Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Don't Ask, Don't Follow by Mary Keliikoa

Murder, dark family secrets, and the unwavering bond of sisterhood— regardless of the cost

Beth Ralston, a paralegal in Portland, Oregon, would rather be racking up billable hours than mingling at an office party— especially when her sister Lindsay, aka her plus one, is a no-show.

After making her obligatory rounds, Beth returns to her office to find that her boss, who she'd talked with moments before, has been murdered. She sees a woman fleeing the scene. Wait— was that Lindsay? Unable to catch up to her in time, Beth waits for the police to arrive and notices that Lindsay has left her phone behind with an unsent text message to Beth displayed on the screen: “ Don't ask. Don't follow.”

Lindsay is unreachable for days, and when Beth starts to come under suspicion for the crime, she decides that waiting is impossible. While retracing Lindsay's steps, determined to bring her home, Beth uncovers what her sister, an investigative reporter bent on changing the world, was trying to expose— corruption, secrets, and betrayal on an unimaginable level. Revealing the truth might bring back the one person she's desperate to find— but it could also destroy the only life and family Beth's ever known.

Kindle, 353 pages
Expected publication June 4, 2024
by Oceanview Publishing
4/5 stars

This is my first book by Mary Keliikoa, it grabbed my attention right away.

For Beth, a party at her family’s law firm ends in death and a cryptic message from her sister, Lindsey.  Basically, Don’t Ask Don’t Follow as she is seen fleeing the scene of the crime. Does Beth follow those instructions, of course not .

What follows is 350 pages of Beth trying to figure out why her boss was killed, why she’s being followed, what her sister is up to, along with secrets of the past that are about to be revealed. And should those secrets even be revealed at all

I really enjoyed this book. I found Beth to be likeable with her devotion to her sister. I found myself frustrated at times with her parents and other things that went on. It was your classic case of not knowing who to trust, believe and quietly whispering to my Kindle for Beth not to do some of the things she does

Don’t Ask Don't Follow is a story of family secrets and following your gut instinct. Like I said a new author for me and one I will definitely be taking another look at.

My thanks to Oceanview Publishing (via Netgalley) for a digital arc in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Night Falls on Predicament Avenue by Jaime Jo Wright

In 1910, Effie James is living a dream for two. Her younger sister is harboring a secret that has left timid Effie determined to fulfill her daring sister's grand plan of seeking out adventure in their small Iowa town. When a British gentleman arrives, disrupting their peace with efforts to find the wife many claim lived her final days at the now abandoned house at 322 Predicament Avenue, Effie is thrust into intrigue she couldn't have prepared for. But what she finds inside will forever link her to the scandal staining the house's walls and to a woman whose secrets promise a curse.

A century later, Norah Richman is living out her late-twin's dream of running their great aunt's bed-and-breakfast on Predicament Avenue--a place Norah believes nothing good can come out of after her sister's abduction and murder thirteen years ago. Her first guest is a crime historian and podcaster, and Norah resolves to stay far away from the charming and enigmatic man--until another guest is found dead. As they dig deeper, something sinister unfurls that will reveal an ominous unknown far greater than the possibility of death itself.

Kindle, 344 pages
Published April 9, 2024
 by Bethany House Publishers
4/5 stars

Another captivating read in this dual timeline book by one of my auto-reads authors. Most Jaime Jo Wright's books have that same formula, it’s one that I enjoy and know that I will get a intriguing read.

With one storyline taking place in 1910, in a small town and the disappearance of a young woman. A century later, Nora is still suffering the loss of her sister 13 years previous. She was murdered and the case remains unsolved.  As a podcaster arrives in town it stirs up memories, suspicions and mayhem while hoping to solve the mystery.

One of the things I like about Jamie Jo Wright is the atmosphere she creates in her books. There is the Gothic feel with dark secrets and an almost supernatural vibe. She kept me on my toes yet again.

Night Falls on Predicament Avenue is a nice mystery, but also grief plays a big role along with a touch of romance. One of those books where I couldn’t quite figure out the bad guy until the end.

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

Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

When his father returns East to collect the rest of the family, 13-year-old Matt is left alone to guard his family's newly built homestead. 

One day, Matt is brutally stung when he robs a bee tree for honey. He returns to consciousness to discover that his many stings have been treated by an old Native American and his grandson. Matt offers his only book as thanks, but the old man instead asks Matt to teach his grandson Attean to read. Both boys are suspicious, but Attean comes each day for his lesson. In the mornings, Matt tries to entice Attean with tales from Robinson Crusoe, while in the afternoons, Attean teaches Matt about wilderness survival and Native American culture. 

