Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Releases 6/19/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Witchmark by C.L. Polk

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

The Melody by Jim Crace

When Katie Meg Cassidy by Camille Perri

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

The Throwaway by Michael Moreci

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

History of Violence Édouard Louis

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Guilt by Amanda Robson

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky

New on DVD:
Pacific Rim: Uprising

Sunday, June 10, 2018

New Releases 6/12/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Starless by Jacqueline Carey

The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek

Bearskin by James McLaughlin

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Myerson

The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

New on DVD
Love, Simon
Tomb Raider

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire - rerelease

After much waiting, we're finally getting another Rose Marshall installment. In preparation of the upcoming July release of The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, DAW is rereleasing Seanan McGuire's Sparrow Hill Road - with a brand spanking new cover, too!

You may recall having seen this review back in 2014 but just in case you missed it, I'm reviving it here to get ready for the second volume!

You all know her story - the Girl From the Diner, the Phantom Prom Date, the Ghost of Sparrow Hill Road... killed on her way to prom and forced to forever wander the roads in search of a ride home. Beneath the urban legends, the twisting variations of the story that started it all, is a girl: Rose Marshall.

She wanders the highways and byways of the continent, hitching and helping those whose own fates are tied to the road as well. Some she's able to save, others she helps pass on to their final home.

Savvy Seanan McGuire readers have already met Rose Marshall. The book originally started as a collection of shorts that appeared in The Edge of Propinquity, a webzine whose archives are available here. Twelve of Rose's tales appeared in the zine in 2010 and on her website McGuire notes that one of the stories is still available online through The Edge of Propinquity. Fortunately for the rest of us, most of those original stories have been gathered up and recently released as one volume by the good folks over at DAW!

I could swear that Alvin Schwartz was the first to introduce me to a variation of the popular urban legend that spawned McGuire's latest. Seems like a likely candidate since Schwartz's various Scary Stories collections were tops in my creepy reads lists as a kid. Anyway, McGuire's spin on this classic story is excellent! She fleshes out the tale, giving life to the character in a way those passed along variations never could.

It's interesting that this is still essentially a collection of Rose stories in one volume rather than a linear novel. And our spectral narrator does warn us of this in the beginning of the book. Some may find that leaves the reader with a feeling of disconnection but I kind of felt the opposite. There is a running plot that ties all of Rose's stories together and the book does feel very much like Rose telling us the chapters of her own life and afterlife.

McGuire does a quite effective job of building a really complex world in Sparrow Hill Road. We see some other familiar supernatural presences - a Beán sidhe, mention of a white lady, and a new variation on the strigoi - but many of McGuire's otherworldly presences are new (to me at least). Routewitches, crossroads ghosts, hitchhiking ghosts, homecoming ghosts, and more live in this world. Some - bela da meia-noite, for example - are basically sidebar entries while others like the haunt and the maggy dhu do get brief cameos.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Blackout by Alex Segura

Good morning, readers! If you follow me elsewhere online then you know that I am currently sick as a dog - and expecting. So please forgive me if I'm not at my best and brightest this morning.

But I am pleased as punch to be part of the TLC blog tour for Alex Segura's latest Peter Hernandez mystery, Blackout.

Ever since Pete's last case landed him on a hit list for one of Miami's most brutal gangs, he's been hiding out working as a PI in New York. But Miami comes calling when a case that ties into a mystery from his past lands on his doorstep. 

Miami politician Trevor McRyan has his eye on moving up the political ladder but fears his son could cause issues. Said son has recently gone missing and McRyan and his wife want to hire Pete to find him. Pete refuses, intent on staying out of Miami, until a picture of the son reveals a strong likeness to the one person who claimed to know what happened to a classmate of Pete's who went missing decades ago. 

Pete dabbled in Patty Morales's case a bit, at the urging of her aunt and his one time girlfriend, leading to the discovery of the dead girl's remains. But that's as far as it went. No suspects, no explanation as to her fate, and no resolution. But as Pete digs into Patty's murder and the whereabouts of the missing McRyan, it becomes clear that whoever is responsible isn't going to let Pete unravel this mystery without a fight. And Pete soon realizes that returning to Miami could be the last mistake he ever makes. 

This fourth in Segura's PI series is a doozy. Multiple timelines thread together to meet in the present as Pete at first reluctantly and then doggedly attempts to solve one of Miami's most infamous cold cases.

We meet Pete in high school serving detention after trying to steal liquor. His run in with Patty is brief and somewhat stinging considering he'd asked her to prom and she'd refused. That it was the last time he ever saw her alive still burns today and he's haunted by the idea that he could have saved her. Patty's ex boyfriend was murdered that afternoon, the body found in the school after hours. Patty was nowhere to be found.

For years that was the case. Her father, separated from her mother and devoted to his church, was always convinced that Patty was still alive somewhere. But it wasn't until 2013 that her remains were discovered - by Pete. Patty's own aunt, her father's much younger half sister, has never given up hope that the case will be solved and is part of the force driving Pete in his current investigation.

Of course, Pete (as mentioned above) enters the case reluctantly. Each of his investigations has landed him and those around him in massive trouble. And since his last case, he's basically burned every bridge he has. He's estranged from his partner, Kathy, and hasn't spoken to anyone in Miami since he moved to Rockland County. But he's managed not to return to the bottle, so there's that.

Pete is damaged goods, something those closest to him are tiring of. They're ready for Pete to deal with his inner demons and move forward but Pete stubbornly holds on, keeping everyone at arms length (or further, as is the case at the start of Blackout). He's a good detective, as everyone keeps telling him, but he bucks against it at every turn. And Patty is clearly one of the reasons for that.

Returning to Miami does force Pete to face some of his demons. But whether he'll come out alive and survive to see the end of the case is the biggest question.

