Recent Reads

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Synopsis - On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Thoughts - I love a good thriller. This was my first one by Ms. Fields and it was a good one. The crimes were horrific and the main characters were interesting. We already knew who the killer was, it was how to find him that was the challenge. I'd recommend it to those not afraid of a little gore and violence. 

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Synopsis - It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, in decades—not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s reappeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? The facts are she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye’s losses but also his own lost love, and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.

Thoughts - I either hated this book or loved this book. I am not sure. It was not at all what I thought it was about. I thought it was a suspense, Samuel embarking on a fast paced journey to clear his mother's name. It was not that. It was on a very long and meandering journey of self reflection and learning about who his mother was before she became his mother. There were zero likable characters. I am glad it was an audiobook I was listening to because there was no way I could have read this book. The narrator did a good job. There were certain moments that I loved.. but all those moments came from the side characters. I am still not sure if I should recommended it or warn you away from it. If you have read it I'd love to know how you felt about it. 

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Synopsis - Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Thoughts - This was a tough read. Tragic and gritty. Sadie's takes us on quite a journey through the small towns of America on a heartbreaking journey to find her little sister's murderer. 

The Dry by Jane Harper

Synopsis - In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke's death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds in bleed into new ones.

Thoughts - You could feel the tension, the heat, the dryness, the desperation. Aaron returns for a friends funeral and ends up staying to dig deeper into what obviously seems like a murder suicide. The local sheriff lends a hand and what we end up discovering if not at all what I had thought it would be. It was a slow moving story though, so not really a page turner until the very end but I'd still recommend it. 

The Restoration of Celia Fairchild by Marie Bostwick

Synopsis - Celia Fairchild, known as advice columnist ‘Dear Calpurnia’, has insight into everybody’s problems — except her own. Still bruised by the end of a marriage she thought was her last chance to create a family, Celia receives an unexpected answer to a “Dear Birthmother” letter. Celia throws herself into proving she’s a perfect adoptive mother material — with a stable home and income — only to lose her job. Her one option: sell the Charleston house left to her by her recently departed, estranged Aunt Calpurnia.
Arriving in Charleston, Celia learns that Calpurnia had become a hoarder, the house is a wreck, and selling it will require a drastic, rapid makeover. The task of renovation seems overwhelming and risky. But with the help of new neighbors, old friends, and an unlikely sisterhood of strong, creative women who need her as much as she needs them, Celia knits together the truth about her estranged family — and about herself.

Thoughts - I am not one for sweet Lifetime movie type books. So I was hesitant at picking this one up but there was just something about the title and cover that made me reach for it and I am so glad I did. It was such a nice read, perfect amount of sweetness and humor and a lot of heart. I wanted to move down to Charleston with Celia and join her girls group. Celia wasn't forced into a romance instead she found family and I just loved it. 

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Synopsis - In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry.
The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.
Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

Thoughts - Historically speaking I found the story of the blue people fascinating. I had no idea such people existed and I spent a decent amount of time googling more information about them and Troublesome Creek which is a really place. The Pack Horse Library Project was also something I found very interesting. It was nice to see the impact books had on people, even those who could barely read. Otherwise I found the story a bit boring and cliched. 

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

Synopsis - Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?
As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.
So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?

Thoughts - I love the Beartown books. Love. I was afraid to pick up the second installment because I didn't think there was any more story left to tell but I read it and I enjoyed it. I almost felt the same way about this third in the series Winners but I think I loved this one even more. Mr. Backman manages to tell the stories of a hundred people all woven together to create one larger picture. Just like in our everyday lives, the cashier at the supermarket, the car we honked at at the light that didn't drive as soon as the light turned green; they are all given voices even if they don't get names because sometimes all those stores intertwine to make one. I don't think my words can do justice to how I felt listening to this one. Yes, I did the audio version of this. I listened to it on my morning walks and thank god for my sunglasses else I would have been the crazy crying lady. The last few chapters had me bawling, stopping mid walk just to catch my breath. If you haven't read the Beartown books please do. 

The Last Sinner by Lisa Jackson

Synopsis - Bentz thought he’d ended that horror years ago when he killed Father John deep in the swamp. But now there are chilling signs he may have been wrong. A new victim has surfaced, her ruined body staged in deliberate, unmistakable detail. Either it’s a terrifying copycat, or Father John, the detective’s own recurring nightmare, has come back to haunt New Orleans.
Another death, and another. Bentz is growing convinced that Father John isn’t just back. He’s circling closer, targeting those Bentz loves most.
And this time, he won’t be stopped until the last sinner has paid the ultimate price…

Thoughts - DNF. I just did not care. The woman is brutally attacked, her husband is murdered and her friend is like you can't just wallow all the time.. you such come and join our jogging group only a few days after the event. Like I just couldn't. I usually give the book a chance till the first 100 pages but something about this was just not interesting to me.

