all about the hype around hockey, and even the junior tournaments are a big thing. What I wasn't expecting with Beartown was the direction this book would turn and ultimately mimic current events.

Going into this book knowing it was the first in a trilogy made much more sense as so many characters were introduced thereby producing a relatively slow plot for the first half. The slower pace made it easier to get to know the characters, their drive and ambitions along with the importance of hockey in this town called Beartown.

I am a new reader of Fredrik Backman, his writing style takes a bit of getting used to. I alternated with the audiobook because once I got to a certain place I had to keep on reading. The twist came, the emotions flowed, not just on the pages but within myself. And I was anxious to see what would happen.

Beartown is the story of family dynamics, obsession, friendships and power. I am glad that I have book 2 in this series, Us Against You that I can read before book 3, The Winners is released at the end of this month.  I guess you could say that I am really late to this party, but I am glad to have arrived.

This book is part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge (#63) and I purchased it in anticipation of an author event next month here in southern Ontario

Friday, September 16, 2022

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

“I loved it." —Stephen King

From Jason Rekulak, Edgar-nominated author of The Impossible Fortress, comes a wildly inventive spin on the classic horror story in Hidden Pictures, a supernatural thriller about a woman working as a nanny for a young boy with strange and disturbing secrets.

Fresh out of rehab, Mallory Quinn takes a job as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.

Mallory immediately loves it. She has her own living space, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.

Then, Teddy’s artwork becomes increasingly sinister, and his stick figures quickly evolve into lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to wonder if these are glimpses of a long-unsolved murder, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force.

Knowing just how crazy it all sounds, Mallory nevertheless sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy before it’s too late.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 10th 2022
 by Flatiron Books
4.5/5 stars

You could say I went into this book semi-blind. I knew it had something to do with drawings from a young child but it was really the cover that drew me in and this new to me author.

I wasn’t expecting such a well written captivating read, it didn’t take me long to get immersed in the story which I read over the space of a couple days.

Mallory isn’t sure what she is in for when she starts a babysitting gig for the summer. It sounds idyllic with it's large house with all the amenities, big property, a swimming pool and even her own private cottage at the back of the property. But what she gets is more sinister, creepy and mysterious. The story was well written with enough tension and suspense making it a hard book to put down. The conclusion took me by surprise and totally worked. I loved it.

Hidden Pictures is the story of family, addiction, starting over, standing up, trying to fit in and taking a leap of faith.  There are supernatural elements that totally worked. I am new to this author and will be checking out his backlist.  

Hidden Pictures was also wonderfully illustrated by Will Staehle and Doogie Horner, that was definitely needed to grasp this story.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge #64

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1) by Harlan Coben

From a #1 New York Times bestselling author comes this thrilling story that shows what happens when a dead man's secrets fall into the hands of vigilante antihero—drawing him down a dangerous road.

Over twenty years ago, the heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family's estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors — and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now. On the Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead — not only on Patricia's kidnapping, but also on another FBI cold case — with the suitcase and painting both pointing them toward one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III — or Win, as his few friends call him — doesn't know how his suitcase and his family's stolen painting ended up with a dead man. But his interest is piqued, especially when the FBI tells him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism — and that the conspirators may still be at large. The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades, but Win has three things the FBI doesn't: a personal connection to the case; an ungodly fortune; and his own unique brand of justice. 

Hardcover, 375 pages
Audiobook, 10 hrs, 35 minutes
Published March 16th 2021 
by Grand Central Publishing
4/5 stars

I am a relatively new Harlan Coban fan, I thoroughly enjoyed his books The Boy From the Woods and  The Match. When I started reading Win there were familiar names and mannerisms from my two previous reads, which has me itching to read more of his books. That being said this is the beginning of a new series.

This ended up being an audio read for me, I did start reading it but felt the narrators voice reflected the character and made for a very enjoyable listen. Steve Weber was the narrator.

Win a.k.a. Windsor Horne Lockwood III, is a mysterious character with loads of money, not much of a conscience and thinks himself smarter than most. What follows is an intriguing story that involves the past that his family would like to forget, with old wounds, old mysteries and family strife. This tightly woven story was suspenseful with some witty banter to relief tension at the opportune moments. 

 I already have a copy of  Deal Breaker, the beginning of the Myron Bolitar Series which also features Win, but in no way do you have to read it first.  

