Monday, November 23, 2020

Cover Reveal: Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams

I am so excited to help Beatriz William spread the news today about her newest book - and share the cover!!! I love reading historical fiction and Beatriz's previous books have been so good. I am so excited to read this one.

This book will be released June 1, 2021, but you can pre-order now. See the pre-order link below. 

 



 
Title: Our Woman in Moscow
Author: Beatriz Williams
Published: On Sale June 2021, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages

Summary: 
The New York Times bestselling author of Her Last Flight returns with a gripping and profoundly human story of Cold War espionage and family devotion that proves again why Elin Hilderbrand says Beatriz Williams “is writing the best historical fiction out there.”

In the autumn of 1948, Iris Digby vanishes from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children. The world is shocked by the family’s sensational disappearance. Were they eliminated by the Soviet intelligence service? Or have the Digbys defected to Moscow with a trove of the West’s most vital secrets?

Four years later, Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from the twin sister she hasn’t seen since their catastrophic parting in Rome in the summer of 1940, as war engulfed the continent and Iris fell desperately in love with an enigmatic United States Embassy official named Sasha Digby. Within days, Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of counterintelligence agent Sumner Fox in a precarious plot to extract the Digbys from behind the Iron Curtain.

But the complex truth behind Iris’s marriage defies Ruth’s understanding, and as the sisters race toward safety, a dogged Soviet agent forces them to make a heartbreaking choice between two irreconcilable loyalties.




About the author: Beatriz Williams is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Golden Hour, The Summer Wives, A Hundred Summers, and The Wicked Redhead. A native of Seattle, she graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA in finance from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

 
Author links:  Website | Facebook  | Twitter  | Instagram

 
 
Preorder  OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW now:
 


 

OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW
by Beatriz Williams
William Morrow
June 1, 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0063020788
eBook ISBN: B08H25CQPL

 

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Review: The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb


 
Title: The Haunting of Brynn Wilder
Author: Wendy Webb
Published: November 2020, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
After a devastating loss, Brynn Wilder escapes to Wharton, a tourist town on Lake Superior, to reset. Checking into a quaint boardinghouse for the summer, she hopes to put her life into perspective. In her fellow lodgers, she finds a friendly company of strangers: the frail Alice, cared for by a married couple with a heartbreaking story of their own; LuAnn, the eccentric and lovable owner of the inn; and Dominic, an unsettlingly handsome man inked from head to toe in mesmerizing tattoos.

But in this inviting refuge, where a century of souls has passed, a mystery begins to swirl. Alice knows things about Brynn, about all of them, that she shouldn’t. Bad dreams and night whispers lure Brynn to a shuttered room at the end of the hall, a room still heavy with a recent death. And now she’s become irresistibly drawn to Dominic—even in the shadow of rumors that wherever he goes, suspicious death follows.

In this chilling season of love, transformation, and fear, something is calling for Brynn. To settle her past, she may have no choice but to answer.



My thoughts: I have really become a fan of Wendy Webb's Gothic ghost stories and this latest one is just so good. I was completely mesmerized by this story - once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down.

I was completely captivated by the story and found myself completely immersed in it. While it is a little slow to start, it totally kept me engaged and I loved that it ended up being more emotional than I expected it to be. It deals with grief and lucid dreaming, which I found to be so fascinating and loved how the author incorporated into the story. The mix of charming, quirky characters really makes this book come to life and the mix of themes - not only the grief, but also the Alzheimer's story line and the romance - really help propel the story line to the ultimate ending, an ending I was not expecting but loved all the same.

I had no idea where this story was heading and I absolutely loved where it ended. It has that supernatural element that gives this book that slight edge and while I normally don't read a lot of books in that genre, it just works here. This one tugs at every heartstring and I was all for it.

I love Wendy Webbs books and while this is slightly different from her usual books, it was still just as enjoyable. It's atmospheric and mesmerizing and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!


