Format: ARC

#BookReview Betting on You by Lynn Painter @LAPainter @simonkids @SimonSchusterCA #BettingonYou #LynnPainter #SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Betting on You by Lynn Painter @LAPainter @simonkids @SimonSchusterCA #BettingonYou #LynnPainter #SimonSchusterCA Title: Betting on You

Author: Lynn Painter

Published by: Simon & Schuster BFYR on Nov. 28, 2023

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Pages: 432

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

When seventeen-year-old Bailey starts a new job at a hotel waterpark, she is less than thrilled to see an old acquaintance is one of her coworkers. Bailey met Charlie a year ago on the long flight to Omaha, where she moved after her parents’ divorce. Charlie’s cynicism didn’t mix well with Bailey’s carefully well-behaved temperament, and his endless commentary was the irritating cherry on top of an already emotionally fraught trip.

Now, Bailey and Charlie are still polar opposites, but instead of everything about him rubbing Bailey the wrong way, she starts to look forward to hanging out and gossiping about the waterpark guests and their coworkers—particularly two who keep flirting with each other. Bailey and Charlie make a bet on whether or not the cozy pair will actually get together. Charlie insists that members of the opposite sex can’t just be friends, and Bailey is determined to prove him wrong.

Bailey and Charlie keep close track of the romantic progress of others while Charlie works to deflect the growing feelings he’s developed for Bailey. Terrified to lose her if his crush becomes known, what doesn’t help his agenda is Bailey and Charlie “fake dating” in order to disrupt the annoying pleasantries between Bailey’s mom and her mom’s new boyfriend. Soon, what Charlie was hoping to avoid becomes a reality as Bailey starts to see him as not only a friend she can rely on in the midst of family drama—but someone who makes her hands shake and heart race. But Charlie has a secret—a secret that involves Bailey and another bet Charlie may have made. Can the two make a real go of things…or has Charlie’s secret doomed them before they could start?


Review:

Sweet, tender, and light!

Betting On You is a humorous, quirky tale that takes you on a journey into the life of Bailey and Charlie, two teenagers who, after enduring a long flight from Alaska to Nebraska and an instant dislike, spend the next several years bumping into each other until they finally find themselves as coworkers and agreeing to a little fake dating that might prove once and for all enemies can be lovers and opposites do attract.

The writing is witty and smooth. The characters are hesitant, charming, and supportive. And the plot is a delightfully engaging mix of family, friendship, awkward situations, embarrassing moments, teenage angst, dreams, secrets, friendship, and love.

Overall, Betting On You is another cute, adorable, entertaining read by Painter that, as typical when I finish any of her books, has left me smitten, satisfied, and already longing for more.

 

This book is available now.

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

       

 

 

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

 

About Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and pack of wild children. She’s a biweekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald’s parenting section, even though she is the polar-opposite of a Pinterest mom. When she isn’t chasing kids, she can be found reading, writing, and shot-gunning Red Bulls.

Photo by Jackson Okun.

#BookReview Past Lying by Val McDermid @valmcdermid @PGCBooks #PastLying #InspectorKarenPirie #ValMcDermid #PGCBooks

#BookReview Past Lying by Val McDermid @valmcdermid @PGCBooks #PastLying #InspectorKarenPirie #ValMcDermid #PGCBooks Title: Past Lying

Author: Val McDermid

Series: Inspector Karen Pirie #7

Published by: Atlantic Monthly Press on Nov. 14, 2023

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Police Procedural

Pages: 464

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

In this superb new addition to Val McDermid’s masterful crime series, DCI Karen Pirie returns in a propulsive thriller of deceit and vengeance, set against the disquiet of a global pandemic

Britain’s reigning “Queen of Crime” (The Scotsman), Val McDermid is the award-winning, internationally bestselling author of over thirty novels. The long-awaited seventh novel in the acclaimed series that has captivated audiences for twenty years, both on the page and now in the Edgar Award–nominated ITV/BritBox show, Past Lying is a full tilt novel of ego, retribution, deceit, and just how far one will go to settle the score.

