Recent Reviews


Here you will find books that I have read previously, along with their reviews. While some books will not rate as highly for me than other ones, each book is like a dear friend. Some books will click instantly with a person and teach them many lesson, show them different ways of viewing the world, or change how they feel about themselves on a personal level. All books, like people, are unique. Not every book will be dearly loved by every person who reads them, but that does not make a book any less valuable to those who cherish it.

All novels, series, books of every sort are a piece of artwork. Just like with painting, there are a plethora of different styles available... the only limit to that artwork is how far a person will let their imagination take them, and still be brave enough to share it with the world.

Happy reading!


“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

-Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood


#readingrecommendations




The Lost Village



Goodreads Description:



The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.


Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.


But there will be no turning back.


Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:


They are not alone.


They’re looking for the truth…

But what if it finds them first?


My thoughts: 3 Stars


That was a suspenseful story from the start. Alice and a crew of people she knows have finally found a way to go and visit a village that's story has been lost to time. Decades ago, the whole population of the village disappeared.. except one little baby. What Alice and her team does not realize is that this is one adventure they maybe should have passed on. It has been Alice's dream to go there ever since she was a little girl. She grew up listening to her grandmother's stories about the people and lifestyle of that village. It is an old mining town, but things turn dark quickly when a stranger moves in. Soon, the people of that little village, too small to have a train visit more than twice a week and hardly any vehicles to speak of, start changing. Things begin to turn dark and twisted. The time jumps smoothly between the past and present, letting the reader see what really happened back before everyone disappeared, along with Alice and her crew in the present trying to unlock the mystery of what really happened. The story is eerily delightful. This is a great read for anyone who likes easy suspense but that may keep them up late at night going, "Just one more chapter..." The story sucks you in and does not let go. You just have to know what happened and why. Alice and her team are not any different from the story line from the past. They are seeing figures, a crew member starts to lose their mind, mysterious things are happening and everything spirals out of control. There is no such thing as cellphone reception and are hours away from the next town by car. If anything sinister happens, they are on their own...and it is lurking just around the corner.


Queen of the Unwanted



Goodreads Description:


In the riveting sequel to the feminist fantasy epic The Women's War, the ability to do magic has given women control over their own bodies. But as the patriarchy starts to fall, they must now learn to rule as women, not men.


Alys may be the acknowledged queen of Women's Well--the fledgling colony where women hold equal status with men--but she cares little for politics in the wake of an appalling personal tragedy. It is grief that drives her now. But the world continues to turn.


In a distant realm unused to female rulers, Ellin struggles to maintain control. Meanwhile, the king of the island nation of Khalpar recruits an abbess who he thinks holds the key to reversing the spell that Alys's mother gave her life to create. And back in Women's Well, Alys's own half brother is determined to bring her to heel. Unless these women can come together and embrace the true nature of female power, everything they have struggled to achieve may be at risk.


My thoughts: 3 Stars


I want to start off by saying that I absolutely loved the first book. I could no wait for the second book to come out. Unfortunately, it took until now for me to find the time to read the second book. Thanks to the publisher, I have an early copy to the third book. I am thrilled! Now, on to the review of this book. This was a decent read. However, it did have quite a bit of the "middle book syndrome" where not all that much happened in the 592 pages. The story gets really good in the last 15-20% range. We get to really get to know the other characters in this book, along with some new ones. I especially liked one character in particular that is brought in later in the book that is viewed as unwanted and different, but who is really a treasure of a person. Our main characters are an Abigail at an abbey, Alysoon, and Ellen. All of these women are forced to make sacrifices in their own way for the good of all women living in their world today and in the future. As I mentioned before, it felt as if not much was going on, but there was actually quite a bit going on under the surface. The characters are more complex and have motives that the other characters are not able to figure out or even notice enough to see where it is going. As always, there are a couple love plot lines going on that change as the characters have to make difficult decisions and grow. Overall, I liked the book, but it was not my favorite so far in this series.



I, Cosmo



Goodreads Description:


A golden retriever narrates a hilarious, heart-tugging tale of a dog and his humans as he tries to keep his family together while everything around them falls apart.


Ever since Cosmo became a big brother to Max ten years ago, he's known what his job was: to protect his boy and make him happy. Through many good years marked by tennis balls and pilfered turkey, torn-up toilet paper and fragrant goose poop, Cosmo has doggedly kept his vow. Until recently, his biggest problems were the evil tutu-wearing sheepdog he met on Halloween and the arthritis in his own joints. But now, with Dad-scented blankets appearing on the couch and arguing voices getting louder, Cosmo senses a tougher challenge ahead. When Max gets a crazy idea to teach them both a dance routine for a contest, how can Cosmo refuse, stiff hips or no? Max wants to remind his folks of all the great times they've had together dancing -- and make them forget about the "d" word that's making them all cry. Told in the open, optimistic, unintentionally humorous voice of a golden retriever, I, Cosmo will grab readers from the first page -- and remind them that love and loyalty transcend whatever life throws your way.


My thoughts: 3 Stars


Every now and then you just need a sweet story about a dog. This story is about Cosmo, who is a very good boy. He loves his human, Max. Cosmo is an old dog in the beginning of the story (do not worry, there is not a sad ending). Max's uncle comes home from being honorably discharge from the military and gets Max and Cosmo involved in a dog/human dance group. The prize at the end of the sessions is a possible spot in a movie. Max and Cosmo quickly find motivation to want to win this competition and excel at this dog/human dance duo. There is tension building in the household and Cosmo is always there to comfort Max and help him through the pains of growing up and learning how complicated love can be. I simply loved how wholesome and sweet this story was. We get to see how Cosmo thinks and sees the world around him. Cosmo, despite his age, also learns a wonderful lesson at the end of this book. At times I just had to pull one of my own dogs close and ask him, "Is this how you would speak with human words if you could?" If you need a feel good story with a bit of true life difficulties to keep it real, this is a great and quick read.




