My latest library haul


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Not gonna lie, the most exciting part of my day is when I get a notification from my library saying a hold has come in. …and the another. And another. Without fail, no matter where in the waitlist I am, somehow all of my holds come in at once!

Today I wanted to share my latest batch of holds – these are all books I’m SO excited to read. Let me know if you’ve read any of them & let me know what was in YOUR latest library haul!

The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands edited by Huw Lewis-Jones
I can’t be the only one who loves when a book has a map and this huge coffee-table read has a ton. Alongside the maps are essays – Philip Pullman recounts drawing a map for one of his first novels, there’s a piece detailing the challenges of creating the Marauder’s Map for the Harry Potter films, naturally The Hobbit is mentioned! There are maps from nursery rhymes, childhood classics, great works of literature, fantasy novels, even comics. Tell me this doesn’t sound like the coolest read!

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
EVERYONE is talking about this book and I’ve been dying waiting for my turn in line! Back in 2012, The Age of Miracles was one of my first 5-star reads as a blogger and I’ve been recommending that book ever since. AND anxiously awaiting Karen’s next book! Well it’s here and I can’t wait to set aside some time to jump in. In a tiny, isolated California college town, a freshman falls asleep in her dorm…and doesn’t wake. Her roommate is unable to wake her, paramedics and doctors are at a loss. Then a second girl falls into the coma-like sleep, then another. The town quickly descends into chaos and uggghhhhh why am I not reading this one right now??

No Mercy by Joanna Schaffhausen
2017’s The Vanishing Season was an end-of-the-year surprise hit that left me wanting more – in a good way. As a girl, Ellery made headlines as the sole survivor of a serial killer and now lives a quiet life as a police officer. I first mentioned No Mercy in my January releases I need to get my hands on post – Ellie is now on involuntary leave from her job and is forced to attend a group therapy for victims of violent crimes. Instead of getting in touch with her feelings, Ellie finds herself digging around where she shouldn’t: she’s convinced a fellow group member helped to convict an innocent man of a crime years ago and a woman who survived a brutal rape pleads with Ellie to find her attacker.

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
A new Instagram book club chose this one for their first pick and sadly I wasn’t able to join in. BUT I’m still exciting to read this one! Two estranged sisters, each harboring a secret, reunite at the Springfield Armory at the beginning of WWII. While one sisters lives a life of relative ease as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and the resentment the two have held all these years only strengthens – particularly after a figure from their past reemerges.

A Year with Nature by Marty Crump
Marty Crump, herpetologist and natural history writer, celebrates the wonders of the natural world with this almanac, each entry detailing an event from a given day. The birth of Lord Byron (January 22), timeouts and penalties during the Puppy Bowl (February 7), the premiere of Jurassic Park (June 11), International Sloth Day (October 20), A Year with Nature presents odd and fascinating tidbits about our world and this one is right up my alley.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Darcy met the love of her life when she was 8. Unfortunately, her brother Jamie claimed Tom as his best friend, making Tom firmly off-limits and leaving Darcy to relish in the 1% of him that wasn’t completely loyal to Jamie. Now grown, Darcy has three months to get her life in order before her brother sells the run-down cottage their inherited from their grandmother. Tom just happens to be a whiz at DIYs and Fixer Uppers and Jamie has sent him to the cottage to give it a massive overhaul that will result in an even more massive bundle of cash once the cottage is sold. For the first time in a decade, Tom is single and, to Darcy’s luck, he’s on her porch. No longer content with just 1% of Tom, Darcy’s determined to have the other 99%. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m a teensy bit worried – some bloggers I follow said they weren’t thrilled with this one!!