It’s April 2020 and Edinburgh is in lockdown. It would seem like a strange time for a cold case to go hot—the streets all but empty, an hour’s outdoor exercise the maximum allowed—but a mere pandemic doesn’t mean crime takes a holiday. When a source at the National Library contacts DCI Karen Pirie’s team about documents in the archive of a recently deceased crime novelist, it seems it’s game on again. At the center of it, a novel: two crime novelists facing off over a chessboard. But it quickly emerges that their real-life competition is drawing blood. What unspools is a twisted game of betrayal and revenge, and as Karen and her team attempt to disentangle fact from fiction, it becomes clear that their investigation is more complicated than they ever imagined.

A tense, atmospheric page-turner, Past Lying reaffirms McDermid as one of the most talented crime writers of her generation.


Review:

Sharp, intricate, and gripping!

Past Lying is a well-paced, enthralling police procedural that sees Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie and her HCU team investigating the case of a missing woman during the deserted streets of lockdown when an archivist stumbles on an unpublished manuscript of a recently deceased author that seems to represent life imitating art involving two authors and the perfect crime.

The writing is compelling and tight. The characters are intelligent, multilayered, and persistent. And the plot, set during the COVID pandemic, is an intense, mysterious tale filled with twists, turns, deception, infidelity, revenge, jealousy, red herrings, suspicious personalities, lies, secrets, deduction, greed, and murder.

Overall, Past Lying is another complex, intriguing, atmospheric addition to the Karen Pirie series by McDermid that ultimately left me surprised, engrossed, and undoubtedly confident that this is still a must-read series for me.

 

This book is available now.

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

         

 

 

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

 

About Val McDermid

Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award.

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

#BookReview Never Met a Duke Like You by Amalie Howard @readforeverpub @grandcentralpub #ReadForever #ReadForeverPub #ReadForever2023 #NeverMetaDukeLikeYou #AmalieHoward #TamingoftheDukes

#BookReview Never Met a Duke Like You by Amalie Howard @readforeverpub @grandcentralpub #ReadForever #ReadForeverPub #ReadForever2023 #NeverMetaDukeLikeYou #AmalieHoward #TamingoftheDukes Title: Never Met a Duke Like You

Author: Amalie Howard

Series: Taming of the Dukes #2

Published by: Forever on Nov. 14, 2023

Genres: Historical Romance

Pages: 384

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Forever

Book Rating: 9/10

Clueless meets Bridgerton in this spicy opposites-attract Regency romance from “a must-read author” (Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Lady Vesper Lyndhurst is beautiful, clever, and popular. Afforded every luxury as a duke’s daughter, she fills her days with friends, intrigues, and a self-professed knack for matchmaking. She may have sworn off love for herself, but she is rather excellent at arranging it. 

Faced with an insolvent estate, the Duke of Greydon has no choice but to return to England in a final attempt to revive his family’s fortunes. He’s been gone for years, happy to have escaped his mother and the petty circles of the ton. To his dismay, not much has changed, including the beautiful and vexing heiress next door.  

But when an accident of fate traps the friends-turned-enemies in an attic together, the explosive attraction between them becomes impossible to ignore and even harder to resist. They are total opposites and their lives don’t align in the slightest, but fate, the ultimate matchmaker, appears to have other plans . . . 


Review:

Amusing, enticing, and adventurous!

Never Met a Duke Like You is a heartwarming, playful romp that sweeps you away to England and into the life of Lady Vesper Lyndhurst, a clever young woman who, although doesn’t believe in a happy ever after for herself, is more than happy to matchmake those around her even the dashingly handsome Duke of Greydon who once spurned her affections and broke her heart and who would much rather spend his day studying bones than wooing potential brides.

