Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Releases 8/2/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Ninja's Daughter by Susan Spann

The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy

The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Watching Edie by Camilla Way

The Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff

American Girl by Kate Horsely

After Anna by Alex Lake

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

A Maiden Weeping by Jeri Westerson

Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.

Adam's Rib by Antonio Manzini

Paradime by Alan Glynn

Doctor Who: The City of Death by James Goss & Douglas Adams

The Hike by Drew Magary

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

A Night With Marilyn Monroe by Lucy Holliday

Die Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray

Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Infinite Risk by Ann Aguirre

New on DVD:
High-Rise
Mother's Day
The Lobster
Keanu

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

A middling academic with a wife and son, Jason Dessen is fairly happy with his life. But a quick trip out to his neighborhood bar for drinks with friends turns his life upside down in the most horrible way possible. 

Jason is attacked, kidnapped, and left unconscious in an abandoned warehouse. And when he awakens, his life is vastly different. Gone are his job, wife, and son. Instead, he's being questioned about things he doesn't understand by people he doesn't recognize. To them, Jason is a renowned physicist who's created one of the most extraordinary advances in scientific history. But can Jason trust this reality? Can he trust his own mind and the memories he's trying to hard to hold onto? 

Is there a way to get back the things he's seemingly lost?

Whoa! Blake Crouch's Dark Matter is seriously awesome!

After reading and enjoying the Pines trilogy, Dark Matter had been high on my reading priorities list. I am so incredibly happy to say that it lived up to my expectations. (Always a good thing when that happens, right?)

Dark Matter isn't a terribly short read, but it is a one sitting one for sure. It movies at a ripping pace, dragging the reader from one reality to another along with Jason as he tries desperately to figure out what's going on. His only motivation is to get back to his wife and son all the while trying to hold onto his own sanity!

Imagine if everything you knew was taken away from you and you then had to seriously consider the possibility that it was all in your head. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Jason hasn't imagined his life but getting it back might be an actual impossibility.

Crouch does delve into some quantum physics for this latest - Schrodinger's cat and all that. The science is brief, thankfully (quantum physics kind of turns my brain inside out). There are some science based ethical questions considered as well. At hearth, though, this is really a book about a man's love for his family and the lengths he's willing to go to to get them back.

And did I mention it's pretty much cover to cover action? 'Cause it really is! Crouch had already blown me away with the Pines books and I wasn't at all sure how he would top that, but I have to say he's at the top of his game with Dark Matter!

Highly recommended, you know, if you're looking for a great read and all :)

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Any Other Name by Emma Newman

Warning: while I will do my very best to avoid as many spoilers as I can, if you have not yet read Between Two Thorns you may want to skip the rest of the series reviews!

In spite of all of her efforts, Cathy's marriage to Will has proceeded according to plan - and early to boot. But with the wedding now over, Will comes through with his promise of a honeymoon in Mundanus, giving Cathy a glimmer of hope that she can somehow right what she sees as a very big wrong.

Meanwhile, Sam has managed to return to Exilium, freeing the women he and Cathy stumbled upon on their last trip. Unfortunately the women have been tainted and even Max won't get involved considering he's lost his entire Chapter, a matter he definitely needs to keep under wraps. As he and the Sorcerer continue their investigative efforts, it soon becomes clear that the recent conspiracy they've unearthed is much bigger than they originally believed.

If you couldn't tell, I'm currently binging on this series as I gear up for the release of book four on Tuesday. (Pssst, be sure to check out the blog that day for a chance to win a copy of the first Split Worlds book!)

This second in the Split Worlds series picks up immediately where Between Two Thorns left off, with Cathy waking from her drug induced slumber and made up for the wedding. It's fortunate, then, that I was able to jump right into it! And my synopsis above really only touches on the beginning of the book as a whole - a lot more stuff happens beyond those mentioned events as the book progresses!

Poor Cathy. When we last saw her she was fighting against the marriage with all of her might and had seemingly secured help in getting away. Alas her plans are thwarted at every turn by both her family and the Fae. And we still don't know why Lord Poppy and Lord Iris were so intent on the match between her and Will to begin with.

We do know that the Iris family is apparently even more controlling and manipulative than Cathy's own has been, though! So Cathy's fight isn't over by a long shot.

Any Other Name proves, too, that the discoveries of Between Two Thorns are only the beginning. Something wicked bad is brewing in the Split Worlds - and if every character would communicate with one another they might figure out what it is! Ugh!

Of course that's a big part of the plot: no one trusts each other. The Arbiter and the Sorcerer don't trust Cathy or Sam, Cathy doesn't trust Will, Sam loses faith in the Sorcerer when he discovers he's being watched. And all of them have things to deal with beyond even the most immediate mysteries - Max still can't reveal his entire Chapter has been murdered, Cathy has Will's family and Society to deal with, and Sam's marriage is falling apart. All of them are being fairly put through the wringer in this second outing!

