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.

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**

If, Then by Kate Hope Day

If, Then

3 Stars

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

Date of publication: March 12th, 2019

Genre: General Fiction, Science Fiction

Where you can find If, Then: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

The residents of a sleepy mountain town are rocked by troubling visions of an alternate reality in this dazzling debut that combines the family-driven suspense of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere with the inventive storytelling of The Immortalists.

In the quiet haven of Clearing, Oregon, four neighbors find their lives upended when they begin to see themselves in parallel realities. Ginny, a devoted surgeon whose work often takes precedence over her family, has a baffling vision of a beautiful co-worker in Ginny’s own bed and begins to doubt the solidity of her marriage. Ginny’s husband, Mark, a wildlife scientist, sees a vision that suggests impending devastation and grows increasingly paranoid, threatening the safety of his wife and son. Samara, a young woman desperately mourning the recent death of her mother and questioning why her father seems to be coping with such ease, witnesses an apparition of her mother healthy and vibrant and wonders about the secrets her parents may have kept from her. Cass, a brilliant scholar struggling with the demands of new motherhood, catches a glimpse of herself pregnant again, just as she’s on the brink of returning to the project that could define her career.

At first the visions are relatively benign, but they grow increasingly disturbing—and, in some cases, frightening. When a natural disaster threatens Clearing, it becomes obvious that the visions were not what they first seemed and that the town will never be the same.

Startling, deeply imagined, and compulsively readable, Kate Hope Day’s debut novel is about the choices we make that shape our lives and determine our destinies—the moments that alter us so profoundly that it feels as if we’ve entered another reality.


My review

If, Then is the story of 4 neighbors in the town of Clearing, Oregon. Mark is a wildlife scientist. Ginny is a successful surgeon. Samara is still grieving over the death of her mother. Cass is a scholar who is struggling to adjust to being a mother. Each of them has a vision. Mark’s vision, which consists of him living in a tent in the woods, makes him paranoid. Ginny sees herself in a relationship with a coworker. Samara sees her mother alive. Cass sees herself pregnant…again. The visions start coming more until the people affected start questioning their sanity. Why are they having these visions?


I started off liking If, Then. The author did a great job at setting the groundwork for a great book. Each character (and secondary characters) was relatable in their own way. I was fine with the book until halfway through. Then the book went a different direction. It was that sudden change in the plotline that made me go “Eh?“. I actually had to reread several chapters to understand what I was reading. I do not like when I have to do that.

Like I mentioned above, I liked the characters at the beginning of the book. Each character was relatable and likable. Even when things started to get weird (and man, did they), I still liked them. If I had to pick one who wasn’t a favorite, it was Ginny. She couldn’t make up her mind who she wanted to be with. I wanted to shake her.

I got lost reading the plotline during the 2nd half of the book. What made me lost was Cass’s storyline and the storyline with Other Mark. I had questions about both storylines there were not answered. I can’t get into what they were here but they were legitimate. I also found the main storyline a bit much.

The end of the book seemed rushed. While I am glad that everything worked out, it seemed too pat and a little rushed. I was almost hoping for someone not to have a happy ending. That would have changed things up a little bit.


I gave If, Then a 3-star rating. The book had a great start. It had a great plotline and characters that I could connect with. But, I found the book couldn’t hold my attention after the middle of the book. I got lost reading it and had to reread chapters to make sure I understood what was going on. The characters, for the most part, did stay relatable and likable. I thought that the end of the book was rushed.

I would give If, Then an Adult rating. There is sex (nothing graphic but you knew when the characters were going at it). There is mild violence. There is language. There are triggers. They would be the death of a parent, cheating and divorce. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.


I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group, Random House and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review If, Then.

All opinions stated in this review of If, Then are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**


Have you read If, Then?

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Let me know!!!