Down Comes The Night



Goodreads Description:


He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.


Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.


The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.


With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.


Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.


Love makes monsters of us all.


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My thoughts: 3 Stars


This book had everything I could have wanted from it: gothic fantasy, a dark mystery, a bit of romance, a strong heroine. Wren is a young woman born to a cruel fate. Just about all young people are forced into active duty to the queen. They sacrifice themselves for a war that began generations before they were even born, and that war has no end in sight. Wren is a healer for the military. She is also a bit soft hearted .She wants to heal and help everyone. Her emotions often control her, and she is seen as weak for her compassion in her cruel world. While on duty one day, her compassion costs her everything she holds dear, and now she does not like the look of her future. She can live a life of horror, or she can run. When she receives a mysterious letter from a man from a country that has never involved itself in their war, she has a chance to change her fate. This simple piece of paper and her own difficult choices will help her grow into her full potential. Life will never be easy for her, and never has been easy for her, but at least now she will have a choice. Unable to please the queen, Wren takes a leap of faith and ends up in a dark mansion with a mysterious host and the last person she ever expected is the one she is charged with to heal. Not everyone is as they seem, with hidden agendas and dark desires. There is death in that house, and Wren is not quite sure who it will come for next.



The Wife Upstairs


Goodreads Description:


A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins's The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.


Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.


But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.


Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?


With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My thoughts: 3 Stars


I am an absolute fan of Jane Eyre. I try to read it at least once a year, I love it so much. Naturally, when I found what looked like a modern day retelling of this story, I just had to try to get a copy to read. There are a few similarities: Jane is an orphan, Eddie has a large house, a wife locked away, etc. That is where the similarities end. Jane is a dog walker in a rich neighborhood. She comes from nothing, has survived abusive foster homes, and loves to do a five finger discount of things that do not belong to her simply because she wants them. She takes what she wants and does not feel bad. Jane morphs herself to fit in with any situation, trying to control it and use it for her own benefit. She lives with a gross roommate who will cause her all kinds of trouble. One day, she catches the eye of Eddie. She thinks she has finally made it; large home, rich boyfriend, no more living with her scumbag roommate. Now she just needs to convince the neighborhood ladies she used to work for that she is one of them. What looks like a golden life and opportunity starts to not look so shiny rather quickly. Eddie is starting to change a bit each day. There's a darker side to him that she didn't notice before. Things start to not add up and her life and story is about to take a wild turn.

While I enjoyed this book, I will be sticking with my traditional Jane Eyre. The characters were hard to like in this rendition of the classic tale, but perhaps that is what the author was aiming for. The writing style was smooth and I enjoyed having different points of view occasionally. While I love the classics, this was nicely done and I know there are many out there who will adore this tale written by such a talented author.



The Forgotten Kingdom


Goodreads Description:


The story continues in The Forgotten Kingdom, the second book in the astonishing Lost Queen trilogy, already hailed as “Outlander meets Camelot” (Kirsty Logan) and “The Mists of Avalon for a new generation” (Linnea Hartsuyker).


AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.


In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”


Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time.


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My thoughts: 4.5 Stars


I first fell in love with this series and author when the first book came out. As with many trilogies, the dreaded "middle child" book syndrome is something many readers worry about. Will the middle book just be a filler? Would it be better if it was simply a duology? In this case, no! The second book is just as wonderful as the first. There are multiple points of view, so we are able to see everything that is going on with all of our favorite characters instead of being stuck with just one. There is so much that happens with this book and there is never a dull moment. Just when a character is starting to go into a part of their tale that would be everyday, nothing special, type of story, the author switches point of view and keeps you on your toes. There is battle, different types and changing love, finding one's inner strength, finding a purpose, adapting to situations and so much more in this story. I cannot wait for the final book to come out, but at the same time dreading the end of this wild ride of a trilogy. If this author keeps getting better (which she has already shown great growth since the previous book), I do not know what I will do until she starts a new project. It is a very well done story and one that I will find myself revisiting over the years.


Ten Rules for Faking It



Goodreads Description:


What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?


As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.


Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?


Even clichés sting.


But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.


There’s just one problem.


Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he's extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?


And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).


That’s three problems.


Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.


Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It.


Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


Where do I even begin with this book? It was amusing at times, sad at others, but always with a hint of hope underneath it all. Everly has just turned 30 years old. Her life is not how she may have always wanted it to be, between her parents on again off again marriage, her anxiety, her inability to find a significant other she feels passionately about, etc. Everly works at a radio station. She loves her job and her co-worker is her best friend. On the morning of her 30th birthday, she brings her boyfriend some coffee and a treat in the morning, only to find his secretary helping him do something other than take messages for him. With her birthday already in shambles, she goes to work. This day will be the beginning of a new adventure for Everly. After venting to her friend about her troubles with men and not knowing they were live on air, a new chapter begins for her. Men are more than willing to go out with her, and so her almost "bachelorette" radio reality and blog begins. Not all men were to her taste obviously. My memorable mention for the dates was for the following man. I, too, have a Lhasa Apso (Mr. Darcy is his name) that I love to dress up for holidays. This bachelor #1 would have been my choice, but he was simply not to Everly's taste. However, this guy would be perfect for me if he was real. My dogs are my life. Why can't this guy be real? "Oh, the pictures. There were so many pictures. By the time she'd seen his Lhasa Apso in a pumpkin costume, a dog-size Green Bay Packers jersey, and Christmas pajamas, she needed a refill on her drink. 'He sleeps on my bed. My last girlfriend didn't like sharing her pillow, so I've trained him only to use mine,' Corbin said.... I'm guessing that wouldn't be my issue, dude." While he was a hard pass, Everly was able to find a few suitable gentlemen for her radio show. As her journey continues with her ten rules for faking it progresses, she grows and comes to some great conclusions such as, "Even if it goes wrong, you have to try." Yes! A thousand times, yes! Say it louder for the people in the back! Another favorite was, "Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not worth it." Everything in life that is worth having is not easy. A person has to work at what they want to achieve. Ugh. I just adored Everly so much. Her anxiety felt so real. Everyone feels anxious now and then. Some people have anxiety all of the time. No matter if you have hardly any anxiety or have it all of the time like Everly, you can feel for her. You can sympathize. While the plot itself may have been lacking in a few spots, I am still giving this book a 4 stars because I adored Everly and all of the good quotes I got from this book. Now to end with my favorite one, "I don't need to change who I am to feel good about myself, but I do need to push myself to be better. To be more."


