Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What I've Been Up To...

Hi, readers! This'll be a personal post, updating y'all on the happenings around here - in other words, why it's been so long since I last posted a review!

Wes was born on November 22, Thanksgiving Day no less! I'll preface this by saying that we're all home and healthy. But we were lucky in a lot of regards.

After about 6 mos of trying, we found out we were expecting at the beginning of March. I'm pretty superstitious and took the test because it was the second in a two pack that had been staring me in the face every time I opened the bathroom cabinet. I expected it to say no... Surprise!

The pregnancy itself was pretty easy but I'm a worrier and I felt like each doctor's appt came with a new thing to add to the list! First there was the fact that I had no morning sickness or any other indication - except the positive test - that I was expecting, so waiting for the first appt at 9 weeks to confirm drove me a little crazy. Then there was the fact that I'm over 35 and the extra tests that went with that, the fact that I'm not in great shape and they wanted to test me for regular diabetes (which came back negative) in addition to the gestational diabetes test that would come later (also negative), oh and a little issue with my kidneys that led to me being sent to a specialist.

Through all the worrying, Wes was fabulous! But we did find out that I have a genetic disorder called Alport Syndrome. (Autosomal dominant for those of you who will google it.) The problem is that it presents the same as one of the key indications of preeclampsia and since I'd never been tested or diagnosed, it also meant being admitted to the hospital at almost 17 weeks pregnant for a kidney biopsy. Fun times.

After the biopsy and the genetic test confirmed what it was, it meant my blood pressure was pretty much the only thing the doctors could go by for preeclampsia. It also meant seeing a high risk doctor to monitor Wes's growth - upside is that we got an ultrasound at each visit, which meant I had less to worry about what with confirmation he was doing well every month.

I made it to 37 weeks before my blood pressure spiked high enough for real concern. They admitted me to the hospital (for one hour) to be monitored, with an eye to inducing if my bp didn't go back to normal. It did, but we skipped straight to two appts per week and my doctor scheduled an induction for week 39.

I'd hoped I would go into labor on my own before our Tuesday appt. But in spite of contractions all week prior to the appt, we checked in for the induction and found ourselves hanging out at the hospital watching The Office most of Wednesday waiting for things to progress.

I was adamant that I didn't want painkillers. Not out of any kind of sense of being able to handle the pain (I didn't have any clue what to expect) or determination to do it all naturally, but because I was convinced they wouldn't work and that the side effects wouldn't be worth it. But by the time the contractions really did hit, I was in so much agony we tried everything. At first, I was able to stand through them and then soak in the tub through them. But they started coming so hard and so close together that I was literally on the floor screaming in agony before long. Our hospital offered nitrous, which did nothing. I recall them telling me I had to get onto the bed before they could give me fentanyl, which I barely managed before yet another contraction hit. And I recall my feet were still hanging off the bed when it did. By this time they'd also stopped the pitocin and given me a drug to slow the contractions but neither offered me much relief - my husband says the combination of those and the fentanyl did give me more of a break between contractions but I was pretty out of it at that point.

What was worrisome was the fact that they couldn't seem to keep the monitors in a spot to pick up Wes's heart rate. And when they did, they found that his heart rate was dropping with each contraction but leveling off after each one ended. They were sure the contractions were putting pressure on the cord.

I got the epidural about 4:30 on Thursday morning and was able to get a little bit of sleep before the nurses changed shift at 7. They did turn the pitocin on for just one more contraction, which I felt in its entirety, and then it was time to push. The epidural wore off, y'all. My legs were numb at 4:30 and by the time I was pushing I was in pain again and the only residual effect of the meds were that my feet were the tiniest bit tingly.

An hour later, 11:31, Wes was born. And I was able to get up out of the bed and walk on my own, though they did wheel us to our recovery room.

As I said, though, we were lucky and it didn't quite sink in just how much until after. I was running a fever on one side of my face and they never did figure out why. Just before delivering, they also found that the cord had wrapped around Wes's neck. The delivering doctor was on top of it and, again, Wes was completely healthy even feeding fabulously from the very start. But, like I said, we were lucky.

Wes was labeled small for gestational age, which meant he had to pass blood sugar tests to show he was maintaining a healthy level between feedings. He passed and he only dropped 7% of his birth weight in the hospital. By the time he had his first peds appt the following Monday he was up to just 3% down and we were given the go ahead not to wake him for feedings anymore.

My blood pressure was on the high side in the hospital, so I'm not totally out of the woods for complications but apparently the further out from the pregnancy, the less worry there is. So so far so good as far as I'm concerned. And Wes was up to 6.5 lbs at his 2 week appt (which was at 11 days rather than 14), so he's peachy keen!

So that's it. That's what I've been up to.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Releases 11/13/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this month are:

Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama

Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

City of Secrets by Victoria Thompson

The Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson

Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

New on DVD:
The Meg
Mile 22

Monday, October 29, 2018

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sarah McCoy's Marilla of Green Gables, a prequel to the L.M. Montgomery classic!

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother 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.

The Marilla we meet in Anne of Green Gables is tough and seemingly hard hearted. She doesn't want Anne, they need help and she's set on a boy. But as that story moves forward, we come to know and love Marilla, seeing that it's not meanness but practicality and toughness. And yet, we don't really know anything about her childhood or exactly how she came to be a spinster living with her brother caring for him and the family farm. McCoy's book aims to address that!

