Monday, July 31, 2023

The Theory of Crows by David A. Robertson

A poignant and evocative novel about the bonds of family and the gifts offered by the land

When a troubled father and his estranged teenage daughter head out onto the land in search of the family trapline, they find their way back to themselves, and to each other

Deep in the night, Matthew paces the house, unable to rest. Though his sixteen-year-old daughter, Holly, lies sleeping on the other side of the bedroom door, she is light years away from him. How can he bridge the gap between them when he can’t shake the emptiness he feels inside? Holly knows her father is drifting further from her; what she doesn’t understand is why. Could it be her fault that he seems intent on throwing everything away, including their relationship?

Following a devastating tragedy, Matthew and Holly head out onto the land in search of a long-lost cabin on the family trapline, miles from the Cree community they once called home. But each of them is searching for something more than a place. Matthew hopes to reconnect with the father he has just lost; Holly goes with him because she knows the father she is afraid of losing won’t be able to walk away.

When things go wrong during the journey, they find they have only each other to turn to for support. What happens to father and daughter on the land will test them, and eventually heal them, in ways they never thought possible.

Paperback, 308 pages
Published September 13, 2022 
by Harper Perennial
4.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a David A. Robertson book, it's one of those books that came highly recommended. I had the privilege of meeting him last year at the Eden Mills Writers Festival.

The Theory of Crows tells the story of a family going through a tough time. The father is troubled, struggling with grief, guilt over his estrangement from his only daughter. Holly, the teen daughter is angry at her father while also mourning the loss of her beloved grandfather.

Reading this book was an emotional experience. As the characters come to terms with the loss of their father and grandfather, it becomes a journey of self-discovery for both of them while exploring the complexities of family relationships. The story emphasizes the importance of family bonding because we don't know what tomorrow brings. I particularly enjoyed reading about the Cree heritage and how it played a significant role in this family's life. The journey that Matthew and Holly embark on becomes a way for them to work through their grief and reconnect with each other and the natural world.

The Theory of  Crows is a moving story that delves into family dynamics, healing, and learning more about Canadian history. I appreciate how the author incorporated letters that Matthew wrote for his daughter, which added an authentic touch to his character and showed his emotional depth and connection with his own father.  

The author also has a series of  MG/Teen books that I hope to read next month.

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen

Caldecott Medalist and New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Jon Klassen delivers a deliciously macabre treat for folktale fans.

Jon Klassen's signature wry humor takes a turn for the ghostly in this thrilling retelling of a traditional Tyrolean folktale. In a big abandoned house, on a barren hill, lives a skull. A brave girl named Otilla has escaped from terrible danger and run away, and when she finds herself lost in the dark forest, the lonely house beckons. Her host, the skull, is afraid of something too, something that comes every night. Can brave Otilla save them both? Steeped in shadows and threaded with subtle wit—with rich, monochromatic artwork and an illuminating author’s note— The Skull is as empowering as it is mysterious and foreboding.

Hardcover, 112 pages
Published July 11, 2023
 by Candlewick
4/5 stars

The Skull is a retelling of an old folktale, also called The Skull. There are great author notes at the end which gives Klassen's motivation and how he began his journey to write this book. It was in Alaska where he first read the story, The Skull and try as I might I cannot find the original version. 

The Skull is a story of a girl who runs away from home and makes a friend in an unlikely place and honestly an unlikely friend, a skull. What follows is a story of a girl finding her strength, while facing danger and finds refuge in a huge but lonely house in the dark woods.

One might think this would be a scary story for children, but it’s not. The illustrations throughout this book are many and breathe life into the story. This was an impulse purchase for me and a fun read.

This book was part of my 2023 reading off my shelf challenge and it’s book number 49.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It's supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother's even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can't imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen's well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen's own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

Paperback,352 pages
Published September 1, 2020
 by St. Martin's Griffin
4.5/5 stars

Katherine Center, is not a new author for me, I discovered her last year when reading The Bodyguard, and am now slowly making my way through her back list. I jumped at the chance to read this one before the movie version comes out today on Netflix.

I went into this book blind, with no idea of what was going to take place. The story starts off right away as Helen (with an H) begins a journey that she hopes will lead to a stronger more confident self.  It's been a year since a messy divorce. Little does she know the obstacles that will come in her path along the way.

