Friday, December 30, 2022

Hold My Girl: A Novel by Charlene Carr

For fans of Jodi Picoult, Kate Hewitt and Ashley Audrain, a heart-wrenching novel about two women whose eggs are switched during IVF

Katherine is a woman full of obsessions. Everything clean, everything perfect, all the time. After seven years of trying—and failing—to conceive, she finally gives birth to Rose, her IVF miracle child. But she’s afraid that Rose may not be her daughter; her pale skin doesn’t match Katherine’s own.

Tess never got her happy ending. She took on IVF alongside Katherine and a group of hopeful mothers, but her daughter, Hanna, was stillborn. After a series of poor choices, she’s divorced, broke and stuck in a job that’s below her skill set.

Ten months later, Katherine and Tess get a call from the fertility clinic that reveals shocking news: the two women’s eggs were switched. While Katherine’s perfect life beings to crumble around her, for Tess it’s the glimmer of hope she needs to get her life back on track. But it will take a custody battle to decide who deserves to be Rose’s mother, a battle that will push both women to the brink.

With themes of racial identity, loss and betrayal, this emotional novel centred around a difficult moral question beautifully explores the complexities of motherhood. 

Kindle, 432 pages
Expected publication: January 24th 2023
 by HarperCollins Publishers
3.5/5 stars

Here I thought I knew about a lot of Canadian authors but somehow I missed Charlene Carr.

After reading the blurb I was prepared for an emotional read and for the first 50% I didn’t get that. The feels just weren’t there like I expected. The tone shifted and with that change I was feeling  some emotions. They came from secrets kept within and guilt/anger over a body that didn’t produce. The chain reaction that was caused by desire had a ripple affect on not just these 2 women but their family and friends as well.

Hold My Girl was an interesting story, it would make a great book club read with lots of things to talk about. But for me I would have loved more references to timing and it lacked that ‘unputdownable’ emotional feels I expected with characters that were likeable. While parts were predictable it didn’t have that wham factor for me.

Hold My Girl releases in just a few weeks. My thanks to Harper Collins CA for a digital arc (via NetGalley) in exchange for a honest review.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green

An impulsive promise to her brother before he goes off to the European Front puts Avis Montgomery in the unlikely position of head librarian in small-town Maine. Though she has never been much of a reader, when wartime needs threaten to close the library, she invents a book club to keep its doors open. The women she convinces to attend the first meeting couldn't be more different--a wealthy spinster determined to aid the war effort, an exhausted mother looking for a fresh start, and a determined young war worker.

At first, the struggles of the home front are all the club members have in common, but over time, the books they choose become more than an escape from the hardships of life and the fear of the U-boat battles that rage just past their shores. As the women face personal challenges and band together in the face of danger, they find they share more in common with each other than they think. But when their growing friendships are tested by secrets of the past and present, they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 15th 2022
by Bethany House Publishers
4/5 stars

One of my last reads of 2022,  new to me author Amy Lynn Green writes about a small town during WW2.

This story begins with Avis as her brother goes off to fight in the war. He asks her to be head librarian in his absence, which is iconic as she isn't a reader.  Then she goes that extra step and creates a book club. What a follows is a group of characters from different walks of life coming together. 

There are a number of different povs here, each one with a story, secrets and personal conflicts.  The narrative switched smoothly, making them all likeable and endearing. The historical part played out nicely, educational in terms of what happened along the coast of US during the war.  

The Blackout Book Club is a story of friendship, books and self discovery.  It was well written with some mystery, intrigue and bookish.  The book club notes were a nice touch and yes it did cause me to purchase a couple and increased my tbr pile.

Definitely a book that will appeal to those that like bookish themed stories, historical fiction involving women and their roles during this time.

My thanks to Graf-Martin Communication for a print copy in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Where the Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

Sometimes the hardest road of all is the road home.

When confident and handsome Eric Larson is sent to a rural Montana town to work in the local branch of his uncle's financial company, he's determined to exceed everyone's expectations, earn a promotion, and be back in Seattle by the end of summer. Yet nothing could prepare him for the lessons this small town has in store.

At forty-six years old, eccentric and outspoken Eunice Parker has come to accept her terminal illness and has given herself one final goal: seek forgiveness from everyone on her bucket list before her time runs out. But it will take more courage than she can muster on her own.

After an accident pushes Eric and Eunice together, the unlikely pair is forced to spend more time with each other than either would like, which challenges their deepest prejudices and beliefs. As summer draws to a close, neither Eric nor Eunice is where they thought they would be, but they both wrestle with the same important question: What matters most when the end is near?

