Friday, October 31, 2014

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

23 Beulah Grove may not be the most charming or quaint home, but it's a home nonetheless. Each of the tenants has their own reason for being there - cheap rent, history, no references required... but all of them share one thing in common: they detest their landlord. Unfortunately it's the price they all have to pay for a rental that suits their needs. And it's the one thing that ties this strange group together. 

What they don't know - what they never suspect - is that one of their housemates is a killer. 

The Killer Next Door is such a multi-layered thriller! Each of the housemates has their own tale: Cher is a teenage runaway; Collette witnessed something that's left her on the run; Hossein is a political refugee... six of them in all, and each with their own unique story to tell. But none of them is in any position to mess with the landlord. And he's a real gem! Randomly raising rents, neglecting upkeep, and worse, the man knows that none of them really has any other option. He's just biding his time, collecting cash under the table, until his elderly, rent-controlled, basement tenant is forced to leave and he can sell the place.

Unfortunately the landlord isn't the worst of the lot. Collette moves in when Nikki disappears. Everyone assumes because she'd struggled with the rent that she up and left. Her quick departure leaves a vacancy that Collette is quick to fill. The reader soon learns, however, that Nikki never left. She's still at Beulah Grove, the latest of a handful of women who have fallen victim to a truly twisted killer. This killer lives alongside Collette and the others, performing his demented rituals behind closed doors while presenting a facade of normalcy to those around him.

The events at Beulah Grove are really a disastrous set of circumstances and the reader does begin with the knowledge that everything is going to come crashing down around the tenants. Playing witness as it all happens is a bit ghoulish, but it's also wickedly suspenseful.

Marwood's latest is a deliciously paced thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat - and will probably make you look at all of your neighbors just a little differently!

Rating: 4.5/5

Short Fiction Friday: The Whispers by Lisa Unger

Thriller maven Lisa Unger is bringing readers back to The Hollows with a trilogy of novellas this fall. The first, "The Whispers," released on Tuesday and introduces readers to Eloise Montgomery. But not really. Eloise does actually appear in the first Hollows novel, Fragile, but this is the first time we're getting her story.

Eloise's day begins like any other - she wakes her daughters, fixes breakfast, and gets both girls and their father off without a hitch. Almost.  As she races to catch up with them, she has no way of knowing that the delay will lead to tragedy.

Six weeks later, Eloise awakens from a coma and learns that both her husband and her eldest daughter have been killed in a car accident. As she and her remaining daughter attempt to move on, Eloise begins to see things - strange things that can't possibly be there. At first she thinks maybe she's dreaming, but she soon realizes that isn't the case. Somehow, Eloise's accident has left her with the ability to see things others can't. Things she can use to help the people who need it most. 

If you've never read Fragile and are just meeting Eloise and The Hollows, it's a nice prologue for things to come. If, however, you're a fan of The Hollows books and have been antsy to return there, you're in luck!

Much of "The Whispers" is simply set up for Eloise's character: her past, how she got her ability, and her first attempts to make use of that ability. The second eshort, "The Burning Girl," is due out November 25 and is set ten years after "The Whispers." The final story in the trilogy, "The Three Sisters," releases January 5 and brings back yet another familiar face, Jones Cooper!

Fans of Unger's work and The Hollows stories will love getting to know Eloise in more depth. They're also a nice diversion while we wait for Unger's upcoming release, Crazy Love You, which hits shelves in February.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan

Morning, all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Karen Swan's Christmas at Tiffany's.

When Cassie's ten year marriage falls apart in the worst way imaginable, her longtime friends are there to help her pick up the pieces. Each offers up their city and home for four months, giving their friend a full year to travel, work, and find the real Cassie. Her trip begins in New York, where she's thrown headfirst into the competitive and catty fashion industry. From there it's off to Paris and finally London. Along the way she'll find romance, new friends, and a Cassie who's been missing for so many years. 

I know you're probably wondering what I'm doing reading a Christmas book in October. Well, it's not actually a Christmas book - the title is more than a little misleading. Nope, Christmas at Tiffany's is a pretty straightforward lighthearted read for any time of year.