I won this book from Grand Central Publishing back when it was first released.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

From Lynda Cohen Loigman, the bestselling author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters, comes a heartwarming story of two extraordinary women from two different eras who defy expectations to utilize their unique gift of seeing soulmates in the most unexpected places in The Matchmaker's Gift.

Is finding true love a calling or a curse?

Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men—men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.

Two generations later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, is a successful Manhattan divorce attorney, representing the city’s wealthiest clients. When her beloved Grandma Sara dies, Abby inherits her collection of handwritten journals recording the details of Sara’s matches. But among the faded volumes, Abby finds more questions than answers. Why did Abby’s grandmother leave this library to her and what did she hope Abby would discover within its pages? Why does the work Abby once found so compelling suddenly feel inconsequential and flawed? Is Abby willing to sacrifice the career she’s worked so hard for in order to keep her grandmother’s mysterious promise to a stranger? And is there really such a thing as love at first sight?

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 20th 2022
by  St. Martin's Press
Audiobook, 9 hours, 25 minutes
by Macmillan Audio
4/5 stars

I really enjoyed the author‘s previous book The Wartime Sisters and eagerly awaited this one. I didn’t really read much of the blurb or maybe I did when I requested it from NetGalley but I pretty well went in blind.

Told from two points of view with the current story taking place in 1994, which I really appreciated the  lack of electronics and the internet. As young lawyer Abby has a great career ahead of her,  but grieving the loss of her grandmother, Sara, comes with distractions.

The past story begins back in 1910 for a young Sara as her gift of a matchmaker starts to develop. What follows through the years is her life where is avoids this gift and then embraces it to the chagrin of those deemed 'professional' matchmakers.  Her gift is illustrated along with her relationship with family, friends and those obstacles in the way.

I enjoyed the story very much, though I wouldn’t call it a Rom/Com but rather a lighter womans fiction as these two women discover themselves on their individual journey that is not always easy.  

Again I was treated to an enjoyable and entertaining read by this author, it was captivating, entertaining and a pleasure to read.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press for the digital arc and also to McMillan Audio for the audiobook.  This was a wonderful combo read for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Paperback 361 pages
Published May 17th 2022
by Gallery Books
4/5 stars

I am relatively new to the writing duo that makes up Christina Lauren. They had me at Love & Other Words and every book since. Going in blind I discovered Something Wilder is somewhat different from those I’ve read, this is their pandemic and with reviews all over the page I proceeded with caution.

Lily lost the love of her life 10 years ago and she doesn’t really know why. What follows is a chance encounter, but can that mend the hurts that both sides feel? Lily was the last person Leo expected see while away on a guys week long treasure hunt. What follows is a somewhat less witty story filled with mystery, deceit and nature.

I enjoyed this book, though it lacked the wit usually associated with a Christina Lauren book it was adventurous with life and death situations, friendships and reconciliation. It was well written with twists and turns both predictable and those not so much. A fun read that highlights the unforgiveness of nature.

This book released many months ago, I feel I’m one of the last to finally read Something Wilder, if you haven’t read this yet don’t let the mixed reviews sway you.

This book was part of my 2022 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge #63

Saturday, September 10, 2022

An Unthinkable Thing by Nicole Lundrigan

A tragedy brings a young boy into the home of a "perfect" family--one whose dark secrets begin closing in, until a horrifying moment changes everything.

Tommie Ware’s life is turned upside down the summer of 1958, just after his eleventh birthday. When his beloved aunt—the woman who raised him—doesn’t return after her shift as a night nurse and is later found murdered, there is only one place left for Tommie to go: “home” to the mother who handed him over the day he was born.

All is not as it seems behind the hedgerow surrounding the lavish Henneberry estate where Tommie’s mother, Esther, works as live-in housekeeper. Her employers have agreed he can stay until she “sorts things out,” but as she's at the family’s beck and call around the clock, Tommie is mostly left on his own to navigate the grounds, the massive house, and the twisted family inside.

Soon he is enmeshed in the oppressive attentions of matriarch Muriel, who is often heavily medicated, and of fifteen-year-old, Martin, who treats Tommie sometimes like a kid brother, sometimes like a pawn in a confusing game. While Dr. Henneberry mostly ignores Tommie, he also seems eager for him to be gone. Then there’s the elderly neighbour, who may know more about the family's past than anyone else will say.

By summer's end, the secrets and games tighten around Tommie and his mother, until a horrific crime is discovered and we are faced with an unthinkable question: could an eleven-year-old boy really have committed cold-blooded murder?

Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 12th 2022 
by Penguin Random House Canada
4/5 stars

I knew going into this book that it would be a heart gripping read. Just by looking at the blurb it is hard to imagine an 11-year-old boy driven to commit cold blooded murder.

Taking place in 1958, 11-year-old Tommie has his world ripped apart by the sudden and tragic death of his aunt Celia. Celia has raised him from birth and though Tommy has visits with his mother Celia is the one he has bonded with. This book has a unique format in that it was told through the points of view of Tommie, various newspaper articles, radio tidbits and court transcripts. Making it a better fit for reading versus listening to the audiobook.

This was a slow burn story with lots of red herrings. It was mysterious and it was a story about bullying, family and the lives of those who feel they are better than others. There were twists and turns that I didn’t always see coming.

This is my first time reading this author, who is Canadian and lives in Toronto. I will be on the lookout for more of her books. My thanks to TheBakingBookworm for raving about this book and putting it on my radar.

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

Friday, September 9, 2022

Of Fire and Lions (Prophets and Kings #2) by Mesu Andrews

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin's Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear--until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?
Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published March 5th 2019
 by WaterBrook
4/5 stars

I don’t read a lot of Biblical fiction even though it is a genre that interests me and one I wish I read more of. Mesu Andrews is a new author for me and this book, Of Fire and Lions is book 2 in the Prophets & Kings Series, The first book is Isaiah’s Daughter which is not necessary to read before this one.

Of Fire and Lions is the story of Daniel, well known for the Sunday school stories Daniel & the lions den and the fiery furnace. This story is told from the point of view of his wife and spans over 70 years. There is a lot going on and a lot of it was very interesting, to read about the culture, the time period and the traditions and history. It is at times emotional and follows Biblical events surrounding what took place in Daniel‘s life, in terms of his capture, his stand of faith, and how he interprets dreams, along with his relationship with his wife, family and those he serves.

Like I mentioned this is my first time reading this author, I would like to read more. This book was well written and well researched and though it does weave between two time periods it was easy to grasp the plot and be captivated by Daniel’s dedication not just to Yahweh but to his family.

I discovered this little gem as I am reading my through my back list of Netgalley books.  My thanks to the publisher for this digital copy and apologises for its lateness in reviewing it, but sometimes life happens.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

She's back.

Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. Different names for the same person, depending on the town, depending on the job. She's a con artist who erases herself to become whoever you need her to be—a college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. Nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you need to hear, and by the time she's done, you've likely lost everything.

Kat Roberts has been waiting ten years for the woman who upended her life to return. And now that she has, Kat is determined to be the one to expose her. But as the two women grow closer, Kat's long-held assumptions begin to crumble, leaving Kat to wonder who Meg's true target is.

The Lies I Tell is a twisted domestic thriller that dives deep into the psyches and motivations of two women and their unwavering quest to seek justice for the past and rewrite the future.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 21st 2022
 by Sourcebooks Landmark
4.5/5 stars

I picked this book up because I enjoyed the authors previous book The Last Flight.

Told from the point of view of 2 women The Lies I Tell examines what motivates Meg and Kat, they have an agenda 10 years in the making. Neither is being honest but revenge can be sweet, that is until the 2 meet and become friends.

I enjoyed this book, carefully layered with bad guys you want to root for. Both Meg and Kat are unique characters, as they deceive each other they become friends. What follows is a domestic thriller I didn’t want to put down. Weaving through time felt flawless, answering my many questions. It ended in a way I didn’t anticipate but loved.

Imagine my surprise while writing this review to discover I missed her debut, The Ones We Chose. Here grows my TBR stack.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Book Haters' Book Club by Gretchen Anthony

All it takes is the right book to turn a Book Hater into a Book Lover…

That was Elliott’s belief and the reason why he started The Book Haters’ Book Club—a newsletter of reading recommendations for the self-proclaimed “nonreader.” As the beloved co-owner of Over the Rainbow Bookstore, Elliott’s passion and gift was recommending books to customers. Now, after his sudden death, his grief-ridden business partner, Irma, has agreed to sell Over the Rainbow to a developer who will turn the cozy bookstore into high-rise condos.

But others won’t give up the bookstore without a fight. When Irma breaks the news to her daughters, Bree and Laney, and Elliott’s romantic partner, Thom, they are aghast. Over the Rainbow has been Bree and Laney’s sanctuary since childhood, and Thom would do anything to preserve Elliott’s legacy. Together, Thom, Bree and Laney conspire to save the bookstore, even if it takes some snooping, gossip and minor sabotage.