Paperback, 346 pages
Published October 11th 2022
by Bethany House Publishers
4/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Katie Powner book. I was attracted to it because of the cover and a blurb that sounded interesting.

I enjoyed this book, on one hand it was a fun story about Eric Larson. A city slicker, businessman brought to the country to work for the summer. It was in this rural community that totally goes against his lifestyle where he meets Eunice Parker. A middle-aged woman who has just been given a terminal diagnosis. She sets off on a journey, seeking forgiveness of those she has wronged. What follows is a story that was comical, sad but also a journey for both these individuals.

This wasn’t a hard story to get drawn into and though it’s centred on Eric and Eunice the supporting cast also did a great job filling in and adding depth to this book, especially Cinderella a Polish chicken.

Where the Blue Sky Begins is a story with heart, searching and self discovery. It was entertaining, clean, and thought-provoking. Definitely an author I will be reading more of.

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

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Once More Unto the Breach by Meghan Holloway

For readers of The Nightingale and Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a gripping historical thriller set against a fully-realized WWII backdrop about the love a father has for his son and the lengths he is willing to go to find him, from a talented new voice in suspense.

Rhys Gravenor, Great War veteran and Welsh sheep farmer, arrives in Paris in the midst of the city's liberation with a worn letter in his pocket that may have arrived years too late. As he follows the footsteps of his missing son across an unfamiliar, war-torn country, he struggles to come to terms with the incident that drove a wedge between the two of them.

Joined by Charlotte Dubois, an American ambulance driver with secrets of her own, Rhys discovers that even as liberation sweeps across France, the war is far from over. And his personal war has only begun as he is haunted by memories of previous battles and hampered at every turn by danger and betrayal. In a race against time and the war, Rhys follows his son's trail from Paris to the perilous streets of Vichy to the starving mobs in Lyon to the treacherous Alps. But Rhys is not the only one searching for his son. In a race of his own, a relentless enemy stalks him across the country and will stop at nothing to find the young man first.

The country is in tatters, no one is trustworthy, and Rhys must unravel the mystery of his son's wartime actions in the desperate hope of finding him before it's too late. Too late to mend the frayed bond between them. Too late to beg his forgiveness. Too late to bring him home alive. 

Kindle Edition
Published May 14th 2019 
by Polis Books
4/5 stars

This is Meghan Holloway's debut and she is off to a great start.  Told mainly from the POV of Rhys Gravenor as his searches for his missing son in war torn France.

This was quite the journey for Rhys as he is aided and be friended with Charlotte (an ambulance driver) and Otto, a stray dog.  Not only does Rhys learn much about his son, Owain's,  role these last few years but Rhys also reminiscences over the past which was carefully woven throughout this story.

The author stayed true to history, her research is evident. Her characters are memorable and well written.  Once More the Breach is a story of parental love and heartache.  There is danger and mystery, betrayal and surprises.  Definitely a story that was enjoyable to read with a writing style that was engaging.  

A great debut and an author I will be reading more of.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Call of the Wrens by Jenni L. Walsh

Introducing the little-known story of the daring women who rode through war-torn Europe, carrying secrets on their shoulders . . .

1917 England

An orphan coming of age without a penny to her name, Marion joins the Women’s Royal Navy Service (the “Wrens”) as a motorcycle despatch rider on the Western Front, assigned to train and deliver carrier pigeons to the front line. Despite the hardships and constant threat of danger, Marion feels as if she finally belongs and that she has a purpose. Meanwhile, she and her childhood best friend, Eddie, dream of a future after the war—until tragedy strikes.

1936 England

A society girl, Evelyn has overcome a childhood disability and has found her true passion in automobile racing. When England enters WWII, Evelyn sees an opportunity to use her skills as a despatch rider, but her parents threaten to cut her off if she doesn’t start acting like a lady and marry the man they have chosen for her.

Meanwhile, a fellow Wren shows up at Marion’s door with an unwelcome call to return to her service.

Told in alternating narratives that converge in a single life-changing moment, The Call of the Wrens is a vivid, emotional saga of love, war, secrets, and resilience.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published November 15th 2022
by Harper Muse
4/5 stars

The Call of the Wren is a refreshing look at not just WW1 but WW2 through the eyes of 2 young women.  Marion, raised in an orphanage with no idea of her past or what the future holds.  Jumping to 1936 Evelyn is the opposite with parents who lovingly provide and expect much from her.  As England enters the war both do their part, risking much.

Suffice to say The Call of the Wrens is a story of strength & determination, love & loss and family.  It's about how these two time periods connect and the secrets that come to light.  For the history buffs, the Women's Royal Naval Service (aka Wrens) is showcased with the risks they took during both wars.

