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


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.


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.

Smoke & Summons

Goodreads Description:

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…

My Thoughts: 3.5 Stars

I'm making a point to go through my unread books on my Kindle and physical books laying around the house this year. I had kept this on my TBR list near the top and now it is finally scratched off! This was an action packed, quick read. The characters could have used some more depth and were a bit predictable, but there was something that I liked about them. Sandis is a vessel for a numen, a creature from another world. The process to be bonded with this creature is excruciating, and the transformation is no walk in the park either. Kazen, her master, keeps his vessels under tight control. They must not have injuries, scars, piercings, etc in order to keep their ability to act as a vessel. That does not stop him from punishing them cruelly when they do not please him. Sandis is the perfect slave. Her type of nationality cannot legally be sold as a slave, yet here she is. She is without family that she knows of. She has not seen the light of day in who knows how long. That is all about to change for her when something happens that is simply to frightening and too dangerous for her to not risk trying to fight her way free. Along the way she is joined up by a young man and their journey together is one that neither one would have thought they would experience in their lifetime. There is betrayal, new friendship, the love of family, and learning one's own strength. If I enjoyed it so much, why only 3.5 stars? This book had the typical, "I don't know what to do next, so let us have the characters get into trouble, run for a while, rest, then do it over again." There was a LOT of running away and a bit too much damsel in distress for me. Other than that, it was a great read!

Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen

Goodreads Description:

Alison Weir, historian and author of the Sunday Times-bestselling Six Tudor Queens series, relates one of the most tragic stories in English history: Katheryn Howard, Henry VIII's fifth queen.

A naive girl, thrust forward by her ambitious family. A pretty girl, who has captured the heart of the King. Katheryn sings, she dances, she delights in the pleasures of being queen. The King tells the world she is his rose without a thorn.

But this young woman has a past of which Henry knows nothing. It comes back increasingly to haunt her, even as she courts danger yet again. For those who gather roses must beware of the thorns.

My Thoughts: 4 Stars

As a huge fan of Alison Weir, I was ecstatic when I was accepted to receive a digital ARC of Katheryn Howard, the Scandalous Queen. I had been accepted by the publisher for her previous book about Anne of Kleve, which I loved. This book was definitely not a let down. While Anne of Kleve was my favorite of King Henry VIII’s wives, I was still interested in Katheryn Howard. I have read other books by different authors about her, but they are few and far between, let along showing any depth or detail to her story. Alison Weir brings Katheryn Howard's life to brilliant life, bringing out rich details to where you almost feel as if you can touch the surroundings, without overdoing description and making the scenery too heavy. Katheryn is a shallow girl with the ability to eventually grow out of it if encouraged. Unfortunately, in Henry's court, being frivolous and fun with youth is a very dangerous line to walk. King Henry is suspicious and easily led to believe the worse about people with as little as one whisper from someone he trusts. He is already known as a queen killer before Katheryn Howard comes along, and her past is her doom. Alison Weir takes us readers along for the wild ride of Katheryn's short life. Before her timely death there is scandal, seduction, youthful follies, broken hearts and promises, and secrets that unfortunately will not be kept quiet. This has been one of my favorite reads so far this year. Great job Alison Weir!

A free digital copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Weight of a Soul

Goodreads Description:

When Lena's younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should've lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.

But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction.

Still, with her sister's life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She's willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I was absolutely thrilled when I was accepted and received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. With most ARC's, there were quite a few spots in the book where it needed some smoothing out and depth added to make the final copy a great story. Vikings are simply fascinating with their various gods and mischievous Loki.

Lena is a young girl of 17 years and is the heir to her village. Her destiny is to marry and become the leading family after her father, the Chief, dies. Her sister is madly in love with a young man named Amal and wishes to one day make their relationship permanent. Unfortunately, the gods have taken notice of Fressa and she is the unwilling victim of their games. It is now up to Lena to do what must be done in order to bring her sister back from an ending that was not supposed to be. Horrible things are happening since Fressa's death and it looks like the tales of the end of the world may not be a scary story to tell little children anymore. Suddenly, life is spiraling out of control for Lena and her village. She will be forced to do things that a healer and a good soul should never have to do in order to find the right path that will lead her to stopping these horrible events from playing out. People are not who they seem to be. The village is suddenly part of a much bigger plan in the gods' games and struggle for power and the fate of the world rests on Lena's young shoulders.

