Thursday, October 27, 2022

Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho

The grandchildren of two rival Brazilian bakeries fall in love despite their families’ feud.

Trust neither thin-bottomed frying pans nor Molinas.

Lari Ramires has always known this to be true. In Olinda, Brazil, her family’s bakery, Salt, has been at war with the Molinas’ bakery across the street, Sugar, for generations. But Lari’s world turns upside down when her beloved grandmother passes away. On top of that, a big supermarket chain has moved to town, forcing many of the small businesses to close.

Determined to protect her home, Lari does the unthinkable—she works together with Pedro Molina to save both of their bakeries. Lari realizes she might not know Pedro as well as she thought—and she maybe even likes what she learns—but the question remains: Can a Ramires and a Molina truly trust one another? 

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2022
by Inkyard Press
3.5/5 stars

This contemporary YA a novel takes place in Brazil and reflects food and culture.

Centering around two bakery's that have been across the street from each other for generations. Lari and Pedro have never associated with each other until this, their last year in high school. As they are forced to work together, what follows is a long winded story about the ongoing feud between these two families as a big box store threatens their livelihoods.

Salt and Sugar is a story of relationships, family and young love. Reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, can these two teens end this feud.

This story had a younger YA feel, and while I connected with these two teens, I found the actions of the mothers off putting, overwhelming, and maybe a bit excessive, which took away from what could have been a four-star read. That being said it was still entertaining, I learned a lot about the different foods in Brazil and loved the creativity of these two.

Salt and Sugar releases on Tuesday Nov 1st and available for preorder now.

My thanks to the publisher Inkyard and Netgalley for a digital art in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Echo Man by Sam Holland

An incredible new thriller from an exciting new talent!

The murders have begun…

Across England, a string of murders is taking place. Each different in method, but each horrifying and brutal.

But the killer is just getting started…

Jess Ambrose is plunged into the investigation when her house is set ablaze. With her husband dead and the police pointing at her, she runs. Her only hope is disgraced detective Nate Griffin, who is convinced Jess is innocent.

And he’s going to shock the world…

Soon, Jess and Griffin discover the unthinkable; this murderer is copying the world’s most notorious serial killers. And now, imitation isn’t enough. The killer dubbed The Echo Man is ready to create his own masterpiece, and it will be more terrifying than anything that has come before… 

Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 14th 2022 
by HarperCollins
4.5/5 stars

This book was not on my radar until a couple reviews on IG stated how addicting this thriller was.  Were they right?  Yup this book lived up to the hype.  For a debut I am stunned and nervous for the author as she pens her next book, these are mighty fine steps to follow in.

Taking place in England The Echo Man starts off with a bang and doesn't let go till the end.  Jess plays centre stage as does a couple other POVs giving this physiological thriller a well rounded view.  The Echo Man has a flawed cast, twist and turns along with a nice fast pace.  It is dark, bloody and based on true crime.  I will say this isn't for the faint of heart, it is graphic in content and description with a whodunit part that doesn't let go.  The ending wraps up quickly with an explosive conclusion, which for me was good as this old brain can only take so much brutality.

 I read it in a couple days, both reading and listening to the audiobook.  Both methods I recommend. 

My copy was obtained from my local library and the audiobook via Scribd.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did.
Have you ever seen a town rise? Ours did that, too.

A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.

Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.

Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 5th 2019 
by Washington Square Press
3.5/5 stars

Last month I had the awesome opportunity to meet Fredrik Backman, in anticipation of that author event I began this series.  Us Against You is book 2 and continues where Beartown left off.  It felt like going home when I began reading with familiar characters and getting caught up.

While hockey still is an obsession for the towns of Beartown and Hed this book is also about friendship, family and devotion.  There is alot of reminders of what transpired in Beartown, maybe a tad much or it could be that I started reading this as soon as I finished Beartown and all was still fresh in my old brain. But it does work for those who haven't read Beartown.

Fredrik Backman has a unique writing style, poetic at times while being mesmerizing.  As with Beartown Us Against You evoked a range of emotion.  This turned into a combo audio/read. Marin Ireland was the reader for the audio and again she did a stellar job breathing live into this story.

I probably should have done a combo review for this series.  The Winners will be posted next week, even though this book was really good, I enjoyed Beartown a tad more and you will have to wait for my thoughts on The Winners.

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

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Blue Cloak (True Colors #5) by Shannon McNear

Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through 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.

Based on real events beginning in 1797 — Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend’s wedding only to watch it dissolve in horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims. How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2020
 by Barbour Publishing
3.5/5 stars

A couple weeks ago I posted my review for The Green Dress, which was book 6 in the True Colors series, today I am posting this review for book 5. This series does not have to be read in order as each covers a different part of US history that is usually something off the beaten track, dark, gritty and unfortunately true.

Taking place in 1797 begins with the wedding of Rachel Taylor's friend to Wiley Harpe, what follows is what the Harpe group call a 'war on all humanity'. It is a heartbreaking story of senseless violence, greed, and helplessness not just for young Rachel but those that end up in their path of destruction.

For Christian fiction , this is a very dark and gritty book, it does not hold back on the violence that takes place and the effect it has on the community. And yes, after I finished, I did Google and learn that the author did her research and stayed true to history. One can't help feel for Rachel as she shares her story along with that of Ben Langford.  There journey is both personal as faith plays a big part during the horrific events that test it.

I will continue with this series, but it is one that I will take a break between each reading just to cleanse my brain.