We meet her here at 13. Her mother is very pregnant and Izzy, the aunt Marilla has never met, is arriving to help with the birth. And what a shock that is - Izzy is Marilla's mother's twin and no one ever told her! What's more, Izzy lives on her own in the city - no kids and no husband - running her own business. Marilla is in awe but is also wary of the new woman in her life. 

And then tragedy strikes and young Marilla's mother dies in childbirth. And everything in Marilla's life changes. 

I love that the idea for this novel came from the line in Anne's story where Marilla, in passing, mentions that John Blythe was once her beau. It's a line that's always stuck out to me as well and made me wonder exactly what twists and turns Marilla's life took along the way. As such, I quite enjoyed McCoy's version of her past. I will admit, though, that considering the fact that I'm nearing the end of my own pregnancy, this one a bit tough to read at the start. 

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

For more on Sarah McCoy 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


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies trade in death. But Frey and her three companions are tired of the killing. They're tired of being alone. They want more from life than this. 

When they hear of a beast killing relentlessly nearby - a creature even the finest warriors haven't been able to defeat - they set off in search of adventure and glory. For who better to battle a monster than someone who specializes in death? 

But their travels aren't easy and they are faced with challenges and tasks along the way that will test them in body and spirit.

Talk about a book hangover! April Genevieve Tucholke's latest is a gender flipped Beowulf that kept me turning pages during the wee hours (yes, thank you, insomnia) and left me wanting more after I'd turned the final page!

The interesting thing about Boneless Mercies is that it's not exactly a plot-driven story. Aspects of it are almost like The Canterbury Tales in a way: the four characters tell their own tales as they travel from where they begin to where they end up. So in that sense it's many stories within an overarching narrative.

The girls begin with a death and a decision: this kill is to be their last. They're young, amongst the youngest of the Boneless Mercies since the job hasn't drawn many others their age. Those that it has enticed have also been leaving of late to join another group our heroines come into contact with along the way. But they're trained and this is how they earn money. The alternative holds no appeal, which is why the Blue Vee Beast catches their attention. If they succeed, the reward is guaranteed to be enough to allow them to live free of mercy killing and other industries that draw those desperate for coin.

The world is steeped in Norse mythology with the classic sagas and, as mentioned, Beowulf, as its bones, but Tucholke definitely twisted those and made something new and unique in her tale beyond even our four female warriors. I adored it and absolutely everything about it and I hope beyond all hope that we're able to return to this world somewhere down the line!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The reports varied - they were supposed to have more time, their home would be under water for sure, their home would be safe after all...In the end, it didn't matter. She was in the hospital giving birth when the floodwaters came and their home, with it's newly decorated nursery, was no more.

So the new family - father, mother, and son - took refuge in the country. And then in a shelter. Before long, even that base had to be abandoned, leaving the still nursing mom to travel to safety alone with her son. All her efforts are in protecting and nurturing him. All her resources and her self are given over to him.

Survival is her only focus.

The End We Start From is short and spare - almost, and just barely not, a story in verse.

Characters are referred to by letters only: Z, R, etc. And the story is basic as bones in terms of overall narrative. There's a flood, it's cause is environmental, the family loses everything. What's not spare is the emotion given over to the story. And maybe even that is in actuality spare but considering I'm nearing the end of a pregnancy as we speak I couldn't help but feel the raw emotion while reading. The fear and the desperation as well as the love and determination in caring for and ensuring that the infant Z survives no matter what. That his life is affected as little as possible by something that has turned his family's lives upside down.

The End We Start From is short enough to read in one sitting but will stick with you long after.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Happy Thursday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Marjorie Herrera Lewis's When the Men Were Gone.

It's 1944 and Brownwood, Texas, a town all about football, is without a high school coach. With so much bad news, including the fact that most of the town's men over 18 are off fighting the war, football provides a bit of good cheer everyone can use. 

Tylene Wilson has been a fan of the game as long as she can remember and knows just as much about it as any man in town. And so she volunteers to coach. But what should be a godsend gets a fair bit of opposition throughout Brownwood. In spite of it all, Tylene sticks to her guns and eventually finds that the team rallies around her. Overcoming massive odds, it turns out most of the town does as well. 

When the Men Were Gone isn't all about football. In fact, you don't even have to be a football fan to enjoy the book (I consider myself a fan of concessions and junk food but not football, for example). But it is a lot about football, admittedly.

And yet, what I found most fascinating about the book is that it's based on a true story. You can read about the real Tylene in the book itself - the author, a former sports writer who dealt with a lot of the same attitudes Tylene does in spite of the fact that over 40 years had passed, includes a piece on the inspiration behind the book and how she first heard about Tylene. And like Tylene, the author went on to coach as well!

When the Men Were Gone is a slim read, easy to dive into and finish in one sitting. It's perfect for anyone looking for an inspirational feel good story!

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

For more on Marjorie Herrera Lewis and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele + a Giveaway

I've admitted time and again now that I'm a sucker for anything Rebecca inspired, and when I first stumbled upon mention of Lisa Gabriele's The Winters, I had to get my hands on a copy!

She's just a lowly worker at a resort in the Caymans when Max Winter arrives. And in spite of her boss's urgings, she can't help but fall for the man. Theirs is a quick and passionate courtship that culminates in a proposal just weeks after it all began, leaving her breathless with excitement and anticipation. But her arrival at Asherly, the Winter estate, is overshadowed by whispered stories of the famous Rebekah, Max's first wife. 

