Bookish Travels—August 2023 Destinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get to. That includes places of fantasy too!!

Bon Voyage!!

Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas.

Countries I visited the most: United States, England, Scotland

States I visited the most: New York, California, Washington, Montana, Georgia, Oregon

Cities I visited the most: Los Angeles, Seattle, London, Malibu

United States

New York (Burning Lake)
Washington (Bainbridge Island, Seattle, Richland), Colorado (Golden, Denver), Washington D.C., Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park, Mayoworth, Wright), Montana (West Yellowstone Village), Oregon (Portland), South Dakota (Watertown), California (Los Angeles), Arizona (Phoenix), Montana (Glasgow, Fort Peck, Boyd), Georgia (Atlanta)
New York (Brooklyn), Illinois (Chicago), New Jersey (Secaucus)
New York (Belmont Park), Massachusetts (Cambridge)
Pennsylvania (Harrisburg), Maryland (Baltimore)
Maine (Mistletoe)
Connecticut (Clover Ridge)
New York (New York City)
Alaska (Ryba Harbor)
Florida (Daytona Beach)
Colonial Massachusetts (Hinkapee, North Hinkapee)
Idaho, Utah (Bliss)
California (Malibu, Laguna, Los Angeles), Hawaii (Makaha)
Unknown State (East Kent, Samhattan)
Washington (Seattle)
Montana (Big Sky), Washington (Anacortes), California (Los Angeles)
Georgia (Savannah)
Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Oregon (Bandon)
Texas (Pleasance)
Ohio (Dayton), California (Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Barbara)




Horwich, Rivington
Lyndhurst Heath
Newcastle, London
Colchester, Devon, Ilfracombe




Saigon, Dong Ha, Da Nang

Outer Space

Jupiter (New Jupiter Station 1, New Jupiter Station 2)

Post Apocalyptic America








Port Harcourt, Lagos

South Africa

Cape Town


Vancouver Island (Crescent City)

The Body in the Back Garden by Mark Waddell

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Date of publication: August 22nd, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, LGBT, Mystery Thriller, Adult, Queer, Contemporary, Canada, Fiction, Gay

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this queer cozy series debut perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams, Luke Tremblay is about to discover that Crescent Cove has more than its fair share of secrets…and some might be deadlier than others.

Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can…but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.

When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.

There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.

First Line:

Look, I’m only going to be there for a couple of days, so can we meet up today?”

The Body in the Back Garden by Mark Waddell

When Luke’s aunt, Marguerite, was killed in a hit-and-run accident, she left a thriving antique business and her cottage to him. Luke was surprised that he was her sole beneficiary because he hadn’t talked to her in over 20 years. Not wanting the business or cottage, Luke plans to visit Crescent Cove, settle his aunt’s estate, sell everything, and head back to Toronto. But that is easier said than done. Luke is assaulted at the cottage by a man who insists that his aunt is holding a box for him. The following day, that man is found dead in the back garden of the cottage. Luke is forced to stay in Crescent Cove while the Mounties investigate the death. But, when the antique shop is broken into and an employee is hurt, Luke decides to look into what is happening. Using his skills as an investigative journalist, Luke soon discovers that Crescent Cove has secrets, and someone doesn’t want their secrets uncovered. What secret is so life-altering that someone is willing to kill for it? And will Luke realize that Crescent Cove might be the perfect place for him to be?

The Body in the Back Garden was one of the last books I downloaded from Crooked Lane Books. I discovered that I needed to improve in the cozy mystery department and decided to download a few Read Now books on their NetGalley page. I got a variety of books, and I enjoyed reading most of them. The Body in the Back Garden was in the category of mysteries I enjoyed.

The Body in the Back Garden is the first book in a queer mystery series (the NetGalley and Goodreads pages didn’t state what the series name is). Because it is the first book, you can ignore what I usually write in this section.

The Body in the Back Garden was a medium to fast-paced book set in Crescent Cove on Vancouver Island. The pacing for this book did suit the storyline (the storyline took place within a week or so of Luke’s arrival). I did not have to go back and reread chapters, which was a massive plus for me (I don’t particularly appreciate doing that).