As with Between Two Thorns, Any Other Name has a definitely cliffhanger ending. I'll just say it's fortunate that I have all of the books on hand!

I should note that for anyone who struggled with the many threads of Between Two Thorns, this second outing is a much smoother read. Now that we're comfortable with the worlds and the characters it's easier to simply enjoy the tale.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Someone is kidnapping women in London and, because a connection to the Split Worlds is suspected, it's Max's job as an Arbiter to find out who. 

Meanwhile, Cathy, a resident of Aquae Sulis who has been hiding out in Mundanus, has been caught and forced to return in time to take part in the new season. It's here that her signed and sealed engagement will be announced, as long as her family can keep her recent rebellion under wraps. 

Max would normally never deign to work with someone from Aquae Sulis but when it's discovered that the Master of Ceremonies, Cathy's own uncle, has gone missing, he may not have a choice. Corruption and conspiracy in Exilium seems to be spreading into the Nether and is beginning to leach out into Mundanus, something Max and Cathy both have an interest in stopping as soon as possible. 

Between Two Thorns introduced readers to Emman Newman's Split Worlds series with its release back in 2013, along with books two and three in the series. Now, the good folks over at Diversion Books have not only rereleased Between Two Thorns, Any Other Name, and All Is Fair, but they're also about to release a brand spanking new installment in the series, A Little Knowledge.

If, like me, you missed your chance with the series when it initially released, now's the perfect time to give it a try.

The Split Worlds is an intricately built setting encompassing three different worlds - Exilium, the prison world where the fae have been relegated; the Nether, where the fae's favorites reside; and Mundanus, our world.

Cathy's family lives in the Nether under the patronage of Lord Poppy, one of many fae nobles currently residing in Exilium. Cathy strains under the rigid life the Nether offers - one of rules and conformity akin to the Victorian era. And though her own life is split initially between Mundanus and the Nether (people don't age in the Nether) her exposure to Mundanus culture and technology in particular are strictly controlled. But Cathy manages to break free, temporarily, by earning permission to attend college in Mundanus. It's the perfect opportunity to escape and live life the way she wants to. Until she's caught by no less than Lord Poppy himself.

The politics and rules of the worlds of this series are quite detailed and, unfortunately, require quite a bit of set up and explanation. The result is that, while highly readable and entertaining, Between Two Thorns does begin somewhat confusingly for the reader. The story bounces around a lot between a variety of narrators, leaving the reader to glean various bits and pieces of the world building through these characters' eyes. So, for example, it's unclear when we meet Max, exactly what an Arbiter is and does. It's also unclear how the Nether and Exilium work, at least until Cathy herself is returned to the Nether, which may be understandably frustrating for some readers.

Fortunately, as the story progresses things do begin to become clearer. You kind of just have to muddle through the beginning and trust that things are going to begin making sense sooner rather than later.

It's helpful that the characters introduced are likable. Max is, for all intents and purposes, something of a PI. Cathy is a willful and clever girl who longs to be who she wants to be rather than who society says she should be, Sam is trapped in a friction-filled marriage, and Will - like Cathy - struggles with his parents' and patron's expectations versus his own hopes and dreams. The latter character presents an interesting and somewhat opposing force to Cathy, though, because we the readers aren't quite sure if we should trust him. Through him we get more of the Nether conditions Cathy herself finds so stifling and frustrating.

Between Two Thorns does end with lots of questions left unanswered, making this a great series to binge on if you're craving some fun urban fantasy!

Rating: 4/5

The ebook editions of the first three titles are all currently available from Diversion Books. Book four, A Little Knowledge, hits shelves on August 2. I'll be posting a review of book four that very day and I'll also be offering up a copy of Between Two Thorns!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorius + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Michelle Pretorius's The Monster's Daughter.

Alet Berg has a long way to go to impress her higher ups, especially considering how she landed in her current predicament. Relegated to the small town of Unie, Alet realizes her chance when the burned body of an unidentified teenage girl is discovered on a local farm. And even though her superiors don't want her on the investigation, she plans to dig into the case anyway. 

A century ago, with the Boer war raging around them, a young girl was forced into an experiment she had no understanding of. When the dust settled, the doctor leading the research fled and the girl in question lived just long enough to try and ensure the safety of her newborn baby. 

That infant, one of just two who lived through the experiment, is part of a mystery that spans one hundred years, connecting Alet and her investigation to the terrible history of the land that surrounds her. 

Whoa! I'm not even sure where to start with this one.