The prose is smooth and light. The characters are loyal, supportive, and endearing. And the plot is a delightfully enchanting tale full of friendship, family, societal expectations, tricky situations, tender moments, desire, and romance.

Overall, Never Met a Duke Like You is a fast-paced, passionate, highly entertaining read by Howard that is the second book in the Taming of the Dukes series and a novel that I absolutely adored.

 

This novel is available now.

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

            

 

 

Thank you to Forever and Grand Central Publishing for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Amalie Howard

AMALIE HOWARD is a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling novelist of “smart, sexy, deliciously feminist romance.” The Beast of Beswick was one of Oprah Daily’s Top 24 Best Historicals to Read. She is also the author of several critically acclaimed, award-winning young adult novels. An AAPI/Caribbean-born writer, her books, interviews, and articles have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Oprah Daily, Seventeen, and Ravishly Magazine. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading, being the president of her one-woman Harley Davidson motorcycle club #WriteOrDie, or power-napping. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Photo by Kristoff Lutchman.

#BookReview The Whole Time by Catherine Bybee @catherinebybee @FireflyDist @AmazonPub #TheWholeTime #CatherineBybee #TheDAngelos #Montlake #FireflyDist

#BookReview The Whole Time by Catherine Bybee @catherinebybee @FireflyDist @AmazonPub #TheWholeTime #CatherineBybee #TheDAngelos #Montlake #FireflyDist Title: The Whole Time

Author: Catherine Bybee

Series: The D'Angelos #4

Published by: Montlake Romance on Nov. 14, 2023

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 363

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Firefly Distributed Lines

Book Rating: 8.5/10

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee comes a tale of a strong-willed dancer exercising her independence and the rich biker she can’t let go.

Salena Barone has broken free of her family and moved into an apartment above the D’Angelos’ restaurant, where she works as a manager—without a husband, thank you very much. But even on a restaurant salary, she soon finds herself strapped for cash. Salena’s never been afraid of living on the wild side, though, so she takes on a side hustle that’ll raise big bucks…and eyebrows, if anyone finds out.

Tattooed biker Ryan is the youngest of the wealthy Rutledge wine family and has never dreamed of rings, forever, or continuing the family business. He’s perfectly happy living his own life and helping out hardworking folks in his own way.

When these two independent singles spot each other at a Rutledge-D’Angelo wedding, the attraction is instant. But as their friendship with benefits evolves into something more, the secrets Salena’s keeping—from family, friends, and Ryan—threaten the happily ever after she never knew she wanted.


Review:

Steamy, delightful, and romantic!

The Whole Time is a passionate, hopeful tale that transports you to San Diego and into the lives of both the hardworking Salena Barone, who is determined to do whatever it takes to make ends meet and live on her own, even if it means doing a side gig that not everyone would understand or approve of, and the successful bad boy Ryan Rutledge who is more than content with casual dating and never actually falling in love.

The writing is smooth and light. The characters are charming, independent, and supportive. And the plot is a heartfelt, flirty blend of tricky situations, tender moments, new beginnings, self-discovery, friendship, family, happiness, romance, and love.

Overall, The Whole Time is a sweet, heartwarming, fantastic addition to the D’Angelos series by Bybee, complete with characters I couldn’t help but root for and a swoon-worthy ending that left me smitten, satisfied and hopeful that there’s still more to come!

 

This novel is available now.

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

     

 

 

Thank you to Firefly Distributed Lines for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Catherine Bybee

Catherine Bybee is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five books that have collectively sold more than three million copies and have been translated into twelve languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite series, the Weekday Brides series, and the Most Likely To series.

#BookReview The Way I Am Now by Amber Smith @ASmithAuthor @simonschuster #TheWayIAmNow #AmberSmith #SimonSchuster

#BookReview The Way I Am Now by Amber Smith @ASmithAuthor @simonschuster #TheWayIAmNow #AmberSmith #SimonSchuster Title: The Way I Am Now

Author: Amber Smith

Series: The Way I Used to Be #2

Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books on Nov. 7, 2023

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Pages: 432

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster

Book Rating: 10/10

Eden and Josh decide to give their relationship another chance in this much anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Way I Used to Be that explores how to move forward after trauma—in life and in love.