This was the first time I'd read anything by Swan, and I do believe this is her first US release so that would make sense. I really enjoyed it!

First off, the characters are lovely. Cassie and her friends - Suzy, Kelly, and Anouk - grew up together and only really split apart when Cassie married straight out of college (actually quitting before graduation to get married). They lead extravagant lives and they each have very distinct views and personalities - that they inflict on Cassie! But everything they do is out of concern for their friend.

Christmas at Tiffany's is a bit light and breezy. It's on the long side at almost 600 pages but the story moves along so effortlessly that I didn't even notice. In fact, I read all of Cassie's New York adventures in one sitting. When I finally had to set the book down to eat supper, I couldn't wait to get back to it and see what was in store for the friends next!

I do have to point out how fabulous the settings are in this book. In addition to creating a bevy of lovable (and unlovable) characters and a story that really does tug at your heartstrings, Swan so perfectly and elegantly brings to life the various locales Cassie travels through in her journey to find herself. Christmas at Tiffany's is an all around fun and heartwarming read, one that makes me seriously hope that more of Swan's titles will get picked up for US release in the near future.

Rating: 4/5

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

For more on Karen and her work you can find her on the web here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: Books (and/or movies) to get you in the Halloween spirit.

I've done posts like this almost every Halloween since I started the blog so hopefully I can come up with some new suggestions for you guys. If you like, you can check out my suggestions from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Man v. Nature by Diane Cook

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Diane Cook's debut collection, Man v. Nature.

Writing a synopsis for a collection is always so tough! I find I really can't do it in a traditional sense so I'm just going to dive straight into my review.

Cook's theme here is, of course, man versus nature, but within this theme the stories themselves run the gamut from man literally versus nature to man versus human nature and everything in between! The interesting and unexpected thing about this collection is that most of the stories are set in post apocalyptic and even somewhat dystopian worlds. Worlds in which spouses are assigned rather than chosen and children are determined to be necessary or not. Worlds overcome by natural and unnatural forces. Worlds in which the unbelievable are everyday occurrences.

Some of Cook's stories are amusing, some are shocking, and most fall somewhere in between. All of them are a bit weird, to be honest, but every one of the chosen pieces for the collection fit together to perfectly illustrate Cook's obvious talent as a storyteller.

A couple of my personal favorites in the collection are "Moving On," where a newly widowed woman faces a new life without her husband, all the while waiting for a new husband to bid for her hand and "Somebody's Baby," a tale that brings to mind legends of changelings.

Man v. Nature is quirky and dark, likely to hit the spot for a particular set of readers, but it's also an altogether fantastic collection.

Rating: 4/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more from Diane Cook, you can follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Releases 10/28/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Black Dog by Cailtin Kittredge

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam

Us by David Nichols

The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron

The World of Fire & Ice by George R. R. Martin

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

Talonby Julie Kagawa

In The Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

Atlantia by Ally Condie

New on DVD:
Begin Again
Good People

New reviews at
Perfect by Rachel Joyce
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin
Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu

Friday, October 24, 2014

Short Fiction Friday: Flavorwire's 50 Scariest Short Stories

Y'all, this is sooo cool! Monday, Flavorwire put together their list of the "50 Scariest Short Stories of All Time" and it is packed with big names, creepy tales, and online freebies! That's right, they've included links to where you can find 33 of the stories, including one by Neil Gaiman, another by Roald Dahl, and even one by King himself.

Here's the full list to scroll through.

I'd already read a few of the stories listed: "Veldt" by Ray Bradbury, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor, "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood, "Midnight Meat Train" by Clive Barker, Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," Daphne Du Maurier's "Don't Look Now," and (of course) "The Green Ribbon" by Alvin Schwartz.

But really that's so very few! So I started with story number one, Harlan Ellison's truly bizarre "I Have No Mouth and I must Scream," and am working my way through. So far I have to say that Kelly Link's "Two Houses" is my favorite. (And I know they list her upcoming collection for that one, which isn't due out until Feb, but a version of the story can actually be found in the Ray Bradbury tribute collection, Shadow Show. A fabulous collection, by the way.)