The main storyline centered around Luke and the murders. This book has a well-written storyline. The author focused on the murders and the investigation (Luke and the Mounties). Sometimes, it slipped, but the author quickly returned the focus to where it belonged (for example, the date with Kieran).

I wasn’t a big fan of Luke when he was first introduced in The Body in the Back Garden. He was rude and wasn’t particularly nice to people. I didn’t get it. But then the author started explaining things (and I wished he had done it earlier in the book). Luke caught his ex cheating on him with an intern at work and threw him out. Shortly after, he finds out that his aunt was killed in an accident, and he inherited everything. Luke also has trauma from his family throwing him out and disowning him when he came out to them as a teenager. Once all of that was shared, I understood why he was so defensive and prickly. Once all that was out in the open, I started to understand him better, and then I started to like Luke. By the end of the book, I loved him.

I also liked that Luke was an investigative journalist. He had contacts and knew how to help (or not help) in an investigation. I liked that he worked with the Mounties (sharing his knowledge) on the case. It was a refreshing read from the cozy mysteries I have read where the people bumble through the investigation and don’t share the information with the police.

The mystery angle of The Body in the Back Garden was terrific! There were three different mysteries in the book: the murder of Joel (the stranger), Marguerite’s accident, and (this was introduced much later in the book) the mystery of the box. I liked how the author connected everything. I also loved the twist at the end of the book. Not only was I not expecting the killer to be who it was, I didn’t expect that person to be involved with Marguerite’s death and the reason why that person did everything. It was a huge shock and left me shaking my head.

The romance angle in The Body in the Back Garden was very subtle but there. The chemistry between Jack and Luke was nonexistent at first (because Jack was salty about something that Luke had no control over as a teenager), but the author started to amp it up. They were sparking by the middle of the book (the scene at the Collingswood manor). I also liked that the author didn’t have sex scenes. But he did have Luke thirsting over Jack in his Mountie uniform (and that did give me a chuckle; who doesn’t like a man in uniform?)

The end of The Body in the Back Garden was your typical cozy mystery ending. I liked how Jack and Luke put two and two together about everything. I did feel bad for Luke when the killer was confessing everything. I also liked what Luke decided at the end of the book and what he said to Jack. It made me very excited to read book 2.

I would recommend The Body in the Back Garden to anyone over 16. There are no sex scenes, but some very mild kissing scenes. There is also violence and some mild language. There are trigger warnings, too. They would be cheating (off page and mentioned), bigotry (off page and explained to Luke about the town at one point), racism (off page and explained to Luke during the same talk with the bigotry in it), and homophobia (off page, Luke gets thrown out of his house as a teenager and his family cuts off contact with him).

Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Mark Waddell for allowing me to read and review The Body in the Back Garden. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to The Body in the Back Garden, then you will enjoy these books:

Bookish Travels—June 2023 Destinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get to. That includes places of fantasy too!!

Bon Voyage!!

Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas.

Countries I visited the most: United States, England, Italy, France

States I visited the most: California, Louisiana, New York, Hawaii, Arizona, Washington

Cities I visited the most: New Orleans, Los Angeles, London, San Fransisco, Paris, New York City, Maui, Tucson

Middle Earth

The Hill, Bag-End, Under-Hill, Bywater, Lone-lands, Misty Mountains, Rivendell (Last Homely House), Mirkwood, Carrock, Forest River, Long Lake, Lake-Town, Lonely Mountain, Ravenhill, Running River, Esgaroth

United States

Florida (Key West)
California (Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles), Louisiana (New Orleans), Arizona (Tucson)
Maryland (Baltimore), Vermont (Westridge), Hawaii (Maui), Louisiana (New Orleans), South Carolina (Myrtle Beach),
Georgia (Clay Creek, Elijay)
Unknown State (Norfolk Falls)
Maine (Mistport), California (Los Angeles)
Tennessee (Nashville)
West Virginia (Jasper Creek, McCray)
California (Los Angeles), Iowa (Ames)
California (San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Monterey, The Island)
Pennsylvania (Pittsburg)
Kansas (Witchita), California (Laguna Beach, Los Angeles)
Washington D.C.
New York (New York City), New Jersey (Camden), Nevada (Las Vegas)
New York, Pennsylvania
New York (New York City), California (Los Angeles)
Montana (Helena), Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Washington (Seattle)
Vermont, Minnesota
New York
Hawaii (Oahu, Maui), Arizona (Phoenix, Tucson), Texas (Dallas)
Washington (Raven Creek)