If you're a fan of gritty detective series, Alex Segura's is absolutely one you need to check out. The setting, the cases, and the characters are the perfect mix, driving the series from one installment to the next and leaving the reader anxious for more.

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

For more on Alex Segura and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Indie Bound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, May 13, 2018

New Releases 5/15/18

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly

So Lucky by Nicola Griffith

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Do This For Me by Eliza Kennedy

Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin

Fall of Angels by Barbara Cleverly

All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

New on DVD:
Black Panther

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Short Fiction Friday, er Saturday: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Murderbot is on the run and on a mission!

After hacking itself and being bought out by its client, Murderbot sets off on its own. It doesn't exactly have the blessing of that new owner but it doesn't care. Being beholden to humans isn't its idea of fun. And neither is not knowing its own story.

Apparently Murderbot turned on its clients during a past job - or so the story goes. As the only surviving SecUnit of an incident that's said to have been a massive malfunction, it believes the only reason it was put back into service was because it was too big of an investment to scrap. But its memory of the event in question was wiped. And given recent events, it can't be certain the story released to the public is the real thing.

But finding out the truth isn't as easy as it might seem. The site of the incident has been shuttered, the exact location wiped from record and Murderbot, because of recent publicity, isn't exactly unrecognizable. In order to get what it needs, it'll have to enlist help from an unexpected source.

Ooh, Murderbot! I love Murderbot so much!

As it travels trying to find out its own past, it's on a journey that makes it more and more human with each passing day. Both literally and figuratively considering it has to change its appearance and mannerisms in this second installment in order to go undercover and pass as human.

But it keeps getting tangled up in human issues!

Murderbot hasn't exactly been treated great. Even though its memory banks are wiped with each new assignment - security for hire is what it was built for and following human orders is deeply ingrained programming for all bots and SecUnits. Witnessing how others are treated is enough for it to know that this blind submission is not something it's anxious to return to. But if anyone discovers its newfound independence, it risks being reprogrammed!

While the main character in this series is a robot, it should be obvious that it's the kind of character and story anyone can identify with. Murderbot wants to be autonomous. It doesn't want to be at the mercy of its clients' whims and fancies. Nor does it want to be responsible for actions beyond its control.

But it also doesn't want to be involved in politics. Unfortunately, it can't seem to avoid them. Murderbot, in spite of programming, has a conscience and a moral code!

Wells is a truly brilliant writer. This series, each new installment, is short and sweet but packs such a big punch in terms of both emotion and plot. I desperately want more Murderbot and can't wait for each new piece of its story to arrive!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Amanda Skenandore's debut, Between Earth and Sky.

1881: Seven-year-old Alma and her family have moved west to start a school. A school for Indians. Here, the tribal children will learn to integrate into society. To lose their Indian ways and become Americans. It's her father's one true passion and Alma is excited to be part of it all. 

1906: An Indian has been arrested, accused of murdering a federal agent, and awaiting trial out west. When Alma sees the story she knows it can't be true - the accused is her friend, Harry Muskrat, a man she's knows since her school days. A smart and kind man she is certain could never have murdered anyone. And so she convinces her husband, a lawyer, to help. 

But when they travel to Minnesota, Harry staunchly refuses their help, posing a question to Alma that forces her to question her father's cause and her own part in it. 

Between Earth and Sky is a fascinating read. Based on a true case, that of a Lakota man named Tasunka Ota, and the very real Indian boarding schools that began to spring up in the late nineteenth century, the book shines a light on a piece of history many may not be aware of.

Alma herself just wants to be friends with her new classmates. But she doesn't realize the truth about the school or their circumstances - that the children are being ripped from their homes and stripped of their cultures. She does see that they're treated unjustly at the hands of their teacher - punished for not learning English quick enough for example - and she tries to help. She does eventually make friends and begins to learn more about these children and their lives before the school.

Even still, as an adult she doesn't understand why Harry would refuse the help of a white man. And it's then that she finally has to face the fact that what happened all those years ago may have been a grave wrong on the part of her father and everyone else involved with the schools and more. That the treatment of her friends wasn't for their own good at all.

Alma's spunkiness and drive draws the reader in, but it's her overall growth that keeps the reader fully immersed in her story. From the start she's clever and warm, seeing immediately that the kids she's to be schooled with are nothing like the stories and books she's been told. Her determination to make friends is rewarded and her interest in their lives and cultures makes the reader love her even more.

The story isn't sweet or happy. These things happened, fictionalized though they may be, but with Alma as a guide and Harry and the others as her own guide to the truth, Skenandore gives voice to and gives the reader a chance to really consider this dark part of our history and the awful treatment of our nations native people.

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

For more on Amanda Skenandore 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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Julia Whelan's debut, My Oxford Year.

Ella Durran has everything all planned out. Since she was thirteen, she's dreamed of going to Oxford and now, as a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship, it's finally happening. But just as she's about to begin her year at the illustrious college, she receives a job offer that she can't refuse. 

As if juggling both a new campaign for an up an coming politician and academics weren't enough, Ella finds herself falling for someone quite unexpected - her new teacher! And after a none too pleasant introduction as well. Soon Ella is faced with a decision she never thought she'd have to make: the life she's always wanted or the love she could have instead. 

My Oxford Year is the ultimate life doesn't listen to plans story.

Ella comes from a background that shouldn't (in her eyes) have led to the place she is now. But through determination and drive, she's gotten there in spite of what most others expected out of her. Oxford.

Her dream is to work in politics and that dream also comes true at the very start of the book with a job offer she doesn't want to refuse. But she doesn't want to give up her time in England either. And so she promises the exact day that her year is up, she'll be on a plane back to the States. And in the meantime she'll prioritize the campaign she's been hired to be part of.

And she does it.