The Scandal of the Season

Goodreads Description:

What would you do if you were faced with a dangerous temptation you feared you couldn't resist? "The Scandal of the Season" tells the story of the real-life seduction of the beautiful, clever Arabella Fermor by the charming, enigmatic nobleman Robert Petre, seventh Baron of Ingatestone. Arabella is in need of rich husband, but knows that girls have been ruined by risking an affair like the one she contemplates. The object of her desire is also flirting with a perilous Jacobite plot against Queen Anne. Watching the pair with a beady eye, is an outsider, a cripple, destined to become the genius of his age - the poet Alexander Pope. He arrives in London from the country, burning with ambition. If he fails, he will be left destitute. But can he find a story for his next poem powerful enough to make his reputation? A seductive novel about risk and dangerous liaisons in a time of Jacobite plots and Popish fears, when marriage was a market, and sex was a temptation fraught with danger, "The Scandal of the Season" is a brilliant, witty modern love-story - set in 1711. Sophisticated, sexy and hugely enjoyable, this dazzling debut novel is inspired by events that gave rise to the era's most celebrated satirical entertainment, "The Rape of the Lock". The story plays out against the backdrop of 18th-century London: dirty teeming street-life and glorious buildings, newly restored after the Great Fire; the River Thames, artery of England's trade and commerce; masked balls, operas, eating houses, clandestine courtships and political intrigue.

My Thoughts: 2.5 Stars

The Scandal of the Season was simply not my type of book. It sounded promising, but ultimately was simply not the best. I was hoping that there would be more about the Jacobite plot in this story. Had there been more of the plot, this story would have been thrilling with the romance sprinkled in. However, it was mostly about very two dimensional, as flat as could be, characters that I simply could not care less about. There was hardly any depth to the characters and it made little to no difference to me which point of view each part of the story was told from as the characters were all the same. A couple parts were interesting. However, the interesting parts were the prologue and the poem at the end. Everything in the middle as simply... flat. While this was not my type of story and I could not bond with any of the characters, this may be a good read for someone who likes shallow characters, a fluffy story, up and coming poets, barely any historical thrill, women who are not as innocent and good as they would like the world to think.

The Heart of Rebellion

Goodreads Description:

September 1400

King Richard II of England is dead. And after three years in His Majesty’s service, Rhys ap Tudor and his brother Gwilym are finally free to return to their ancestral home in North Wales. Their long- anticipated homecoming is overshadowed, however, by the harsh changes they encounter in their once peaceful land. The new king, Henry IV, rules with an iron fist, and the country is ripe for rebellion. Instantly thrust into the forefront of the conflict, the proud Tudor brothers enter the fight for their freedom.

Lady Catrin Buckley is alert to the unrest swirling around her. As the daughter of an English father and a Welsh mother, she knows too well the trouble her lineage poses. Her own battle, however, is one of the heart: she is to be married to a man she neither knows nor loves. Then an unexpected encounter with the enigmatic Rhys ap Tudor changes everything. Soon, Catrin finds herself swept into a rebellion that could not only change history but also rewrite her own future.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This book was a decent read for being stuck at home with nothing to do. The plot moves smoothly and the style of writing is nicely done. There is enough action to keep a reader interested and there are hardly, if any, spots in the story line that drag on. Catrin is a spirited young lady who does not know her own level of courage or strength. She is an easy character to bond with and I adore her horse, Seren. Having once had a horse of my own that I had a close bond to, I truly appreciated how gentle and loving she was towards her horse. Seren is a spirited, beautiful stallion and would be considered too much for a noblewoman to ride. However, Catrin should never be underestimated in anything she puts her mind to. Rhys and his brother have recently returned home from war and notice the changes to their small town. Their youngest brother is now happily married and seems to be the most levelheaded and observant of the three brothers. They are willing to pick up their weapons and return to war once more to help their beloved Wales to thrive despite the harsh English king. The romance is a slow burner and more believable than other stories I have read lately, and the ending wrapped up nicely. Thank you Netgalley and Covenant Communications for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Widow of Pale Harbor

Goodreads Description:

A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft. Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?

Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the eerie Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.

As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a twisted person inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gabriel must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

When I first picked up this book, I thought I was picking up a good historical fiction with a decent mystery. What I was not expecting was for the mystery part of the story to be almost drowned out by a romance. Perhaps this should have been labeled as historical romance instead of regular fiction at my local library. Either way, this novel was not what I was expecting. It was a decent enough tale about Sophronia Carver and Gabriel Stone.

Gabriel Stone is the small town's new pastor. He may not have arrived with the truth, but his intentions are pure enough. His arrival was nothing warm or welcoming. There was a storm brewing and the air and rain was rather frigid. The church was in need of much repair, saying nothing of the unpleasant surprise he found on the alter. Little did Gabriel know that this town he ran to in order to start over and honor the memory of his beloved deceased wife would lead him to dark secrets, rumors, and people who were small-minded enough to cause him grief.

Sophronia Carver keeps herself tucked away in Carver Castle, the ancestral home of her late husband. The town people hate her and whisper about her possibility of being a witch. She spent the last four years on her property with her companion, Helen, for company. Helen's attachment to Sophronia could be overbearing at times. When things started to go downhill for Sophronia, she never expected her story to end as it did. Dead crows kept appearing, mysterious knocking on the door, candles left outside in a peculiar pattern. Could it all have been connected? Her path and Gabriel's start to twist and twine together as the mystery starts to unfold.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Goodreads Description:

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope,The Art of Racing in the Rainis a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life ... as only a dog could tell it.

My Thoughts: 3.8 Stars

This book has been on my personal TBR list for quite some time. I love stories about dogs, told by dogs. While working on a project, I enjoyed listening along and occasionally reading this story for myself. Wonderful things have been said about this book, along with the movie, by numerous friends of mine. My hangup was that I LOVED A Dog's Purpose. What book could compare to the love I felt for that series? Would this book be a let down after that? Well, since I have had so much time on my hands being stuck at home, laid off of work due to the Corona virus pandemic, there was only so many miles I could walk my three dogs before they wore out and needed a nap. Why not pick this book up and finally give it a try.

Enzo is a stunning mutt of a dog. He was born on a farm with a not-so-nice farmer and his wife. One lucky day started Enzo on his new adventure. He, Enzo, is chosen by Denny. Denny loves racing. He lives for racing. For a couple years it is just the two of them as constant companions. And then...a girl enters Denny's life. This is the downfall of many friendships. Fortunately, Enzo is a dog and still was able to spend time with Denny despite having to share Denny's attention with this woman. Enzo is there for Denny through all of life's ups and downs. At times, I could not help glancing down at one of my dogs and wondering if he, too, sometimes wishes he could speak to me as much as Enzo wished he could with Denny. I could not help but reach down and rub my mutt's ear and scratch between his eyes like he adores. Times like that often made me wish I could understand or even hear his thoughts as he laid peacefully beside me.

Enzo is an old dog at the beginning of the story. As he dozed off one night, he looked back on his life and we follow his story up until the very end. Enzo is a thoughtful dog. He is intelligent and innocent and yet has such depth of feelings that he can only express with expressions or body language. He stays by Denny's side through major heartbreak and in-laws and others who wish to tear him down for their own agenda. Denny goes through such dark times that it's hard to see a happy ending as possible. Denny wanted to give up so many times, but that was not possible. Not with Enzo there to support him.

This book is wonderful. It will take you through all kinds of emotions and, while at times I saw what was going on from miles away, it was enjoyable to see Denny handle it with strength and dignity. The car goes where the eyes go. He kept looking ahead and that is all a person ever needs to do to find their happiness.

Cartier's Hope

Goodreads Description:

From theNew York Timesbestselling author of the “lush, romantic historical mystery” (Kristin Hannah,New York Timesbestselling author ofThe Nightingale)Tiffany Blues, a gorgeously wrought novel following an intrepid female journalist in Gilded Age New York as she chases the story of the Hope Diamond.

