Six Degrees Of Separation – September 2021

Six Degrees of Separation is the brain child of Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best where we all start with the same book, and head down the rabbit hole to add six more, and see where our links take us!

Follow the hashtag #6degrees on Twitter to check out everyone else’s chains. Six Degrees of Separation takes place on the first Saturday of the month.

This month, the starting book is Second Place by Rachel Cusk.

Second Place has a yellow cover, so I decided that I am going to link straight to a book with a yellow cover that I just finished reading: The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent.

The Summer Job is about Birdy, a woman who poses as her best friend, and spends the summer working as a sommelier in a Scottish hotel. While her best friend Heather is an actual trained sommelier, Birdy knows basically nothing about wine at all.

Since The Summer Job is about a sommelier and features a lot of wine. I’ve decided to jump next to one of my fave genres – cozy mysteries! Decanting A Murder by Nadine Nettman is about a sommelier who has to solve a murder while at a wine tasting event.

From here, we are going to another cozy mystery with a staircase on the cover (because why not?). So Peril In Paperback by Kate Carlisle is next.

Next I’m jumping to Confessions Of A Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green, which a book I read earlier in the year.

Fawn, the owner of the bookstore in Confessions Of A Curious Bookseller has a huge soft spot for cats, and so I feel like she would attract the cats in Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot.

Have you read any of the books on this list? Did you like them? Let me know your thoughts!

Cover Reveal: Not Seeking Mr Right

Not Seeking Mr Right by Natasha Moore

Ginny Colburn can’t believe she’s been dumped by her wedding date. And everybody knows it. 

So when a cute, younger man serving champagne to the guests flirts with her, she decides to really give the guests something to talk about and flirts back. But the incredible, rebound, one-night stand gives her more than great memories. A few weeks later she’s holding a positive pregnancy test.

Josh Anderson finally has his degree and is ready to make his mark on the world, but then he finds out he’s going to be a father. He’s too young to settle down and Lakeside is way too small for his big dreams. Ginny doesn’t expect him to stick around anyway and makes it clear she’s ready to be a single mom, but Josh won’t run away from his responsibilities.

But just as they’re starting to think maybe what they have is real, Josh gets a job offer he can’t refuse. Surely Ginny can’t follow a guy half her age across the country just because they’re having a baby together… Can she?

Goodreads

August Wrap Up

August turned out to be a very slow reading month for me. I went into it with plans to read a lot, but plans changed, the kiddo and I moved to a new apartment, and therefore August was eaten up by packing, moving and unpacking. Not a lot of time left over for reading. But we got it done, we are settled, and school went back this week which means we are slowly getting into a new normal, and a new schedule.

So August was a slow month, I only managed to read 4 books. Between packing and moving, I couldn’t find a ton of motivation to squeeze in some reading time. And priorities. Hopefully September will be much better.

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh. I had mixed feelings about this book, and a love/hate relationship with the main protagonist Lil. It is a fun story, a group of people on a mini bus trip around Europe. But at times, Lil made it feel like a very long bus trip where all I wanted to do was get off. And at other times, I quite liked her, and was glad I stayed on. Lil’s daughter Cassie is a lot more likeable, and I enjoyed her scenes a lot. This was my first book by Judy Leigh, though I have plenty more on my TBR.

The Story Of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. This was a re-read for me. I read it as a child and loved it, and wanted to read it again. I still have my soft spot for Tracy Beaker, but as I’m now older, I will say that some of her shenanigans and constant whining did start to get a bit much after a while. I am slowly working my way back through Jacqueline Wilson’s work, and can’t wait to hopefully get stuck into some more.

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. I really liked this book. It was gritty and covered a lot of plot in such a short book. I flew through it, I think it only took a few hours to finish it.

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter. This was my favourite read in August, and the only book of the month that I rated 5 stars. It is a creepy middle grade with a haunted house element to it. It would have been a bit much for my 7 year old to handle, but I definitely enjoyed it. You can check out my full review of The Dollhouse here.

Book Review: Whisper Cottage

Whisper Cottage – Anne Wyn Clark

How well do you know the woman next door?

When Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage, they’re hoping for a fresh start. Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend.  
 
Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. And when she hears strange noises in the night, she is forced to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems. 
 
Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home? 

Whisper Cottage is full of gossip, crossed wires, and misunderstandings that lead to some truly shocking things.

I have lived in a small town. I have lived in a small British village where everyone knows everyone’s business. So I understand a lot of Whisper Cottage in ways I wish I didn’t. I know what it is like to be the house that everyone talks about.

Stina and Jack are eager to move away from their high crime city when they discover they are expecting their first child. They find what appears to be the perfect cottage in a small, quiet village. The old woman next door, Mrs Barley, quickly becomes a friend, and beyond that a member of the family. But the rest of the village doesn’t seem to like her very much. There are many tales about witchcraft, and the village residents blame her for absolutely everything that goes wrong. From stomach aches to accidental deaths, it’s all Mrs Barley’s fault.

There are secrets, mysteries, hidden skeletons in Mrs Barley’s house, but it is not what anyone thinks, and the twists definitely surprised me. Whisper Cottage is a slow paced, slow build, with a heavy layer of eeriness all the way through. I could never quite tell where the story was going, and yet I was constantly waiting for the next twist to drop.

This was so good I couldn’t put it down and I ended up reading it cover to cover in just one sitting. Creepy, sinister neighbours, completely brilliant.

Do you like thrillers? Let me know your faves!

Netgalley and Avon Books UK provided me with the ARC copy of Whisper Cottage. These are my honest thoughts.

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip — the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady.

The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect — not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed — a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse . . .

When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn’t looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?

Somewhere in the back of my mind, this reminded me of a set of books I used to read in school. There were three children: Biff, Chip, and Kipper, and they had a magic key that would glow and suck them into an old dollhouse and the children would have magical adventures. Does anyone remember those? The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story reminded me slightly of that, only with a much eerier vibe.

Alice and her mom move into an old Georgian house, where her mom is going to work as a nurse and caretaker to elderly Mrs Bishop. The house seems perfectly normal at first, but when Alice falls asleep things start to happen. Is she dreaming or is it something else? Alice is curious, and eager to discover the secrets hidden inside the house, and the mystery of the dollhouse that lives in the attic.

The story is sufficiently creepy, and constantly had me wondering just what was going on, and what would happen next. At times it felt like I had the answers and then something else would happen to make me question it. And I will admit that not one of my guesses turned out to be correct.

The one thing I will say about this book is that although it is a middle grade, I personally did find it to be a little creepy. I don’t think I’m an easily spooked person but this did manage it. And as the mother of an almost 8 year old, I would want to wait until she is quite a bit older before I attempt to read this with her as I know that some of the themes and scenes would terrify her and she would most definitely have nightmares. One of the main themes of this book is death, and while she is not a stranger to that, it is also not a theme she is currently able to handle in her books.

All that being said, the imagination that brings the story to life is quite special. The voice of the narrator, Alice, really does pull you in and make you feel like you are experiencing it right along with her. The mystery really is solved as Alice discovers pieces of information, and everything unfolds gradually.

Do you like creepy stories? Tell me your faves in the comments!

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC copy of The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story to read and review.

Book Review: The Willing

The Willing by Lindsay Lees

In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?

The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.

Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.

Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.

To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imagined. 

The Willing by Lindsay Lees has an interesting premise with a sort of Handmaid’s Tale kind of a vibe.

It is set in a dystopian country where crime has seemingly been completely eradicated, but there is false sense of perfection and freedom that the leaders enforce for the sake of control.

It took me a while to get into the story.  There are several perspectives within the book, and at first I only really liked Gypsy’s character.  It took me quite a while to warm up to the others.

It has an odd, dark kind of feel to it, that I did enjoy.  There are a few unexpected twists, and a few that I saw coming before they arrived. And I will say that the ending was a surprise, and totally not where I wanted to plot to go.

This was a fairly quick read, fast-paced. There were some aspects that I would have liked to have more time spent on them, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme that is currently being hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

And just like that, it is Monday again. I had a busy week last week. I’m moving at the end of the month, so my week was filled with appointments and viewings, and now that I have a place lined up, it is on to the packing! Current situation is a sea of boxes. Lottie has discovered she is good at, and enjoys, packing. Who knew? Give a 7 year old a tape gun and stuff gets done.

