Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

4 Stars
Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach: A Novel - Beatriz Williams

Headstrong Virginia Fortescue leaves her home and what's left of her family behind in New York City and begins driving an ambulance in France during World War I. While there she falls in love with a charismatic British army surgeon and as they begin a passionate love affair, she learns that Captain Simon Fitzwilliam is hiding secrets of his own.

Five years later and newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam has just arrived in Cocoa Beach, Florida to settle her husband's estate. There was a house fire, and while his brother confirmed it was indeed Simon inside the house, Virginia has her doubts that he's really dead. After all, Simon was cunning and kept his share of secrets from her - secrets that ruined their marriage and had Virginia fleeing back to New York very early on. But now she needs to uncover the truth, not for herself, but for the sake of their daughter.

I didn't find this one as good as her others. It goes back and forth between when Virginia met and fell in love with Simon and afterwards where we learn they are married but not together and they have a daughter Simon doesn't even know about. At first I didn't like that this was only about one character. Usually we have two different people from two different time periods. I also found that it was a bit overly descriptive; too wordy and repetitious at times. I do love Williams' writing - she paints a vivid picture with real characters. There was no shortage of secrets, lies, and manipulation. The story really picked up towards the end. But the actual ending - I do not understand what happened. I did not enjoy reading this book as much as I like it looking back on it now that it's over.

5 Stars
Murder on the Toy Town Express
Murder on the Toy Town Express: A Vintage Toyshop Mystery - Barbara Early

Liz McCall loves running her father's vintage toy shop. They're getting ready for the big Train and Toy Show but things don't go as Liz envisioned when she learns that her childhood bully and now local business rival, Craig McFadden, has set up a booth right next to hers. And things only get more complicated as Craig plummets from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong. What was thought of as an accident turns out to be murder. Liz's father is a retired police chief who still can't resist getting in on the action. Combine that with her feelings for Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother has been in jail before and is one of the prime suspects, Liz can't help but getting drawn into the investigation herself.


This is the second book in the Vintage Toyshop series. I haven't read the first one yet, but didn't really have any problems reading this one first. We're introduced to lots of characters and almost any one of them could have a reason to want Craig dead, so who did it?! I loved the vintage toy shop with all those old toys and games! They even hold game nights there! This was a quick and easy read with an ending that did not disappoint.


Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for a copy of this book.

4 Stars
The Strawberry Hearts Diner
The Strawberry Hearts Diner - Carolyn Brown

Jancy Wilson is broke, unemployed and now she's without a car. Her plans of going to stay with her cousin in Louisiana go up in smoke when her car catches fire in the tiny town of Pick, Texas. She notices a Help Wanted sign in the window of the quaint Strawberry Hearts Diner. She used to live in Pick when she was a teenager and her memories, along with the diner's famous strawberry tarts, draw her in to the diner and into a job. She only wants to save enough money to get a decent car and continue on her way. Her parents moved from place to place, so Jancy doesn't know what it's like to settle in one place. But as the close-knit community, and an old crush, welcome her with open arms, she's beginning to feel as though this little place in Texas could be home.

The cover caught my eye, it's gorgeous. And though this isn't the typical type of book I go for, it sounded cute and mushy and I thought I'd give it a try. The writing is good. The setting, the characters and the food are all brought to life. Of course it's predictable but that doesn't take away from anything. I do like how Pick is a place where everyone knows everyone and they're supportive of one another and kind, but (and I hate to say this) it also got on my nerves at times.


Thank you to Netgalley and Montlake Romance for a copy of this book.

5 Stars
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is what society would deem "weird" - she is socially inept and tends to say exactly what she is thinking. She has a scarred cheek and wears the same practical clothes year after year. She is a creature of habit. She eats pizza and drinks vodka on the weekends. She has no friends. She's had the same (and only) job since she graduated college. She likes being average. But her world is turned upside down when the new IT guy, Raymond, walks out of work with her one day and they save an elderly mans life. Raymond and the old man, Sammy, teach Eleanor what it's like to have friends. They show her kindness and include her in their plans. They save her from a life of isolation.