When I Was You


Goodreads Description:


You meets Fatal Attraction in this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester's growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.


It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son's pediatrician to confirm her upcoming "well-baby" appointment. It's a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there's another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.


But Kelly can't stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can't help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician's office, it's simple curiosity getting the better of her.


Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. When I Was you is a story about a woman who is unhappy in her marriage to a man who has become a stranger to her. He works away from home and only comes to visit on the weekends...sometimes. After becoming an empty-nester, Kelly tries to find new hobbies. She works out more with her friend and goes out to lunch. She has become involved with organizing her kitchen cabinets and labeling everything. Sounds like a rather boring life, right? But things start hinting that not everything is as simple as it first appears. There are hints that something about Kelly's internal dialogue is not quite right. One morning, Kelly receives a phone call reminding her about her upcoming wellbaby visit. What? She does not have a baby! Her son is 19 years old and in college. Curious, she decides to find out who this other Kelly is that has her exact same name. What starts out as curiosity quickly progresses into obsession. The other Kelly is a young single mother and the two Kelly's with the same name soon become entangled in plots and plans that cause terrible trouble in the end. No one is as innocent as they seem.

This sounds like an exciting story, but honestly? Nothing really happens. Sure, you see Kelly spiraling out of control a bit, but the story goes at a rather leisurely pace. It was an okay read for me that others have adored. As always, do not take my opinion and not try a book. You never know! You may just love it.


Her Lord of Death


Goodreads Description:


Enter into an ancient Greek world both harsh and beautiful, a place of gods and magic—and love worth every sacrifice.


With her uncle’s kingdom terrorized by a murderous creature, Kora reluctantly agrees to marry the one warrior capable of defeating it. Acheron is the champion of a neighboring king, one whose reputation precedes him—brutal, deadly, barely human.


But Kora soon discovers that Acheron is a more complicated man than his reputation suggests—and he just might be everything she’s been seeking all her life. Yet more is at play than the simple marriage alliance that Kora thought she was getting into. Behind this alliance lie the machinations of a sorcerous queen—one with her eyes on Kora’s unusual ability to see and speak with the dead.


Acheron, however, is not about to let anything happen to Kora, a woman of quiet beauty and hard truth, one who slips past his barriers and into parts of his heart that he’d thought long dead. He will face anything, even his worst nightmares, to protect her.


Author’s note: previously published under the pen name Kyla D. Knight. Contains adult content and dark themes.


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was a heartbreaking tale about a man who was once a slave, and a woman who experienced the tragic loss of her parents and now feels the pull towards Hades. Acheron is the king’s champion. He had experienced horrible things in his life that have left him physically and mentally scarred. He has no intention of marrying and keeps everyone away emotionally. He’s known as a trained killer. Who wouldn’t be after his years fighting and killing for the pleasure of others? Kora is a sweet girl with a gift that is not accepted by others. She had a wonderful soul and enjoys helping those who are sick and injured. A queen with only her desires to think about causes Kora and Acheron to join together in a way neither one wants. The queen does not care who is hurt or killed, so long as her plan works. Acheron and Kora will go through many trials and much pain before the end of the story. Can they find affection or love? Can they overcome and destroy those who harm them? This was interesting, even if the scenes made one cringe when imagining it.

Warning: there is rape, slavery, questionable consent, etc.


The Long Road Home


Goodreads Description:


Bestselling novelist Danielle Steel takes us on a harrowing journey into the heart of America's hidden shame in a novel that explores the power of forgiveness, the dark side of childhood, and one woman's unbreakable spirit.


From her secret perch at the top of the stairs, Gabriella Harrison watches the guests arrive at her parents' lavish Manhattan townhouse. At seven, she knows she is an intruder in her parents' party, in her parents' life. But she can't resist the magic. Later, she waits for the click, click, click of her mother's high heels, the angry words, and the pain that will follow. Gabriella already knows to hide her bruises, certain she is to blame for her mother's rage--and her father's failure to protect her. Her world is a confusing blend of terror, betrayal, and pain. Her parents' aristocratic world is no safeguard against the abuse that knows no boundaries, respects no person, no economic lines. Gabriella knows that, try as she might, there is no safe place for her to hide.


Even as a child, her only escape is through the stories she writes. Only writing can dull the pain of her lonely world. And when her parents' marriage collapses, Gabriella is given her first reprieve, as her father disappears, and then her mother abandons her to a convent. There, Gabriella's battered body and soul begin to mend. Amid the quiet safety and hushed rituals of the nuns, Gabriella grows into womanhood in a safe, peaceful world. Then a young priest comes into her life.


Father Joe Connors never questioned his vocation until Gabriella entered the confessional and shared her soul. Confession leads to friendship. And friendship grows dangerously into love. Like Gabriella, Joe is haunted by the pain of his childhood, consumed by guilt over a family tragedy, for which he blames himself. With Gabriella, Joe takes the first steps toward healing. But their relationship leads to tragedy as Joe must choose between the priesthood and Gabriella, and life in the real world where he fears he does not belong, and cannot cope.


