Anna Lee Huber: A Certain Darkness

A Certain Darkness

Published: Kensington
Date: 30th August 2022
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

March 1920: Life has turned unsettlingly quiet for former British Intelligence agent Verity Kent and her husband, Sidney. But even that false calm is about to end. As threats remain, the French authorities soon request Sidney’s help with a suspect who claims to have proof of treason—shortly before she is assassinated. And Verity, too, is called to investigate a mystery . . .

The murder of a Belgian lawyer aboard a train seems at first to be a simple case of revenge. But the victim was connected to British Intelligence, and possessed papers detailing the sinking of a gold-laden German ship during the war.

As Verity and Sidney dig deeper, they discover their cases are intertwined—and a lethal adversary persists. Officially, the Great War may be over, but this is a battle of nerves and wits they cannot afford to lose . . .

Verity and Sidney are off on another dangerous adventure.  While World War 1 is over, not everything is over! There are still hang overs from that time in more ways than one. One of those left overs has the pair travelling to France and Belgium.

The journey is fraught with danger and a few murders along the way that they have to figure out who and why. It’s hard for them to know who to trust and even those they may have trusted in the past – they too are in question.

What they eventually discover will send Sidney spiralling and have Verity thinking things she hasn’t considered before. It brings into question too those in political power and how genuine they were in seeking peace rather than war.

It’s only historical fiction I kept reminding myself. But… it could have some kernels of truth. As we well know in this age the power of being misinformed.

It is action packed and ends with another assignment in the future that will likely take this pair right into the heart of their ongoing quest.  I’d advise starting with the first book in this series to fully understand what is at stake.


Once Upon a Wardrobe. Patti Callahan

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Publisher: Harper Muse
Date: 19th October 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics.

She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

Once Upon a Wardrobe what a mystical, magical and beautiful book. It sucked me in, and both warmed and wrung my heart out.

Meet George, a young boy with a heart condition that keeps him at home and will only leave him with a very short life. And Megs his older sister at Oxford, she who is all about mathematics and science and facts. However her brother George is an imaginative reader, who is grabbed by the book – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. George wants to know where Narnia came from. Megs being the wonderful sister she is sets out to find out. She visits Jack Lewis and his brother Warnie and a huge adventure begins.

The power of story shines through.It takes time but Meg will come to see the power of what Jack says to her.  “The fantastic and the imaginative aren’t escapism. Good stories introduce the marvellous. The whole story paradoxically, strengthens our relish for real life. This excursion sends us back renewed pleasure to the actual world. It provides meaning”.  And in actual fact this book Once Upon a Wardrobe does exactly that. 

It makes a great Christmas story, a story of family, love, loss and courage. A book about story. At the end C. S. Lewis’ stepson says to read it, then set it aside and read it again later. It’s exactly what I will do.

Book Connections

Recently Placed Books on to my TBR Shelf

Well that would be my virtual TBR! Which has grown again. I often put a book into my virtual TBR and hope that I will get to it. I did cull it, but maybe I need to do that again. But in the meantime I am looking at five of the latest that I have added that I am more likely to pick up.

Book coverWhat? First in a crime series. It involves a a couple of police characters and killer of course and its set in a small town in Woodbury MA. One character is Ellery Hathaway. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only one who lived.

Why? I liked the review of the #3 book in the series that I read and so I always like to start with #1.

How likely am I to get to it? Some likelihood. It is at our local library so that increased the possibility. Crime reading only forms part of my reading diet but I do like one now and then.

book cover What? Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

Why? Again I was alerted to this book via someones review. It’s contemporary women’s fiction and that’s probably my top reading genre.

How Likely am I to get it? A good likelihood. It is at the local library which is a point in favour. I like a story where a woman starts over.

book coverWhat? London 1943: War and dwindling resources are taking their toll on the staff of Partridge Press. The pressure is on to create new books to distract readers from the grim realities of the war, but Partridge’s rising star, Alice Cotton, leaves abruptly and cannot be found.