Eden and Josh never had a fair shot at a healthy relationship. When they dated in high school, they each had their own problems getting in the way of the deep connection they felt toward one another. Unbeknownst to Josh, Eden was carrying the burden of a devastating sexual assault, while Josh was dealing with his own private struggle of having an alcoholic father.

Months after Eden and two other girls publicly accuse their rapist, Eden is starting college while her case goes to trial. Now when she and Josh reconnect, it seems like it might finally be in the right place at the right time for them to make it work. But is their love strong enough to withstand the challenges and chaos of college and the crushing realities of a trial that will determine whether Eden gets the justice she deserves?


Review:

Emotional, heart-tugging, and hopeful!

The Way I Am Now is the tender, heartfelt sequel to The Way I Used to Be that takes us back into the life of Eden, a young woman who, after publicly acknowledging being raped by her brother’s best friend, continues to struggle with moving on, the constant dread of a looming trial, strained familial relationships due to overwhelming feelings of anger and guilt, and a reconnection with the one boy she managed to love even when she couldn’t love herself who unfortunately also has baggage of his own.

The prose is raw and sensitive. The characters are vulnerable, scarred, and strong. And the plot is a moving tale of life, love, friendship, family, trust, shame, self-blame, loneliness, sexual assault, accepting love, and the intricacies of the legal system.

Overall, The Way I Am Now is a timely, affecting, optimistically heart-wrenching tale by Smith that packs a real emotional punch and ultimately does an exceptional job of highlighting the enduring psychological and emotional effects of rape and the cultural stigmatization that regrettably often still surrounds it.

 

This book is available now.

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

           

 

 

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

 

About Amber Smith

Amber Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels The Way I Used to Be, The Last to Let Go, Something Like Gravity, and The Way I Am Now. An advocate for increased awareness of gendered violence, as well as LGBTQ equality, she writes in the hope that her books can help to foster change and spark dialogue surrounding these issues. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her wife and their ever-growing family of rescued dogs and cats.

Photo by Deborah Triplett

#BookReview The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy @freethy @StMartinsPress #ThePorcelainMaker #SarahFreethy #StMartinsPress #SMPInfluencers

#BookReview The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy @freethy @StMartinsPress #ThePorcelainMaker #SarahFreethy #StMartinsPress #SMPInfluencers Title: The Porcelain Maker

Author: Sarah Freethy

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Nov. 7, 2023

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

An epic story of love, betrayal, and art that spans decades, through the horrors of World War II to 21st century America, inspired by an actual porcelain factory in Dachau.

Two lovers caught at the crossroads of history.

A daughter’s search for the truth.

Germany, 1929. At a festive gathering of young bohemians in Weimar, two young artists, Max, a skilled Jewish architect, and Bettina, a celebrated avant-garde painter, are drawn to each other and begin a whirlwind romance. Their respective talents transport them to the dazzling lights of Berlin, but this bright beginning is quickly dimmed by the rising threat of Nazism. Max is arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau where only his talent at making exquisite porcelain figures stands between him and seemingly certain death. Desperate to save her lover, Bettina risks everything to rescue him and escape Germany.

America, 1993. Clara, Bettina’s daughter, embarks on a journey to trace her roots and determine the identity of her father, a secret her mother has kept from her for reasons she’s never understood. Clara’s quest to piece together the puzzle of her origins transports us back in time to the darkness of Nazi Germany, where life is lived on a razor’s edge and deception and death lurk around every corner. Survival depends on strength, loyalty, and knowing true friend from hidden foe. And as Clara digs further, she begins to question why her mother was so determined to leave the truth of her harrowing past behind…

The Porcelain Maker is a powerful novel of enduring love and courage in the face of appalling brutality as a daughter seeks to unlock the mystery of her past.


