Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

5 Stars
The Gates of Evangeline
The Gates of Evangeline - Hester Young

After the sudden death of her young son, Charlie Cates begins to have vivid dreams involving children. But she soon realizes that these are not dreams - they are messages sent to her so she can help those who need it. One of these children is a little boy in a boat. This takes her from Connecticut to Louisiana where she has an invitation to stay at Evangeline - the sprawling estate belonging to the Deveau's. Thirty years ago Gabriel Deveau went missing in the middle of the night never to be found. Charlie believes the boy in her vision is Gabriel and while trying to find him, she uncovers many long-buried secrets within the Deveau famiy.

This book has been on my tbr list for years. I'm sorry I waited so long because this book was great! It was well-written, the whole story flowed smoothly and the characters were three-dimensional. I especially liked Keegan, Charlie's son who passed away. I enjoyed the mystery and secrets surrounding a family who has been in Louisiana for hundreds of years. Just when I thought I had everything figured out the author would add in another detail or make me think back to something I read earlier that I thought wasn't important. There was never a dull moment. I absolutely loved it!

5 Stars
The Breakdown
The Breakdown - B. A. Paris

It's a stormy night and Cass Anderson is taking an isolated shortcut back to her house. She finds it odd that there's another vehicle on the lane and while Cass does stop to see if they need help all kinds of bad scenarios come to mind and plus the driver never indicted they needed help, so off she goes. Only to learn the next day that the driver of that car has been murdered. And Cass knew her. She can't confide in her husband because he told her not to take the shortcut and she promised him she wouldn't. She's convinced the murderer knows who she is. Ever since the murder she's been getting calls from an unknown number, she feels as though she's being watched and that someone has been inside her home. And she's been very forgetful - she couldn't find her car, she doesn't remember ordering things from the shopping channel, she can't remember the code for the alarm, or how to work the washing machine. Something's going on and Cass wants to get to the bottom of it.

Right from the very beginning this is a page-turner. It has a very sinister vibe throughout. I liked the setting - Cass lives at the end of road and her house is isolated. The murder happened not far from there. I couldn't wait to find out exactly what happened to that poor woman on that stormy night. I wasn't disappointed!

5 Stars
Alone - Cyn Balog

Fifteen-year-old Seda thought it was cool to spend the summer at the old mansion her mother inherited, but now it's starting to snow and she just wants to go back to Boston, back to school and her best friends and her crush, back to civilization. The mansion is in the middle of nowhere, it's falling apart, there's no cell service, no landline and it's just plain creepy especially since it was last used as a murder mystery hotel. And Seda's mother won't sell it unless the new owners will keep it as a murder mystery hotel. When a group of teenagers show up as a result of their car going in a ditch and nowhere else to go, Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter - even though she knows something bad is going to happen.

I was at the halfway point when I crawled into bed, thought I'd read a chapter before I fell asleep. I was beyond tired. I ended up finishing the book before I could go to sleep that's how good it was. It was so well-written that everything flowed together and I couldn't set it down because what happens next??? How does it end? The suspense! I absolutely loved the creepy old mansion with its many added on wings and secret passageways. And it was used as a murder mystery hotel! That obviously made the book what it was - which was amazing! 

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this book.

4 Stars
The Finishing School
The Finishing School - Joanna Goodman

The Lycée is celebrating its 100th anniversary and not only has Kersti Kuusk been invited back to the elite boarding school in Switzerland where she spent four years of her life, she has been selected as one of their "One Hundred Women of the Lycée." But for Kersti this opens up an old wound. Almost twenty years ago Kersti's best friend, Cressida, fell from her fourth-floor balcony just before graduation. This was quickly deemed an accident and the whole thing was over and done with before any publicity. But Kersti can't help but dig around especially with the anniversary coming up and after receiving a letter from an old friend of theirs from Lycée. Kersti never forgot Cressida's obsession with a secret club that was banned years before their arrival, a secret club that had two of its members expelled from the school - something that had never happened before or since. Kersti is determined to get answers about the club and about what happened to her best friend that night long ago.


I could not get enough of this book! I love reading about boarding schools. The chapters go back and forth between past and present and I did enjoy both, but there's always something about the past that makes me like it just a little bit more. I loved the setting - the beautiful mountains, the crisp air, the light powdery snow. I liked the twists and turns, the friendships and the suspense.