Filled with humor, family hijinks and actual reading recommendations, The Book Haters' Book Club is the ideal feel-good read. It’s a celebration of found family and a love letter to the everyday heroes who run bookstores.

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2022
 by Park Row
3.5/5 stars

This was an interesting book to read, I pretty well went in blind, given the title I knew this bookish bookworm needed to not just read it but have a copy on my shelf.

Told from a number of different POV‘s showcased four individuals dealing with grief in a unique mannerism, then throw in the sale of this beloved bookstore and mayhem ensues.

Things started slowly for me with this quirky bunch, it took a bit to adjust to the banter, one liners and 5th pov.  But once I got my groove I enjoyed this read, finishing the last 40% in one afternoon.  The dialogue was unique, witty but at times a bit much. There were lots of great book recommendations scattered throughout, which I loved. Relationship issues/communication plays center stage, whether between mother/daughters, sister/sister and even scattered throughout the neighborhood.

The Book Haters' Book Club is a heartwarming story with a carefully plotted story. It was unique with its twists scattered throughout. Though a season of grief, it is also a time of self discovery, romance and taking a stand. 

I like that this takes place in present day with absolutely no reference to the pandemic at all.

My thanks to HarperCollins Canada and Park Road books for a print ark in exchange for a honest review

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

The New York Times bestselling author of Life's Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 19th 2022 
by Forever
5/5 stars

This is my first time reading in Abby Jimenez, newly released this past spring to rave reviews. Not to be left out of the party I preordered and finally read a couple weeks ago, kicking myself for waiting so long.

Coming in at almost 400 pages it was a delight to read. I was immediately drawn in with the characters along with the 4 legged kind (Kevin Bacon, Hunter and Chloe).

Alex and Daniel are worlds apart in everything. She is a city girl, highly educated, comes from money and is an ER doctor with a fast track for greater things to continue the family legacy. Daniel is the opposite, a construction worker from a small community, who values his friendships, community with no desire for the city life.  This isn’t just a story about Alex and Daniel, but rather a journey for Alex that leads her to question her upbringing, family and future.

What follows is a fun rom/com that keeps the com part throughout the whole story – that’s a tricky thing to do when dealing with serious subject matters, the author nailed it here. I loved the chemistry between these two as well as their various friendships and involvement within the community.  The writing was spot on and kept me reading.  It wasn't a cut and dry story but came with layers and twists.

All in all my first experience with this author was awesome it has set the bar high as I continue now to go through her back list.

I enjoyed when Alexis friend Bri was in the picture, she was a spark that I wanted more of.  Thankfully come April 11th, 2023 Yours Truly will be released, which is Bri's story, can I pre-order yet?

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

Monday, September 5, 2022

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this suspenseful YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom.

When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation . . . Maddy did it.

An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she's dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.

After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High's racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school's first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it's possible to have a normal life.

But some of her classmates aren't done with her just yet. And what they don't know is that Maddy still has another secret . . . one that will cost them all their lives. 

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2022 
by HarperCollins/Tegen
3/5 stars

Both the author and genre (YA Horror) are new to me.  Social media was not quiet in terms of what type of retelling this was, so I began reading with a pre-conceived notion of what was going to happen.  Though once I started it wasn’t hard to figure out how this book would end. Not just because of the spoilers online but because of the format. Told from a couple different points of view and also through interview/excerpt pages from a book, told much of the story before it happened eliminating any element of surprise.

The Weight of Blood is a story of racial unrest, bullying and dysfunctional families. It was hard to read at times and though it takes place in 2015 I felt like it went farther back into the 60’s with the segregation of races. There were a lot of characters here and at times I struggled to connect with who was who.

Deemed as a horror book I was looking for the fright, things that go bump in the night or just anything to invoke that feeling of scariness.  And not just with the ending, but throughout the story. But I didn’t feel that vibe and honestly (I know I am going against the general response to this book, could be an age thing) but I didn't feel any type of emotion other than sadness for the main character and Kenny.

The Weight of Blood reminds me of Mean Girls meets Firestarter meets Carrie. It's a racial bullying story with some supernatural elements.  The way the story jumped around disrupted the flow leaving me craving just to read the main story and not the interviews and other fillers.  

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

Sunday, September 4, 2022

An Impossible Impostor by Deanna Raybourn

While investigating a man claiming to be the long-lost heir to a noble family, Veronica Speedwell gets the surprise of her life in this new adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

London, 1889. Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker are summoned by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. He has a personal request on behalf of his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway. After years of traveling the world, her eldest brother, Jonathan, heir to Hathaway Hall, was believed to have been killed in the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa a few years before.

