Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

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Yet again, I had held off on a book because of the “hype” that surrounded it. Oopsy poopsy, I missed out for awhile… but so glad I picked it up, because I loved Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. And holy smokes, if you’ve read this one, you will understand why I say that I’m shocked that this was a debut novel!

Barkley Cove has had the mysterious “Marsh Girl” always zipping in and out of town without saying a word. But after many years of this town wondering her story, the handsome, town hero, Chase Andrews is found dead. The “Marsh Girl”, Kya Clark, is the immediate suspect… because there were rumours swirling around about their odd friendship/relationship. Having a tumultuous upbringing, or lack there of one, Kya has survived alone for years in the marsh and has a hard time with human contact. But as she grew up, she became quite the “looker”, and had the interest of two boys from town. When she is torn between the two of them is where the plot gets interesting.

This is a genre-crossing novel, combining mystery, romance, family drama… you think of it and you may find it in here! It’s also a coming of age story of Kya Clark, who at a young age is abandoned, and learns to survive and thrive off the Marsh. As she grows older her interest in the Marsh, and biology eventually flourishes into something worth all the time she has invested in it. Really, the Marsh was her playground as a child, and this novel is an ode to the wonders of wildlife within it. Then, when you least expect it you are thrusted into the solving of a crime.

Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirled and sailed and fluttered on the wind drafts.

What this novel does a great job of is having you flipping the chapters quite quickly. It had me on the age of my seat, but I had to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the beautiful prose that Delia Owen had constructed for the reader. Owen has reminded us of our own childhood, and how we continue to see the place we grew up in, and the magic it holds.

Like I said earlier, Where the Crawdads Sing is a little bit of everything, and I think a wonderful novel that many people will love as much as I did.

Until next time, Happy Friday & here’s to hoping you get lots of reading in this weekend!

 

 

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Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah

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This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I had clients, and close friends, both recommend Winter Garden to me… but the cover just looked so cheesy that I was definitely judged the contents! So when yet another close person to me in my life said, you need to read Winter Garden, I picked it up finally.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard, while the other traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. The one thing that these two sisters have in common is an unbreakable bond with their father, and an almost non-existent relationship with their mother. But when their father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves having to comfort their cold, and distant mother, Anya. As children, the only connection they had with Anya was the unfinished Russian fairy tale she told the girls at night. When their father is dying, he requests one last wish… that Anya tells the whole tale. This begins a curiosity in the girls, who find out that the fairytale, is actually the real life events of Anya in war-torn Leningrad during WW2.  Between the fairytale, and the bonding with their mother, Meredith and Nina discover the harrowing story of their mother’s life before they were in it.

Okay, so be patient with this novel in the first 100 pages. I wasn’t completely hooked until I realized the fairytale was actually Anya’s real life story. But when things really started to unwind, I found I was unable to put it down! I ripped through the last 200 pages in one day.

This was a WW2 history which I wasn’t aware. Learning the St.Petersburg was actually called Leningrad when Stalin was in power was completely new to me. What’s incredible about this story is it’s just the story of a woman and her experience getting through the war. You realize how much could be lost in just a few short years. Then once the war was over, you are expected to live on. How does one do this? How do you just start over? These are the questions that you are asking yourself this whole novel.

Seeing the sisters develop a stronger relationship with their mother was probably the most rewarding part of this novel. You see just how hiding a part of your past can truly affect the people around you. As a mother, I think we want to protect our children from the bad things that happened to us, or the bad things that we had done to other people. But when we open up and become vulnerable, it lets your children know that we are all just humans trying live.

We women make choices for others, not for ourselves, and when we are mothers, we…bear what we must for our children. You will protect them. It will hurt you; it will hurt them. Your job is to hide that your heart is breaking and do what they need you to do.

If you are a lover of historical fiction, and complex family relationships… then this is the perfect novel for you. Because of the large amount of WW2 fiction being produced nowadays, it’s always refreshing to hear a story that you’ve never heard before.

Anywho, that’s all for now. Happy reading, friends!

The Proposal, by Jasmine Guillory

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You may remember a couple reviews back when I read The Proposal. You can check out that review to remember how much I enjoyed that novel… well, this is actually Jasmine GUillory’s first book. The Wedding Date’s main characters, actually make an appearance in The Proposal. And the one thing that they both have in common is that they are fun, extremely readable, and you won’t be able to put them down!

When strangers, Alexa and Drew are trapped in an elevator, they crack into some cheese and crackers, and of course of some flirtatious conversation. When the elevator starts moving again, Drew awkwardly asks Alexa if she’s free Saturday night… to be his “wedding date”. The two of them had nothing more in mind than a fun night. Well, after a really fun night, and then multiple trips back and forth to the separate cities that they both live in, they’ve fought themselves unexpectedly falling in love. Neither are the long-term relationship type, but neither can admit to themselves that this is something more than just some fun weekends. Now they both just need to figure it out!