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
A Cold War novel inspired by the real life Thomas Sankara “Africa’s Che Guevara.” It’s 1986 and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer for the FBI. She might be brilliant, but she’s also a Black woman in an ages-old boys’ club and her career has plateaued. Eager to break away from days spent filing paperwork, Marie leaps at the opportunity to join a secret task force aimed at undermining a man whose Communist ideology has put him in America’s sights. I love historical fiction that focuses on real people and this one sounds so, so good.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
I first heard about this wisp of a novel on NPR and they have yet to steer me wrong! For two weeks, Sylvie and her family are living as ancient Britons, living on the knowledge and tools of the Iron Age as part of an anthropology course. The ancient Britons built ghost walls – barriers meant to enemy invaders topped with skulls on stakes. As the group sets out building their own ghost wall, they begin to feel a deep, spiritual connection to the past – deep enough for human sacrifice?

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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Touchstone!)
Summary: Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Sixteen years ago Sylvie had enough. For months her older sister Persephone would sneak out of their bedroom to see a boy the girls’ mother forbade Persephone from seeing. Each time Sylvie would be instructed to leave the bedroom window cracked, opened just enough for Persephone to sneak back in hours later. Each time she would wake her younger sister and ask Sylvie to paint over the fresh bruises marking her body.

One winter night Sylvie couldn’t take it anymore. Ben Emory – the town’s golden boy and son of the mayor – was covering her sister in bruises and Persephone refused to do anything about it. If Persephone wouldn’t stop seeing him, well Sylvie would make sure their mother found out. That night she locked the bedroom window, firmly convinced that her sister would eventually go to the front door, wake their mother, and her secret would be out. Persephone’s rage would be worth it if it meant their mother would put a stop to her relationship with Ben.

But things didn’t go according to plan. Wide awake, Sylvie heard her sister try the window and when she couldn’t get in, she simply got back into Ben’s truck and they drove off. That was the last time her sister was seen alive. Though suspects were questioned, no arrests were made and Persephone’s murder was never solved. Sylvie and her mother were both grief-stricken; Annie delving into bottles of alcohol and refusing to leave her room, Sylvie burying herself in her art, determined to get a scholarship so she could leave that house.

Sixteen years later her aunt calls to tell Sylvie her mother has cancer and that Sylvie needs to come home to care for her. Her relationship with her mother already fractured nearly to the point of no return, things go from bad to worse when Sylvie discovers Ben Emory – the boy she was convinced killed her sister – now works as a nurse at her mother’s cancer treatment center. The years have not dulled her pain, especially now that she’s back home, and as she begins looking deeper into Persephone’s murder, Sylvie discovers secrets she was never meant to uncover.

I want to start by saying The Winter Sister is a great debut and I’m curious to see where Megan Collins goes from here! I should also point out I read this in two chunks, the second of which took place at 5am on a Saturday morning just so I could have some uninterrupted reading time before the rest of the house woke up. I’m sure that says something about this novel.

However, I’m a mystery fan. I love psychological and domestic thrillers. I’ve read a lot of them. When you read countless novels in a certain genre (regardless of the genre), you begin to notice tropes and formulas and, while I clearly enjoyed The Winter Sister, I have to admit there really wasn’t anything ground-breaking or shocking within its pages. Even the big reveals weren’t nearly as surprising for me as they would be for readers who aren’t as familiar with thrillers as I am (one episode of Law & Order kept playing in my head after one reveal). These ideas aren’t new and because of that I wasn’t as wowed as other readers, but it was still an entertaining read.

I do want to point out one issue: Sylvie’s best friend. I hated her. They were college roommates who became post-college roommates. Away at school, for the first time since her sister’s death Sylvie wasn’t just Persephone’s Sister. She got to be her own person and in that, she mentioned she did have a sister, but that she was killed in a car accident when Sylvie was three. Over the course of the novel, the truth about that night slowly comes out, and eventually Sylvie’s best friend heads to google to look at old news articles. It’s there she learns Persephone was strangled, brutally murdered, and that it happened when Sylvie was 14. The kicker is that she becomes enraged. She demands Sylvie call her and explain everything. Sylvie doesn’t owe this girl an explanation at all and I was floored at both of their reactions.

