Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury


 

“The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury“ by Marc Levy, translated by Chris Murray

Published by AmazonCrossing

Finished 7/25/21 – 3/5 stars

 

What a cute story!  The main character, Alice, is at a carnival with friends and decides to have her fortune read.  Is it all just fake or could some of it be true?  Is true love in her future?  The need to know these answers sends her on a journey to Turkey where she’ll discover more about herself, her past, and what the future may hold for her.  There are developing friendships, potential romances, and self-discovery all wrapped up into a little mystery.  Not your typical mystery though….there’s no suspense involved. It’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together to figure it all out.  If you’re like me, you’ll correctly solve the mystery fairly early.  If not, you’ll have to wait for the “ah ha” moment close to the end of the book.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Dark Roads

 


“Dark Roads” by Chevy Stevens

Published by St Martin’s Press

Finished 7/22/21 – 5/5 stars


I’m so glad I was able to read this during my vacation because it was a hard book to put down.  If not, I’m sure I would have been tired every morning from staying up late reading and then sneaking in chapters while I was supposed to be working during the day.  It is a definite page turner that grabs you right from the start and doesn’t let go.

 

Although this is not historical fiction, the author was inspired to write it based on true unsolved crimes from the 70s known as the Highway of Tears in Northern British Columbia.  This story takes place in a small town in Canada where multiple women have gone missing or are found dead along a small stretch of highway.  In Part 1 we are introduced to a local teenager who recently lost her father so is living with her aunt and  husband, who just happens to be the most feared police officer in town.  In Part 2 we are introduced to a young woman in her early 20s who has come to town looking for answers to her sister’s murder on the highway.  And then Part 3 brings both storylines together, solving the mystery.

 

Although she has written many books, this is the first novel I’ve read by Chevy Stevens.  It will not be my last!  She definitely knows how to write a good, suspenseful mystery. 

 

Thank you to both NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for an advanced copy of the book. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Other Passenger


 

“The Other Passenger” by Louise Candlish

Published by Simon & Schuster UK

Finished 7/20/21 – 3/5 stars

The 2nd half was definitely better than the first but it still only gets 3 stars from me.  None of the excitement happens until you get through the much slower first half and the twists and turns begin.  And then, just when you think you know how it will end, it changes on you again.  So yes, half of the book was my kind of book!  I also like how it was written.  It starts out on the day a person goes missing during the Christmas holidays in 2019 but then it goes back to when the story really began, a year earlier in January 2019 when this group of people all meet.  Luckily the chapter titles tell you when events are taking place – current time or the past, leading up to the disappearance.  So, if you like a mystery with twists and turns, I’d say give this one a try.  Just don’t read it right after a 5 star read like I did…..that might be why I didn’t enjoy the beginning as much.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Shuster UK for an advanced copy of this book and introducing me to this author.  I’ll have to pick up another of her books.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Forest of Vanishing Stars

 


“The Forest of Vanishing Stars” by Kristin Harmel

Published by Gallery Books

Finished 7/16/21 – 5/5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this story!  It begins with a toddler being taken from her bed in Germany to then be raised in the forest with the old Jewish woman who took her.  As a young adult, she finds herself alone when World War II begins and the Jews start hiding in her forest.  But they don’t know how to shelter and eat year-round while living a hidden life so she must teach them if they are to survive.  Obviously, the German soldiers are going to make appearances throughout the story but the main focus is the “family” and their struggles to survive so not really a war story.  Religion also plays a role in the storyline but more in a thought provoking way, not pinning one against the other.

This story is completely fictional but inspired by true events of those that survived the Holocaust by hiding in the wilderness.  The Bielski family is mentioned within the book which took me back to another 5 star non-fiction book that I read awhile back – “The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and saved 1,200 Jews”.  The author even interviewed one of the Bielski men while researching for this book.  I highly recommend both books.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this wonderful book.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

"The Searcher"


“The Searcher” by Tana French

Published by Viking

Finished 7/8/21 - 4/5 stars

This is not an “on the edge of your seat” kind of mystery but more of a good story with a mystery mixed in.  It takes place in a very small farm town in Ireland, where a Chicago police officer goes to retire and get away from the world as he knows it.  As much as he tries to keep to himself on his beautiful plot of land with a dilapidated house, a local teenager decides to insert themselves into his new life rather than go to school.  Soon that leads to him helping try to find out what happened to their missing older brother and the mystery begins. 

This is my first novel by Tana French but it won’t be my last – I definitely enjoyed her writing style.  The Searcher is a stand-alone book but she also writes the Dublin Murder Squad series that I’ll be adding to my list of books to read. 



Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Ride of Her Life

 


“The Ride of Her Life:  The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America” by Elizabeth Letts

Published by Ballantine Books

Finished 6/13/21 – 3/5 stars


This is the story of Annie Wilkins’ journey across the United States on horseback.  She was 63, had just lost her family farm in Maine, and was told that she only had a couple years to live with the current condition of her lungs.  With very limited funds, she packed up what she could onto her horse and hit the road with her trusty dog.  This was in the mid-50s with no internet or cell phones so she had to rely on gas station paper maps, word of mouth, and the kindness of others.  Oh, and she started out in November with hopes of getting to warmer weather before winter hit.  When traveling at 3 or 4 miles per hour and starting off in Maine, that wasn’t a very realistic thought.  But she also thought she’s be in warmer weather once she hit Pennsylvania…..still makes me chuckle.

The author tells Annie’s story based on interviews of a friend she met along the way, those whose families took her in, and all the news stories about her journey.  I found it to be well written and flowed well, however, I just found it to be a little slow at times.

Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy of this book.


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Four Winds

 


“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah

Published by St. Martin’s Press

Finished 6/1/21 – 5/5 stars

“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it.  A warrior never gives up.  A warrior fights for those weaker than herself.  It sounds like motherhood to me.” 

Elsa is that warrior.  She fought for as long as she could to keep her family together and survive the Dust Bowl in Texas but eventually she had no choice but to pack up her children and leave her in-laws and the family farm behind to try to find a better life in California.  After all, that is what all the flyers had told them was possible.  But this was the Great Depression - there weren’t enough jobs for all the migrants and the farms job that could be found, didn’t pay nearly enough to live off of.  Plus, the Californians didn’t welcome the poor with open arms so there were obstacles to try to conquer around every corner.  But Elsa would do everything she could to keep her children safe, fed, healthy, and educated.  She was the warrior her children needed, whether they realized and appreciated it or not. 

 I greatly enjoyed this historical fiction and highly recommend it. Who knows….it might be the encouragement you need to be your own warrior.