BOOK REVIEW: The Brideship Wife by Leslie Howard.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today we will be jumping back in time looking at The Brideship Wife written by Leslie Howard. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released today May 5, 2020–so all of you can go find a copy for yourselves now!

When this book popped up in NetGalley to request I was very excited because so much of the historical fiction genre focuses on the World War II era, so I have been trying to request some books outside of that era.

Charlotte is our main character, and we meet her in 1862, while her elder sister Harriet is trying her hardest to find a good match for Charlotte. But those efforts go awry, and finally Charlotte’s last option is to sail from England, all the way to the British Columbia colony on one of the brideships. Historically these ships brought unmarried, poor, disadvantaged women to the colony in hopes for a better life of more marriage and work opportunities.

This book does a good job of demonstrating what social etiquette was like during this time period, while also allowing our heroine to defy those norms. It was refreshing seeing a well-born young woman who understands working hard. Harriet is banished to British Columbia with her sister, as punishment from her husband. For most of the trip she was still concerned with Charlotte marrying well, not really making a plan for creating a living. It seemed much more realistic, or at the very least more relatable, to show Charlotte finding a position and fumbling her way through making money to support herself.

I also thought it was very interesting to see the effects of laudanum addiction amongst the rich. I have read other books in the past that briefly mentioned rich women taking laudanum for their nerves, but they didn’t really convey an understanding of addiction like Howard illustrates in The Brideship Wife. In general, I loved that the characters weren’t just handed a happily-ever-after.

All-in-all I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’ll definitely be checking out others written by Howard.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier.

Today I’ll be taking a look at Little Secrets written by Jennifer Hillier. I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released on April 21st–and is an excellent option for readers out there looking for lots of twists and turns.

This book focuses on Marin Machado, a celebrity hairstylist, who just a little over a year ago, had it all. But just before Christmas time her eight year old son was kidnapped. Now 16 months later, she’s still avoiding the grieving process, and not moving on. Her husband Derek, a wealthy CEO, has moved on to an affair with 24 year old McKenzie (Kenzie) Li.

Marin is still moving through the world in a deep depression. She’s already attempted suicide, and is clear in her stance that if she ever learns her son Sebastian has been dead this whole time, she will successfully end her life.

Her best friend Sal, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend with a lot of issues, checks in on her daily to make sure she is still alive.

The private investigator that Marin hired to search for her son after the FBI gave up turns up information on Derek’s affair with Kenzie and turns it over to Marin. And for once, instead of feeling empty, Marin is enraged. Sal tells her that he knows someone who can fix her problem, but can she go through with murder?

The majority of this book alternates between Marin and Kenzie’s points of view, and the further you get into the book the more twists and turns there are.

But will anyone leave this book with a happy ending? I think you should take the time to find out.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey.

Let’s take a look at Feels Like Falling written by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Its release date is April 28, 2020, and I encourage all of you looking for a beachy escape with a strong female lead, pick up a copy.

Now, don’t get me wrong–when we first encounter our main characters Gray Howard and Diana Harrington, their lives are in various stats of disarray. Gray is about to turn 35, is a mother to an 8 year old, going through divorce, recently lost her mother to cancer, and has a sister who is married to an extremist “preacher.” Diana is a 40 year old living in her car, lost her photo lab job “because of” Gray, and still hasn’t gotten over the one who got away 22 years earlier.

That’s a lot of baggage to fix in one book! But Feels Like Falling does it well. I thought that the story was well paced, mixing worries and self reflection, with fun, light romance. I loved how the two main characters become indispensable in the lives of each other–they become the family they need.