But as I mentioned, this is a life doesn't listen to plans story. So of course her plan is derailed when she falls for Jamie Davenport.

And the story is much more about the falling and the fallout, you might say, than it is about the politics. So if that's a fear of yours, let me put that at rest.

My Oxford Year is sweet and funny. It's also a bit heartbreaking - I have to be honest. But it's overall a light read that delivers exactly as expected. And that's definitely ok in my book!

If you're in the mood for an Angophile romance, you can't go wrong with My Oxford Year.

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

For more on Julia Whelan and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sunday, May 6, 2018

New Releases 5/8/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

Side Life by Steve Toutonghi

Blackout by Alex Segura

Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson

Alternative Remedies for Loss by Joanna Cantor

Regrets Only by Erin Duffy

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Dead Pretty by David Mark

The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Puddin' by Julie Murphy

The Girl in the Grove by Eric Smith

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Good Neighbors by Joanne Serling

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Joanne Serling's Good Neighbors.

Nicole and Jay, Nela and Drew, Lorraine, and Paige and Gene, they were friends of circumstance - neighbors in the same cul de sac with children all around the same age. Friendship became something of a convenience if not a necessity. Holiday get togethers, play dates, lunches, neighborhood gossip and parenting advice... 

But then Paige and Gene announce they're adopting a little girl from Russia. Winnie. Nicole is smitten by the girl. Her stilted English and her charming smile are enough to win over anyone. But soon the neighbors begin to think that all is not right in Paige and Gene's home. That Winnie may not be treated as well as she should. As suspicion grows, the once tight friendship that brought them all together begins to weather and crack. Relationships are tested and secrets run rampant as time goes by. But are their suspicions founded or are they simply not attuned to the real lives their neighbors are living?

What a dark little book this is! It's like a round robin of gossip, the danger of which lies in the fact that the couple at the center of all the attention doesn't get to tell their own side of the story.

Nicole is our all knowing (not really all knowing) narrator. She lives next door to Paige and Gene and has been, as we learn from the start, something of a defender for Paige with the rest of the neighbors. Paige is bossy and controlling, evidenced by the fact that the other neighbors are unhappy about her buying a tasteless group gift for the neighborhood children at their leftover party. But Nicole believes Paige's heart is in the right place.

That is until Winnie arrives. Quiet and barely able to speak English, at first it seems the adopted orphan is simply in need of time for adjustment. But Paige's behavior begins to become strange and erratic as well. As Nicole, Lorraine, and Nela watch over, they begin to wonder if everything is ok at Paige's house.

Paige tries to explain, but to Nicole especially the explanations seem to be no more than excuses meant to placate the worried neighbors. And Nicole has spent time with Winnie, so stories of her bad behavior definitely don't seem to ring true.

Of course the other neighbors feed off of one another as they each relay stories back and forth about strange things witnessed in Paige's home, phone calls with Paige, awkward lunches with her and the rest of her family...

I thought Serling perfectly captured the feel and reality of suburbia. I recall as a kid having very close neighbors and neighborhood get togethers, but that once upon a time closeness of my first few years changed when we moved to a new neighborhood. Since then, it seems that kind of closeness has dried up quite a bit. I barely know my neighbors these days!

Like I said, Good Neighbors is a bit of a dark book. And it's a quick read. One that absolutely leaves you wondering what you'd do in Nicole's situation!

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

For more on Joanne Serling 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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Ellie Mack was fifteen when she went missing. She was headed to the library to study but apparently never arrived. Analysis of camera footage resulted in no leads and no suspects leading the police to believe that Ellie must have run away of her own accord. But Ellie's mother knows different. Ellie was happy, she had a future, she would never have run away. 

As time has passed, Laurel has tried to put her life back together. She and her husband divorced and she has a strained relationship with her other two children. But when she meets Floyd, she thinks she might finally be ready to live again. And then she meets Floyd's young daughter, Poppy, who looks so much like Ellie at that age. And as Laurel grows closer to Floyd and Poppy, she finds she isn't quite ready to give up on finding the truth about Ellie after all. 

Have you read Lisa Jewell yet? Have you!? If not, stop what you're doing and go buy one of her books. I'm serious!

When I started Then She Was Gone, I expected to be sucked in. That has definitely been the case with previous titles I've read by the author, but I was still surprised when I looked up from the book to realize that I'd read over half of it in just one sitting!

Ellie is the perfect daughter. Laurel certainly thought so. And unfortunately she made it all too clear to the rest of her family just how perfect Ellie was and just how devastated she was when Ellie went missing. She's harsh on her husband, and realizes it. There's no love lost when they split, certainly. But she doesn't quite realize just how far she's pushed her other children away. At least not until she has news to share with them: that she's met a man and might be falling for him.

And while it's not odd for Laurel to finally be moving on, what is odd is that this new man has a young daughter who doesn't just remind Laurel of Ellie, she's the spitting image of the missing girl.

As the reader, we're treated to Ellie's story. Chapters narrated by the teen slowly reveal exactly what her fate was as Laurel herself comes closer to the truth. And it's not a pretty story by any means, but it is a completely compelling one!

Jewell's knack is for creating stories that draw you in with both the overarching mystery but also the characters. They're flawed and real and so human. And that, paired with the question of what happened to Ellie, is the perfect combination for a story that sucks you in from the very start and doesn't let up until the end!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Releases 5/1/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka

Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson

The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel

Medusa Uploaded by Emily Davenport

The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden

Everything That Follows by Meg Little Rielly

See Also Proof by Larry D. Sweazy

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Mr. Flood's Last Resort by Jess Kidd

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

Two Steps Forwardby Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Whisper by Lynette Noni

Ship It by Britta Lundin

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Royals by Rachel Hawkins

New on DVD:
Peter Rabbit
12 Strong

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr

Tacker Hart was a golden boy in his home town. A football star who went to college for architecture, he's returned with his tail all but between his legs after he's sent home from a collaborative job in Nigeria. Of course what Tacker hasn't told anyone is that he was sent home after essentially being accused of going native. Now, with no direction and no goal, he's taken over managing one of his father's grocery stores while he tries to figure out what to do next. 

