The White Shepherd by Annie Dalton

First in the brand-new Anna Hopkins dogwalking mystery series: an intriguing new departure for award-winning YA writer Annie Dalton.

Anna Hopkins’ daily walk through Oxford’s picturesque Port Meadow is rudely interrupted one autumn morning when her white German Shepherd, Bonnie, unearths a bloodsoaked body in the undergrowth. For Anna it’s a double shock: she’d met the victim previously. Naomi Evans was a professional researcher who had told Anna she was working on a book about a famous Welsh poet, and who offered to help Anna trace Bonnie’s original owner.

From her conversations with Naomi, Anna is convinced that she was not the random victim of a psychopathic serial killer, as the police believe. She was targeted because of what she knew. With the official investigation heading in the wrong direction entirely, Anna teams up with fellow dogwalkers Isadora Salzman and Tansy Lavelle to discover the truth.

My rating: 4 stars

If you enjoy mysteries that are very detailed and don’t leave out any possible lead or suspect, then this book will be exactly what you are looking for. I kind of expected a flat, one-dimensional cozy mystery when I picked this up, and was delighted to find that wasn’t the case.

The author took great care with her character building, using a familiar setting and really taking time with her descriptions. You would be hard pressed to figure out the mystery early on in this novel, since she also waits to let the plot unfold  a bit before revealing many clues.

I found this book to be well paced and interesting and am looking forward to reading more of this author’s work. The only thing that bothered me, is that if it is supposed to be a dog walking mystery–perhaps the dogs could have played a slightly larger role than just being companions for much of the story.

Overall, I thought this was really good. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy the whodunnit.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Church of Spies by Mark Riebling

Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against HitlerChurch of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler by Mark Riebling

Pope Pius XII is perhaps the most detested pope in modern history, vilified for allegedly appeasing Hitler and betraying the Jewish people by remaining silent during the Holocaust. But this conventional narrative is not the full story.

In Church of Spies, the intelligence expert Mark Riebling draws on a wealth of recently uncovered documents to argue that, far from being Hitler’s lackey, Pius was an active anti-Nazi spymaster. He directed a vast network of Vatican operatives—priests and laypeople alike—who partnered with the German resistance, tipped the Allies off to Hitler’s invasions of France and Russia, and involved themselves in three separate plots to assassinate Hitler.

A fast-paced and gripping tale of secrecy, danger, and self-sacrifice, Church of Spies takes readers from hidden crypts beneath the Vatican to Nazi bunkers in Germany to chart the true legacy of Pius’s secret war. Although these revelations do not excuse Pius’s public silence during the war, they provide us with a deeper understanding of the man reviled by so many.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was both surprised and enthralled by this book from the beginning. Whilst I expected the author to have a compelling argument and evidence to support his ideas, he also managed to craft a book that was interesting and kept my attention throughout.

As someone who loves history, it is hard for me to pass up a title that promises to look at something from a new angle. Mark Riebling offered that, and did an excellent job of supporting his claims. I have to say, after reading this, I agree with his assessment of the situation.

There was a lot I didn’t know about the Pope’s standpoint on the Nazi movement and the involvement of the Catholic Church, and I walked away feeling better informed after having read this.

If you are a history buff, I definitely recommend that you pick this book up. You will be rewarded with the writing of an author who knows his stuff and meets a high standard of literary integrity.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Determined Heart by Antoinette May

The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her FrankensteinThe Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by Antoinette May

The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to write while she and Percy face ostracism, constant debt, and the heartbreaking deaths of three children. Ultimately, she achieves great acclaim for Frankenstein, but at what cost?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book, there is no doubt of that. I was pleasantly surprised–no, that doesn’t cover it. I was supremely shocked that this book was so well thought out and written. I love historical novels based on real people, but many of them tend to lack the crucial research that makes them feel authentic. This author made certain to remain true to the characters, whilst still being imaginative enough to write a book that also keeps the reader’s attention.

Mary Shelley surely was an interesting person and she is depicted that way here, but it was the descriptions of Lord Byron and Bysshe that really captivated me more than anything else.

This book brings to life all of the loss, excitement, many moves and struggles of this infamous historical couple and shows both the beautiful and uglier aspects of their lives together and apart. The author did a wonderful job of describing each setting she used and taking her characters from flat to three-dimensional, emotional beings that you feel sorrow for having to part with when the story is complete.

The only thing that annoyed me, and would have annoyed me even if this were non fiction, was Mary’s tolerance for Claire. Not the author’s fault, as she was remaining as true to life as possible, but still–I wanted to punch Claire.

More than just some simple filling in of the gaps in knowledge, I felt Antoinette May really out her heart and soul into the creation of this book and strongly encourage you to give this book a try. It will not disappoint.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

The Good NeighborThe Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

When small lies have big consequences…

Things are a little rough for Izzy Lane. Still reeling from the break-up of her marriage, the newly single mom moves back to the Philadelphia home she grew up in, five-year-old Noah in tow. The transition is difficult, but with the help of her best friends—and her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman—Izzy feels like she’s stepping closer to her new normal. Until her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. That’s when Izzy invents a boyfriend of her own. And that’s when life gets complicated.

