Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lido by Libby Page

Rosemary Peterson has been swimming at her local lido since the day it first opened. A neighborhood landmark, the open-air pool (and cafe and yoga studio) is a workout spot and meeting place that welcomes everyone. But as the local council explains, it's costly to maintain and money has become tight. So when a private company offers to buy the land, with plans to tear the lido down and build a condo and private facility in its place, Rosemary is just one of the people hoping to convince the council otherwise.

Kate Matthews is lonely in Brixton. Regular panic attacks and a lack of nearby friends makes it hard to get out and socialize. But all of that changes when she's tasked with covering the lido story for the local paper. Her first assignment is to interview Rosemary for a human interest piece on the pool. And it's just the first of many. As more people catch wind of the lido's possible demise, Kate suggests a series that spurs the locals and the fight to save the lido. And as she finds that as she and Rosemary become closer, the lido and her new friends become just as important to Kate as well.

Libby Page's debut is a charming feel-good read perfect for melting the hardest of hearts!

The story alternates between Kate and Rosemary and present day and past - particularly Rosemary's story with her husband George who's passed away by the time the book begins. Theirs is a sweet love story - they met after the war when he'd returned from being evacuated to the countryside, married, and lived in the apartment Rosemary still resides in as the story takes place. All the while, the lido was an integral part of their lives.

Interspersed throughout are chapters about the various locals who also escape to the lido, giving the reader a chance to get a feel for the community as a whole. With the lido as its heart, Kate and Rosemary's corner of Brixton comes to life through the story of the local bookstore, the local grocer, even the bar that was once George's own shop, and the people who live and work there.

It's a story of community and friendship in particular. But it's also the story of Kate coming into her own. Kate is quiet and very much focused on taking up as little space as possible. Escaping notice. Except when it comes to work. And the series not only forces her to come out of her shell - Rosemary grants her an interview on the promise that Kate will swim at the lido - it also gives her a chance to believe in herself for the first time.

The Lido is such a sweet story, one that I absolutely highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun read that'll give them all the warm fuzzies!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The High Season by Judy Blundell

Ruthie loves her home in Orient. She and her husband have spent years fixing the place up and making it perfect. But in order to afford the house on her museum salary, it means renting it out to high end travelers every summer. The money made in those few months is enough to cover taxes and upkeep and get them through until the following year.

This summer the house is being rented out to none other than Adeline Clay. The gorgeous widow of artist Peter Clay - Ruthie's one-time employer - has taken the house for the entire summer, eschewing her current flame's request that she spend the months in the Hamptons with him instead. And Adeline's arrival in Orient is just one of many things that spell trouble for Ruthie's carefully built life.

Ruthie and her husband - always on the brink of getting back together - couldn't be further apart, Ruthie's teenage daughter is having issues with her friends, and even the job Ruthie loves may be in jeopardy. As the summer slips by Ruthie's life is altered in unexpected ways and it seems nothing will ever be the same again.

The High Season is as intoxicating and entrancing as a perfect summer evening!

So Ruthie and her husband inherited their house in Orient. And never really could afford it. The solution was to put it up for rent each summer, using the money to pay the ever increasing taxes and costs of maintaining and fixing up the place. And it was an existence that was fine with Ruthie. But at the point the story begins both her husband and her teenage daughter have grown tired of it.

And yet their existence is still ok. Ruthie's husband has stuck around in spite of their being separated. Ruthie is happy with her job and her situation. But this particular summer everything falls apart. Ruthie's husband begins to become distant, her daughter is going through some things she won't open up to Ruthie about, and the job she's worked so hard on for so long isn't as secure as Ruthie once thought.

Through all of this, she's faced with Adeline Clay. Everyone locally wants to woo Adeline, including the museum Ruthie works for. But Ruthie's history with Adeline's ex is something that Ruthie has tried hard to put behind her, something Adeline's presence makes quite difficult.

And as Adeline becomes more and more popular in Orient, it begins to seem to Ruthie that Adeline is gaining everything Ruthie herself is losing.

It's hard not to sympathize with Ruthie even though her situation is one of her own making. Her summer is something of a train wreck and it's pretty impossible to look away. But she's humanized also, meaning that even though as a reader we're able to see Ruthie's missteps, it's easy too to imagine making the same mistakes ourselves.

