D says that a name always fits in the end, that a name is like a leather shoe that forms itself to the foot.

But in my mind, it’s the other way around: a person grows into his name. ~ Marjolijn

Lindsay’s review

An endearing and emotional journey.

I loved the premise of this novel – a woman on a quest to understand the meaning behind a family name being passed down to her unborn child. The novel unfolds through the weekly pregnancy countdown while the mom-to-be searches for the truth of her family’s past. Long hidden secrets are uncovered and whispered family gossip is investigated.

I found it very interesting to follow the main characters path. She wanted to use a family name with history and meaning for her son but yearned to fully understand the history behind the family name first. I strongly connected to her journey through pregnancy and upcoming new motherhood. I thought the author did a phenomenal job sharing those inner thoughts and worries. Marjolijn van Heemstra also shed light on the essence of how alone a woman is in the experience of pregnancy, even with a supportive partner. A partner can only truly experience so much through the woman. Much of it is a deeply personal female experience.

The main part of the family history being investigated surrounds the credibility of the ancestors heroic actions after the war. Differing stories reveal various circumstances that change the outcome. Marjolijn van Heemstra asks some thought provoking questions about the Resistance and shares some insight on how some struggled in letting go after the war ended. When does a war truly end? When does peace actually start? Does one change from a Resistance hero to a criminal in one day? I found the idea of “Resistance psychosis” very interesting — the fear of returning to everyday life after fighting in the Resistance.

Overall, I found this book very thought provoking. It asked some deep and important questions that I enjoyed pondering. It was very well written and unique.

Brenda’s review

In Search of a Name by Marjolijn van Heemstra is a unique story with an intimate look at how the stories we tell and the ones we are told to us by our family exist between truth and fiction.

Writer and the narrator of the story Marjolijn van Heemstra agrees to name her firstborn son after her distant uncle, who was seen as a hero of the Dutch resistance by her family. Now pregnant, she begins to worry about naming her child after someone she knows little about, so she sets out to learn more about the man who was to be “the blueprint for my son.”

As Marjolijn searches for answers the story is told with chapters beginning with a week-by-week countdown to the due date. I enjoyed how this gave a race against time-intense feeling to the story.
The story reads like a memoir, and I should have approached as one as I often get lost in the telling of a story when I expect to be shown. At times I was confused with what was going on, however, this could have been due to translation from Dutch to English.

We also see into Marjolijn’s pregnancy and she is brutally honest about her experience and that does add another interesting dynamics to the story. Some of her decisions in her quest to find answers left me questions some of her actions.

The ending left me with a few unanswered questions and left me wanting more from the story but not from Marjolijn I think this was because this was in a way is a fictionalized memoir. I just made up a new genre. lol

We received copies from the publisher through NG.

Breathe Your Last by Lisa Regan

Breathe Your Last is #10 in the Detective Josie Quinn series, and every time I read a new one, I say the series gets better with each book. Lisa Regan changes things up a notch here in this one by adding a bold, and bizarre case that left me with many questions. She tests not only Josie and her team but us readers with those exciting, “what is going on” twists to the crime and our beloved characters.

My love for the series is all about Josie and her dynamics with the people in her life. Lisa Regan keeps this fresh and exciting by exploring stories and crimes that involve the people in her life while adding new characters to that dynamics. While I enjoy all the mysteries and crimes in the stories, they don’t usually take center stage for me as the one here in this story did. I still loved the dynamics with the characters that take a different turn when Noah becomes distant and distracted from Josie.

The case here is darkly bold, strange, and unquie and touches on a dark reality that is not often explored, and at times, I did question some of the reality of the story and how Lisa was going to pull off that line between reality and entertainment.

The action and climax to the story are like nothing I have seen from Lisa, and I was on the edge of my seat with my mouth wide open in shock with the heart-wrenching turn the story took. The action is exciting and tense. That heart-wrenching turn pushed my shock to the point I almost messaged Lisa to ask what she was thinking, throwing that at us readers, however, I went with it and enjoyed the emotional pull she brilliantly layered on us.

