Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Man, Harper Voyager is just killing it lately with the must reads! Today's title is a bit of a change for the author. You may know Ausma Zehanat Khan for her Rachel Getty/Esa Khattak series, and so it may surprise you to find out that her next release isn't in fact book four of that series, but the beginning of a completely new fantasy series.

Here's a bit about Bloodprint, book one in the Khorasan Archives series, from Goodreads:

A dark power called the Talisman has risen in the land, born of ignorance and persecution. Led by a man known only known as the One-eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman's spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her apprentice, Sinnia, skilled warriors who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now, they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: The Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding a copy of The Bloodprint promises to be their most dangerous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal ex-slave and Arian’s former confidante and sword master—both Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last.

This sounds beyond amazing! 

Bloodprint is due out in October from Harper Voyager, but it is available for preorder online now!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

William "Wolf" Fawkes is notorious for taking down the bad guys. And not in a good way. After a suspect Fawkes was convinced was a serial killer was handed a verdict that would allow him to walk, Fawkes attacked the man. It would have meant the end of his career had the man not been caught shortly after the assault standing over another victim. 

Fawkes's vindication was bittersweet considering it meant the loss of a child. And though that vindication meant some leniency for the officer, Fawkes's actions couldn't go unpunished. 

Now, back on the job and under a very watchful eye, Fawkes is called to a bizarre and twisted scene: a body, posed in a building overlooking Fawkes's own apartment, stitched together from pieces of six different victims. In the hours after the discovery, Fawkes's own ex wife, a well known reporter, is handed a list of targets the killer will go after next. With the clock ticking, Fawkes and the rest of the London Met team will have to piece together the clues to identify the initial six victims in hopes of finding something that will lead them to the killer - all the while trying to keep more targets safe under lock and key. 

I wanted to love Daniel Cole's debut. It's dark and gritty and features a number of flawed characters, not the least of which is Fawkes himself.

Unfortunately, the characters, with the exception of one, felt thin at best. And each time I thought we'd get deeper into their individual stories and motivations, Cole pulled back. For me, it seemed too much of the focus was on shocking the reader with the next twist and the next bloody bit of evidence, rather than building a cast of characters interesting enough to carry a series.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do love dark twists, and Ragdoll has them in spades. From the discovery of the first crime scene all the way to the very end, Cole does a great job with all that darkness. But the true shocks sadly fall flat because I couldn't rally behind the characters. I needed that extra piece - that depth - to truly invest myself in the book. And the twist, while I thought it was a great one, came too late to be all that believable or effective for me.

Ragdoll had a lot of promise and it is the first in a series. I liked it well enough to read more, but I do hope the next book will pack more of an emotional punch.

Rating: 2.5/5

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ararat by Christopher Golden

When an earthquake reveals a hidden cave high on the side of Turkey's Mount Ararat, historians and explorers are certain it could finally mean the discovery of the Ark of legend. Meryam and Adam are willing to put off planning their upcoming wedding to be the first to the cave, securing the discovery and its documentation as their own.

But the adventure and find of a lifetime take an odd turn when the crew uncovers remains that defy all explanation. Specialists, including Ben Walker - a member of the National Science Foundation (a front for his real position at DARPA) -, are flown in to help just before a looming storm is set to hit. With everything Walker has seen and experienced, he considers himself a pro at handling strange. But Ararat is unlike anything he's ever experienced.

As the weather descends, the crew begins to turn on one another. Is it the madness and obsession that comes with such a massive discovery? Or something else?

I was dying to get my hands on a copy of Christopher Golden's latest. Pitched as the perfect read for fans of Dan Simmons's The Terror, it certainly seemed right up my alley.

And it was, to an extent.

The mountain setting, the pending storm, the avalanche that sets everything up, not to mention obvious tension between the Turkish guides and Meryam and Adam. Oh, and tension between Meryam and Adam themselves... It was a perfect set up for a chilling and tension filled tale.

And that's all before our super secret DARPA spy arrives.

Ararat was guaranteed to be fun and it definitely delivered in that regard. But, I wanted so much more! I wanted more depth and more detail. I wanted more atmosphere. I even wanted more horrific happenings!

While I enjoyed Ararat, I didn't love it. It felt like a story that had been stripped down the bare bones, blockbuster style (you know, like a 120 minute film cut down to 90 to suit a short attention span). I wanted to meat and the fat, all the details that would have fleshed out the characters, the setting, and the evil hiding inside Ararat.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Ellen Herrick's latest, The Forbidden Garden. I'm also giving away a copy of the book today, so be sure to read through to the Rafflecopter to enter.

No on can deny that Sorrel Sparrow has something of a magic tough when it comes to plants and gardens. It's evident at the nursery she and her sisters share. It's evident at their home garden as well. And it's even more evident in the demand for her handiwork throughout their small New England village. It's this notoriety that catches the attention of Sir Graham Kirkwood. Kirkwood doesn't live in Granite Point, or even in the US, but his sister does, and it's she who sends word about Sorrel as Graham searches for someone to help with his estate's famed Shakespeare Garden. 

But what Graham doesn't tell Sorrel when seeking out her help is that the garden has long been rumored to be cursed. In fact, Graham has sought out Sorrel specifically so that he can keep his wife, who grew mysteriously ill after taking on the garden's revitalization project, out of the garden's snare. 