Dani, Max and Rebekah's teenage daughter, makes no bones about the fact that she's displeased to meet daddy's new girlfriend. But it's more than that. Can she ever live up to the expectations and comparisons of the mysterious Rebekah? Does she want to?

This modern-day twist on the classic Rebecca begins much the same as its predecessor. The unnamed narrator is working for an older woman when she meets the dashing Mr. Winter. In this case, Mr. Winter is a politician and the older woman runs a boating company that previously employed both our narrator and our narrator's father, who died owing money to his boss. The narrator has taken over repaying that debt.

Max Winter arrives and it's clear that he's to be catered to no matter what. And then the owner is called away and Winter insists our narrator be the one and only employee to tend to his needs. Which gets her in trouble with her boss, sort of.

And of course she can't resist the dashing Max Winter. He wines and dines her before admitting to paying off her debt and asking her to be his wife. But not before she's heard of Rebekah. And not before she's researched her on the internet and decided she can in no way compare to the former mistress of Asherly.

And it's with that doubt already niggling at the back of her mind that she agrees to become the new Mrs. Winter and leave behind the tropics for the life of a politician's wife at the Winter estate.

There are some twists to the tale. And of course the modern trappings of the internet and such. At heart, though, it's a recognizable tale and a great homage to one of my favorites of all time!

The Winters is out today but you can enter to win your very own copy here. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter before Monday, October 30. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 14, 2018

New Releases 10/16/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

New on DVD:
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Unfriended: Dark Web

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

November Road by Lou Berney

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Lou Berney's latest, November Road. 

Frank Guidry is a trusted part of the Marcello crime family. If a job needs doing, Frank gets it done. But Frank's latest job is destined to be his last thanks to circumstances beyond his control. Kennedy has just been assassinated and Frank has enough pieces to know that Marcello himself is behind it. So when Frank is asked to head to Houston to drop a car, he's well aware that he won't be coming back. 

Opting to stay alive rather than the alternative, Frank decides to run. But to do that, he needs to evade Marcello's connections long enough to get out of the country. When he runs into a single mom and her two kids, he thinks he may have found the perfect cover. He just didn't plan to fall for the woman. 

Charlotte has had it with her husband's drinking. Her life isn't the one she'd imagined and it's not what she wants for her daughters either. And so, she finally gets the courage to leave and head west. But her car has other ideas when it spins out on the road, stranding her little family in a tiny New Mexico town. And when a stranger offers help, she's just desperate enough to take it. 

Lou Berney's latest is an example of excellent storytelling! Set in 1963, in the days just after Kennedy's assassination, it's a story of crime and love. It's also a story of starting over.

Frank is a Cajun boy who's happy with his life in New Orleans. He has a fancy apartment, fancy clothes, and power. All things he's gained working for a local mob boss. The job has given him all the things he never had growing up but control isn't one of them. And so when he becomes an inconvenience, he's out.

Charlotte has tried and tried to make it work at home but has finally come to the realization that it'll never be enough. If she wants change, she's going to have to be the one to make it. This includes both her marriage and her career, neither of which are going anywhere in the small Oklahoma town she calls home.

They meet through coincidence but Frank's own scheming brings them together. The story moves fast, as is the case with all of Berney's books. It made for great entertainment during the wee hours as I fight insomnia in these last weeks of pregnancy, that's for sure!

I loved Frank and Charlotte. As I mentioned, Frank is a Cajun boy and I appreciated that little detail as a fellow Cajun. (And was glad Berney did it well.) Plus, even though he's not a great guy as outlined by his job and his actions in the beginning of the book, he is basically a decent guy who's put himself in a bad situation. In other words, it's easy to sympathize with him and want to follow his story. Charlotte is quite likable, as is her family, so she's a given one you want to get behind. Together, they drive the story and the reader's desire to see exactly how that story will play out.

Another excellent outing from Berney!

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

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, October 7, 2018

New Releases 10/9/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

November Road by Lou Berney

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

No Sleep Till Doomsday by Lauence Macnaughton

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levson, et al

New on DVD:
Eighth Grade
Hotel Artemis
Hotel Transylvania 3

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Murder on Millionaire's Row by Erin Lindsey - Excerpt and Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Today I have a super fun excerpt and giveaway for all of you - Erin Lindsey's debut historical mystery, Murder on Millionaire's Row.

Before we dive in, here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

Rose Gallagher might dream of bigger things, but she’s content enough with her life as a housemaid. After all, it’s not every girl from Five Points who gets to spend her days in a posh Fifth Avenue brownstone, even if only to sweep its floors. But all that changes on the day her boss, Mr. Thomas Wiltshire, disappears. Rose is certain Mr. Wiltshire is in trouble, but the police treat his disappearance as nothing more than the whims of a rich young man behaving badly. Meanwhile, the friend who reported him missing is suspiciously unhelpful. With nowhere left to turn, Rose takes it upon herself to find her handsome young employer.

The investigation takes her from the marble palaces of Fifth Avenue to the sordid streets of Five Points. When a ghostly apparition accosts her on the street, Rose begins to realize that the world around her isn’t at all as it seems—and her place in it is about to change forever.

This is to be the first in a new series and features some of my favorite things: ghosts and Pinkertons!

