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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.

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