Another You by Jane Cable

Another YouAnother You by Jane Cable

Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself…

Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord.

Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist.

But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change.

First there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’.

Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation.

And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons.

As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life.

Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy?

Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain?

Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever?

But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck, and that it is down to her to get her life moving again.

Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I noticed with Jane Cable’s previous novel that she has a way with descriptions. Setting this book in Dorset, she did a beautiful job describing the area and creating the perfect atmosphere for a book that is part romance, part history and part–everything else. I wanted to be on that beach admiring Old Harry or in the pub awaiting a drink and a sandwich as I read this.

If you enjoy immersing yourself in emotional novels that are well-paced and have a lot to do with the study of a person’s life, this one will make you feel right at home. This is not a fast paced book, but it isn’t slow or boring either. Marie is a complex character with many different layers that are revealed throughout this novel and even without the addition of great secondary characters, she is enough to make you want to keep reading.

Jude became my favourite character in this novel early on, but there are many that are interesting and will keep you turning pages, wanting to know more about them. This book could have been based on any one of us and it is this feeling of reality and of being able to identify with situations and internal struggles of the characters that makes this such a heart-wrenching book.

I liked the different paths this novel took to get to an ending that is subjective to the beliefs of the reader. Jane Cable gave us enough information to appreciate things that were happening in the story, but not so much that we feel like we can’t use our imaginations just a little as well. I think everyone will walk away from this book with a little bit different opinion on what was really going on.

This is an emotional book, with themes of new love, loss and forgiveness included in the story. If you like literary novels, this would be a good one to choose.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, Provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Dead Seeping Shaman by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Dead Sleeping Shaman (Emily Kincaid Mysteries Book 3)Dead Sleeping Shaman by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

The End Timers, a cult-like group, have descended on part-time journalist and aspiring mystery author Emily Kincaid’s small Michigan town. With dire warnings that the end of the world is just two weeks away, the entire community has been disrupted by psychics, cult followers, believers and disbelievers alike. But when Emily’s latest job assignment leads her to an eerily motionless woman propped against a tree, she realizes that at least one person’s world has come to an end all too soon.

Emily soon learns that the victim, an eccentric psychic and leader of a shamanic healing group, harbored painful memories of the area and had mysterious ties to certain members of the cult. Turning to her friend Deputy Dolly Wakowski for help, she’s stunned to learn that Dolly has turned in her badge and joined the cult, leaving Emily to fear for her friend’s sanity and forcing her to try to solve the case on her own.

As the days tick away to the end of the world, Emily has to navigate her way through a crowd of true believers, a group of shamanic well-wishers, and a suspiciously secretive cult leader to rescue her friend and catch a killer—all the while dreading that these few precious days may be her last.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is a rather rare jewel among writers. She can make you laugh, keep you interested and make you angry with a certain character all at the same time. It is these conflicting emotions that make me return to her writing time and again.

In this book, Emily literally stumbles upon the scene of a murder and once more, things are not as simple as they might first seem. I am always thrilled to see what she and Dolly do with the information they gather. I love the interaction between those two ladies, and for me, Dolly is always what makes the book.

There is more ex-husband drama to be had in this story, and it gave me a good reason to smile, watching the way Emily shuts him down. I liked the way the story flowed and thought the mystery was interesting and original.

I love the setting of these stories and the way the author describes the place that her main character lives as well as the surrounding areas. She makes great use of not only proper word choices, but of the seasons, the time of day, etc. for a full immersion reading experience.

This book kept me entertained for the better part of a day, with few breaks in between. If you like mysteries that think outside the box, this is perfect.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Somebody’s Baby-Donna Alward

Somebody's Baby (Darling, VT #3)Somebody’s Baby by Donna Alward

Number three [Somebody’s Baby] in Alward’s Darling, Vermont, series is a fantastic friends-to-lovers tale featuring a true-to-life wary-of-commitment couple.- – RT Bookreviews

Veterinarian Rory Gallagher chose a different path from his brothers, both of whom became first responders in the lovely little town of Darling, Vermont. Rory’s always had an affinity for animals–and the ladies. Known for his impressive track record in breaking hearts, Rory never meant to hurt anyone; he’s just never been in a hurry to settle down. It’s not as if he needs to pay a visit to the town’s famed Kissing Bridge to magically find love. He’ll know The One when he sees her. . .right?