The boys become friends in spite of themselves, and their inevitable parting is a moving tribute to the ability of shared experience to overcome prejudice.

Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 1, 1993
 by Yearling
4/5 stars

This middle grade book was an audio read, coming in around the 3 hour mark and perfect for a road trip.

Told from the POV of 13 year old Matt, alone on the family homestead while his dad goes to bring his mom and sister home. This was more than an adventure story but rather an exploration of Native culture and friendship taking place before the American Revolution.

The original plan was that Matt‘s father would be gone for seven weeks and those seven weeks turn into many months. Even though he is only 13 years old, he is prepared and knows what to do. However, there are obstacles in his way in terms of man, animal and the unknown.

This was a fun read by talented author who knows her history and a great book not just for middle-aged readers but older ones as well.  It's a story of friendship, bravery and history.

I obtain the audiobook via cloudLibrary, but I also have a print on my shelf

Friday, May 17, 2024

Bride by Ali Hazelwood

A dangerous alliance between a Vampyre bride and an Alpha Werewolf becomes a love deep enough to sink your teeth into in this new paranormal romance.

Misery Lark, the only daughter of the most powerful Vampyre councilman of the Southwest, is an outcast—again. Her days of living in anonymity among the Humans are over: she has been called upon to uphold a historic peacekeeping alliance between the Vampyres and their mortal enemies, the Weres, and she sees little choice but to surrender herself in the exchange—again...

Weres are ruthless and unpredictable, and their Alpha, Lowe Moreland, is no exception. He rules his pack with absolute authority, but not without justice. And, unlike the Vampyre Council, not without feeling. It’s clear from the way he tracks Misery’s every movement that he doesn’t trust her. If only he knew how right he was….

Because Misery has her own reasons to agree to this marriage of convenience, reasons that have nothing to do with politics or alliances, and everything to do with the only thing she's ever cared about. And she is willing to do whatever it takes to get back what’s hers, even if it means a life alone in Were territory…alone with the wolf.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 6, 2024 
by Berkley
3.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading in Ali Hazelwood book, I've seen her rom/coms about but this was a fantasy romance.

Misery Lark is a pawn for her father to do as he pleases. She is forced to marry a werewolf, and what follows is a year of changes.  It is not just the story of her marriage and the new lifestyle she has entered but it's also her search for a long lost friend. Her role has always been a pawn with no control of her own life. It was witty with some good banter, it was mysterious as attempts are made on her life and it was suspenseful as to what the outcome was going to be.

An enjoyable read with some twists, unique world building and relationships but ultimately Misery taking back her life. 

This was part of my 2024 reading off my shelf challenge.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

It’s murder being a hit-mom.

"Getting the job done" for one single mom takes on a whole new meaning in Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, a deliciously witty adult debut - the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.

Finlay Donovan is killing it...except, she’s really not. The new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head.

When Finlay’s overheard discussing the plot of her new novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet...and she soon discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart.

Audiobook, 9 hours, 59 minutes
Angela Dawe (Narrator)
Published February 2, 2021
 by Macmillan Audio
5/5 stars

This is a series that I have seen around and around, however it wasn’t until I saw the cover reveal for book 5 in the series that I finally decided to bite the bullet and grabbed the audio from CloudLibrary.

Captivated right from the very beginning, I mean how could one not be with that opening. It isn’t hard to connect with Finlay.  The reader of this audio did a great job reading about this stressed-out single mom with financial difficulties, writers block, and an ex-husband and his fiancĂ© ready to take custody of her two kids.

It’s like one thing after another when she is thrown in the middle of murder mayhem. Donning her detective cap she sits out to solve a murder, write a book and try to keep her sanity.

Finlay Donovan Is Killing is such a great title, reflecting the story perfectly.  It's the story of single motherhood, misunderstandings and it is just plain funny with witty banter and an original plot, which was a refreshing change.

I can’t wait to read what she’s up to next and that cliffhanger sure has me wanting to begin it ASAP.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas


She has left the Night Court - and her High Lord - and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords - and hunt for allies in unexpected places.


Paperback, 705 pages
Published May 2, 2017
 by Bloomsbury Publishing
5/5 stars

Book 3 in the ACOTAR series lived up to everything I expected. Continuing right where Book 2 left off Feyre is on a mission of revenge and ending a war before it starts. But she isn't on her own.