Review:

Absorbing, sincere, and expressive!

The Porcelain Maker is a rich, engaging tale predominately set in Germany from the mid-1920s through WWII, as well as 1993, that takes you into the lives of two main characters. Bettina Vogel, a young woman who, through determination and resilience, uses her artistic talents to help the resistance and stay as close to the one she loves as she possibly can; and Clara Vogel, a middle-aged mother who, after her mother’s passing decides with the help of her daughter to embark on a journey to discover the true identity of her father who seems to have had a connection to the acclaimed porcelain maker of Dachau.

The prose is eloquent and well-turned. The characters are lonely, strong, and brave. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel seamlessly into a heartfelt saga of life, loss, secrets, surprises, separation, heartbreak, betrayal, desperation, tragedy, survival, danger, friendship, the horrors of war, and enduring love.

Overall, The Porcelain Maker is an evocative, sentimental, moving debut by Freethy with compelling characters that I devoured from start to finish and one which I highly recommend for anyone who loves a well-written WWII time-slip tale.

 

This novel is available now.

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

         

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sarah Freethy

SARAH FREETHY worked as a writer, script consultant, producer and development editor in television before turning her hand to fiction. THE PORCELAIN MAKER is her first novel. She lives in England with her family.

#BookReview The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale @SimonSchusterCA #TheStrangersWeKnow #PipDrysdale #SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale @SimonSchusterCA #TheStrangersWeKnow #PipDrysdale #SimonSchusterCA Title: The Strangers We Know

Author: Pip Drysdale

Published by: Simon & Schuster on Nov. 7, 2023

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 336

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

Imagine seeing your loving husband pop up on your best friend’s dating app. Now imagine that’s the best thing that happens to you all week…

When Charlie sees a man who is the spitting image of her husband, Oliver, on a dating app, her heart stops. Her first desperate instinct is to tell herself she must be mistaken—after all, she only caught a glimpse from a distance as her friends laughingly swiped through the men on offer. But no matter how much she tries to push her fears aside, she can’t let it go. Because she took that photo. On their honeymoon.

When other signs of betrayal begin to surface, Charlie does the only thing she can think of to defend herself—she signs up for the app to catch Oliver in the act.

But Charlie soon discovers that infidelity is the least of her problems. Nothing is as it seems, and nobody is who she thinks they are…


Review:

Ominous, engrossing, and suspenseful!

The Strangers We Know is a captivating, sinister tale that takes you into the life of Charlie Buchanan, a young wife who, after finding her husband’s profile on a dating app and becoming increasingly sceptical of his recent unexplainable behaviour, suddenly finds herself on the run from the police when his body is discovered inside their home and it becomes abundantly clear that they believe she’s the murderer.

The writing is taut and brisk. The characters are resourceful, confused, and persistent. And the plot is an intricate, action-packed tale full of twists, turns, secrets, surprises, questionable personalities, duplicitous motivations, manipulative actions, parasitic relationships, violence, and ruthless murder.

Overall, The Strangers We Know is a fast-paced, tortuous, complex tale by Drysdale that does an exceptional job of reminding us that money and greed can easily sway perspective and are, in fact, often the root of all evil.

 

This novel is available in paperback now.

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

         

 

 

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

 

About Pip Drysdale

Pip Drysdale is a writer, musician and actor who grew up in Africa and Australia. At 20 she moved to New York to study acting, worked in indie films and off-off Broadway theatre, started writing songs and made four records. After graduating with a BA in English, Pip moved to London where she played shows across Europe and started writing books. Her debut novel, The Sunday Girl, was a bestseller and has been published in the United States, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Strangers We Know was also a bestseller and is being developed for television. The Paris Affair is her third book.

