• ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Lost Orphan: a book review

    Book Info:

    Publisher – Harlequin MIRA

    Date – April 7th, 2020

    Pages – 352

    Genre – Historical romance

    Synopsis:

    Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . .

    London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate newborn at the Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the daughter she has never known. Dreading the worst, that she has died in care, she is astonished to discover someone pretending to be Bess has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl—and why.

    Less than a mile from Bess’s poor lodgings, in a quiet Georgian townhouse, lives Alexandra, a reclusive young widow. When her close friend—an ambitious doctor at the orphanage—persuades her to hire a nursemaid to help care for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

    From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds.

    Review:

    If I had to describe this book in one word – atmospheric. By the end of the first chapter I was completely captivated and transported back to London in the 1750’s.

    The writing perfectly captured the time period and allowed the reader to feel the desperation, longing, and loss of the characters. It was easy to connect with the characters which is a big plus for me. And of course, the secrets only added to the intrigue of the plot.

    I enjoyed the commentary on motherhood, class, and moral dilemmas faced by many during this time. The time period was well-researched by the author and masterfully woven into a complex story. You know it’s good historical fiction when you head off to research the story after you finish the book.

    There were a few parts that felt a bit contrived but overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. If you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing or When We Were Yours you will most likely love this book.

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Thank you to Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

    This book is available April 7th from you favorite bookseller!

     

  • Book Reviews

    It’s Not Over: Blog Tour & Review

    Book Info

    Author: Joshua Gagnon

    Publisher: Thomas Nelson

    Pages: 224

    Publish Date: February 25th, 2020

    Today is my stop on the TLC Books blog tour for It’s Not Over by Joshua Gagnon. I’m so excited to share this book with you – it’s quite timely.

    When I received the invitation for this tour our world looked very different. There were hints of coming adversity but what I imagined looks quite different from the realities of today.

    Synopsis:

    Disappointed with your life? Worried you’ll never achieve your dreams? Don’t be discouraged; it’s not over!

    As children, we dream of someday being a superhero or an astronaut, a parent or a business owner, an actress or a sports star. The more outrageous the dream, the more sure we are that it will happen! Yet as we mature, hardships, hurts, and failures chip away at our dreams. Our past longings can seem like the naive wishes of childhood instead of the foundation of the life we were meant to live.

    In It’s Not Over, pastor Joshua Gagnon, founder of the Next Level Church network, reminds us that we were born to dream—and to dream big. In fact, our dreams have the power to shape our lives. Join Joshua in discovering the answers to these questions and many more:

    • How does dreaming help you discover your purpose?
    • How do you identify whether a dream is even worth chasing?
    • How do you overcome resistance, criticism, and doubt?
    • How do you pray bold prayers when you don’t feel like praying at all?
    • How do you finish strong on the journey toward your dream?

    If you find yourself minimizing your dreams or feeling defeated by inner or outer resistance, there is good news: it’s not over! As long as you have breath in your lungs, God has a dream for you to chase. It’s what you were created for. And you can start today.

    Review:

    Hope. Who doesn’t need some hope right now? 

    This book was a reset button for me. It gave me the much needed reminder that dreams met with resistance are still worth pursing. I was also reminded that dreams can shape who we are – for me it’s not just about the achievement, it’s about the person I become in the process.

    Which brings us to today. This book was written and published before COVID-19. And now we are all in a situation we never imagined. I can’t think of a time where everyone, on some level, is experiencing similar life changes. The last chapter is all about managing expectations, worrying about what is within your control, and finishing strong. Timely.

    If there was a way to distribute the last chapter to the world, that would be great.

    Unfortunately, that’s not possible so I would highly encourage you to grab a copy of this book. The author is a gifted communicator and I would definitely pick up another book by him. The writing is succinct, it is a quick read, and whatever your spiritual leanings are there is something in this book for everyone.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon |Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson

     

    About Joshua Gagnon

    Joshua Gagnon is the founding and lead pastor of Next Level Church, regularly recognized as one of the fastest growing churches in America. He is known for his uniquely authentic communication style that makes the hope found in Jesus relevant to people of every background. He and his wife, Jennifer, raise their two sons in New Hampshire.

    Connect with Joshua

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

     

     

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Recommendations

    Cross Her Heart: blog tour and review

    Publisher: Amazon Publishing

    Pages: 351

    Date available: 3/17/2020

    A homicide detective’s violent family history repeats itself in #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s new novel of murder, secrets, and retribution.

    𝐒𝐲𝐧𝗼𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬

    For more than twenty-five years, Philadelphia homicide detective Bree Taggert has tucked away the nightmarish childhood memories of her parents’ murder-suicide…Until her younger sister, Erin, is killed in a crime that echoes that tragic night: innocent witnesses and a stormy marriage that ended in gunfire. There’s just one chilling difference. Erin’s husband, Justin, has vanished.

    Bree knows how explosive the line between love and hate can be, yet the evidence against her troubled brother-in-law isn’t adding up. Teaming up with Justin’s old friend, former sheriff’s investigator and K-9 handler Matt Flynn, Bree vows to uncover the secrets of her sister’s life and death, as she promised Erin’s children. But as her investigation unfolds, the danger hits close to home. Once again, Bree’s family is caught in a death grip. And this time, it could be fatal for her.

    𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰

    I could not put this book down! Police procedurals are my favorite types of thrillers and this book did not disappoint.

    The characters all had pasts and were troubled but that was not the path this book took. Their individual tragedies and secrets played a role but were not the central focus which I appreciated.

    I felt a connection to nearly all the characters and despite the dark twists and turns, the details weren’t upsetting or triggering for me – which is why I think I love procedurals so much – solving the mystery from the police perspective is the primary focus.

    The writing was done well and while I had my own ideas about the crime, I was guessing until the end. The author gave the reader just enough to keep the plot moving and that made this book a page-turner for me. There was also a hint of romance and this being the first book of this series, I’m interested to see where that goes in the next book.

    Overall, this was a fantastic start to the series and I can’t wait for the second book. This book is available today from your favorite book seller!

    Thanks to OTPR and Amazon Publishing for this gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

    And be sure to check out my Instagram for a giveaway of this book with a signed bookplate! International entires are welcome.

    About the author

    Her other novels include She Can Tell, She Can Scream, She Can Hide, She Can Kill, Midnight Exposure, Midnight Sacrifice, Midnight Betrayal, Midnight Obsession, Hour of Need, Minutes to Kill, Seconds to Live, Say You’re Sorry, Her Last Goodbye, Bones Don’t Lie, What I’ve Done, Secrets Never Die and Save Your Breath. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate, has taught women’s self defense, and lives in a messy house with her family and a small herd of rescue pets. For more information, visit www.melindaleigh.com

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Recommendations

    The Mountains Sing: blog tour & review

    Publisher: Algonquin Books

    Pages: 352

    Date: 3/17/2020

    “An epic account of Việt Nam’s painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling . . . Moving and riveting.” —VIET THANH NGUYEN, author of The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

    Synopsis:

    With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

    Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

    The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

    Review:

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    What a captivating novel! Within the first several pages I was transported to another time and place. This intergenerational novel tells the story from within Vietnam – one that many are unfamiliar with if you learned your country’s historical perspective of that time period.

    The writing was lyrical and Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai did a phenomenal job of creating an atmosphere for the reader to experience not only the beauty of the country and people but also the horrors suffered.

    I loved learning about the culture, traditions, and proverbs that prevailed despite the turmoil and hardships faced. It was all so real and as I read, there were times I had to put the book down to process the author’s words. This book is an experience – far more than just words on a page.

    I felt a strong emotional connection with the characters and I have yet to stop thinking about this book. It’s one that I can recommend to anyone and I believe that this is one of those books that everyone should read. There are so many lessons to be learned, historical perspectives to be told, and experiences to be shared.

    This book has already made it into my top books of 2020 and I cannot wait to read what this author writes next! She is immensely talented.

    About the author:

    Born into the Viet Nam War in 1973, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai grew up witnessing the war’s devastation and its aftermath. She worked as a street vendor and rice farmer before winning a scholarship to attend university in Australia. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction published in Vietnamese, and her writing has been translated and published in more than 10 countries, most recently in Norton’s Inheriting the War anthology. She has been honored with many awards, including the Poetry of the Year 2010 Award from the Hà Nội Writers Association, as well as international grants and fellowships. Quế Mai first learned English in 8th grade and The Mountains Sing is the first novel written in English by a Vietnamese national to be published by a major American publisher. Currently based in Indonesia, Quế Mai’s journalism regularly appears in major Vietnamese newspapers. For more information, visit www.nguyenphanquemai.com.

    Thank you to Algonquin Books for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review and promotion.

     

     

  • Book Reviews,  Recommendations

    Before She Knew Him: blog tour & review

    About Before She Knew Him

    • Paperback: 320 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 25, 2020)

    Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

    From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

    Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

    But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

    Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

    The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

    Review

    Can you reread a thriller and love it just as much the second time? When it comes to a book by Peter Swanson, absolutely.

    I originally read this book last year and if I remember correctly, I tore through it in a few sittings. That’s always a good sign!

    Unreliable narrators are my favorite when done well and Swanson is a master at leaving a tiny doubt in the mind of the reader about each character. Hen was my favorite character because she struck a balance of endearing and barely believable because of her obsession with the case and her past.

    This book had me guessing from the beginning the first time around and while I did guess the big twist, I wasn’t disappointed but instead impressed with myself because Swanson always writes a great twist… or two. Reading it a second time gave me the opportunity to pick up on some subtleties I missed the first time and I appreciated the writing even more.

    I originally went into this book a bit concerned about the portrayal of mental illness but it is handled well. If you are sensitive to this, it’s something to be aware of but I wouldn’t let it discourage you from reading this book.

    Peter Swanson is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to thrillers – and I’m picky. If you haven’t read this one, add it to your TBR list soon!

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow Books for this gifted copy in exchanged for my unbiased review.

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Photo by Jim Ferguson

    About Peter Swanson

    Peter Swanson is the author of five novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Before She Knew Him. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science FictionThe Atlantic MonthlyMeasureThe GuardianThe Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. He lives outside of Boston, where he is at work on his next novel.

    Find out more about Peter on his website and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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