Kate Monroe knew Tacker in high school, everyone did. And when she runs into him in the grocery store, she hopes but doesn't expect to see him again. And when Kate finds old letters revealing a long held secret between her parents, Tacker is the one who offers her comfort. 

But Swimming Between Worlds isn't so much about Tacker and Kate and their relationship as it is about the flux their town is experiencing. Set in North Caroline in the late 50s, Tacker and Kate serve as good examples of a piece of the dynamic affecting the town, and the country, amid growing protest of segregation and separate rights.

Tacker grew comfortable in Nigeria, even wondering if he was more comfortable - and certainly more happy - there than he is at home. And when he witnesses firsthand terrible treatment of a black man in front of his store one morning, he's left wondering why things have to be the way they are.

Kate, meanwhile, is a good example of someone who hasn't really thought much about the circumstances. They are what they are and she hasn't had any reason to ponder over change until Tacker comes into her life.

Elaine Neil Orr's latest is a vivid and vibrant character-driven tale of race relations and change. And thought it's set during the Civil Rights Era, it's certainly still both appropriately eye-opening and thought provoking today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Warning Light by David Ricciardi

Happy book birthday to David Ricciardi whose debut, Warning Light, hits shelves today!

Zac Miller volunteered for Project Snapshot because he thought it would be easy. Relatively, anyway. The plan was to get a plane access into a restricted area so Zac could take a couple of pictures, all the while surrounded (and protected) by the rest of the plan's civilian passengers. But the plan goes awry almost instantly. 

Now Zac, a data analyst with no field training to speak of, is a suspected spy trapped in Iran. What's more, the very people who want him for questioning have made certain that his own people have doubts about him as well, making him the focus of two additional investigations in two more countries. 

Warning Light is fantastic fun! It's a spy origin story and the first in what I'm sure will be a great new series.

So, as mentioned, Zac is a data analyst. His involvement in the mission in question has been from behind a desk only but the agent who was supposed to head out in the field is pulled at the very last minute out of fear he'll be recognized. And timing is key because the area in question has recently been hit by an earthquake that's left massive damage and, coincidentally, the perfect opportunity to take a peek into an area the CIA believes could house nuclear weapons.

So Zac volunteers. Because he's sure it'll be in and out, no problem.

But of course this is a thriller and in and out would mean no plot!

I'll admit there's some amount of predictability in Ricciardi's debut. It is a spy thriller so if our spy is killed right off the bat there again wouldn't be much of a story. So it's expected that Zac will find ways out of tight spots. And though he's not exactly field trained, he does have a (forgive me) certain set of skills that helps him out along the way.

But in spite of the expectation that Zac will come out fairly unscathed, the tension throughout is spot on and the pacing is excellent. The best part, which I also saw coming, is that this is (again as mentioned) an origin story. Zac Miller's first mission in what'll surely be a long string of them (I hope). We get to learn a fair amount about him, his training, and a little of his background, but there's tons to mine for future novels.

It's appropriate that Lee Child blurbed the book - Zac may not be as experienced or even as suave as Reacher, but fans of that series are absolutely going to love David Ricciardi and Zac Miller!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New Releases 4/17/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Before Mars by Emma Newman

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

The Elizas by Sara Shepard

The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp

The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Noir by Christopher Moore

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin

Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

Head On by John Scalzi

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Ansten

New on DVD:
The Post
The Commuter
Humor Me

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Readers, Amy Lukavics has a brand new book coming out just in time for Halloween. Squee!

Here's a bit about Nightingale from Goodreads:

At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…

June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think this sounds completely amazing and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!

Nightingale is due out from Harlequin Teen in late September. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

The House on Harbor Hill by Shelly Stratton

It's Friday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Shelly Stratton's latest, The House on Harbor Hill!

Delilah Grey makes a habit of taking in boarders who need help. She picks them carefully, ensuring they're the right person, and helps them get back on their feet. Her latest, Tracey Walters. And Delilah's offer couldn't have come at a more perfect time for Tracey. 

After leaving her husband, Tracey has run out of money. Her landlord is done granting favors and she needs to find a new place to live. But the note from Delilah Grey sparks confusion and worry for Tracey, especially when she learns about Delilah's clouded past. 

In spite of that, Tracey, out of options, does decide to take Delilah up on her offer. Through friendship and support, Tracey finally starts to make progress at a new life. But when her past comes calling, her new haven could become a danger to them all. 

I loved this book and these characters so much!

First of all, this is the story of Tracey, trying to start a new life away from her abusive husband. Struggling to make ends meet and still provide for her family, she's done everything she can and still feels like she's falling short. So the note from Delilah Grey really does come at the perfect time.

Delilah's latest boarder has just moved on and, haunted by the ever deriding voice of her dead husband, she's ready to welcome someone new to her home. But Delilah's past hangs over her in more ways than that voice and even thought she was acquitted of murder, the locals who remember still hold it over her.

The story is told from both Delilah and Tracey's perspectives and transitions easily between the present and Delilah's past (1960 to be exact).

The mystery of Delilah's husband's murder is a large part of the tale as well, adding suspense to an already tense story. While I may have been slightly more partial to her as a character and her overall story, both women are beautifully wrought and hold their own, making the overall book well balanced and easy to sink into.

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

For more on Shelly Stratton 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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Worth Killing For by Jane Haseldine

Happy Wednesday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Jane Haseldine's latest Julia Gooden mystery, Worth Killing For.

