THIS TENDER LAND by William Kent Krueger


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★★


A magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.


THIS TENDER LAND is a beautifully written historical novel about the river adventure of four young vagabonds sailing to Saint Louis in the summer of 1932. It richly describes the hardships and desperation of the Great Depression, and the cruelty forced upon Native American families, especially children, at that time. Set adrift on the river, these young people encounter a unique cast of characters along their journey to find home. Though dark at times, the story left me hopeful. Highly recommended!

BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN by Diane Chamberlain


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel in Big Lies in a Small Town.

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN is an absorbing story of two young artists from different eras, tied together by an abandoned mural meant for a post office wall in a small Southern city.

In 1940, New Jersey artist Anna Dale wins a national contest to paint a post office mural for a North Carolina town. Almost 80 years later, Morgan Christopher gets early release from prison with the condition that she restore the badly damaged mural so it will be hanging in a new museum on opening day.

Why was the mural abandoned and never installed? Why was troubled Morgan chosen to be the restorer? And what dark secrets are held beneath the grime of the old painting? I enjoyed the back and forth between time periods as intriguing and sometimes disturbing details were revealed. Very well written! This is the first book by Diane Chamberlain I’ve read, and I’m already a fan.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Quick Thoughts: HOW QUICKLY SHE DISAPPEARS by Raymond Fleischmann


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★★½


The Dry meets The Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense, set in the relentless Alaskan landscape, about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family…

My proposition is very simple: I am going to ask you for three gifts, and for each gift you deliver, I will take you one step closer to Jacqueline.

It’s been twenty years since Elisabeth’s twin sister, Jacqueline, disappeared without a trace. Now thirty-year-old Elisabeth is living far from home in a small Alaskan town. She’s in a loveless marriage and has a precocious young daughter she loves more than anything but who reminds her too much of her long-missing sister.

But then Alfred, a dangerous stranger with a plan of his own, arrives in town and commits an inexplicable act of violence. And he offers a startling revelation: He knows exactly what happened to Elisabeth’s sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if she fulfills his three requests.

Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth can almost hear her sister’s voice saying, Come and find me. And so she will, even if it means putting herself—and her family—in danger.


This was my final selection from Penguin’s First to Read program. Unfortunately it is shutting down today! I’ve greatly enjoyed being a part of the program for the past few years. I’ve found many favorites through them, including this book, HOW QUICKLY SHE DISAPPEARS.

A historical suspense novel set in Alaska in the 1940s was too tempting to pass up, and I got pulled into the story right away. A tiny, isolated town in the Alaskan Interior was the perfect setting for this eerie story. I was very intrigued by Elisabeth’s quest to find her missing sister, gone for 20 years, and the lengths she’d go to get answers. Alfred was a truly creepy character, and I was flipping the pages to find out what he knew! The author did a great job building up tension, and I was pleased with the conclusion. Haunting, riveting, and enjoyable!

Disclosure: A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim Michele Richardson {Review}


Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything―everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere―even back home.


Cussy Mary was such a compelling and unique character in this novel set in depression-era Kentucky. I warmed to her and her amazing story right away.

Part of President Roosevelt’s plan to bring jobs to struggling rural areas was the Pack Horse Library Project. Working for this program, Cussy and her mule delivered second-hand books to the poorest of mountain folks surrounding Troublesome Creek.

Cussy was called Bluet by many locals because of the uncommon color of her skin. She was a descendant of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and she faced cruelty and discrimination because of it. This book brilliantly brought to life what was going on in this time and place, all the hardships and hopes of this impoverished mining community.

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK was a wonderful & emotional journey, and I loved it! Cussy the Book Woman is a character who will stay with you long after finishing this absorbing piece of Southern historical fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts on Books (#17): The Raven’s Tale / The Hunting Party / Murder on Cape Cod


The Raven's Tale
The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

THE RAVEN’S TALE is a fictionalized account of 17-year old Edgar Allan Poe and his turbulent relationship with Lenore, his muse. In this world, muses are real, physical beings, and they’re considered corrupt and dangerous by polite society. Lenore comes to Edgar at a particularly vulnerable time in his life, at odds with his foster father and leaving for university. Edgar’s passion for poetry and dreams of making a living as a writer are in sharp contrast to the wishes of his practical and cruel foster father. Will Lenore save Edgar’s creative spark, or will she be snuffed out forever(more)?

I enjoyed that this book imagined what a teenage Poe would have been like, and how his “muse” buried the seeds in his mind for many of his greatest works. The plot struggled in parts, moving slowly especially during his time at university, though the writing was lovely and atmospheric. I was also hoping for more explanation of what the muses actually were. Living spirits, maybe? As a fan of Poe, there was much to appreciate in this well-researched novel. Borrowed from the library.


The Hunting Party
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A group of friends meet at a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate New Year’s Eve. One of them ends up dead, and another is the murderer. But who’s dead, and whodunit? The story flips back and forth between characters and before and after the murder, until the truth is slowly revealed.

I loved the premise of this book, however I struggled to stay engaged. There were many POVs presented, and their voices were so similar it was hard to keep track. The whole group of them gave off a snobby, shallow vibe, so it was hard to care what happened to them. Their drama dragged on too long. I suppose my two favorite characters were the lodge employees, Heather and Doug. They were easier to sympathize with.

While not for me, THE HUNTING PARTY has gotten a lot of great buzz. Please check out the other reviews! Borrowed from the library.


Murder on Cape Cod (Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #1)
Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Westham, Massachusetts, is a delightful tourist town on Cape Cod, and home to bike shop owner Macenzie “Mac” Almeida. After book club one foggy evening, Mac stumbles across a dead body very near her home. Unfortunately evidence found at the scene makes her brother a prime suspect. The pressure is on Mac to clear her brother’s name without interfering in the official investigation.

I enjoyed this first book in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery. The Cape Cod setting was lovely, and the wonderful descriptions made me want to visit. Mac was a relatable, no nonsense protagonist, and I loved that she lived in a cozy tiny home! The murder mystery was not an easy one to figure out. Mac’s book group didn’t play a big role in solving the murder, but I felt like we got a solid introduction to all the members. I’m looking forward to the next Cozy Capers mystery! Purchased from Barnes & Noble.


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