 

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Review: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz (audio)

 

Title: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye
Author: David Lagercrantz
Series: Millennium, #5
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published: September 2017, Random House Audio
Length: 10 hours 50 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:
From the author of the #1 international best seller The Girl in the Spider's Web: the new book in the Millennium series, which began with Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander - the girl with the dragon tattoo, the brilliant hacker, the obstinate outsider, the volatile seeker of justice for herself and others - has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And nothing will stop her - not the anti-Muslim gang she enrages by rescuing a young woman from their brutality; not the deadly reach from inside the Russian mafia of her long-lost twin sister, Camilla; and not the people who will do anything to keep buried knowledge of a sinister pseudo-scientific experiment known only as The Registry. Once again, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, together, are the fierce heart of a thrilling full-tilt novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this very moment.

 

My thoughts:  As I was getting ready to finally pick up the last book of this series, I realized I had never written my review of this book, book 5. Luckily I had written some notes, so it actually worked to my benefit to have to write this now, because it gives me a little refresher on where we left things with Lisbeth and Mikael before heading into the final book of this amazing series.

I love this series. I am so glad that I decided to continue on despite the change in author. Yes, I was devastated when Stieg Larsson died and I do think things would have been different had he been able to continue on with the series, but unfortunately that is not the case here. I think David Lagercrantz has done a great job with the two books he has written so far, really coming into his own in this latest one and I can't wait to see how he handles the final book. 

This book picks up a few months after the previous book. I highly recommend reading this series in order as so much of what happens really hinges on what has come before. Yes, the author does a good job filling the reader in with a bit of backstory, but to really get the full picture and understand all the is going on, I think you would be better off reading the series from the start. But that's just my opinion.

The book starts out with Lisbeth serving her sentence in jail where she meets a young Pakastani girl who is being targeted by the jail bully. Lisbeth being Lisbeth not only takes care of the bully, but gets her lawyer to look into the Pakastani girl's case.

The other part of the story revolves around the case of identical twin brothers. I have to say, this was a disturbing story line - the experimental twin studies that had been happening. But, this is where we delve into Lisbeth's past and her history as a twin and I found this so fascinating. I have wanted to know more about her and why she is the way she is since the start of this series and I am so glad we have finally gotten some of those answers.

This was such a great installment and I am looking forward to the next installment...I can't wait to see how it all wraps up - but at the same time I am a little sad that it will be the final book!



Audio thoughts: One of my favorites aspects of this series has been that Simon Vance has been the narrator for all the books, so even with the change in author, there has been consistency with the narration. That has helped. Simon Vance is phenomenal with these characters and the telling of this series and his consistency over the course of these books has been amazing!


Books in this series:

     1.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
              * book review
              * audio review 
     5. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye
     6. The Girl Who Lived Twice

 

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Review: Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini (audio)

 

Title: Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Published: June 2020, Harper Audio / William Morrow
Length: 12 hours 24 minutes / 336 pages
Source: Audio via library / Print via Publisher

Summary:
The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns to her most famous heroine, Mary Todd Lincoln, in this compelling story of love, loss, and sisterhood rich with history and suspense.

In May 1875, Elizabeth Todd Edwards reels from news that her younger sister Mary, former First Lady and widow of President Abraham Lincoln, has attempted suicide. 

Mary’s shocking act followed legal proceedings arranged by her eldest and only surviving son that declared her legally insane. Although they have long been estranged, Elizabeth knows Mary’s tenuous mental health has deteriorated through decades of trauma and loss. Yet is her suicide attempt truly the impulse of a deranged mind, or the desperate act of a sane woman terrified to be committed to an asylum? And—if her sisters can put past grievances aside—is their love powerful enough to save her? 

Maternal Elizabeth, peacemaker Frances, envious Ann, and much adored Emilie had always turned to one another in times of joy and heartache, first as children, and later as young wives and mothers. But when Civil War erupted, the conflict that divided a nation shattered their family. The Todd sisters’s fates were bound to their husbands’ choices as some joined the Lincoln administration, others the Confederate Army.

Now, though discord and tragedy have strained their bonds, Elizabeth knows they must come together as sisters to help Mary in her most desperate hour.


 

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a little bit fascinated with Mary Todd Lincoln and have turned to Jennifer Chiaverini and her books on her. I absolutely loved the first book she wrote on her, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, and have looked forward to each and every book since. This latest one was just as fascinating as I expected it to be and I find I learn just a little more about this truly remarkable woman with each book.

