Quantum Girl Theory by Erin Kate Ryan

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Random House, Random House

Date of publication: March 8th 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

On December 1, 1946, Paula Jean Welden put on a bright red parka, left her Bennington college dorm for a hike, and vanished. Eighteen, white, blonde, wealthy; her story captivated a nation, but she was never found.

Each chapter of Quantum Girl Theory imagines a life Paula Jean Welden may have lived after she left that room: in love with a woman in a Communist cell and running from her blackmailer in 1950s New York. A literary forger on the verge of discovery at the advent of the computer age. A disgraced showgirl returning home to her mother’s deathbed. Is she a lobotomy victim, is she faking amnesia, or is she already buried in the nearby woods?

Or is she Mary Garrett, the hard-edged clairvoyant running from her past and her own lost love by searching for missing girls in the Jim Crow south? A trip to Elizabethtown, North Carolina, leads Mary to a twisty case that no one, not even the missing girl’s mother, wants her to solve. There, Mary stumbles into an even bigger mystery: two other missing girls, both black, whose disappearances are studiously ignored by the overbearing sheriff. Mary’s got no one else to trust, and as her own past tangles with the present, it’s unclear whether she can even trust herself.

This brilliant jigsaw puzzle of a novel springs off from a fascinating true story to explore the phenomenon of “the missing girl“: when a girl goes missing, does she become everyone people imagine her to be?


First Line:

Mary missed her connection in Fayetteville and, still marked from the creases in the bus seat and stinking of diesel, sweet-talked her way into the pickup truck of a lanky Dublin kid headed home for supper.

quantum girl theory by erin kate ryan

I wasn’t too sure about this book when I accepted the review request. I had read mixed reviews for Quantum Girl Theory, and from what I read, either people loved this book or hated it. I had read very few reviews that were middle ground. What ultimately made me accept this book was based on a disappearance in the 1940s that never got solved. I was curious to see how the author weaved her story around Paula Jean Welden’s disappearance.

Quantum Girl Theory is a story about a girl who disappeared and speculations about what happened to her. Mary is a clairvoyant who makes money from finding missing girls—dead or alive but more often dead. She arrives in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, and immediately contacts the parents of Paula, who has recently gone missing. The investigation into Paula’s disappearance will uncover secrets. These secrets people will kill to keep hidden. But there is more to Mary than what people see. Mary has her own reasons for finding these missing girls. Will Mary find Paula? Or will she be silenced before she can tell the truth?

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this story is loosely based on the real-life disappearance of Paula Jean Welden (I included a link to the New England Historical Society). I am fascinated with anything true crime and was secretly thrilled that Quantum Girl Theory was taking a 60-year-old disappearance and shining some light on it. The author’s research was excellent, and I loved how she took any/all rumors and incorporated them into the book. But, it did fall a little flat for me.

The main storyline (with Mary, in 1961) was interesting to read. I didn’t particularly like Mary. She was so depressing, and it did bring down the book in some parts. I wish I could say that my opinion of her improved as the book went on. It didn’t. She remained the same throughout the book. Not all characters have to be likable, and Mary was not. I did like that the author did that.

I was surprised at how the 1961 storyline went. I wasn’t expecting the other two girls to be added to Mary’s investigation. There was a point in the book where I wondered why the author introduced them, but there is a link to Paula’s disappearance. I was surprised at how and why they were linked. I was also surprised by the common denominator behind all three disappearances.

The memories were fascinating. I did have some issues following along. There were times when I wasn’t sure if it was Mary remembering another Paula’s life or it was Mary’s life. I did have to reread several of those memories to make sure what I was reading (if that makes sense). It did lessen my enjoyment of the book for me.

The end of Quantum Girl Theory did confuse me a little. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, which seldom happened. I did figure it was obvious but then second-guessed myself. I also was irritated because I felt that nothing got wrapped up. That, along with cliff-hangers, are my most significant irritant with these types of books.

I would recommend Quantum Girl Theory to anyone over 21. There is moderate violence, language, and sex/sexual situations. There is also racism and discrimination.

The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss

Book Cover

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Random House, The Dial Press

Date of publication: November 30th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young woman in a vaudeville sister act must learn to forge her own path after her twin runs away to Hollywood in this richly immersive debut about love, family, and friendship.

Leaving was my sister’s choice. I would have to make my own.

All Harriet Szász has ever known is life onstage with her sister, Josie. As “The Sisters Sweet,” they pose as conjoined twins in a vaudeville act conceived of by their ambitious parents, who were once themselves theatrical stars. But after Josie exposes the family’s fraud and runs away to Hollywood, Harriet must learn to live out of the spotlight—and her sister’s shadow. Striving to keep her struggling family afloat, she molds herself into the perfect daughter. As Josie’s star rises in California, the Szászes fall on hard times and Harriet begins to form her first relationships outside her family. She must decide whether to honor her mother, her father, or the self she’s only beginning to get to know.