Bristol, Easton, Bath
Regency London

El Salvador

El Mozote, San Salvador, Antigo Cuscatlan, Chalchuapa






unnamed island


Ontario (Toronto, Milton, Root Island)


Byker, Brixton, Tynemouth, Newcastle


Dublin, Navan, Bray


Siena, Bologna, Naples, Rome, Tuscany
Venice, Isola di San Michele
Lazio region


St. Moritz

The Czech Republic



Irwin, Montego Bay, Greenwood, Negril





Tergonian Empire

Hell’s Labyrinth


Taormina, Cefalu, Catania, Palermo, Monreale, Agrigento, Erice, Segusta, Selinunte Island, Ortygia, Vulcano Island, Stromboli




Cluj-Napoca, Codrinesa, Ascunsylvania

Bookish Travels—May 2023 Destinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get to. That includes places of fantasy too!!

Bon Voyage!!

Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas.

The country I visited the most this month: United States

States I visited the most: New York, Maine, California

Cities I visited the most this month: New York City, London

Ancient Greece

Troy, Phthia, Scyros, Mount Pelion, Aulis (Island), Lemnos (Island), Tenedos


London, Manchester
London, Preston, Nantwich, Manchester, Avalon



United States

New York (New York City)
New York (New York City, Chinatown, West Village), Maine (Lincolnville, Megunticook Lake)
Oregon, New York City, Florida, California (Northern, Eastern, Mono Lake, Fortune, Southern), Maine
Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Siesta Key)
South City (Unknown State)
California (Studio City, North Hollywood, Catalina Island, Avalon)
Washington (Rockport)
Maine, Nebraska, New York (New York City, Central Park), New Jersey, Massachusetts (Cape Cod)
New York (New York City, Brooklyn), Mississippi (Hickory), Michigan (Alcona County)
North Carolina (Bradfordville), Aircroft (manor)
New York (Brooklyn, Queens)
Nevada (Las Vegas), Utah, Montana
Illinois (Chicago), Florida (Orlando), Nevada (Las Vegas)
Colorado (Humble Hills)
Maine (Clock Island, Portland), California (Redwood Valley), New York (Greenwich Village)
New York (Astoria)


Ivyhill (manor), Rosewarren (Priory), Mist (barrier), Ravenswood (estate), Far Sea, Fairhaven (the Citadel)


Paris, Marseille

South America


Takeo, Phnom Penh




British Columbia


Rosewater, Lagos, Esho, Maiduguri, Ilesha


Taken Mountains, Nic Decus Castle



Trylia (Firstport, King’s Port), Rogue’s Island

The Caribbean

St. Maarten, Costa Rica




Midgard, Eldria

Si’Empra Island

Si’Em City, Illiath, Lost City, Trebiath, The Deep, Beyond the Deep

Read Kingdom

Sparrow’s Settlement


The Comeback by Lily Chu

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of publication: May 9th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Adult, Canada, Adult Fiction, Asian Literature

Trigger Warning: Racism

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Who is Ariadne Hui?

• Laser-focused lawyer diligently climbing the corporate ladder
• The “perfect” daughter living out her father’s dream
• Shocking love interest of South Korea’s hottest star

Ariadne Hui thrives on routine. So what if everything in her life is planned down to the minute: That’s the way she likes it. If she’s going to make partner in Toronto’s most prestigious law firm, she needs to stay focused at all times.

But when she comes home after yet another soul-sucking day to find an unfamiliar, gorgeous man camped out in her living room, focus is the last thing on her mind. Especially when her roommate explains this is Choi Jihoon, her cousin freshly arrived from Seoul to mend a broken heart. He just needs a few weeks to rest and heal; Ari will barely even know he’s there. (Yeah, right.)