Oaklee Ferguson is the kid sister of Rory’s best friend–and, even now that she’s all grown up, remains immune to the pet-doctor’s charms. When she shows up at Rory’s clinic late one night–devastated after hitting a stray dog with her car–Rory’s so-called -bedroom eyes- are the last thing on her mind. Still, his care and kindness toward the dog, and his concern for her feelings, catches Oaklee by surprise. . .and soon the two (and rescued dog makes three!) begin to share a deep connection that neither could have ever imagined. Could it be that love has been waiting for them by the bridge all along?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What do you get when you put together two commitment phobic people and add a cute dog? A really good Donna Alward novel.

In the beginning of this novel, I really struggled to like Oaklee. She had been mentioned in the previous novel, but no one really got a good feel for her and in this book, she just struck me as such a spoiled brat. As the novel progressed, I came to understand more about her and gradually began to like her.

Rory I liked from the start. I have to say, I was fooled by the title of this book, thinking it might be further developments from the last involving Willow and Ethan, but I was glad the author went the way she did with this. Not only did we get more experience learning about Darling, but we also got to explore more members of the Gallagher family in depth. These books make you feel like you just came home again after being away for years.

This one didn’t have quite the same emotional effect on me that the last one did, but I still enjoyed it–the ending was a nice touch, especially.

If you are looking for a sweet, romantic read, this is a good book to choose.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Someone to Love (Darling, VT #2)Someone to Love by Donna Alward

The latest offering in the Darling, Vermont series is an emotionally poignant, can’t-put-it-down, opposites-attract tearjerker. A true treasure from page one to the beautiful, touching ending. Alward’s witty dialogue drives this powerful tale, but it’s her little boy costars and her paradoxical, damaged hero and heroine that make hearts sing and rule every page of this sweet and steamy love story.- – RT Bookreviews Top Pick! on Someone to Love

SOME WISHES DO COME TRUE

Ethan Gallagher is a firefighter in Darling, Vermont, who followed tradition and pledged his love on the Kissing Bridge to ensure lifelong happiness. A few years later, he’s a widower with two rambunctious boys who no longer believes in magic. But even he has to admit that free-spirited Willow Dunaway fills him with wonder…and an attraction he cannot deny.

Willow’s come back to Darling a different girl than the one who left after high school. Overcoming her past and owning her own business has made her into a strong, independent woman. Single dad Ethan appeals to her in a way she didn’t expect, even though settling down is the last thing on her mind. But after fire destroys the local food bank, the town rallies, and a fling between Ethan and Willow leads to unintended consequences. Can they find a way out of their heartbreak to make a home in each other’s hearts?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t been huge on romance novels for a while, fearing that they all tend to be the same story just recycled. That is, with a few exceptions, and Donna Alward’s books are a definitely an exception. This book made tough-hearted me cry at various points from the beginning to the end.

When I picked this book up, it didn’t take long at all for me to become absorbed in the story. Every once in a while, I find a main character that I wish was real so I could become friends with them, and that character in this case, was Willow. How cool is she? Into Yoga and Natural foods, friendly, caring and the kind of person you want to see succeed. Not only that, but she was just the right level of messed up to make a story like this work. I love imperfect characters. Plus, I want to visit the Purple Pig.

Ethan was also very well-written. I liked that he came off as a bit of a grumpy git in the beginning and then softened as time went on. If you are struggling to believe in true love, this might be the book that changes your mind. Darling is a lovey little town with a lot to offer the reader. After spending some time with these novels, you will probably wish you lived there, too. I know I did.

These books are amazing. Written with just enough steam to keep you interested, but not so much that they are offensive in any way. The love story is sweet but realistic and the descriptions of the town are wonderful. This was a great book. Recommended to all romance fans.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

The Missing Ones (Detective Lottie Parker, #1)The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really not sure what to think about this book when it comes to recommending it. It was a great book, with excellent writing and a strong plot that never let me down, but it is also a rather graphic novel that included subjects that I try to avoid if possible–including sexual abuse. I think it takes a strong individual to read a novel with this kind of subject matter and not recoil a bit.

The crimes are interesting and the web of intrigue the author builds makes you want to keep turning pages to find out how things are connected and why they happened in the first place. There is a wide net of suspects and it is hard to guess the ending, particularly with the red herrings the author tosses into the mix. I liked the descriptions of the setting and the way the weather and time of year played into the story.

