Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Other Widow by Susan Crawford + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm kicking off the TLC blog tour for Susan Crawford's The Other Widow.

Dorrie lives with her husband, Samuel, and daughter, Lily, and though her home life isn't exactly what she'd dreamed, she's content enough. Especially when she begins having an affair with her boss, Joe. No one knows, especially not Samuel or Joe's wife, Karen. But when Joe is killed in a car accident, just moments after telling Dorrie it isn't safe for them anymore, she begins to suspect that at least one person knows about the affair. Who and why that would make them targets are the big questions Dorrie must find answers to if she's to avoid the same fate as Joe. 

I enjoyed The Other Widow. It's a thriller set in snowy Boston and featuring three narrators: Dorrie, Karen, and Maggie - an ex cop turned insurance investigator who's been assigned Joe's case.

If I had to pick a favorite of these three, it would probably be Maggie. But it'd be a tough choice and she'd really only edge out the other two because she's the investigator. All three are richly drawn and flawed. Obviously neither Karen or Dorrie is happy in their marriages. Karen reveals she's suspected her husband's infidelity for some time. Dorrie herself reveals some of the impetus for the affair, though it's left to the reader to tease out or hypothesize about some of the other details, especially as pertains to Joe.

Maggie's job as an insurance investigator is to find reason for the insurance company not to pay. Which, all things considered, doesn't necessarily lead to a likable character. But again her story is much more fleshed out than just that. As a former cop, she immediately has suspicions about the case thanks to a recently increased policy. Usually a red flag in any mystery.

There's a secondary mystery here as well. Joe is part owner of a renovation company - the same company where Dorrie works as his assistant and is training to take over as bookkeeper. Just before Joe dies, he discusses an old renovation that became headlines after a tragic house fire. Bits and pieces of this story filter through Dorrie as random information floats her way, leading both her and the reader to wonder if everything that's happening is really down to just the affair.

Crawford does a good job of keeping the reader guessing. Any big reveals I was able to figure out (and there were a couple thanks to carefully placed clues on Crawford's part) didn't spoil the end by any means. And the pacing was such that even knocked down with a massive cold (as I have been all week) I was still able to be drawn in and read much of the book in one sitting. As someone who's always viewed being sick as more time to read, and then been sorely disappointed with the fact that my body disagrees, this is an accomplishment!

Rating: 4/5

And now for the giveaway: to enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, December 19. Open US only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Susan Crawford and her work you can visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sunday, December 4, 2016

New Releases 12/6/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Babylon's Ashes by James S. A. Corey

Dreamweaver by C. S. Friedman

Don't Turn Out the Lights by Bernard Minier

The Nature of a Pirate by A. M. Dellamonica

Spouse on Haunted Hill by E.J. Copperman

The Liberation by Ian Tregillis

Wrath by John Gwynne

The Immortal Throne by Stella Gemmell

How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway

The Gentleman From Japan by James Church

A Season of Spells by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

Black Moon by Romina Russell

Spindle by E. K. Johnston

New on DVD:
Jason Bourne
The Secret Life of Pets

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Her Nightly Embrace by Adi Tantimedh

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Road to Paradise by Paullina Simons + a Giveaway

Happy book birthday to Paullina Simons whose latest, Road to Paradise, releases today! To celebrate, the publisher is letting me offer up a fabulous giveaway - a copy of Road to Paradise as well as reader's choice of one of Simons's backlist titles

Shelby never knew her mother or her father. The latter she knows is dead but the former ran off not long after Shelby was born, sending just a postcard as a clue to her whereabouts. 

Now, newly graduated and with drivers license and new car in hand, Shelby is off to see if she can find her missing mother. With careful planning, she thinks she can get to Mendocino and back in just under two weeks. But her plan is immediately off to a rocky start when an ex best friend decides to tag along. And when Shelby breaks her steadfast rule about hitchhikers, her plan takes a dangerously unexpected detour. 

Unexpected is an understatement considering the book begins with Shelby holed up in a motel in Reno. Her car is gone as is her money and her companions. And apparently Shelby is convinced someone is coming to murder her!

Shelby is a wonderful character. She has more patience than me, but hits her breaking point early on with her friend's lack of help in the trip. And the elephant in the room is the fact that their friendship broke up ages ago thanks to horrendous gossip about Shelby's family. Gossip Shelby herself believed.

As their trip progresses, things run further off the rails bringing our main character (and her companions) well beyond what they think they can handle. It's mostly light and amusing, but there are some dark turns as well. That light and dark, though, make the book a compulsively readable one! For me, a person who likes the idea of a road trip more than the reality of one, it's kind of perfect. All of the ridiculous things I can imagine going wrong on a road trip - and a few things I would never imagine - seem to happen in Road to Paradise.

Oh, and it's made that much more fun by being set in 1981!

Road to Paradise is such a fabulously fun read. I love Shelby, I love the setting, and I really need to go make a playlist off of all the songs mentioned!

And now for the giveaway: To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, December 12. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 28, 2016

Faller by Will McIntosh

When Faller woke up, he and everyone around him seemed to have lost all memory of who and where they were. They called it Day One. 

Shortly after, the people who were left began to starve and to fight over the few resources they could find. And so Faller, armed with the few items he found in his pockets on Day One, came up with a plan. To gain food and resources for his tribe, Faller built a parachute and dove off the highest building he could find. But rather than land on the ground below, Faller fell... and fell, and fell.

So Faller wakes up with no memory. He has a few items in his pockets - a picture of a woman he's determined to find, a toy paratrooper, and a note he's clearly written to himself in his own blood. Given these are all his possessions in the world, he's sure each of them is equally important.