While I can’t say I was genuinely shocked or surprised by anything in The Winter Sister, I did enjoy it to where I woke up before dawn – on a weekend – so I could have quiet time to finish reading. I can certainly see this becoming a book club favorite (there’s MUCH to discuss within its pages) but feel that heavy readers of the genre, like me, will simply find a decent, okay read while those who aren’t as familiar with the usual tropes will have a much stronger reaction.

Tackling the TBR 2: The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a To Read stack a mile long. In an attempt to combat that – and have fun from in the process – I kickstarted my Tackling the TBR project. Essentially, it’s just getting a random number generator to go through my GoodReads To Read shelf and choose a book for every hundred I have shelved.

In 2017 I announced the first round and was delighted by the assortment I got: old school horror, a fantasy novel I had been dying to read for ages (but admittedly was way intimidated by), even a nonfic that became a top read of the year.

In December I presented the second round picks and, again, couldn’t wait to dive in! The only problem: where to begin? Did I want to start with a childhood classic? A 2018 release that SO many friends and bloggers had been praising? A Middle Grade mystery? Some contemporary romance? Or did I want to fall back on my favorite genre: historical fiction?

So, without further ado, here it is, the first of my Tackling the TBR round 2 picks!

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Pub. Date: October 1, 1996
Source: Borrowed from the library
Summary: Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs to have a fiancée in order to capture his dream job, and Daisy is game to play the role. But something funny happens on their way to the altar that changes everything. Now, with the midnight hour approaching, will Daisy lose her prince, or will opposites not only attract but live happily ever after?
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Growing up I was never much of a romance reader. I lived for the fantasy of Diana Wynne Jones and Brian Jacques and, later, mysteries and thriller novels (I still love going back to Steve Berry when I’m in need of a comfort read). So it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I began discovering all the romance novels and authors I had previously overlooked. Though I was familiar with Jennifer Crusie’s name and books from my days as a bookseller, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell you about a single one. All I knew was that she was wildly popular and countless reviews mentioned how funny her books were. So I was thrilled when The Cinderella Deal was selected – I love the fake boyfriend/fiance/husband trope and couldn’t wait to jump in!

Free-spirited Daisy Flattery’s world is one of color, from her boho-chic clothes to her bold, mismatched furniture. She paints and sells jewelry to upscale boutiques. Her upstairs neighbor, however, couldn’t be more different. Lincoln Blaise lives for order, from his straight-laced attire to his perfectly matched metal and leather home. The two never saw eye-to-eye (Daisy insisted she saw him kick a cat, he claims he merely nudged it out of the way), but suddenly they find themselves dependent on the other.

Linc is so close to scoring his dream job as a history professor at a prestigious college. During one of the final interviews, however, the question of marriage came up off-handedly. Noticing the reaction to his bachelorhood response, Linc immediately backtracked and blurted out he was engaged. …now he needs to find a fake fiancee asap. He pleads with Daisy – it’ll only be for the night, just to charm the heads of the college, then she’ll be free to frolic with her cats or whatever it is Linc believes Daisy to do in her spare time. For Daisy, playing the fake fiancee means a cool thousand dollars and with the landlord hounding her, Linc’s offer is hard to resist.

Though the plan was to accept the position and then announce a break-up, it’s clear the other professors feel otherwise, leading to an even bigger proposition: a brief, year-long marriage. Then they can go their separate ways. As the two spend more time together however, they find it hard to differentiate between their fake relationship and real life.

The saying goes better late than never and I’m all but kicking myself for putting off her books for so long! The Cinderella Deal was a rapid fire one-sitting read that featured a scene that made me literally laugh out loud, not just a grin or chuckle. I guffawed.

Okay, so maybe it was slightly problematic to make Daisy transform into a Stepford wife, giving up everything she loves, all of her passions, just to make Linc look good in the college’s eyes. And maybe their relationship initially began as one based on lies with just a physical attraction. But I ended up tearing through this book, knocking it out in just an afternoon because I didn’t want to stop reading.