Jenni L Walsh is not a new author for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed her books Becoming Bonnie (of Bonnie & Clyde fame) and Side by Side.  So I knew to expect a wonderful story again.

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

Friday, December 9, 2022

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six Lisa Unger

Three couples rent a luxury cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway to die for in this chilling locked-room thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

What could be more restful, more restorative, than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, complete with spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s loving and generous tech-mogul brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It’s his birthday gift to Hannah and includes their spouses and another couple. The six friends need this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R, far from the chatter and pressures of modern life.

But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare. A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep. How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? And who is the new boyfriend, crashing their party? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?

Kindle Edition 393 pages
First published November 8, 2022
by Park Row
2.5/5 stars

This is my first Lisa Unger read and released in Canada last month

Well, there are lots of glowing reviews for this book, please take mine with a grain of salt. This sounded like a intriguing mystery with the secluded cabin, a getaway that sounds perfect and of course there is a storm brewing.  This turned into a slow burn read for me, the first 60% had the pov jumping between a number of different characters. The characters did not endear me at all, and I struggled to even like them, the different narratives left me confused, but I try to trust in the process and waited for the author to reveal all.  

Once the action started, it got a bit more interesting but the ending just didn’t work for me. I found it over the top and a bit convoluted. Honestly some things just didn't make sense.

Ultimately Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six is a story of family, enabling and ultimately selfishness. I’m glad to have skipped over to the audiobook for the last half.  One thing I will commend the author with is the emotions I felt when I finished, which is why this review will be rounded up to 3 stars.  The enabling part of the story left me with feelings of frustration and sadness.

My thanks to Legend Press for a digital ARC in exchange for honest review.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn

Veronica must find and stop a devious killer when a group of old friends is targeted for death in this new adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Veronica’s natural-historian beau, Stoker, has been away in Bavaria for months and their relationship is at an impasse. But when Veronica shows up before him with his brother, Tiberius, Lord Templeton-Vane, he is lured back home by an intriguing job offer: preparing an iguanodon for a very special dinner party.

Tiberius has received a cryptic message—along with the obituaries of two recently deceased members of his old group of friends, the Seven Sinners—that he too should get his affairs in order. Realizing he is in grave danger but not knowing why, he plans a reunion party for the remaining Sinners at his family estate to lure the killer out while Veronica and Stoker investigate.

As the guests arrive and settle in, the evening’s events turn deadly. More clues come to light, leading Veronica, Stoker, and Tiberius to uncover a shared past among the Sinners that has led to the fatal present. But the truth might be far more sinister than what they were prepared for.

Kindle edition, 336 pages
Expected publication March 7, 2023
by Berkley Publishing Group
3.5/5 stars

For much of November I was in a reading slump, and even though A  Sinister Revenge does not release well into the new year, I felt I needed a visit with some old friends, and went in with fingers crossed that it would get me out of my slump.

Opening up this book felt like getting together with some old friends, and I might even have sighed a little while I hunkered down to the familiar writing of Deanna Raybourn.

Veronica and Stoker are my one of my favorite literary couples. They bring life to a story with their escapades, banter and unique settings. With A Sinister Revenge, I was given a deeper glimpse into the life of Stoker's family, his hometown and some of his growing up years.  The mystery was an intriguing part of the story. New characters were brought to the scene and ultimately a conclusion that in typical Speedwell fashion came with peril and danger. But while I enjoyed this book, there were some aspects that were missing and characters I didn’t see nearly as much as I wanted to.  The typical bantering was lacking and seriously missed.

But all in all another great installment in this series that has me already wondering what is next for Veronica and Stoker.

My thanks to Berkley Publishing for a digital arc (via Edelweiss) in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Spotlight: To Get To the Other Side by Kelly Ohlert

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: December 6, 2022 
by Alcove Press

In the vein of Lyssa Kay Adams and Abby Jimenez, Kelly Ohlert’s charming debut is a one-of-a-kind rom-com that explores the power of overcoming the past and fighting for the things you love.

Trixie isn’t exactly sure what she was thinking when she stopped her car in the middle of downtown Chicago, scooped up a chicken struggling to cross the road, and drove off… but she does know that she has to find a new home for herself and her new feathered friend. The landlord at her apartment doesn’t allow pets and has caught Trixie in one too many pet-smuggling attempts in the past.

Bear likes his quiet life with his close-knit family, who own a flower business, but he’s in for a rude awakening when his meddlesome sisters post an ad to rent the spare room in his simple home, without asking his permission. Still, when Trixie responds to the ad, he agrees to let her move in, despite immediate worries about keeping things platonic.

