Friday, June 14, 2024

The Door-to-Door Bookstore by Carsten Henn

The charming international bestseller about an elderly bookseller who delivers his recommendations door-to-door and an unlikely friendship with a nine-year-old girl that changes his life, for fans of The Midnight Library and A Man Called Ove.

The bookseller Carl Christian Kollhoff delivers books to special customers in the evening hours after closing time, walking through the picturesque alleys of the city. These people are almost like friends to him, and he is their most important connection to the world.

When Kollhoff unexpectedly loses his job, it takes the power of books and a nine-year-old girl to make them all find the courage to rebuild their bonds with each other.

A bestselling phenomenon internationally, Carsten Henn’s The Door-to-Door Bookstore is a feel-good novel about books and friendship.

Hardcover, 239 pages
Published August 1, 2023
by Hanover Square Press
3.5/5 stars

This year I've made a conscious effort to read more books about books, I think that’s the bookworm in me coming out. The Door-to-Door Bookstore is a recent translation that was released in North America last August. 

This was a charming read, also a quick one coming in at 239 pages, but it does pack a punch. From the point of view of an elderly gentleman whose job it is to deliver books to special customers in the evening hours. He has his routine until one day it is interrupted by a nine-year-old girl and then things go amuck.

The Door-to-Door Bookstore is a story of friendship, community and love of books. There is humor, drama, along with righting wrongs.  A nice read that highlights the impact reading has an individuals.

Highly recommend for bookworms out there.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn't.

At thirty-two, Fern's life doesn't look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern's back home, running her mother's Muskoka lakeside resort—something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend's the manager, and Fern doesn't know where to begin.

She needs a plan—a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern's going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern's not sure she wants to know what it is.

But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?

Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 2, 2023
by Viking
 3.5/5 stars

This is Canadian author Carley Fortune's 2nd book which takes place in Ontario. This Canadian reader loves reading with Canadian settings and places that are familiar.

This was an audio book for me and the reader did a stellar job bringing this story to life. This dual-time story is told from the point of view of Fern Brookbanks, a 32 year old taking place just months after the death of her mother.  It also jumps back 10 years when she first meets Will. 

Meet me at the Lake is story a of relationships, loss and finding oneself. As Fern is still grieving, the past unexpectedly comes back. Can she come to grips with what happened 10 years ago and reconcile to the present. Well, you will have to read the book to find out.

I enjoyed this read, I was draw into the story. It had me itching to head north find a lake and paddle around.  The only negative takeaway is that I wish the ending wasn't rushed and the issues presented were given more space.  The author notes added to the ended with her own experiences.

A good start to my summer reading, hopefully I will be reading her recent release, This Summer Will Be Different in the coming months.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Friend in the Dark by Samantha M. Bailey

A digital romance turns deadly...

Eden Miller’s world is crumbling. Her husband blindsided her with divorce, and her daughter barely speaks to her. In an impulsive decision to escape her present and revisit the past, she sends a friend request to her college crush, Justin Ward.

One night twenty-three years ago changed the course of her life. It closed the door on Justin and opened the door to her husband, Dave. But what if Eden could have a do-over?

Eden begins an online relationship with Justin that awakens her in ways she never thought possible, and his voice and words make her take bold risks. But something’s off. He knows too much about her and her family…he’s been following her.

Eden is forced to awaken from her fantasy and look for answers—who really is the man on the other line? The truth about Justin—and about what happened that fateful night two decades ago—puts her and her family in a fight for their lives.

Kindle Edition,  242 pages
Published March 1, 2024
by Thomas & Mercer 
4/5 stars

This is Sam Bailey’s third book and I have enjoyed each of her previous ones. I went into this book blind, which is always fun.

Recently separated, Eden Miller is still struggling with her husband leaving and add to that her daughter is away at school. What follows is an intense series of events that takes her on a journey that awakens the past and it appears someone wants to destroy her future.

A Friend in the Dark is a fast paced story with dual viewpoints and lots of twist and turns. It is dark and suspenseful, I managed to read it in a day while on a recent vacation.

This book is part of my Kindle library, however I hope one day to meet up with the author
 and get a signed copy for my shelf .

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Haters by Robyn Harding

The bestselling author of The Party and The Drowning Woman returns with a twisted tale of fame, obsession, and the dark recesses of social media.