I was sold on Michelle Pretorius's debut with the comparison to Lauren Beukes. I have, in very recent years, become more and more fascinated by South Africa and the writers who come from there. Beukes, Sarah Lotz, and Natasha Mostert are just a few whose works have landed on my favorites list with each and every new release, so of course I was excited to take a chance on Pretorius.

It's not just the caliber of work that I've seen, but the subject matter as well. The Monster's Daughter promised a touch of the region's dark history wrapped around what sounded like a truly enthralling modern-day mystery - and of course the cross-genre aspect is one that always appeals to me as well.

So there were a lot of expectations on my part in diving into this debut. And, readers, I was not let down in the least! From the very first page I was drawn into both Alet's investigation and the historical narrative. The balance between the two worked well for me - I never felt like I was slogging through one of the narratives just waiting to get back to the really interesting one, both were equally fascinating and excellently paced.

As mentioned, this one is quite dark. All things considered, it kind of has to be - the history, way more than a touch, is a major part of the plot. In this Literary Hub article, Pretorius talks about what spurred the idea for The Monster's Daughter and how she'd hoped to use fiction to illustrate and help people understand the history of South Africa. I think she has succeeded brilliantly in this effort, creating a highly readable and entertaining book that fluidly incorporates a history many of us may not be entirely aware of.

And now for the giveaway: I have one copy up for grabs. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 8. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

For more on Michelle Pretorius and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & NobleMelville House


Monday, July 25, 2016

The Runaway Wife by Elizabeth Birkelund

Happy Monday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Elizabeth Birkelund's The Runaway Wife.

Jim had never had time for a vacation, but after being laid off and broken up with it seemed like time. So he and his friend Ambrose took a trip to the Swiss Alps to hike and enjoy the scenery in the days before Jim was to begin a new job. 

On one of their last nights there, though, the men are approached by three sisters hoping to enlist the help of someone to find their mother. It seems the woman ran off after finding out one of her husband's mistresses had a child. And that, it seems, was the breaking point for Calliope Castellane. The sisters fear their mother will be lost or injured traveling the Alps on her own and Jim, who has more time to spare than Ambrose, agrees to take up the search on his own. The journey will be one fraught with danger - one misstep or turn of the weather could spell disaster and Jim is not what anyone would consider experienced. But it's also a journey that will give Jim time to think and maybe  also give him a chance to be a hero. 

The Runaway Wife wasn't quite what I expected. It sounded quirky - and at times it was. It also sounded as though it might be a bit light or humorous, which it turned out not really to be at all.

Jim has had his heart broken. His trip gives him plenty of time to ponder over the loss of his five year relationship with the woman he'd planned to marry. Playing the knight for three attractive sisters, then, is a welcome distraction for the man but he definitely didn't expect or prepare for the mess he'd get himself into on the mountain.

Nor did he truly prepare for Calliope, who turns out to be something of a force to be reckoned with.

But after all of that I'm not actually sure that I was satisfied with how the story wrapped up for everyone involved. In Jim's case, yes. But Calliope's story progression is one that definitely left me wanting.

I won't spoil the end but I'd be interested to see if others feel the same.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Elizabeth Birkelund and her work you can like her on Facebook.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Releases 7.26.16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Tracer by Bob Boffard

City of Wolves by Willow Palacek

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Home Field by Hannah Gersen

Dead Joker by Anne Holt

The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Bite by K.S. Merbeth

Cold Silence by James Abel

Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Supernova by C. A. Higgins

Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon

Breaking Cover by Stella Rimington

Red Right Hand by Levi Black

Urban Allies ed by Joseph Nassise

Murder on Brittany Shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec

Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub

Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

New on DVD:
The Boss

Friday, July 22, 2016

Short Fiction Friday: Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

Alex McKenna is a legacy agent at the FBI. So when he volunteers to head one of the most disastrous and dangerous units in agency history, his higher ups are sorely tempted to say no. Alex's argument is a convincing one, though, landing him the gig as Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Bureau of Paranormal Investigations. 

Alex has his job cut out for him. Ever since the discovery that vampires are real, efforts at investigating their crimes have resulted in mass casualties. But Alex has a novel approach no one else seems to have considered - using one of their own to hunt them. And in a case where tensions are high and the victims are children, success is his only option. 

Melissa F. Olson's latest is a paranormal procedural with just a hint of noir. And it appears to be the start of a series - maybe, hopefully :)

In Alex McKenna's world, vampires are real and have been here mingling with humans for quite some time. But it's only in very recent years that humans have really become aware of the shades' existence. By and large, the population seems to be mostly blasé about the whole thing. As one of the characters notes, the human worry and understanding of the shades' presence is akin to their worry regarding the latest flu outbreak. It's a nuisance more than anything.

