7.5/10

#BookReview
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
@PGCBooks @groveatlantic

Synopsis:

It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence. Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Soon his plans for a magnificent terrace built above the two-hundred-foot drop of the Gorge come under threat. Tormented and striving Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants–his passion for Lizzie darkening until she finds herself dangerously alone.

Weaving a deeply personal and moving story with a historical moment of critical and complex importance, Birdcage Walk is an unsettling and brilliantly tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror from one of our greatest storytellers.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Poignant, ominous, and remarkable descriptive!

Birdcage Walk takes us back to Bristol in the late 1790s when France was full of unrest, war was on the horizon, and the British people struggled with impoverishment, scarcity, impending disaster, and financial ruin.

The prose is expressive and raw. The main characters include the maternal, independent, supportive Lizzie and the jealous, iron-fisted, ruined Tredevant. And the plot, although a little slow in the middle, is laced from start to finish with an underlying feeling of despair and a real, palpable bleakness as the ongoing drama, social strife, economic uncertainty, marital tension, and increasing violence unravels.

I have to admit that even though Birdcage Walk is not my favourite novel by Dunmore, it is still a beautiful, haunting tale that highlights her talent of writing historical fiction that moves, informs, and leaves a lasting impression. The passing of Dunmore earlier this year is certainly a tremendous loss for the literary world and to quote from the inscription on the grave of her fictional character in this novel, “Her Words Remain Our Inheritance.”

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review for “The Lie” by Dunmore be sure to check it out here:

 

About the Author:

 

Helen Dunmore (1952 – 2017)

 

Helen Dunmore is the author of twelve books, including The Greatcoat, The Betrayal, a New York Times Editors’ Choice; The Siege, a best seller and finalist for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; and A Spell of Winter, winner of the Orange Prize.

 

Thank you to PGC Books & Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

#BookReview
White Bodies by Jane Robins
@alfresca @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

This chilling psychological suspense novel–think Strangers on a Train for the modern age–explores the dark side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind two sisters together.

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless facade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies–or was he murdered?

A page-turning work of suspense that announces a stunning new voice in fiction, White Bodies will change the way you think about obsession, love, and the violence we inflict on one another–and ourselves.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Menacing, dark, and incredibly eerie!

White Bodies is a gritty, gripping, character-driven novel that delves into the dynamic relationship between sister’s, especially twins, and highlights that we only see what people want to show us and even then we only see what we want to see.

The writing is fluid and clear. The characters are multilayered, deceptive, and unstable. And the plot uses a past/present, back-and-forth style to create suspense and tension as it subtly unravels the relationships, histories, personalities, and motivations within it.

White Bodies is ultimately a chilling psychological thriller about family, secrets, obsession, jealousy, mental illness, manipulation, obsession, and murder and is a wonderful debut for Robins in this genre. 

 

About the Author

Photograph by Mat Smith

Jane Robins began her career as a journalist with The EconomistThe Independent, and the BBC. She has made a specialty of writing historical true crime and has a particular interest in the history of forensics. She has published three books of nonfiction in the UK, Rebel Queen (Simon & Schuster, 2006), The Magnificent Spilsbury (John Murray, 2010), and The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams (John Murray, 2013). More recently, she has been a Fellow at the Royal Literary Fund. 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Jane Robins follow her on Twitter at: @alfresca

#BookReview
The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann
@SimonSchusterCA @simonschuster

Synopsis:

Sweeping between Prague during World War II and modern-day Los Angeles, this deeply moving debut follows a young Jewish man in 1934 who falls in love and joins the circus as the country descends into war. Decades later, a young boy seeks out the now cynical, elderly magician in the hopes that his spells might keep his family together.

Prague, 1934: The fifteen-year-old rabbi s son Moshe Goldenhirsch marvels at the legendary circus magician known as the Half-Moon Man. Unexpectedly, he falls madly in love with the magician’s delightful assistant, spurring him to run away from home to join the circus, which is slowly making its way to Germany as war looms on the horizon. Soon, he becomes a world-renowned magician known as the Great Zabbatini, even sought after by Adolf Hitler. But when Moshe is discovered to be a Jew, only his special talent can save him from perishing in a concentration camp.