This was a good book from start to finish. Eleanor has been through a lot and we see how her childhood has made her into the woman she is today. It gives us a reminder to not be so quick to judge someone; everyone has their own story. I enjoyed reading about her life and seeing her transform into someone capable of opening up and letting people in. I'm happy she found the courage and support to begin digging into her past so that her future could be bright and full of possibility.

5 Stars
No Exit
NO EXIT a gripping thriller full of heart-stopping twists - TAYLOR ADAMS

Darby Thorne is an art student at CU-Boulder. It's almost Christmas. She's on her way to visit her sick mother but a blizzard has stranded her at a desolate highway rest stop. While outside looking for a signal, Darby happens to notice a little girl locked up in the back of a van. Now she has to go back into the building and try to figure out which one of the strangers could be the kidnapper. And she has to figure out how she's going to save the little girl when there is no cell phone reception, no working telephone and nowhere else to go.

This book was intense. It gripped me from page one and did not let go until the very last page. I could not get enough. There was no shortage of twists and turns. There were characters written to make you either love or hate them and it was all very well done. I loved it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Joffe Books for a copy of this book.

5 Stars
Watch Me Disappear
Watch Me Disappear: A Novel - Janelle Brown

Billie Flanagan is a beautiful, charismatic wife and mother. One day while hiking alone in a place called Desolation Wilderness Billie vanishes. It's coming up on the one year anniversary since the incident and her body has still never been found. But her teenage daughter Olive begins seeing her. She takes this as a sign that her mother is still alive and that she wants her to find her. Jonathan is worried about his daughter but as he uncovers secrets about Billie's past he thinks that just maybe Billie is alive out there somewhere. And they're going to find out once and for all what happened.

This book was really good! It has lots of layers - the characters are complex, Billie especially - she was a completely different person before she met Jonathan and she only allows him to have a glimpse of who she was and who she is even well into their marriage. The story flowed well. There was never a dull moment. We'd be trying to figure out what happened to Billie and then we'd be hit with secrets of hers that I did not see coming. I couldn't stand not knowing if she was dead or alive. I thought I had the ending figured out but I was wrong. I loved it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a copy of this book.

4 Stars
Black Light Express
Black Light Express (Switch Press:) - Philip Reeve

Zen Starling and Nova have travelled all over the Network Empire, but they've never passed through a new gate - one that should not exist at all. They've been through a lot and can't go back so their only option is to go through.


There is a new Empress of the Great Network who has just chosen to take a criminal named Chandni Hansa out of the freezer and into her world to help find Zen Starling. But railwar erupts and they're running for their lives.


Everyone ends up at the mysterious Black Light Zone - a world no longer in use with secrets to uncover.


This is the sequel to Railhead and it picks up where book one left off. The creativity is still strong and we have some of the same characters we saw in the first book. This is action-packed as Zen and Nova race through new worlds, avoiding bad trains and bad people, and hoping to make it home alive. I found this book just a teensy bit long, but overall it was really good. And like the first book there is a glossary in the back to help us understand what's what.


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

4 Stars
Railhead - Philip Reeve

Zen Starling is a petty thief. He thinks he has just been caught stealing but instead he has been chosen for a mission by a mysterious stranger named Raven. Zen has to infiltrate the Emperor's train and steal something Raven desperately wants. He has always wanted to traverse the Great Network - a vast place of a thousand gates leading to very different places, of Station Angels, drones, maintenance spiders and many different trains all with their own personalities. Zen Starling jumps at the chance to see the worlds and steal something big.

I'm not really into made up worlds and stuff like that but this book sounded interesting enough to give it a go. And I must say it was really good! There is a very helpful glossary at the back. I really enjoyed going into these weird new worlds and meeting different types of creatures and trains. I was fond of Uncle Bugs. He is a Hive Monk which is a million bugs clinging together to form a human-shaped skeleton by using old junk like a cloak and a face mask. Very creative!