This is such a fun read for me. I finished it in a matter of days. Not only did Katherine Centre take me out into the wilderness but she did it with a great story, some wonderful dialogue which is always great in any book, all within a layered adventure. As with any Rom/Com, it isn’t always fun and games, but some hidden hurts of the past surface to provide healing.

As for the ending, and by ending I mean the epilogue. I really liked it, it was different in the sense it wasn't cheesy or too neat and tidy, but rather realistic and believable.

Definitely a book and author I recommend. Fingers crossed, the movie is just as good.

“I don’t think trying to be happy means you can never be sad,”
“It’s sadness that gives happiness its meaning.”

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #54

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success—not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won't be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

Paperback, 294 pages
Published November 8, 2022 
by Tor Books
4/5 stars

This was another read for our Family Blessings Book Club. It's also a short and sweet review.

I want to say it’s YA fantasy but it’s just a fantasy novel that I think that YA readers would also enjoy. It is somewhat on the lighter side in terms of world building and fantastical elements. If there is such a genre, I would think this falls under cozy fantasy.

Legends and Lattes is a story of new beginnings, friendships, and life in a coffee shop. It was a quick read, it was a fun read, and it is the start of a new series. Book 2 Bookshops and Bonedust is releasing this fall.
This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #50.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Cover Reveal:

“I’m thrilled to share the cover of Stephanie Dray’s super anticipated new novel BECOMING MADAM SECRETARY, which goes on sale March 2024, tracing the life of one of America’s unsung heroes: Frances Perkins.”

 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray returns with a captivating and richly dramatic novel about American heroine Frances Perkins, who pulled the nation out of the Great Depression.

Raised on tales of her revolutionary ancestors, Frances Perkins arrives in New York City at the turn of the century, armed with her trusty parasol and an unyielding determination to make a difference.

When she’s not working with children in the crowded tenements in Hell’s Kitchen, Frances throws herself into the social scene in Greenwich Village, befriending an eclectic group of politicians, artists, and activists, including the millionaire socialite Mary Harriman Rumsey, the flirtatious budding author Sinclair Lewis, and the brilliant but troubled reformer Paul Wilson, with whom she falls deeply in love.

But when Frances meets a young lawyer named Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a tea dance, sparks fly in all the wrong directions. She thinks he’s a rich, arrogant dilettante who gets by on a handsome face and a famous name. He thinks she’s a priggish bluestocking and insufferable do-gooder. Neither knows it yet, but over the next twenty years, they will form a historic partnership that will carry them both to the White House.

Frances is destined to rise in a political world dominated by men, facing down the Great Depression as FDR’s most trusted lieutenant—even as she struggles to balance the demands of a public career with marriage and motherhood. And when vicious political attacks mount and personal tragedies threaten to derail her ambitions, she must decide what she’s willing to do—and what she’s willing to sacrifice—to save a nation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Four women come together to save the summer camp that changed their lives and rediscover themselves in the process in this moving new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Veil and the Peachtree Bluff series.

Nearly thirty years ago, in the wake of a personal tragedy, June Moore bought Camp Holly Springs and turned it into a thriving summer haven for girls. But now, June is in danger of losing the place she has sacrificed everything for, and begins to realize how much she has used the camp to avoid facing difficulties in her life.

June’s niece, Daphne, met her two best friends, Lanier and Mary Stuart, during a fateful summer at camp. They’ve all helped each other through hard things, from heartbreak and loss to substance abuse and unplanned pregnancy, and the three are inseparable even in their thirties. But when attorney Daphne is confronted with a relationship from her past—and a confidential issue at work becomes personal—she is faced with an impossible choice.

Lanier, meanwhile, is struggling with tough decisions of her own. After a run-in with an old flame, she is torn between the commitment she made to her fiancĂ© and the one she made to her first love. And when a big secret comes to light, she finds herself at odds with her best friend…and risks losing the person she loves most.

But in spite of their personal problems, nothing is more important to these songbirds than Camp Holly Springs. When the women learn their childhood oasis is in danger of closing, they band together to save it, sending them on a journey that promises to open the next chapters in their lives.