As always, I highly recommend this series!!

I received a copy from the publisher through NG.

To see more about this series and Lisa Regan’s insight into the series and Josie check out our Spoiler free Q & A with Lisa. It can be found here

The Best gift for any book and dog lover: Dogversations: Conversations with My Dogs by David Leswick

December 7, 2020

Hello Friends! I just received a stunning, beautiful and fun book from Canadian photographer and now author David Leswick from Saskatchewan. It’s one I want to share a look into it with you all right away because I think it will make a fun and entertaining gift for all book lovers and animal lovers. It’s a great gift that can be shared with many people and will spark many conversations. It’s one I have shared with my whole family here at home. I will be back along with Lindsay with our full review of the book.

David Leswick has been doing weekly dog photography projects on social media for over eight years and from there his dogversations became a way to tell stories behind the photos. Over the past years the dogversations grew and tell the personalities of each his pups. In his book Dogversations: Conversations with My Dogs David shares laugh out loud, enduring dogversations between his dogs, his family or himself with every photo. It makes for stunning book to have on your coffee table to look at over and over again.

About the book

If these dogs could talk…here’s precisely what Eva, the Brittany spaniel, Bruno, the golden retriever, and Agnes, the genetically diverse rescue dog, would say. Photographer David Leswick flawlessly captures the fun, quirky, clever, curious, and witty personalities of his family’s three canine companions in this collection of heartwarming photography-along with the hilarious dogalogue that comes along with it. The perfect doggie treat for the eyes, heart, and sense of humour of any animal lover, Dogversations is a laugh-out-loud hysterical glimpse at how this canine crew tries to make heads or tails out of their daily lives with the human family that loves them….

You can check out David Leswick website here

The photos are taken from the premium edition send to me from David Leswick. It will be one I will cherish with my family. I will back with Lindsay and our full reviews!!

Lindsay’s review

Engrossing. Atmospheric. Foreboding. Mysterious.

This novel takes place at a boarding school (I love boarding school settings!) that was once a Home for fallen girls. The prestigious Haywood prep school houses students from wealthy families alongside students who earn their admittance through school scholarships. An eager and straight-A student begins an investigative report on female students who have gone missing since before the Home became an elite school. The investigation leads to the discovery and unraveling of long buried secrets and that students death.

I loved the atmosphere of this story. The small town and school grounds added so much foreboding tension and mystery to the plot. The characters were well developed – each one having a questionable aspect of their past that left me suspicious and curious. The mystery itself was highly intriguing and kept me fully engaged and invested until the end. While there were a few unrealistic plot points, the intense atmosphere and gripping mystery made up for it.

This was a novel I truly enjoyed being wrapped up in.

Brenda’s review

The Sea of Lost Girls was a good one to squeeze in between those intense, exciting reads that send my heart rate through the roof. However, I do feel some depth of the story was missed by the story being told to us.

There are some heavy themes here with power and control between men and women and toxic masculinity with a mystery full of secrets from the past and spinning lies. Our main character Tess is an unlikeable unreliable narrator with secrets from her past that she has hidden with lies. At times I wonder how she could keep track of them all while keeping them spinning. However, there is plenty of backstories told to us and then repeated when a new reveal is the present came up to help keep track of everything.

Carol Goodman weaves in myths, legends, stories, and a play to layer in the themes of power and control however, I feel it missed the mark with the depth needed by telling us so much of the story instead of revealing parts of the past as the story progresses.

Overall I thought it was an easier read with some dark realities surrounding control and power over women while representing women well.

This is a title from our Edelweiss backlist, and Lindsay and I hope to knock a couple off before the end of the year!

The Berlin Girl by Mandy Robotham is available December 8, 2020!

Lindsay’s review

An entertaining and adventurous journey in prewar Berlin.

Georgie is at the start of her investigative journalist career. She is sent to Berlin to uncover the truth about about who Hitler is and how people feel in prewar Berlin about this new rising leader.

I loved Georgie! She was an endearing and brave character who I loved rooting for. It was interesting to experience her shocking discoveries of how powerful and horrific the Nazi party truly was at a time when everyone was uncertain of what Hitlers leadership would actually amount to.