This is Jasmine Guillory’s first novel, and at moments you can tell, but honestly it doesn’t matter. Her wit and driving plot make up for it! The Wedding Date fits into the romance genre, but it isn’t your typical tropey romance. There is an interracial relationship, and the problems that the couple face because of it are touched on. Alexa is a very successful woman, who doesn’t necessarily fit the conventional Western thoughts on what a woman should look like. She’s also a woman after my heart with a love of Anne of Green Gables, and here’s a great quote I’m going to share with you;

Anne was right to smash her slate over Gilbert’s head—fuck him for calling her Carrots.

One thing that is across both of her books is her description of food is INCREDIBLE. From donuts, to wine, to tacos, you are instantly craving whatever you are reading. This book actually made me want to go run out to the nearest Tim Horton’s and pick up a sprinkle donut. It’s so fun, and refreshing to read an author describe food with such love.

Anywho, if you’re up for a really fun book that you want to rip through next weekend. This may be your next read!

 

The Huntress, by Kate Quinn

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I’ve been anticipating Kate Quinn’s next book for so long now! Harper Collins Canada kindly sent me an advanced copy, and The Huntress will be coming out on February 19th. Kate Quinn’s last novel, The Alice Network, was a New York Times best seller, and the book that I told everyone last year to read. It was fantastic! So when news broke about her writing another novel, I think that all the bookworms in the world started to rejoice.

It’s 1950, five years since the wreckage that WWII brought upon the world, and the world is far from able to forget it as much as they try to. Told through the perspective of three different characters, you are first introduced to the past of Nina Markova from Soviet Russia. Nina is full of piss and vinegar. Actually she probably was the one that that saying was invented for. She dreams of being a pilot, which she becomes, and ends up on the team of all female night bombers in the war, infamously known as the Night Witches. But when her plane is downed in Poland, she meets the notorious Nazi murderess, known as the Huntress. Luckily, Nina survives this encounter. Flash forward to 1950, where Ian Graham who has abandoned journalism to become a Nazi hunter… and also has a little history with Nina… has one target that he is determined to find. The Huntress.
Nina and Ian become a team, travelling around the world on this hunt, that eventually leads them to a young Jordan McBride in Boston, whose stepmother is a quiet, German widow who Jordan has suspected since meeting her is hiding something. Upon some digging it turns out, the secrets will unfold in a dramatic, and thrilling way!

This novel gets a standing ovation from me. All the gold stars, and everyone will be sick and tired of me talking about how incredible this novel is. First off, in the historical fiction world it seems that World War II novels are extremely popular. But this novel is a book about what happens after the War, which in this case was a Nazi hunt. Because I loved SO many things about this novel and I could go on and on about it, I will leave you with a bullet list:

  • Nina’s Russian accent. Kate Quinn captured this so perfectly! I actually found myself reading in a Russian accent. This is bullshit!! A line Nina loved, and I will never forget how well Kate Quinn translated this accent on the page.
  • Salzburg, Austria. This is a place I hold very dear to my heart! First of all, the Sound of Music was shot there, and secondly I made my poor husband go there on our honeymoon and take a 4 hour tour. It’s a stunningly, beautiful town, and I was given all the warm, fuzzy feelings when this town was one of the settings.
  • How the War lived on within these characters. I think for us to forget how the experiences of War are/were engrained in the brains of the people who lived through it. PTSD was something that wasn’t really a “thing” back then, but with our knowledge now, it’s pretty amazing that that generation moved forward.
  • Lastly, the Night Witches. These ladies were badass, and most of the characters that Kate Quinn referenced were real women. They flew, navigated, and bombed the night skies. These Russian women were under slept, peroxiding their hair, and the only flight regiment of women.

Okay, enough of my raving!! Just read this book, it is going to be quite the ride. There’s historical fiction, romance, and tons of thrill.

Happy Sunday!

The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory

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Okay, confession time… I would have said a couple books back that I don’t waste my time reading “chick-lit”. But this book is more than that!! After reading The Kiss Quotient, it was recommended to me that I pick up The Proposal… so I did!! Oh my goodness. If I didn’t have a household of people pulling me in every direction, I would have sat down, and devoured this whole book in a sitting. It was SO. DAMN. GOOD!!!

Deciding to spend your life together shouldn’t be a surprise.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Said actor boyfriend is a complete fool, whom Nik had no intention of anything other than sex. So when he proposes, her genuine shock and NO floors him and the whole crowd at the Dodgers game.

At the game with his sister, Carlos comes to Nik’s rescue and whisks her away from a camera crew by pretending to know her. Well, let’s just say from here the two can’t stop thinking about each other… Each not wanting anything serious the two embark on an rebound, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them gets realized the feelings are a little more serious!!