One thing to point out: I was confused a bit by the updated cover: Daisy owns cats. It wasn’t until toward the end of the book that a dog is mentioned and that dog only has one eye. Perhaps a teensy bit of attention to detail was needed, but whatever – a dog on the cover of a book is a sure-fire way to pull me in!

I’m so glad The Cinderella Deal was not only chosen for this round of Tackling the TBR, but that it was the first one I decided to read. AND it’s my very first Crusie. Great characters, witty dialogue, and wonderful humor (it’s rare I actually laugh out loud while reading!) ensure this will NOT be my last Crusie!

TACKLING THE TBR ROUND 2
The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
You Were Here by Gian Sardar
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Completely Yours by Erin Nichols
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a good cover. And, friends, The Matchmaker’s List has a GREAT one. Contemporary romance seems tailor-made for illustrated covers and this one is no exception – before I even knew what the book was about I was intrigued.

Raina Anand has just turned 29 and is in dire need of a husband. Not that Raina feels that way, but her beloved Nani and the rest of their community can’t comprehend the thought of a woman still unwed and coming up on 30. Personally Raina’s holding out for Dev – the one who got away (and completely crushed her heart while he was at it, thank you very much) – but she loves her Nani something fierce and agrees to go on a few dates.

With each date it’s clear Raina is no closer to finding a husband. As the bad dates get even worse, and the community aunties sound the alarm, Raina tells a little lie. Just one tiny lie, hoping it will be enough to give her a moment to breathe, not realizing her problems have only just begun.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this one. For the most part, The Matchmaker’s List isn’t a bad read, it was light-hearted and easy enough that I read it during one snowy afternoon. Unfortunately, if it hadn’t been for that snowy afternoon that kept me cooped up inside, I doubt I would have finished in one sitting.

Simply put, The Matchmaker’s List bored me. Even as I type this, my mind is wandering. Thoughts keep cropping up: dinner, work tomorrow, the stack of books piled next to me – would my time have been better spent with one of them instead? Raina listens to her co-worker’s woes, Raina listens to her bestie’s wedding woes, Raina goes on dates and complains about the men (though she does have a point, they’re all awful, even her much pined-after Dev as well as the man she eventually ends up with).

But what really took me out of the story was Raina’s lie. In order to have Nani take a step back with her list of eligible men, Raina decides to go along with the assumption that she’s gay. There’s a scene where her younger cousin comes out to her because she was so brave and courageous for coming out herself in their Indian community. There aren’t any consequences of Raina’s actions until the very end and the majority of the characters – included a gay co-worker – just accept her story without any repercussions. I felt sorry for her grandmother, believing Raina to be gay, Nani went out of her way to research Canada’s laws regarding gay marriage and adoption and on more than one occasion stood up for her granddaughter even when it meant ostracizing herself from their tight-knit community.

There were other baffling moments in the book, like the constant flashbacks. Some were just a few years in the past (at the beginning of Raina and Dev’s relationship) while others were during Raina’s childhood. These were clearly meant to garner sympathy for Raina – for both her heartbreak and her absent mother – but I honestly didn’t care. By then I was reading just to get to the end and be done with the book.

The Matchmaker’s List had the potential to be a really fun romcom. Unfortunately, a poorly-handled rumor and horrifically unlikable characters made this one a chore to read. There was nothing romantic nor comedic about this book – Raina’s lie was appalling, the men were awful, even the guy she’s been in love with for years came across as a scumbag. Sadly, this was not the book for me.

January 2019 recap

So long, January! Despite the Polar Vortex sweeping through Pittsburgh earlier in the week and bringing temperatures in the -20s, today I have a snowday. Terrible roads and snow falling all night (and showing no signs of stopping) means I’ll be staying home today – and getting a headstart on February posts!