Full of long-simmering tensions, buried secrets, questionable saviors, and broken promises, this is a story about how much we are beholden to others and what we owe ourselves. Layered and intimate, The Sisters Sweet heralds the arrival of an accomplished new voice in fiction.


First Line:

A young woman is pacing up and down the front steps of my house, her briefcase bouncing against her knees

the sisters sweet by elizabeth weiss

When I first got the invite to review The Sisters Sweet, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to read it, let alone review it. But, I read the blurb, and one word jumped out at me “Vaudville.” It was that word that convinced me to read this book. Now that I’ve read it and have had some time to sit on what I have read, I am kind of “meh” about The Sisters Sweet. I have neither good nor bad feelings towards it. Just “meh” feelings, if that makes sense.

The Sisters Sweet is two stories, well three if you count Harriet talking to the Vanity Fair reporter after Josie died. The first story is about Harriet, her relationships with her parents, uncle, cousin, and various men that come and go in her life. The second story is about Josie and Harriet’s parents and their choices in their lives. I didn’t exactly like that there were two separate plotlines. I could have done without knowing about Maude and Lenny’s backgrounds. But it was there, and it did add depth to the story.

The first plotline in The Sisters Sweet follows Josie and Harriet’s rise to vaudeville fame and their ultimate crash when Josie takes off in the middle of an act. After that, the book focuses on Harriet and what her life was like after Josie left. Harriet was left to clean up the mess Josie made and become a daughter who would never disappoint her parents or overbearing uncle. Harriet is living a double life, though. She was partying with her cousin, sleeping around, and drinking way too much. It was a matter of time before everything came crashing down. But at what cost?

The second plotline centers around Maude, Lenny, and their years before the girls. As I stated above, I didn’t think that exploring the traumas, highs, and lows they had before the twins would help. And it didn’t. I could have cared less about Maude, her accident, and her uneasy relationship with her sister’s husband. I also didn’t care about Lenny, his early years, or that he was a lush. It did nothing to change my mind about how horrible they were (and yes, they were awful parents).

The Sisters Sweet was a medium-paced read. That complimented the flow very well. There was some lag in the middle of the book, but it didn’t take away from reading.

I wish there had been more scenes with Josie in them. While she wasn’t likable, I would have liked to see what was going on in her mind. After escaping from her parents, she became almost a footnote in the book. The author detailed her life through the press and movies. I feel that she could have become more personable if she had more of a presence in the book, and it would have made some of the ending scenes a bit more believable.

I did feel bad for Harry. She was the overlooked child because everything centered around Josie. She was the one who was hurt the most when Josie took off. She also had to be strong and had to be an adult at such a young age. I did think that she would go down the same road as her mother (unwed mother), but I was glad when the author decided not to do that. Instead, Harry became a dutiful daughter during the day and a party animal at night.

I was not too fond of Maude and Lenny. They were selfish people and awful parents. Maude was a selfish woman who couldn’t show affection to her children. Later in the book, Lenny is a drunk who puts Harry in situations that no teenager should have been in.

I was very interested in the historical fiction angle of The Sisters Sweet. But, I felt that the book swept over some of the more important historical events. Those events would have added an extra depth needed to the book.

The end of The Sisters Sweet confused me a little. I understood that the entire book was Harry telling the reporter “her” story. But it wasn’t clear about exactly what happened when the reporter left. I have a hunch that it was what I thought it was.

I would recommend The Sisters Sweet to anyone over the age of 16. There are sexual situations, violence, and mild language.

Scorpion by Christian Cantrell

Book Cover
Scorpion by Christian Cantrell

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Random House, Random House

Date of publication: May 25th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Around the world, twenty-two people have been murdered. The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number.

With police around the globe floundering and unable to identify any pattern, let alone find a killer, CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell is called in to investigate.

Before long, Quinn is on the trail of an ice-hearted assassin with seemingly limitless resources – but she’s prepared for that.

What she isn’t prepared for is the person pulling the strings…


First Line:

Henrietta Yi and her team have been underground for three days.

Scorpion by Christian Cantrell

When I read the blurb for Scorpion, I was intrigued and a little wary—intrigued because I am a massive sucker for a mystery that goes international. Wary because I have read technothrillers before, and they were not my cup of tea. But, since I read anything that comes across my desk (or email in this case), I decided to take a chance on it. It was a chance that fell flat.

Scorpion is the story about a CIA analyst, Quinn, who is called in to help with a strange case. There have been 22 people killed, all with different numbers tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Who is this serial killer, who controls him, and why do they want those people dead? The answers might be the biggest surprise of all.

Scorpion started as a fast-paced book. The storyline zipped right along until it hit the middle of the book. Then the storyline came almost to a standstill, which surprised me. Unfortunately, it did take some time for the author to get the story going again.