And now for a little taste:

Murder on Millionaire's Row
by Erin Lindsey

Chapter 1


As I tell you this story, I'll thank you to remember that I was young and in love. That's not an excuse, but if you're looking to understand what happened on that day in January 1886—what really happened, mind you, not the version you read in Harper's Weekly or The New York Tribune—then you ought to have the whole picture. So yes, i was nineteen years old, and yes, I had a blinding crush on my employer, one Mr. Thomas Wiltshire of 726 Fifth Avenue, and those facts together led me to make certain choices in those early hours, choices that might charitably be called naive. Some of the actions I took I'm not particularly proud of. But I wouldn't take a one of them back, either—which is saying a lot, considering how near they came to getting me killed. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I really ought to start at the beginning, which means I should say a little about where I'm from. If you're from around here, then you know that in New York, where you come from is everything. It defines your place in the world—your past, present, even your future if you let it. Why, just your name and address tell a stranger pretty much everything he cares to know about you. Not just where you live, but how: what parish you belong to, how much money you've got, where your people came from before they were Americans. He can even make a fair guess as to what you do for a living. Your name and address label you as a certain type of New Yorker, a creature with particular habits and distinctive plumage, not unlike a species of bird. Black-capped chickadee. Northern mockingbird. Italian fruit vendor. Chinese laundryman. So when I say that my name is Rose Gallagher of 55 Mott Street, well that's a whole story right there, and a common one at that. The story of an Irish girl from Five Points. 

What do those words conjure in your head? A photograph of some fair-haired, reedy thing leaning out of a tenement window to hang washing on the line while drunks and ragpickers loiter in the alley below? Well, you wouldn't be far from the mark. But there' more to me than that slip of a girl, just as there's more to Five Points than the vice and violence you read about in the papers. Oh. it's a wretched enough corner of the world, to be sure, but it's home. And it's where I learned that if you don't take care of you and yours, there's nobody else will do it for you. 

Which brings me back to the day Mr. Thomas Wiltshire disappeared, and everything I knew in the world went spinning down the drain. 

Murder on Millionaire's Row is new out on shelves this week! 

And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 15. Open US/Canada only. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

Happy Tuesday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Gretchen Anthony's debut, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners.

Every year Violet Baumgartner carefully pens a letter outlining the achievements and goings on in the Baumgartner family. And this most recent year was a doozy! Ready to announce the extravagant party for her husband's retirement, Violet could never have predicted exactly how that event would turn out. In its aftermath, she struggles to maintain control and a facade of calm but six months later that's proved to be almost impossible. 

A midwestern family saga filled with warmth, humor, and more than a little awkwardness, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners proved to be the perfect book for me to gobble up in the midst of what's been a truly hectic few weeks!

The book begins in June with police and bounces back to Violet's penning of the annual holiday letter just before the previous Christmas. Narrators include Violet herself, who's preoccupied with both her husband's retirement party and the charity gift drive she's running for her church; Violet's daughter, Cerise, who's got a surprise she's waiting to spring after the party; and Richard, the newly laid off husband of one of Violet's friends.

Through their eyes, the six months leading up to the start of the book play out, building the drama and humor every step of the way. And amongst the narration are missives and letters from the Baumgartners's past, illustrating the family happenings and accomplishments throughout the years.

I thought this was a truly fun read perfect for anyone craving a little bit of feel good this fall!

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners doesn't officially hit shelves until October 16, but trust me, this is one you want to snatch up just as soon as you can!

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

For more on Gretchen Anthony 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 | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

Good morning, readers! It's October 1 and I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Peter Gadol's The Stranger Game.

It's been over two months since Rebecca heard from her ex, Ezra. Even though they're separated they've never gone this long without speaking. And when Rebecca turned up at Ezra's apartment, his landlord said he'd missed his rent, so she knows something's up. 

The police don't seem terribly worried, though. In fact, when they find out he'd been playing the stranger game, they're even less worried. 

The game, designed under the auspices of connecting people in this disconnected digital world, intrigues Rebecca and she begins to play herself, following strangers and abiding, mostly, by the rules laid out online. But as she continues to play, she finds the game has become something more and the people who are playing aren't necessarily interested in the rules at all. 

I expected much more of a thriller out this one based on the description.

And it is a thriller, in a way. But it's also much more of a literary slow burn and a social commentary.

It's also creepy from the very start - the idea that there are people out there randomly selecting strangers to follow. It seems innocent in the beginning. They're not supposed to interact at all. They're never supposed to follow the same person more than once. And the game appeals to Rebecca especially because she's already had plenty of experience imagining the lives of those around her, something the game allows her to expound upon even more.

And you can't tell me, readers, that the thought of someone randomly stalking you - even innocently - doesn't scare the ever living pants off of you! You can see the appeal and the thriller aspect, then.

But the idea that the game is supposed to connect people in a time when everyone is so obviously not connecting does also kind of force you to think about the current atmosphere. And it's almost as uncomfortable a feeling as the idea someone might be watching you!

The Stranger Game is an odd read, but one that is undeniably hard to put down and hard to shake once you've finished.

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

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


Sunday, September 30, 2018

New Releases 10/2/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlaine

The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

Devil's Day by Andrew Michael Hurley

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

The Silver Scar by Betsy Dornbusch

Dracul by Dacre Stoker & J. D. Barker

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

The Truth About Martians by Melissa Savage

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Dry by Neil Shusterman & Jordan Shusterman

After the Fire by Will Hill

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

New on DVD:
The First Purge
The Catcher Was a Spy
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Leave No Trace

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Well there's definitely a fall bite to the air by now here in Colorado. I'm a true summer gal but fall does stand a very close second as my favorite season. In fact, I could do with just summer and fall year round - I hate winter and spring!

