Book Review: Last Girl Ghosted (Lisa Unger) @lisaunger @HarperCollinsCa

Lisa Unger has one of those writing styles that makes you feel like you are spending time with an old friend; no matter what horrible reading slump I find myself in, I can curl up with her novels and find myself in a haze hours later after devouring the pages. And that is exactly what happened to me when I binged Last Girl Ghosted.

Fun fact about myself, I met my husband online. So, when I read the synopsis for this novel and it had a tagline stating “Think twice before you swipe”, I was all in. The novel follows “plain Jane on purpose” Wren Greenwood, who is seemingly running from a tortured past, after she is ghosted from a guy, Adam, she met on a dating app. She blames herself, maybe she shared too much too soon, but soon she learns there were other women. Women who fell in love with this “ghost” and then went missing. Now her search for answers takes a different direction and she can’t tell if she’s the cat or the mouse.

Now, to start, this novel was totally different from what I was expecting. I, for whatever reason, was expecting more of a revenge style story. Guy ghosts girl, girl gets even. This novel was not like that at all. It really was more of a character study.

The novel unfolds in the multi-timeline style narration that I love. We have the present day story where Wren is searching for answers after Adam ghosts her and then we move towards Wren’s past. Wren’s past was some of my favourite parts of the book- her father is a “doomsday prepper” style fanatic which obviously causes some childhood trauma. I would have read an entire book just based on that storyline. The first half of the novel had me GLUED to the pages; I’m talking eyes burning, should absolutely be getting some sleep before the baby wakes up kind of engagement. About 3/4 of the way through, the novel makes a hard left turn and it really felt like a totally different book- not in a bad way- just totally switched the vibe. The ending especially seemed a little out of place for me with a tense shift and the narrative style changing. I could have done without an official resolution.

Characterization is of Unger’s specialities and this novel was no different; I really liked Wren’s character and the exploration between trauma, loss and PTSD was explored throughly in her development. I really did feel for her and I found her incredibly relatable. Another highlight for me was the P.I who gets involved. Bailey was *chefs kiss* perfection. I found little bits of comedic relief, a hint of a potential love interest and his smart banter completely charming. I long for a spin off series.

Overall, call me biased, but I love Unger’s writing style and find myself amused by whatever she writes. This one was a solid read if you want some light intrigue. I didn’t feel it was a traditional mystery/thriller, but for a character centric story, I was absolutely entertained!

Dark Things I Adore (Katie Lattari) @KatieLattari @Sourcebooks

I love a good revenge story.

Egotistical Arts professor, Max Durant, ends up on a weekend getaway with his student (and object of his affection), Audra. What starts as the start of a romantic relationship turns into something very different because Audra’s intentions are not what he suspects. Max has skeletons in his closet and Audra plans on making him pay….

The novel is told through multiple perspective narrations through past (Juniper) and present (Audra and Max). And, initially, this book had me very confused. It opens in the midst of the action and made me feel disoriented and uncomfortable. As I continued reading, I realized how brilliant this introduction was. I was drawn in trying to navigate this puzzle. What appears to be a pretty thick novel, ended up being a page turner and I was easily able to get through with it over the course of a few sittings. Lattari’s writing style is easy to sink into.

The book has various vignettes throughout the writing that highlight’s Audra’s art piece. These I found to be another really smart play by Lattari. While I was reading, I kept trying to understand how these were going to play into the plot and how they would eventually link the past and the present. Once the big reveal happened- which was clear about half way through the novel- I was able to appreciate them so much more. I could have kicked myself for not paying closer attention initially.

One of my small nit picks with this story was the use of nicknames in Juniper’s storyline. I was really confused trying to decipher who was who. I know that the nicknames were there in order to keep the timelines separate, but I found myself consistently cross referencing the names which brought me out of the story.

I also didn’t agree with the comparison to Gone Girl. Gone Girl’s giant second half twist was mind blowing. This novel didn’t have the same twists and turns, which I felt worked, but I don’t think the comparison is fair. Instead, this one reminded me more of a novel like The Whisper Network- a novel that has surface tension and demand for redemption. Unlike Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, I was routing for Audra. Get that revenge, girl.

On another sidenote, a serious shoutout to the cover art. This cover screams fall.

If you are looking for a straightforward burn to cozy up within an afternoon, this is the perfect pick!

Book Review: The Woman Before Wallis (Bryn Turnbull) @brynturnbull @HarperCollinsCa

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A fictionalized story of the American divorcee, Thelma Morgan, who captured The Prince of Wale’s Heart (Prince Edward) before he abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson. When I read the synopsis to this novel, I thought “sign me up”. I love me some royal content.

I am fairly familiar with the British monarchy; I would even go as far to say as I am a bit of a history buff. Royally obsessed, if you will.

Ironically enough, I actually didn’t know much about Thelma Morgan. I obviously knew about Wallis Simpson, but I dove into this one without much background knowledge which made it a real treat. I know that for historical fiction, some people really relish in “realism” and, while the author admits to taking liberties with dates and times, I felt like it was “real” enough to give me the escape I wanted without seeming too dramatic and overblown. A real balance was found by Turnball. I applaud her! Turnbull uses just enough historical accuracy to make a quick Google search easy enough to add more back story (to help figure out the who’s who) and this fictionalized account is juicy and sensationalized enough to make any TMZ, drama lover on the edge of their seat (me…I’m talking about me).