My Darling Girl by Jennifer McMahon

Synopsis - Alison has never been a fan of Christmas. But with it right around the corner and her husband busily decorating their cozy Vermont home, she has no choice but to face it. Then she gets the call.
Mavis, Alison’s estranged mother, has been diagnosed with cancer and has only weeks to live. She wants to spend her remaining days with her daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. But Alison grew up with her mother’s alcoholism and violent abuse and is reluctant to unearth these traumatic memories. Still, she eventually agrees to take in Mavis, hoping that she and her mother could finally heal and have the relationship she’s always dreamed of.
But when mysterious and otherworldly things start happening upon Mavis’s arrival, Alison begins to suspect her mother is not quite who she seems. And as the holiday festivities turn into a nightmare, she must confront just how far she is willing to go to protect her family.

Thoughts - I read this one pretty fast. It was not an in your face kind of horror/thriller but it was creepy and the twist at the ending was good. I wouldn't say it was a must read but a decent one. 

Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Synopsis - Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets Howard Bowditch, a recluse with a big dog in a big house at the top of a big hill. In the backyard is a locked shed from which strange sounds emerge, as if some creature is trying to escape. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie the house, a massive amount of gold, a cassette tape telling a story that is impossible to believe, and a responsibility far too massive for a boy to shoulder.
Because within the shed is a portal to another world—one whose denizens are in peril and whose monstrous leaders may destroy their own world, and ours. In this parallel universe, where two moons race across the sky, and the grand towers of a sprawling palace pierce the clouds, there are exiled princesses and princes who suffer horrific punishments; there are dungeons; there are games in which men and women must fight each other to the death for the amusement of the “Fair One.” And there is a magic sundial that can turn back time.

Thoughts - I don't even know where to start with this one. It was 600 pages long. I was listening to the audio so that meant it was 24 hours long. And there was not a minute when I thought 'I can't wait to see what happens next' There is too too too much detail. Plus, this supposedly 'regular' high school student talks like an old man, he used some words I didn't even know or would ever use.  He didn't go through the portal until the halfway point and while the world King had created was fascinating I just didn't care. I tired.. I listened and listened and just nope. While it did pick up in the last couple of hours it still wasn’t worth it. I don't know what the problem was. Have you read it? 

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  1. The Restoration of Celia Fairchild sounds good!

    Curated by Jennifer

  2. Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove is one of my favourite reads but I 've not read anything else he's written, I need to check out Abebooks for more! Troublesome Creek sounds like something I'd enjoy as does The Nix. I struggle a lot with detective fiction, I think I O'Ded on it during the noughties! xxx

  3. Anonymous11/27/2023

    So many good books.

  4. Thank you! I am always on the hunt for good books. The first one looks the best to me!

  5. Thanks for the book reviews! A couple I already read but I really want to read the Beartown series!

  6. You've been reading up a storm!!!

  7. You've read a lot!! The only two I've read are The Dry, which I remember enjoying a lot, and Bookwoman. I liked learning about the blue people, too. I've read three Backman novels and loved two of them. I haven't tried the Beartown series.

  8. It's funny when you read something that you're not sure if you like. It's like, the writing was good. The story was there. But something just did not connect. I call those books "not for me". It's not that it was bad. Just that it didn't click for me.

  9. There are some fascinating books here. I had never heard of the Blue People and had to look them up. I must make a list of books to read . . . although, I've got plenty.:-)

  10. Thanks for that review of Fairy Tale, Hena! Imma gonna pass on this one, but I do want to read Holly. And Sadie sounds interesting!

  11. So many great options here, a few caught my eye. My Kindle is ready, need to check out my local library website.

  12. A few of them sound really good! Thanks for sharing.

  13. I definitely need to check out the Beartown books, and I'm quite intrigued by The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek! Thank you for sharing Hena! xxx

  14. I am always on the lookout for an interesting new read, so I really appreciated your thorough reviews of these books. I hope you had a beautiful weekend!

  15. I appreciate your reviews. The blue skinned people are fascinating. I may have to check this one out. As for Stephen King, I fear he's lost his edge, a sadly common phenomenon among aging writers.