Fall makes me think of Halloween and high school football games - even though I'm not a fan of football, Friday nights spent in the stands with my bandmates and junk food concessions will probably forever hold a place in my heart. 

And while I love to read horror year round, fall demands it! And so I was super excited to find out that Katherine Arden, yes, The Bear and the Nightingale Katherine Arden, had written a middle grade ghost story!

Eleven-year-old Ollie is happiest spending her time between the pages of books. So when she stumbles upon a woman just about to toss a book into the river, Ollie decides she must save the tome. 

When she gets home, she dives in, discovering a story about two brothers who'd fallen in love with the same woman. One night, one of the brothers makes a deal with someone called the smiling man, a deal that would grant the brother's wish in exchange for a promise to be cashed in at a later date. 

In the middle of reading the book, Ollie and her school take a trip to a local farm that bears a marked resemblance to the one in Ollie's book. And when she finds a graveyard with tombstones matching the names of the people in her book, she begins to suspect the story might hold a little bit of truth. 

When the school bus breaks down leaving the farm, their teacher leaves to find help. The day grows darker and the bus driver issues an ominous warning that prompts Ollie and two others to leave the bus behind. But as they try to make their way back to the farm and possible help, the night and the things they've been warned against begin to close in...

Small Spaces is meant for middle grade readers, but that doesn't mean there wasn't enough for this adult to enjoy. I even got the occasional hair on end tingle as I was reading!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison + a Giveaway

Happy Wednesday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for J.T. Ellison's latest, Tear Me Apart.

Mindy Wright is at the top of her game. On the cusp of almost guaranteed placement on the Olympic team, though, an accident on the slopes leads to a broken leg and surgery. Which leads to a shocking discovery - Mindy has cancer. Aggressive treatment and a stem cell transplant are her best options, but her family aren't matches. Which isn't unusual. What is unusual is that Mindy and her parents have no matching DNA at all. 

Convinced there was a hospital screw up, Mindy's aunt, Juliet, has the test run again. There's no mistake. Biologically, Mindy isn't Juliet's niece. Determined to find out what's happening, Juliet insists on an investigation. Maybe Mindy the hospital made a terrible mistake. Maybe Mindy was switched at birth and maybe there are biological family members out there who can help. But Mindy's mother is insistent that Juliet stay out of it. And when she finally offers an explanation, it's one Juliet can't possibly believe is true. 

Now Juliet must decide, should she risk everything to try and find Mindy a match? Even when it might threaten her career and her family? Even when, as it starts to become clear, it might threaten her very life?

Any time I start a new J.T. Ellison title there's one thing I can be sure of: it's going to be great! And Tear Me Apart certainly maintains that winning streak. From page one, the reader is absolutely sucked into the story. Which is great because 4am insomnia calls for something that gripping!

Mindy is a seventeen-year-old wunderkind. A skier whose talent is without question. And after training hard her entire life, she's at the peak of fitness and her career. But an accident threatens all of that.

She and her parents are assured the break is clean - Mindy will ski again. But that's before they find cancer in her blood. Now her parents are worried she may not survive.

Which is why her aunt, a geneticist with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, is determined to do whatever she can to help. Mindy's only family outside of her parents, Juliet adores her niece and will do anything she can. And she's shocked when she finds out none of them is a DNA match, much less a donor match for the girl.

Juliet has the scientific know how and the resources to do something about it, but ethically her hands are tied when her sister refuses to give permission. Which is strange considering Juliet knows Mindy's mom would also do anything to save her daughter.

Interspersed throughout Mindy's story are chapters set right around Mindy's birth in 1993. Two girls - one voluntary and one not - in a psychiatric facility. How and why their story ties in becomes clearer as the book progresses, but Ellison holds her cards close, only truly revealing the big why, how, and who of the overall mystery until the very end.

And I loved every single page!

If you're a fan of truly great thrillers, you need to be reading J.T. Ellison. And this is a perfect place to start!

Now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 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 J.T. Ellison 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, September 25, 2018

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Hester Fox's debut, The Witch of Willow Hall.

Lydia is just a girl when the power she holds first rears its head. And though she can't remember exactly what happened, she knows she's never to lose control again. 

Years later, it's not Lydia but her older sister who causes a stir. As a result, the family leaves Boston to live in New Oldbury, a mill town where their father has built a summer home that will now become their permanent residence. The area around their new house is rumored to be home to ghosts and goblins, rumors that pique Lydia's youngest sister's imagination. But there's no way around the fact that they've run to Willow Hall to escape scandal.

As time passes, it becomes clear there might be something to the rumors that surround the estate. And Lydia begins to find it harder and harder to hide what she is. 

The Witch of Willow Hall is a rich and atmospheric historical read. It's also one bound up in quite a bit of unexpected plot twists.

Fox does an excellent job building up the mystery around Lydia and Willow Hall as well as the scandal that forces her family out of Boston. As the story progresses, a hint of ominous dread grows stronger with each page.

The Witch of Willow Hall doesn't officially hit shelves until next Tuesday, so be on the lookout! 

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

For more on Hester Fox 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 | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, September 23, 2018

New Releases 9/25/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Hippie by Paulo Coelho

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Red War by Vince Flynn

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

The Agony House by Cherie Priest

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney

The War Outside by Monica Hesse

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

New on DVD:

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Way back in 2013 I had the chance to review Yangsze Choo's debut, The Ghost Bride. It was a phenomenal read and one of my favorite books. And now she finally has a new book due out!