I enjoyed every bit the author gave. I became conflicted in the character’s pain, I enjoyed the sarcasm and sass in their personalities, and was happy with the ending. If you’re looking for a book that will give you all the feels–this is a great choice!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: A Spy With Scruples by Gary Dickson

This post is going to take a look at A Spy with Scruples written by Gary Dickson. It is the sequel to An Improbable Pairing, and was released in March 2020. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book picks up right where the last one left off. While the happy couple, Scott Stoddard, and the former Countess de Rovere are honeymooning, Scott receives word to report for testing that may revise his draft status for the Vietnam War. Apparently he did too well on the test and now the CIA wants him to work for them, and he has no choice. Work for them, or get drafted.

A Spy with Scruples focuses much more on what is going on with Scott, than Desirée. In the last book, I was impressed that a male author, writing about a romantic relationship would write about such a strong willed woman during the early 1960s, when she was brought up with a certain decorum of how she should act. This book back tracks all of that. She’s now the typical pregnant wife that takes the back seat. We see Scott starting to make decisions to get them back to their carefree lifestyle.

Readers watch as he manipulates the press in multiple countries, and even the CIA, in hopes of getting out of service, without ending up drafted or dead. The book was a decent read, but I was quite disappointed in the drastic change between the style of the first book and the second. I’d be interested to see how this relationship may change, if there were to be a third book now that their lives have returned to a calm state.

I’d be interested in hearing what any of you have thought about this book.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Serpent’s Shadow (the Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan; adapted by Orpheus Collar

This review will center on the third, and last graphic novel adaptation of The Serpent’s Shadow, the epic finale to Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles trilogy. The graphic novels were adapted by Orpheus Collar, and this book was released in 2017.

The Serpent’s Shadow is the darkest of the three books in both subject matter and art. The coloring reminds me of Jafar, with a lot of reds and blacks. In this book we find the Kane siblings attempting to turn Apophis’s shadow into a weapon against him. All of the side groups are divided against each other, and whether or not they support the Kanes’ mission in this story. And in all of this the stakes have never been greater, as Apophis is after the entire world, and wants to pitch it into darkness.

This was an excellent addition to the series, though I found Sadie a bit annoying in this one. Why does she have the be the annoying character that just wants one normal night, and not her brother? Why do we need to have a weird love triangle in her plot line, but not her brother? Her brother has his love interest, but he remains focused on the mission. I think I would have enjoyed this even more if Riordan hadn’t chosen to stick with gender stereotypes here of which genders come off as strong vs. weak.

I can’t wait to read the full length novels. I wonder if they will change my perception of the stories at all?

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson.

This review will take a look at Together We Caught Fire written by Eva V. Gibson. This novel is a contemporary YA romance that includes a blended family. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released on February 4, 2020 and begins with a pretty lengthy content trigger warning. Normally, I’m not a fan of them because when I see these warnings it’s a page by page rundown of the plot that I want to get to as I get to it, but this warning was well done by giving general warnings of subject matter that occurs throughout the novel. In general, this includes suicide, drug use, and self-harm, among a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I think those were the most graphically described.

Together We Caught Fire focuses on four main teen characters, but it is told from Lane Jamison’s perspective. The other three main teens are her secret, longtime crush turned stepbrother Grey McIntyre, his girlfriend Sadie, and her wild older brother Connor Hall.

I was pretty confused for the first 15-20 pages learning who each of these four were to each other as the book opens with Grey driving, Sadie in the front passenger seat, and Connor and Lane in the back. Lane is known as the “bad girl” at school, while Sadie is the typical preacher’s daughter. Connor used to be evangelical as well, but now is the quintessential bad boy and is a metal worker. He lives in a shared workshop that houses many methods of art.

He and Lane bond over both being artists and I quickly saw Lane forgetting her interest in Grey. Connor, though he has his own problems and flaws, challenges Lane, while also always being there to support her when her traumas take the front seat.

This was an excellent debut from Gibson, that I thoroughly enjoyed. I bought the romances, and relationships between the characters. I liked that the book wasn’t a light fluffy romance, but a gritty real one that highlighted that relationships are work and there will be good and bad in any relationship, whether romantic, familial, or friendship.