  16. I'm always looking for new reads, thanks for this!


  17. I am listening to Sherlock Holmes stories at this time

  18. I love Fredrik Backmans work - and am eagerly waiting for his next. Thanks for these well constructed synopses and reviews.

  19. Anonymous11/27/2023

    Thanks for sharing! -Christine

  20. The Restoration of Celia Fairchild sounds up my alley. I'm into light reads these days cause the news is heavy enough.

  21. I've only read the first Beartown book and while I liked it a lot I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read the others but perhaps I should. I also think Celia sounds like a story I'd really enjoy.

  22. Sounds likes some good reads! I read The Dry and liked it but it is my least favorite book of Jane Harper. I would recommend you read her other books. I also read the same book you did about the blue people and also spent some time googling about them to find out more info.

  23. Thanks for all these reviews! Some of these would be great gifts for my sister and mom.

  24. I have enjoyed several of Backman’s books but I haven’t read this one yet. Thanks for the reminder to do so. Have a great week!

  25. Interesting that you could like and hate a book at the same time. But I get it. Kinda like a movie we just watched.
    I didn't even know Stephen King was still writing. If I were reading it, I'm sure I would have skimmed a ton of it, LOL

  26. I am impressed by the rate you've been devouring books! 📚🌪️
    Happy Tuesday, Hena!

  27. Thanks for all the good book reviews! I wish I had time to read all of them :)

  28. Wow you are quite the reader, I use to read a lot but don't do that much anymore.

  29. Loved The Dry and the rest of the series is really good, too. The last book is the best! I've read one Backman and would like to read the Beartown books at some point. I want to read the Holly series by Stephen King, but maybe not this one. The Nix sounds awful. No thanks.

  30. You found a few good books.

  31. That's so disappointing to hear about the Stephen King book!

    Corinne x

  32. Anonymous11/28/2023

    The Stephen King book sounds SO good! His books are always so long, but worth it.


  33. You've been devouring books.

  34. I loved Fairytale so much, I did not listen though I read it on kindle. I have Dry and haven't read it as of yet, I always love your reviews.

  35. Thanks for the recommendation. I wanna read the The Restoration of Celia Fairchild, Saddie and My Darling Girl.


  36. Looks like you had some great reads recently! I haven't read the Beartown books, but they are on my TBR as I've heard nothing but praise for them.

  37. Interesting books, thanks for sharing.

  38. Oh very good selection

  39. I like the sound of Perfect Remains and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I've read The Dry and thoroughly enjoyed it and agree with your synopsis.

  40. A wonderful selection. Thanks for the reviews. The Dry looks good to me!

  41. nice books.... well written review....
    thank you for sharing

  42. You know, you do some really interesting reading. I've read Jane Harper, not the Dry yet though, and she is great. The others I am unfamiliar with, for now.

  43. I love Sadie! It's very dark, true, but I think it's well-written and heart-wrenching, too.

  44. I loved Sadie and The Winners had me bawling like a baby!

  45. Love these reviews! I wanna read the first one and the one with the estranged mother. Those sound chilling!

    Krissi of the marquise diamond

  46. Thanks for the great book reviews!

  47. Looks like you had some good books to read. I want to add a few of those to my list.

  48. Wow -- You had an incredibly productive month! I love your take on the different books. The Troublesome Creek seems to grab me th emost!

  49. Perfect timing! We are getting ready to hit the road on our winter adventure. Perfect Remains sounds like it is right up my alley!

  50. Anonymous12/03/2023

    Oh my, you listed some thrilling books here! Love a great thriller, but I also love when a story weaves in many characters' lives together. I think I would love reading The Winners. So happy I stopped by because I have been looking for a good read during this season.


  51. Seems like you had some good reads, thank you for sharing them.

    All the best Jan

  52. Wow this is a pretty good batch, it seems! I do not blame you with DNFing that one, it sounds a mess. Like... were we supposed to agree with this unhinged friend!? I thought Sadie was quite good too, and you have me VERY curious about The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek, I am going to go look that one up now! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these!

  53. Thank you for all of these wonderful books.

  54. Thanks for sharing your book reviews. I'm always looking out for new reads.
    Julia x

  55. I always love the variety of your reads. Those Beartown books are so good! I was like you about there being more than one book. It didn't seem possible there could be more to the story but Backman proved me wrong, haha.

  56. You've read a lot of books lately!! I've only read The Bookwoman one and I loved it. I found them so fascinating! I will check out some of the other ones!

  57. I always enjoy Backman's books, but throughout the Beartown series, he broke and mended my heart. Buckle up for the last book


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