Jihoon is kindness and chaos personified, and it isn’t long before she’s falling, hard. But when one wrong step leads to a world-shaking truth, Ari finds herself thrust onto the world stage: not as the competent, steely lawyer she’s fought so hard to become, but as the mystery woman on the arm of a man the entire world claims to know. Now with her heart, her future, and her sense of self on the line, Ari will have to cut through all the pretty lies to find the truth of her relationship…and discover the Ariadne Hui she’s finally ready to be.

First Line:

When my phone flashes a notification, I’m primed to be irritated before I even see what it is. It’s been a busy morning, and my eyes were so dry my eyelids stick together when I drag my gaze away from the moniter.

The Comeback by Lily Chu

Ariadne Hui is living what she thinks is her best life. She is a lawyer at one of the most prestigious firms in Toronto and thrives on routine. That changes when her roommate (and best friend) invites her cousin to stay for a few weeks. He had a bad breakup in South Korea and needs a place to lay low while he heals. Her roommate forgot to tell Ari, and she freaked out; she came home to a strange man sleeping on her sofa. But, as she got to know Choi Jihoon, she realized he was a sweet man who had been badly hurt. Soon, Ari falls for Jihoon. But Jihoon isn’t precisely who Ari thinks he is, and she is shocked to find out who Jihoon is. With rumors and lies swirling around her, can Ari cut through everything and see what she has? Or will she give everything up because she can’t handle who Jihoon is?

The Comeback is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Toronto, with Ari traveling to Seoul towards the middle of the book with Jihoon. She spends a couple of chapters there before traveling back home. I was thrilled that the author had some of the book set in Seoul, but at the same time, I was a little disappointed. There needed to be more travel (which I get because of Jihoon’s KPop idol status) around the country. I did like that the author took us to some off-the-beaten-track places in Toronto. It made that city more appealing and made me want to visit.

There are trigger warnings in The Comeback. They are:

  1. Racism: Hana, Jihoon, and Ari are subjected to overt and not-so-overt racism throughout the book. Some of the best examples come while Ari is working at the firm. The white daughter of a woman who is friends with the partners is picked over Ari for cases. That woman is tone-deaf regarding Ari’s race (she is Chinese), and there is a conversation with another coworker that Ari overhears talking about her race.

The main storyline of The Comeback centers around Ari, her journey of self-discovery, and her relationship with Jihoon. At the beginning of the book, Ari is a workaholic lawyer doing everything to make a partner in her firm. But, it was very apparent early on in the book that it wouldn’t happen. The overt and not-so-overt racism (looking at you Brittany and Meredith) was sad and even sadder that Ari thought she had to deal with it quietly. She found joy in planning trips, and she was good at it. But she felt she couldn’t do it as a job because she needed to follow in her father’s footsteps. I did feel awful for her because of all that pressure she kept putting on herself. It took Jihoon scaring her and then living with her to open her eyes to the fact that there might be more to life than her job. And it wasn’t until after Seoul, when her boss fired her for dating a KPop idol, that she realized she could do what she loved. Her relationship with Jihoon was based on a lie, and then Jihoon told her to keep it a secret. She did the right thing the last time she broke up with him.

I like Ari, even if she did come across as a rigid workaholic at the beginning of the book. It is explained that she felt that if she did what Ari loved (planning trips), she would let her father down. She also was furious at her sister for leaving her with that burden. Her relationship with Jihoon was a huge turning point for her character. I didn’t blame her for being angry or not knowing what she wanted when having a relationship with him. She also understood the need for secrecy. But when everything blew up (because of a picture) and what Jihoon said to take care of the backlash, I was on her side. I would have done the same thing as she did. What Jihoon did was demeaning and gave their relationship zero value. But, in a way, it did work for her. She was able to get out of that toxic work environment and start a career that she loved. She could heal from Jihoon’s actions and accept that higher powers controlled him. Of course, I wasn’t a fan of what she did next, but I figured it would happen sooner or later, with this being a romance novel.