A politician's nephew has been murdered and Julia Gooden is tasked with covering the story. An investigative reporter, Julia can't help but dig into the mystery surrounding the murder of Angel Perez, especially when evidence seems to support a serial killer who's been long silent. 

But her latest story is hampered by the realization that her con man father has returned to Detroit. Not only does his return leave a bad taste, so to speak, it brings up memories of a mystery much closer to home - the disappearance of her own brother. 

As it turns out, this new murder may be connected in some way and may finally offer Julia some closure. But her father's return also means Julia is a target of the very people he made enemies of so long ago. 

Interestingly enough, Worth Killing For is the third in the Julia Gooden series. Considering I was unfamiliar with the books, it's a good thing this latest makes for an easy starting point!

Julia is a tough as nails reporter - she'd have to be to have come out of the disaster of a childhood she grew up in. Her own sister wasn't so lucky and the disappearance of her brother has haunted her all these years.

When you add together the mystery of Ben's disappearance - the coldest of cold cases where one of the main witnesses (Julia herself) has literally no memory of the crime - with the bizarre beginning of the book, you have the makings of a gripping story.

And the book begins with a bang. Angel Perez is a college student struggling to make ends meet before he gets his degree. The degree means a good job with his uncle and he's just months from finishing, but in the meantime he and his pregnant girlfriend rely on any work Angel can get. Which is why he's waiting outside the home improvement store before it's even open, hoping to get picked for day labor. Unfortunately, Angel's luck has truly run out.

Figuring out the motive for a criminal whose tactics are... bizarre, to say the least, is part of the intrigue and the draw of this book. The rest is Julia!

Again, this is the third in the series but does work well as a stand alone. My understanding is that the series opener delves a bit more into Julia's past and specifically the fact that she's unable to remember what happened when Ben was abducted. If you want to start from the beginning, the series in order, so far, is:

The Last Time She Saw Him
Worth Killing For

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

For more on Jane Haseldine and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Sunday, April 8, 2018

New Releases 4/10/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

One Way by S. J. Morden

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valenti

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Circe by Madeline Miller

A Lady's Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen

Macbeth by Jo Nesbø

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown

Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist

New on DVD:
Molly's Game
Proud Mary
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
Phantom Thread

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

When I was a kid, I begged and pleaded my mom to order me the collector's/fund raiser edition of Anne of Green Gables from PBS when they aired the mini series adaptation of the book. I loved that mini series. I loved the story. And since then I've read and watched quite a few new takes on the classic tale as well.

So when I heard that Sarah McCoy, author of The Baker's Daughter, was penning a book about Marilla, I had to have it!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

Marilla of Green Gables is due out in October from William Morrow.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman

Frances is fine driving carpool. It staves off the loneliness of having the house to herself after her own three kids are all in school. But when one of the neighbors' kids forgets toilet paper rolls for a school art project, Frances finds herself in an awkward situation. Tiptoeing into said neighbors house, she's shocked to find the woman in a compromising position with a man who definitely isn't her husband. 

Anne is sure Frances won't tell anyone about her little affair. Her day to day life and her marriage have become so ho hum that the new, illicit relationship offers her new found confidence and something to look forward to. But what if her husband did find out - would it be worth it?

Iris desperately wants another baby, but she knows her wife Sara won't be on board. They're finally at a place with their six year old that they can enjoy nights out again. But Iris's baby blues are getting worse and even Sara can tell she isn't satisfied these days. 

Meanwhile, Bill has been keeping a secret from everyone around him. His neighbor Frances drives his son to school, but even she doesn't now where Bill's wife, Julie, has gone to. And he's not ready to tell. 

Abbi Waxman's latest explores the social politics of neighborhoods, family relationships, and spousal relationships in her latest and it's a hoot!

Waxman's talent for building fully fleshed characters that ring true to the reader is one that drew me in with her debut and one that is oh, so definitely still a stand out in her newest book. Each character, From Frances on down to little Lally and Lucas, jumps from the pages in startling reality. Their emotions, their motivations, their struggles, and their secrets are relatable and, in many cases, tug at your heartstrings. She understands people so much so that she has the ability to not only put together these fabulous characters on the page, but she knows exactly how to make the reader truly empathize with them, no matter what might be going on in their stories. Oh, and they're usually pretty funny!

The characters are what draws me and the humor is what keeps me, because let's face it, a book about various relationship issues and such could be a huge downer. And yet, the combination of that humor and those fabulous characters means that I'm right their alongside them and happy to be there even at the most tragic moments!

If you haven't treated yourself to Waxman's work just yet, I definitely recommend you do so immediately. Reading her work is such a pleasure!

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Jamey Bradbury's debut, The Wild Inside.

Tracy is never more comfortable than when she's out in the woods or running with her dogs. Now eighteen, she's finally old enough to run the Iditarod, but after getting expelled from school over fighting, her father has grounded her all but forbidding her to do the things she loves most. Even worse, since her mother's death he tells her there's no money for the fees involved in the race anyway. Frustrated, Tracy takes to the woods where she's attacked by a stranger. She falls, hitting her head and blacking out, remembering nothing but the look on the man's face. 

Later, when the same man stumbles out of the woods bleeding from an obvious stab wound, Tracy can't recall if she's the one who did it or not. Fearing the repercussions, she again takes to the woods to investigate only this time she finds a pack full of cash - enough to pay for her Iditarod registration and more. 

Tracy has more than enough secrets to keep and a new boarder at the farm adds to that pressure. But the boarder has secrets of his own and Tracy isn't sure if she and her family are entirely safe. 

This book was not at all what I expected.

First, there's the voice and style - no quotation marks (we've talked about that before), which makes determining dialogue between characters and internal dialogue on the part of Tracy, our narrator, difficult to say the least. Tracy herself has a very distinct voice that really does ring through the story as clear as a bell.