Camryn Lane is living her dream. After years of struggle and rejection, her first novel has finally been published. Her editor is happy; her teenage daughter is proud; and her boyfriend and friends are all excited for her. She’s on top of the world—until she receives a disturbing message from an unknown sender.

Rattled by the accusations she finds there, Camryn swallows the sick feeling in her stomach and resolves to put the missive out of her mind. But when she checks her ratings on a popular book site, she finds a scathing one-star review. The reviewer is so articulate and convincing that soon, Camryn’s book is flooded with bad reviews. Could the reviewer be the same person who sent the ugly email? And why do they want to ruin her?

As the online harassment creeps into Camryn’s personal life, she vows to find out who’s behind it. Is it really a disgruntled reader? Or could it be someone she knows? The troll’s actions are escalating, and when the abuse turns deadly, it will take everything Camryn has to unmask the enemy so intent on destroying her—and finally learn why she's being targeted.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication July 2, 2024
 by Grand Central Publishing
4/5 stars

Author Robin Harding has yet again written another captivating read that kept me glued to the pages.

For any aspiring writer, Camryn,  this would be your dream come true after years of rejection. Her first novel is finally published and what is supposed to be a celebration turns ugly and personal. Who is this mystery reviewer leaving bad reviews that quickly escalates into something personal. For Camryn her emotions get the better of her, doing things out of character.

I enjoyed this book, though I had my suspicions, they would get blocked with the twists that came within the pages. As a devoted guidance couselor Camryn struggles with the accusations. Going through a messy divorce, could it be the ex husband, jealous teachers or friends, students?  A quick read with shortish chapters.

I finished this in a day and half. Look for it on shelf’s in a months time.

My thanks to Grand Central Publishing for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Among the Innocent by Mary Alford

When Leah Miller's entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family's deaths.

As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can't help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah--and Dalton--when the full truth comes to light?

USA Today bestselling author Mary Alford keeps you guessing as two determined souls plumb the dark depths of the past in order to forge a brighter future--together.

Audiobook, 9 hours 41 minutes
Published June 7, 2022
 by Recorded Books
3.5/5 stars

This was my book club's Feb 2024 pick (yea I am a little behind on my reviews), it's also my first time reading a Mary Alford book.

Leah Miller is a police officer who 10 years previous lost her family to a killer who police say they have identified and is dead. However, Amish women start being murdered with the same MO. Questions about what really happened 10 years ago and who was responsible resurface.

For Christian fiction, I found the violence a bit gritty in its manner. But other than that, I found this to be a compelling read. There were many twists and turns, secrets from the past unearthed in this multilayered story kept me turning pages. Actually I listened to the audiobook, so it wasn't hard to find audiobook worthy chores.

Leah along with the new police chief, Dalton work against a ticking clock to unravel the mystery and catch the killer.  The ending was good though I felt one part left open the possibility of a sequel - because this reader would like to read more.

All in all a good mystery/suspense read.

My copy of the audiobook was obtained through Scribd.

Friday, June 7, 2024

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

Effy Sayre has always believed in fairy tales. Haunted by visions of the Fairy King since childhood, she’s had no choice. Her tattered copy of Angharad—Emrys Myrddin’s epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, then destroys him—is the only thing keeping her afloat. So when Myrddin’s family announces a contest to redesign the late author’s estate, Effy feels certain it’s her destiny.

But musty, decrepit Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task, and its residents are far from welcoming. Including Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar determined to expose Myrddin as a fraud. As the two rivals piece together clues about Myrddin’s legacy, dark forces, both mortal and magical, conspire against them—and the truth may bring them both to ruin.

Hardcover, 378 pages
Published September 19, 2023 
by HarperTeen
3.5/5 stars

This was one of my impulsive purchases of 2023. That cover just shouted 'buy me buy me'  until I did. Finally in January I sat down and read it and I still remember it and many aspects of the story - that's a good sign when behind on reviews.

A Study In Drowning is the story of two college aged individuals who are sent on different missions involving a recently deceased author and an epic story he wrote. With each having different motives they ultimately come together to solve not just mysterious happenings that are taking place at the estate, but of the legacy left behind by this author.

This was a a gothic ya story and also my first time reading this author.  I felt the premise intriguing, it was atmospheric with the nighttime scenes, strange noises and creatures.  They were parts that felt flat and maybe dragged a little and yea I was confused by the behavior of some of the characters.  But ultimately everything came together at the end with twists that took me by surprise.

All in all 3.5 stars, I was sold with the Gothic setting.