4 Stars
The Weight of Lies
The Weight of Lies - Clara Emily Carpenter

Meg Ashley is the daughter of famous author Frances Ashley. Frances wrote a book called "Kitten" and everyone is gearing up for the fortieth anniversary of its publication. This bestselling horror novel became a cult favourite and the Kitty Cult has been trying to solve the murder which has been based on real people at a real location. Meg and her mother have never gotten along. Although she lives a life of privilege, Meg's childhood had been a solitary one and her mother has always been a manipulator. Now Meg wants to be free of Frances Ashley and decides a tell-all memoir is the way to do it. She travels to Bonny Island, Georgia, to dig into her mother's past. She starts investigating the murder herself and talking to the woman who was the inspiration for her mother's book. As Meg begins asking questions and sorting through all the lies, the disturbing truth is finally uncovered.


I loved the setting. Bonny Island was swarming with people after Kitten came out but now, forty years later, the Gothic-mansion-turned-hotel, is shut down. The owner, a cook, a housekeeper and a groundskeeper are the only ones left on this beautiful, quiet island. It's not fast-paced but the suspense made me keep turning the pages. Who killed little Kim Baker?! There's another twist in the book before we find out who the murderer is, which I didn't like at first, but without it the book wouldn't have come together as well as it did.


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

3 Stars
The Last Night at Tremore Beach
The Last Night at Tremore Beach - Mikel Santiago

Peter Harper is a world-renowned composer. He's taking some time to clear the cobwebs after a recent divorce and dry spell in creativity and he's spending the summer on the Irish coast. Tremore Beach is beautiful and isolated. His neighbours are good people. He's involved with a wonderful woman. And his kids are coming to visit. But after he's struck by lightning one stormy night, Peter starts getting wicked headaches and having strange dreams; dreams that are so real Peter doesn't know where they end and reality begins. But he soon figures out that these dreams may be warnings of things to come.

I liked the setting. I liked the concept - a man struck by lightning begins having vivid dreams about his loved ones being hurt by strangers. But then the other part of the story, the one that wraps everything up, just didn't do it for me. It left me disappointed.

5 Stars
Fierce Kingdom
Fierce Kingdom: A Novel - Gin Phillips

Joan and her four-year-old son have been playing in a secluded part of the zoo, but now they're cutting it close as the zoo is about to close for the day. As they hurry toward the exit Joan immediately turns around, Lincoln in her arms, and races back into the zoo. Those pops she heard earlier weren't balloons bursting or fireworks - they were gunshots and there is a man with a gun at the exit. Joan loves the zoo and it's her knowledge of this place - the hidden pathways and what exhibit is empty - that keeps them one step ahead of danger for the next three hours. She will do whatever it takes to protect her son.

With a cover like that and especially after reading the blurb I desperately wanted to read it right away. As an animal lover it pains me to read about fictional animals being hurt and killed and since this takes place in a zoo I figured it would happen. (I skimmed over those parts and I'm pretending they didn't happen!) But this book is so good! I couldn't help but fall in love with little Lincoln. His imagination and the love he has for his mother - their bond - it was something special. I was totally absorbed in this and if life didn't get in the way I would've read it in one sitting. It was very intense. Never a dull moment.

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book.

4 Stars
Now You Know Canada
Now You Know Canada: 150 Years of Fascinating Facts - Doug Lennox, Jean-Marie Heimrath

This book is packed with facts all about Canada and Canadians. The author covers a variety of subjects from geography, sports, disasters, war and heroes. What I enjoyed reading about the most - baseball, war, explorers and those who weren't afraid to lead the way and stand up for what they believed in. It was fun to read about some of the brave Canadians who helped shape this country into what it is today!