Exiled and disgraced, and nearly destroyed, Gabriella struggles to survive on her own in New York. There she seeks healing and escape through her writing again, this time as an adult, and her life as a writer begins. But just when she thinks she is beyond hurt, Gabriella is once again betrayed by someone she trusts. Brought to the edge of despair, physically attacked beyond recognition and belief, haunted by abuse in her present and her past, she nonetheless manages to find hope again, and the courage to face the past. On a pilgrimage destined to bring her face-to-face with those who sought to destroy her in her early life, she finds forgiveness, freedom from guilt, and healing from abuse. When Gabriella faces what was done to her, and why, she herself is free at last.


With profound insight, Danielle Steel has created a vivid portrait of an abused child's broken world, and the courage necessary to face it and free herself from the past. A work of daring and compassion, a tale of healing that will shock and touch and move you to your very soul, it exposes the terror of child abuse, and opens the doors on a subject that affects us all. The Long Road Home is more than riveting fiction. It is an inspiration to us all. A work of courage, hope, and love.




My Thoughts: 2 Stars


There have been numerous reviews written about this book over the years, but I would like to focus on Gabriella's despicable, spineless, pathetic, pitiful excuse for a father. Let us all pause and slow clap for this waste of oxygen. While he is not active in a vast majority of the book, whenever he is around, I find myself gritting my teeth in disgust. What type of man just watches his wife abuse their child like that? I will tell you; one that does NOT deserve children. I cannot go to far into this without revealing some major spoilers, but I would definitely not read this book again. I would throw it across the room if it wasn't a library book. Maybe I would even toss it into the bonfire during my next camping trip coming up. While Danielle' Steel's writing was great and inducing anger in me, I do not exactly enjoy feeling that way. I am a chill person. I like being happy. I was definitely not happy when reading this book. Steel did everything in her power to destroy and torment this character beyond what most people would not be able to endure. At least Gabbie got a happy ending right? Rather unbelievable, if you ask me. I read a more recent book of hers lately that I enjoyed. Perhaps the writing style of her older novels simply are not for me. I will stick with her more recent novels if the mood strikes me. I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride when I first picked this book up from the library, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. I always try a book whether or not the reviews are amazing or horrible. You never know, right? This was simply not the story for me. It was too gruesome. What makes it worse is that I cannot stand people who stand by and see something like this happening to a child without stepping in. Let's end this confusing review that keeps going off into multiple directions of angst and simply go with this: this was not my favorite book. Steel did a good job making me feel furious and fired up, so kudos there. The story was simply not for me. Happy reading!



Royal


Goodreads Description:


In this spellbinding tale from Danielle Steel, a princess is sent away to safety during World War II, where she falls in love, and is lost forever.


As the war rages on in the summer of 1943, causing massive destruction and widespread fear, the King and Queen choose to quietly send their youngest daughter, Princess Charlotte, to live with a trusted noble family in the country. Despite her fiery, headstrong nature, the princess's fragile health poses far too great a risk for her to remain in war-torn London.


Third in line for the throne, seventeen year-old Charlotte reluctantly uses an alias upon her arrival in Yorkshire, her two guardians the only keepers of her true identity. In time, she settles comfortably into a life out of the spotlight, befriending a young evacuee and training with her cherished horse. But no one predicts that in the coming months she will fall deeply in love with her protectors' son.


She longs for a normal life. Far from her parents, a tragic turn of events leaves an infant orphaned. Alone in the world, that child will be raised in the most humble circumstances by a modest stable manager and his wife. No one, not even she, knows of her lineage. But when a stack of hidden letters comes to light, a secret kept for nearly two decades finally surfaces, and a long lost princess emerges.


I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


First, I will start off with this warning: if you are not horse crazy like I am, then this is probably not the book for you. This year I read my first Danielle Steel book. When I saw this one coming out, I was excited to receive an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Charlotte is a princess, third in line to the crown, and longs to help with the war efforts and tasks just as her two older sisters do. Due to her health, her parents are firm about not letting her do her duties and send her away to the country for her safety. She is unhappy at first, but with the bombings, her parents simply do not want to risk it. Charlotte expects to return home in a year once she is 18 years old, but her future is not what she planned. While staying on an aging estate, she meets a fellow young lady of a similar age to her. Here, she finds love and encounters death and sadness. The other young lady who stayed at the estate one day decides to take her savings and leave with an orphaned baby and make a life for herself. She holds a secret close and guards it like a dragon would it's gold. Finally, one day it is time for the truth to emerge. When the truth comes out about the child, everything will change for her family and the child.

There is romance in this story, but it is not as heavy as one would expect at first. A large portion is about horses and the love of those beautiful creatures. There is also a time where a character has to make a decision; follow their heart and keep their dream or give up the person they love and forget their life dream. It was a fast read and the horse racing was thrilling! I definitely recommend this book for those who like light to medium gentle romance with a ton a of amazing horses!


Girl, Serpent, Thorn



Goodreads Description:


A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...


There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.


As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.


Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster.


I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



My Thoughts: 3.5 Stars


Actual rating is 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the story line and the characters (who had such lovely sounding names!). What I was not certain about at first was the narrator's voice. She did not seem like she would be a good fit at first for this type of story, but as the characters came in and she added accents, she ended up being brilliant for this role! Each character had a distinctive voice that was easily recognizable and the accents brought the characters to life. The story moved at a good pace and kept going without too many spots where the story was in danger of dragging. It was a combination of quite a few fairy tales and it was not easy at times to always pick out where everything came from, which is what I like to see in a retelling. I do not want to give anything away to those who have not had the chance yet to read it, but it is definitely a story to check out and read when you have a chance. There is so much growth with not only the main, but all of the characters as well. They do not feel two dimensional and it is not your typical YA novel with the cookie-cutter plot. There are beautiful gardens, a poisonous princess, secrets, lies, stories, battles, good guys who are bad and vice versa. It's simply brilliant!


The Silent Companions


Goodreads Description:


When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .


When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.


A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.



