Sunday, December 31, 2023

Review: Blood Ties

Blood Ties Blood Ties by Barbara Fradkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Country handyman Cedric O’Toole finds his life turned upside down when a stranger named Steve shows up at his farm, claiming to be his brother. Steve believes they have the same father, and he is on a quest to find him, as Cedric’s unwed mother took the secret of their father’s identity to her grave. Together Steve and Cedric embark on a hunt for answers. At every turn, people seem to have the police officer who investigated a suspicious death years ago and who is now the chief near retirement, Cedric’s aunt Penny, who knows all the gossip in the town but claims to know nothing about the death and, most alarming of all, Cedric’s own grandparents and uncle, who insist no good will come of his questions. What are they all hiding? And does Cedric really want to know the answers?

Friday, December 29, 2023

Review: The Night Thief

The Night Thief The Night Thief by Barbara Fradkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simple country handyman Cedric O’Toole relies on his organic vegetable garden to supplement his meager income, so he’s upset when vegetables begin disappearing. After several futile attempts to protect the garden, he stakes it out one night with his shotgun and spots a shadowy figure running into the woods. Cedric follows and finds a young boy living rough on his land. The boy has never been taught to read or write, and no one has reported him missing. No stranger to childhood neglect himself, Cedric takes the boy under his wing and tries to find answers. Who is the mystery boy, and why is he hiding in the woods?
The Night Thief is the third novel in a series featuring reluctant sleuth Cedric O’Toole.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Review: Evil Behind That Door by Barbara Fradkin

Evil Behind That Door by Barbara Fradkin Evil Behind That Door by Barbara Fradkin by unknown author
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When softhearted handyman Cedric O'Toole agrees to help Barry Mitchell renovate his farmhouse, he finds himself facing old fears. Not only did Mitchell bully Cedric all through school, but his life has been troubled ever since. Now, just out of prison, he's broke and his parents have gone missing, leaving a cloud of suspicion hanging over his head. But when Barry warns him not to touch the boarded-up door in the cellar, the ever-curious Cedric can't resist. The small storage room, obviously unused in years, contains jars of preserves, barrels of dried apples and a pile of small bones. As he sets out to discover who died and how, Cedric uncovers a tale of violence, deception and abuse. And he learns just how far Barry will go to keep a tragic family secret from coming to light.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Review: The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy The Fall Guy by Barbara Fradkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Handyman Cedric O'Toole likes his simple life. He lives by himself on a hardscrabble farm, collecting sheds full of junk and dreaming of his next invention. Then one day a slick city lawyer drives down his lane and his nightmare begins. Lori-Anne Wilkins, the wife of a wealthy local businessman, has fallen to her death from a deck Cedric built, and the furious widower has slapped him with a lawsuit. When Cedric goes to check out the accident site, he discovers that someone has tampered with the railing around the deck. It appears he's been set up to take the blame. But who might want Mrs. Wilkins dead? Then, when someone runs him off the road, he realizes that his life is in danger too. To clear his name and save his life, Cedric has to use his inventive mind to trap the real killer.

Review: Fire in the Stars

Fire in the Stars Fire in the Stars by Barbara Fradkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A former aid worker returns home haunted by her time in Africa and channels her pain into a murder investigation that’s all too personal.

After surviving a horrific trauma in Nigeria, international aid worker Amanda Doucette returns to Canada to rebuild her life and her shaken ideals. There, the once-passionate, adventurous woman needs all her strength and ingenuity when a friend and fellow survivor goes missing along with his son.

A trained first-aid and crisis responder, Doucette ― always accompanied by her beloved dog Kaylee ― joins forces with RCMP officer Chris Tymko to discover the truth about the disappearance. Their search leads them to the Great Northern Peninsula, a rugged landscape of Viking history, icebergs, whales, and fierce ocean storms. Elsewhere, a body gets hauled up in a fisherman’s net, and evidence is mounting of an unsettling connection with Amanda’s search for her friend. Fradkin writes evocatively of the beautiful, often hostile, Newfoundland landscape where Amanda soon finds herself fighting for her very survival.