From an author whose “writing coats your soul with heart” ( E! Online ), The Summer of Songbirds is a lyrical and unforgettable celebration of female friendship, summertime freedom, and enduring sisterhood—and a love letter to the places and people that make us who we are.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 11, 2023
 by Gallery Books 
4.5/5 stars

The cover of this book immediately gives off a summery vibe, and let me tell you, it lives up to the hype. I haven't read many books by Kristy Woodson Harvey, but she has quickly become one of my go-to authors.

The Summer of Songbirds kicks off with three scared six-year-old girls meeting at Camp Holly Springs and becoming the best of friends. This story is all about friendship - the highs, the lows, the heartbreak, and the unbreakable bonds that hold them together. I could go into all the nitty-gritty details, but it's a story with many layers and quite capitvating.

The story is told from different perspectives and jumps between timelines, allowing me to really get to know these women. Despite staying in touch and remaining close over the next 30 or so years, they come together to save their beloved camp. There's a lot happening in this book - secrets, marriages, first loves, babies, family drama, and even more secrets. It's beautifully written and showcases how family isn't always about blood ties.  

The Summer of Songbirds has all the ingredients for a perfect summer read.

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - #51

Monday, July 24, 2023

No Child of Mine by Nichelle Giraldes

There's something in the dark. And it's starting to whisper...

Essie Kaur has defined herself by her ambitions, a fiercely independent woman whose only soft spot is her husband, Sanjay. She never imagined herself as a mother. It was never a part of the plan. But then she finds out she's pregnant. As her difficult pregnancy transforms her body and life into something she barely recognizes, her husband spends the nights pacing in the attic, slowly becoming a stranger, and the house begins to whisper.

As Essie's pregnancy progresses, both her and Sanjay's lives are warped by a curse that has haunted her family for generations, leaving a string of fatherless daughters in its wake. When she's put on bedrest, Essie trades the last aspects of her carefully planned life for isolation in what should be a welcoming home, but she isn't alone. There's something here that means to take everything from her…

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication September 12, 2023
by Poisoned Pen Press
2.5/5 stars

No Child of Mine is a book  I really wanted to love. The cover gave off a creepy vibe, and the idea of a haunted house storyline was a definite plus. Unfortunately, this book just didn't work for me.

Please take my thoughts with a grain of salt, as there are many that loved it. But for me, the pacing was painfully slow and dragged on for far too long. It became so repetitive that I actually started feeling nauseous as I read about Essie's never-ending morning sickness throughout her entire pregnancy.

The story is told from Essie's perspective and I couldn't help but wish that I could have heard from Sanjay as well.  It would have been a nice change of pace and given me a glimpse into his thought and feelings.  The book is divided into two timelines, one in the present and one in the past. However, I found the chapters in the past to be too short, making it difficult to connect with the two women and truly understand their emotions. It just didn't feel authentic to me.

No Child of Mine follows the journey of a couple as they embark on the next chapter of their lives in a new house, with a baby on the way. As I mentioned before, the pacing was slow, repetitive, and lacked any suspense or tension to create a truly horrifying atmosphere. I was left feeling disappointed.

But like I said, many are loving this book story.

  No Child of Mine releases on September 12 and my thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for an advanced copy in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, July 17, 2023

The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman

One brilliant June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?

Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.

As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

This is the story of one woman’s dream. For a little while it came true.

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Expected publication August 15, 2023
 by Atria Books
3.5/5 stars

It has been quite some time since I last read an Alice Hoffman book, but with the release of The Invisible Hour on August 15th, I found myself delving into her world once again. This is the second book in as many months that places Nathaniel Hawthorne at the centre of its story.

The story begins with a young, unwed, and pregnant teenager who has been shunned by her family. Seeking solace, she discovers a community called The Community, which adheres to strict rules and has no outside contact. As the story progresses, I connected with Mia, now a teenager herself, as she embarks on her own journey. She finds solace and inspiration in a hidden book, The Scarlet Letter, which empowers her to shape her own future.

The Invisible Hour is a captivating tale with a strong literary feel. While the pace may be slower than what I'm accustomed to, my genuine interest in Mia's fate compelled me to persist through this magical story. It explores themes of family, survival, the empowerment of women, and the strong connection between reading and books—a true win-win.

