Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse’s poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.
The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.
Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.
Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home
I love Philippa Gregory, but this book was a bit of a miss for me. I didn’t like the American setting and I really didn’t like Livia. I know she was supposed to be a frustrating character, but she really took away from the story for me. I have not read the first book in the Fairmile series, Tidelands, but I’m not sure it would have helped. This book did alright as a stand-alone for me, it was just missing in other aspects.
Author: Jennifer Deibel Publisher: Revell Pages: 352 On Sale: February 2, 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Christian Fiction, Cultural Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
To fulfill her mother’s dying wish, Moira Doherty moves from Boston to the rolling green hills of 1921 Ireland to teach in a village school. She doesn’t expect to fall in love–or to uncover a scandalous family reputation her mother left behind years ago.
I enjoyed this book, it was a lovely story of a woman traveling to Ireland to teach and falling in love while uncovering her mother’s secrets. The characters seemed like a lot of fun and her trials were moving, but overall this book wasn’t a winner for me. I’ve read some Christian Fiction and I normally don’t mind it, I just found this book had an excessive amount of praying and talking to God and reciting scripture. I should have saved this book for next year as it fits 11 prompts of The 52 Book Club’s 2021 reading challenge.
#1 – Set In A School #2 – Featuring The Legal Profession #7 – An Author With Only 1 Published Book #10 – Related To The Word “Fire” #12 – Title Starting With The Letter “D” #27 – First Chapter Ends On An Odd Page Number #43 – A Character With A Pet Cat #44 – Includes A Garden #47 – A Character With A Disability #48 – A Cover With A Woman Who Is Facing Away #51 – Published In 2021
Author: Eoin Colfer Publisher: Disney Hyperion Pages: 336 On Sale: October 20 2020 Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
Myles Fowl has found what he thinks is a source of knowledge, the likes of which humanity has never seen before, and so he goes after it. But what he doesn’t know is that there are also some renegade fairies who are going after this source too. So when they both arrive at the same place at the same time to find this knowledge, which is not what they think it is, shenanigans and adventures ensue.
This is the second installment of The Fowl Twins, and I felt like it lacked a bit of the magic the first one had. I really enjoy the character of Beckett and his friendship with Whistleblower and I wish there was a bit more of them and a bit less of Myles. Myles appears to have all of the most annoying traits that Artemis had, and I hope he comes back in future books. The plot didn’t really keep my attention, I felt like every time I put the book down I had to read back and figure out what was going on again since it was all over the place. Overall it was good, just not my favorite of the Fowl novels.
Author: Janet Skeslien Charles Publisher: Atria Books Pages: 368 On Sale: February 2 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.
Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.
A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places
This book was really well done. It had a dual timeline, spanning from 1939 Paris to 1983 Montana, and I felt it was pretty easy to keep track of the plot. Both stories held up well on their own. I’ve never visited Paris and I had never heard of the American Library there, but I’m proud of the efforts everyone put in to promote reading and sending books to all the troops. Not a lot of focus was put on how the rest of the city or the Jews were faring during the occupation, but it was interesting to learn how the librarians struggled and adapted.
“After the darkness of war, the light of books.” (ALP’s motto)
Author: Jane Johnson Publisher: Simon & Schuster Pages: 416 On Sale: January 5 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
A broken family, a house of secrets—an entrancing tale of love and courage set during the Second World War.
After Rebecca’s mother dies, she must sort through her empty flat and come to terms with her loss. As she goes through her mother’s mail, she finds a handwritten envelope. In it is a letter that will change her life forever.
Olivia, her mother’s elderly cousin, needs help to save her beloved home. Rebecca immediately goes to visit Olivia in Cornwall only to find a house full of secrets—treasures in the attic and a mysterious tunnel leading from the cellar to the sea, and Olivia, nowhere to be found.
As it turns out, the old woman is stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her house is made habitable again. Rebecca sets to work restoring the home to its former glory, but as she peels back the layers of paint and grime, she uncovers even more buried secrets—secrets from a time when the Second World War was raging, when Olivia was a young woman, and when both romance and danger lurked around every corner…
A sweeping and utterly spellbinding tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of war and the lengths to which she’ll go to protect those she loves against the most unexpected of enemies.
I have conflicting feelings about this book. The dual timeline was well done and I didn’t get too lost when the chapters flipped perspective, but I felt a lot of it just kind of plodded along. The characters felt real and believable, but it wasn’t until into the second half that things really came together and it became harder to put the book down. Rebecca felt a bit weak and flimsy at first, but she definitely became a stronger person as time goes on.
Author: Taltal Levi Publisher: NorthSouth Books Pages: 32 On Sale: February 2 2021 Genre: Children Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
When a spunky little girl finds that her parents are too busy to play, she decides to visit her favorite place on her own.
The familiar path lightens her step and her heart. And along the way she discovers a wonderful surprise.
Taltal Levi’s spare text and delicate pastel-hued illustrations celebrate courage, discovery, and the power of family.
The illustrations of this book were very nice, but I’m not sure the actual story is right for children. The young girl basically feels ignored by her parents so she takes off, camps out in the woods overnight by herself, and then walks to the sea. Her parents find her and never seemed alarmed, but I don’t think these are good ideas to put in kids’ heads. In real life there either would have been an Amber Alert or something larger than a fox would have found her. The story had a lot of potential and it was beautiful, I just think it missed its mark.