I loved how this book explores Mary Todd Lincoln's early life with her sisters as well as the time after her husband has died and she has attempted suicide. Her son, Robert, feeling as if he has no other choice, has declared her legally insane and has her committed. But is she really? She has been estranged from her sisters for some time now, but once they hear the news, they feel they must do something.

This book is narrated by the sisters and I loved getting to know about Mary's family this way. In all the other books I've read about her, I don't recall reading about her early life, so this was such a fascinating read in that aspect. Her mother died when she was quite young and she and her stepmother did not really see eye to eye, so much so that she was sent to boarding school. How much of who she was to become and how she ended up being was shaped by all that I wonder?

There is no doubt in my mind that Mary Todd Lincoln had a difficult life. But was she truly insane? I don't know. She certainly could be manipulate for sure, but she was an inquisitive person who knew what she wanted and often got it. 

This book is such an interesting look into her life and I loved how easy it was to read. Jennifer Chiaverini puts so much research into her writing and I just soaked it all up. I have one more book of hers to read that has been sitting on my shelf for some time and I am definitely going to be putting it on top of my list - Mrs. Lincoln's Rival. I can't recommend her books enough!



Audio thoughts: This was such a great audio and I found myself completely captivated from start to finish. Cassandra Campbell brought her A-game when narrating this, giving each sister their own unique voice and really bringing this audio book to life. Her pacing and intonation were spot on and I really enjoyed listening to it.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review: First Girl Gone by L.T. Vargus, Tim McBain


 
Title: First Girl Gone
Author: L.T. Vargus, Tim McBain
Series: Charlotte Winters, #1
Published: September 2020, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 429 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
Down the beach, she can just make out the rusting hulk of the Ferris wheel through the dawn mist. The hairs prickle on her neck as she drags her focus back to the chestnut hair fanned out in the shallow water at her feet. To the grains of sand decorating the beautiful girl’s white cheeks like freckles.

Private Detective Charlie Winters never thought she’d find herself back on Salem Island, but she’s forced home re-open the wound that never healed: her sister was abducted from the small town when they were teenagers.

For Charlie, her sister’s voice in her head—pushing her to risk everything to seek justice for the innocent—is a painful and constant reminder of what she lost. And never has that voice been louder than when a family friend comes to Charlie begging for help to find her missing daughter, Kara.

Searching Kara’s messy, poster-covered bedroom, Charlie finds more questions than answers. Did Kara run away, or was she snatched? She’s clearly been keeping secrets from her family—but don’t all teenagers?

A little black matchbook hidden in a jewellery box is Charlie’s only lead, but the seedy nightclub it comes from proves to be nothing but a dangerous dead end. Until Charlie is approached by a second distraught mother whose daughter has also vanished.

Forced at every turn to relive the trauma she ran away from, Charlie’s blood runs cold when a girl’s body is discovered in the exact spot on the water’s edge where the last trace of her sister was found. It’s clear someone is taunting Charlie, but with other innocent girls’ lives at risk, she has no choice but to take the bait…



My thoughts: This is the first book in L.T. Vargus and Tim McBain's new series and I am all in! I love crime thriller series and I think this one is going to be a new favorite.

This was one fast-paced, suspense-filled read that kept me flipping the pages from start to finish. It is filled with an array of interesting characters that kept me intrigued and so many twists and turns that it was hard to put any solid guesses together. My favorite aspect of this book, however, was the voice that Charlie hears in her head throughout the book...I loved this unique part of the story and found it to be at times humorous as well as quite telling. 

As far as intros to series, I think this was a great set-up and I am looking forward to really getting to know more about Charlie. She's a strong, independent female character but she is a flawed character and I loved those types of characters. As someone who loved series, I am excited for the authors to dig into her backstory as the series progresses. This case she is working on, that of the missing girls is tough for her because it forces her to relive the disappearance of her sister, a case that has never been solved. I really felt for her and can see that this is what drives her. Will her sister's case ever be solved?

I will for sure be continuing on with this series and already have the next book sitting in my kindle just waiting to be read. This was my first time reading this author duo and I loved their writing style. I can't wait to see what awaits Charlie Winters!