I loved this book and am so happy to have found this writer. Will be reading more of her books.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Review: A New Season

A New Season A New Season by Terry Fallis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is Terry Fallis at the top of his game! I absolutely loved this latest from a great Canadian talent, that features Jack, a middle-aged man still grieving the loss of his beloved wife who died suddenly and alone at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto.

Told with empathy, grace and of course, his trademark humor, this is a story about fathers and sons, an ode to 1920s Paris, finding love again and embracing life with passion. I loved the relationship between Jack and his son, Jack's ball hockey family and the way he finds the courage to take a trip to Paris he meant to go on with his wife but never did.

While in Paris Jack meets Calla, a British artist with a unique connection to the 'Lost Generation' of American writers and artists who flourished at that time. Their friendship develops quickly and the two bond over shared interests, ultimately falling in love.

Beautifully written, this is a story of hope and love with a fun historical mystery thrown in too. I HIGHLY recommend listening to this on audio as its both read by the author AND includes original performances of songs he's written over the years that play a key part of the story.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Review: Educated

Educated Educated by Tara Westover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Review: Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can truly see why this book won the best historical fiction for 2017 on Goodreads. It reads like a true story and actually could be a compendium of true life stories for many people.

It opens with Avery, a senator's daughter, accompanying her father to a nursing home appearance. During the visit Avery meets and sees quite a few people. One elderly lady shakes her hand and manages to remove an heirloom bracelet from Avery. She doesn't notice this bracelet missing until an attendant calls her later in the week to tell her they "found" her bracelet. Avery returns to the home and asks to see the resident who had the bracelet. On visiting the elderly lady's room she spies a photo that is very much a close likeness to her grandmother who is in a retirement home for memory.

The story takes us back to the thirties and a riverboat family with five children and the mother expecting twins.

I won't give away any of the powerful story, but I must say that I have hardly ever actually cried, boo hoo, cries like I did in reading this book. Oh, I have shed a tear or two but nothing like this book.

An excellent read as well as learning about a part of history that we should be a shamed of.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Review: Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight

Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Stephanie Plum is woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of footsteps in her apartment, she wishes she didn’t keep her gun in the cookie jar in her kitchen. And when she finds out the intruder is fellow apprehension agent Diesel, six feet of hard muscle and bad attitude whom she hasn’t seen in more than two years, she still thinks the gun might come in handy.

Turns out Diesel and Stephanie are on the trail of the same fugitive: Oswald Wednesday, an international computer hacker as brilliant as he is ruthless. Stephanie may not be the most technologically savvy sleuth, but she more than makes up for that with her dogged determination, her understanding of human nature, and her willingness to do just about anything to bring a fugitive to justice. Unsure if Diesel is her partner or her competition in this case, she’ll need to watch her back every step of the way because Oswald is a killer.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.

But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Review: The Lie Maker

The Lie Maker The Lie Maker by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this twisty, fast-paced thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Find You First and Take Your Breath Away, a man desperately tries to track down his father--who was taken into witness protection years ago--before his enemies can get to him.

Your dad's not a good person. Your dad killed people, son.

These are some of the last words Jack Givins' father spoke to him before he was whisked away by witness protection, leaving Jack and his mother to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives as best they could.

Years later, Jack is a grown man with problems of his own. He's a talented but struggling author, barely scraping by on the royalties from his moderately successful first book. So when the U.S. Marshals approach him with a lucrative opportunity, he's in no position to turn them down. They're recruiting writers like Jack to create false histories for people in witness protection--people like Jack's father.

The coincidence is astonishing to Jack at first, but he soon realizes this may be a chance to find his dad. Only there's one problem--Jack's father hasn't made contact with his handlers recently, and they have no idea where he is. He could be in serious danger, and Jack may be the only one who can find him.

But how will he find a man he's never truly known? A man who has done terrible things in his lifetime and made some deadly enemies in the process--enemies who wouldn't think twice about using his own son against him.