But authorities are definitely concerned. Especially when the teams they've put together to investigate shades and crimes attached to them have been massively and embarrassingly unsuccessful.

Lindy is a vampire. One not interested in anti human sentiment or in outing herself and her situation. But that's no longer up to her - Alex McKenna knows what she is and has tracked her down. But Alex doesn't want to detain Lindy. Instead, he hopes she can offer insight into the shades that has so far eluded law enforcement.

There's just one problem: Lindy has also caught the attention of the very shade the feds are currently hunting. And that vampire and his minions are none too pleased with the fact that Lindy is helping the BPI.

The novella gives us fairly good insight into the world, its workings, and the characters that inhabit it. McKenna and Lindy in particular are explored with pretty good depth, but I was glad that Olson also pays attention to side characters like Chase, Ruiz, and the others as well - especially considering the fairly limited page real estate available.

Considering the end, it is fairly clear that the world of Nightshades is intended to encompass more installments than just this first outing. The end is undeniably a cliffhanger and there are oh, so many questions left beyond that scene as well. Normally I'd admit to being fairly bled dry of any interest in vampires these days, but I have to say Olson's have grabbed my attention. I want to know more about the mystery that's begun here in Nightshades and what's going to happen next with McKenna, Lindy, and the rest of the team.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Beneath the Lake by Christopher Ransom

It's been thirty years since the Mercer family's last camping trip. Until then it was an annual tradition, but something happened that year. Something that brought an end to those camping trips for good. 

Or not. 

Apparently Raymond's father is ill and it's his final wish that his family come together once again in honor of the old tradition. Raymond, the youngest Mercer child, barely remembers that awful last trip but he knows returning to Blundstone is the last thing he wants to do. This request, however, seems to be one he can't refuse. 

I don't think Christopher Ransom has ever written what I'd consider a predictable book. Some of them may begin in what seems like familiar territory, but by the end of every one I've read the story has been turned upside down and inside out and gone well beyond the boundaries of my own apparently limited imagination.

Beneath the Lake was no exception in that regard. A family hiding a secret so dark it's plagued their memories for three decades AND broken a standing family tradition... What could be so terrible about a family camping trip? In a public place, no less.

Of course our main character doesn't even remember. As it turns out, the eight year old Raymond who was present during that final trip missed out on much of the action. So even though he's leery about returning to Blundstone, which has been closed to the public for some time apparently, he has very little inkling about what might be in store for his family this time around.

He expects drama. He expects arguments. It's the first time the family has been together in quite some time, after all. And considering the bombshell about his dad, the trip is definitely not off to a great start. And so he goes armed with a companion, one he's crushed on for some time but doesn't really know very well at all.

Sounds like a terrible first date to me!

I'm just the kind of reader who would bring Beneath the Lake on a camping trip (if I were inclined to camp, which I'm not) for extra atmosphere. And it would be the absolute perfect fireside read, too - guaranteed to make you jump at every noise and shadow and likely to keep you up at night shivering in your tent.

Of course you can just as easily read this one at home, cozy and safe, and it'll still creep you out to no end. Ransom builds an atmosphere that starts somewhere in the vicinity of normal with a hint of dread and quickly edges into eeriness and all out horror. It's an excellent build, exactly what I crave in a scary read, and a tale that might make you reconsider your own next camping trip!

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Branson Beauty by Claire Booth

Good morning, y'all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Claire Booth's The Branson Beauty.

When The Branson Beauty is scuttled on a cold and snowy afternoon, it seems like nothing more than a nuisance that can be blamed on a reckless captain. It takes hours to finally get the passengers safely back to shore and all seems well, except for likely fallout to the owner that is. But a final round of the ship reveals a shocking surprise: the dead body of a local coed. 

Sheriff Hank Worth hasn't been in his position long and knows this case is a big one. The girl, a recent graduate of the local high school, was quite well known but only a few people even realized she was on board at all that day. In fact, her parents didn't even know the girl was in town! As the investigation proceeds, it becomes clear the folks of Branson have more than a few secrets up their sleeves. It's up to Hank to untangle those secrets and uncover the killer and motive behind the murder. 

The Branson Beauty marks the first in the brand new Hank Worth series. It's also Claire Booth's fiction debut.

As mysteries go, The Branson Beauty is a lighter one bordering on cozy - it's not overly graphic but it does have a little more edge than a typical cozy, in my opinion. I love the setting. Touristy Branson may be familiar to many readers but it's not Worth's Branson. In fact, even though the newly minted sheriff has only been there a short time, the commercialization has already started to wear on the man.