Books in this series:

  1. First Girl Gone
  2. Girl Under Water - due out December 2020


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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Review: The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (audio)


 

Title: The Silent Wife
Author: Karin Slaughter
Series: Will Trent, #10
Narrator: Kathleen Early
Published: August 2020, Blackstone Publishing / William Morrow
Length: 18 hours 33 minutes / 496 pages
Source: Audio via Netgalley / Print - ARC Paperback via William Morrow

Summary:
Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . .


My thoughts: I have been a fan of Karin Slaughter for some time now, but I have only read her stand-alones. I have loved them immensely, despite how dark and disturbing they tend to be, so when I was offered the chance to read/listen to this latest one, I jumped at it. I didn't realize at first that it was part of her series...a long-standing one at that. So, I did something that I am not really fond of doing, but have been doing more and more lately and that is jumping into a series midway. 

While I always prefer starting a series at the beginning because I love getting all that character development, I know that it is not always possible, and as was the case here, time was not in my favor. On top of that, there is always the possibility that I might not like the series enough to even make it that far...I had book 10 and didn't even own the earlier books. So, throwing caution to the wind, I jumped in. And I found that I wasn't too lost. Most authors these days give just enough backstory to keep new readers engaged so that they understand what is going on and I felt I had a good handle on things. Do I want to go back to the beginning? ABSOLUTELY!!!

This story grabbed me from the beginning and never lets up. This book addresses violence against women and it's gritty, creepy and raw. These books are not for the feint of heart. I loved the police procedural/detective aspect of the story and even the slight romance part kept it from staying too dark the entire time. The multiple points of view and having the story move and back in time kept the story moving and as it is quite a long book, this helps! I never once felt that this book dragged and that's saying something - this book is close to 500 pages/over 18 hours of audio-time and I was totally captivated the entire time. I listened to the whole thing, but loved having the print book on hand as there were times I needed to go back to reference something or reread some section and it's always so much easier to do that in the print book than in an audiobook.

This story is complex and I loved that I never once knew where things were headed. I also loved that as the story moved back and forth in time, we would be left with little hints as to what might come next. This really kept me engaged and I had such a hard time putting the book down. While I tried to put the pieces together, I never saw the end coming and that's a good thing. I love being caught off guard. And this one completely shocked me in the best way possible.

I do not regret picking this book up mid-series. I enjoyed the story as I knew I would because I love Karin Slaughter's writing. And now I know I have a series I am looking forward to going back to reading from the beginning. I am eager to really getting to know these characters on a deeper level and seeing how they all fit together.

But now I am in a bit of a quandry...I want to go back to the beginning...but what beginning? Do I start at the beginning of the Will Trent series or do I need to go back further to the Grant County series? If you've read these series...let me know what you suggest I do!



Audio thoughts: This audiobook was fantastic! I have found a new series to binge. I will absolutely be going back to the beginning and will certainly be listening and I can only hope that Kathleen Early is the narrator for this whole series. She does a phenomenal job with the voices, giving each character their own distinct voice and personality. I am such a stickler for consistency when it comes to narrators and series when possible and I really hope there is some consistency here. Her pacing and intonation was spot on and she infused just the right amount of emotion and tension into her voice as needed. 


Books in this series: 

   1.  Triptych                            6.5  Busted
   2.  Fractured                         7.  Unseen
   3.  Undone                            8.  The Kept Woman
   4.  Broken                             8.5  Cleaning the Gold
   5.  Fallen                               9.  The Last Widow
   5.5  Snatched                       10.  The Silent Wife
   6.  Criminal


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Monday, November 16, 2020

Review: Secrets of a Serial Killer by Rosie Walker


 
Title: Secrets of a Serial Killer
Author: Rosie Walker
Published: July 2020, One More Chapter
Format: ARC E-copy, 286 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
An edge-of-your-seat serial killer thriller that you won’t be able to put down!
There it is: fear. It’s crawling all over her face and in her eyes, like a swarm of insects, and it’s all because of him.

A serial killer has been terrorising Lancaster for decades, longer than should ever have been possible. The police are baffled, eluded at every turn by the killer whose victims span generations. Speculation is rife among the true crime forums; is someone passing on their gruesome trade?

Every local mother's worst nightmare has become Helen Summerton's reality; he’s taken her daughter, Zoe. As the clock runs down so do her chances of survival. Can Helen unearth the secrets of the killer before it’s too late?