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

4 Stars
Betrayal In Blue
Betrayal In Blue: The Shocking Memoir Of The Scandal That Rocked The NYPD - Ken Eurell, Frank C. Girardot Jr., Burl Barer
Mike Dowd and Kenny Eurell were two cops who ran the most powerful gang in New York's 75th precinct. They were drug dealers and they robbed drug dealers. They stole drugs, money and guns not only from criminals but also from the homes of people who had just called in saying their home had been broken into and they took these things from dead people's pockets. They formed an alliance with Adam Diaz who was the kingpin of a Dominican drug cartel. Mike and Ken were raking in big money and they were buying fancy cars, nice homes, and treating their wives to a life of luxury. Everyone knew what was going on but an officer could not squeal on another officer and the bosses did not want a public scandal so they turned a blind eye. But they couldn't get away with it forever. Mike, Ken and their fellow partners were eventually arrested and soon the newspaper headlines read "The biggest police scandal in New York history"

Wow. The amount of stuff the cops got away with in New York in the 1980's is unreal. It makes me wonder what went on in other places around the world, and how much of it is still happening to this day. Who are we supposed to turn to when the very people who are supposed to protect us are so damn crooked? Mike Dowd especially was just so brazen and so arrogant and flashy. This is quite the story of greed and very interesting (and frustrating) to read about.

Thank you to Netgalley and WildBlue Press for a copy of this book.
4 Stars
Gone Without a Trace
Gone Without a Trace - Mary Torjussen

Hannah Monroe returns home one night to find her boyfriend of four years gone. All his belongings are gone and everything of Hannah's has been put back the way they were before Matt moved in. All trace of him being in her life is gone - the call logs, the texts, pictures. His cell number is no longer in use and all his social media accounts have been deleted. She can't understand why he'd do this but she's desperate to find him so he'll know she's not mad at him and he can explain himself when he comes back to her. She'll do whatever it takes to track him down.

Right from the beginning I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. What happened to Matt?! Things weren't moving fast enough. It was so suspenseful. Then when I found out, eh. I wasn't really surprised. There was one thing I didn't see coming that tied the whole story together but it just felt anticlimactic. I wish a few things could've been different. I feel so let down. But the first three quarters of the book was intense!

4 Stars
Caught on Camera
Caught on Camera - Madelle Morgan

Rachel Lehmann is a young chambermaid who dreams of working on Hollywood film sets. She's accepted into Toronto Film School, but she needs $35,000 for tuition by the end of summer. Luckily for her there is going to be a big wedding full of famous people at the Inn she works at. She'll just take candid photos of the guests and sell them. But her idea seems even better when she's asked to fill in for a missing bridesmaid, pretending to be the bride's cousin. But she falls head over heels for Mickey McNichol, a talent agent to the stars. He also falls hard for the bride's so-called cousin. He thinks he's finally met a beautiful woman he can trust. But that trust will be broken beyond repair if Rachel sells the wedding pictures.


This is a cute little romantic comedy. It has insta-love and is predictable but I found myself totally absorbed in Rachel's star-studded world. I liked all the characters and how their antics added a little drama to the weekend of the wedding. And I really liked that it took place in Canada! A fun, well-written beach read - just make sure you can get online because there's also a playlist, which I thought was a nice touch. I'll keep an eye out for the second in the series!


Thank you to the author for sending me a copy through a Booklikes giveaway.

5 Stars
The Ex
The Ex: A Novel - Alafair Burke

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she gets a call about her ex-fiancé, Jack Harris, being arrested for a triple homicide, she knows two things: 1. He didn't do it, and 2. This is her chance to make it up to him.


Jack Harris is a widow. He hasn't been interested in women since his wife was shot and killed three years ago. But on his early morning run along the Hudson River he spots a beautiful woman in last night's party dress, barefoot, drinking champagne out of a bottle and reading his favourite book. He tells his good friend Charlotte about the sighting and she immediately puts up a "missed moment" post on her popular website. Days later the beautiful woman responds to the "missed moment" post, gets in touch with Jack and invites him to meet her in person at the waterfront.. where a triple murder takes place at the same time they were scheduled to meet.


I thought this book was clever. It's full of twists and turns that kept me guessing. I was convinced Jack was innocent one minute and then I was convinced he was guilty the next - this went on throughout the whole book. It was well-written, not too bogged down with legal terms. The ending wasn't quite what I wanted it to be, but it's still a five star read.