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

Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center

She’s rewriting his love story. But can she rewrite her own?

Emma Wheeler desperately longs to be a screenwriter. She’s spent her life studying, obsessing over, and writing romantic comedies―good ones! That win contests! But she’s also been the sole caretaker for her kind-hearted dad, who needs full-time care. Now, when she gets a chance to re-write a script for famous screenwriter Charlie Yates―The Charlie Yates! Her personal writing god!―it’s a break too big to pass up.

Emma’s younger sister steps in for caretaking duties, and Emma moves to L.A. for six weeks for the writing gig of a lifetime. But what is it they say? Don’t meet your heroes? Charlie Yates doesn’t want to write with anyone―much less “a failed, nobody screenwriter.” Worse, the romantic comedy he’s written is so terrible it might actually bring on the apocalypse. Plus! He doesn’t even care about the script―it’s just a means to get a different one green-lit. Oh, and he thinks love is an emotional Ponzi scheme.

But Emma’s not going down without a fight. She will stand up for herself, and for rom-coms, and for love itself. She will convince him that love stories matter―even if she has to kiss him senseless to do it. But . . . what if that kiss is accidentally amazing? What if real life turns out to be so much . . . more real than fiction? What if the love story they’re writing breaks all Emma’s rules―and comes true?

Kindle Edition, 325 pages
Expected publication June 11, 2024 
by St. Martin's Press
4.5/5 stars

Coming next week to a bookstore near you The Rom-Commers is Katherine Centers’s latest. An auto read author for me, I was fortunate enough to get both the digital and audio arc. I highly recommend both formats.

The Rom-Commers is the story of Emma Wheeler, whom I connected to her right away, I think mostly because I have been a caretaker myself so I was able to feel what she was going through, how she put her life on hold. Then there is Charlie Yates, the cranky screen writer who is idolized by Emma, but has no desire to have her help.  He is having issues with the rom/com he is writing (though he doesn't really know it...yet).

This was a great read, there was great banter, laugh out loud moments along with a serious side - as I have come to expect with this author. It was well written with real characters in real life situations. Definitely a book and author I recommend.  Be sure to read the blurb, it gives more details into the story - if you want, I actually went in blind.

My thanks to St. Martin’s Press for a digital arc and McMillan Audio for the audio arc.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

A time travel romance, a spy thriller, a workplace comedy, and an ingenious exploration of the nature of power and the potential for love to change it all: Welcome to The Ministry of Time, the exhilarating debut novel by Kaliane Bradley.

In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and is, shortly afterward, told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to establish whether time travel is feasible—for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time.

She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting, and monitoring the expat known as “1847” or Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to be living with an unmarried woman who regularly shows her calves, surrounded by outlandish concepts such as “washing machines,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” But with an appetite for discovery, a seven-a-day cigarette habit, and the support of a charming and chaotic cast of fellow expats, he soon adjusts.

Over the next year, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a horrifically uncomfortable roommate dynamic, evolves into something much deeper. By the time the true shape of the Ministry’s project comes to light, the bridge has fallen haphazardly, fervently in love, with consequences she never could have imagined. Forced to confront the choices that brought them together, the bridge must finally reckon with how—and whether she believes—what she does next can change the future.

An exquisitely original and feverishly fun fusion of genres and ideas, The Ministry of Time asks: What does it mean to defy history, when history is living in your house? Kaliane Bradley’s answer is a blazing, unforgettable testament to what we owe each other in a changing world.

Hardcover, 335 pages
Published May 1, 2024
 by Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
3/5 stars

This debut was blurbed to be for fans of Outlander and a couple others that I haven't read.  The synopsis sounds like an intriguing read.  And it was, however it didn't hit the mark for me like it did others.

I had both the print and audio, maybe if I just stuck with the book I might have enjoyed it more.  I found the audio disjointing in that it wasn’t consistent in speed. I found myself adjusting the speed as the voices would speed up or slow down throughout. 

The story itself was interesting with some history playing a big part, I mean who isn't intrigued by the Franklin expedition to the Arctic.  The chapters were on the long side (30-40 pages) with a few short chapters intermixed.  Made it hard to read just one more chapter- yes I am one of those that can’t leave a book mid chapter.

An original idea for a story with the time machine and repercussions for those expats. The slower pace picked up for the last quarter where things really get interesting, the previous is getting to know the characters and world.

All in all and ok read.

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