It's an intriguing start, one that I certainly couldn't resist. But when Faller plans his first jump, I had no idea where the story was headed next.

Faller's chapters are interrupted shortly thereafter with a story about Peter Sandoval, his brother-in-law and colleague Ugo Woolcoff, and their family and friends. Their present is in conflict, with world powers unleashing biologically manipulated viruses on one another willy nilly. Ugo's research involves finding a cure to one, a ruthless prion, but while the cure works it also wipes the person's memory completely.

CLUE!!!

While Faller's story had my interest piqued, I was a bit in danger of losing interest until the introduction of Peter. I have to admit too that I've been in a bit of a rut and really wanted something I could sink my teeth into - I'd been waffling between a couple of books hoping one would grab me more than another and the prospect of a post apocalyptic story hinging on a sideshow act wasn't quite what I was in the mood for. Yes, that was kind of what I expected when Faller put the parachute on for the first time. Fortunately for me, Peter is introduced very early on.

With each Peter chapter, the story began to pull closer together: the prion, the cure, the conflicts that were all coming to a head, each kept the story moving and offered just enough hints at the overall plot to keep me fully invested in the tale.

The overall premise of Faller was a bit similar to a couple of other titles I've come across of late, but the various building blocks of the story do make it stand out from those other titles. The questions added a layer of mystery that most definitely appealed to the mystery/thriller fan in me. (I especially liked trying to tease out the identities of Faller and the people he meets along the way!) And of course the virus and the post apocalyptic aspect were right up my alley too. Finally, the actual science fiction aspects themselves were really only explained in the most basic of ways. This was both a pro and a con of the story in my opinion because while it didn't go over my head, I never felt there was much of an effort to truly explain what was happening.

Faller is a fun read that'll appeal to lighter science fiction readers.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, November 25, 2016

Short Fiction Friday: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

John Persons's latest client is a doozy: a feisty ten-year-old who wants the PI to kill his stepfather for him. The boy says the stepfather is abusive, which John has no trouble imagining, and if John doesn't help, the boy's younger brother will most certainly be killed.

Of course it's the boy's claim that his stepdad is a monster that really cements the deal. See, John Persons isn't quite human himself and monsters are a bit of a specialty for him.

Cassandra Khaw's latest is a noir tinged mystery steeped in Lovecraftian lore. And it's cool!

This London is just a tad bit off from the "real" London. Here, monsters are real. They inhabit everyday people and evade the notice of anyone who isn't like them. But Persons IS like them. He can see them, and is all too aware that they're up to no good.

The prose of the tale is all noir - the cadence and the tone. It makes the story feel dark and grey, even beyond any outright description used by Khaw. And of course I love the melding of genres - mystery, sci-fi, and horror. It's all foggy atmosphere and dark tentacley creepiness! The perfect kind of cross genre tale - one that gets under your skin and invades your thoughts even when you're not inside it's pages.

I sincerely hope this is just the first of many John Persons stories. The world of Hammers on Bone is one I would love to spend more time in - and soon! (Of course, there's always Rupert Wong to tide me over and I do plan on checking that world of Khaw's out very shortly).

Rating: 4/5


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankfully Reading Weekend


Happy almost Turkey Day, y'all! In honor of the occasion (and the long weekend for most) Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelves is hosting her annual Thankfully Reading Weekend!

This is my official kickoff post.

Since we're staying home this holiday, we've been invited over to our friends' house for dinner. Which means I don't have to worry about cooking a turkey! But I am cooking a few dishes for our contribution. In between prepping and eating, though, I'm planning to tackle James S. A. Corey's Caliban's War, the second book in the Expanse series. It's a big honking monster (just under 600 pages!), so we'll see if I'm able to squeeze in anything else besides :)

I'll keep you posted!

In the Blue Hour by Elizabeth Hall

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Elizabeth Hall's In the Blue Hour. 

Elise Brooks had a dream about a car accident. The road was snowy, the car was hers, but in the dream she couldn't see the driver. She never told anyone because she never believed dreams could be real. 

But then her husband died - driving her car on a snowy road. 

Elise senses that her husband may still be with her. And though she never believed before, she recognizes that even those around her are open to the idea. As time goes by, she begins to believe her husband might be trying to tell her something. Something important. And so Elise embarks on a journey to find the meaning of her husband's messages.

This is a quite different book from Hall's debut, Miramont's Ghost. It begins in New Mexico, in the time since her husband's death, Elise hasn't really dealt with the loss. She's holed herself up in their remote cabin, closing herself off from the world. As we meet her, she's entering her husband's studio for the very first time. It's her first step to rejoining the world in the wake of her loss.

With some prompting from her best friend, some help from a psychic and fellow widow, and a surprising new acquaintance, Elise begins to heal from her loss while unraveling the message she believes is coming from beyond the grave.

Hall's characters are wonderful - full of depth and emotion. And I loved how place itself became almost becomes a character as well. New Mexico - its life and spirit, culture, food... - are all a big part of the story. As is the Native American lore of the area. From there, Elise travels to Tennessee, a place she barely remembers thanks to having left early in her childhood. These places anchor and inspire Elise and her story. They all - the characters and settings - come to life in Hall's prose in a way that allows the reader to easily slip into and become completely immersed in the story.

I quite enjoyed In the Blue Hour. I've been in something of a reading rut of late, taking what feels like ages to finish even one book. But I found myself sucked into In the Blue Hour from the start, finishing the first third of it almost before any time at all had passed. And of course then had to continue!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble