Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wishyouwas by Alexandra Page

Classic-feeling storytelling with bags of charm. Fans of thrilling animal adventure and enchanting underground worlds will fall in love with Wishyouwas.

It's 1952 in smog-shrouded London. Christmas might be fast approaching, but with her mum away and Uncle Frank busy running the post office, Penny Black is lonelier than ever.

All that changes when Penny discovers a small, fluffy, funny, springy and – most importantly – talking creature in the post office one night, trying to make off with a letter.

But Wishyouwas is no thief. He's a Sorter, and he soon introduces Penny to a fascinating secret world hidden in the tunnels underneath the city's streets. Self-appointed guardians of lost mail, the Sorters have dedicated their lives to rescuing letters that have gone astray and making sure they get delivered to their rightful owners.

Penny is determined to protect the Sorters, but how long will she be able to keep them safe with Stanley Scrawl, the sinister Royal Mail Rat Catcher, on the prowl? Can Penny save the Sorters and deliver a joyful Christmas? 

Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 30th 2021
by Bloomsbury
4/5 stars

My 2nd Christmas book of 2022!

I enjoy a middle grade read and this was a fun one.  Told from the POV of 12 year old Penny, aka Dear Penny.  It's the heavy fog of 1952 England with Christmas coming quickly.  She hasn't heard from my pilot mom in ages and worry has set in. Enter Wishyouwas and his band of the other Tiny Guardians of Lost Letters.  What follows is an adventure through the underground postage systems, rat catchers, humans who've lost the Christmas spirit and rats.  

 I loved the different names throughout this read, Dearmadam, Felicitations, Thiswayup, Fragile, Handlewithcare and more.  Wishyouwas is a story of friendship, hope and stepping out of your comfort zone.  Of taking a chance and discovering friendship in unlikely places. 

This was a fun Christmas read, not just for MG folks but all ages.

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

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Premonition at Withers Farm by Jaime Jo Wright

The voices of the past cannot stay silent forever.

In 1910 Michigan, Perliett VanHilton is a self-proclaimed rural healer, leaving the local doctor, George Wasziak, convinced she practices quackery. It doesn't help that her mother, Maribeth VanHilton, is a Spiritualist who regularly offers her services to help others speak to their dearly departed. But when Perliett is targeted by a superstitious killer, she relies on both George and an intriguing newcomer for help.

In the present day, life has not developed the way Molly Wasziak dreamed. Facing depression after multiple miscarriages, Molly is adapting to her husband's purchase of a new farm. A search for a family tree pulls Molly deep into a vintage web of deceptions, made more mysterious by the disturbing shadows and sounds in the old farmhouse.

Perliett fights for her life, and Molly seeks renewed purpose for hers as she uncovers the records of the dead. Will their voices be heard, or will time silence their truths forever? 

Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 11th 2022 
by Bethany House Publishers
4.5/5 stars

Jamie Jo Wright it is one of my go to authors. I know I’ve mentioned it before in each review, but what I Iove about her books is how she weaves current social situations with stories of the past. 

In The Premonition of Wither's Farm Wright took this reader back to 1910 to a young woman named Perliett. Perliett had hopes of becoming a doctor one day, but instead finds herself in the midst of a local murder and herself a target.  Present day is the life of Molly, who has recently moved into the country, to the area from Perliett's past. Reeling from multiple miscarriages, depression and anxiety follow.

These two lives collide in a way I didn’t anticipate. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, the friendships and the how mystic/spiritualism stayed true to the times.  A little slow at times but I was kept on my toes as both story lines unfolded.  The characters were unique and likeable. Again, the author doesn’t hold back in describing Molly's deep hurt and feelings of worthlessness as she struggles day to day.

The conclusion and how these 2 story lines meshed fit the bill nicely.  One I didn't really see coming.  Premonition is Christian fiction that reflected authentic day to day struggles in a realistic manner.  

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

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Dawnlands (The Fairmile #3) by Philippa Gregory

The “sweeping” (Parade) and “superb” (People) Fairmile series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory continues as the fiercely independent Alinor and her family find themselves entangled in palace intrigue, political upheaval, and life-changing secrets in 17th-century England.

It is 1685, England is on the brink of a renewed civil war against the Stuart kings and many families are bitterly divided. Ned Ferryman cannot persuade his sister, Alinor, that he is right to return from America with his Pokanoket servant, Rowan, to join the rebel army. Instead, Alinor has been coaxed by the manipulative Livia to save the queen from the coming siege. The rewards are life-changing: the family could return to their beloved Tidelands, and Alinor could rule where she was once lower than a servant.

Alinor’s son, Rob, is determined to stay clear of the war, but when he and his nephew set out to free Ned from execution for treason and Rowan from a convict deportation to Barbados, they find themselves enmeshed in the creation of an imposter Prince of Wales—a surrogate baby to the queen.

From the last battle in the desolate Somerset Levels to the hidden caves on the slave island of Barbados, this third volume of an epic story follows a family from one end of the empire to another, to find a new dawn in a world which is opening up before them with greater rewards and dangers than ever before. 

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published November 8th 2022 
by Atria Books
3/5 stars

Dawnlands  is the 3rd book in the Fairmile Series, it begins 15 years after Tide Lands ended, to be honest that disappointed me right from the get go.  I wanted to know what transpired in those 15 years, more detail then a quick recap.   It appears that each book gets a little longer with this one being over 500 pages long.

What I liked about Dawnlands:
-short chapters, though sometimes a little too short
-chapter headings that make it clear the precise location and date

What I didn't like:
-maybe the too short chapters, was hard to really connect and get absorbed into the plot
-it jumped around a lot
-as with the previous book I am not feeling the setting outside of England
-maybe a tad too political
-the blurb gives too much of the story away

Overall the author definitely knows the history and her writing sets me in the place and time.  But I struggled to like the characters, one in particular has over stayed her welcome. I mean how can one person get away with so much, seems a little over the top.  To be honest I'm starting to lose interest especially with not given a satisfying conclusion, rather a cliff hanger for another book.

This saddens me since Philippa Gregory is the author that started me on my historical fiction journey with The Other Boleyn Girl.  Maybe I just need some space before book 4.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Meet Me in the Middle by Alex Light

A romance interrupted by tragedy sets two people on different paths in Wattpad superstar Alex Light’s latest YA romance.

Eden had her best friend Katie—she didn’t need anyone else. But then there was Truman.

Katie’s older brother, the artist. The recluse. The boy with the innocent smile and the dangerous eyes.

Eden had never really known Truman—not until the night of Katie’s accident. That was the night they’d finally let each other into their orbits—only to have the sky come crashing down on them.

With Katie in the hospital and Truman fleeing from his grief without a word, Eden is left alone to grapple with her own pain. But when Truman returns to the city, can Eden let him back into her life knowing that their first kiss is what tore their world apart?

Wattpad superstar Alex Light is back with another poignant romance perfect for fans of Jennifer Dugan and Laura Taylor Namey. 

Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 12th 2022 by
3/5 stars

Alex Light is a new to me author.  This book released back in July and I was lucky enough to win an ARC from HarperTeen.

Told from 2 povs, Eden and Truman, both dealing with guilt over a tragic accident that sends Eden's best friend and Truman's younger sister to the hospital.  Five months later, still unconscious Katie clings to life.  What follows is Eden and Truman reconnecting and their journey through depression, grief and guilt.

This was a slow paced story, repetitive at times as both tell their story both before and after the accident. It was an emotional story and brought to life how unique this process is.  Everyone handles grief and guilt differently which was showcased here. Well done Light for writing a sensitive story with some serious subject matter.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

Just in time for Christmas, escape with a perfect love song, a perfect love story, and a perfect dose of holiday magic.

Can one song change the course of a life?

Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan live a nomadic life doing what they love: touring with their band, The Unknown Souls. But Jack’s recent engagement to Kara has everyone looking forward to a Christmas destination wedding in Ireland.

Unlike his brother, Jimmy never expected to fall in love. But he feels a sense of peace and happiness whenever he’s around Kara’s best friend, Charlotte—which has him wondering what he’s missing. Over Thanksgiving, Jimmy and Charlotte write a song while sitting together on the back porch. When the band sings it at a Christmas concert the next night, Jimmy insists it’s the perfect love song—but a manager for another famous duo is adamant that it’s the perfect Christmas song. Before Jimmy knows what’s happening, he’s on tour with the hottest country band around and suddenly everyone knows his name.