Author: Valdene Mark Publisher: Sugar Apple Books Pages: 16 On Sale: September 15 2020 Genre: Children Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
Bedtime is here, but Jade is much too scared to fall asleep—who knows what could be hiding in the dark? Jade lets her imagination run away from her, dreaming up all kinds of scary monsters until she is sure she won’t be able to sleep at all.
Luckily, Jade is very brave.
For me the artwork was the best part of this book, I loved the sparkly lighting and the rich purples. The story itself was really simple and light but I don’t feel it connected as well with the message it was trying to send. Jade was afraid of the dark and she was imagining what could be in it, but if it wasn’t for the moonlight coming in nothing was really resolved. It didn’t seem to me that it really gave children a way to face their fears; Jade just waited and got lucky.
Author: Heidi Perks Publisher: Gallery Books Pages: 336 On Sale: June 9 2020 Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
From the author of Her One Mistake , hailed as “chilling, captivating” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda, comes a riveting new suspense novel about three ambitious women whose lives are turned upside down in the aftermath of a horrifying fire, which destroys a successful advertising agency and threatens to expose a tangled web of lies.
Laura has returned to work at Morris and Wood after her maternity leave, only to discover that the woman she brought in to cover for her isn’t planning on going anywhere. Despite her close relationship with the agency’s powerful CEO, Harry Wood, she feels sidelined—and outmaneuvered—as she struggles to balance the twin demands of work and motherhood.
Mia was only supposed to be a temporary hire at Morris and Wood, but she’s managed to make herself indispensable to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Laura. If people only knew why she was so desperate to keep her job, they might not want her to stay.
Janie gave up everything to support her husband and the successful agency he runs. But she has her own dark secret to protect…and will go to any lengths to keep it safe.
I enjoyed this book and there was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t blow me away. It had a gentle, meandering plot and I liked that the perspective kept switching between the three women. At each chapter we are given a bit of the police report with the other staff of agency and I found it definitely helped to draw suspense and show the tension between the different parties. Overall I wasn’t able to guess most of the secrets and the ending did catch me by surprise, it just wasn’t the roller coaster that I had expected.
Author: Linda Castillo Publisher: Minotaur Books Pages: 320 On Sale: July 7 2020 Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
Linda Castillo follows her instant New York Times bestseller, Shamed, with Outsider, an electrifying thriller about a woman on the run hiding among the Amish.
Chief of Police Kate Burkholder’s past comes back to haunt her when she receives a call from Amish widower Adam Lengacher. While enjoying a sleigh ride with his children, he discovered a car stuck in a snowdrift and an unconscious woman inside. Kate arrives at his farm and is shocked to discover the driver is a woman she hasn’t seen in ten years: fellow cop Gina Colorosa.
Ten years ago, Kate and Gina were best friends at the police academy, graduating together as rookies with the Columbus Division of Police. But the reunion takes an ominous turn when Kate learns Gina is wanted for killing an undercover officer. Gina claims she’s innocent, that she was framed by corrupt officers who want her gone because she was about to turn them in for wrongdoing.
Kate calls upon state agent John Tomasetti for help and with a blizzard bearing down, they delve into the incident. But no one wants to talk about what happened the night Gina allegedly gunned down a fellow cop. Even Tomasetti is stonewalled, his superior telling him in no uncertain terms to back off.
With whisperings of corruption and the threat of rogue cops seeking revenge, Kate and Gina hunker down at Adam Lengacher’s farm. As Kate gets closer to the truth, a killer lies in wait. When violence strikes, Kate must confront a reality that changes everything she thought she knew not only about friendship, but the institution to which she’s devoted her life.
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and I was really impressed. I have not read the rest of the series but I felt this did great as a standalone. The book started with a lot of excitement and then it built up towards the finale very well. Kate seems like a really well put together character and I look forward to picking up the previous books in this series to learn more of her back story. Also, being set among the Amish community was a refreshing change of pace from the other mysteries and thrillers I have read lately.
Author: Corey Ann Haydu Publisher: Simon Pulse Pages: 304 On Sale: July 28 2020 Genre: Fantasy, YA Stars: 3/5
From the Publisher:
Damsel meets A Heart in a Body in the World in this incisive and lyrical feminist fairy tale about a princess determined to save her sisters from a curse, even if it means allying herself with the very witch who cast it.
The Princesses of Ever are beloved by the kingdom and their father, the King. They are cherished, admired.
Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden carry the burden of being punished for a crime they did not commit, or even know about. They are each cursed to be Without one essential thing—the ability to eat, sleep, love, remember, or hope. And their mother, the Queen, is imprisoned, frozen in time in an unbreakable glass box.
But when Eden’s curse sets in on her thirteenth birthday, the princesses are given the opportunity to break the curse, preventing it from becoming a True Spell and dooming the princesses for life. To do this, they must confront the one who cast the spell—Reagan, a young witch who might not be the villain they thought—as well as the wickedness plaguing their own kingdom…and family.
Told through the eyes of Reagan and Jane—the witch and the bewitched—this insightful twist of a fairy tale explores power in a patriarchal kingdom not unlike our own.
I really loved how original this story was, and I wish it had been longer. I felt the characters were a bit flat and I would have liked to get to know each of them on a deeper level to really understand how they felt and what they went through. The story started out a bit slow with a lot of things being hinted at but never explained, and while it picked up the pace better part way through it never felt like a wild ride to me. I was expecting intense drama and a race to the finish line and while things did come to a head, it meandered its way there. The conclusion did tie up most of the ends, but it just didn’t feel completely satisfying. Overall it was good and clever, I just expected… more.