Here's a bit about The Night Tiger from Goodreads:

When 11-year-old Ren's master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master's soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace.

Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother's Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin's dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner.

As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren's lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love. Braided through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order

I fully expect this will be equally as fantastic is Choo's first outing and can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

The Night Tiger is due out in February from Flatiron Books.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Short Fiction Friday: Eight Ghosts by Rowan Routh - Repost

Hi, all! Last Christmas I received a fantastic collection of ghost stories printed in the UK as a fund raiser for English Heritage. Well, this week the US got their own edition and I wanted to go ahead and plug the book again for Stateside audiences!

Eight authors, eight spooky historic sites...

Imagine being given free reign of an historic and possibly haunted location in the English countryside. It's a horror fanatic's dream! It's also the basis for Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories, a collection put together by English Heritage, the organization responsible for preserving and caring for historical sites throughout England. Eight authors were chosen and each given access to a site of their choosing as inspiration for an original short ghost story to be included in the collection.

Here's the full TOC:
"They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek" by Sarah Perry - Audley End
"Mr Lanyard's Last Case" by Andrew Michael Hurley - Carlisle Castle
"The Bunker" by Mark Haddon - York Cold War Bunker
"Foreboding" by Kamila Shamsie - Kenilworth Castle
"Never Departed More" by Stuart Evers - Dover Castle
"The Wall" by Kate Clanchy - Housesteads Roman Fort
"As Strong as Death" by Jeanette Winterson - Pendennis Castle
"Mrs Charbury at Eltham" by Max Porter - Eltham Palace

I thought this was a truly fantastic collection of creepy tales! It's not often that I really love every story in an anthology like this, but in this case I really did.

Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent, and Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, offered up two of my hands down favorites, though. In the first, an art conservator is hired for a job that has terrifying results and in Haddon's tale, people are plagued by memories of another time.

The other tales range from chilling - Max Porter's entry about a woman revisiting the site of her sister's disappearance - to the heart wrenching - Kate Clanchy's tale of a family visit to Housesteads Roman Fort - and everything in between. There's an actress who takes method acting a bit too far in Stuart Evers's tale, a wedding that's crashed by a departed soldier in Jeanette Winterson's delightful tale, a security guard who didn't believe in ghosts before his latest posting in Kamila Shamsie's story, and a lawyer faced with terrifying visions of death in Andrew Michael Hurley's entry.

Trust me, each and every one is fabulous and fabulously eerie!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Kris made a name for herself in the 90s as part of Dürt Würk, a heavy metal band whose cult following had pushed them to the brink of success. But rather than finding fame, the band fell apart and it was lead singer Terry Hunt who ended up with all the glory. 

Twenty years later, Kris is barely squeaking by with a job at a crappy motel, a care that barely runs, and a house she's about to lose. And that's when she sees it - a billboard announcing Terry's return to the stage and an all our rocktastic final tour. It's the push Kris needs to finally do something. To finally confront Terry about what happened all those years ago. 

But Kris soon finds that some things are better left unknown. And some betrayals are far worse than you can ever imagine. 

Heavy metal and horror collide in this latest from Hendrix, a terrifying tale about how far one would go to make their dreams come true.

Grady Hendrix is not only an expert in analyzing the horror genre, he's proven himself an expert at writing it too. And yes, I do mean expert. Three books in and all three have hit my favorites list, that qualifies him in my mind.

I honestly wasn't sure when I dove into this one. Sure, Horrorstör was flat pack paradise of ghosts and My Best Friend's Exorcism thoroughly creeped me out while also appealing to my 80s obsessed nature, but heavy metal is most emphatically NOT my thing, so even I had some reservations in getting started with this latest. But given he hasn't let me down, I was excited none the less. And it was worth it!

Kris is in a dead end job, living in a house that's literally being sold out from under her. She really has no friends, no connections at all, and no direction. And part of that is thanks to the fact that she's been facing the fact that she had it all and was on the brink of a big music career, and lost everything. And the how of that particular storyline is part of the book but it's clear from the time that she sees Terry's billboard that she believes Terry is the cause of her downfall.

And thus begins her dark and horrific adventure!

This was a fabulous horror read, y'all. Super fun and super fast paced. Also, creepy as all get out! An instant favorite for any horror fan!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

New Releases 9/18/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Eight Ghosts ed by Rowan Ruth

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hossein

Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Worldshaper by Edward Willett

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Legion by Brandon Sanderson\

What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal

New on DVD:
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Fahrenheit 451

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Stephen Giles's The Boy at the Keyhole.

It's been over sixteen weeks since Samuel's mother traveled to America to secure financing for the family business. Over 115 days since she left her nine-year-old son in the care of the family maid, Ruth. 

Samuel longs for his mother's return and lives for the infrequent postcards that make their way overseas and into his hands. And he tracks her travels with each new missive. But as the days continue to pass, the situation at home becomes stressed. Ruth's actions and attitude have become suspicious and Samuel begins to become convinced that maybe his mother isn't traveling at all. Maybe Ruth has done something. And maybe Samuel's mother is never coming home. 

The Boy at the Keyhole is a deliciously paced tale of psychological suspense.

The story plays out with an intentional slowness - as Samuel's suspicions begin and grow, the story becomes more ominous and the reader can't help but believe that Samuel may be onto something. May be. That doubt is always there considering the narrator is a nine year old and no adult perspective is given. But that what if drives the story in such a way that you just have to get to the end sooner rather than later to find out!