But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Jimmy finds himself far away from those he loves—especially Charlotte. Only a Christmas miracle—or two—will be able to lead Jimmy back to Ireland, to his brother, and to love. 

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 8th 2019
 by Thomas Nelson 
(first published October 12th 2010)
2.5/5 stars

I am a huge Patty Callahan Henry fan.  Once Upon a Wardrobe, Survivng Savanah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis are favorites. She has turned into a go-to author for me.

The Perfect Love Song, with its gorgeous cover, was my 1st Christmas read for 2022. It’s a small little book only 240 pages, I figured it would be a perfect way to spend a snowy Sunday afternoon.

Originally published in 2010 last year was the first I’ve heard of this book and whether my expectation level was high or not it just didn’t live up to what I expected by this author. Maybe because I like a bit more depth in my stories, 240 little pages doesn't leave a lot of room for depth.  Or it could be the fact that I discovered this book follows characters from a previous book, which I have not read. Maybe if I had, I could appreciate the story more.

 I am not a fan of Hallmark movies, but 'tis the season (almost) setting that aside this book lacked something that I can't quite put my finger on.  I struggled to connect and even switched over to the audiobook which helped somewhat.  While predictable I would have loved more of the backstore to feel some of the emotions floating around here.  The ending was typical Hallmarkish.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge, I do have the print book but ultimately, in the end, I listen to the audiobook through my subscription from Scribd.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks

Mariah Fredericks' emotionally charged and propulsive new novel, The Lindbergh Nanny, examines one of the most famous kidnapping cases in America from the lens of one of America's favorite suspects, putting Betty Gow at the center of her own story for the first time.

Betty Gow is known by another name: the Lindbergh Nanny. When toddler Charles Lindbergh Jr. is kidnapped from his parents' weekend home in Hopewell, New Jersey in 1932, his parents are frantic, his grandmother devastated, and the media rabid. Betty, amid the maelstrom and named a suspect herself, is determined to find out who has taken him.

Charles Lindbergh was already famous for his flight across the Atlantic―the golden boy of America, with his wealthy and lovely wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, beside him―when Betty joined the household to look after little Charlie. A Scottish immigrant deciphering the rules of her new homeland and its East Coast elite, Betty finds Col. Lindbergh eccentric and often odd, Mrs. Lindbergh kind yet nervous, and Charlie simply a darling. Far from home and bruised from a love affair gone horribly wrong, Betty finds comfort in caring for the child, and warms to the attentions of handsome sailor Henrik, sometimes known as Red.

But when Charlie is taken from the family home, at a time when no one but a handful of Lindbergh servants could have known he was there, everything changes. A suspect in the eyes of both the media and public herself, Betty must find the truth in order to clear her own name―and to find justice for the child she loves.

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published November 15th 2022
 by Minotaur Books
2.5/5 stars

This is one of the reasons why I love historical fiction, reading history through the eyes of a witness, though one not really publicised much. I knew about the Lindbergh kidnapping but not in great details.

It is evident that the author did her research and knew about the era. Betty Gow is or was the nanny for Charles Lindbergh Jr, and had been in her care for over a year before he went missing. I was immersed in the story for the first half , I got to know Betty, experience the way of life for this family, as they navigated through their notoriety. How the fans stalked their homes just to get a glimpse into this family’s life.

But the last half things really slowed down for me and I struggled to stay connected. The story is told only from the point of view of Betty, it would have been nice to to hear from other people.  Much of the last half revolves around the case and suspicion falls on the household staff (for a number of reasons), at times repetitive and slow.  

The author notes at the end were interesting, which verified her research and passion for the story, however, for me, it was a miss, but please take that with a grain of salt as their are so many four and  five star ratings for this book.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson

I, Maggie Banks, solemnly swear to uphold the rules of Cobblestone Books.

If only, I, Maggie Banks, believed in following the rules.

When Maggie Banks arrives in Bell River to run her best friend's struggling bookstore, she expects to sell bestsellers to her small-town clientele. But running a bookstore in a town with a famously bookish history isn't easy. Bell River's literary society insists on keeping the bookstore stuck in the past, and Maggie is banned from selling anything written this century. So, when a series of mishaps suddenly tip the bookstore toward ruin, Maggie will have to get creative to keep the shop afloat.

And in Maggie's world, book rules are made to be broken.