A gripping serial killer thriller that you won’t be able to put down. Perfect for fans of The Whisper Man, What You Did and Don’t Even Breathe.



My thoughts: I don't know what it says about me but as soon as I saw the title of this book, I had to read it. I love books about serial killers...there's something so addicting and thrilling about them, however dark and disturbing they tend to be. And when you add in a mental hospital, it just amps up the tension and suspense.

Overall, I liked this book. I will say, it did get a little hard to follow at times with so many different threads, but it all came together at the end. It's definitely dark and creepy, and completely atmospheric, which I totally loved. At times, I did feel that the pacing did drag a bit, but with the multiple points of view telling the story, I think that might have contributed to that. But, I really wanted to find out what happened next, so I kept reading, which is always a good sign!

This is Rosie Walker's debut novel and I enjoyed her writing. I will for sure be eager to see what she writes next. 



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Friday, November 13, 2020

Review: The Forgotten Daughter by Joanna Goodman (audio)


  

Title: The Forgotten Daughter
Author: Joanna Goodman
Narrator: Esther Thibault
Published: October 2020, Harper Audio / Harper Paperbacks
Length: 12 hours 57 minutes / 416 pages
Source: Audio via Library / Print via Publisher

Summary:
From the author of the bestselling novel The Home for Unwanted Girls, comes another compulsively readable story of love and suspense, following the lives of two women reckoning with their pasts and the choices that will define their futures.

1992: French-Canadian factions renew Quebec’s fight to gain independence, and wild, beautiful Véronique Fortin, daughter of a radical separatist convicted of kidnapping and murdering a prominent politician in 1970, has embraced her father’s cause. So it is a surprise when she falls for James Phénix, a journalist of French-Canadian heritage who opposes Quebec separatism. Their love affair is as passionate as it is turbulent, as they negotiate a constant struggle between love and morals.

At the same time, James’s older sister, Elodie Phénix, one of the Duplessis Orphans, becomes involved with a coalition demanding justice and reparations for their suffering in the 1950s when Quebec’s orphanages were converted to mental hospitals, a heinous political act of Premier Maurice Duplessis which affected 5,000 children.

Véronique is the only person Elodie can rely on as she fights for retribution, reliving her trauma, while Elodie becomes a sisterly presence for Véronique, who continues to struggle with her family’s legacy.

The Forgotten Daughter is a moving portrait of true love, familial bonds, and persistence in the face of injustice. As each character is pushed to their moral brink, they will discover exactly which lines they’ll cross—and just how far they’ll go for what they believe in.


 

My thoughts:  This latest book from Joanna Goodman is a follow-up to The Home for Unwanted Girls, and I am glad that I found that out before reading this one. While it absolutely can be read as a stand-alone as the author does provide enough detail to make sense, I felt that I had a fuller picture of what really transpired prior to what happened before the events of this book.

This book once again explores a time and place in history that I am not familiar with - that of Canadian history, specifically in Quebec, in the 1970s and 1990s. While it wasn't that long ago, it was not something I learned about or even remember reading about in the papers here in NY. Again, this is why I love reading historical fiction...I always walk away having learned something new. And, having read this during a time when our own country was in a bit of an upheaval due to our own elections was quite interesting. 

I loved how the story moved back and forth in time, giving us both Elodie's story later in her life as she continued to come to terms with what she had endured in her early years and tried to find justice for herself and the other orphans as well as Veronique's story. At first, I was confused by how her story would be so integral to the overall plot, but as the story unwound, it becomes evident and I could not get enough. I was equally invested in both women's lives and found them quite compelling.

Once again, Joanna Goodman gives us a story that while fictional is woven with historical facts. Again, much like the previous book, there are times that this book will shock you and break you heart, but it's also an important read. We need to know what happened if we are to learn from history and not make the same mistakes again. I'm so glad I discovered these books and would recommend both of them to anyone who loves historical fiction.



Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Esther Thibault but I thought she did a great job with this audiobook. Her pacing and intonation was spot on and I thought she was able to infuse just the right amount of emotion into her voice as needed. 