The plotting could have been slightly tighter for me, but it's also possible that some of the kinks I noted (somewhat repetitive information and a few odd dialog pieces) were specific to the arc and have since been ironed out for the hardcover release.

That aside, The Branson Beauty is a quick and fun mystery read. Hank Worth is excellent leading man material for a series and I look forward to seeing what else Booth has in store for Branson County!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Claire Booth and her work you can visit her website here.

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


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Allison Winn Scotch's latest, In Twenty Years.

Five college friends receive an invite to spend Fourth of July weekend together in the house they shared decades ago. But the reunion is bittersweet considering many of them haven't been in contact since their friend Bea's funeral thirteen years prior. And it's Bea who's attempting to bring them together again, from beyond the grave it seems. 

Annie, Catherine, Owen, Lindy, and Colin have all moved on since college. Annie is married, unhappily, but keeps herself occupied creating the life she wants via social media. Catherine has started her own company, a dream that's turned into more stress than she could ever have imagined. It's a dream that's created friction in her home life as well, leaving Owen to wait night after night for his wife to grace the family with her presence. Even Lindy, whose success is undeniable, is feeling the pain of aging - in an industry that increasingly reminds her she's in danger of becoming obsolete. And then there's Colin, the one who's been hiding a secret concerning Bea all these years. 

Yes, Bea's brought them together in her honor but whether it'll be a happy reunion remains to be seen. 

In Twenty Years is something of a Big Chill for a new generation. All five friends, the term is debatable when they get together again, are forced to face their current issues as well as those that tore them apart. And even Bea isn't immune, though she's been gone these long years. See Bea bought the house and planned the whole thing just before she passed away. She couldn't have predicted that things would turn out the way they did...

All of these characters are so unhappy with their lives. But as each of them soon learns, they have the ability to change their situations (even before the reunion) and have neglected to do so for a variety of reasons.

A glass half empty reader might see In Twenty Years as a bit of a downer - that life is an inevitable road to misery that you can't see at twenty when you're bright eyed and hopeful but that hits you by forty when you realize none of your dreams have come true.

A glass half full reader might see the book as a cautionary tale, though. One in which the characters' mistakes are exactly the kind to avoid.

Either way, there's no denying In Twenty Years and its characters will strike a chord.

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

For more on Allison Winn Scotch and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


Monday, July 18, 2016

The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Gwendolyn Womack's debut, The Memory Painter.

Bryan Pierce's paintings have been gaining growing recognition. Able to churn one out in just a matter of hours, his pieces convey a sense of atmosphere and detail that is truly remarkable. But what people don't know is that Bryan's paintings are the result of vivid dreams. In fact, many of the paintings themselves are created during a complete dream state and without Bryan's own knowledge - until he wakes to find them complete. 

In each dream, it's as though Bryan himself is there in another life. And when he learns that each of the people he's dreamed through were very real, he begins to suspect it's exactly that: another life. It's a feeling Linz Jacobs understands all too well considering it's happened to her too. When the two meet, Bryan knows that Linz has been there in each dream life. 

And then Bryan begins dreaming about the Michael Backer, a scientist who died tragically while researching alzheimers treatments and memory. 

If you're a frequent follower of the blog then you know that the past two weeks have been a bit sparse. There's been a lot going on with work and life and I found myself in something of a reading rut. Fortunately I seem to have finally come out the other side, thanks in large part to books exactly like The Memory Painter.

It's not an exaggeration when I say a book is unputdownable. I know it can get thrown around, but I reserve the term for books that are exactly that. I think it's what we all crave in a read, right? A book that grabs hold of you from the very start, making it impossible to break free until you turn the final page. A book that begs for all of your attention no matter what else might be going on. The Memory Painter fits that bill 100%.

Bryan has just moved back to his hometown of Boston but has kept himself closed off for the most part, even neglecting to attend his own show. His dreams or visions have become so demanding that he fears being around people when one comes upon him. It's caused him to be reserved and overly cautious, something that gets thrown to the wind when he sees Linz Jacobs.

Linz has only ever experienced the one dream - one of being burned at the stake in ancient Greece. But it was a dream so detailed and disturbing that she's never forgotten it in spite of the fact that it seemingly stopped when she left for college. She recognizes the dream in one of Bryan's paintings and is determined to meet him, even suspecting that her friend who owns the gallery showing Bryan's work might have been the one responsible.

The truth is more curious than Linz could ever have imagined. But as it turns out, she's more tied into Bryan's dreams than either of them realize. As the story progresses, Bryan recognizes Linz from his many lifetimes of dreams, but it's even more twisted and tangled than that. And as the connections between their lives - past and present - become more clear, a mystery unfolds.