Where do I start?? How about the diversity in the characters… Nik is a successful black woman, Carlos is a super hot paediatrician, Nik’s friends include a lesbian, and a chunky Korean cupcake maven… I just loved the cast! What was so great about this book was there were no dull moments, it rolled along so well that at one point I realized I had reading 150 pages in a sitting… and that never happens! There was also a really background plot of Nik dealing with some past negative relationship stuff… she even joined a women’s self-defence class to help her overcome some of her self-doubt. In this day in age, Nik’s character is just the bomb. She’s a strong female presence, who finally decides that letting a man see the real vulnerable her doesn’t make her any less of the woman she’s worked on becoming.

Reading two well-written, extremely fun, “chick-lit” novels recently has taught me that when I previously judged the genre, I was knocking it before I tried it. I will now be opening up my mind to books that are in this genre. I think that there is a time and place for every book IF it’s well-written!!! I love to read diverse novels, with complex characters, and big issues. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be super fun. This book makes you remember that feeling when you were a kid, curled up around a book and hoping that no one interrupts you!

Until next time, stay warm & keep reading!

The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang

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Having been placed in the “romance” genre, The Kiss Quotient, is a book I normally wouldn’t pick up. Upon hearing two of my fav authors Roxane Gay, and Taylor Jenkins Reid sing high praises about Helen Hoang’s writing, I decided…. okay, maybe this book is worth giving a shot. This book is reminiscent of The Rosie Project, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine… so if you enjoyed those ones, this one is worth picking up.

Meet Stella Lane, a 3o year old econometrician. She loves her work intensely, but dating is just really not her thing. The little fact that Stella has Asperger’s, makes dating seem more difficult. She hates kissing, speaks the whole, blunt, truth, and has quite a bit of anxiety on the whole process. So she does the logical thing, and hires a male escort, Michael Phan. He’s gorgeous, and martial artist, and is also willing to work with Stella’s plan to teach her how to date… and a couple more things. It’s doesn’t take long for Stella to realize that Michael may be her new obsession, and she starts to think that the feelings are being reciprocated. Here’s where the story gets really interested!

All the things that make you different make you perfect.

I just loved this book! I ripped through it in three days, and literally took it everywhere. The couch, the treadmill, the appointments, the lunch break, it was everywhere I was. Helen Hoang wrote a novel that is a modern re-telling, of Pretty Woman, with a twist. She has served up a novel that is a really fun story, with also some great writing. Without giving anything away, there are some pretty steamy scenes in this book. So if you are not a fan of that, you could possibly flip through or maybe it’s not the book for you.

In the Author’s Note, Hoang tells us that her daughter’s teacher had suggested the fact that she may have Asperger’s. Hoang was not convinced, but started really researching the subject as any parent would. What she found out was really interesting, Autism is represented differently in girls than with boys. She found out that she had a lot of the tendenacies that would lend to herself having Asperger’s. And at age 34 years old, Helen Hoang was diagnosed with Autism, and her daughter may very well be too. SO, long story short, she wrote a fantastic book with a wonderful heroine who really seems to tell the experience so truthfully.

Okay, so if you need a book to get you back into reading, want a book to read in a weekend, or just love great books…. put this book on hold at the library or go get it at your bookstore. It’s a great novel, and now I’m DYING to read Helen Hoang’s next one. It’s the second one in the series called The Bride Test. But wait for it… it’s not out until May 7th 2019. Seriously?!?! I’m dying!

Until next time, happy reading.

The Goddess of Yantai, by Ian Hamilton

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I was super thrilled when I received Ian Hamilton’s new addition to the Ava Lee series, The Goddess of Yantai. This series is one of my all-time favourites! This is the 11th novel in the series, and I highly suggest starting from the very first one if you want to get into this series. This series follows Ava Lee a forensic accountant, who is a Chinese Canadian, and also an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast. Ava chases big money losses, that are usually involving some very shady characters… hence the martial arts! I always say that this series is like the perfect mix of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and a Jackie Chan movie.

In the Goddess of Yantai, Ava travels to Beijing to view the premiere of her secret lover’s film, Pang Fai. After the premiere, Fai tells Ava that she is being blackmailed by the Chinese Movie Syndicate, who want sexual favours in return for continuing her successful career. At this point Fai has just had enough, and decided that she is with Ava’s help, putting an end to it. When they resist, the blackmail, and threats become increasingly worse. Will Ava be able to get to the bottom of it before the threats go to far??

Ekk… I wanted to just rip through this book, as the pace is fast, and the pages practically flip themselves. I actually limited myself to a certain page number each day though, because I found out that the next instalment isn’t out until July 2019.

These books are just fantastic. If you love great writing, an intense pace, and a bit of a thrill, then these are perfect for you. Ian Hamilton pulls in some real world issues into the plot with the #MeToo movement. He also describes the setting and the food so well that I just want to jump on a plane and fly over to Beijing for a trip. And lastly, Hamilton leaves Ava Lee fans on a cliffhanger with some of your favourite characters and a big old plot twist!!

Until next time, happy reading!