I did enjoy this story but there were parts in the middle where it seemed a bit convoluted. The story was good though if you could get past those parts.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Review: Six Years

Six Years Six Years by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.

But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for…but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for almost two decades, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life—a time he has never gotten over—is turned completely inside out.

As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found, or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart, who lied to him, soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on a carefully constructed fiction.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Review: Road Ends

Road Ends Road Ends by Mary Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book I have read by this author
and I am eager for more. Her writing is so smoothly
down to earth and human. Absolutely beautiful.

Megan is the only girl in a family of about nine
boys. They live in rural Ontario, very small town.
Father is a bank manager so money is not a problem
and mother is a very strange person who seems to be
addicted to having babies, but once they start
growing, she loses interest and neglects them completely.

I recognize some characters from her other book, Crow
Lake and it was wonderful to visit them again.

Excellent read, couldn't put it down.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Review: The Other Side of the Bridge

The Other Side of the Bridge The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautifully written novel. A book about duty and friendship, hardship and understanding. Emotionally satisfying. When you are finished you feel like you have just lost your best friend.

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Friday, May 19, 2023

Review: Crow Lake

Crow Lake Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a bit of a heart break story. Three children growing up in northern Ontario have an extremely life altering experience when their parents go to shop and are killed in an accident. The eldest boy, who has been planning on going to teacher's college, decided to drop his plans and finish raising his brother and sister.

An excellent read, thoroughly enjoyable. I will be reading more of this author's works.

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Thursday, May 4, 2023

Review: One Brother Shy

One Brother Shy One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had trouble putting this book down when I had to sleep, or work!!

Alex has a job and cares for his ill mother in their apartment in Ottawa, Canada. Alex has never known his father. Just before his mother dies, she tells him that she wants to talk to him but is too tired and will do it in the morning. Alex finds her dead in the morning.

He goes about doing all the things necessary when a person passes, and this is according to the list that the two of them had made so he would know what to do. In all the paperwork he discovers a key to a safety deposit box and what he finds in there is a big shock to him.

An excellent read.

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Sunday, April 9, 2023

Review: What the Shadows Hide

What the Shadows Hide What the Shadows Hide by M.J. Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who killed Romeo and Juliet?

Two desiccated bodies are found in each other's arms in the bricked up room of a derelict Victorian warehouse. After six months of work, the police have nothing and Ridpath is finally called in to investigate. Dubbed the Romeo and Juliet murders by the press, so many questions remain unanswered.

Who are they? Why were they there? Who killed them? And why was the coroner so keen for him to work on this particular case?

Ridpath is plunged into his most difficult investigation yet, in a race against time to discover the truth. Has an unknown serial killer been operating in Manchester for the last twenty years?

Fast-paced, vicious and utterly compelling, the latest Ridpath novel is perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Damien Boyd.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Review: Take Your Breath Away

Take Your Breath Away Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most everyone assumed Andy had got away with murder--it's always the husband, isn't it?--but the police could never build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom--he drank too much to numb the pain, was abandoned by all his friends save one, nearly lost his business, and became a pariah in the place he once called home.

Now, six years later, Andy has finally put his life back together. He sold the house he once shared with Brie and moved away. Truth to tell, he wasn't sad to hear that the old place was razed and a new house built on the site. He's settled down with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.

But Andy's peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, "Where's my house? What's happened to my house?" And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman--who bears a striking resemblance to Brie--is gone. The police are notified and old questions--and dark suspicions--resurface.

Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy's future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Review: American Dirt

American Dirt American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt, the #1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah Book Club pick that has sold over two million copies, is finally available in paperback.

Lydia lives in Acapulco. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while cracks are beginning to show in Acapulco because of the cartels, Lydia’s life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. But after her husband’s tell-all profile of the newest drug lord is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and Luca find themselves joining the countless people trying to reach the United States. Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Review: The Alice Network

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn My rating: 5 of 5 stars In an enthralling new historical novel from nati...