Los Angeles, 2007: Ten-year-old Max Cohn is convinced that magic can bring his estranged parents back together before they divorce. So one night he climbs out of his bedroom window in search of the Great Zabbatini, certain this powerful magician has the power to reunite his family.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Quirky, sweet, and humorous!

The Trick is set in both 1930s Prague and twenty-first century Los Angeles and centres around two main characters. Moshe Goldenhirsch, or more famously known as the great Zabbatini, a Jewish survivor of WWII who learned from a very early age the true power of magic. And Max Cohn, a brave, determined 10-year-old on a mission to uncover the love spell he’s confident will fix his parent’s marital woes.

The prose is witty and emotive. The characters are stubborn, unique, and endearing. And the plot is a captivating tale of life, love, heartbreak, family, friendship, and survival.

The Trick, overall, is a well-written, amusing story that ultimately reminds us that magic is a set of tricks, tools or suggestions that give us the freedom to see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available September 19, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

#BookReview
A Million Times Goodnight by Kristina McBride
@McBrideKristina @skyponypress

The Official Synopsis:

One night. Two paths. Infinite danger.

On the night of the big spring break party, seventeen-year-old Hadley “borrows” her boyfriend Ben’s car without telling him. As payback, he posts a naked picture of her online for the entire senior class to see.

Now Hadley has a choice. She can go back to the party and force Ben to delete the picture. Or she can raise the stakes and take his beloved car on a road trip as far away from their hometown of Oak Grove, Ohio, as she can get.

Each storyline plays out in alternating chapters. In one strand, Hadley embarks on a reckless adventure with her best friends, spinning the perfect plan for revenge. In the other, stuck in a car with her ex-boyfriend, Josh, she’s forced to revisit the mistakes they each made, including whether they should ever have broken up at all. As events of a wild night race toward an explosive conclusion, old feelings are rekindled, friendships are tested, and secrets uncovered that are so much worse than a scandalous photo.

A Million Times Goodnight is a fast-paced romantic contemporary thriller ripped right from the headlines.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Mysterious, thought-provoking, and romantic!

A Million Times Goodnight is a young adult novel that reminds us that every choice has a consequence and sometimes those consequences have far-reaching ramifications.

The characters are young, fearless, and at times irresponsible. The writing style is unique and delves into the idea of parallel universes by utilizing alternating chapters to present the different “what if” scenarios. And the plot is a fast-paced, twisty thrill ride full of adventure, heartbreak, and surprises.

It is, ultimately, a story about life, love, secrets, deception, betrayal, teenage drama, and friendship.

A Million Times Goodnight is a very intriguing novel that at times is quite moving. And although I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would have liked to I think teens, the target demographic, would definitely be able to identify and relate to their behaviour, mindset, and choices more readily.

 

About the Author:

Kristina McBride is a former high school English teacher and yearbook advisor, as well as an adjunct professor at Antioch University Midwest and Wright State University. She dreamed of being a published author since she lived across the street from a library as a kid. She is the author of two previous novels, The Tension of Opposites and One Moment. She lives in Centerville, Ohio with her husband and two young children.

 

 

Thank you to Sky Pony Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Kristina McBride, visit her website at: kristinamcbride.com

or follow her on twitter at: @McBrideKristina

#BookReview
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
@katelizabee @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Complex, creative, and satisfying!

Are You Sleeping is a character-driven thriller that takes us on a journey to solve a 10-year-old murder while delving into the intricacies and psychological effects homicide, deception, and abandonment have on surviving family members.

The writing is well done. The characters are scarred, leery, and emotionally distant. The plot has a good mix of mystery, intrigue, conflict, and drama. And the unconventional narration using true-crime podcasts and social media postings adds a unique touch.

Are You Sleeping is ultimately a novel about familial dynamics, twinship, friendship, secrets, lies, murder and the power of media and although it isn’t exceptionally fast-paced or unputdownable, it is certainly a strong debut for Barber.

 

About the Author:

 

Kathleen Barber was raised in Galesburg, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law, and previously practiced bankruptcy law at large firms in Chicago and New York. When she’s not writing, Kathleen enjoys traveling the world with her husband.

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Kathleen Barber, visit her website at: kathleenbarber.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @katelizabee

#BookReview
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
@RuthWareWriter @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

From the New York Times and #1 Globe and Mail bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood—a novel about the slipperiness of truth and the price of friendships.

I need you.” Three small words that change everything.

Isa Wilde knows something terrible has happened when she receives this text from an old friend. Why else would Kate summon her and their two friends Thea and Fatima to the seaside town where they briefly attended school together seventeen years ago?

The four friends first met at Salten House boarding school, where they quickly bonded over The Lying Game, a risky contest that involved tricking fellow boarders and faculty with their lies. But the game had consequences, and the girls were eventually expelled after Kate’s dad, their beloved art teacher, mysteriously disappeared. Forever bound by their lies but needing to forget their past, they went their separate ways—Kate remaining in Salten while the other three left to start new lives in and around London.

Now reunited, Isa, Kate, Thea, and Fatima discover that their past lies had far-reaching effects and criminal implications that threaten them all. In order to protect their reputations, and their friendship, they must uncover the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Atmospheric, twisty, with just the right amount of chill, The Lying Game will have readers at the edge of their seats, not knowing who can be trusted in this tangled web of lies.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Tense, absorbing and eerie!

This is a well-crafted, character-driven thriller that takes us on a journey to solve a 17-year-old mystery while delving into the intricacies of a friendship built on lies and secrets and maintained by trust, loyalty, and fear.

The characterization is well done with a cast of female characters that are unique, troubled, and self-involved. The prose is clear and direct.  The setting is a character in itself with its isolation, dereliction, and dreariness. And the plot unravels subtly and has just the right amount of drama and a past/present style that reveals all the actions, motivations, personalities and relationships within it

This is ultimately an intriguing, atmospheric novel with little action but enough twists and suspense to be unputdownable.

About the Author:

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer, and is the internationally bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10. She is married with two small children. 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Ruth Ware, visit her website at: ruthware.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @RuthWareWriter

#BlogTour & #BookReview
Court of Lions by Jane Johnson
@JaneJohnsonBakr @HoZ_Books

Synopsis:

An epic saga of romance and redemption. Court of Lions brings one of the great turning points in history to life, through the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada.

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

Court of Lions brings one of the great turning-points in history to life, telling the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada, as they both move towards their cataclysmic destinies.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Absorbing and romantic!

This is a historical love letter to the city of Granada complete with incredibly intriguing and genuine details about The Granada War that took place in the late 1400s and included the rise and subsequent fall of Abu Abdullah Mohammed, the twenty-second and last Islamic ruler of this emirate.

The story is told from differing perspectives; Blessings, a young confident whose yearning and love for the young sultan never wavers; and Kate, a middle-aged woman who finds herself immersed in a mystery from the past while running in fear from her own. The prose is exceptionally descriptive. The characters are complex, fascinating, and sympathetic. And the plot uses a back and forth, past/present style that sweeps you along through the highs and lows of both Blessings and Kate’s life.

Once again, with this novel, Johnson has written a remarkably researched tale that effortlessly interweaves religious persecution, cultural discrimination, and violence with threads of passion, acceptance, devotion, support and the true power of love.

About the Author:

 Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She is responsible for the publishing of many major authors, including George RR Martin.

In 2005 she was in Morocco researching the story of a distant family member who was abducted from a Cornish church in 1625 by Barbary pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa, when a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to rethink her future. She returned home, gave up her office job in London, and moved to Morocco. She married her own ‘Berber pirate’ and now they split their time between Cornwall and a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. She still works, remotely, as Fiction Publishing Director for HarperCollins.

 

Thank you to Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

                                

For more information on Jane Johnson, visit her website at: janejohnsonbooks.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @JaneJohnsonBakr

#BookReview
Among the Lemon Trees by Nadia Marks
@Nadia_Marks @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

She had thought that they would be together forever, but Max’s betrayal leaves Anna questioning their marriage and fearing the future.

So when her elderly widowed father invites her to spend the summer with him on the small Aegean island of his birth, Anna agrees – unaware that a chance discovery is about to unleash a host of family secrets. Kept hidden for sixty years, they reveal a torrent of events, beginning in Greece at the beginning of the 20th century and ending in Naples at the close of the Second World War.

Confronted by their family’s long-buried truths, both father and daughter have their worlds turned upside down and Anna begins to realise that, if she is ever to heal the present, she must first understand the past . . .


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Heartwarming, intriguing and touching!