But even as Sorrel faces her first big trip away from her sisters and her home, she is drawn to the mysterious walled garden. She's also increasingly drawn to Graham's surly brother in law. Will her talents be enough to overcome both the plagued garden and the equally emotionally plagued Andrew? 

It's been over a year since Herrick's debut introduced readers to the Sparrow sisters: Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience. Together, they run a nursery known throughout the area surrounding Granite Point for its gorgeous blooms that last well beyond the season. But in The Sparrow Sisters, tragedy strikes their small town and suspicious eyes turn on the sisters, Patience in particular.

Though the town has healed and has turned out to support the sisters once again, when The Forbidden Garden begins, the sisters are still reeling from the fallout. And so, though Sorrel has never traveled overseas or spent any significant time away from her home or her younger sisters, she finds herself somewhat in need of a change of scenery.

And the idea of the Shakespeare Garden is too intriguing to resist, in spite of her apprehension about being away from home and the nursery for so long. I can empathize, the garden and it's secrets was too much to resist for me as a reader too! Throughout the narrative, there are allusions to a great Kirkwood secret that has plagued the family for generations. And it's directly tied to the garden, as Graham Kirkwood himself admits that the bare patch has been a dark spot on the estate that many have tried, and failed, to conquer.

I was glad to see Sorrel get her own story. Of the three sisters, I felt she was the one who remained the most closed off to readers in Herrick's debut. Her story was as much of a draw for me as the mysterious garden. She's taken out of her comfort zone and thrown in with a family she barely knows (because there is that Granite Point connection with Fiona, Graham's sister). But she acclimates easily to her new setting, set on bringing life to the ancient garden.

As with The Sparrow Sisters, The Forbidden Garden features fabulous imagery and detail. The hints of magical realism throughout (maybe more than hints, but by no means overwhelming) make it even more of a (sorry for the pun) enchanting read.

You do not have to have read The Sparrow Sisters in order to enjoy Sorrel's story. That said, you are missing out on quite a bit of character development and scene setting for where she is when The Forbidden Garden begins. And of course I quite enjoyed that first outing with the sisters, so I do recommend it!

And now for the giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter before Monday, May 1. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

For more on Ellen Herrick and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, April 17, 2017

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen + a Giveaway

Happy Monday, readers! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I spent mine hanging with friends and enjoying the fantastic weather here. Oh, and reading of course :)

One of the books on my weekend reading roster was Mary Torjussen's debut, Gone Without a Trace.

Hannah has spent weeks preparing for a big meeting in Oxford, and it's well worth it. By the end of the day, it seems she's on the fast track for promotion and she's ready to share the news with her boyfriend, Matt. But when Hannah arrives home, Matt is gone. As is every trace that he's ever been there. What's more, her phone and tablet have been wiped clean of him as well: no calls in the log, no number or email address, no texts, no photos... everything is gone. 

Hannah doesn't know what to do or where to turn. As she tries desperately to find out what happened to Matt, her life begins to spiral out of control. She's slipping at work, she's hardly able to pull herself together, and she believes someone has been coming into her home when she's not there. Is she going mad or is Matt playing with her?

Gone Without a Trace was almost painfully tense. I knew there had to be a twist coming but I could not for the life of me figure out what it was going to be. It was fun, but almost agonizing as well!

Hannah is, at times, infuriating. When she discovers Matt's gone and claims she has no way of getting in touch with him because she no longer has his phone number... I really wanted to scream at her! But I sympathized with her as well - I know plenty of people who would be in this boat, sadly. And she's genuinely confused and devastated over the whole thing.

It's understandable considering Matt has literally wiped away all trace of himself and their history together. That takes time and planning, all of which Hannah was apparently oblivious to. It makes the reader really begin to wonder what's going on here. Was it Matt at all? The texts and the fact that Hannah believes someone has been in her house really ratchet up that suspense too.

I was afraid that with all of that build up, the end would potentially fall flat. I have to say, though, that I really appreciated the twist when it did arrive. It was unexpected, that's for sure, and turned the story on its head. More surprisingly, even with the crumbs I now see were left as hints, I never saw it coming! It's a twist that I think is going to stick with me for a while.

Gone Without a Trace officially hits shelves Tuesday, but I'm also giving away a copy here on the blog. To enter to win, fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, May 1. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Releases 4/18/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Fallout by Sarah Paretsky

The Secret Room by Sandra Block

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

Forgotten Worlds by D. Nolan Clark

Legent Has It by Elliott James

Underground Fugue by Margot Singer

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

Bang by Barry Lyga

New on DVD:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

I mentioned yesterday that Mira Grant's novella Rolling in the Deep now has a sequel hitting shelves. And, as promised, today I'm sharing that one with you - so you can all add it to your TBRs and/or preorder the ever living crap out of it!

Here's a bit about Into Drowning in the Deep from Goodreads:

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

I mean, who wouldn't be dying to read more, right!? It makes my list for any number of reasons, including how much I enjoyed Rolling in the Deep, how big of a McGuire/Grant fan girl I am, and again with those water phobias and draw to stories that play on that. I know, it's a thing.

If you haven't read Rolling in the Deep yet, there's plenty of time - Into the Drowning Deep is due out from Orbit in November.