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WHAT I…DID

I left my job! I kept this one under wraps for a while, but the first week of 2019 was my last week at my previous company. Very bittersweet and not without a few tears, but I’m now in an exciting position at a great company – things are only looking up!

• I decided to make a point of showing my library some love last month: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

I finally went for a pixie! A pixie has always been my ultimate dream haircut and I took the plunge and got it all chopped off.

• Our pups already had new winter coats, but Matt decided to get them booties because of how cold it’s been…oh my gosh. All those videos of dogs trying to walk in boots? It’s real and it’s hilarious. (They also did the trick – pee trips were still super quick, but the boots made the snow far more bearable for both of our dogs.)

Other Instagram posts you might have missed: snowy mornings with coffee + Harry Potter, bright skies + new jobs, recent bookmail, return of the Polar Vortex.

• In January I read a total of 13 books: 12 print, 1 e-book. Out of those 13, 3 were ARCs, the rest were all library grabs! The Impossible Girl, The Prince and the Dressmaker, and Daughters of the Lake were easily my favorite reads of the month – all three were SO CLOSE to getting 5 stars – who knows, maybe I’ll even go back and up my rating, they were all that good. Keeping with the ‘three’ theme, there were also three books read in January that were pretty blah: Cenzontle (a poetry collection and I knew going into it that it wouldn’t be for me – I don’t enjoy poetry), The Me I Meant to Be, and Speakeasy. All in all, January was a fantastic month for books and I can’t wait to see what February brings!

WHAT I…REVIEWED

THE SUSPECT BY FIONA BARTON is the third novel in her Kate Waters series. In this latest installment, two British girls on holiday in Thailand go missing, sparking an international investigation. For journalist Kate, the case hits closer to home than one would think: her own son went off adventuring in Thailand and she hasn’t talked to him for two years. Although the book wrapped up in a nice, tidy way that I don’t always appreciate, the mystery behind the girls’ disappearance kept me turning the pages and I tore through this one with ease.

JANUARY’S MINI REVIEW ROUND-UP features six books, several of which were phenomenal enough to warrant their own individual, exceptionally rambly reviews. I discussed The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, a hefty 500+ page Middle Grade fantasy that was a one-sitting read and the previously mentioned Speakeasy, a novel that should have been tailor-made for me, but its jarring narration missed the mark. I waxed poetic on my three favorite books of January: The Impossible Girl (a resurrectionist in 1850s Manhattan was born with two hearts and needs to stay one step ahead of the competition in order to stay alive), Daughters of the Lake (a past/present mystery involving a body that washes ashore and the woman who’s been dreaming of her), and The Prince and the Dressmaker (a Middle Grade graphic novel that’s just lovely). Lastly, I talked about The Me I Meant to Be, a contemporary YA from a favorite historical romance author of mine – I’ll be sticking with the historical romance novels.

WHAT I…BLOGGED

LEAH’S TOP READS OF 2018: PART 2!

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: SHORTIES

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: FOOD

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: AARON MAHNKE

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: CHRISTIANITY

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: SPORADIC LISTENS

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: SCIENCE/HISTORY

PODCASTS I’M CURRENTLY LOVING: EVERYTHING ELSE

RECENTLY ADDED.

FEBRUARY RELEASES I CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON

January’s mini review round-up!

After a really terrible end to my 2018 reading, I’m thrilled to say 2019 has been pretty great so far! Toward the end of the year I decided I wanted to read more of my own books and books I grabbed from the library, rather than books I received and felt obligated to read – not to say there haven’t been incredible early copies! Still, there’s something so liberating about walking over to my shelves and grabbing whatever book sticks out to me.

Today I’m sharing 6 books read in January that I wanted to discuss.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson & Eugene Yelchin
I recently mentioned this on Instagram – at the end of 2018 I spend the better portion of an afternoon combing through NPR’s picks for their best books of the year. Many caught my eye (though some, like this lauded poetry collection, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy) and I did a massive requesting spree at my local library. One of the books I was intrigued by was The Assassination of Brandwain Spurge, a hefty 500+ page tome.