I encourage you all to go find a copy and read it. It’ll give you all the feels.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This review is going to take a look at Ann Napolitano’s new book, Dear Edward. Dear Edward was released earlier this month on January 6, 2020, and has been used by many for January book clubs.

This book is about Edward, who is 12 at the beginning of this story, and how he lost his family in a plane crash. His family was moving from New York to L.A. and the plane went down. Edward was the only survivor of the 191 people on the flight.

Knowing the vague plot going into the story I was surprised to immediately be introduced to several of the victims as they boarded the plane. As I began to read, I understood. The story is told alternating between during the flight and after the crash.

Understandably, it is difficult for Edward to continue on without his family. Especially, his older brother Jordan. And as the book goes on he has more thoughts that Jordan should have lived instead of him.

Napolitano explores several forms of grief, and growth through Edward. As I read the book I had a little bit of a difficult time seeing where we were going while following the other characters, but by the end I was able to figure out how each piece of the puzzle helped Edward move through his grief and relearn how to live.

I thought this was an excellent coming-of-age story that was expertly woven together by the author. I recommend you take a moment and pick up a copy, just be prepared for a heavy read that will give you all the feels.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Weekend Fling by Stacey Lynn

This post is going to dive into Stacey Lynn’s 4th novel in her Crazy Love series. The book is titled Weekend Fling. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Willow Parks is the female lead in this story. She has her own part-time editing business, and also works in a coffee shop on the ground floor of the building that sexy Trey Collins happens to live in.

Willow is busy holding down two jobs and caring for her mother and doesn’t have time to get back on the dating scene, but Trey has other ideas about that. He’s a self-made millionaire who needs a date to his best friend’s wedding. He’s been interested in Willow since he met her when she began working in the coffee shop, but she constantly rejects him. But Willow is at her breaking point with responsibility and admits she could use a weekend away from work, and caring for her mother. She agrees to a weekend getaway with Trey to go to the wedding.

She is taken aback by all the money she is quickly surrounded by. And while their relationship becomes quite steamy over the weekend, they both wonder if it could be more after the weekend is over.

During the wedding reception Willow receives a phone call from her friend Cara, who she asked to keep an eye on her mother for the weekend. Cara tells Willow that they are at the hospital. Willow becomes full of doubt about everything and also doesn’t want to throw all of her baggage on Trey so she tries to sabotage things on the relationship front so she can get a handle on all of her family problems.

I thought this contemporary romance had a bit more depth to it than a lot of others that I read, where the problem introduced to wreck everything is usually not as large, or realistic. Often when reading romance (as much as I enjoy it) I find myself saying… “That’s not a real problem…”. But this story reveals several problems ranging from self-doubt to financial problems, to mental health problems.

I honestly had a hard time putting this book down and I think anyone interested in contemporary romance would have a fun time with this one. It was released on November 26th so go get a copy! I can’t wait to go back and read the first three books in Lynn’s Crazy Love series!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

This post is going to focus on The Vanished Bride written by Bella Ellis. It is the first novel in Ellis’s Brontë Sisters Mystery series and was released on September 10, 2019.

This book has the interesting concept of following the Brontë sisters in 1845 as they learn of a murder that has taken place in a nearby village. The murder has taken place in a home in which one of their friends works as a governess. But is it even murder? The woman of the house is missing, but left her room covered in blood. What other explanation could there possibly be?

Though they have yet to publish any of their works, they already have the research skills needed to become “detectors.” Ellis has done an enormous amount of research on the Brontë family and because of this was able to use each family member to their strengths in her plot.

Ellis also does a good job at describing a society that believes women should be at home, and seen, but not heard. They take various journeys together, and apart in following the clues they uncover under the guise of searching for the right place to open a school.

I found the plot enjoyable as I followed along the twists and turns throughout the English countryside. This book will be enjoyed by fans of the Brontë clan, and cozy mystery readers.

Happy reading 🙂