This book released in March of 2020 and is part of Reading of my Kindle Challenge.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn

Three women, a nation seduced by a madman, and the Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race

At Heim Hochland, a Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, three women's fates are irrevocably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she's secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official's child. And Irma, a 44-year-old nurse, is desperate to build a new life for herself after personal devastation. All three have everything to lose.

Based on untold historical events, this novel brings us intimately inside the Lebensborn Society maternity homes that actually existed in several countries during World War II, where thousands of "racially fit" babies were bred and taken from their mothers to be raised as part of the new Germany. But it proves that in a dark period of history, the connections women forge can carry us through, even driving us to heroism we didn't know we had within us.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2022
 by Sourcebooks Landmark
3/5 stars

One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is the educational part.  Not that I don't love a good story but when mixed with some unknown pieces of the past just provides double the pleasure.  Cradles of the Reich is one of those books that took me by surprise in the educational department.  I know I shouldn't be surprised as to the things that took place during WW2 but this Nazi breeding home was something I knew nothing about.

Cradles is the story of 3 women who meet at one of these home that are part of the Lebensborn Society. While each of them are unique in their backgrounds and purposes that bringing them together I did struggle to connect.  The tension I craved just wasn't enough to feel an emotions for them.  The ending felt abrupt and left me with questions and not enough closure.

It was obvious the author has done her research and has a passion for this time period and story.  With the gorgeous cover, enticing blurb and social media buzz I was hoping for a captivating story. Like I said the social media buzz is strong, which makes this a'me' issue.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Improbably Yours by Kerry Anne King

An unusual inheritance leads to a life-changing journey in a novel of romance, secrets, and the treasure of found family.

Blythe Harmon is on the fast track to a life she never wanted. On her thirtieth birthday, just as she’s about to lock herself into a high-powered job and accept a marriage proposal to match, an unusual bequest from her beloved late grandmother, Nomi, offers an escape and an invitation to adventure.

Equipped with Nomi’s urn of ashes and a treasure map, Blythe sets off for a small island in the San Juans where she rents the mysterious and unsettling Improbable House. Secret by secret, clue by cryptic clue, she begins to unravel the puzzle her grandmother has left her to piece together. Her quest is complicated, though, by a powerful attraction to an enigmatic islander and empathy for his orphaned niece, both of whom are inexorably tied to the old house.

Just when Blythe thinks she’s on the verge of solving the mystery, her quest takes an unexpected turn, and she discovers that the treasure she’s really seeking is something that could never be buried in the ground. While she’s on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, the past and the future are coming together in this magical novel by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Whisper Me This.

Kindle Edition, 345 pages
Expected publication: October 18th 2022
by Lake Union Publishing
4/5 stars

Kerry Anne King is not a new author for me,  I enjoyed Whisper Me This as well as A Borrowed Life, it only stands to reason that I would jump when given the opportunity to review Improbably Yours which releases in a few short weeks.

Improbably Yours begins with a 24 year old conversation that revisits Blyther on her 30th birthday that sets her on a path of self discovery through a treasure hunt on an island off the coast of Oregon.

This was a fun and interesting read. It wasn’t just Blythe's journey but for others on the island as well. It’s a story of grief, of guilt, and how the past doesn’t always stay secret. Eventually, all will be revealed no matter how hard you try not to let it happen.

I enjoyed the location of the story, the treasure hunt, the clues, the connections and while some of it may have been a tad predictable, it was still entertaining watching everything unfold. I enjoyed the mystery, the magical parts, the island and unique cast of characters and way of life on this island, I love that there was a canine and that just rounded everything out nicely.

While this might not be my favourite, Kerry Anne King book, that place belongs to Whisper Me This, but Improbably Yours gets four stars from me.

My thanks to the publisher, Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review. You can find this book on your bookshelves October 18.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan

A soul-stirring novel about what we choose to keep from our past, and what we choose to leave behind.

Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in, and taking over her father's beekeeping business.

Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.

And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can she trust him completely . . .

Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.

Mad Honey is a riveting novel of suspense, an unforgettable love story, and a moving and powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves.

Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2022
by Random House CA
3.5/5 stars

Be forewarned that I am going against the majority in my thoughts on this book, which is really disappointing since I wanted to love Mad Honey and I sure love this UK cover.

Jodi Picoult is joined by Jennifer Finney Boylan and after reading the notes at the conclusion from both  told of the unique way this story came to be and how many years in the making it was.

Mad Honey is told from the POVs of Olivia, single mom to Asher and keeper of bees. The other is Lily, girlfriend of Asher.  When I started reading, I was entranced and captivated right away, the setting was unique with the inclusion of bees and their habits, I received an educational lesson throughout the story. The sudden passing of Lily is when things slowed down and the past had to be revisited. But things started to slow down, and even when the twist came (which totally took  me my surprise) it was the slow pace that took over which also slowed my reading down.  The mystery started to drag, and the way the story jumped from present day to past memories felt jarring at times.

Known for her twists the first one totally caught me off guard, but honestly, it wasn’t enough to redeem how I was starting to feel. The story drag for the last half, and even the conclusion was underwhelming it left me with some unanswered questions, anticipating a little more.

It's hard to say exactly what this story is about without revealing spoilers, but suffice to say Mad Honey is a story of fresh starts, young love, acceptance and family.

White this isn't a favourite read I will continue going through Picoult's back list.

My thanks to Random House CA and Netgalley for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.