Though literary fiction is not really my thing I do recommend this book to readers who appreciate stories with a bookish atmosphere.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster CA (via Edelweiss) for a digital arc in exchange for honest review.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…

Hardcover, 325 pages
Published February 22, 2022 
by Feiwel & Friends
4/5 stars

Axie Oh is a new author for me, this her latest book is a YA retelling of a popular Korean legend, entitled The Tale of Shim Cheong. It's about a girl who travels into the spirit world to break a curse that threatens the lives of not just her family but her people.

Though fantasy is not really one of my go to genres. I do love a good retelling especially YA. I have yet to get my hands on the original, but I will keep searching as I am intrigued by this retelling.

Mina is an impulsive, strong willed teen. She is dedicated to her family, putting others before herself. This character driven story was colourful with its vivid setting and cast of characters. The storyline was intricate and since I have yet to real the original folktale I didn’t know what to expect.

This was a Family Book Club read, and we all really enjoyed the story. While some guessed the outcome I was in the dark till the end. Suffice to say this was a hit for all 3 of us.

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge - I had to buy the book because of the gorgeous cover.

Friday, July 14, 2023

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell returns with a scintillating new psychological thriller about a woman who finds herself the subject of her own popular true crime podcast.

Celebrating her forty-fifth birthday at her local pub, popular podcaster Alix Summers crosses paths with an unassuming woman called Josie Fair. Josie, it turns out, is also celebrating her forty-fifth birthday. They are, in fact, birthday twins.

A few days later, Alix and Josie bump into each other again, this time outside Alix’s children’s school. Josie has been listening to Alix’s podcasts and thinks she might be an interesting subject for her series. She is, she tells Alix, on the cusp of great changes in her life.

Josie’s life appears to be strange and complicated, and although Alix finds her unsettling, she can’t quite resist the temptation to keep making the podcast. Slowly she starts to realise that Josie has been hiding some very dark secrets, and before she knows it, Josie has inveigled her way into Alix’s life—and into her home.

But, as quickly as she arrived, Josie disappears. Only then does Alix discover that Josie has left a terrible and terrifying legacy in her wake, and that Alix has become the subject of her own true crime podcast, with her life and her family’s lives under mortal threat.

Who is Josie Fair? And what has she done?

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication August 8, 2023
 by Atria
3.75/5 stars

I have been a long-time reader of Lisa Jewell, eagerly anticipating her latest book, None Of This Is True, set to release on August 8.

Alix and Josie, who share the same birth date, decide to celebrate their 45th birthday at a local restaurant. Little do they know that their chance meeting will lead to a dangerous relationship with deadly consequences. This twisted tale revolves around a local podcaster and her birthday twin. What initially starts as a promising new series takes an unexpected turn that neither of them anticipated.

None Of This Is True is a skillfully written psychological thriller that kept me captivated throughout. Josie is a prime example of an unreliable and unlikable character, while Alix is more relatable, albeit with some questionable decision-making. The story delves into dark and twisted themes of dysfunctional families, complicated relationships, and hidden secrets. It is narrated from the perspectives of both Josie and Alix, which left me feeling unsettled at times but also eager to uncover more.

The only drawback I found was the ending, which I won't delve into to avoid spoilers. Nevertheless, this book offers a refreshing departure from Lisa Jewell's recent works in terms of tone and style. She returns with her signature suspenseful storytelling and unique plotlines, making None Of This Is True a must-read for fans and newcomers alike.

My thanks to Atria books, via NetGalley for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review .

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The Lie Maker by Linwood Barclay

From the international bestseller Linwood Barclay comes an explosive new crime thriller!

In this twisty thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Take Your Breath Away, a man desperately tries to track down his father – who was taken into witness protection years ago – before his enemies can get to him.

Your dad’s not a good person. Your dad killed people, son.

These are some of the last words Jack Givins’s father spoke to him before he was whisked away by witness protection, leaving Jack and his mother to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives.

Years later, Jack is a struggling author, recruited by the U.S. Marshals to create false histories for people in witness protection. Jack realises this may be a chance to find his dad – but then he discovers he’s gone missing, and he could be in serious danger.

Jack knows he has to track him down. But how will he find a man he’s never truly known? And how will he evade his father’s deadly enemies – enemies who wouldn’t think twice about using his own son against him?

Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 16, 2023
by William Morrow
4/5 stars

Linwood Barclay is one of my auto reads. This Canadian author became one of my favourites after reading Take Your Breath Away a couple years back. He writes stories that are suspenseful, unique, with lots of twist and turns and some good dialogue.

The Lie Maker is a story that focuses on Jack, a young man and struggling author. He has a messed up past from when his father left him as a wee lad. Getting a job with the US Marshal‘s Office opens up Jack’s past that forces him to confront what happened with his dad as well as pulling his girlfriend in to the mix.

This was such an entertaining read, I love it when an author keeps me on my toes, trying to figure out what is going on before the big reveal. Yeah there may be times when I had to suspend my belief here, but I was so engrossed and kept reading just one more chapter (pun intended).

If you haven’t read Linwood Barclay yet, I highly recommend him. For myself I am slowly through his backlist.

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Monday, July 10, 2023

Dark Corners by Megan Goldin

Rachel Krall, the true crime podcaster star of Megan Goldin’s acclaimed Night Swim returns to search for a popular social media influencer who disappeared after visiting a suspected serial killer.

Terence Bailey is about to be released from prison for breaking and entering, though investigators have long suspected him in the murders of six women. As his freedom approaches, Bailey gets a surprise visit from Maddison Logan, a hot, young influencer with a huge social media following. Hours later, Maddison disappears, and police suspect she’s been kidnapped—or worse. Is Maddison’s disappearance connected to her visit to Bailey? Why was she visiting him in the first place?

When they hit a wall in the investigation, the FBI reluctantly asks for Rachel’s help in finding the missing influencer. Maddison seems only to exist on social media; she has no family, no friends, and other than in her posts, most people have never seen her. Who is she, really? Using a fake Instagram account, Rachel Krall goes undercover to BuzzCon, a popular influencer conference, where she discovers a world of fierce rivalry that may have turned lethal.

When police find the body of a woman with a tattoo of a snake eating its tail, the FBI must consider a chilling possibility: Bailey has an accomplice on the outside and a dangerous obsession with influencers, including Rachel Krell herself. Suddenly a target of a monster hiding in plain sight, Rachel is forced to confront the very real dangers that lurk in the dark corners of the internet.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication August 8, 2023 
by St. Martin's Press
4/5 stars

Dark Corners though the 2nd book in the Rachel Krall Series definitely works as a stand alone.  I loved The Night Swim and eagerly awaited this the sequel.  For me this was a different Rachel verses the one I met in book 1.

Rachel is called to Florida by the FBI after her name is mentioned by a convict long suspected of murder.  Lacking evidence for a conviction or even charges, can Rachel uncover clues to the unsolved murders of young women.

Told from a couple view points made this an addicting read.  I was lucky to get both the audio and digital arc.  A road trip had me binge listen, I was am to finish in a 24 hour period.  So worth it!

This was a wonderfully mysterious, suspenseful story.  It showcased influencers in their glory (or rather addiction to social media).  It was intricately woven with twists I didn't see coming and an ending that I liked.

The audio narrator was spot on, a pleasure to listen to.  Both versions are available for preorder now with an August 8th release date.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press and Macmillian Audio for advanced copies in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale

If you had the power to change the past…where would you start?
Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit. She likes what she likes (museums, jumpsuits, her boyfriend, Will) and strongly dislikes what she doesn't (mess, change, her boss drinking out of her mug). Her life runs in a pleasing, predictable order…until now.
• She's just been dumped.
• She's just been fired.
• Her local cafĂ© has run out of banana muffins.

Then, something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past. One small rewind at a time, Cassie attempts to fix the life she accidentally obliterated, but soon she'll discover she's trying to fix all the wrong things.

Audiobook, 13 hours, 15 minutes
Published June 6, 2023
 by Harlequin Audio
2/5 stars

Cassandra in Reverse is the June '23 Reese's Book Club pick, honestly I think it's time Reese and I parted ways. Be forewarned for unpopular comments.

I went the audio route with this book, part of me thinks maybe reading the book might have been better in terms of performance.  Yea there were some jarring moments of raised voices that disrupted the flow and were more dramatic then necessary.