But now a man matching Jonathan's description and carrying his possessions has arrived at Hathaway Hall with no memory of his identity or where he has been. Could this man truly be Jonathan, back from the dead? Or is he a devious impostor, determined to gain ownership over the family's most valuable possessions--a legendary parure of priceless Rajasthani jewels? It's a delicate situation, and Veronica is Sir Hugo's only hope.

Veronica and Stoker agree to go to Hathaway Hall to covertly investigate the mysterious amnesiac. Veronica is soon shocked to find herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. To help Sir Hugo discover the truth, she must open doors to her own history that she long believed to be shut for good.

Kobo, 325 pages
Published February 15, 2022 
by Berkley Books/Penguin RandomHouse 
4/5 stars

Veronica and Stoker are one of my favourite fictional couples, I've been a faithful reader as each book comes out, and even reread a couple. In this, book 7, which was released back in February and somehow I neglected to post my review. So here it is.

The Impossible Imposter is a revealing story, as the blurb says not only does Veronica get the surprise of her life in this new venture but this reader was shocked as what was revealed and actually read that part numerous times to let it sink in.

Veronica agrees to help a friend's goddaughter investigate whether the long lost heir to Hathaway Hall is indeed who says he is or an imposter. What follows is typical Veronica and Stoker mayhem.

Just when you think the author can’t come up with another unique adventure for these two she does it again.  An Impossible Imposter is an intriguing story both mysterious and tantalizing, while it might lack some of the usual banter it is still entertaining.  As for the ending, well lets just say I am really looking forward to March 7, 2023 when A Sinister Revenge releases.

My copy was obtained through my public library.

Friday, September 2, 2022

The Captured Bride (The Daughters of the Mayflower #3) by Michelle Griep

Mercy Lytton, a scout with keen eyesight raised among the Mohawks, and Elias Dubois, a condemned traitor working both sides of the conflict, must join together to get a shipment of gold safely into British hands.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady
Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart. Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought. 

Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Published June 1st 2018 
by Barbour Books
3.5/5 stars

The Captured Bride is book 3 in the Daughters of the Mayflower series, each one is a standalone with no connecting threads. There are now 12 books in the series, I am slowly making my way through them. They are historical fiction in the US with this book taking place in the late 1700s.

This was an enjoyable read, I enjoyed Mercy's spunk, her strength and determination, as well as her honest heartache and grief.

Enter in Elias, a dangerous man saved from the gallows to go on this secret mission. What follows is an adventure through the wilds of early America. The Captive Bride is a story of trust doing the right thing and finding one selves. Faith plays big part of this story, taking place in a time of conflict and new beginnings.

Michelle Griep is a new to me author, I enjoyed her writing style and could feel her knowledge of the era and appreciate the amount of research that she did which shines through through this story.

This was an audio read for me with the audiobook obtained through Scribd, It comes in just over 10 hours in length and was narrated by Sarah Zimmerman who has read a number of books including some of my favourites by Lynn Austin.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Big Chicas Don't Cry by Annette Chavez Macias


Four cousins navigate love, loss, and the meaning of family over the course of one memorable year in this heartfelt family drama.

Cousins Mari, Erica, Selena, and Gracie are inseparable. They aren’t just family but best friends―sharing secrets, traditions, and a fierce love for their abuelita. But their idyllic childhood ends when Mari’s parents divorce, forcing her to move away. With Mari gone, the girls’ tight-knit bond unravels.

Fifteen years later, Mari’s got the big house and handsome husband, but her life is in shambles. Erica’s boyfriend just dumped her, and her new boss hates her. Selena can’t seem to find her place in the world―not Mexican enough for her family, not white enough for her colleagues. And Gracie is a Catholic school teacher with an all-consuming crush, but she can’t trust herself when it comes to romance.

As rocky as the cousins’ lives have become, nothing can prepare them for the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. When tragedy reunites them, will they remember their abuelita’s lessons about family and forgiveness―or are fifteen years of separation too much to overcome?

About the author: Annette Chavez Macias writes stories about love, family, and following your dreams. She is proud of her Mexican American heritage, culture, and traditions, all of which can be found within the pages of her books. For readers wanting even more love stories and guaranteed happily ever afters, Annette also writes romance novels under the pen name Sabrina Sol. A Southern California native, Annette lives just outside Los Angeles with her husband, three children, and four dogs.