My Thoughts: 4 Stars


The Silent Companions was an incredibly eerie, heebie jeebie inducing, something going bump in the night type of story. Elsie is a new bride... and a new widow. Pregnant with her deceased husband's child, she is on her way to his ancestral home where he has died without warning. Her new beginning on this backwoods, superstitious town does not start well. Her carriage wheel gets stuck, there is ankle deep mud and muck, a random cow, and unfriendly people who live in the town with rundown homes. What she does not know is that this first impression will be the most positive experience she has for her entire time living in her new environment. Stuck with her late husband's cousin Sarah, the two women will need to form a bond in order to survive what the future holds for them. After the ordeal of her husband's funeral, things suddenly go downhill fast for Elsie and the household. There are too many secrets hidden in the house, and this house holds a grudge.

"Hiss. Hiss."

Strange sounds start up during the night and Elsie is determined to find out what is the source. Is it rats? Is it something worse? The answer lies behind a locked door in the garret, but that door opens mysteriously one day before the locksmith comes to fix it. Inside, Sarah, Elsie and the lovely black cat find something that will haunt them the rest of their days. Sarah finds two diaries from a previous wife that lived in the house a couple hundred years ago. That diary will be the key to figuring out what is going on and if it is madness overtaking them, or if there truly is something haunting this old house. Elsie is not as fortunate in her findings. There are companions, wooden cutouts of realistic painted people, in the attic.

This story spans the time of Elsie in her current day living in an asylum and the doctor who is determined to cure her and get her sent to trial, Elsie as a new widow, and a past woman who was married to the heir of the house back in the 1600's. All three story lines tie together beautifully, making the story flow evenly. I am not one to get creeped out while reading a story, but this author did an amazing job. At one point I had goosebumps and, thankfully for the mask that kept my facial expression hidden, I am sure a horrified look on my face. This is a book that will definitely stick with a person long after they put it down.


The Hero of Hope Springs



Goodreads Description:


Will Gold Valley’s most honorable cowboy finally claim the woman he’s always wanted?


For as long as brooding cowboy Ryder Daniels has known Sammy Marshall, she has been his sunshine. Her free spirit and bright smile saved him after the devastating loss of his parents and gave him the strength to care for his orphaned family. Only Ryder knows how vulnerable Sammy is, so he’s kept his attraction for his best friend under wraps for years. But what Sammy’s asking for now might be a step too far…


Something has been missing from Sammy’s life, and she thinks she knows what it is. Deciding she wants a baby is easy; realizing she wants her best friend to be the father is…complicated. Especially when a new heat between them sparks to life! When Sammy discovers she’s pregnant, Ryder makes it clear he wants it all. But having suffered the fallout of her parents’ disastrous relationship, Sammy is wary of letting Ryder too close. This cowboy will have to prove he’s proposing out of more than just honor…


I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



My Thoughts: 3 Stars


I am not normally one for reading romance novels, but now and then it is nice to wander off into a different genre for a short visit. I love cowboys/ranchers (by the way, Ryder is technically a rancher, not a cowboy. It is not the same thing) and I was able to go visit a wide open ranch in my imagination since the whole Covid thing is really putting a damper on the whole traveling experience this year. Ryder and Sammy have been friends for 17 years. Sammy comes from an abusive family while Ryder and his siblings/cousins have had to find their way through the years after the early death of their parents. Sammy's bond with Ryder and his family is strong, but one day the type of bond starts to change. Sammy is a free spirit and does not like labels or being tied down. After an argument with her mother, Sammy decides she wants a baby for her own various reasons. Ryder gets pulled into her plans and before they know it, their friendship changes and goes into a gray area that is the precursor for change. I do not want to spoil anything for people who have not read the book, but it was a decent, fast read with romance and serious growth in Sammy and Ryder's characters. I enjoyed the growth, put Sammy's reasoning seemed flaky at best and did not make sense. The ending dragged a bit, but overall was a good read.


I received a free copy from the publisher Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and are not swayed by the early copy.


The Girls with No Names



Goodreads Description:


The Girls with No Names pulls readers into the gilded age of New York City in the 1910s, when suffragettes marched in the street, unions fought for better work conditions—and girls were confined to the House of Mercy for daring to break the rules.


Not far from Luella and Effie Tildon’s large family mansion in Inwood looms the House of Mercy, a work house for wayward girls. The sisters grow up under its shadow with the understanding that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters accidentally discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen older sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases.


But her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone. Effie suspects her father has made good on his threat to send Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie’s escape from the House of Mercy seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on each other and their tenuous friendship to survive.


The Home for Unwanted Girls meets The Dollhouse in this atmospheric, heartwarming story that explores not only the historical House of Mercy, but the lives—and secrets—of the girls who stayed there.


I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


This was a sad but interesting story about two young sisters and the struggle they have with growing up, finding who they are, and how to get the freedom they want in their lives. Effie is the younger sister. Born with a heart defect, her mother always worries that any moment Effie could die from one of her "blue fits." Effie's father lets his wife do all of the worrying and focuses on Effie's living day by day. The older sister and Effie come across a Gypsy camp one day in the summer. The sisters are instantly taken with the music, freedom and dancing. Effie is not as involved with the friendships formed, but goes with her sister anyways. After a fight with their mother, the older sister tosses her ballet slippers out of the moving vehicle and is soon mysteriously gone. Effie is desperate to find her sister and bring her home. She has made a mistake on where she chooses to look for her older sister. Effie finds herself trapped in the House of Mercy and no one believes she is who she says she is. She must find a way to cope with her mistake and find a way to escape. The House of Mercy is a cruel place to be and the girls are worse than the adults in charge of the place.

The ending is bitter sweet and definitely was well written. I loved the different points of view and how it tied all of the characters together and showed just how complex they each were.


The Chalice and the Crown


Goodreads Description:


Driven, talented, and determined to live up to her family's fame, Sasha Nikolayeva is ballet’s crown princess. But just when Sasha lands her most prestigious role yet, she falls prey to a host of disturbing neurological symptoms that threaten to end her career and her very life. As her mind and body deteriorate, Sasha spirals into a nightmare world where beauty and cruelty exist in the same breath and villains rule from the shadows.