New York, 1910: A city of magnificent skyscrapers and winding subways, where poor immigrants are crammed into tenements while millionaires thrive in Fifth Avenue mansions. Vera Garland is a thirty-two-year-old journalist, fighting alongside hundreds of women for a place in society, only to meet hurdles around every turn. Most female journalists are delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages but like her hero, Nellie Bly, Vera is a fighter.

When news of the Hope Diamond—a jewel whose infamous legends and curses have captured the world’s attention—arrives in the city, Vera is fast on its trail. She’s certain the fabulous jewel will help jumpstart her career but she’s determined to seek revenge against her current employer, a magazine owner whose greed and blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.

Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, this enchanting historical novel explores the very human desire for truth, equality, and retribution.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

While I am off of work due to the Cornavirus spreading around like wildfire, I decided it was a good time to go through my collection of unread books and pull the ARC copies out and get going on them. Why not catch up a bit while I have time? I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway and the following opinion is honest.

Vera Garland is the type of woman who lives outside of her social-norm. She does not find herself wishing for marriage and children. Instead, she rather work for what she believes in. She is a reporter for different magazines and is the author of a scandal column. She puts herself in danger for many of her stories and does not always come out unscathed. Her life is about to change forever when she discovers something unusual in her deceased father's library. It is a secret that cannot be revealed for the sake of her family, but there is a way to get revenge for what has caused such a tragedy. Vera once again has to go undercover and risk herself and her heart to get her revenge.

While I liked this book, it did not completely enthrall me. It was a read that is light and almost fluffy despite the darker tones to the story itself. Vera was flawed in a way that made her feel more human but I was still missing that bond or connection that I usually develop with the main character(s) of a book. The story seemed to drag in some parts while also skimming over the more important ones. While not my favorite, I do know some people who would absolutely adore this story of a woman with a spine of steel and a desire to make the world a better place.

A Trace of Deceit

Goodreads Description:

From the author of A Dangerous Duetcomes the next book in her Victorian mystery series, this time following a daring female painter and the Scotland Yard detective who is investigating her brother’s suspicious death.

A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder...

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.  

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I received a copy through a Goodreads giveaway. The following review is my honest opinion. When clicked "enter" for any giveaway on here, I make sure I do not hold my breath and cross my fingers for a win. There are very slim odds when it comes to winning any book during the Goodreads giveaways. There are simply so many people hoping and wishing for a chance to win and read any book in the giveaways. I was excited when I won this book and had a chance to read it. Since I have a very expensive pet with health issues, I have had to cut down on how many books I buy vs. how many I check out at my local library. The waiting for a book can be horrendous! When I finally got around to this book on my TBR list, I could no wait to crack it open and go on a new adventure. Poor Annabel, who's parents are both deceased, has only one relation left in this world; her brother. He may not be the exact brother she would have wanted, could she have chosen, but he is hers all the same. She and her brother share their not so joyous childhood at home, where their father is harsh on her brother, Edwin, because he believes his son has a gift with painting. Edwin is driven hard by his father throughout his life until his father's untimely death. He was sent off to boarding school but was never the son his father wanted. After being given the gift of going to art school herself, Annabel joins and practices the art she loves. However, our story picks up quickly when Edwin's own untimely end comes to pass. Annabel has the opportunity to join up with an officer to help find out who murdered her brother and why. The way to the truth is bumpy and messy, but she does not and will not give up. She cannot rest peacefully until her brother's murderer is found and punished. The unfortunate officer soon learns much more about the art world than he ever imagined he would. The art world is not all beauty and elegance. It is messy and twisted, and there are plenty of people with skeletons they would rather stay hidden in their closets. All they can do is follow the clues together to figure out which door leads to the end.

The Woman in the Mirror

Goodreads Description:

Rebecca James unveils a chilling modern gothic novel of a family consumed by the shadows and secrets of its past in The Woman in the Mirror. For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond. In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity. In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage.