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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman (audio)


  

Title: The Home for Unwanted Girls
Author: Joanna Goodman
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Published: April 2018, Harper Audio
Length: 9 hours 58 minutes
Source: Library

Summary:
Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit - the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility - much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.

Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.

Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.


 

My thoughts: It's no secret I love historical fiction but one area I have not read a lot about is Canadian history. I recently received Joanna Goodman's newest book, The Forgotten Daughter and realized that while not a series, it is a follow-up to this book, so of course I had to read this one first and I'm so glad I did.

This book is absolutely a beautifully written, heartbreaking story that captivated me from start to finish. While it is a fictional tale, it is loosely based on factual events in history - events I had no idea had taken place. Again, as I have mentioned before in numerous historical fiction reviews, this is why I love reading historical fiction. I always learn so much. I cannot fathom this really happening but it did.

This book pulled at my heartstrings and while I am not a mother, I still felt for all that Maggie had to go through. This book will take you on quite an emotional journey and yet at the same time, the way it is written, it is still filled with moments of suspense that I quite enjoyed being such a big thriller/suspense reader. 

This is definitely more of a character-drawn story and I was all for it. The characters are all richly drawn and I felt completely immersed in both Maggie and Elodie's lives. I loved how the story alternated between the two points of view and was equally drawn to both stories, however hard it was to read parts of Elodie's at times. 

I cannot recommend this book enough. Yes, this covers a dark time in Quebec's history, but the story is so good that it needs to be read. And the writing is just so beautiful that I know I will be reading more of Joanna Goodman for sure.


Audio thoughts: I listened to this book and the audio was fantastic. I'm a big fan of Saskia Maarleveld and she really knocked this one out of the park. Her pacing and intonation was just right and she infused just the right emotion into her voice as necessary. 


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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Review: To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan


 
Title: To Tell You the Truth
Author: Gilly Macmillan
Published: September 2020, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary: 
The acclaimed author of The Nanny, The Perfect Girl, and What She Knew—“a writer to watch” (Publishers Weekly)—returns with another serpentine thriller that is a potent blend of atmosphere, tarnished memories, mystery, and twisty secrets from the past.

Bestselling mystery writer Lucy Harper’s talent for invention has given her fame, fortune, and an army of adoring readers. It has also saddled her with dependents, namely her fawning husband Dan.

When Dan suddenly goes missing, his disappearance evokes dark memories that take Lucy back more than thirty years—to the day her brother vanished without a trace. That’s when Lucy began conjuring stories. The police investigation revealed few confirmed details, so she created tales to fill in the gaps, to explain what happened that day her brother disappeared—and young Lucy was the only witness.

Now decades later, with the whole world watching, Lucy’s past and present are colliding, and this bestselling author skilled in telling stories is losing control of her own narrative. 

Where is Dan? What happened to Lucy's brother? And is the brilliant mystery writer—an expert in devising red herrings and hidden clues—revealing all she knows about both disappearances?

With twists and turns, Gilly Macmillan reveals the answers in this clever and compulsively readable mystery sure to thrill fans of Ruth Ware and Shari LaPena.



My thoughts: Ever since reading Gilly Macmillan's debut novel, What She Knew, back in 2015, I knew this was an author I was going to follow and read everything she wrote...and so far she has not let me down! I love that she has her books with familiar characters - DI Jim Clemo  - and then she has her stand-alones, and each and every one stands out as having just enough twists and turns to keep you engaged without going over the top and they are also brilliantly crafted, and this latest one is no exception!

I am always such a fan of the whole book-within-a-book concept and it is done so well here. I also loved how layered this story really was. It alternates between the past around the time Lucy's younger brother goes missing and the present to the days leading up to and after the disappearance of  Lucy's husband. It really keeps you guessing as to if and how these two story-lines might be connected.

I loved that there were so many questionable characters involved, including Lucy herself. I am always such a fan of the unreliable narrator and that is Lucy in spades. Who as an adult still has an imaginary friend? But on top of that, Dan, Lucy's husband is a frustrated writer and things have been a bit contentious at home lately. When he goes missing, of course, all eyes turn to Lucy. Did she do it? 

The twists and turns kept me flipping the pages and I could not keep up. On top of everything else, there are the woods nearby that just add to the overall suspense and set the atmosphere for this book. I loved this one and found myself completely engaged and trying to put the pieces together to no avail. Gilly Macmillan is definitely in top form with this one and I cannot wait to see what comes next from her! 