I liked Jihoon a lot. He had spent almost his whole life under a microscope and was suffering from burnout. So, he jetted to Canada and ended up crashing with Ari. In the beginning, he was the perfect blend of innocent and worldly. He loved talking about his shoe and earring collection (at this point, Ari had zero clue he was in a KPop band). He tried to do things himself but failed massively (turning Ari’s bathroom blue was freaking amazing). My only issue is that he lied by omission. When his cover was blown (in a grocery store, of all places), he had to tell Ari who he was. He didn’t tell her until she was forced to leave her home and go into hiding. Then he left for Seoul. When Ari met him there, he explained more about his life (he had zero downtime, everything was scheduled). He also told her he didn’t want to be in the band anymore (neither did his other bandmates), but their contract held them. Then Jihoon and Ari are spotted as tourists, and everything goes to hell. Jihoon told Ari that he would take care of everything and for her to trust him. I didn’t like him at this point in the book because of what Jihoon did. He broke Ari. But he also set her free (if that makes sense). The daily emails (along with the apology) were a step in the right direction.

I liked Jihoon and Ari’s romance, even if it started with a lie and was kept secret until Seoul. You could tell that Jihoon adored Ari and that Ari adored him back. It was sweet. I liked that the author kept the sex scenes PG-13. There was a lot of kissing with the chapter ending and the next one beginning with them in bed. And let’s not forget the sexual tension between Ari and Jihoon. You cut it with a knife during some parts of the book.

The end of The Comeback felt rushed. I liked that Jihoon and Ari got their happy ending. But I didn’t buy that the band’s rabid fans did a 180 when it came to their relationship. It didn’t make sense to me (considering they hated her). That was my only quibble. I did love the epilogue!!!

I recommend The Comeback for anyone over 16. There are nongraphic sex scenes (lots of kissing), mild violence, and language. There are also some scenes of overt and not-so-overt racism.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca, NetGalley, and Lily Chu for allowing me to read and review The Comeback. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Comeback, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Lily Chu

Bookish Travels—April 2023 Destinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get to. That includes places of fantasy too!!

Bon Voyage!!

Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas.

Earth 2

Government, Settlement

United States

New York (Crescent Cove), Nevada (Las Vegas)
Maryland (Pikesville)
California (Los Angeles)
Washington (Seattle)
New York (Seneca Springs)
Colorado (Longmont)
Kansas (Liverly)
Indiana (English), California (San Fransisco), Virginia (Perryville), Arizona (Tombstone), New York (New York City)
North Carolina (Neapolis)
New York (Manhattan), California (Newport Beach, Balboa Island, Newport, Menlo Park, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta)
Louisiana (Unknown city), Rhode Island (Emerald Bay)
Unknown State (Unknown City)
New York (New York City, New Rochelle)
Wyoming (Wallace), Iowa (Fort Madison)
West Virginia (Huntington), Ohio (Crown City)
California (Mojave Desert, Aspen Flats, Pasatiempo, Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Aptos, Pajaro Dunes)
Southern California, Arizona
Colorado (Denver, Arvada)
Illinois (Chicago, Downers Grove)
Connecticut (Wingate)
New York (New York City, Brooklyn)

Western Foalinaarc

University of Western Foalinaarc


Unknown City
Regency London, Kingsclere, Amesbury, Bath
Richmond-on-Thames, London, Birmingham, Guildford, Penzance
Colchester, London



Pan Pacifica

The Czech Republic



Florence, Rome, Tuscany



Post Apocalyptic Earth

ARC (fall-out shelter), Hope City


The Netherlands



Toronto, Niagara Falls

South Korea



Island States

Prospera, Annex, Nursery Isle



Bookish Travels—March 2023 Destinations

This meme is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get to. That includes places of fantasy too!!

Bon Voyage!!

Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas.