Photo courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview People to Follow by Olivia Worley @olivia_worley @WednesdayBooks @StMartinsPress #OliviaWorley #PeopletoFollow #SMPInfluencers

#BookReview People to Follow by Olivia Worley @olivia_worley @WednesdayBooks @StMartinsPress #OliviaWorley #PeopletoFollow #SMPInfluencers Title: People to Follow

Author: Olivia Worley

Published by: Wednesday Books on Oct. 31, 2023

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult

Pages: 352

Format: ARC, eBook

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8/10

Ten teen influencers come to a remote island to star in a reality show, but when one of them winds up dead, they realize that this time, the price of being “cancelled” could be their lives.

A reality show on a remote Caribbean island. Ten teen influencers. One dead body.

Welcome to “In Real Life,” the hot new reality show that forces social media’s reigning kings and queens to unplug for three weeks and “go live” without any filters. IRL is supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime, watched closely by legions of loyal followers. But for these rising stars–including Elody, an Instagram model with an impulsive streak; Kira, a child star turned fitness influencer; Logan, a disgraced TikTok celeb with a secret; and Max, a YouTuber famous for exposés on his fellow creators—it’s about to turn into a nightmare.

When the production crew fails to show up and one of their own meets a violent end, these nine little influencers find themselves stranded with a dead body and no way to reach the outside world. When they start receiving messages from a mysterious Sponsor threatening to expose their darkest secrets, they realize that they’ve been lured into a deadly game…and one of them might be pulling the strings.

With the body count rising and cameras tracking their every move, the creators must figure out who is trying to get them canceled—like, literally—before their #1 follower strikes again.


Review:

Intense, tight, and sinister!

People to Follow is a crafty, ominous tale that sweeps you away to a secluded island where ten teen influencers have gathered to film the latest reality TV show, “In Real Life”, but in a group like this, where tensions are high, fame is coveted, deception is rife, everyone has secrets, and someone has a hidden agenda, death is definitely not out of the question.

The writing is sharp and crisp. The characters are self-obsessed, ambitious, and secretive. And the plot is a suspenseful mix of twists, turns, secrets, deception, manipulation, obsession, greed, jealousy, malicious intentions, vengeance, and murder.

Overall, People to Follow is a cunning, edgy, promising debut by Worley that is an eerie reminder of just how corrosive social media can truly be and just how low some people are willing to go to achieve even just a little fame and fortune.

 

This novel is available now.

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

         

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press – Wednesday Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Olivia Worley

Olivia Worley is an author and actor born and raised in New Orleans. A graduate of Northwestern University, she now lives in New York City, where she spends her time writing thrillers, overanalyzing episodes of The Bachelor, and hoping someone will romanticize her for reading on the subway. People to Follow is her debut novel.

#BookReview Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward @jesmimi @ScribnerBooks @SimonSchusterCA #JesmynWard #LetUsDescend #SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward @jesmimi @ScribnerBooks @SimonSchusterCA #JesmynWard #LetUsDescend #SimonSchusterCA Title: Let Us Descend

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Published by: Scribner on Oct. 3, 2023

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

Let Us Descend is a reimagining of American slavery, as beautifully rendered as it is heart-wrenching. Searching, harrowing, replete with transcendent love, the novel is a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide through this hellscape. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Ward leads readers through the descent, this, her fourth novel, is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.

From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this miracle of a novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land—the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward’s most magnificent novel yet, a masterwork for the ages.


Review:

Haunting, poignant, and impactful!

Let Us Descend is an atmospheric, moving tale that sweeps you away to North Carolina during the mid-1800s and into the life of Annis, a young woman of mixed race trained by her mother in more than just servitude who, after being sold one year after her beloved Mama, is forced in chains on a gruelling march from the rice fields she’s only ever known to the sugar plantations of New Orleans where with a little help from the spirit world beyond she endures extreme hardships and brutal savagery until she can find an opportunity to finally slip free.