But Tracy herself is, as we soon learn, bordering on feral! Her parents can't control her, never have been able to apparently. They say it's because of the circumstances of her birth, which seems to be true considering she's more comfortable around the family's dogs than other people. Any attempts at restraining her or even punishing her (her grounding for being expelled, for example) only seems to make things worse.

But Tracy does connect with one person - the new boarder at the farm. Jesse Goodwin shows up just after the stranger Tracy may or may not have attacked in the woods is brought to the hospital. Tracy's father had advertised a shed for rent and Jesse is what turns up. Money is tight for Tracy's family since her mother's death, so Jesse offers much needed help around the property. But, as mentioned, Jesse is hiding things and Tracy is determined to find out what.

This is an odd story - a thriller with offbeat hints of almost supernatural aspects. One that's hard to sum up and even harder to categorize even simply for the purpose of identifying the kind of reader who will be drawn to the story.

I did love the setting and the vivid imagery used to describe Tracy's surroundings and I think Bradbury is a fantastic storyteller. But I am a little confused by what seems to be an attempt to pigeonhole the book as a thriller in the more traditional sense. Nothing in the book's synopsis in any way prepared me for the more odd elements and I fear a hard core thriller fan will be equally confused.

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

For more on Jamey Bradbury and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Sunday, April 1, 2018

New Releases 4/3/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan

The Wolf by Leo Carew

The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

American By Day by Derek B. Miller

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valenti

Varina by Charles Frazier

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee

The Window by Amelia Brunskill

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake

New on DVD:
Insidious: The Last Key

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Window by Amelia Brunskill

Jess and Anna may be identical twins, but they couldn't be more different. Anna is outgoing and well liked while Jess is quiet and only truly comfortable around Anna. In fact, Anna is Jess's best friend - they tell each other everything. But then Anna is found dead in what the police believe was an accident while she attempted to sneak out one evening, leaving Jess confused and heartbroken. Not only has she lost her sister, but it seems Anna was keeping secrets from Jess. Determined to find out, at the very least, why Anna was sneaking out, Jess begins digging into Anna's life. And soon it becomes clear, Anna wasn't the only one keeping secrets. 

Amelia Brunskill's debut is a amazing! And I do mean that. Plot is always key for me - I've said before that I'm not hugely into character driven novels but that I do like plot driven tales with strong characters. That's what The Window is. It's plot driven - what happened to Anna? - with an amazingly strong character and fabulous voice.

Jess is an odd duck. She makes no bones about this, readily copping to the fact that she avoids contact with people as much as possible. But the possibility of uncovering the truth about her twin's death forces her to socialize. She joins track, she starts talking to Anna's friends... things she would never have done before have become possible because she's motivated by discovering a truth no one else seems interested in.

It's not that Anna's death is questionable. It's clear she was sneaking out. But Anna was wearing a dress and smelled of lavender, something she admitted to Jess she dreamed about doing for a first date. So the idea that boyfriendless Anna was simply sneaking out to see her cross-country friend, and slipped and fell, is too simplistic for Jess. There has to be more.

Jess's voice is so strong and clear that she immediately pulls the reader in. We can't be sure, truly, if there is more to Anna's death or not. But Jess believes there is and trekking alongside her in her quest, the reader quickly becomes ensnared in this attempt to find the truth. Part of that, too, is experiencing Jess finally opening up to the possibilities around her.

The Window is a bit of a quiet book, but one that is definitely not to be missed. And Brunskill is someone I will be watching and anxiously waiting for more from!

The Window officially hits shelves on April 3.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

I mean, what could be a more intriguing beginning than that!?

Amber Reynolds is in a coma. She's been in an accident and is lying in a bed in a hospital. She doesn't know what happened and she can't speak to those around her. But she's aware of everything going on around her. As her sister and her husband visit and wonder what happened to Amber, she travels her memories leading up to the accident, revisiting her own past in an attempt to figure out what's going on. And the hints she picks up on don't point to anything good. Was she in an accident, as everyone says? Or was the accident anything but? And if the latter, who is responsible?

Sometimes I Lie is a thriller with the most unreliable of unreliable narrators. First, she's fully admitted on the opening page that sometimes she lies, which of course sets the reader up to wonder exactly what she's lying about and when. Second, she can't remember how she ended up in the hospital. She's an observer to her own present tense - one without all the information.

It's only in revisiting the events of her past that she can begin to piece together the pieces of her present.

The story alternates between Amber and childhood diary entries. We aren't sure, until the end that is, whose diary entries these are, but they add a massively dark tone to the book as a whole.

I had the chance to listen to this one on audio, narrated by Stephanie Racine. It was a short listen, one that I didn't want to turn off once I started. Trust me, I found plenty of activities to occupy myself so that it was permissible to listen almost straight through!

In the current trend of domestic thrillers with unreliable narrators, there have been some smash hits and some bombs. Fortunately Sometimes I Lie is a great one!

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Kate Rorick's The Baby Plan.

Nathalie has been planning for her pregnancy for quite some time. After three years of trying and thirteen weeks in, she's finally ready to announce that she's expecting. But her moment is stolen when her younger sister, Lyndi, barfs into the Thanksgiving cornucopia and steals the spotlight with her own pregnancy announcement. 

Lyndi hadn't planned on becoming pregnant. Nor had she planned to steal her sister's thunder. In fact, Lyndi has just been happily promoted. She has no plan or even any idea what to expect now that she's expecting. 

Sophia is also happy in her career and unexpectedly pregnant. In fact, she thought she was done, having had her own child at eighteen. But now, at 36, she couldn't be happier to be expecting again. But seventeen-year-old Maisey definitely isn't prepared to be an older sister. 

