Together By Christmas

Together by Christmas by Karen Swan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A traumatic event puts a massive strain on Lee and Cuningham’s friendship. And when Cunningham decides to make things right – his action opens a bag of memories that Lee has been working so hard on putting behind her. But while Lee is fighting her own buttle, she finds a note, asking for help. Was it intended for her to find? Unable to leave a person in trouble, Lee is searching for answers, and the person who can help with her quest is someone she swore not to see ever again. But sometimes, personal feelings must be put aside to archive a mutual goal. And all of this is taking during the most special time of the year. Christmas tends to make miracles happen, will it work its miracle on Lee and her struggles?

A wonderful story where light fights the darkness and wins the battle. Karen Swan did yet another wonderful job with this novel. I love the way she combines romance with suspense and produces a unique novel that tends to hold a special place in my memory. This time the main character not only struggles with a disturbing past, but she also finds a way to forgive and reunite with an old special friend, help people in danger and find special someone to complete her family. This is not a cheese romance, the novel includes some gruesome parts. However, in the end, everyone lives happily ever after.

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Searching For My Daughter

Searching for My Daughter by Liz Trenow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story starts with Rosa. The young Jewess was abused by her wicked employer, a nazi officer. But she’s made a deal with the devil to save her beloved father, and paid a brutal price. When the opportunity arrived to escape the hell that she called life – Rosa jumped to it without further thought. Unfortunately, what she thought would be an escape to a better life placed her family into danger.

Horrific years of the war have passed, and there is peace in the world at last. Miriam is on her way to London to find her daughter. Her journey is rough, but she meets all the right people and her chances to find her daughter is very high.

A beautiful, heartwarming story of a family that has been torn apart by the war. Although I knew this book would have a happy ending, the actual finale of the story was better than I expected. I’ve enjoyed following Miriama and Rosa’s stories. After reading tens of WWII books, and revisiting each unique story, this novel gives yet another moving uplifting ending. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for an advanced copy of this lovely novel.

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The Victim

The Victim by Gillian Jackson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Her husband is dead. Was it an accident?

After years of a clear case of domestic abuse – her husband is dead by her own hand. The murder scene screams self-defense. But the evidence points to a real victim of the Rivers family.

From the very first pages, I was on to the notorious Caron Rivers. Great idea of the plot, however while reading the novel I didn’t feel the note of intrigue. From the first chapter, we clearly see the villain of the novel and learn more about her background throughout the book. Hence no shocking twists were revealed by the end of the novel. The story lucked mystery and thrill, although I saw great potential. I’ve read many reviews that praised the author’s previous books and said that – I would absolutely give it another shot and read more of Gillian Jackson’s novels. Thank you Netgalley and Bloodhound Books publisher for this free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The House at Tyneford

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Photographs are so strange; they are always in the present tense, everyone captured in a moment that will never come again.

In this intriguing historical novel, a young Jewish woman is sent from her glamorous upper-class life in Vienna to an English manor and placed in service. She finds herself in a place, where her kind no longer has a place in the world. As a human race, it is being erased. Not an enemy, but not an ally, young Elise tries to find her place in the new world. Her status at the Tyneford manor changes with time, and so is her character.

A devastating story of a lost life. But where there is sorrow, one can find hope to move forward, survive and live, and continue the circle we call life. A beautiful ending to a novel. Although Elise didn’t physically struggle with her escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, the despair to help her parents, the ability to stand up to the oppressor, and in a midst of grief to move forward make her an inspiring character.

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The Housemaid

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Housemaid is my second novel by Freida McFadden and I was pleasantly surprised by the story.

Nina, a glamorous housewife, Millie, an ex-convict turned housemaid, and Andrew, a handsome and loving husband, and father. Nice set of characters for a phycological thriller. Millie, desperate for a job, jumps into a very great opportunity. But she underestimates her new employees. With no place to go, nor people to help her, she has no choice but to stay employed at the Winchesters’ home.

I was very impressed by the story and the twists that were spread out throughout the novel. Millie’s character was very impressive and kept surprising me with each chapter. But don’t forget Nina, I still can’t decide if I feel sorry for her character or inspired by her patience and calculating skills. Although the theme of the novel reminds me a lot of Ms. McFadden’s previous book “The Wife Upstairs”, maybe it’s the author’s style of novels. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed the new book, and loved all the jaw-dropping twists the novel has thrown at me. I was literally on the edge of my seat during the last few chapters. The great ending, with a little cliffhanger, makes me think if we will hear about Millie in the upcoming novel.

Thank you, NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Paris Apartment is my second novel by Lucy Foley, and boy was I excited reading this book!

When Ben failed to greet Jess at his place, it didn’t ring a bell of danger. But when he didn’t appear at his apartment the next day without a word of explanation, Jess began to dig deeper into her brother’s life in Paris. Strangely, the tenants of the exclusive apartment building where Ben has been residing since his move to Paris had the least to say about his life in this strange city.

This novel is full of twists and turns. I was screaming with excitement when the second part of the novel confirmed my suspicions!! And the story got even bigger and better with each chapter. This book is a page-turner. I’ve finished it within 24 hours. If you’re a thriller junkie like myself – look no further, lock yourself in a quiet place, get lots of treats and wine and enjoy this gripping novel.