The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are vulnerable, scarred, and strong. And the plot is an exceptionally enthralling tale about life, loss, strength, bravery, hope, survival, violence, injustice, racism, slavery, and death, all interwoven with a thread of the supernatural.

Overall, Let Us Descend is an enchanting blend of historical facts, powerful fiction, and heart-wrenching emotion that does a wonderful job of reminding us that even under the most cruel and barbaric conditions, humanity can be incredibly resilient, compassionate, and kind.

 

This novel is available now.

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

        

 

 

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

 

About Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Stegner Fellowship, a John and Renee Grisham Writers Residency, the Strauss Living Prize, and the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She is the historic winner—first woman and first Black American—of two National Book Awards for Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017) and Salvage the Bones (2011). She is also the author of the novel Where the Line Bleeds and the memoir Men We Reaped, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and the Media for a Just Society Award. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Tulane University and lives in Mississippi.

Photograph by Beowulf Sheehan.

#BookReview What We Kept to Ourselves by Nancy Jooyoun Kim @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA #NancyJooyounKim #WhatWeKeptToOurselves #SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview What We Kept to Ourselves by Nancy Jooyoun Kim @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA #NancyJooyounKim #WhatWeKeptToOurselves #SimonSchusterCA Title: What We kept to Ourselves

Author: Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Published by: Atria Books on Oct. 10, 2023

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 416

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

The New York Times bestselling author of the Reese’s Book Club pick The Last Story of Mina Lee returns with a timely and surprising new novel about a family’s search for answers following the disappearance of their mother.

1999: The Kim family is struggling to move on after their mother, Sunny, vanished a year ago. Sixty-one-year-old John Kim feels more isolated from his grown children, Anastasia and Ronald, than ever before. But one evening, their fragile lives are further upended when John finds the body of a stranger in the backyard, carrying a letter to Sunny, leaving the family with more questions than ever about the stranger’s history and possible connections to their mother.

1977: Sunny is pregnant and has just moved to Los Angeles from Korea with her aloof and often-absent husband. America is not turning out the way she had dreamed it to be, and the loneliness and isolation are broken only by a fateful encounter at a bus stop. The unexpected connection spans the decades and echoes into the family’s lives in the present as they uncover devastating secrets that put not only everything they thought they knew about their mother but their very lives at risk.

Both a riveting page-turner and moving family story, What We Kept to Ourselves masterfully explores the consequences of secrets between parents and children, hus­bands and wives. It is the story of one unforgettable family’s search for home when all seems lost, and a powerful meditation on identity, migration, and what it means to dream in America.


Review:

Simmering, dramatic, and sensitive!

What We Kept to Ourselves is a tender, compelling tale that sweeps you away to Los Angeles between the 1970s and 1999 and into the lives of the Korean-American Kim family as they grapple with the disappearance of the matriarch one year ago, the sudden discovery of a dead man in their backyard in possession of a letter addressed to their missing mother, and all the wounds, secrets, tears, and hurt that seem to have swirled around them forever.

The prose is fluid and smooth. The characters are bitter, troubled, and flawed. And the plot, using flashbacks and a back-and-forth style, is a captivating tale about life, loss, heartache, guilt, love, secrets, revelations, acceptance, familial drama, friendship, hope, racism, misogyny, corruption, forgiveness, introspection, and generational trauma, all interlaced with a sliver of mystery. 

Overall, What We Kept to Ourselves is a heartfelt, multilayered, timely tale by Nancy Jooyoun Kim that reminds us that families are complicated and messy, the choices we make often have far-reaching consequences, and secrets often find their way to the surface no matter how well they’re buried.

 

This novel is available now.

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

        

 

 

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

 

About Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Nancy Jooyoun Kim is the New York Times bestselling author of What We Kept to Ourselves and The Last Story of Mina Lee, a Reese’s Book Club pick. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Photograph by Andria Lo.