Determined to keep her new room, befriend Bear, and give her rescue chicken the care she deserves, Trixie fights to keep her walls up and resist her romantic feelings for Bear. However, it’s not long before the pair’s proximity and chicken parenting ignite flames that have Trixie and Bear testing the boundaries of their platonic ground rules. They have to figure out how to save a family business, pay for mounting vet bills, and navigate their own emotional baggage if they want to find the love that they all deserve.

Perfect for readers of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, and fans of The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, readers will find themselves rooting for every one of the relatable, but tenderly flawed, characters in this book as they follow the heartwarming antics of a rescue chicken and her human companions.

Monday, December 5, 2022

The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop

A timely novel about an ambitious London journalist who reports on the fight for women’s rights in 1970s Switzerland, and the daughter who uncovers the long-buried truth about the assignment years later—for fans of Genevieve Graham and Heather Marshall.


Jess is at a crossroads in life. In her late thirties, all she has to show for it is a broken marriage and a job teaching a bunch of uninterested kids. But when she discovers a shocking secret about her late mother, Sylvia, Jess begins to question all she’s ever known. Her search for answers leads to a 1970s article about women’s rights in Switzerland that Sylvia wrote when she was a young journalist. But to uncover the real story of what happened all those years ago, Jess will have to go to Switzerland and find someone who knew her mother...


Sylvia’s life is on track. She has a loving fiancĂ© and her dream job as a features writer in a busy London newsroom—if only her editor would give her the chance to write about something important instead of relegating her to fashion, flowers, and celebrities. When Sylvia learns about the growing women’s liberation movement in Switzerland, where women only recently got the right to vote, she knows the story could be her big break. There’s just one wrinkle: she’s pregnant.

Determined to put her career first, Sylvia travels to Switzerland, and as she meets the courageous band of women fighting for their rights, she stumbles across an even bigger scoop, one that would make her male colleagues take her seriously. But telling the story will change her—and her baby’s—life forever.

Inspired by an important chapter of women’s history, The Other Daughter is an unforgettable novel about the bond between mothers and daughters—and the fight of women, generations over, for the freedom to choose their own path.

Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Expected publication: January 10th 2023
by Simon & Schuster CA
4/5 stars

This is my first time reading a Caroline Bishop book and with it came rave reviews.

I enjoy dual time period stories.  I like it for the glimpses into history as well as seeing two different points of view connect to one plot. The historical aspect of 1976 Switzerland with the women’s liberation movement was intriguing to read and learn about. Actually not just Switzerland but London as well and the treatment of women, their rights and expectations once married and even to marry. I was a teen during that time and can somewhat relate.

In 2016, Jess is struggling after discovering secrets which have created havoc in her life. Heading off to Switzerland she hopes to discover answers and possibly healing.

I enjoyed the authors writing style, the story and the mystery kept me intrigued. The story weaved nicely through time at a good pace and ended with a conclusion that was authentic and worked.

Ultimately, The Other Daughter is a story of family, of secrets, and having the courage & strength to face your past, to face the unknown.  As both women struggled with issues and prejudices ultimately there is healing and new beginnings found in unlikely places.

The Other Daughter hits books shelves on January 10th. My thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for a digital arc in exchange for an honest review.  

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Unveiled: Tamar by Francine Rivers

Book 1 in the 5-book biblical historical fiction series by the New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love and A Voice in the Wind.

Betrayed by the men who controlled her future, she fought for her right to believe in a loving God.

Meet Tamar, one of the five women in the lineage of Christ. She risked her life and her reputation to be the woman she was called to be. Her story serves as an example of how God uses our circumstances and our steps toward Him, however faltering, to fulfill His plan.

Unveiled is book one in the popular Lineage of Grace series about five unlikely women who changed eternity.

Audiobook, 4 hours, 12 minutes
Published November 10, 2002
 by Oasis Audio
4/5 hours

I am a big fan of Francine Rivers' fictional books, her Mark of the Lion Series is one of my favourites.  Unveiled is the 1st in her Lineage of Grace Series and continues with 4 other women from the Old and ending in the NewTestament.

This like the rest of the books in this series are not big.  The print copy is smaller and comes in just over 200 pages.  I opted for the audiobook for my bookclub read mainly because the print copy was hard to find.

Tamar comes from the book of Genesis and tells the life the daughter-in-law of Judah.  Though the Bible doesn't go into great detail about her life I loved how Francine Rivers brought her to life with authentic feelings of the customs/traditions and life for a women in that time period.  What was expected and how sometimes one has to take matters into ones our hands.

I will continue with this series with book 5 tell Mary's story.

My audiobook copy from obtained via my Scribd subscription.