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Shadows of Berlin

Shadows of Berlin by David R. Gillham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After the horrors of the War, Rachel found her happy ending. Her loving and supportive Jewish husband, safe and clean home, and most of all, freedom. While Rachel has her physical freedom, inside her head she is captivated by the past, and mostly by the price she had to pay for her survival.

One thing Rachel brought with her from her homeland – was her artistic talent. But when she tried to express herself on the canvas, she was met face to face with her hunting past. To pass the line between her past and her future, she needs to admit to her crimes. It takes a strong will to do so, but Rachel’s will has been weakened by her survival guilt.

A heartbreaking story of a young girl living in the land of freedom but captivated by her guilt that has taken place halfway across the world. Time passes, but it does not heal. Learning about Rachel’s past had explained her character as an adult as we met her on the pages of this novel. Guided by the darkness of her past, she is afraid to express herself thru her passion – art, afraid to show the world her true character. Great ending of the novel. Rachel was finally free and open to new life possibilities and the future. Human nature tends to forgive, but never forget. Although I did enjoy the novel and Rachel’s story, the novel itself was too long and at times it was stuck on the subjects that could have been avoided or shortened. Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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What She Witnessed

What She Witnessed by Cole Baxter

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From the first pages of the book, I felt nothing but pity for Kelly. Her life went down the hill the day her husband passed away. But the sudden death of the husband was only the beginning of the horror of a life that Kelly will live throughout the novel.

Although I liked the idea of the plot, there was something about Kelly’s character that bothered me to the core. My compassion for her has changed about halfway through the novel as I found her character whiny and cross. The plot itself had great potential, but it took a long time to develop and unfortunately didn’t stand up to the thrilling synopsis.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.

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The New Neighbor

The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A single day has changed his life forever. The day he lost his wife – he won the Powerball. Life can be funny that way. Followed by grief and memories of his previous life, he packs his small family and moves states away. New home – new life. But the history of the new house begins to hunt him. And while trying to resolve the mystery left behind by the previous owners, he builds up the courage to reveal his own dark secret to his family.

The plot twist was good, and I would have loved the story so much more if the novel kept the full focus on the first story, as I do not find the secondary storyline very intriguing. Although both stories are connected, and the substory was a great explanation of the events that took place, I wish it didn’t take as much space in the novel as it did and gave that extra pages to the main story which had my full attention. Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press publisher for a free ad advanced copy of the novel.

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214 Palmer Street

214 Palmer Street by Karen McQuestion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A secret that bonds three childhood friends forever. The years pass, and the still water is moved by an outsider who, not knowingly, is about to uncover a decades-long cold case.

I didn’t see that coming, an interesting plot twist. But let me start from the beginning. Leading characters – wonderful, loved the short number of the characters that all played a significant role in the novel. Plot – predictable but well build. In an ocean of new thriller novels, it is hard to find an idea that stands out, and the author did a good job keeping the reader intrigued with current and past events. Now, the ending – yet again, pleasantly surprised. So tired of “and they lived happily ever after” endings, thank you Ms. McQuestion for staying away from his part, AND not ending the novel after the major plot twist. It was refreshing to learn of the post twist life of the characters. I am impressed by the writing and the idea of the novel. All in all, this was plenty entertaining read and it moved at a quick pace. Thank you, NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll try and be what he loves to call me, ‘a little woman,’ and not be rough and wild; but do my duty here instead of wanting to be somewhere else.

I do not know why it took me so long to read this novel, but I finally did it. And what a lovely read this was!

March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, are bonded for life by the love of their close-knit family. The bond between the sisters is unbreakable. Although each sister is a completely opposite version of one another, with individual goals and plans for the future, one thing always keeps them together – their family. Although the March family is poor, the lack of money does not make nor break their future plans. The lives of four sisters are full of love, personal achievements, despair, grief, and hope. I was pleasantly surprised by their closeness, love for one another, lack of jealousy, and simple quality to love life as it is. Besides the close friendship, the sisters share a very unique bond with a boy next door, which has created a very close bond between the five characters.

A phenomenal read. The novel was written in a way that the reader is able to feel each emotion and relive each moment of the sister’s lives with them as they were right there in the middle of the novel living as a part of March’s family.

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Last Dance on the Starlight Pier

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I jumped into the world of Evie Grace Devlin without knowing what to expect. And what an engaging ride it was.

Working childhood, rough upbringing, loveless mother. Young Evie managed to get herself out of her mother’s grip and built a better life for herself. Her first stop turned out to be good, but it ended on a bumpy note, making young Evie turn back to the life she tried so hard to escape. However, before she managed to make a move, her life gave her another chance to start anew… And what a delightful life it was… until yet another consequence shattered her world.

Taking place during the great depression, we see the people of entertainment try to survive and stay afloat. Although the initial idea of the plot was compelling, I didn’t feel the “book spark”. I expected something BIG to happen, and when it did – I didn’t find it thrilling, mostly due to the novel being “busy”. There were too many details to keep track of too many characters (my biggest pet peeve), too many sub-stories, and too many relationships. Nevertheless, this novel prompted me to look more into the novels with great depression storylines in them.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

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