In the glittering, sharp-edged City of Roses, Sasha is no princess. She’s a thrall, a slave. Thousands like her suffer in cursed silence while citizens enjoy the splendor of the City, blissfully unaware that their servants are anything more than living dolls enchanted to do their bidding. But the City's slavers know the truth, and they are always watching. One misstep could cost Sasha her life—or her soul.


Even as she endures the violence and indignity of captivity, Sasha can't help being drawn to the beauty of her nightmare world and the underground rebels who offer her friendship, shelter, even love. Before Sasha can break her chains for good, she'll need to choose between the life waiting for her at home and the countless lives she could save if she stays. To choose a nightmare over her real life, her future, would be madness...but maybe a little madness is just what it takes to change the fate of a city built on lies.


CONTENT WARNING:


Although full of magic and love and beautiful things, this work also contains depictions of violence, assault, slavery, family and animal death, and references to sexual and physical abuse. The first half in particular is quite dark.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


Sasha is a ballerina like her mother and grandmother before her. From the very beginning of her memories, Sasha remembers only her grandmother raising her. After nightmares begin to plague her, she starts to recognize frightening similarities between her mother who went mad and herself. Soon, she starts wondering what is her actual reality. When she closes her eyes she wakes up in another body, in another world. This other reality is frightening and dangerous. After only a short amount of time, it is almost impossible for her to know what is going on in each of her realities without feeling confused or angry. Sasha has a lot to go through before she can return to her original life, or decide to stay and fight for what is right in her other reality where thralls are used as slaves for their power and die young without knowing freedom.

There were a few things that bothered me in the book (but that was the author's intention I believe) and rightly so! NO ONE should ever have to sit and listen to other people debate whether or not they are an actual person with feelings and desires for life. The thralls in this alternative universe are seen as nothing more than livestock to use until death and then be replaced. I was furious! People are people and deserve respect whether or not another person understands them! I'm going to step down off of my soapbox now and remind myself that this was the entire point of the book. That ending...Good job and kudos to the author! She had me all fired up and ready to climb through my Kindle and start kicking the butts of all who have to think about whether or not Sasha and the other thralls held under the spell are actual people.

This was an interesting read and I look forward to seeing what the author does in the future.


Big Girl


Goodreads Description:


In this heartfelt, incisive novel, Danielle Steel celebrates the virtues of unconventional beauty while exploring deeply resonant issues of weight, self-image, sisterhood, and family.


BIG GIRL


A chubby little girl with ordinary looks, Victoria Dawson has always felt out of place in her family, especially in body-conscious L.A. While her parents and sister can eat anything and not gain an ounce, Victoria must watch everything she eats, as well as endure her father's belittling comments about her body and see her academic achievements go unacknowledged. Ice cream and oversized helpings of all the wrong foods give her comfort, but only briefly. The one thing she knows is that she has to get away from home, and after college in Chicago, she moves to New York City.


Landing her dream job as a high school teacher, Victoria loves working with her students and wages war on her weight at the gym. Despite tension with her parents, Victoria remains close to her younger sister, Grace. Though they couldn't be more different in looks, they love each other unconditionally. So when Grace announces her engagement to a man who is an exact replica of their narcissistic father, Victoria worries about her sister's future happiness, and with no man of her own, she feels like a failure once again. As the wedding draws near, a chance encounter, a deeply upsetting betrayal, and a family confrontation lead to a turning point.


Behind Victoria is a lifetime of hurt and neglect she has tried to forget. Ahead is a challenge and a risk: to accept herself as she is, celebrate it, and claim the victories she has fought so hard for and deserves. Big girl or not, she is terrific and discovers that herself.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


This book was recommended to me so I gave it a try. The writing style was not exactly what I normally enjoy in a book, but it kept the story moving forward at a decent enough pace. I wish the details were fleshed out some more to give the book a bit more depth. The characters, in most cases, were rather two dimensional and I was bothered that Victoria never truly had her moment where she took on her family and how they treated her.

Victoria is the "tester cake" of the family. Her perfect parents with perfect builds, dark hair and eyes, slim and popular, are surprised when their baby comes out blonde and blue eyed. They only had her simply because people were suggesting they have a baby before the biological clock ran out. Victoria is an average baby and not rail thin as a child either. Her father is always making snide, hurtful remarks to her about her looks, her weight, and eventually why they named her Victoria. Victoria is never good enough for her parents, especially her father. Her parents never approve of her school friends and tell her constantly that she needs to lose weight. Seven years down the line and her baby sister is born. Gracie is a beautiful baby. She has her parents' dark hair, eyes, and slim build. Gracie is their perfect child. They dote on Gracie and teach her how they view the world and that she should see it the same way. It is obvious that Gracie is the favorite child, but Victoria does no hold it against her. She loves her younger sister. Through their lives, Victoria constantly fights with her weight and her desire to make her parents want her, love her, or be proud of her. Still, nothing works. Gracie simply breathes and their parents cheer her on.

Fortunately for Victoria, she gets her teaching degree and moves to New York, as far from her parents as she likes. She teaches at her dream school and gradually learns who she is, what she wants, and who she wants to be. Victoria shows a great deal of growth throughout her story. She battles her life with a toxic family, relationship issues, body image issues and emotional problems and comes out beautiful in the end. While the writing style is not my favorite, I enjoyed Victoria and all of her growth towards loving herself.


The Unsuitable


Goodreads Description:


A fierce blend of Gothic ghost story and Victorian novel of manners that’s also pitch perfect for our current cultural moment


Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck. Iseult’s father parades a host of unsuitable candidates before her, the majority of whom Iseult wastes no time frightening away. When at last her father finds a suitor desperate enough to take Iseult off his hands—a man whose medical treatments have turned his skin silver—a true comedy of errors ensues. As history’s least conventional courtship progresses into talk of marriage, Iseult’s mother becomes increasingly volatile and uncontrollable, and Iseult is forced to resort to extreme, often violent, measures to keep her in check.