Kate Rorick's latest is a fun romp through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. All four women's stories collide and intertwine throughout as they navigate the changes in their lives and careers (not to mention the changes to their bodies) as their pregnancies progress. And each has their own hurdles to overcome.

Nathalie's husband has suddenly become distant and more career driven, putting off any discussions about their and the baby's future. Lyndi's haphazard way of stumbling through her own life extends into pregnancy, making her sister almost irrationally irritated. Sophia faces possible health issues as well as worrying about her daughter who's applying to colleges. And Maisey's whole world has basically been turned upside down - not all because of the baby, but the timing definitely isn't ideal.

I absolutely loved these characters! They couldn't be more different in terms of life choices, but pregnancy seems to draw them together. It doesn't hurt that Nathalie is Maisey's teacher! There are other connections as well, little things that draw each of them together as the story progresses and it was fun to see them each grow and find support in one another.

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

For more on Kate Rorick and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, March 25, 2018

New Releases 3/27/18

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

Death By Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Not That I Could Tell by Jesica Strawser

Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Invasion by Peadar O'Guilin

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

In Her Skin by Kim Savage

New on DVD:
I Remember You
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Shimmer by Carsten Stroud

Readers, I recently spent as much time as I could stretching out the Netflix show Dark. If you haven't watched, I highly recommend it - it's a German time travel mystery series that is absolutely fantastic. Like totally blew me away fantastic. And while I've read a few time travel mysteries - the amazing Man From Primrose Lane and the equally amazing Shining Girls - I'd already read those and Dark left me wanting even more!

So I was super excited to hear that Carsten Stroud's upcoming release, The Shimmer, is going to be a time travel mystery! Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

How do you hunt a killer who can go back in time and make sure you're never born?

A police pursuit kicks Sergeant Jack Redding of the Florida Highway Patrol and his trainee, Julie Karras, into a shoot-out that ends with one girl dead and another in cuffs, and the driver of the SUV fleeing into the Intracoastal Waterway. Redding stays on the hunt, driven by the trace memory that he knows that running woman--and he does, because his grandfather, a cop in Jacksonville, was hunting the same woman in 1957.Redding and his partner, Pandora Jansson, chase a seductive serial killer who can ride The Shimmer across decades. The pursuit cuts from modern-day Jacksonville to Mafia-ruled St. Augustine in 1957, then to the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1914. The stakes turn brutal when Jack, whose wife and child died in a crash the previous Christmas Eve, faces a terrible choice: help his grandfather catch the killer, or change time itself and try to save his wife and child.

The Shimmer is due out in June from Mira. And if you're like me and you've seen Dark and also want more to tide you over, check out The Man From Primrose Lane, Shining Girls, and maybe even Peter Clines's Paradox Bound - you'll thank me!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Short Fiction Friday: Guardian Angels & Other Monsters by Daniel H. Wilson

Technology, science, and humanity collide in Daniel H. Wilson's newest, a collection of shorts featuring bits and pieces of all three of those subjects.

In the opening tale, "Miss Gloria", a robot does its utmost best to save the child it's been created to teach and protect. In "Helmet" a boy learns the all too horrific truth about the electronic monsters that plague his world. "Parasite: A Robopocalypse Story" brings us back to the world of Robopocalypse and "One For Sorrow: A Clockwork Dynasty Story" brings us back to, you guessed it, A Clockwork Dynasty!

The book is a mix of previously published pieces and pieces new to the collection. "The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever", which finds a father racing home to be with his daughter as a disaster he's one of the few to recognize looms, appeared in Carbide Tipped Pens. "God Mode" appeared Press Start to Play, and the aforementioned "Parasite" actually appeared in 21st Century Dead.

Altogether, it's a really fantastic collection. Some of the tales are poignant and touching. Others are downright scary. All of them are utterly thought provoking and wonderful. I should note, too, that this is the first time Wilson's shorts have appeared together in one place. If you haven't read him before, this is a great starting place. And if you're a longtime fan, this is definitely a must have for your collection!

Here's the full TOC:

"Miss Gloria"
"The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever"
"Jack, the Determined"
"The Executor"
"Blood Memory"
"Foul Weather"
"The Nostalgist"
"Parasite: A Robopocalypse Story"
"God Mode"
"Garden of Life"
"All Kinds of Proof"
"One for Sorrow: A Clockwork Dynasty Story"
"Special Automatic"

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fingerprints of Previous Owners by Rebecca Entel

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Rebecca Entel's Fingerprints of Previous Owners.

Cruffey Island, aka Furnace Island, is a resort today but once upon a time it was a slave plantation. Myrna works at the resort by day and investigates the old ruins of the plantation by night. She's fascinated by the history and by the idea of uncovering the story of the island's earliest inhabitants who lived in the old ruins. But it's a history no one other than Myrna wants to dig too deep into. Soon, a new arrival to the island and new revelations about the violent history of the place spur conflict between the locals and the resort.

Rebecca Entel's debut is a confident and assured one. Her writing bleeds emotion but also has a spareness to it that makes it unique compared to similar tales.

The setting for the story is a fiction island, but the story is obviously one that draws influence from very real events. And while Entel herself is not Caribbean, as her main character is, her care and attention to her research and to giving voice to Myrna is obvious.

Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a good illustration of a larger issue - the history of slavery and the attempt to gloss over, or even sweep away that history in order to avoid uncomfortable conversations.

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

For more on Rebecca Entel 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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Releases 3/20/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage

Torn by Rowenna Miller

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

A Guide for Murdered Children by Sara Sparrow

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen

How to Fall In Love With a Man Who Lives In A Bush by Emmy Abrahamson

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

Tyler Rose Was Here by Jay Coles

New on DVD:
Pitch Perfect 3
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Death of an Unsung Hero by Tess Arlen - Excerpt + a Giveaway

This week marks the release of the fourth entry in Tessa Arlen's Lady Montfort mystery series. To celebrate, I've got an excerpt to share with you today as well as a giveaway. But first, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to get you started:

Lady Montfort and her pragmatic housekeeper Mrs. Jackson investigate a murder of a WWI officer with amnesia in the 20th-century English countryside.