This story is predominantly set on a small Aegean island in the Mediterranean and is the story of Anna, a middle-aged woman who decides to accompany her father home to Greece after her husband’s infidelity and finds herself not only engaging in some deep introspection about her own life but also uncovering some family mysteries and secrets that have remained buried for decades.

The writing is light and fluid. The characters are multi-faceted, gregarious, and forgiving. And the plot is written in a back and forth, past/present style that captivates and engages you as it sweeps you along through a tale of love, loss, family, war, betrayal, regret, deception and the true meaning of home.

Overall, this is a nice, easy, enjoyable read about love in all it’s forms, passionate, unconditional, family, and friendship with a picturesque backdrop and an authentic feel that will certainly leave you daydreaming of sunshine, lazy days, and fresh olives.

About the Author

Nadia Marks (ne Kitromilides,) was born in Cyprus, but grew up in London. An ex creative director and associate editor on a number of leading British women’s magazines, she is now a novelist and works as a freelance writer for several national and international publications. She has written for the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Express, the Independent, the Royal Photographic Society Journal, Psychologies, In Style magazine and others. For Europe and abroad she has contributed to Italian Vanity Fair, Brazilian Vogue, Greek and Australian Marie Claire, to the biggest Greek Sunday newspaper Vima, and the glossy Greek Cypriot lifestyle magazines Omikron and Must.

Thank you to PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                

For more information on Nadia Marks, visit her website at: nadiamarks.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @Nadia_Marks

#BookReview
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
@GinPhillips17 @RandomHouseCA

Synopsis:

An electrifying literary thriller introduces an unforgettable mother and son, whose simple trip to the zoo one afternoon is transformed into three hours of terror and survival after gunshots ring out. What would you do to protect the ones you love?

After school on a late October day, Joan has taken her four-year-old son, Lincoln, to one of his favourite places on earth: the zoo. Just before closing time, as they need to go home, she hears some loud pops like firecrackers. Not thinking much of it, they head for the exit…until Joan realizes the eerie human emptiness means danger, then sees the figure of a lone gunman. Without another thought, she scoops up her son and runs back into the zoo. And for the next three hours–the entire scope of the novel–she does anything she can to keep Lincoln safe.

Both pulse-pounding and emotionally satisfying, Fierce Kingdomis a thrill ride, but also an exploration of the very nature of motherhood itself, from its saving graces to its savage power. At heart it asks how you draw the line between survival and the duty to protect one another? Who would you die for?


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Gripping, intense, and downright eerie!

This is an adrenaline-filled thriller that brings a mother’s worst nightmare to life and explores the anxiety and terror involved in protecting one’s child.

The characters are a mix of protective, determined and strong, and young, callous and ruthless. The writing is compelling and sharp.  And the plot, which is told in real-time over a period of three hours is bursting with tension, angst, violence, fear, panic, instinct, and survival. 

I have to say that overall this is an insightful, harrowing novel and even though I would have liked some of the subplots to be wrapped up just a little bit more it definitely kept me on tenterhooks from start to finish.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

For more information on Fiona Barton, visit her website at: ginphillips.com

or follow her on Twitter at:@GinPhillips17

#BookReview
Chief’s Mess by L.A. Witt
@GallagherWitt @RiptideBooks

Synopsis:

Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.

When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.

But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Sexy, steamy, and sensitive!

Once again we head back to Anchor Point and this time Witt delves into the choices, struggles, and fallouts of alcohol addiction and reminds us that sometimes we find what we want and need when we least expect it.

The writing is sultry. The characters are sympathetic, sincere, and committed. And the plot, which has a little less depth than the previous novels in the series is ultimately about military life, friendship, alcoholism, acceptance, support, desire, and explosive chemistry.

Overall, I have to say this is a deliciously erotic novel written in alternating points of view that allow a genuine look at all the unfolding dynamics, relationship drama, emotion, and salacious scenes through each man’s eyes.

This is the third novel in the “Anchor Point” series. If you haven’t had a chance to read my reviews for the first two novels in the series “Just Drive” (Anchor Point #1) and Afraid to Fly (Anchor Point #2) you can check them out here:

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Riptide Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following link.

                                 

For more information on L.A. Witt, visit her website at: gallagherwitt.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @GallagherWitt

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