4 Stars
Come Sundown
Come Sundown - Nora Roberts

The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family owned business that is home to four generations. Sitting on over thirty thousand acres it's kept busy by lots of vacationers and kept running by a large staff which includes big boss Bodine Longbow. Although the family is very close, Bodine's aunt Alice ran away before she was even born and never came back. She hasn't been heard from in over twenty-five years and she's not often talked about. No one ever imagined that she'd been close by for so long, kept prisoner in a basement, having unimaginable things happen to her. When one of the bartenders from the resort is found dead, it's the first sign that danger is close by.


This is a big book! It took me a long time to get into it. It's mostly all about the ranch and resort - what goes on during work days with the horses and who is going to work where on whatever day. There's lots of cooking. I was confused the whole time (and still am) about who was Bodine's nana and who was her grammy. It seemed everyone was getting married after a first date. The big reveal was anticlimactic for me. "Sir" drove me nuts with his misogynist bullshit and I absolutely hated him!! But despite all these things I found myself wrapped up in all their drama. The characters were strong and the setting was beautiful. And I loved the horses.


I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for an ARC.

2 Stars
The Color of Our Sky
The Color of our Sky - Amita Trasi

The time has come for young Mukta to fulfil her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. It's what happens when you're from the lower caste of Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes. Mutka's mother wants desperately for her to have a better life. Eventually she ends up in a foster family in Bombay where she becomes friends with eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family. Mukta treasures their friendship and when she is kidnapped one night in Tara's bedroom, she knows that Tara will find her.

Eleven years after the kidnapping, Tara is still blaming herself for what happened. But she will not give up searching for her long-lost friend and she will uncover some interesting secrets along the way.

I thought this was going to be a solid read filled with strong characters. But I was wrong. I feel bad because this covers a serious topic - human trafficking - but from cover to cover this was boring. I can't believe I read every page until 43% when the idea finally came to me to skim the rest. I feel as though it wasn't fully developed and didn't live up to its potential. Some things were convenient and predictable. A disappointing read for sure.

2 Stars
Uncommon Type: Some Stories
Uncommon Type: Some Stories - Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks has written seventeen stories all of which have at least one typewriter in them. Sadly, for me, most of these stories were VERY boring. They're long and filled with nothing memorable. I loved the first story, "Three Exhausting Weeks" which is about friends who have known each other since high school who suddenly take things to the next level. I thought it was jam-packed with adventure and I did like the characters (who are in two other stories as well). And I liked "A Month on Greene Street" which is about a single mother and her three children moving into a new house and at first she thinks her neighbour is weird, desperate and unemployed and she does whatever she can to avoid him, but it turns out she was wrong about him. I found all the other stories extremely painful to get through and I'm so happy I'm done!


I won an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to Knopf for my copy.

5 Stars
The Stolen Marriage
The Stolen Marriage - Diane Chamberlain

Twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello is engaged to the love of her life. Their wedding day is getting close. So it doesn't make sense to her fiancé when she abruptly ends their engagement and runs off to marry a stranger. Tess leaves Baltimore and moves to Hickory, North Carolina. Her husband, Henry Kraft, is secretive and distant and he often stays out late or doesn't bother to come home at all. She doesn't fit in with the people of Hickory. They all love and respect the Kraft's and view Tess as an outsider, someone who's after his money. Unhappy in Hickory and trapped inside a loveless marriage, Tess is desperate to get her old self back which happens when a sudden polio epidemic erupts and their small town is selected as the perfect spot for a hospital. Everyone in Hickory helps build this hospital in just over two days. Against her husband's wishes Tess begins helping out as a nurse and soon finds herself very happy to be of help to the young victims. But her husband's behaviour is taking its toll on Tess who wants some answers and wants out of their marriage.


Another five star read by Diane Chamberlain. A solid, interesting story with three-dimensional characters. I liked the setting and the fact that the people of Hickory really did build, staff and get a hospital up and running in fifty-four hours. Wow! That's impressive. I really liked Tess and was rooting for her to find happiness after everything she'd been through. Chamberlain has a way of making you feel part of instead of simply reading a book. I loved it!


Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC.

4 Stars
Unreliable - Lee Irby

Edwin Stith lives in Ithica, New York, where he is a college professor. He has returned home to Richmond, Virginia, for his mother's wedding to a man who's slightly older than Edwin himself. Edwin is an enigma. He has an ex-wife and he may or may not have killed her. He may or may not be sleeping with one of his students. He's about to have a stepsister and he may or may not have killed her. 

I found this hard to get into and I think it's because Edwin actually talks to us, the readers, throughout the book. I did not like that. But once the story gets going it was hard for me to put the book down. Edwin's trip home lasts three days and those days are jam-packed with drama. There's a diverse bunch of characters and I enjoyed them all. I had no clue how it would end and I couldn't wait to find out. I was really surprised! Looking back on the book now that I've finished it I would say it's actually quite clever. I feel as though I've known Edwin forever and I'm sad we had to say goodbye. 

I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Doubleday Books.

4 Stars
Kiss Me in New York
Kiss Me in New York - Catherine Rider

Charlotte is waiting for her flight back home to England after spending a semester in New York. Her boyfriend has just ended their relationship and now her flight is cancelled due to a blizzard. To make matters worse it's Christmas Eve. But she's not the only one having a bad day - Anthony, a native New Yorker, is surprising his girlfriend at the airport after spending three months apart. But it's him who's surprised when he gets dumped in the middle of the crowded airport. Anthony doesn't want to go home, and Charlotte isn't able to go home, so together they end up following the steps in a book found in the airport gift shop - Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex - in the hopes that their broken hearts will be mended.


This is a cute, short read. The story is predictable, of course, and I'm taking it for what it is which is just a fluffy, feel good read. But these two met not even 24 hours ago and they already love each other! Anthony was in a relationship for just over a year! But overall I did enjoy this book. I felt as though I was there with them on their journey through New York as they crossed the steps off the list. My favourite character would have to be Mistake (even though it's a horrible name!)


I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Kids Can Press for an ARC.

1 Stars
The Marsh King's Daughter
The Marsh King's Daughter - Karen Dionne

A notorious child abductor, known as the Marsh King, has just escaped from a maximum security prison and Helena immediately knows that she and her two young daughters are in danger. Helena is the Marsh King's daughter. She was born into captivity and didn't leave the cabin or the surrounding area until she was twelve.


I won this through a Goodreads giveaway and was so looking forward to reading it once I got my hands on it. But after reading about SO MANY dead animals and every excruciating detail about every little thing, especially the chapters about when she was a kid growing up in the wilderness, I had to set it aside. I would pick it up every now and then but it wasn't holding my attention and at a third of the way through I didn't care anymore. It was too tedious so I skimmed. While skimming I came across more dead animals and decided to just skip to the end, which came as no surprise to me.

4 Stars
Sinful Pleasures
Sinful Pleasures - Janine Ashbless, Ella Scandal, Sonni de Soto, Jo Henny Wolf, Lily Harlem, Lady Divine, Gail Williams, Samantha MacLeod, Tony Fyler, Ellie Barker, Lisa McCarthy

Sinful Pleasures consists of eleven steamy short stories. The good thing about short stories about sex is that things don't get stale and repetitious. Of course there's probably going to be at least one you don't like but all in all it's fun to read something different and get a glimpse inside someone else's imagination. I really enjoyed The Dream Feeder - I thought it was well-written. The story was weird but in a good way; it was creative. I also enjoyed On The Line - I thought the writing was really good and I liked the two young characters who were inexperienced with each other but were a little bit bolder through the phone. And I also enjoyed Lazy Sunday - there was a lot of depth to their relationship. They don't take what they have for granted, and they're spontaneous and fun even after fifteen years together. And I love that cover! 

Thank you to Sinful Press and LibraryThing.

3 Stars
Watching Edie
Watching Edie - Camilla Way

Heather was immediately drawn to Edie. Edie was new in town, she was beautiful and creative, and she didn't know Heather was an outcast. But their friendship gradually starts to deteriorate when Edie falls in love with a handsome bad boy named Connor. All that is in the past now. They're no longer teenagers and they're no longer friends. Edie works as a waitress. She's pregnant and alone. When the baby arrives she becomes overwhelmed and sinks into a depression. There's no one she can turn to for help. Until Heather suddenly shows up at her door and begins to take care of the baby with no questions asked. But there's so much that has been left unspoken, too much has happened when they were teenagers for their friendship to ever go back to the way it was when they first met all those years ago.