Blogging about her “new guy” provides Izzy with something to do when Noah’s asleep. What’s the harm in a few made-up stories? Then, her blog soars in popularity and she’s given the opportunity to moonlight as an online dating expert. How can she turn it down? But when her friends want to meet the mysterious “Mac,” someone online suspects Izzy’s a fraud, and a guy in-real-life catches her eye, Izzy realizes just how high the stakes are. That’s when Mrs. Feldman steps in, determined to show her neighbor the havoc that lies can wreak. If Izzy’s honest, she could lose everything, and everyone. Is the truth worth any cost?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For the most part, I really liked this book. The main character had a strong presence and I enjoyed getting to know her son and the other characters.

I, personally, did not see that what she did during the book was as big of a deal as it was made out to be, and since that was the main conflict, I struggled a little at times to understand why it was so important.

This book has some great quotes, especially during the points where the MC is reflecting on her life and her choices. The tension with her ex husband was very well written.

Overall, this is the kind of book that you can lose yourself in and enjoy. The side characters were created in such a way that you got more than just a glimpse at their lives and especially the neighbour, added a lot to the overall book.

The end was sweet without being overly sticky-sweet or leaving too many questions unanswered. I am looking forward to seeing what else this author does.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Sunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated South by Ann Boult Walling

Sunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated SouthSunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated South by Ann Boult Walling

Ann Walling grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1940s and 50s in a family with deep roots in Mississippi and a history tightly bound to the Old South. To a small girl’s sensibility, her family’s lavish Sunday dinners were a liturgy that reinforced strict Southern mores she was taught never to question. But lurking behind the fine china were troubling contradictions, racial injustice, and tightly guarded family secrets. Told with clear-eyed empathy, Sunday Dinner is the remarkable story of a young woman’s moral awakening amidst a society’s painful reckoning with its history. The book poignantly outlines the struggle that each one of us faces in deciding which aspects of our past we must embrace, and which aspects we must leave behind.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sunday Dinner is the kind of memoir that makes you want to read memoirs. This is an honest look at the harsh realities as well as fond memories of a childhood in a very tense time in America.

The author has done a good job not only telling her audience about her experiences, but ensuring that she takes the reader along for the journey as well. The writing is heartfelt and honest.

I found myself enthralled by the idea of so many things going on within the family of the author that they would not speak about openly and in public. The differences between what we see as neighbours and friends and what is really going on behind the scenes was really highlighted well here, and I have great respect for Ann Boult Walling for coming forward to discuss these difficult issues.

Sometimes I feel that memoirs are more personal journals that the author has chosen to share with the world, and that they should have stayed personal as they have little value for the rest of us. I didn’t feel that way about this book. I think this will be interesting no matter who you are, whether you are southern or not, regardless of race or gender.

The writing is clear and concise and intelligent, and I encourage you to give it a try. Well edited, smart and meaningful.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publicist in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

The Dead HouseThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked parts of this book. The concept is very interesting and I liked that I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on in the very beginning of the book–unfortunately, I still couldn’t figure out what was going on well into the book either.

Ever read a book where there are so many different ideas competing for space that none of them really get fully explored? That was what I thought about this. The writing was good, the characters were interesting, but there were just so many different things going on that it all mashed together and became…something. Not something that I could figure out.

This is a rather long book, and in the end, I didn’t really get why things happened as they did or why it required so much space. I didn’t hate this book, but I would say that liking it as a whole would be being a bit generous.

If you enjoy reading very unusual books, then this might be a good one for you to check out.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry

Corridors of the Night (William Monk, #21)Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry

One night, in a corridor of the Royal Naval Hospital in Greenwich, nurse Hester Monk is approached by a terrified girl. She’s from a hidden ward of children, all subject to frequent blood-letting, and her brother is dying.

While William Monk’s River Police fight to keep London safe from gun-runners, Hester takes on a new role at the hospital, helping to administer a secretive new treatment. But she slowly realises that this experimental cure is putting the lives of the children at risk. Attempting to protect the young victims, she comes under threat from one rich, powerful, and very ill man who is desperate to survive…
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a difficult time with this one. Whilst there were parts of this book that I found fascinating, there were other parts that I couldn’t stay focused on and I felt went unresolved.

I have read a few other books in this series, and I found this one to be a bit darker and more moody than the others. I liked the characters just as well, but the story lines at first seemed to be separate and I was interested in the husband’s half of the tale, but it was that part that seemed to be left unfinished. So…I’m not sure what to think.

This is a very atmospheric book. The descriptions are good and the actions of the characters are both understandable and believable, but I still found my mind wandering off occasionally.

If you are into medical mysteries–and like the idea of early science, this book will please you.