Some of Bryan's past lives and dreams were less engaging than others, I'll admit. There are so many that it's almost inevitable that some will hold more weight and depth than others. Michael Backer's story and the present day string absolutely fall into the latter category and definitely hooked me the most. It's here that the real entanglements and questions begin to become clearer to Bryan and the reader, so of course they're the driving forces of the book. That said, the story absolutely zips along. There are no dull moments at all and every piece of the puzzle, every dream and every life Bryan recalls, adds layer upon layer to the tale.

The Memory Painter is brand new out in paperback and is also fresh off an RWA Prism Win in the Time Travel/Steampunk category. It's the kind of book that will most definitely appeal to a broad range of readers and one I highly recommend to anyone in search of a great read!



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

For more on Gwendolyn Womack and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Purchase Links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iTunes


Sunday, July 17, 2016

New Releases 7/19/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorius

Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Dragon Lords: Fool's Gold by Jon Hollins

The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Night and Day by Iris Johansen

Mata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran

White Bone by Ridley Pearson

Fall From Grace by Tim Weaver

The Baker Street Jurors by Michael Robertson

Outfoxed by David Rosenfelt

Guilty Minds by Joseph Finder

Falling by Jane Green

The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn

Bloodline: Wars of the Roses by Conn Iggulden

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Imprudence by Gail Carriger

A World Without You by Beth Revis

The Revivial by Chris Weitz

New on DVD:
A Perfect Day
Batman v Superman

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
With Malice by Eileen Cook

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The House Between the Tides by Sarah Maine

Sarah Maine's The House Between the Tides is being compared to Kate Morton and Daphne du Maurier, which, if appropriate, makes it sound like the most absolutely PERFECT read for me!

Here's the description from Goodreads:

Following the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.

Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body.


Anyone else desperate to get their hands on this one?

The House Between the Tides is due out in August from Atria. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Short Fiction Friday: The Ghoul King by Guy Haley

Hi, readers! Before I kick off this post I just want to take a minute to give another shout out to the fabulous job the folks over at Tor.com Publishing are doing. If you haven't checked out some of their work, you are seriously missing out! They've got a fantastic line of novellas - both ebook and print - as well as free shorts online. I love, love, love what they're doing and love being able to spread the word!

Quinn is back in this second installment of the Dreaming Cities series.

The story picks up in the aftermath of The Emperor's Railroad. After killing the angels' creation, Quinn's position as knight can't protect him.

A group of technophiles has set their sights on Quinn. Their interests make them a target for the angels in this time of limited technology and education, but their desire to learn outweighs any and all fear. And their leader, Rachel, has big plans. Plans that involve finding something only Quinn can help them with. They'll have to convince him to join them, but their first step - and challenge - is freeing him from the pit!

So Quinn has angered the angels and it lands him in a bit of trouble. Fortunately, Jaxon and his group are in need of Quinn's skill and have planned to free him from his predicament. Of course, again the story is told after the fact so we know that Jaxon has been caught and is being questioned by the angels' emissary. And we know the angels are looking for Quinn again.

Where our narrator in Quinn's previous adventure was a twelve-year-old boy, this time around our story is told by a grown man trained as a healer. Jaxon is an interesting character, one I assume we'll likely not be seeing again considering the way the series is being laid out. He's long known there's more knowledge available in the art of healing and medicine than the angels allow access to and is determined to find it. This aspect of the world, the control the angels exert over humans and the limitations put on education and such, become more clearer in this installment thanks to Jaxon himself.

We're also introduced to the ghouls in The Ghoul King. Differing from the undead of The Emperor's Railroad, the ghouls have conscious thought, communication, and the ability to plan. Which also means the ability to hunt as a pack. Bad news for Quinn, Rachel, Jaxon, and the others considering Rachel's plans include traveling directly into ghoul territory.

I love the limited viewpoint of the stories. We as the reader are given access to different information because of the different perspectives. Jaxon is older and more educated, he also remembers a time before the angels smashed everything to smithereens (though not a time before the angels). Abney was only twelve and had lived a fairly sheltered life up to the point where his story begins. Not only are they limited in what they can offer in terms of the world, but they're limited in what they can offer about Quinn and his situation. We all have to wait for him to reveal his own story!

The world of Haley's Dreaming Cities is awesome. Literally worthy of awe and fabulous in its imagining. When we entered the series in The Emperor's Railroad, we learned a bit about the war between the angels and the Emperor himself but very little about the angels. The Ghoul King introduces a few more key pieces of information about them and their workings, making the world that much more intriguing. As mentioned, I have a theory that does seem to be playing out somewhat. Only time and further reading will tell, though.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

A tech tycoon is attacked by spiders on a trip to Peru. At the same time, an ancient egg sac is discovered at a dig in that same country. Melanie Guyer, an entomologist specializing in spiders, has always been fascinated by the creatures and the opportunity to study a calcified egg sac that dates back thousands of years is the chance of a lifetime. But there's something very different about this particular egg sac - in spite of its age, it seems to be hatching. 