I enjoyed book 1 in this series and loved book 2 - that ending!!  This one I loved as I got to know the characters and their history better. While the first half was somewhat slower paced but after that I struggled to put it down. A hybrid read for me, I was totally absorbed in the story. It was action packed, emotional and had so many layers.  The world building is intricate and layered.  

I can't wait to read A Court of Frost and Starlight next, thankfully a novella sized book.

I am still a YA fantasy newbie, this series sure has set the bar high.

This book was part of my 2024 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Shelterlings by Sarah Beth Durst

A group of magical misfit animals learns to appreciate their seemingly useless powers—and themselves—when they work together to thwart a villain’s attempt to steal their magic.

 Holly, a grey squirrel, and her animal friends have accepted that they will never be wizards’ familiars. Though they are each magical, their powers are so offbeat—Holly herself can conjure pastries (and only pastries)—that no professional magic-worker would choose any of them as a companion for noble quests. So instead of going on adventures, they languish at the Shelter for Rejected Familiars, where they are known as “shelterlings.” When an old friend appears with a plan for curing the shelterlings’ defective magic, everyone is on board to help him locate and retrieve the ingredients for a powerful spell. 

But when they learn that his offer is not what it seems, Holly and the shelterlings must fight to defend their magic, discovering in the process that their unorthodox skills may just be what is needed to save the day.

Hardcover, 247 pages
Published June 21, 2022
 by Clarion Books
4/5 stars

Middle grade is a genre that I enjoy reading, and this book was no exception. The cover was attractive enough for me to take a second glance and decided it needed to be on my shelf (can you spot the dragon in the background)?

Shelterlings is the story of what some might call misfit critters. Those animals that didn’t quite make the bar in the wizarding world and are sent to a, for lack of better word, a group home. Embarking on a quest that could solve their problems, these critters with special abilities ban together with one common goal.

This was a fun read. I enjoyed the variety of animals, the quirky personalities, the fun and often time dangerous adventures as well as the teamwork that played throughout. A great read that highlights teamwork, friendship and forgiveness. I recommend this fun book for kids but enjoyable for adults, like me.

This book was part of my 2024 reading off my shelf challenge.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross

The epic conclusion to the intensely romantic and beautifully written story that started in Divine Rivals.

Two weeks have passed since Iris Winnow returned home bruised and heartbroken from the front, but the war is far from over. Roman is missing, and the city of Oath continues to dwell in a state of disbelief and ignorance. When Iris and Attie are given another chance to report on Dacre’s movements, they both take the opportunity and head westward once more despite the danger, knowing it’s only a matter of time before the conflict reaches a city that’s unprepared and fracturing beneath the chancellor’s reign.

Since waking below in Dacre’s realm, Roman cannot remember his past. But given the reassurance that his memories will return in time, Roman begins to write articles for Dacre, uncertain of his place in the greater scheme of the war. When a strange letter arrives by wardrobe door, Roman is first suspicious, then intrigued. As he strikes up a correspondence with his mysterious pen pal, Roman will soon have to make a decision: to stand with Dacre or betray the god who healed him. And as the days grow darker, inevitably drawing Roman and Iris closer together…the two of them will risk their very hearts and futures to change the tides of the war.

Hardcover, 432 pages
Published December 26, 2023 
by Wednesday Books
4/5 stars

I can't believe I finished this book back in February and have not written my review for it. Especially since it was one of my highly anticipated books of 2024.

Ruthless Vows, book 2 in the Letters of Enchantment Duology, pretty much continues where Divine Rivals left off.  Iris Willows is home from the front, she has no idea where Roman is, whether he is hurt or even still alive.  Deep down though she knows he is alive and is now desperately trying to find him.

I enjoyed this duology, with the magical typewriter from book 1, the intricate world building and strong characters.  The storyline moved at a nice pace, kept my attention with the suspense and action.  There was a fitting conclusion and I will miss Iris and Roman,  as well as a few other characters.

If you like YA fantasy, a clean read and to be entertained then I highly recommend this series.  For myself, I am now on search for Rebecca Ross’s backlist as we await  something new.

This was part of my 2024 reading off my shelf challenge

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn and Janie Chang

From bestselling authors Janie Chang and Kate Quinn, a thrilling and unforgettable narrative about the intertwined lives of two wronged women, spanning from the chaos of the San Francisco earthquake to the glittering palaces of Versailles.