United States

New Hampshire (Adams)
New York (Haverford, Limerick, Johnstown), Connecticut (Ashford, Canterbury, Bayfield), Pennsylvania (Philidelphia)
Iowa (Iowa City), Pennsylvania (Philidelphia, Allentown), Georgia (Savannah), Indiana (Bloomington), New York (New York City)
Louisiana (New Orleans, Algiers Point, French Quarter, Port Sulphur)
Florida (Key West, Orlando), Georgia (Atlanta)
Georgia (Atlanta, Decatur)
Washington (Oreville)
California (post-apocalyptic Sacramento)
Hawaii (unnamed island)
Washington D.C., West Virginia, Pennsylvania (Chestertown, Philadelphia), Florida (Miami)
Florida (Fort Lauderdale)
Nebraska (Auburn), Wyoming (Rock Springs)
Georgia (Peachville)
Florida (Miami), Texas
Hawaii (Maui, Maalaea Bay, Lahaina, Wailuku)
Oregon (countryside), California (Los Angeles)
Massachusetts (Gloucester, Boston)
Massachusetts (Boston), New York (New York City)
Wisconsin (Lofty Pines, Pine Lake)

South Africa



Paris, Aquitaine, Rouen, Nantes, Brittany, Rennes, Poitiers
The French Riviera


Dexford, Jersey, St. Helier
Regency London
Victorian London
Chiswick, London




Scottish Highlands, Arach Caim, Glasgow
Glasgow, Isle of Benbarra


Dublin, Tralee, Wicklow Mountains, Donegal, Ballybunion
Unnamed Village, Dublin


Estancia Moat


Camaguey, La Habana



The Afterlife

Purgatory, Heaven




Toronto, St. Clair


Southern Henan (Huai River Plains, Zhongli, Wuhuang, Anfeng, Anyang, Lu, Jiankang, Bianliang), Hichetu (Shanxi)



Erlanis Empire

Arborren, Chrysalis


The Cantabrian Mountains, Los Picos De Europa, Costa Brava, Toledo




Florence, Rome


The Atlas Mountains





District 12, District 11, District 8, Capitol, District 13

Isle of Midnight

Isle of Midnight (Devil’s Bay)


Typgar (Loh’dis), Narcaya

The Fake by Zoe Whittall

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: March 21st, 2023

Genre: Fiction, LGBT, Contemporary, Queer, Adult Fiction, Thriller, Canada

Trigger Warnings: Cancer, Toxic Relationships, Gaslighting, Death, Mental Illness, Physical Abuse, Addiction, Self Harm, Suicidal Thoughts

Publication Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A con artist can make you feel like the luckiest person on earth just to be in their presence. But when the jig is up, they ghost, and you’re left wondering if you ever mattered

After the death of her wife, Shelby feels more alone than ever—until she meets Cammie, a charismatic woman unafraid of what anyone else thinks and whose own history of trauma draws Shelby close. When Cammie is fired from her job and admits she is in treatment for kidney cancer, Shelby devotes all her time to helping Cammie thrive. But Shelby’s intuition tells her there are things about Cammie’s past that don’t add up. Could the realest thing about Cammie be that she’s actually a scammer?

Gibson is almost forty, fresh from a divorce and deeply depressed. Then he meets and falls in love with Cammie. Suddenly, he’s having the best sex of his life with a woman so attractive he’s stunned she even glanced his way, and for the first time ever he feels truly known. This is the kind of desire and passion that musicians have been writing love songs about for centuries. But Gibson’s friends are wary of Cammie, and eventually he too has to admit that Cammie’s dramatic life can feel a bit over the top.

When Shelby and Gibson find out Cammie is a pathological liar, they struggle to understand what they really want from her—sometimes they want to help her heal from whatever causes her to invent reality, and sometimes they want revenge. But the biggest question of all is: how honest can Shelby and Gibson be about their own characters?

First Line:

I was kidnapped when I was eight years old. I was sitting in the Oldsmobile, the one we called Carla Number 3, with the broken passenger-side door that was held together with bailer twine and bungee cords.

The Fake by Zoe Whittall

Gibson is still reeling from a divorce he didn’t see coming when he meets Cammie. Immediately taken by her, Gibson doesn’t at first notice the inconsistencies in her stories. He is just happy to find someone who loves him. Shelby is devastated by the sudden death of her wife. She suffers from hypochondria and severe anxiety and is floundering until she attends a grief counseling session. There, Shelby meets Cammie, who is grieving the death of her best friend. Connecting with her on a level that she only had associated with her deceased wife, Shelby opens her house to Cammie. But Shelby and Gibson soon discover that Cammie’s stories aren’t adding up. What happens when Gibson and Shelby meet up and compare notes? How will Cammie react? Will they be able to confront her?