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

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

New Releases 9/11/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Lies by T.M. Logan

The Devil's Wind by Steve Goble

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar

State Tectonics by Malka Older

The Late Great Wizard by Sara Hanover

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit by Amy Stewart

The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

Rule by Ellen Goodlett

New on DVD:
Ocean's 8

Friday, September 7, 2018

When the Lights Go Out By Mary Kubica

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Mary Kubica's latest, When the Lights Go Out.

Jessie Sloan's mother has died. She'd been sick for years, so long that Jessie had spent the latter part of high school and all of her adult life so far helping to care for her, putting her own plans on hold. But now it's time to move on. Time to get a place of her own (she can't bear to be in her home without her mother) and time to start thinking about her future. 

But when the college she's applied to calls to tell her that there's a problem with her social security information, Jessie's plans come to a screeching halt. Her attempts to clear up the matter only result in more questions, leaving her in a position where she must question everything she knows about her mother and her own past. But as she tries to unravel the mystery behind her own identity, insomnia sets in. And Jessie knows that she can only go so long without sleep. 

I've long heard that Mary Kubica was an author I needed to add to my reading plans. Unfortunately I think maybe this wasn't the best book for me to start with.

The book begins with Jessie's mother dying in the hospital. And Jessie has refused to sleep in case she missed her mother's final moments. But even in the wake of her mother's death, she still fights against sleep or flat out can't sleep at all.

She moves into a new apartment where she swears she hears things in the middle of the night, leaving her on guard. And then there's the problem with her school registration. Jessie never had a bank account and her job pays her in cash under the table, so she's never faced any issue associated with her social security number. But without her mom there to ask, it's left to her to figure it out. Her first step is to request her own birth certificate but apparently that's not possible either because she has so little information about herself, including her own father's identity.

With no family left and no one to turn to, Jessie's task is already a difficult one. But the lack of sleep makes everything so much more complicated.

Jessie's story is intriguing. And the insomnia aspects in particular appealed to me considering I'm a long time sufferer myself and can empathize with what she's going through. And her chapters alternate with a second story, that of a woman so desperate to have a child that she'd do anything.

The parallels between the two women in the story and their desperation are the driving force of the story, but the ultimate twist at the end was, to be honest, a let down. It's one I've seen too many times and one I've complained about almost as many times as I've seen it. I won't say what it is because I realize it's a personal opinion and I definitely don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but I was rolling along just fine and enjoying When the Lights Go Out until it was revealed. Which is a shame because for 95% of the book I could see exactly why so many people are fans of Kubica's work.

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

For more on Mary Kubica 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 | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sarah Pinborough's latest, Cross Her Heart.

Lisa worries about her daughter too much. She knows this, but it's something she can't really help. Ava is sixteen, almost done with school, and needs her independence. Lisa tries not to be too clingy, tries to let Ava be the almost adult she is, tries to trust her daughter. But Lisa has a secret. A reason she worries so very much about Ava and everything else. A reason she keeps to herself. Something she won't even tell her one and only friend. And one day, Lisa is sure that secret is going to come out. 

Ooh, each new Sarah Pinborough release is a treat! A dark and nasty little treat, to be sure, but a treat nonetheless.

Even after reading her for all these years, I'm never quite sure where she's going to take a story. This latest, is a perfect example. It begins innocuously enough - Lisa is a single mom trying her best to take care of her teenage daughter, Ava. Ava wants independence and is starting to get annoyed by her mother's clinginess. And Lisa's friend, Marilyn, wants Lisa to finally begin to live her life a little. Which is why she encourages Lisa when a client begins to show romantic interest.

Seems normal enough, right?

But shortly after the story begins, Lisa's facade reveals cracks the reader can't help but suspect are coming. She's worried about new cars on her street, she pays a little too much attention to the people and details around her.

I mean really, if you've read Pinborough at all then you know nothing is ever innocuous with her. The expectation that something is coming just around the corner is what I enjoy most about reading her books. And this one is dark - darker perhaps than any of the others I've read by her before.

Pinborough is a fabulous author and I'm so glad that she's finally getting the attention she's been due here in the US. Any fan of dark thrillers should be running to their local bookstore to get their hands on this one!

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

For more on Sarah Pinborough and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

After her sister was murdered and the police didn't catch the killer, Sadie decided it was time for her to take charge. See, she knew who killed Mattie. She knew exactly who was responsible. And she knew the kind of monster he was too. But that didn't matter, because she was going to make him pay.

A year later, Sadie's all but official guardian has contacted West McCray, the host of a radio show that once featured Sadie's hometown as part of a feature on America's forgotten towns. She knows that something is wrong, that Sadie didn't just run away, and she want's West's help to find her. The investigation kicks off a new podcast called "The Girls," but West has his doubts from the start. Sadie's car was found with all of her possessions still inside and no trace of the girl has been found otherwise. Surely if Sadie wanted to be found, she would have been by now?

Sadie is a dark read - really dark, so if you're a reader who needs trigger warnings, this one comes with a whole slew!

The book takes place in two separate timelines. As mentioned, when West begins his podcast, Sadie has already been missing for quite some time. But Sadie's story begins when she sets off to track down her sister's murderer.