The novel is set in two different time periods; essentially before the affair (where we learn Thelma’s backstory, her first marriages and leading up to meeting Edward) and then in the future (where Thelma travels to North America to help her sister, Gloria Vanderbilt). To be completely honest, I could have spent all my time in the “before” section and could have just as pleased in the story. I was completely hooked into this affair. Not only did I Thelma a likeable character, but I was downright rooting for her.

I truly did not know much about the Vanderbilt family, so I definitely didn’t realize that they had such close connections to the monarchy. That alone was interesting. However, I felt like this section- although needed in order to set up the “betrayal”- was a little slow.

If you are royally obsessed like me (think The Crown), then you will devour this one. If you also like a little bit of scandal, then this would be right up your alley. Truly, I am into escapism nowadays and this book did exactly that. Throw this one in your beach bag!

The Summoning (J.P Smith) @JPSmith8 @PPPress

As the weather has begun to finally cool off, I have been in a serious mood for fall.  Snickerdoodles, pumpkin cream cold brew and, of course, spooky reads.  I immediately chose The Summoning by J.P Smith and it was exactly what my mood ordered. 

The concept of the novel drew me right in: Kit, an out of work actress turned con woman, who uses the obituaries to fuel her business as a medium.  However, something begins to change, and Kit starts to feel unsettled as her seances begin to feel more real.  As the tagline for the novel states, when it comes to contacting the dead, it’s easy to go a step too far. 

I am usually hesitant with any type of paranormal thriller since it is very easy for the plot to become a.) too convoluted b.) too far-fetched and hokey or c.) a quick start with a disappointing ending.  I was pleased to find out that this novel had none of those issues.   

Smith chooses to lay out the story with a multi-perspective narration that was really was a treat.  Between Kit’s inner workings of her business and her panic as things begin to unravel, and the police who are zoning in and then surprised to find themselves wrapped up in something paranormal, I was completely engaged.  The novel is definitely more of a slower burn at the beginning and, to be honest, I didn’t find Kit very likeable initially; however, this characterization is exactly what made me want to keep reading.  I am always in awe at authors who can create characters that make me feel conflicted, and I absolutely had a strong reaction to Kit. For such a short read (coming in at around 300 pages), I was expecting the story to be fairly straightforward. However, I was wrong. I was pleased with Smith’s ability to keep me guessing and was genuinely shocked by the ending.

This read just felt like fall and, to me, that is one of the highest compliments.  I’d absolutely recommend this one.

Book Review: We Were Never Here (Andrea Bartz)

Does anyone else seem to be suckered into popular book recommendations? Oprah suggests it? Sure. On a list from the New York Times? Seems legit to me? Reese Witherspoon gives it her stamp of approval? Sign me up! That is how I came to read We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz.

Essentially, the novel follows a pair of BFFs, Emily and Kristen, on their yearly backpacking trip to Chile. All is going well until Emily arrives back to her hotel room and finds her friend covered in blood with the backpacker she had been flirting with dead on the floor. Shockingly, this isn’t the first time this has happened. From here, we get insight into Emily’s trauma and a seriously bad vibe about Kristen.

Having never read the author’s previous books, I was really pleased to find out I enjoyed the writing style of Bartz; I felt like she had a nice flow and I was able to get into the story pretty much immediately. It was a very quick read; I was able to binge it fairly quickly. Which was lucky for me since I had to have it read for my book club and I have a six month old baby, so my time is scarce! The concept of the book had me intrigued, however, the characters left much to be desired. I didn’t really care about either girl. They were both pretty unlikeable- which I guess was the point. Both gave me the same type of Gone Girl vibes as Amy. Manipulative, edgy and surely a threat.

Now, while I enjoyed the writing style and the intentional character flaws, I really did this there was a TON of repetition in this book that was not necessary. I feel like it could have been 100 pages shorter and still have had the same effect. I found myself skimming some paragraphs or finding myself become disengaged with the story because it just felt like I had read something similar the chapter prior. I also found the ending to be very abrupt and rushed.

Overall, it was a quick read, but not my favourite.

Book Review: Survivor Song (Paul Tremblay) @paulGtremblay @WmMorrowBooks

survivor songIf I were to write a how-to novel, I’d title it “How to Ramp Up Your Anxiety During A Global Pandemic: A Definitive Guide”, I think I would start it with this list:

Watch World War Z.
Watch Contagion.
Think about doom.
Read Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay.

Now I realize that this book was in the making LONGGGG before Covid19, but what is going on around the world makes this a particularly pertinent read. As soon as I read the first few pages, I was filled with an uneasy feeling. Thank goodness that is exactly one of the qualities I look for in a book.