This book is told from 3 different points of view: Cammie (in the beginning and end), Gibson, and Shelby. Cammie gave the start and ending notes (and her explanation for what happened). But, the main focus of the book was on Gibson and Shelby. Everything that happened was seen from their POVs (well, it was 3rd person), with Cammie being featured heavily. Usually, I’m not too fond of books with multiple POVs, but it worked in this case.

Cammie was a freaking trip. From her opening note, I knew her version of the truth wouldn’t align with Gibson or Shelby. Cammie is a scam artist and a psychological liar. She went out of her way to find people who were hurting/damaged. Cammie gaslighted her way through the book, and when Gibson and Shelby backed her into a corner, Cammie freaked out. But her ending did make me pause and wonder about some of the things she told Shelby and Gibson were true.

I felt terrible for Gibson. He was genuinely struggling after his divorce, and Cammie saw that. All he wanted was someone who made him feel attractive and who appreciated him for him. Cammie’s lies started on day one with him. Thankfully, he had a good group of supportive friends that refused to allow Cammie to bring her drama and lies into their lives. He was such a nice guy that he even went to help Shelby when Cammie started getting too much for her. I liked how his experience shaped him and how he turned out.

Shelby, on the other hand, was a hot mess. I don’t even know where to begin with her. She suffered from extreme medical anxiety and extreme general anxiety. Coupled with her devastation over her wife’s death, she was a freaking mess. I was not faulting her there because I would have been too. But, the one time she decides to go to a grief counseling group, she meets Cammie. And, of course, Cammie latches on to her. In a way, Shelby got the sharper end of the stick with Cammie than Gibson. But Shelby became obsessed with helping Cammie, which drove her to a mental breakdown. Her story resonated with me the most because of her ending.

The Fake didn’t have a happy ending; in a way, for all three, it did. It was more bittersweet and reflective. It was also more Shelby and Gibson coming to terms with themselves and why/how they let someone like Cammie into their lives.

Cammie did get the last note in. She wrapped everything up perfectly and tried to spin the story her way (I loved how the author did that). As I said above, I also wondered if some of her stories were genuine. You know that there is always a kernel of truth in a lie. That may be the case here, which is why I liked this book so much.

There are trigger warnings in The Fake. They are cancer, toxic relationships, gaslighting, death, mental illness, physical abuse, addiction, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading this book.

I would recommend The Fake to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning paragraph.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and Zoe Whittall for allowing me to read and review The Fake. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Fake, you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Zoe Whittall

Bookish Travels—December 2022 Destinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get a chance to go. That includes places of fantasy too!!

So….enjoy!! Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas (other than the fantasy….lol).


Loyal (Village), Island of Altnaharra


Geeta’s unnamed village, Kohra

United States

Texas (Houston)
Kentucky (Brownsville–past + present)
California (San Francisco)
Connecticut (Hastings)
Georgia (Atlanta), Florida (Silver Bay, Varnedoe)
New York (Newborn City)
Arizona (Flagstaff, Sedona), Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park), California (Los Angeles, Encino, Westwood, Aladorio), Georgia (Athens), Nevada (Franklin Lake, Sierra Nevada Mountains), Utah (Salt Lake City), Indiana
Unknown City/State
Nevada (East Las Vegas)
Minnesota (unnamed domed city, G-town)
Arizona (Flagstaff)
California (Los Angeles)
Ohio (Columbus), Colorado (Telluride)
Arizona (Tucson, Dove Valley)
New York (New York City)


Mount Olympus, River Styx, Hades (the Underworld)


Rome (Ancient)
Florence, Tuscany

Silver Empire

Argon (Argentium), Straits of Anthelos, Haddon Bay


Western Reach






Victorian London
Cornwall (Penry)
Derbyshire (Leacroft)


New South Wales


Villon-sur-Sarthe, Le Mans, Paris


Marsyas Island