For the first book in a new series, this was complex, engaging and exciting and made me want to read the next book before I even finished this one, but, as mentioned above, there is some tough subject matter in this novel, and it may not be for everyone.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book and really enjoyed the voice of this author.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Belle Grove by Katherine Winfield

Belle Grove (Corsica Series Book 2)Belle Grove by Katherine Winfield

The Eastern Shore fishing town of Corsica, Maryland is about to be shaken again from its idyllic way of life.

 

Julie Seevers, owner of a local herb shop, is spending too much time on her business and her marriage begins to suffer from neglect. Julie’s summer assistant, Tabs Tucker, a misanthropic teen, is on a quest to find her father. And Julie’s best friend, Libby Langston, who is looking for something to ignite the languor of the hot summer, decides to help Tabs in her quest.

 

But when Sonia Barnes, a newcomer to town, enters the shop they soon discover they are on a twisted path of betrayal, lies, clairvoyance, and even murder.

 

Haverford House, the first in the Corsica Series, earned a five-star review from Clarion/Foreword Reviews and was a finalist in the INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

 

Belle Grove continues the journey by weaving rich and unique characters through a mysterious plot set against the mystically beautiful backdrop of the Eastern Shore.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Belle Grove,” is one of those stories that pulls you in early and charms you enough that you know you will not rest until the last page has been read. From the characters to the descriptions of the beautiful East coast, there are so many things to love about this novel.

I am always happy when a longer novel is longer for a reason and is not filled with pointless exposition and fluff. This book takes full advantage of the length, offering the reader characters that they have time to get to know and a rich, atmospheric setting that makes you feel as if you are right there in the middle of the action. I loved the herb shop and the various other locations the author used as a backdrop for her story.

One of the things that made me love this book so much was the understated magic. Instead of being in your face from the first page, the author slowly weaves magical realism into her story, making it feel very natural and not hitting the reader over the head with it. Each of the characters are memorable in their own way, but there are definitely favourites that stand out early in the story.

If you are looking for something to read that will take you away from daily life and transport you somewhere else, “Belle Grove,” might be just the book you have been looking for.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Serpentine by Thomas Thompson

SerpentineSerpentine by Thomas Thompson

With compelling style and suspense this true-crime book reconstructs the bizarre, bloody journey of a mesmerizing but sinister young man named Charles Sobhraj. Sweeping back and forth over half the globe — from the boulevards of Paris to the slopes of Mount Everest to the underbellies of Bangkok and Hong Kong — Sobhraj left in his wake a trail of baffling mystery and inexplicable horror. He also led the police of a dozen nations on a chase that ended at least twelve and possibly twenty-four corpses later with a mere seven-year prison sentence in Delhi. Besides offering a riveting narrative of serial murder and a years-long manhunt, this singular volume examines the lives not only of the intelligent, charismatic, conscienceless, and thoroughly dangerous Sobhraj but also of the unsuspecting victims that he drugged, robbed, sometimes tortured, and without a qualm often killed. A chilling tale of deadly coincidences set in exotic, glamorous locales, Serpentine offers a reading experience as frightening as it is unforgettable.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst the story of Charles Sobhraj is an interesting one, this book could have benefited from being shorter, in my opinion. The author did a excellent job of researching and fact collecting, but the book was so bogged down by minutia that at times, it became boring and the flow of the story was lost on me.

Even so, if you can wade through the many details, you will likely find this book very interesting. The early life of serial killer Charles Sobhraj was recounted in such a manner that you can get a clear and concise portrait of his mental struggles, including his co-dependent relationship with his mother and his fiery temper, often fueled by the fair-weather relationship with his biological father.

As the book progresses and Charles ages, it becomes clear that he has a very elastic sense of right and wrong and that he lives his life as he chooses, with only his own satisfaction in mind. His moral sense is absolutely misguided and the author makes this perfectly clear.

If you are looking for a true crime book that will make you stop and think about nature Vs. nurture, this is a good one to choose. Overall, I thought it was very entertaining.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

Those Who LieThose Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

Emily Klein doesn’t know she has killed her husband until the day of his funeral.
At first, signs point to a tragic accident. Yet, as Emily pieces together the events before his death – events which led to her own memory loss – she begins to suspect that her husband’s death may have been the result of more than a terrible twist of fate…

But the accident is only the beginning. Because while Emily’s physical scars will heal, the trauma of the accident has awakened old ghosts. She hears strange sounds, catches things that can’t possibly be there in the corner of her eye. Before long, everywhere she looks, she seems to see her husband.