To help save the store, Maggie starts an underground book club, running a series of events celebrating the books readers actually love. But keeping the club quiet, selling forbidden books, and dodging the literary society is nearly impossible. Especially when Maggie unearths a town secret that could upend everything.

Maggie will have to decide what's more important: the books that formed a small town's history, or the stories poised to change it all.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2022
 by Sourcebooks Landmark
4/5 stars

I, Maggie Banks, solemnly swear to uphold the rules of Cobblestone Books.

If only, I, Maggie Banks, believed in following the rules.


Maggie Banks volunteers to help her best friend manage a book shop. But the thing is Maggie is not a reader. Also this book shop comes with restrictions, weird rules along with a unusual cast of characters preventing her from truly being the help this quaint shop needs.

The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks is a story of community, the past and stepping out of one’s comfort zone. There is history here, bookish name dropping, and friendship in unlikely places.

This was a fun read, I enjoyed the story, the journey of self discovery, the author's writing style and even this odd bunch.  There was mystery, scandal, secret meetings and romance.  Just what this reader needed.

This is my first time reading Shauna Robinson. I will be back for more.

 My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for a digital copy (via Netgalley) in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 27th 2022 
by Delacorte Press
2.5/5 stars

This was one of those books that grabbed me with the cover, isn't it gorgeous! I have heard of Adrienne Young, her YA books are quite popular, I have wanted to read her for a while. Spells for Forgetting is her first adult book though at times it does have a YA feel to it. Be forewarned that I am going against the flow when it comes to my thoughts. 

It is the summer of their 18th year when this group of 4 is shattered when Lily‘s body is found in a burned out apple orchard. August is the prime suspect, in the middle of the night he and his mother steal away from the island to begin fresh in mainland Oregon. Forced to come back 14 years later, per his mother's request, August returns to the island he swore never to set foot on again.

The blurb sound very enticing, with an unsolved murder, shattered love and betrayal.  But what follows is a story with many layers, points of view and suspicion along with a tiny smattering of mysticism. For me I found this to be a slow paced read. Though the majority of this book is told by Emery and August, there are other voices popping up. It does jump around in time, and the chapter headings make that perfectly clear, but sometimes the memory part within don’t always flow smoothly. The story itself was very slow paced, and it wasn’t until the last hundred pages were things really picked up and I couldn’t put down the book, the suspense had me reading. Thankfully, they're shorter chapters, making it easy to read just one more chapter (pun intended).

Those loast 100 pages had me bumping this up to a 3 star read, but sadly the ending dropped it back to 2.5. I was not satisfied with the conclusion, it left too many things hanging with unanswered questions.  Unless the author plans on a sequel, there I get it. 

Spells for Forgetting is a story of young love, family, heritage, and community. Like I said, though this book didn’t work for me, it did for a lot of other reads.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer

A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family's legacy…and her future.

Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past, learning never to stay anywhere too long and never to allow anyone control over her life again. Coming to Wanishin Falls in search of her family's history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope's last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.

Only, the bookshop is in shambles, and the elderly owner is in the beginning stages of dementia and can’t remember where the books lie. To find the last links to the loved ones she's lost, Hope must stay and accept help from the townsfolk to locate the treasured volumes. Each secret she uncovers brings her closer to understanding where she came from. But the longer she stays in the quaint town, the more people find their way into the cracks in her heart. And letting them in may be the greatest risk of all… 

Kindle Edition
Published October 25, 2022
 by Love Inspired Trade
4/5 stars

Debut author Mollie Rushmeyer has written a story that was engaging, full of secrets, both of the past and present with a bookish theme.

Hope Sparrow returns to her family’s past, she is determined to find some books that her late mother left for her.  They promised a treasure which will give her a fresh start she desperately needs. Hope is running from the past, from a situation she had no control over, that has left her with internal scars, making it hard for her to trust or connect with anyone. But coming to a close knit community doesn't help.

The Bookshop of Secrets is a story of new beginnings, healing the past while at the same time healing in present day. This isn’t just Hope's story, but also of other residents in this town of Wanishin Falls. There have been tragic events in the past that have left scars and hurt feelings for many residents.

This is the author's debut and I think she is off to a great start with a story that was engaging, heartfelt and full of hope. It is Christian fiction that was realistic and authentic. Definitely one I recommend.

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