San Francisco, 1906. In a city bustling with newly minted millionaires and scheming upstarts, two very different women hope to change their fortunes: Gemma, a golden-haired, silver-voiced soprano whose career desperately needs rekindling, and Suling, a petite and resolute Chinatown embroideress who is determined to escape an arranged marriage. Their paths cross when they are drawn into the orbit of Henry Thornton, a charming railroad magnate whose extraordinary collection of Chinese antiques includes the fabled Phoenix Crown, a legendary relic of Beijing’s fallen Summer Palace.

His patronage offers Gemma and Suling the chance of a lifetime, but their lives are thrown into turmoil when a devastating earthquake rips San Francisco apart and Thornton disappears, leaving behind a mystery reaching further than anyone could have imagined . . . until the Phoenix Crown reappears five years later at a sumptuous Paris costume ball, drawing Gemma and Suling together in one last desperate quest for justice.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 13, 2024
 by William Morrow Paperbacks
3.5/5 stars

I am a huge fan of Kate Quinn, she’s an auto read for me. Janie Chang is relatively new to me.

The Phoenix Crown takes place before, during and after the great San Francisco earthquake. It is the story of 4 women connected through a man named Henry Thorton. He is in possession of the legendary Phoenix Crown. While this Crown plays a minor role it is the link that binds them together.

Not only does The Phoenix Crown give an authentic telling of what happened not just involving the earthquake but of the life style (i.e. the opera society, botany just to name a few things).  It is a story with many layers. There is the bond that connects these women towards a mutual goal, they have a unique friendship and have each other’s backs.

An entertaining and enlightening read.

This book was part of my 2024 reading off my shelf challenge.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide…

Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 22, 2022
 by William Morrow
4/5 stars

This book has been on my shelf since it’s release back in 2022. Sometimes you need a little extra push with certain books and while there was no reason why I didn’t start this. It is the fact that in a few short weeks I will be meeting Lucy Foley at an event here in Canada.

The book begins with a chapter that grabbed my attention right away. And then what follows is a cast of characters and their various points of view. When Ben's sister comes to town and cannot locate him she sets out on a quest find out what happened.

There’s so many aspects to the story that kept me guessing, suspicious of pretty much everyone. The twist and turns kept me on my toes with an ending that was not anticipated at all.  The Pairs Apartment is a well written puzzle where all the pieces come together nicely in the end. I should have listened to the hype and read this sooner so that I can now go through her backlist and see what I have been missing.

This book was about 2024 reading off my shelf challenge.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

If Something Happens to Me by Alex Finlay

For the past five years, Ryan Richardson has relived that terrible night. The car door ripping open. The crushing blow to the head. The hands yanking him from the vehicle. His girlfriend Ali’s piercing scream as she is taken.

With no trace of Ali or the car, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Ryan. But with no proof and a good lawyer, he’s never charged, though that doesn’t matter to the podcasters and internet trolls. Now, Ryan has changed his last name, and entered law school. He's put his past behind him.

Until, on a summer trip abroad to Italy with his law-school classmates, Ryan gets a call from his father: Ali's car has finally been found, submerged in a lake in his hometown. Inside are two dead men and a cryptic note with five words written on the envelope in Ali’s handwriting: If something happens to me…

Then, halfway around the world, the unthinkable happens: Ryan sees the man who has haunted his dreams since that night.

As Ryan races from the rolling hills of Tuscany, to a rural village in the UK, to the glittering streets of Paris in search of the truth, he has no idea that his salvation may lie with a young sheriff’s deputy in Kansas working her first case, and a mobster in Philadelphia who’s experienced tragedy of his own.

In classic Alex Finlay form, If Something Happens to Me is told by several distinct, compelling characters whose paths intersect, detonating into a story of twist after pulse-pounding twist. The novel cements Finlay as one of the leading thriller writers today.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication May 28, 2024 
by Minotaur Books
4/5 stars

This is my 3rd Alex Finlay read and when I think of him I know I’ll get a twisty story with characters I like and root for...well maybe not all of them but you know what I mean. If Something Happens To Me was that kind of read.

Beginning with that mysterious night 5 years prior I read a story with multiple POVs (that weren’t confusing), lots of characters, locations and intrigue.

If Something Happens To Me is the story of Ryan and his search for the truth of what happened 5 years ago and why.  There were many twists, red herrings and a nice fast pace that kept me turning the pages. It has a release date of May 28th, I highly recommended for those that love to get lost in the pages.