I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I’m glad I read it–and that’s about all the opinions I’ve got for this one.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. Al opinions are my own.

Convalescence by Maynard Sims

ConvalescenceConvalescence by Maynard Sims

Who will protect the children?

Fourteen-year-old James has seen his family wiped out by tuberculosis in the England of the 1960s. When he is sent to the country to convalesce with his Uncle Thomas it seems a welcome respite. But his uncle is strange, and clearly has a dark secret. The huge house is secretive too, with whispers and cries in the night. Gradually James meets other children, some real, some apparently ghosts, but all of whom have been hurt by the uncle. Will James be next?

In an eerie novella of repressed depravity, Maynard Sims conjures nightmares from the fears of childhood.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book follows the old style of terror, where things are slowly revealed, allowing the reader to wait in suspense for what is going to happen next. From the beginning it is hinted that there is something strange going on in the large house where the main character has been sent to recover from an illness, but it is not said exactly what.

For the most part, I thought this was a really interesting book with just enough suspense and unusual qualities to keep me excited about turning the pages. It isn’t a terribly long book, but that serves it well. The reader has enough of a chance to get to know the characters, without the length seeming oppressive.

The one thing that bothered me about this book, is that I felt like due to the repeated use of the word “almost,” that things were only kind of happening or about to happen, rather than actually happening. Some examples are “almost palpable,” and “almost tangible.” I like it when my characters just go ahead and do things, rather than when they almost do.

Otherwise, I thought this was a good read and that it was worth the time to check out. Recommended for those who like mysterious, spooky tales.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of EvangelineThe Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, The Gates of Evangeline is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is fascinating, there is no question about that. From the first few pages I was hooked and I didn’t want to put it down.

Charlie is a strong character and although she has a lot of unexpected events occur in the beginning of the story, she doesn’t heavily overreact or do anything that would seem particularly out of character, save for the one act that ties the rest of the story together–a necessary plot device used by the author, and one that I could appreciate.

I loved the atmosphere of this story and the plantation home setting. The structures were beautifully described and I really felt I could see the same things the main character was viewing. I was particularly impressed with the descriptions of the swamp and surrounding territory, including New Orleans–though it was perhaps a more positive perception than some visitors get from the city.

I won’t say that I gave this four stars instead of five for the language and the comparisons the author made to the people of Louisiana and Texas compared to a New Yorker with a college education–others already have. Frankly, having not lived there and only been a visitor to the south and to Texas, I likely would have done the same thing–dialogue is a tough nut to crack.

What I will say, is that I couldn’t totally get around the idea of a sick, dying old woman seemingly being completely out of it and then acting as though she were able to clear the fog and have a perfectly rational conversation as she wished.

Otherwise, I thought this was a brilliantly crafted novel and recommend it to anyone looking for a good, deep mystery with a lot of unexpected revelations.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Perfect Betrayal by Season Vining Blog Tour

If you haven’t checked out this book yet, you will want to. Hot and steamy, fun and very well written. This is one that I really enjoyed! So excited to share it with you.


To the outside world, Taylor Hudson has it all: money, beauty and social status. But Taylor’s privileged life is far lonelier than it appears. Now it’s about to be rocked to its core when a gorgeous new employee shows up at her family’s mansion…but nothing about him is what it appears.

Levi’s always had to fight to survive. Now, as the inside man on a heist to steal fifteen million dollars from one of the town’s wealthiest families, he has the chance of a lifetime. But it puts him on a crash course the one thing he can’t have: Taylor, a woman who makes him want the impossible-to be a better man.
What started out as a wicked game of seduction is about to become so much more. But are they both willing to give up everything for the deepest connection they’ve ever known?

This book is on sale now and you don’t want to miss it if you love steamy romance !
Find it now on Amazon or your favourite book retailer.
Here are my thoughts on the book:

  Imagine, if you will, a modern day Romeo and Juliet, but with a level of heat that would have roasted Shakespeare alive–and then you will pretty much have ‘Perfect Betrayal.’

This book is interesting from the very start. The dynamic and tension between the two main characters is apparent before they even meet. How is that possible? Well, it is one of those books where the author does such a good job building her characters individually that even before they meet, you know it is going to be sexy and explosive when they do.

As predicted, the sparks between them fly early on and continue to increase into a raging inferno as the pages progress. There is a lot going on in this book–as the title indicates–betrayal plays a big role here. I was impressed by the ability of the author to keep the romance angle of the book fresh whilst still building an entertaining story of other events in the background.

At times, the female lead comes across as spoiled, bratty, bitchy and overall not the kind of character you can immediately love, but she also has a softer side, she can be vulnerable and she is the kind of character that you will learn to love as you go.

The male lead is somewhat the same way. He can be cocky, not always eloquent and fierce, but also has a similar vulnerability about him that makes you want to love him.

Overall, I liked this book. It was daring, incredibly bold at times and one that I think will keep almost anyone interested. If you like new adult books with just the right amount of tension and steam, this one will do nicely.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own