Why? Again a review drew me to this book. It’s WW2 and involves some publishing and I think a missing child.

How Likely Am I to get to it? Highly likely as I have it already out from the library. Which doesn’t mean I always will read a book, but when its sitting there I will pick it up if I can.

book coverWhat? Melanie Trenholm and her family navigate the eerie happenings in their town as ghosts threaten to upend their lives once again.

Why? It’s part of a series – #7 that I am reading, but I need to read #6 first. This one publishes later in the year. The final one I believe. It involves ghosts and mystery.

How Likely Am I to get it? 100 % likely. I am invested in reading or listening to this series.

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What? When thirty-nine year old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son.

Why? Again I read a review for this book and it appealed. It has some time travel and magical realism. Plus it has a women’s fiction feel.

How likely am I go get it? A good likelihood. It’s not at the library, but it is on audiobook at Audible and so I have put it in my Wish list.


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Five Five Star Reads.

We are at the end of June, the first six months of the year completed. I decided to look back at the books that just struck a chord with me. I will have had more than five five star books, but out of those what just made my heart so happy.  I am a contemporary fiction reader mainly, so those kind of books are more likely to make this list.

Next week I’ll choose five 4 star reads from my list of the 67 books I have completed so far. That will be way more difficult as I have a lot of them!  Audiobooks will be another week, although they are included in the 67!

book coverI read this back in February. It is by Australian author Fiona Lowe. I thought the issues she explored, and the eclectic cast of characters and the challenges they faced were very relevant. One I will most certainly reread. When I can still remember a book I read back in February its a good sign!!

book coverDifferent but so entertaining. I thought ‘really weird’ as I began but soon I was really cheering for all the wacky characters. Plenty of family drama and little surprises. Sunshine and her daughter Auri are just beautiful. Quincy and Levi giving them a shout out too. The whole town actually and the mystery of the missing deputy – priceless. Really looking forward to reading the next one which publishes soon.

book coverWell this is a new tack in a series I’ve loved and I love the new adventures. It’s full of great characters, political shenanigans, (notice the cover – The White House) police procedural and family love. Look I’ll say it simply – I am addicted. I wanted to avoid putting in my top five because I am so addicted, but … it has to go in!

book coverAnd my top historical read of the last six months. It is a beautifully written story of wartime London and the people who faced such hard times during all the bombing that went on. And a bookshop – don’t forget a bookshop!

bookcoverI tossed up between this book The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews and The House Guests by Emilie Richards. But because I have just reviewed the latter five star read I choose The Newcomer. I like most books when someone is on the run with a child in tow. ( I was going to write toe but didn’t seem right until I got the visual). Anyway there is mystery and suspense, eclectic characters and just a good read.

Okay, would love to hear from you of one five star read from the first six months! I might add to my groaning TBR pile!


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Book Connections, Reading challenge, Review

Challenging Reads

This year I am trying to do the Emilie Richard’s Reader challenge that she has on her Facebook page.  It is informal and so I don’t count it as “must do”, but I look each month and see what I can incorporate. It has helped me take three books off my actual shelf and read them and the other two I got at the library.

January: A first responders story or book.
book cover It may be a stretch to count this as a first responders book but because it involved those who were part of a mass shooting in a mosque in Christchurch and Husna responded to those shot around her and then was shot herself I count this as a very first responder’s story.