My thoughts: 3.5 Stars

This is a dark, gothic story with a pinch of paranormal activity. Alice is a young woman with a secret or two she holds close to her in fear of someone finding out. She did not have the best childhood and considers herself fortunately to find herself as a tutor for twins. Upon her arrival, she is attracted to the children's father. The housekeeper warns her not to trust the children, but Alice is smitten with them and disregards the warning. Her time working at the gothic mansion starts out with pure bliss and she cannot imagine herself any happier than she is now. Warning signs keep popping up, however, with mysterious bruises and a painting in her room that is not quite right. Something dark walks the halls and clings to the shadows, whispers to the children. Perhaps the children are not as innocent as Alice first believes. Sarah is a New Yorker and has a successful art gallery. She spends most of her waking hours working and leaves little time for herself to do anything else. A mysterious envelope arrives in the mail one day at her apartment that will change her future. She is to inherit a large house and property that has been left to her by an aunt she has never met. Sarah takes a risk and goes to see the property. Her time at this old mansion will test her mental strength. Things go bump in the night, and not everyone is as they first appear. She will have to rely on her own logic and heart to find out who and what she can trust, even as the house's dark past starts up once more to finish what it started generations ago. This book was definitely one of the best ARC's I have come across this year. It gave me the chills a few times without being obviously scary. It is subtle and switches between a few different women, along with jumping time. The chapters are clearly labeled so it was easy to follow along. This was requested just on a whim, and I could not be happier. This is a book that I would recommend people give a try. It may not be for everyone, but it definitely worked for me. For more reviews, visit Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sleeping Beauties

Goodreads Description:

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I started this book February 18th and finished today, March 4th. Books do not usually take me that long. Even books with 700+ pages do not usually take me so long. But this book was so. Messed. Up. A few times I had to put it down, stare into space, and really wonder how some minds work and come up with their route of logical thinking. Now, by messed up I do not mean that the book was bad in any way, shape, or form. There are very mixed reviews on this book that I read before starting it. However, it was on my TBR list for years. Also, honestly? I like to give books a shot despite negative reviews they may have. I liked this book. Would I read it again? Most likely not. However, that does not make it a bad book. I loved the strong female characters, but disliked how most men were portrayed. Not all men think evil thoughts. Not all men what to solve problems with guns out and explosives lit. Even the "good" guys in the story were not truly good. The good guys in this story were very complex, making them more realistic than the other men who were causing more mayhem then there really needed to be. The only way to describe how must of the male characters made me feel in this story would be to quote Janice Coates, "You're like a booger I can't get off my finger." The bad guys just stick around and refuse to do anything helpful to the situation. Move along gentleman, you're only making things worse! Do not even get me started on how the men talk about women when they are all in the bar, one man was raving about how women are today compared to about one hundred years ago. This was an enjoyable, albeit long, read. I loved how the female characters grew in strength and courage. The animals were also fantastic, but the moths? Moths always have had a way of giving me the heebie-jeebies. Every time a moth was mentioned, a chill ran up my spine. I still would rather share space with a moth over a spider any day. So my long-winded review comes down to this: this is a book worth trying. There is a lot in there to gain and I think it was an excellent father-son project with a good result. Happy reading!

When I Was You

Goodreads Description:

stolen identity leads a woman down a dark and desperate path in a gripping novel of psychological suspense by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Minka Kent. After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence. But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger. What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This book was a quick and easy thriller to read and enjoy. I first saw this on Amazon First reads and decided, "Eh, it's a free monthly book and the other choices don't look too interesting. Why not?" I'm glad that I chose this book after all. It has suspense and bends (not exactly twists...a bit too obvious) in the story. Being an avid reader, I can spot plot twists coming a mile away and am able to predict them quite accurately. Brienne has recovered physically from a mugging, but she is far from recovered mentally. Her anxiety gets the better of her and causes migraines. She does not feel safe living alone so finds the perfect roommate: meet Nial. He's a doctor who is good looking and well-mannered. He's every girl's sweet and charming dream man. He's a bit too perfect for me, leaving me suspicious about who he really is. However, it could just be that I am jaded by other "perfect" people from many other books. Things start to get even darker for Brienne when she discovers another person with her same name that even looks like her. This other Brienne dresses like her, drinks her favorite drink, wears similar clothing, reads the same books, etc. The farther Brienne digs into this copy of herself, the harder it is to figure out what is real and what is fiction. Abandoned by her friends after her accident, she really has no one to turn to. Will anyone take her seriously? Is she losing her grip on reality? Or is there truly something going on that could cause her terrible grief in the near future?

