Mini Reviews – November 2021

I have a lot of reviews coming this week and I’m hoping to squeeze them all in before Thanksgiving.

Thanks to the publishers for any free copies in exchange for my honest reviews

IN THE GARDEN OF SPITE – Camilla Bruce (Paperback Releasing December 7th, 2021 – Thanks to Berkley Pub for the free copy!)

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Who doesn’t want to read a book about a prolific female serial killer? While this is a fictionalized take on the true story of Belle Gunness it still had a true crime feel but with the pacing of a crime fiction book. I will admit, I didn’t know much about the Widow of La Porte but you better believe I spent some time after finishing IN THE GARDEN OF SPITE researching her! I learned about a new serial killer and got the combination of historical fiction and crime fiction – two genres I love. I highly recommend it!

THE SURROGATE – Toni Halleen (Released November 2nd, 2021 – Thanks to Harper Books for the free early copy!)

A probing novel about a newly married couple, the surrogate they hire to carry their baby, and the unexpected consequences of their decisions. 

Ruth is a no-nonsense fortysomething journalist from the Midwest desperate for a child with her new husband, Hal. A divorced attorney and the father of two teenage boys, Hal is open to having another child. But more than anything he wants Ruth to be happy—to become the mother she’s always wanted to be. Their hope rests with Cally, a nineteen-year-old who wants to go to college—but doesn’t have the cash. The arrangement seems perfect for everyone. 

All through the pregnancy, Ruth and Hal look forward to the new baby that will make their family complete. But within a day of the baby’s birth, Cally has a change of heart – and engineers a harrowing escape from the hospital with the newborn. When Ruth and Hal discover that she and their daughter are gone, a whole series of doubts and secrets are revealed, and it’s no longer clear what’s “right” and what’s “wrong.”

Set in the vast, sparsely populated upper reaches of northern Minnesota in the middle of winter, The Surrogate follows Ruth, Hal, Cally, and her boyfriend through the ice and snow, from the city to the dark, frozen north country as they run away from, and ultimately towards, one other.

In The Surrogate, Toni Halleen raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of family, love, and relationships. What would you do for your partner, when the going gets tough? How much is a pregnancy “worth?” And who, if anyone, “deserves” to be a mother?

My Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars

This was a fun little cat and mouse thriller set in Minnesota – always fun when that happens since it feels like it doesn’t often! A couple desperate to have a child get intertwined with a surrogate and her on-again-off-again boyfriend. Ruth and Hal have always wanted a child and when they meet Cally, who needed cash to go to college, they made an arrangement that benefited everyone. Until Cally has a change of heart when the little girl is born – to Ruth and Hal’s horror she has disappeared with their daughter. So begins the roller coaster cat and mouse game to get her back. I enjoyed the setting, the multiple POV’s really helped get all the details and shed light on all parts of the events, and it was a quick read.

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