Meanwhile, a remote mining village in China has recently been nuked and the Chinese government is mum on the subject. But intelligence suggests there was much more to the incident and it's something involving a bug...

Readers, I, like many of you, hate spiders. With just one exception really - these super cool looking orb weavers. But I don't hate them as much as I hate roaches. And most of the reason I hate them is because they sneak up on you. And their webs are itchy and blech! So yeah, I still love Arachnaphobia and Sarah Pinborough's The Breeding and Feeding Ground hold a very special place in my heart as two of the ickiest creep fests I've ever had the extreme pleasure of reading. So you can imagine how utterly giddy I was at coming across Ezekiel Boone's debut.

The Hatching has all the hallmarks of a summer blockbuster read. It's quick and packed with tension and action, and of course killer spiders. Monstrous and gory killer spiders.

And it is a fun read. But it's first in a trilogy, which makes The Hatching feel much like a prologue to what should have just been a longer book. Even halfway through there were still characters being introduced, and with twenty pages left to go I wasn't sure there was any way the book would resolve at all.

Of course it doesn't really. It ends on a cliffhanger that makes it certain readers like me will snatch up the second installment, Skitter, as soon as it hits shelves next spring.

I can probably go on and on about what I would have liked to see in this read (more streamlining, less characters, and all three volumes in one book, mainly) and it would all be based on my own preferences. Which matter very little, to be honest. So in spite of all of that I'll simply state that this was an amusing and skin crawling read that may not blow you away but will certainly keep you entertained for the few hours it takes to zip through it.

And now I'll begin the long wait for the second installment.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Releases 7/12/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Time Siege by Wesley Chu

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

The Asset by Shane Kuhn

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton

The Runaway Wife by Elizabeth Birkelund

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

Lost Along the Way by Erin Duffy

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Vita Brevis: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Graveyard of the Hesperides by Lindsey Davis

Red Queen by Christina Henry

Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle

The Black Widow by Daniel Silva

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

The Crimson Skew by S. E. Grove

New on DVD:
The Green Room
Everybody Wants Some
Allegiant

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Introducing Park Row Books

This is very cool news, readers: MIRA has just announced the launch of a brand new imprint, focused exclusively on literary fiction!

Here's a bit about Park Row Books from the publisher.

INTRODUCING PARK ROW BOOKS
A New Literary Fiction Imprint from MIRA Books

New York, NY, July 1, 2016—MIRA Books announced today the official launch of Park Row Books, an exclusive line of thought-provoking and voice-driven novels by both celebrated and new authors. Park Row Books will be led by Margaret Marbury, Vice President, General Fiction Editorial, and Erika Imranyi, Executive Editor. Park Row Books will publish unique voices and powerful stories that inspire discussion. Inaugural titles are slated for release in summer 2017.

“With the success of MIRA’s rapidly expanding literary fiction program, we decided to establish a dedicated imprint that focuses on the incredible novels we are publishing,” said Marbury. “Park Row Books allows us to create new opportunities for talented literary writers who want a boutique publishing experience with the support of a powerhouse commercial publisher.”

“We are aggressively growing our imprints that publish hardcover and trade paper original fiction,” said Loriana Sacilotto, Executive Vice-President, Global Publishing and Strategy at Harlequin. “Park Row Books is acquiring powerful and compelling novels by talented writers who are looking for a house that will shine a spotlight on their titles.”

The name Park Row Books was inspired by the landmark street that runs through downtown Manhattan and ends at the Woolworth Building, the former home of Harlequin’s New York office for many years. Once known as “Printing House Square” and the location of many of New York’s major newspapers, Park Row has a rich heritage of fostering free expression, creative ideas and important voices.

“MIRA Books has a long history as an industry leader when it comes to publishing commercial fiction,” said Imranyi. “The passion and innovation of the MIRA team is second to none and we have seamlessly parlayed our strengths as a commercial publisher into our literary fiction program. It is a great privilege to be spearheading the expansion of MIRA’s powerful list with the launch of Park Row Books, which will be an exciting destination for talented literary voices whose books have broad mainstream appeal.”

The launch title for Park Row Books is the blockbuster debut novel The Improbable Flight of Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig, which Park Row acquired in a significant preemptive deal. The highly anticipated novel follows a recently adopted teenager with autism who is desperately plotting to get herself kidnapped by her birth mother. Told in an extraordinarily fresh and wholly unique voice, The Improbable Flight of Ginny Moon is a compulsively readable and unforgettable story about finding a place to belong in a world that doesn’t always add up. It will be published around the world in 11 territories and counting.