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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Review: A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins

 



Title: A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem
Author: Manda Collins
Series: A Lady's Guide, #1
Published: November 2020, Forever
Format: ARC E-copy, 368 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
An intrepid female reporter matches wits with a serious, sexy detective in award-winning author Manda Collins' fun and flirty historical rom-com!

England, 1865 : As one of England's most notorious newspaper columnists, Lady Katherine Bascomb believes knowledge is power. And she's determined to inform and educate the ladies of London on the nefarious-and deadly-criminals who are praying on the fairer sex. When her reporting leads to the arrest of a notorious killer, however, Katherine flees to a country house party to escape her newfound notoriety-only to witness a murder on her very first night. And when the lead detective accuses Katherine of inflaming-rather than informing-the public with her column, she vows to prove him wrong.

Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham's refusal to compromise his investigations nearly cost him his own career, and he blames Katherine. To avoid bad publicity, his superiors are pressuring him to solve cases quickly rather than correctly. When he discovers she's the key witness in a new crime, he's determined to prevent the beautiful widow from once again wreaking havoc on his case. Yet as Katherine proves surprisingly insightful and Andrew impresses Katherine with his lethal competency, both are forced to admit the fire between them is more flirtatious than furious. But to explore the passion between them, they'll need to catch a killer.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Manda Collins and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It grabbed me right from the start and never let up.

I loved that this book combined a few things that I love: historical fiction and mystery being at the forefront, and has a touch of romance on the side. This was done so well and kept me engaged all the way through. The characters in this book are so well drawn and I loved that Lady Katherine Bascoe is such a strong, smart, independent woman. She is unwilling to let anyone deter her from doing what she wants, in this case, getting to the bottom of these murders. I also loved that Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham didn't want to change her. He might get completely frustrated with her, but he ultimately loved her for who she is and even though he wants to protect her, he wants her to have her independence as well.

While I did ultimately guess who was behind the murders early on, I was only partially right and it just happened to be a fluke guess. And it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I had no idea the why and to me knowing the motivation behind the crimes is what drives the book. And I never would have been able to put all that together. 

The pace of this book moves along just right and I felt myself transported to 1865 Victorian England. Manda Collins does such a great job setting the time and place of the book. I felt myself totally pulled in and I cannot wait to read the sequel, which will be out in the fall of 2022. This book totally took my by surprise in all the best ways and I definitely recommend it!


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Friday, November 06, 2020

Review: In the Lion's Den by Barbara Taylor Bradford


 
Title: In the Lion's Den
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Series: House of Falconer, #2
Published: November 2020, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 

From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the highly anticipated second book in the House of Falconer saga.

James Lionel Falconer has risen quickly from a mere shop worker to being the right-hand man of Henry Malvern, head of the most prestigious shipping company in London. With Malvern's daughter Alexis running away to the country after a terrible tragedy and refusing to return, James' ascent to head of the company seems inevitable. But even a charmed life like James' is not without its setbacks.

A terrible fire threatens to end his merchant career before it's had a chance to truly begin. Mrs. Ward, James' former paramour, has a secret that could change his life forever. And his distaste for Alexis Malvern is slowly growing into feelings of quite a different sort. Can James continue to be the master of his own fate, or will all of his charm, intelligence, and wit finally fail him when he has to enter the lion's den?

Spanning the years from 1889 to 1892, In the Lion's Den is Barbara Taylor Bradford at her historical storytelling best.


My thoughts: This is the second book in Barbara Taylor Bradford's House of Falconer series and I loved it. There is just something so magical about her family sagas and I find myself completely swept up in their stories...and this one is no exception.

While I only read the previous book last week, I think I would have had no problem getting back into the swing of things had it been longer. That's because of the way BTB writes - she just pulls you into these characters' lives as if you are right there alongside them and I feel that way about every single book she writes. I love that as it's such a comforting feeling.

I really think it would be beneficial to read the first book in this series before picking this one up. While this one does stand on it's one, there are quite a bit of threads that are carried over that would make for a richer reading experience if you have already read the earlier book. But that's just my opinion.