It was an interesting set up. Given that the podcast is set later and Sadie is still missing, the reader does start the book with a sense of dread that only grows as the story continues. What happened to Sadie? Even as her story moves forward, that question nags at the back of your mind!

Sadie is one of the most talked about books of the season and I can easily see why now. It's a book that really straddles the line between YA and adult, with plenty to appeal to both audiences. Plus, as mentioned, it's super dark!

This was one of my latest audio listens and I have to tell you, it was a whole production! Each character was a different voice actor, there were sound effects, there was music. I'm not kidding, a whole production!

Sadie is out today and if you're a fan of dark and twisted, you're going to want to pick this one up!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

New Releases 9/4/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

The Lost Queen by Singe Pike

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

The Chrysalis by Brendan Deneen

In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

The Blood Road by Stuart MacBride

Foe by Iain Reid

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart

Worlds Seen In Passing: 10 Years of Tor.com Short Fiction ed by Irene Gallo

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Kate White

Sunrise Highway by Peter Blauner

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

Sadie by Courtney Summers

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

24 Hours In Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter

New on DVD:
Won't You Be My Neighbor

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn

The remote settlement of Estuary has an issue: one of the family groups wants help to rebuild their home and the rest of the families have refused. Normally this kind of dispute wouldn't fall to an investigator, but Estuary doesn't have a committee of its own to settle arguments. And so Enid and trainee Teeg have been sent to look into the matter and make a decision. 

It's clear from arrival that Semperfi's home is doomed and so it should be a quick in and out, leaving Enid enough time to make it home for the birth of Serenity's new baby. But all hopes of a quick resolution are quashed when the body of a young woman is found near the crumbling abode. 

No one in Estuary claims to know the girl but it's clear she was murdered and Enid sees it as her responsibility to solve the case. Her job is complicated by the fact that no one in the settlement is talking. And when they do, it's to point fingers at the one house that was involved in an investigation over two decades ago - an investigation that has no bearing on the murder. 

This follow up to Vaughn's Phillip K. Dick Award winning Bannerless returns readers to the post apocalyptic setting of Enid's world.

This is a future well beyond our present. In this time, a home like Semperfi's is actually a relic from our time. Society has rebuilt itself into small settlements, connected by a well-traveled road and a governing body and set of rules meant to pay heed to available resources, rewarding those who use those resources well and restricting those who don't.

As in its predecessor, one of the driving forces in Estuary is the earning of banners, which allows a household to have children. But more than that, the struggling community relies on helping one another and the head of Semperfi feels his house has done its part helping others and deserves the same in return.

Again, this isn't the kind of thing any investigator would normally be tasked with. And Estuary is about as far as one can get on the Coast Road, which means Enid is a long way from her home. Circumstances aren't convenient either since Enid's home has earned its own banner and the baby is due any day. But Enid takes her job seriously and her name was up on the roster when the request for mediation came in. And she takes her job even more seriously when a body is discovered.

A lesser investigator might shirk off their duty by tackling the easiest route to identifying a suspect, but Enid has already proven herself as a true investigator in this world - one focused on getting to the truth of the matter rather than the simplest solution.

And again, it doesn't really earn her any friends! Which is why I like her and this series so much :)

Of course the other reason I love this series is the setting. I'm an admitted sucker for post apocalyptic stories and anything with a mystery element catches my eye. Taking away the benefit of labs and forcing the character to rely on the most basic investigative measures - pure and simple questioning and instinct - makes this a less flashy mystery series, but one that gives the characters a chance to really shine.

If you didn't know, Bannerless came out of a short story Vaughn wrote (which is part of her collection Amaryllis and Other Stories). She's also got a prequel short to the series up on Tor.com for free, you can check out "Where Would You Be Now?" here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII

Fall is right around the corner! In fact, we're already feeling it a bit here in Colorado. Just a teensy bit :)

Of course for me, this year, fall means the baby is almost here, but that's not curbing my craving for all things dark and creepy. So I'm signing on once again for the Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) challenge.

Here's the info per Book Chatter, the official host this year.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
Dark Fantasy

The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

The goals are simple.

1. Have fun reading.

2. Share that fun with others.

As we do each and every year, there are multiple levels of participation (Perils) that allow you to be a part of R.I.P. XII without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives. There is even a one book only option for those who feel that this sort of reading is not their cup of tea (or who have many other commitments) but want to participate all the same.

Multiple perils await you. You can participate in just one, or participate in them all.

Peril the First:
Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (our very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson or Tananarive Due…or anyone in between.

Peril the Second:
Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the challenge categories.

Peril the Third:
We all want you to participate. This Peril involves reading one book that fits within the R.I.P. definition.

Peril of the Short Story:
We are fans of short stories and our desire for them is perhaps no greater than in autumn. We see Jackson in our future for sure! You can read short stories any time during the challenge. We sometimes like to read short stories over the weekend and post about them around that time. Feel free to do this however you want, but if you review short stories on your site, please link to those reviews on our RIPXII Book Review pages.

Peril on the Screen:
This is for those of us who like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows, or your favorite film. If you are so inclined, please post links to any R.I.P.-related viewing you do on our book review pages as well.

Peril of the Review:
Submit a short review of any book you read and you may see it here on the blog! Again, you may participate in one or all of the various Perils. Our one demand: enjoy yourself!

I'll be tackling Peril the First, Peril of the Short Story, and Peril on the Screen (while also trying to save some for 30 horror films in 30 days challenge).  

The challenge begins September 1 and runs through October 31. If you're interested in signing on, you can do that here