Park Row Books will also be home to the much-buzzed-about new novels by New York Times bestselling authors Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf. Kubica’s book, a psychological thriller about a young widow’s pursuit of the truth in the wake of the devastating crash that took the life of her husband, takes readers inside the dark, twisted corners of a psyche plagued by grief. Her first novel, The Good Girl, has sold over half a million copies and has been published in two dozen territories worldwide. Gudenkauf’s next book, a high-concept crime thriller about a protagonist with profound hearing loss, features the bestselling author’s most compelling heroine to date. Gudenkauf’s first novel, The Weight of Silence, was an instant New York Times bestseller, spending 22 weeks on the list.

Other exciting titles forthcoming from Park Row Books include When I Think of You, from award-winning journalist and bestselling author Karma Brown, exploring how a woman’s life falls apart over a random act of courtesy; Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, a breakout literary novel set in the fascinating and unknown world of a polygamist society from award-winning Canadian author Christopher Meades; Undertow, by British journalist Elizabeth Heathcote, the much-buzzed-about debut domestic thriller in the vein of The Widow; and a new novel from Phaedra Patrick, the author of wildly acclaimed The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, that follows a down-on-his-luck jeweler whose life is changed when his estranged teenage niece makes a surprise visit to his quiet village.


As a reader, I couldn't be more excited - especially considering how fabulous the initial line up of titles sounds!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a fabulous holiday weekend!

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Stephen P. Piernan's latest, The Hummingbird.

Deborah is a hospice nurse. And a good one at that. In fact, she's the one they call for tough situations - like Professor Barclay Reed, who fired his last two caregivers and has all the volunteers on edge. In spite of the odds, Deborah is able to get through to him, cracking the armor no one has been able to get past. 

But Deborah's success at work hasn't carried through to home of late. After three tours overseas, her husband has returned angry and unable to open up to his wife. Deborah isn't ready to give up, but she knows it'll take a huge breakthrough if things are going to improve. As it turns out, that breakthrough may be thanks to her new patient. 

I had a hard time reading The Hummingbird. There were two reasons for this: one emotional and the other stylistic.

I'll tackle the latter first. Chapters alternate between Deborah and the fictional final book by Barclay Reed. That book is a WWII tale that Deborah herself isn't certain is truly fact. But it's this book that Reed says can help her understand what her husband is going through.

I didn't love these chapters. I wanted to, but they were a bit dry and not at all as immersive as Deborah's tale, unfortunately. Which meant that roughly every other chapter I was taken out of the story I'd become attached to, muddled through somewhat academic style prose, and then finally allowed back to Deborah's story. Me and "Sword" didn't get along.

Now for the other reason (the emotional reason) I struggled with The Hummingbird. This issue isn't altogether a negative. In fact it's a testament to Kiernan's writing: it's a story about a hospice worker whose relationship is in trouble because of her husband's experience as a soldier. That's a loaded set of topics if ever there were any! And it makes for a hard read, which I knew would be the case. And while I won't go into the issues the book brings up, I will say that I found Kiernan handled it all very well. What I didn't expect was that I'd be fighting blues and tears throughout.

Yeesh!

The Hummingbird is going to strike a chord with just about every reader. Every reader who has a heart! And if you're the kind of reader who enjoys a good cry and a tug at your heartstrings tale about overcoming the odds, this is the story for you. If you're, say, looking for something to dive into over a holiday weekend while enjoying time in the sun and food on the grill (or the company of a new kitten)... maybe you'll want to save this one for a different day.

Emotions aside, I enjoy Kiernan's writing. I loved The Curiosity and I think, given the right reading circumstances, I would have loved The Hummingbird as well. I didn't by any means dislike it at all but again I struggled with it. I wanted something I could lose myself in an enjoy and because I was struggling, I just wasn't able to do that. It happens.

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

For more on Stephen P. Kiernan and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sunday, July 3, 2016

New Releases 7.5.16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Wilson

The Dinosaur Knights by Victor Milan

The Boy in the Shadows by Carl-Johan Vallgren

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Panacea by F. Paul Wilson

Midnight Crossing by Tricia Fields

The Transference Engine by Julia Verne St. John

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

Lowcountry Book Club by Susan Boyer

Threading the Needle by Joshua Palmatier

The Traveler by David L. Golemon

I Am No One by Patrick Flanery

The Year's Best SciFi: 33rd Annual Collection ed by Gardner Dozois

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Faces by E. C. Blake

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

The Merciless II by Danielle Vega

Autumn's Wish by Bella Thorne

New on DVD:
The Family Fang
Cabin Fever

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Dark Horse by Rory Flynn