This Middle Grade novel follows Brangwain Spurge, an Elf, as he was selected to be a representative of his people and venture into the land of the Goblins where he’s to be hosted by a delighted Werfel – who knows, the pair might end up becoming the best of friends and the centuries of war between the two nations might cease once and for all. …unfortunately, that’s easier said than done and the numerous illustrations peppered throughout were a treat; Brangwain isn’t quite as open-minded as he ought to be. While this book isn’t going to become a life-long favorite, I was completely immersed in it and a snowy weekend easily turned this behemoth of a novel into a one-sitting read.

Speakeasy by Alisa Smith
I’m embarrassed to say I first received this one as an ARC close to a year ago! Despite being extremely interested, somehow I just never got around to it and, ultimately, my NetGalley copy expired. Determined to (finally!) get through a backlog of NG reviews, I hit up my library once more and tore through this slight novel over a weekend.

Thirty-year-old Lena is making a living as a code-breaker intercepting Japanese messages when a newspaper headline brings her back to her past as part of a gang of bank robbers. Speakeasy is told in two voices (which I initially didn’t realize and for a moment was highly confused): Lena’s during WWII and the diary of Byron in the 30s. By, much like Lena, found himself caught up in the charm of the gang’s charismatic leader, Bill Bagley. I wish I would have enjoyed this one a bit more; both storylines had the potential to be engaging and exciting, but I found myself bored, only turning the pages because I wanted to get to the end, not because I was invested in the characters. The sequel, Doublespeak, comes out later this year and I’m not entirely sure I’ll be picking it up.

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb
This. Book. If you’re on Instagram and asked for the last book that made me stay up late/my last amazing read/a recent rec/etc, chances are you’re well aware of my love for this one. The minute I finished I raced to my phone to text my group of friends and tell them to go read this one. I’ll admit I didn’t stay up late to finish (I’m not a night owl one bit), BUT I woke up on a Saturday before 5am, just so I would have a few hours all to myself to sink into this book before Matt and the dogs woke up.

Daughters of the Lake is a haunting, lyrical novel that tells the story of two women, one in the present day, the other in the early 1900s. Going through a separation-turned-divorce, Kate seeks the refuge of her childhood home. It’s there that, one morning, a body washes up on the shores of the lake, a baby cradled in the woman’s arms. The fact that they simply look like they’re sleeping sets off an instantly police inquiry: clearly the woman and baby only recently perished. But Kate feels differently…she’s seem the woman before. In her dreams. I almost – almost – rated this one 5 stars, it was that good and I half wished I would have waited to give this book it’s own, full-length review just so I could ramble about it some more!

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang
The Impossible Girl was my second read of 2019 and another I nearly awarded the coveted 5-star rating. Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee is a woman between worlds, mingling with the rich just as easily as she can slip amongst those in the slums. Earning a living as a ressurectionist, she and her ‘brother’ (Cora in disguise) have garnered a reputation for acquiring bodies. Strange bodies afflicted with a number of anomalies. Bodies that will put a nice profit in her pocket. But Cora has a secret. She’s not in the grave robbing business out of pleasure. She’s in it to survive: she was born with two hearts and knows i’’s only a matter of time before she becomes the most sought-after specimen.

I’ve been having phenomenal luck with random picks – I hadn’t even heard of this one until I was scrolling through my library’s catalog one day, looking through their new releases. The cover first caught my eye, then I read the blurb. A bit different than what I normally gravitate toward, but I’m SO glad I took a chance on this one!