Goodreads Description:

They say she’s a murderess. She claims she’s innocent. But Lucy has been known to tell lies… 1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth. In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves. In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage. Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

Lucy Blunt sits in a dark, dirty, wet prison cell waiting for her death by hanging. Her memories torment her along with the spirits of those who's lives she touched in one way or another. She has been accused of murdering two people and believes herself innocent of the crime. As the story progresses, there are almost jarring switches between the past and the current time in her dark story. While waiting for her eventual punishment for her crimes, she is often visited by a man interested in writing her story. He often brings her treats that his wife makes but she never eats them. At one point, she is dressed up for a photo to be taken of her for the story the man is writing. She is no longer beautiful, but the Matron is fond of her and does her best to make sure Lucy looks as lovely as possible for her final picture that will be her legacy. Her only hope now is the friend of the women she once worked for to sway the judge and others that Lucy is innocent. There is no love lost between the two of them, but Aurora will do her best. She also forms a bond with the Matron of the prison. Each prisoner has a task that makes money. The men build things and the women do laundry. Many people do not like to see women hanged for their crimes, but the future is bleak for Lucy and her hopes to escape the noose. As her time grows ever shorter and the father along we get in her memories of what lead up to her current situation, there start to be holes in her story...or parts that do not seem quite right. Is she telling the truth to herself in her memories? Is she truly innocent or is she a cold blooded murderess? Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

The Perfect Child

Goodreads Description:

A Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller.

A page-turning debut of suspense about a young couple desperate to have a child of their own—and the unsettling consequences of getting what they always wanted.

Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.

But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.

Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars (Rounded up)

Low reviews are ones that I honestly do not like to write. I always want to write something about what and how much I liked a book. Unfavorable reviews are something to be avoided at all costs. This book, however much I cringe, will not be getting a good rating from me. There was just so much wrong with this story. Yes, it will be a story that I will remember, but only because of how much it disturbed me (and not in a good way). So, on with my review!

Things that I liked: -I honestly enjoyed the time jumps between the Social Worker's interview with the police in the present and how it would swap back into the POV of Hannah and Christopher. -I appreciated how the social worker voiced her doubts at the beginning about the child's future dealing with physical abuse. -Christopher also shows a kind and huge heart hoping that his love could heal Janie and give her a bright future.

Things that did not work for me: -All of the MAJOR HIPPA violations. You do not talk about a patient outside of work, let alone with someone who has nothing to do with helping the patient! Patient information is a "as needed" subject, sharing only what is necessary to help that person. You NEVER share anything with people outside of their case unless absolutely necessary. Christopher and Hannah could get in major legal trouble for that violation. -It is counted as abuse if you hug/kiss a patient. Hugs are okay only if an adult gives another adult consent, otherwise it is abuse and could cause a ton of legal trouble. It is also very creepy to be hugging and kissing on a child you just met (no matter the circumstances). -Out of hospital field trips for a child without a guardian? That is highly unlikely and unrealistic for this situation. -Christopher falling asleep on Janie's bed with scrubs that could be covered in countless germs from all over the hospital. -Christopher is blinded to Janie's behavior when it is so obvious to other people and refuses to listen.

I could keep going, but there are some people out there that honestly enjoyed the story. It was definitely not for me. However, if it sounds like something you want to try and enjoy disturbing tales, this may be a good read.