The novel opens with a discussion of a new strain of rabies virus in Massachusetts; one that causes effects within an hour of being bitten. It causes the victim to become extremely violent and lose their mind.
Sounds peachy.
Nat, who happens to be 9 months pregnant, is waiting for her husband to return from the grocery store with rations when they are both attacked upon his arrival. He is killed, and she is left with a nasty bite to her arm. With nowhere else to go, she calls her friend from college, a pediatric surgeon to help her. Ramola is tasked with trying to stop the virus from consuming her friend and trying to save the life of her unborn baby.

One of the things I liked the most about this book was that it was straightforward; Tremblay promised a zombie-rabies filled story and that is what he delivered. Do I wish there were a few more twists and turns? Maybe. Essentially, what is in the synopsis is what the story delivers. However, I felt like the story was well written enough that I constantly felt entertained. Almost like when I read the Wikipedia summary of a movie before I watch it; even though I knew what was coming, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.

It is obvious to anyone who is familiar with his work that Tremblay is a master storyteller and within the first chapter, I found myself settled right into the story. Essentially, the perspective shifts back and forth between two kick-ass female protagonists, Nat and Ramola (Rams). This narration becomes key to the story and the development was what made this plot particularity interesting. As Rams become more panicked, Nat becomes more unravelled and Tremblay makes some smart narrative choices to make this clear.

I binged this one in a couple of hours; literally could not put it down. Absolutely recommended from me!


Thanks to the author and the publisher for a digital copy of this book to help me give an unbiased review.

Book Review: Allegedly (Tiffany D. Jackson) @WriteinBK @KTegenBooks


Struggling with book burnout? Finding yourself in a slump? I have found a cure. Allegedly, by Tiffany D. Jackson, is the answer. I have not read a book like this one in a LONGGGG time. I sat down to read a chapter and found myself completely consumed. I finished it in a single afternoon and then frantically began texting my friends to persuade them to READ THIS BOOK.

Set eight years after her alleged crime, Mary is just as confused and hopeless as she struggles to find her place in a group home for other “troubled” girls. After allegedly killing an infant at 8 years old, Mary’s life seems to be laid out for her. With not many options and her privacy sensationalized by the media, Mary is just trying to survive. Until she finds out she is pregnant. Surviving is no longer the priority. Proving what really happened is. And, after all, Mary never did say what really happened…

I think what pulled me in immediately was the narrative style of the novel. The novel is told through the eyes of Mary as she struggles to survive and cope with past trauma. There are also little bits and pieces that are excerpts that are psych reports from Mary’s case, police reports and interviews and novels published about Mary’s life. The narrative style is so well crafted; Jackson creates a narrator who completely multifaceted; she is both naive, and wise beyond her ears, kind and vicious, fearless and frightened. As I was reading I continued to go back and forth, trying to decide if I could trust their character, or if I needed to be wary of her. I was totally on her side as I read, but then would read one of those little excerpts and wonder if I should trust her. I will not give away the ending of the story, but, I will say that by the end of the novel, I was left completely satisfied. With this level of characterization and storytelling, I was shocked to find out this novel was the author’s debut!!

Now, I will be the first to say that I struggle with Young Adult fiction, and this novel is published by a YA publisher. However, this didn’t feel young AT ALL. While the main character is sixteen, I never felt like I was reading something too young for me. I’m not sure if it was the level of characterization or the content, but I was glued to the pages.

I highly, highly recommend; 5 star read.

BRB running to buy everything by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Trigger warning: there is some content related to trauma (sexual and physical abuse).

New Adventure

Well, during this pandemic, I’ve decided to try my hand at podcasting!  I do love blogging, but, in recent times, I’ve been struggling to read and blog as I used to!

My long time friend and I have decided to team up and start “Better Late Than Novel”

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We are two Canadian book lovers who will never make it through our “to be read” piles.  We could talk about books all day and we want to discuss them with you! 

Each week we will talk about current book news, and what we’re reading.  

Tune in each week for a new episode featuring our “top five picks” list of books you should read.  Topics could range from our favourite comfort reads, top “on the edge of your seat” reads or books to satisfy your royal family obsession. 


You can listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Anchor.

Book Review: Providence (Caroline Kepnes)

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Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he’s suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and “fit in” with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity—but he’s soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

My Thoughts: 

Well, I made a mistake with this one.

It happens to the best of us.

You see an author that your LOVE and you dive into a book expecting it to give you all the same feels.

Unfortunately, I didn’t consider (even after reading the synopsis) that this novel would NOT contain Joe Goldberg.  The anti-hero from YOU and Hidden Bodies that I have come to know and (pretty much against my free will) love.

This novel is COMPLETELY different from Kepnes’ prior novels.  It is like comparing apples and oranges; and that, my friends, was probably my first mistake.  I went into this one thinking I would get the dark and twisty vibe that I have come to know and love, but Providence is really a hodgepodge of all different types of genres: a little bit paranormal, a dash of coming of age, a pinch of YA thriller.

I think Kepnes is fearless for doing something SO different, but, it wasn’t for me. I didn’t understand all the Lovecraft references and I don’t really love YA (I teach high school students- I get enough teen drama on the daily).

Overall, I would probably recommend this to my students or add it to my classroom library.

I’ll continue waiting for more Joe.