The Me I Meant to Be by Sophie Jordan
I’m a huge fan of Sophie’s historical romances – in 2016 I became hooked on the genre thanks to While the Duke was Sleeping (a 5-star read!) and haven’t looked back – so it was only natural when a contemporary YA novel popped onto my radar. Willa and Flor are besties and know all about the girl code. Even though Willa has been madly in love with Zach for ages, Flor recently broke up with him: he’s totally off-limits. Even still, he’s finding excuses to turn up when Willa least expects it. As for Flor, she’s determined to convince Zach their break-up was a huge mistake, but Flor has to admit she never realized how nerdy-cute her math tutor is.

The Me I Meant to Be was an easy one-sitting read and ultimately forgettable. Especially after my slew of exceptional reads lately. It felt like this novel tried way too hard to pack as many Issues in: an underground fight club, a friend’s sexuality, a sibling’s drug problem, a parent’s utter neglect. These were either neatly resolved or completely ignored. I’ll be sticking with Sophie’s historicals from now on.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
January is going to be hard to top when it comes to great reads and so far Middle Grade is absolutely killing it. This graphic novel had been on my radar (and To Read list) for a while – it came out in February of 2018 – and I just happened to come across it at the library. Say so more, I immediately grabbed it and it came home with me that day. And was immediately devoured. This was yet another read I nearly awarded 5 stars. Either I’m becoming soft or I have been finding fantastic books.

Prince Sebastian’s parents are on the hunt for a bride for their son. Sebastian, on the other hand, is harboring a secret. At night he loves dressing up in beautiful dresses and taking the Parisian fashion world by storm as Lady Crystallia. Only two other people know Sebastian’s secret: his body guard and his best friend, dressmaker Frances. But how can Frances achieve her dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer when her identity has to remain a secret? This was so, so lovely and the art was perfect. I rarely reread but The Prince and the Dressmaker is without a doubt, a story I would love to revisit time and time again.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona Barton
Pub. Date: January 22, 2019
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth–and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…
Genre: Thriller

Fiona Barton burst onto the scene with her 2016 debut, The Widow, a novel I devoured one blistery, snowy day. Fast-forward three years, and Fiona now has just as many book under her belt. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed with her sophomore release, The Child, though it could have been a combination of multiple factors: I had overly high expectations, I listened on audio, or it could have been that I read it during the summer. For whatever reason, The Child didn’t live up to my hopes (though now I’m thinking I might need to give it a second try).

That said, when I was approached to take part in the blog tour for The Suspect, I pounced. I wanted to relive that blizzard of a day when I first discovered The Widow.

Two eighteen-year-old girls suddenly go missing in Thailand and their families are suddenly in the spotlight. Why didn’t the girls call home the night they said they would? Where could they have possibly gone? Why isn’t anyone from their hostel talking? Journalist Kate Waters wants this story – and not just because it’s gained international attention. This is a story that hits close to home for her: two years ago her own son ventured off on a global adventure and she’s heard from him only a handful of times since he left.

As the case slowly unfolds, it becomes clear Alex’s and Rosie’s parents didn’t know their daughters as well as they once thought…and Kate’s worries are closer at hand than she imagined.

Told in four perspectives: Alex, the mother, the reporter, and the detective, The Suspect wastes no time jumping right into the action. The fast pace had me instantly engaged and flipping pages; I needed to know what Alex was thinking, how her mother was reacting, what was going on inside Kate’s head as she dug deeper into the mystery.

A hostel fire and a shady owner, a nasty divorce and remarriage, a cancer diagnosis, there were several other storylines at play here and normally I could have done without them in order to get to the meat of the story. Much to my surprise, everything here worked. I was intrigued by the bad relationships and grim prognoses just as much as I was by the fate of the two girls.

There are a few tidy bows and sitcom-y reveals, but overall I was thoroughly invested in The Suspect! I’m not one to post spoilers – especially for mystery novels – but this was one I didn’t want to put down and I dove into it at just the right time: a snowy weekend. There’s nothing like reading a mystery on a cold winter day, is there? I do recommend this one and look forward to Fiona’s next! Newcomers, feel free to jump into this one; while all three novels are part of a larger series, each can easily be read as a standalone.