All in one day, Cassandra loses her boyfriend, her job, and her situation with her flatmate is tense. The next day she wakes up and starts all over again. This is my first time reading a Groundhog Day story, I contemplating DNF around the 40/50% mark. It was only through reviews/comments advising to persevere as the ending is good. Sadly, though the action does not start till after the 70/75% mark at which time things really did pick up and the meat of the story shined through. Unfortunately for me it was a little too late. The story was slow and repetitive with characters I didn't necessarily like. It had great potential but sadly it didn't live up to the hype (for me anyways).

My audiobook was obtained through my Scribd membership.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

Sometimes the hopes, dreams—and stories—of our past can shape our future selves in the most powerful and unexpected ways…

Georgie Mulcahy has returned home from L.A. with her career in flux and her future a disconcertingly blank page. Her once slightly shabby Virginia town has transformed itself in recent years, but some things remain the same—like her wonderful but absent-minded parents forgetting to mention that they’d already offered up their empty house to someone else. When Georgie rediscovers a “friendfic” diary she wrote in high school, filled with the possible lives she imagined for herself, she wonders if it’s time she did some transforming of her own…

Much to her embarrassment, many of the fantastic adventures Georgie once envisioned for Future Georgie revolved around her high school crush—the golden boy younger brother of her current roommate—the town misfit. Yet beyond briefly wondering what happened between them, Georgie finds herself wondering what happened to herself. The Georgie who wrote those pages was daring, confident, eager to grasp opportunities with both hands. Is it too late to become that girl again? To find out, Georgie just might have to pick herself up, dust off some of those teenage ambitions, and see what they spark…

Hardcover, 340 pages
Published January 1, 2023 
by Kensington Publishing Corp.
3/5 stars

This was my February, Book of the Month pick, again a new author for me,and a book that came highly recommended.

Moving back home after suddenly losing her job, Georgie stumbles onto an old piece of writing she penned when a teen, kind of a bucket list for her high school years. Feeling motivated by all the things she didn't do she embarks on a quest to complete some of those things.  It's a journey that she least expects.

Georgie, All Along is a somewhat slow paced story, but it does pack meaning into its pages. I liked Georgie, I liked her spunk, her impulsive personality and her devotion to her friends.  Her friendship with Belle was endearing and the story played out nicely.  

Georgie, All Along is a story of finding one’s self, family and healing from the past.  Ultimately I liked it but didn't love it. It didn't pack the emotional punch I was looking for. I did a hybrid read, listenening to the audio for Georgie's part and that of the other POV was a read - the reader was almost a whisper compared to Georgie and honestly I didn't feel matched the character. 

Take my thoughts with a grain of salt, as most loved it.

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Monday, July 3, 2023

The Last One by Will Dean

An unputdownable locked-room thriller about family, trust, and survival from the acclaimed author of the “utterly thrilling” (Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author) First Born.

When Caz steps onboard the exclusive cruise liner RMS Atlantica, it’s the start of a vacation of a lifetime with her new love, Pete. On their first night they explore the ship, eat, dance, make friends, but when Caz wakes the next morning, Pete is missing.

And when she walks out into the corridor, all the cabin doors are open. To her horror, she soon realizes that the ship is completely empty. No passengers, no crew, nobody but her. The Atlantica is steaming into the mid-Atlantic and Caz is the only person on board. But that’s just the beginning of the terrifying journey she finds herself trapped on in this white-knuckled mystery.

Kindle, 352 pages
Expected publication
August 8, 2023 
by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
2.75/5 stars

I am so conflicted in my feelings for this book. So for something completely different here is a list of the Good, Bad and Ugly.

The Good
- grabbed my attention right away with a unique plot (well maybe not the everyone disappeared theme but it's on a cruise ship - that's a good one)
-nice short chapters (132 of them), self explanatory, I 'm not a fan of long chapters, enjoying shorter ones to a certain point SEE The Bad
-nice mix of personalities, unreliable, unlikable and suspicious
-genuinely interested in outcome

The Bad
-way too long, 448 pages long was just too long
-so much suspension of belief
-those short chapters got to be a bit much, especially all those 1 or 2 pagers

The Ugly
-the ending, seriously? Not a fan

This is my 2nd Will Dean read, it releases in just a month.

My thanks to Atria Books (via Edelweiss) for digital arc in exchange for honest review