It does however mean that last week was a slow reading week. Between the slight stress, and slight excitement, I haven’t found a whole lot of time to take a breath and sit and read. And let’s face it, in all likelihood that will be my August. Lottie starts back at school in three weeks, and I still haven’t even contemplated starting back to school shopping.

With that said:

What I read last week:

Technically I’m still working my way through Lil’s Bus Trip, so I’m currently reading it, but I was also reading it last week, so that counts. It’s fun, a mixed bunch of people on a European mini bus tour, it’s an adventure. But the main character, Lil, I do find her a little exhausting and tedious at times. Like if I were actually on the bus trip with Lil, I would want to get off. I think she’s supposed to be a ‘cool’ OAP, but I wouod rather stay home. That said, I’m only 9 chapters in, so there is still time for it to pick up a bit, and maybe the woman gets less annoying. Lil’s 60-ish year old daughter Cassie is also on the bus trip. Cassie writes depressing poems which she recites while playing a banjo. She is much more interesting to me, and at this point, she is the only reason I am still reading.

What I am reading now:

Yeah, so while looking for something kind of fun and lighthearted on Kindle Unlimited yesterday, I found this. The Birthday by Carol Wyer. It is neither. It’s good, and I was instantly hooked, and have somehow flown through 13 chapters. It’s stressful, and gut-wrenching, but that is what I am currently reading. I mean, I love thrillers, and this has so far hit every single emotion I possess.

What I’m reading next:

Last Lullaby is the next Carol Wyer book that comes after The Birthday, and is also on Kindle Unlimited so I have that downloaded and ready to go next.

And I also have Donuts, Deception And Death by Eloise Brightly downloaded on the Kindle too. This one is a beachy, summery, cozy mystery for when the heavy crime thrillers inevitably get to be too much.

What are you reading this week? Let me know!

Six Degrees Of Separation – August 2021 Edition

Six Degrees of Separation is the brain child of Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best where we all start with the same book, and head down the rabbit hole to add six more, and see where our links take us!

Follow the hashtag #6degrees on Twitter to check out everyone else’s chains. Six Degrees of Separation takes place on the first Saturday of the month.

This month, the starting book is Postcards From The Edge by Carrie Fisher.

Postcards From The Edge is semi – biographical, and shows glimpses of life in Hollywood, rehab centres, and life in the ‘real’ world once out of rehab. So for my next book, I went to another one of Carrie Fisher’s novels – Surrender The Pink. Now, I’m not huge into Star Wars, and I had no idea that Carrie Fisher was also a writer, but I think that’s pretty cool.

Surrender The Pink is a contemporary romance about Dinah Kaufman, who has a history of dating and being attracted to men that are not right for her. That description reminds me quite a bit of the premise of the next book, so I am jumping next to What If? by Shari Low.

I read What If? several months ago, and the premise of that book was Carly Cooper going on a country-hopping adventure to track down all of her former boyfriends and fiances, to find out if perhaps one of them had actually been her Mr. Right. It was very funny and well worth a read.

So next, I’m jumping to People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. People We Meet On Vacation is about two friends who vacationed together every year until something happened that caused a huge fall out. They go on one last vacation together after years of not speaking.

After that, I’m going to hop, skip and jump over to Beach Read which is also by Emily Henry. It’s summer, I’ve got to have it, right?

And I’m ending on another summery book, The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge. It’s summer, beaches and islands.

So there you have my six degrees of separation, starting at Postcards From The Edge, and ending at The Summer Island Swap.

Book Review: The Perfect Family

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers.

Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

Vivian and Thomas Adler, and their children Eli and Tarryn appear to be the perfect family, but if you look more closely, it turns out they are anything but.

The Adler family are in fact a family full of secrets. The story is told in four perspectives so you get to hear from each family member. And you quickly discover that each of them has something that they are hiding.

The Adler family are being harassed, and the story weaves through each character and the many many reasons that the family could have been targeted. And as each family member is hiding a somewhat juicy skeleton in their closet, it could be any one of them that is the real target.

There are quite a few surprises in store, and I really did want to know what and who were behind the attacks.