Scorpion’s storyline was exciting at first. It was easy to follow, focusing on Quinn and Ranveer during the first half of the book. Then the author introduced Henrietta, who I thought would be a secondary character and the storyline took on an unfortunate (and weird) turn. After that, I almost couldn’t follow the storyline because of everything that was going on. It was too much. If the author had just kept the storyline focused on Quinn and Ranveer, I would have been OK with it and enjoyed the book more.

I wasn’t sure if I liked Quinn. I did have sympathy for her, and when her backstory was revealed, my heart broke. But, she came across as flaky. A former spy, you would have thought that she would have had at least some experience with interviews. But she didn’t and cried during an interview. I mean, seriously? Who does that?

There is a lot of technical jargon that did bog down the storyline. I found myself googling terms a lot. Again, it didn’t help with the book’s flow and made me grumpy while reading it.

The end of the book was a giant cluster. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening (and I read the last eight chapters twice). Add in everything that was happening with Henrietta, and I was like, “What. The. Heck. Is. Going. On“. Like I mentioned above, it was almost too much.


I did like the first half of Scorpion. It was a good read with the right amount of mystery and thriller. But the book went downhill in the second half, and I didn’t enjoy it.

I am on the fence if I would recommend Scorpion. There is no sex. There is violence, sometimes graphic. There is one troubling scene of a baby being murdered. There is mental illness with the character going off her meds.

We Went to the Woods by Caite Dolan-Leach

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We Went to the Woods: A Novel by [Dolan-Leach, Caite]

3 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group -Random House, Random House

Date of publication: July 2nd, 2019

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find We Went to the Woods: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

They went off the grid. Their secrets didn’t. For readers of The Secret History and The Immortalists comes a novel about the allure–and dangers–of disconnecting.

Certain that society is on the verge of economic and environmental collapse, five disillusioned twenty-somethings make a bold decision: They gather in upstate New York to transform an abandoned farm, once the site of a turn-of-the-century socialist commune, into an idyllic self-sustaining compound called the Homestead.

Louisa spearheads the project, as her wealthy family owns the plot of land. Beau is the second to commit; as mysterious and sexy as he is charismatic, he torments Louisa with his nightly disappearances and his other relationships. Chloe, a dreamy musician, is naturally able to attract anyone to her–which inevitably results in conflict. Jack, the most sensible and cerebral of the group, is the only one with any practical farm experience. Mack, the last to join, believes it’s her calling to write their story–but she is not the most objective narrator, and inevitably complicates their increasingly tangled narrative. Initially exhilarated by restoring the rustic dwellings, planting a garden, and learning the secrets of fermentation, the group is soon divided by slights, intense romantic and sexual relationships, jealousies, and suspicions. And as winter settles in, their experiment begins to feel not only misguided, but deeply isolating and dangerous.

Caite Dolan-Leach spins a poignant and deeply human tale with sharp insights into our modern anxieties, our collective failures, and the timeless desire to withdraw from the world.


My Review:

I'm the wrong one to tell our story

My interest was caught by We Went to the Woods when I read the blurb. I thought to myself, “This sounds like it will be a good read.” In a way, it was. The author was able to showcase how hard it was to form the type of compound that Louisa wanted. She was able to highlight how hard it was to start and the failures that the Homestead went through in the first year. But, at the same time, I had to force myself to finish reading We Went to the Woods. I got bored reading it.

The plotline was well written and very descriptive. I wasn’t a fan of how it turned out. Mack had no clue what Louisa, Beau, and Jack were doing. I know that she was kept in the dark, but she should have had a clue when she stumbled upon the weapons cache at the Collective. Instead, she turned into an ostrich. Heck, even Chloe know more than she did.

I wasn’t a fan of Mack. The book was told from her perspective (1st person). Her insecurities and her jealousy colored it. It got to the point where I would roll my eyes whenever she made mention of lanterns going between the cabins.

The author dragged out what happened to Mack. What she did was disgusting, no doubt. The backlash was disgusting too. I wish that it had been revealed sooner in the book. The bits and pieces that were leaked drove me nuts.

I do wish that the author focused more on the workings of the Homestead. I was fascinated at how they were able to make a thriving farm from nothing.

I was fascinated by the community they found. I thought that communes were a thing of the past. To find out that there are still communes out there fascinated me.

I wasn’t a fan of the polyamorous relationships that were featured in the book. I know people in polyamorous relationships, and they are nothing like what was featured in the book. What was featured was the worst side of those types of relationships.

The end of the We Went to the Woods was confusing. I wanted to know what happened to certain characters. I also wanted to know was Mack considering doing what I think she was doing? It was so vague that I didn’t know what was going on.


I would give We Went to the Woods an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread We Went to the Woods I am on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**