The Family Upstairs

Goodreads Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I have been waiting several months for my chance to read this book from my local library. I have seen rave reviews about this book from my fellow Goodreads friends and have been anxious to read it for myself. This story was full of semi-dark, twisty plot lines that woven together seamlessly. There were quite a few moments where I cringed in the book due to what the characters went through. It also left me with a lot of questions that were not resolved. How does not one single person know what may be going on in that house of horrors? Do the neighbors never go in their backyards and see them over the fence? Why... well, I cannot say what my other questions are because that would give away spoilers. The only difficult part of the book was that every chapter switched back and forth between three characters with not much to help you to know who was narrating until a few sentences in. Was it Libby? Lucy? Henry? It was a little bit of a mess at first, but the story gradually started to weave itself together into something a bit more logical. Since there has already been so much said about this book, I will keep this short and sweet: this story was pretty good. It was not, ultimately, my favorite thriller. However, it was a good tale and the ending was not what I was expecting (in a fantastic way!).

Westering Women

Goodreads Description:

From the bestselling author of Prayers for Sale, an inspiring celebration of sisterhood on the perilous wagon-trail west

"If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband?"

It's February 1852, and all around Chicago Maggie sees the postings soliciting "eligible women" to travel to the gold mines of Goosetown. A young seamstress with a small daughter and several painful secrets, she has nothing to lose.

So she joins forty-three other women and two pious reverends on the dangerous 2,000-mile journey west. None of them are prepared for the hardships they face on the trek through the high plains, mountains, and deserts. Or for the triumphs of finding strengths they did not know they possessed. And not all will make it.

As Maggie gets to know the other women, she soon discovers that she’s not the only one looking to leave dark secrets behind. And when her past catches up with her, it becomes clear a band of sisters will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I was dropping books back off at my local library when I noticed this gorgeous cover. There had been a pep-talk from me, to me before I went in about not picking up any more books until I get at least one more ARC read and reviewed but, let's be real, books are hard to resist. After reading the synopsis I thought it sounded like a great read about women learning how to be strong and stand up for themselves. I was a little taken aback when I saw how few pages there were for a sweeping epic, but I decided to try it anyways. I adored Mary in this book. She is an important figure from the very beginning and plays a strong role in the lives of the other women around her on the trip out west. She and Maggie become close very quickly. Their friendship starts when they both enter the church to hear about and sign up for the trip out west to find husbands in the coal mining areas.

All the women have more than the desire to find a suitable husband, however, otherwise they would stay in Chicago and find a man there. Instead, they are all running from one thing or another. I loved the growth in the characters as each woman starts to discover her own strength and learn new skills that she would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn. There is true character growth in the women and even the preachers taking them on the long journey. What did not work for me, however, was how nearly all of the men were portrayed. The men were nearly all abusive physically, emotionally and verbally up until the end. Some of the loses along the way were also unnecessary. They were to add dramatic effect, I'm sure, but simply came off rather dry and unsatisfying. I had trouble bonding to most of the characters for various reasons that is too difficult to try to explain. Overall, it was a satisfying read about the hardships these women faced along the way from Chicago to California and how they all grew in character and became to love one another.

Darling Rose Gold

Goodreads Description:

Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships...

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling...

And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

Thank you Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions stated below are my own.

A parent would do anything to protect and keep their child happy. There is an instinct deep within most adults to do anything and everything they can for the sake of their beloved offspring. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong in a person's mind. Having had an unhappy childhood herself, Patty is determined to have a child of her own, resulting in the birth of Rose Gold. All through Rose Gold's infancy, Patty is there hovering. She counts every breath, finds every fault, convinces herself of every diagnosis she can think of as a CNA. There is obviously something very wrong with Patty's mental health and poor Rose Gold is the victim of it. After being released from jail after serving her time for everything she put Rose Gold through for nearly two decades, she cannot wait to get back into her daughter's life and take care of her once more. The perspective switches between Patty in the present and Rose Gold in the past. Their intertwining stories weave their tangled web of lies and deceit up to the present day of the novel. Both women are incredibly intelligent and strong willed. Will Rose Gold get her revenge for what her mother did? Will Patty ever feel regret for harming her own child? This is a gritty, dark, amusing ride of a thriller where not everyone is as innocent as you believe. This was a real page turner and a must read for those who enjoy seriously messed up characters.



©2019 by CelticsLibrary. Proudly created with