As the day of the wedding nears, Iseult must decide whether (and how) to set the course of her life, with increasing interference from both her mother and father, tipping her ever closer to madness, and to an inevitable, devastating final act.



My Thoughts: 2.5 Stars


The synopsis sounded amazing and I was delighted when I was accepted to receive a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I was looking forward to a dark and gritty character...and that is what I got. However, I found myself feeling uncomfortable (hard to describe the exact feeling...sadness, wanting to help, wishing someone would help her) every time the main character self-harmed herself. I have a friend who used to self-harm and perhaps that is why I feel more sensitive about it. It was well done and presented as close to the truth as possible. The description almost made it feel as if it was happening to the reader as well in some parts of the story. Everything went fine in the story. Iseult believes her mother lives inside her and speaks to her constantly. Iseult is known for being odd. She talks to her mother, but people believe she is talking to herself. Her father, who is cold and distant towards his only child, has been trying for years to marry her off so he never has to see her again. No one wants a bride such as Iseult, despite his attempts at various types of men he invites over in hopes that one will want his daughter. One day, an odd but seemingly kind, gentleman and his family comes over for dinner and a match is finally made. With the wedding looming ahead, Iseult suffers from conflicting emotions. Her mother is louder than ever in her mind. What will Iseult in order to keep herself happy and somewhat sane? Between her mother in her head, a wedding she does not want, and a cold father who wants her gone, things are looking grim for her.

Something that did not work for me was the style of writing used during dialogue between Iseult and her mother. I understand that her thoughts are not exactly clear and organized, but it was difficult at first to understand the difference between Iseult and her mother when they were talking to each other. All lowercase, hardly any punctuation, and the only difference was the mother's words were italicized where as Iseult was not.


I Received a Copy in Exchange for an Honest Review From the Publisher


The Silent House


Goodreads Description:


But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare: the murder of their daughter.

The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.

One by one, people from Paige’s community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?

Was it an intruder?

Or was the murderer closer to home?

This mystery will keep you up all night – perfect for fans of The Silent Patient and Cara Hunter


ARC provided by HarperCollins Publishers in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


Paige is an interpreter for a living and gets called onto many different jobs where a person who needs a sign language interpreter to help communicate with people who are not familiar with it. She helps doctors and patients communicate, along with teachers and lawyers, wherever she is needed. One day, she is called in to help the police to help them communicate with a household of people who are deaf. To her shock, she knows a bit about the victim's family and soon finds herself becoming entwined in the case. Threats start coming in, wanting her to back off. She is simply an interpreter, what could she possibly have to do with the case enough to be threatened? She is not made privy to the evidence or findings; she is just there to help the police communicate with suspects and other leads. One event leads to another before things become dangerous for her and her sister. Someone she loves becomes endangered, along with herself, and the police are not taking the threats seriously. Paige is determined to find out who killed the precious child before something else tragic happens. Not everyone is honest and upfront with the police, and everyone has something to hide. Can Paige help the police find out who the murderer is before someone else meets their untimely demise?


When I first saw this book description, I was excited to put in my request. It is different and refreshing to have characters who are not perfect, who are messy, unreliable, and who represent some of the hearing impaired/deaf community. This added something special to the story and made it stand out from the other thrillers up for requests on here. All this was heading for the good for the story. It showed how difficult it is for people with hearing difficulties/deafness to communicate with people who are not fluent in sign language. What stopped this book from being an amazing read for me was how unlikable many of the characters were. There also was not a lot of action, despite everything that went on. It is hard to explain, but the parts of the story that were supposed to get the adrenaline pumping and pull you into the story just.... didn't quite do it for me. It felt forced at times as if someone said, "Okay, something needs to go HERE because the case isn't moving forward right now." The murderer was not difficult to spot and I spent most of the book waiting for the characters to connect the dots. Overall, it was a decent read and I would be willing to give this author another try in the future. I believe this author could go far in their writing career. Take my review as a grain of sand; you may just like it better than I did! You never know unless you try something for yourself.




The Rose Garden



Goodreads Description:


"Whatever time we have," he said, "it will be time enough."


Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.


But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs.


My Thoughts: 3. Stars


As mentioned in other reviews of mine, I do not like it when a book is described on the cover or summery on the back cover compares it to another well-known book. I know this is all just a way for publishers to draw a person in and get them to purchase and read a book. This book was compared to a series that I absolutely adore, that being Outlander.

The Rose Garden is a slow burning story. In the over four hundred pages of this novel, not much really happens. Eva Ward has recently lost her sister to an illness. Her brother-in-law hands over the ashes and asks Eva to spread them wherever she was happiest. Eva decides to take the ashes of her beloved sister back to where they spent their childhood summers; the Cornish Coast and the sprawling rose gardens of rare, old roses and a house that has a long and rich history. While there, she helps start a tea room and digs into the history of the place hoping to add something to interest tourists with. While there, something very peculiar starts to happen. One moment she is present in the current time, and the next, she does not know where she is. Eva has the gift of traveling between the past and present. Eventually she will have to either make the choice to stay in her current time, or risk everything for love in the past.

As I mentioned before, this is a slow burning story and not a lot happens. However, this story has just enough description of the surroundings to fill in the colors for yourself while still almost feeling the coastal breeze flowing off of the water. The roses are rare and rich smelling and it is done simply and beautifully. The time that Eva keeps being thrown into has a lot of drama and is done (in my opinion) better in other books. This one focuses more on Eva and her friends rather than the history of what all goes on during that chaotic time. I may keep this author on my radar and try her other books in the future.


Cilka's Journey


Goodreads Description:


In this follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author tells the story, based on a true one, of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again.


Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis--with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to survive.


Thank you to the Publisher for a free copy in exchange for an honest review!