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February: This book was read in response to a person who changed the world in some way. A biography of Eunice Kennedy. She really did focus on making the world better for those with disabilities and started games that would eventually become world wide for the disabled. An extremely well researched, well written book. Eileen McNamara brings alive Eunice Kennedy, with all her amazing drive and passion and flaws. She was a woman who I think never took no for an answer. She fought for the injustice she saw about her. She worked politically and hands on with those especially with intellectual disabilities and really did change the way these people were treated and seen. She was just so herself. A marriage that seems to have been successful on many plains and children who have travelled on in her spirit with today’s insights incorporated. While I am not sure I would have liked her, I certainly applaud her for all that she achieved. The book itself is so well written, it just draws a reader in

book cover March – a book that was either a diary or a novel that had a diary within it. I chose The Light Over London as a diary is found by Cara in 2017. It takes us back to when Louise Keene a young British women enlisted and became part of a women’s gunner team. It is told well and seamlessly goes between each era. Some secrets, some heartache, lots of courage and second chances. I enjoyed it, although I did find it just a little slow moving.

book coverApril challenge was a book from the Times Magazine all time 100 list or the Guardian 1000 books list.  Well that’s quite a choice, but very few of them were that palatable to me. In the end I went with A Wizard of Earthsea, which is fantasy and I vaguely remember liking many, many years ago. I decided to reread it, and it was like new as I had remembered very little of it. It’s main character is Ged who is involved in a long journey to find out who he is and who his real enemy is. He goes through danger, loss and suffering. And has his victory that is a start. (There are a number more books). My favourite character in this book is Vetch who is a true friend for Ged.

Historical Fiction.

I am sure I read Georgette Heyer before but am not totally sure. I so enjoyed this book set mostly in France. Some of the language and customs were quite foreign to me and it intrigued me. For example the men would “show a leg”. I am guessing it was kind of putting one leg forward and bowing? Leonie was an enormously fun heroine and the Duke of Avon turns from a somewhat notorious gentleman into someone hardly recognised by those close as he falls for Leonie. The dialogue was often witty and there was enough little twists and turns to keep me turning the pages.

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Goodreads Choice 2020

Well it seems I am more out of sync than usual for the Goodreads Choice Awards. I have read even less of them this year. And usually I don’t vote unless I’ve read them. This year I broke that and voted for one I am currently reading and one that comes out late November.


book coverI am reading this at present. I think it will hold up – it has a theme of all the choices unchosen in life and what would it look like if you had gone down that path. The heroine is depressed and with no felt sense of any purpose in her life decides to end it. Instead of ending up dead she lands in the in-between of a library that is going to enable her to examine the choices she didn’t make.

Historical Fiction

book cover I read this via audiobook and I think because I read it in this format that I fell for it. It really put me on a Jane Austen path – I loved the setting – the time … just at the end of WW2 and the various characters just took hold of my heart. The narration by Richard Armitage was superb. And that’s saying something because I am not that keen on a male narrator but he nailed it. I also voted for this one in the Debut section.


The Switch book coverI had also read Beach Read in this category but I liked The Switch a lot more. Again I think because I read it via audiobook and that aced it for me. It’s fun, interesting characters and was well narrated by two narrators. Had a great older character too.

Non Fiction

book coverWith wonderfully real examples Anne Bogel depicts the over thinking that many of us engage in (from time to time) and gives us tips to manage this little habit that robs us of energy and time. In one place it had me chuckling out loud. Anne doesn’t spare herself.

It’s a book I’ll dip into again, exploring some of her references as well.


book cover Okay this is the one that I haven’t read but voted for anyway! I plan to read it and will most likely do via audiobook.

If it is as good as his wife’s book then it should be interesting, informative and most likely entertaining as well.

Have you read any of the Goodreads Choice books. Did you vote in the semi final round?

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The Paris Library

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Published: Hachette Australia
Date: 2nd June 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is the unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together.

PARIS, 1939 Odile Souchet is obsessed with books, and working at The American Library in Paris for the formidable director Dorothy Reeder is all she has ever dreamed of. The Library and its thriving community of students, writers, diplomats and book lovers provide her with a safe haven. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes. The Nazi ‘Library Protector’ changes the rules overnight, declaring a war on words and making the librarians risk their lives to do their jobs.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles presents us with the American Library in Paris in the months leading up to WW11 and during the war. Like all stories set in this era at times it is stark and heart breaking. The people suffer so much.