Building on the success of her last three mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe in Death of an Unsung Hero with more secrets, intrigue, and charming descriptions of the English countryside.

In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer the dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Monfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.

This series is perfect for fans of Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear!

And now, for a little taste:

Death of An Unsung Hero
by Tessa Arlen

Chapter One

“How very nice, Mrs. Jackson.” Iyntwood’s elderly butler settled into his chair by the window. “Why, it’s almost like old times again.” George Hollyoak’s glance took in the claustrophobic and over-furnished room: shabby velvet chairs jostled with a heavy mahogany desk, taking up far too much space in front of the windows, both of which were swathed in heavy curtains in a dusty but strident red plaid.

The dowager Countess of Montfort had died two years ago and her character, or that of the late Queen Victoria, whom she had revered, was still heavily imprinted on the dower house furnished as a faithful replica of the old queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle. Bright and, to Mrs. Jackson’s flinching eye, brash tartans dominated most of the reception rooms on the ground floor of Haversham Hall.

Mrs. Jackson was encouraged to see George Hollyoak sitting in her new office. It had taken weeks to coax him to visit her and now after all sorts of silly excuses here he was. Though even with her old friend and mentor sitting at his leisure with a cup of afternoon tea in his hand it wasn’t really like old times, no matter how much they all wished it were. The war had changed everything. Her face must have reflected her thoughts as she followed his gaze around the oppressively furnished room. “Perhaps not quite like old times.” Her guest smiled as he observed a shaft of dust motes dancing thickly in the late summer sunlight. “I must say you are looking well, Mrs. Jackson, and so very smart in your uniform: Voluntary Aid Detachment or Red Cross?” This was the first time he had acknowledged that Iyntwood’s dower house had been transformed into an auxiliary hospital.

“The hospital comes under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross, but I trained with the VAD. I am not an assisting nurse, so I am spared the traditional starched apron and the rather claustrophobic cap,” she answered. Long aprons and linen caps, in her experience, were worn by cooks, and although Mrs. Jackson was not a snob, she was conscious of little things like rank and station.

In acknowledging Haversham Hall’s new status the old man evidently felt he might ask his next question. He leaned forward, curiosity bright in his eyes. “And how are you finding life in your new abode?”

Mrs. Jackson hesitated before she answered. She had never liked Haversham Hall; it was as overbearing as the Victorian age it had been built in and an ugly building in comparison to the Elizabethan elegance of Iyntwood. But she had made the adjustment from being a senior servant to Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the Earl of Montfort, at his principal country-seat, to the rank of quartermaster at Lady Montfort’s new hospital far more easily than she had anticipated. The real challenge had come when their first patients had arrived, but this was something she was not prepared to share with Mr. Hollyoak—not just yet.

“It is not as different as I thought it would be. Haversham Hall is not Iyntwood, but it is a building I am familiar with, and my duties here are similar to those of my position as housekeeper at Iyntwood.” That’s not strictly true, she thought, but it will do for now.

Her new job was not at all like her old one, any more than this hospital was like many of the others that had sprung up all over the country in the many private houses of the rich and titled, speedily converted to cope with an unceasing flow of wounded men from France. At Haversham Hall Hospital there were no wards lined with rows of beds, no operating theaters with trays of steel surgical instruments, or hastily installed sluices and sterilizers. Certainly there was an occasionally used sick bay and a first aid room in what was known as the medical wing, but they were merely a token adjunct. And it was these diferences that were the cause for Mr. Hollyoak’s initial reluctance to visit her and for his searching question, “How are you finding life in your new abode?” because Haversham Hall Hospital was not a conventional Red Cross hospital, not by a long stretch of the imagination.

She raised her teacup to her lips and took a sip. If she was to help a man whose conventions were deeply mired in the nineteenth century to understand the value of the hospital’s purpose, she must proceed with cautious tact. She decided to start with a prosaic description of the practicalities.

“I am responsible for the running of the hospital’s housekeeping and for ordering all supplies, which means I spend most of my time sitting at my desk filling in requisition forms; the bureaucracy of wartime, her ladyship calls it. But we have plenty of nice young women from the Voluntary Aid Detachment to help with the housekeeping as well as some of our nursing duties. And I certainly need to be well placed here on the ground floor of the house to supervise them.” She did not add “every step of the way” because that way of thinking made her resent how difficult it was to work with inexpert help. To go with her cheerful tone she exhibited her most optimistic smile. VAD girls from nice middle-class families were a nightmare to train in comparison to sensible, sturdy village women who were ready to roll up their sleeves and had no romantic illusions about their part in the war efort. 

Having given her visitor the briefest outline of her duties, she decided that she would wait for him to display genuine interest—enthusiasm would be too much to hope for—in what they were accomplishing here before she continued. She ofered Mr. Hollyoak a plate of sandwiches: delicate triangles of egg with cress. She had prepared them herself, mashing the hard-boiled egg finely with a narrow-tined fork and adding just the right amount of salt, pepper, and cress to spread on lightly buttered crustless bread. He took a sandwich and closed his eyes as he chewed and swallowed the first bite.

“Perfect,” he said and smiled his appreciation, “quite perfect. I need not say how much you are missed at Iyntwood.” He took another bite of sandwich and then slowly shook his head. “The house simply isn’t the same without you.”

And now for the giveaway! To win a copy of Tessa Arlen's Death of an Unsung Hero, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 26. Open US only and no PO boxes please.