The first half of the novel was much stronger than the second half. Georgie’s journey took some extreme and unrealistic turns that took away from my enjoyment. I think the author tried to include too many examples of heroic behaviour within one character. However, I do appreciate learning about different avenues the Resistance used.

Overall, this was an entertaining read that I enjoyed escaping into. I recommend for readers who are looking for a less gritty, lighter WWII novel.

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending me a physical ARC to read and review!

Brenda’s review

HOT DIGGITY DANG!!! I am speechless with that OMG ending!!!

Take It Back is a gripping, intense, explosive courtroom drama that explores racial and gender conflicts, family, and duty. Zara, a formal barrister now rape counselor, is divided between her family, her heart, and her job when 16-year-old Jodie accuses four boys of rape. Jodie is white and disabled with a facial disformity, and the boys are from hardworking immigrant families.

I loved Zara, and she makes for a strong female character here, with conflicts and flaws of her own while she deals with her expected role as a woman that her family expects and backlash from members of the Muslim community. The tension rises as she rejects traditions and those expected subservient roles and behavior.

“Oppression doesn’t spread through men with guns, or bombs on trains. Oppression spreads when women like you tell their daughters to marry a certain man, or wear a certain dress, or work a certain job.~Zara

“Women aren’t born warriors, we learn to fight because we have to” ~Zara

The story is a tough, emotionally charge one with many themes explored, and Kia Abdullah holds back no punches. It is brilliantly and skillfully written in layers on top of layers and peeled back throughout the story. It’s bold and brave and messy and gives us so much to think about and talk about.

“That’s your problem, Zar. You want life in neat and predictable boxes when it’s actually a river of shit “~ Safran.

The ending is brilliant with unexpected turns to the story, and every detail is wrapped up skillfully. Kia Abdullah has written a gem of a story here, and she is another author that is moving forward and away from those expected plots and characters. I look forward to more from her and Zara.

“I want forgiveness, for others and for myself. I want to accept that the journey is all there is. That when you get there, there’s no there there and so you keep going, keep trying, keep looking for ways to fill that hole but it will never be filled because we are just human and life has holes-it just does. That’s what I want.” ~Zara

And that is what I want!

This one ticks all the boxes for me for what makes a better read!

Diverse read that addresses expected roles of gender and race but stays away from expected behaviours and stereotyped characters.
Explores some tough themes without manipulating or playing on our emotions
Delivers a story that made me think and feel with the characters
Characters that had me questioning their actions and behavior while horrifying me and breaking my heart.
A brave, bold, heartstopping, heartbreaking, thoughtful, and intense page-turner.

I am so grateful to Lindsay for reading and discussing this one while I analyzed every detail. lol

Lindsay’s review

Intense. Heart-breaking. Shocking. Uncomfortable. Thought-provoking.

Sixteen-year-old Jodie comes to Artemis House, a sexual assault crisis centre, to seek help and support after a brutal attack. Jodie was born with extreme facial deformities and has no form of support in her home life. Zara takes on the case at the crisis centre, promising to accompany Jodie through every step from reporting the assault to the police to attending court with her. Zara is Muslim, as are the group of four boys that Jodie is accusing of rape.

This book was intense! There are several heavy topics covered that the author didn’t shy away from delving deep into. The writing was outstanding and kept me fully engrossed from start to finish. The characters were phenomenal — each character brought a complex layer of intrigue and emotion to the storyline. The storyline itself is highly controversial, uncomfortable and deeply contemplative. I didn’t know where to place my thoughts throughout this novel – it challenged me to keep my mind and heart open to whatever outcome would happen. My heart broke repeatedly yet I also questioned many of the characters motives and intentions throughout. This book kept me guessing until the very end where I was completed shocked. This was outstanding in every possible way!

The characters and this storyline will stay with me for a long time. It weighs heavy on my heart and has easily made its way onto my Favourites List. I highly recommend! I was thrilled to find out this is a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Book 2!

We received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

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