In this latest installment, we continue to follow the lives of James Falconer and Alexis Malvern. James continues to prove himself at Malvern & Malvern Company and has risen the ranks to be working side by side with Henry Malvern. But his dreams of owning his own shop are still there. Alexis is still mourning Sebastian but she is also conflicted because during her trip to London with James (an event from book 1), something stirred in her and she's not quite sure how to deal with it.

This book is full of drama, secrets, scandal and of course romance. It is so easy to get wrapped up in this story and escape the world for a few hours - something I'm sure many of us could use right now! - and that is what I love about these books. I find myself so consumed in the characters and what is happening that I completely lose track of everything else. Each character has their set of challenges and there are some obstacles along the way, but that's what keeps things moving, and the twists and surprising developments really kept me glued to the pages. 

I loved this story and all the new developments and cannot wait to see what happens in the next book. I have always been a fan of Barbara Taylor Bradford and this new series just proves why. If you enjoy family sagas, this series is a must-read!!!


Books in this series:

  1. Master of His Fate
  2. In the Lion's Den - due out November 10th in the US.
  3. ???
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Thursday, November 05, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Today, I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the blog tour for the Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza. Thank you Little Brown Book Group for inviting me to participate. 

***There are different covers for the UK & US books. The first cover shown is the UK cover, and at the bottom of the post, the US cover is show.




Title: Shadow Sands
Author: Robert Bryndza
Series: Kate Marshall, #2
Published: November 2020, Sphere Books (UK) / Thomas & Mercer (US)
Format: ARC E-copy, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
The internationally bestselling author of Nine Elms and The Girl in the Ice is back with a nail-biting new Kate Marshall case, a woman with a dark secret and a powerful sense of justice.

When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don't add up: why was the victim there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown?

Kate is certain there is more to this case than meets the eye. As she and her research assistant Tristan Harper dig deeper, they discover a bloody trail that points towards an active serial killer hiding in plain sight. People have been silently disappearing for years, and when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.



My thoughts: This is the second book in Robert Bryndza's Kate Marshall series and I just love this series. I have been a fan of this author ever since discovering his other crime fiction series, The Erika Foster series, which I also really enjoy, and I have to say, as much I love Erika Foster, I might just love Kate Marshall even more!

I will say, as I typically do when it comes to reading series, that while of course, this book can be read without reading the earlier book, I HIGHLY recommend reading the first book, Nine Elms, before reading this one. Yes, Robert Bryndza does give some bare-bones highlights of what happened in that first book, but as there are some parts that hinge on knowing the full story, you will only have a richer experience with this second book having read the books in order. But that's just my opinion. Perhaps if you read this one first, it will entice you to pick up the first more because you enjoyed it so much.

Anyway...this book starts off with a bang and never lets up. I found myself completely captivated and never once did my attention span wane. I dare say, this second book might be even better than the first and I really liked that one. I think the character development continues to be strong here, and not only do we learn more about Kate Marshall, but we also learn quite a bit about her assistant, Tristan.

One of the things I really love about this series, and we really see it here in this book, is that it's not all based on the movement of the case. There are subplots that allow us to get to know our characters - Kate, Tristan, and even Kate's son Jake - and at the same time, keep the book moving forward. I was particularly interested in the subplot involving Jake and will be curious to see how that one plays out moving forward. 

As for the main case that Kate and Tristan find themselves involved in, this one really kept me guessing. There were so many moving parts to it, and all the twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering if the young woman, who Tristan has a connection to, was going to make it. My heart was definitely pounding a few times throughout this book...I love books that evoke that type of reaction. 

This book is certainly chilling and dark - aren't books that involve serial killers usually?  But I loved it and ended up reading it in one day - I just could not put it down! Robert Bryndza proves he is once again at the top of his writing game and I cannot wait to see what comes next for Kate Marshall and gang. I'm just bummed I have to wait a whole year to find out! If you like engaging, dark, gritty thrillers, I highly recommend giving this series a go!

 

Books in this series:

  1. Nine Elms
  2. Shadow Sands 
  3. Darkness Falls - due out late 2021

 

About the author: Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestselling Detective Erika Foster series. Robert's books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 29 languages. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Instagram |   Goodreads  

 




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