There were a couple of things that bothered me. The first being how quick the entire family is to put the blame on the teenage daughter. Each family member is aware of the secrets they are hiding, and yet the bulk of the suspicion falls on teenage daughter Tarryn. Like it could only be because of something she had been doing.  Not like the rest of the family had nothing going on, no dark skeletons. I mean, Daddy Dearest has plenty going on in his personal life, but tires getting slashed couldn’t possibly be connected to him, only his daughter, right?

It was also a little hard to follow in some parts. There are a lot of perspectives, a lot of secrets, and a lot of things going on, and so I did find myself getting lost a few times. Possibly just a sign I was too tired since I could hardly tear myself away to get to bed at an appropriate time, but who knows. Book contains a lot of drama, so that was fun.

I didn’t always care for the characters much. None of the family members were particularly great, and a lot of the time I found myself caring much more about the plot itself than I did any of the four main characters.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on The Perfect Family. Have you read it, is it on your TBR? Let me know!

*This ARC copy was provided by Netgalley. My thoughts and opinions are my own and have not been influenced in anyway*

July Wrap Up

Can you believe it’s already August? I can’t. It feels like this year is just flying by. I managed to get a few days of vacation in, spent a few nice days in Calgary with Lottie. It wasn’t long or particularly far away, but it was still a nice break.

I always forget to post these wrap up posts. I always start them, accidentally forget, and then I’ll be looking through my drafts folder and it will already be three weeks into the next month. But not this time! I’m actually on the ball for once and refusing to be distracted by other things.

So I read 8 books in July, which is not bad. Most of them were Netgalley ARCs as I was pretty focused on trying to clear out my Netgalley shelf last month. I requested a ton of books thinking I wouldn’t get approved for any of them, and then to my surprise I had a bunch come through at once. So yeah, that’s what I’ve been reading.


Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

Yours Cheerfully is the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird which I read earlier this year and absolutely loved. I couldn’t wait to get started on this one. It was pretty good, though I definitely preferred the first book. My full review for Yours Cheerfully is here.

The Seven Day Switch by Kelly Harms

I had very mixed feelings about this book. It is a freaky friday type story, and I liked the concept overall, but there was a lot of mom shaming. Maybe I’m just feeling overly sensitive about that kind of thing at the moment, but both of the mothers involved could be downright petty at times. The two protagonists did reach an understanding which was nice to see. It was a fun read, and it had me craving some sangria, that is for sure. My full review of The Seven Day Switch is here.

The Clockmaker’s Wife by Daisy Wood

The Clockmaker’s Wife is a historical fiction with dual timelines. Ellie visits the UK to retrace the footsteps of the grandmother that died in London during the blitz in WWII, in order to find out the truth about the woman she knew nothing about. This was a bit emotional in parts, with a bit of mystery and adventure. This was definitely the favourite of the month. My full review for The Clockmaker’s Wife can be found here.

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

I had very mixed feelings about this book all the way through. It was okay. I didn’t love it, and didn’t hate it. It’s about a family that looks perfect from the outside but has a lot of skeletons and secrets hidden. I enjoyed the storyline, but I didn’t care too much for any of the family members.

And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed

This is a tiny novella with a lot packed into it. I quite liked it. It is about Jewel and Winfield who work as courtesans in a supposedly top notch House. But Winfield is murdered by a client, comes back to life, and goes on a revenge filled spree. The plot is fast and chaotic, but not a bad little read. My full review is here.

I Don’t Belong Here by Tayla Jean Grossberg

Teenager Charlotte can see ghosts. This isn’t usually a huge problem, she knows the places to avoid. But now there is a ghost following her, leaving her messages and clues, and getting more and more angry as time goes on. Now Charlotte has some decisions to make and a mystery to solve. This book has some real creepy elements to it, and gave me the shivers. Which considering the heatwave we’ve seen this July is really saying something.

Rayna’s Sacrifice by A.D. Lombardo

This is a fun and busy fantasy with a ton packed into it. It is book #3 in The Katori Chronicles. I love the character of Rayna. My full review is here.

Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper by Amanda Prowse

This is a novella that was just kind of meh to me. Sophia opens a second hand book store with a bunch of old books inherited from her parents after quitting her job as a teacher. And then nothing much really happens. It was okay, but I was bored for most of it.

Have you read any of these books? What was your fave book in July? Let me know!

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