This book goes back and forth between before the incident and after. Edie's perspective is told in the present and Heather's is told in the past. I couldn't wait to find out what tore their friendship apart, and when I finally found out, well, it just wasn't what I thought would happen. I think there are so many layers to both characters that ultimately we can see how things shaped them into who they were as teenagers and as adults. I thought Edie really grew as an adult and I did enjoy the very end.

4 Stars
The Address
The Address: A Novel - Fiona Davis

Sara Smyth is working her way up to head housekeeper in a posh London hotel when she's offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Theodore Camden, one of the architects of The Dakota - a new apartment house in New York - offers her a job. This is a big deal for a woman in 1884. It also gives her the chance to see more of Theo as he lives in The Dakota with his wife and three children.

It's 1985 and Bailey Camden is fresh out of rehab and struggling to stay sober. The former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless and has no money. Her cousin Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her Dakota apartment as well as stay there for a while. Bailey doesn't agree with Melinda's vision for the old apartment that was once owned by Melinda's own great-grandfather Theodore Camden, the same apartment where he was stabbed to death by a madwoman and former Dakota employee named Sara Smyth. 

Even though one hundred years separate Sara and Bailey, they both take refuge within the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a famous building rich with both history and tragedy can't hold its secrets forever and when Bailey goes looking through old trunks once belonging to Theo, his wife Minnie and Sara she discovers something unbelievable.

I liked Sara's story more than Bailey's because there's just something about that time period - a big monstrosity of an apartment house outside of the city proper which is actually something really beautiful even to this day! The author makes The Dakota come alive with rich details. Many famous people made their home there with its charm and character. I thought both women were kind, strong, hard workers. I liked the twists and turns. I liked that the author used real places and events and even a real (and very interesting) person makes an appearance! Overall two very interesting and readable stories that weave their way into one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group Dutton for a copy of this book.

2 Stars
The Night Child
The Night Child: A Novel - Anna Quinn

Nora Brown lives a quiet life with her husband and six-year-old daughter in Seattle. She's an English teacher at a high school. It's the last day before Thanksgiving break and she'll be going away with her family, but before she leaves her classroom she sees a girls face floating on top of the drapes. She's terrified - does this mean she's going crazy or is she just tired? Over Thanksgiving vacation she sees the face again, and this time the girl whispers "remember the Valentine's dress." Nora eventually talks to a psychiatrist where a secret that was hidden deep within is revealed.


The best part of this book, to me, is that it's short. I feel bad for saying all this but the characters weren't really fleshed out, the writing was just okay and I couldn't really get into the story. I figured when I read in the blurb about Nora seeing a face there would be a little bit of a thrill, some tension, SOMETHING! But what happened in the book wasn't what I was expecting. But kudos to the author for writing about a serious subject, something that some people can relate to and maybe even make them feel like they're not alone and that it's not their fault.


Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for a copy of this book.

4 Stars
The Visitors
The Visitors - Catherine Burns

Marion Zetland is a shy spinster who still lives in her childhood home. It's a crumbling, filthy old mansion set on the edge of a seaside resort. Her domineering older brother, John, still lives there as well. It's easier to live by her brother's rules and so she remains blissfully ignorant to the sounds she hears deep down in the cellar. But when John can no longer look after the women downstairs, Marion has no choice but to go down there and see the extent of John's secret life.

I love the cover. I did enjoy this book and thought it was very well-written but it's not quite what I was expecting. I figured the book would be a little darker than it was, but instead it's more character driven. Sometimes we travel back in time to Marion's childhood, and we see that she was picked on, had no friends, and that her parents didn't pay a whole lot of attention to her and if they did they weren't supportive of her. We can kind of understand how Marion turned out the way she did - a shy, middle-aged woman who just craves some company. It was somewhat suspenseful but overall I'm a little disappointed because it just wasn't what I thought it would be.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for a copy of this book.