My Thoughts: 4 Stars


Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's press for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


I have yet to read the Tattooist of Auschwitz, but was able to read this book and understand it just fine without having read the first book. It was a fast read for me. It was by no means a light, fluffy, happy story to go through with Cilka. Her story was quick due to the fact that, despite all of the horrors she had to live through, it was impossible to put the book down in hopes that her story will ultimately have a happier ending. She is often referred to as a strong person, but she herself does not feel as if she is. Her main goal is survival, and she will do what it takes to be free some day. Cilka's journey starts in this novel when the prisoners of Auschwitz are told they are free. Some, like Cilka, are made to stay behind for questioning. She survived one brutal camp to be sent to another. She makes new friends and enemies while there. She is blackmailed and has to tolerate the same abuse by the men of this new camp as she did the last. Fortunately for her, she is strong in mind and body despite all of the abuse. There is so much I can go on about what I loved about her character and growth, but it is best if you give this book a read for yourself.


Nottingham


Goodreads Description:


Both a gripping historical epic and fascinating deconstruction of the Robin Hood legend, Nathan Makaryk's Nottingham mixes history and myth into a complex study of power--one that twists and turns far beyond the traditional tale of Sherwood Forest's iconic thief.


No king. No rules.


England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.


As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people--Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham's beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief--become intertwined.


And a strange story begins to spread . . .


My Thoughts: 2 Stars


I. Finished. This. Book!


I am definitely in the minority here. I enjoyed the first half of the book before it started going downhill for me. This book was also a bit dry. Sure, there was drama, drama, drama. There is quite a bit of senseless murder and death simply for the shock factor. The characters could have been fleshed out more instead of feeling... gray. There are multiple points of view in this book, which is something I absolutely adore. With this story however, some characters I was tempted to skim through their story to get on to others. In short, this was not the book for me. I had been looking forward to reading this tale for a long time; now I'm glad it's finished.

If you enjoy large books (like I do!) and historical fiction and re-tellings, give this book a try! Just because I did not enjoy it does not mean that you won't either. As with anything, you never know until you try it for yourself. There are a plethora of high star reviews for this book and it is wonderful to see how many people enjoyed the adventure with Robin Hood and his friends. Happy reading!


The Hero of Hope Springs


Goodreads Description:


Will Gold Valley’s most honorable cowboy finally claim the woman he’s always wanted?


For as long as brooding cowboy Ryder Daniels has known Sammy Marshall, she has been his sunshine. Her free spirit and bright smile saved him after the devastating loss of his parents and gave him the strength to care for his orphaned family. Only Ryder knows how vulnerable Sammy is, so he’s kept his attraction for his best friend under wraps for years. But what Sammy’s asking for now might be a step too far…


Something has been missing from Sammy’s life, and she thinks she knows what it is. Deciding she wants a baby is easy; realizing she wants her best friend to be the father is…complicated. Especially when a new heat between them sparks to life! When Sammy discovers she’s pregnant, Ryder makes it clear he wants it all. But having suffered the fallout of her parents’ disastrous relationship, Sammy is wary of letting Ryder too close. This cowboy will have to prove he’s proposing out of more than just honor…


My Thoughts: 3 Stars


I am not normally one for reading romance novels, but now and then it is nice to wander off into a different genre for a short visit. I love cowboys/ranchers (by the way, Ryder is technically a rancher, not a cowboy. It is not the same thing) and I was able to go visit a wide open ranch in my imagination since the whole Covid thing is really putting a damper on the whole traveling experience this year. Ryder and Sammy have been friends for 17 years. Sammy comes from an abusive family while Ryder and his siblings/cousins have had to find their way through the years after the early death of their parents. Sammy's bond with Ryder and his family is strong, but one day the type of bond starts to change. Sammy is a free spirit and does not like labels or being tied down. After an argument with her mother, Sammy decides she wants a baby for her own various reasons. Ryder gets pulled into her plans and before they know it, their friendship changes and goes into a gray area that is the precursor for change. I do not want to spoil anything for people who have not read the book, but it was a decent, fast read with romance and serious growth in Sammy and Ryder's characters. I enjoyed the growth, put Sammy's reasoning seemed flaky at best and did not make sense. The ending dragged a bit, but overall was a good read.


I received a free copy from the publisher Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and are not swayed by the early copy.

The Lost Queen


Goodreads Description:


Compared to Outlander and The Mists of Avalon, this thrilling first novel of a debut trilogy reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland—twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin.


I write because I have seen the darkness that will come. Already there are those who seek to tell a new history...


In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history asMyrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever.


Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time.


My Thoughts: 4.5 Stars


This is the year of reading books that have been gathering dust on my virtual TBR shelf. I first hear of this book a couple years ago and was excited to see it compared to another book series, Outlander, which I love. I personally do not think new books should be compared to another popular story when it is nothing like it. The writing style, plot, etc. was nothing like Outlander. Just my opinion. It did not, however, change how I felt about this story and the characters as I was taken along for the ride during this adventure. The writing style was graceful, smooth, and did not drag in any areas. Where details that are easy to assume would be, the author skips ahead in a way that makes sense to the story without adding unneeded fluff in between.

Languoreth is a young child at the beginning of the story. She and her twin brother have destinies that will lead them on different paths, but their bond remains strong. Languoreth wishes to become a Wisdom Keeper and healer like her mother. Unfortunately for her, she is the only daughter and her lot in life is to be married off to someone who will help her father and the kingdom. Her brother is instead called to be a Wisdom Keeper. There are quite a few characters along the way that I will not mention. Meeting them should be a surprise and exciting, so I will let others find them for themselves. There are enemies, plots, deceit, and Languoreth must learn to navigate and harden herself in her future husband's court. People may start out as enemies and turn into friends. Those she trusts may not be so trustworthy. Above all, she must keep who holds her heart a secret, even if the evidence is there for all to see.

It is a good thing that the next book comes out soon. I cannot wait continue the adventure with Languoreth and all the other characters!

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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