And suddenly, Emily finds herself asking the most dangerous question of all.

Can she really trust herself?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a decent book, but it didn’t grab me from the very beginning and refuse to let go. It was more like it was evenly paced and I didn’t want to set it down and forget about it, but wasn’t overly, ferociously determined to get to the end either. It was good, and definitely intriguing, but I felt there were some areas, such as how the MC felt about her husband’s death that could have been explored in more depth before the end of the novel.

Still, this book has a lot going for it and a lot to recommend it. Even when I was half way or so through the book, I never really knew who I could trust. Even the main character seemed to be on shaky ground and that made it far more interesting. I liked her personality and the way she presented herself when there was trouble happening all around her. Emily is a strong female character with a lot of determination to survive and find answers to both her murky past and her present situation.

The secondary characters were also interesting and made the book worth reading. This novel has a twisty plot that will keep you reading, and keep you questioning what you think is really going on. Overall, it was a pleasure to read.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson

Expecting to Die (To Die, #7)Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson

The menacing woods of Grizzly Falls, Montana, are not for the faint of heart. But for some, they’re the perfect setting for partying and pranks. They don’t know there’s a rapt audience amid the tangled trees, a killer with a different kind of game in mind, for whom the woods are dark and deep and perfectly deadly.

Some places earn their bad reputation through tall tales or chance. Grizzly Falls is different. Here, killers aren’t just the stuff of legends and campfire lore. Someone is in the night-time shadows, watching the local teens play around in the moonlit woods. Waiting for the right moment, the right victim. Waiting to take away a life.

Detective Regan Pescoli is counting the days until her maternity leave. Exhausted and emotional, the last thing she needs is another suspected serial killer. Especially when her daughter, Bianca, is swept up in the media storm. When a reality show arrives in town, the chaos only makes it harder for Pescoli and her partner, Selena Alvarez, to distinguish rumor from truth.

Another body is found and another. And as the nightmare strikes closer to home, Pescoli races to find the terror lingering in the darkness, where there are too many places to hide and countless places to die.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love series that are set in small towns and Grizzly Falls is one of those places where you come to feel like you know everyone there and could easily navigate the streets if you came to visit. It’s also the perfect setting for a book where a killer need a place to hide–with the forest and mountains and location out of the way of the modern world surroundings. The author takes full advantage of that and thrills her readers from beginning to end with “Expecting to Die.”

I’ve always had a thing for Lisa Jackson books because I know the suspense will be high and it will be hard to guess the ending, and this book is no exception to that rule. This novel has a pretty large cast of characters and gets more complex as the plot moves along, but is never confusing. I liked Bianca a lot in this book and although some of the subject matter could have gone awry and become worthy of an eye-roll, it never did. Lisa Jackson could turn just about anything into a solid hair-raising story, just as she proved with this book.

I’m a glutton for punishment. I love reading thrillers at night, when the house is dark, or when we are out in the wilderness somewhere camping and away from civilisation. This is just the kind of novel that would scare the living daylights out of me in such a situation (it did, at night, on the couch) and so if you, like me, want to go prematurely grey with worry over what is stalking you that you can’t see but can feel just beyond the tree line, this is the book for you.

In the end, this was a great book with a lot to recommend it. If you love stories that never stop and hardly slow down, surprise endings and characters that make you care what happens to them, this is a great book to choose. Read the rest of the series as well, they’re a lot of fun, too.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided by netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The United States of Absurdity

The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American HistoryThe United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History by Dave Anthony

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was hilarious. I loved the way the narration pointed out the finer points in the stupidity of history, and thought the running commentary on absurd history was great. This book may not be for the feint of heart, as there are some very strange, as well as…ewww, moments included in it. If, however, you are a brave individual with a strong stomach, I say go forth and populate the earth with the knowledge that you gain from this book. Just don’t sue me for your psychiatry bill. Go for the authors instead. They are at the root of this mess.

This is the kind of book that makes you laugh at inappropriate times and in the worst of places. It also makes you feel lucky that we live in modern times, until you realise that history is doomed to repeat itself because we are all morons that don’t learn from books like this. Then you feel something else.

In any case, I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants a good laugh and to learn about the stupids that came before us. If nothing else, it will make you think. Thoughts you might not want to share. Those are the best kind.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through netgalley, who must have decided my stomach strength passed the test and decided to offer me the book in exchange for an honest review.

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