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

Monday, May 6, 2024

The Secret Keeper by Genevieve Graham

From USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author Genevieve Graham comes a gripping World War II novel about two sisters who join the war effort—one as a codebreaker and the other as a pilot—and the secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Perfect for fans of The Rose Code and The Nightingale .

Twin sisters Dot and Dash Wilson share many things, and while they are practically inseparable, they are nothing alike. Dot is fascinated by books, puzzles, and Morse code, a language taught to both girls by their father, a WWI veteran. Dash’s days are filled with fixing engines, dancing with friends, and dreaming of flying airplanes. Almost always at their side is their best friend Gus—until war breaks out and he enlists in the army, deploying to an unknown front.

Determined to do their duty, both girls join the WRENS, Dash as a mechanic and Dot as a typist. Before long, Dot’s fixation on patterns and numbers takes her from HMCS Coverdale, a covert listening and codebreaking station working with Bletchley Park in England, to Camp X, a top-secret spy school. But when personal tragedy strikes the family, Dot’s oath of secrecy causes a rift between the sisters.

Eager to leave her pain behind, Dash jumps at the opportunity to train as a pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary, where she risks her life to ferry aircraft and troops across the battlefields of Europe. Meanwhile Dot is drawn into the Allies’ preparations for D-Day. But Dot’s loyalties are put to the test once more when someone close to her goes missing in Nazi-occupied territory. With everyone’s eyes on Operation Overlord, Dot must use every skill at her disposal to save those she loves before it’s too late.

Inspired by the real-life stories of women in World War II, The Secret Keeper is an extraordinary novel about the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood and the light of courage during the darkest of nights.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 2, 2024
 by Simon & Schuster
4/5 stars

Genevieve Graham is synonymous with writing books about little known facts in Canadian history. I have learned so much from her stories.

The Secret Keeper is the story of twin sisters, opposite in personalities and interest. One has taken to engines and airplanes while the other loves a good puzzle and attention to detail.

It is in the early years of the war, but these two women have the desire to help in someway.  While working in separate locations they can still communicate, until tragedy strikes.  Their relationship is fractured. I found the book had a slow beginning but around the 40% mark things picked up and I was captivated.  It was being educated and entertained, reading the struggles women faced and learning about Hydra and Camp X - they didn't teach that in my history classes.  Like I said Graham has a passion for Canadian history and that shines through in her writing.

The Secret Keeper is a story of family, secrets and healing.  The author notes at the end were great to read. They gave the author's inspiration, her research and a lovely list of books for those that would like to read more about Hydra and Camp X.  

If you enjoy HF off the beaten path, then I highly recommend Genevieve Graham.. 

This book was part of my 2024 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge

Sunday, May 5, 2024

The New Couple in 5B by Lisa Unger

A couple inherits an apartment with a spine-tingling past in this binge-worthy thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six.

Rosie and Chad Lowan are barely making ends meet in New York City when they receive life-changing news: Chad’s late uncle has left them his luxury apartment at the historic Windermere in glamorous Murray Hill. With its prewar elegance and impeccably uniformed doorman, the building is the epitome of old New York charm. One would almost never suspect the dark history lurking behind its perfectly maintained facade.

At first, the building and its eclectic tenants couldn’t feel more welcoming. But as the Lowans settle into their new home, Rosie starts to suspect that there’s more to the Windermere than meets the eye. Why is the doorman ever-present? Why are there cameras everywhere? And why have so many gruesome crimes occurred there throughout the years? When one of the neighbors turns up dead, Rosie must get to the truth about the Windermere before she, too, falls under its dangerous spell.

Kindle Edition, 387 pages
Published March 5, 2024
 by Park Row
2.5/5 stars

This is my second Lisa book,  Seclude Cabin Sleeps Six was my first.

Sometimes its hard to read a book when you struggle to like the characters. because that's what happened here.  The saving grace was that I was genuinely curious about what was going on and what the ending would reveal.  Some of my guesses were partial correct.

Having inherited an apartment from a recently deceased uncle life is supposed to improve life for Rosie and Chad.  The financial worry is put to rest however that is not what happened. This was a twisty story with a cast of characters that lacked personality. They were lots of redherrings with some supernatural elements that I did not anticipate.

The New Couple in 5B was a book I was hoping to love but unfortunately it was just an OK read for me.

This book was part of my 2024 reading off my shelf challenge