Yet within the confines of the library there are warm friendships among those who work there and those who come to read, write and borrow books. Odile is a wonderful character – she loves reading and books and she so wants to work at the library.

We meet Odile again in 1985 in Montana, USA. What is she doing there? Why does she live like she does.? Well, enter Lily the young girl next door determined to find out. Before long an important relationship is formed.

I am not going to mention plot again, this is a book you need to read and go into it without knowing what happens next! But… I think any reader who loves Paris, libraries, books, courageous people and people who make terrible mistakes will find much to reflect upon in this book.


The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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Publisher: Graydon House – Harlequin
Date: 19th March 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley



In The Things I Cannot Say Kelly Rimmer as penned a very powerful dual time line story.

In one time space we are taken to Poland in the early times of Nazi occupation during WW2 and to the story of Alina and Tomasz and their families. Those times were horrific and yet the bravery of these people stand out as they dealt with the terror.

In the present we have Alice and Wade and their two children – one very intelligent and one who is on the autism spectrum. The stresses in the family are well depicted and felt very real. When Alice is asked by her grandmother to return to Poland to seek information about what happened back then and who is there now, it is a huge challenge for her.

The dual time lines worked well. While I am not a huge fan of dual time lines, I have to admit the way the details were spread throughout the story was very effective.  I was sucked into both stories – one shocking and so hard to read, one “easier” but with its own difficulties.  And always such love.

Its very emotional and tissues were needed! I came to love and admire all the characters and to be in awe of the story telling power of Kelly Rimmer.


Sold on a Monday by Kristina Morris

Published: Sourcebooks
Date:  28th August 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating 4.5 stars
Goodreads callout

The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.


Sold on a Monday by Kristina Morris is the story of reporter Ellis, secretary to the Chief of a newspaper Lily, and the mother and children that Ellis takes a photo of and places in the newspaper for a story, not exactly on purpose. The title says “2 Children for Sale”. He didn’t intend it to happen like that but it has.

As a result two children are sold, a mother disappears and Ellis and Lily are left wondering.  Lily has a secret of her own, and a desire to be a writer if only she can break through the male barrier to that. And she is the persevering kind.

Ellis does make good from the story that goes with the photo, but… he is a man of conscience and so begins a journey that he and Lily undertake to ensure that the sold children are safe and thriving. What they find out disturbs them enough to have them undertake a sometimes quite dangerous mission to recover the children.

The story is one that kept me engaged the whole way through. It was both sad and heartwarming and I really liked both the setting and the characters. Very satisfying.Bitmoji
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The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

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Published: William Morrow
Date:  July 10th 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Rating 4.5 stars
Goodreads callout

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound as a naive eighteen year old, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. Although a graduate of the exclusive Foxcroft Academy in Virginia, Miranda has always lived on the margins of high society.

When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda is catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.


Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams was a read that I sank into and have to say really liked. It ranges over three time periods – 1930, 1951 and 1969.  It is told mostly from the viewpoint of Miranda, however their is also the story of Bianca.  We go from one time period to another – backwards and forwards.

That could be somewhat disconcerting, however if it is carefully read and characters and events tracked until the jigsaw comes together then it returns a rewarding read. As I kept notes I put what was happening together so there is no surprise much at the end, but the satisfaction of seeing how it all turns out.

It is set on an island where there are the local people – fishermen and then the summer people. The rich people, who eat, drink and make merry and don’t intermingle much or at all with the local people. Miranda comes to this island as a teen when her mother remarries on of the summer men. She finds she has a step sister Isabel. I did think it a little odd that she changed in a way I wouldn’t expect.

And her step father – what of him, well he has a lot to do with the characters in this story and just to say I didn’t like him.  So many lives intertwine on the island, and not least of all Joseph the young man we first meet saving a fisherman.

To discuss what happens would be to take away from the reader the opportunity to follow the twists and turns, the mystery, the way characters relate to each other.

The writing is beautiful, the issues sometimes sad, yet here is a tale of redemption and hope as well.