Also, Ruthie is more down to earth and real than many of her other Orient counterparts. There's a level of snobbery to the story that would be overwhelmingly off-putting without Ruthie's more balanced normalcy.

I loved the social commentary, I loved the setting, and I really loved the fact that this is such a summer read! It did make me long for the beach and/or a pool to read alongside, though :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann

It's my favorite time of year, y'all: Susan Spann's latest book birthday!!!

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for the latest installment in the Hiro Hattori series, Trial on Mount Koya. 

In the aftermath of the events at Iga, Hiro has been tasked with traveling to Myo-in, a Buddhist temple at the top of Mount Kōya. With Father Mateo (and Gato) by his side, Hiro is to share orders to a fellow shinobi stationed at the temple. This man is to travel the road between Kyoto and Edo to warn the other Iga agents about the attack on Iga. But before the man can get started on his mission, he is brutally murdered within the temple's walls. With a storm raging and just ten fellow priests and four travelers, including Hiro and Father Mateo, the suspect pool is small. Hiro and Father Mateo once again agree to help unravel the mystery, but as the storm rages on it becomes clear the killer isn't finished. Can they unmask the murderer before the killer is the only one left standing?

Trial on Mount Koya is Spann's homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and I have been dying to share it with you ever since I heard that was the concept behind this latest book.

Setting is such a key component in this series and in this book in particular. In the style of Agatha Christie, this is a close and closed off setting, which ratchets up the suspense a hundred fold. The storm has kept anyone from coming and going and the killer is clearly hiding amongst the characters. And of course those characters and the plot are the other driving forces!

Hiro and Father Mateo are known quantities. We've met them and traveled alongside them for six books now (though I should note that you can easily jump in with any installment), and they've now investigated a number of other murders, so we know that they're not going to be fooled by the killer. And yet, this killer is quite cunning and brutal to boot - each new victim is posed to represent the judges of the afterlife.

I really do love each new book in this series. And I have to say that the real pleasure in them is a direct result of the fact that Spann is clearly so passionate about her subject. As I write this, she is in Japan in the midst of her latest project: conquering each of the 100 summits and chronicling her climbs along the way. In fact, if you visit her blog you'll see that she's celebrating release day on Mount Kōya itself, revisiting the location that inspired this story.

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

For more on Susan Spann 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, July 1, 2018

New Releases 7/3/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

It All Falls Down by Sheena Kamal

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Lost Queen of Crocker County by Elizabeth Leiknes

The Dying of the Light by Robert Goolrick

Black Chamber by S. M. Stirling

Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Cain

City of Lies by Sam Hawke

Caught in Time by Julie McElwain

New on DVD:

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Sometimes reading the Frankfurt deals seems a little (a lot) daunting as an agent. And as a reader they're so far out that remembering which books I want to look out for seems futile. But sometimes they stick with you. Like the announcement in 2017 that Viking had won an auction for Hanna Jameson's The Last. And now it's finally right around the corner!

Well, it's coming out in early 2019, so that's practically around the corner.

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington
BREAKING: London hit, thousands feared dead.
BREAKING: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm.

Jon Keller was on a trip to Switzerland when the world ended. More than anything he wishes he hadn't ignored his wife Nadia's last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon's hotel. Far from the nearest city, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a girl is found. It's clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer...

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what happens if the killer doesn't want to be found?

I think this sounds super fantastic and am dying to get my hands on a copy!

The Last is due out in January from Viking. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Short Fiction Friday: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

By now you all know well my love for novellas and short stories. You also know how much I love horror. And Joe Hill's latest combines the two loves - novellas and horror - in a collection of four tales the perfect length for dipping your toe into the chilling waters of dark fiction.

Snapshot - the arrival of a stranger in town leads to devastating results. When a young boy realizes this stranger's arrival coincides with a neighbor's rapid loss of memory and the stranger's use of a particular polaroid camera, he finds himself on the wrong (or right, as it may be) side of a conflict that could cost him his own mind. 

Loaded - a mass shooting puts a lowly mall security guard in the spotlight when he saves the day. But as it turns out, this hero isn't quite what everyone thinks he is. As the story unfolds, his lies begin to unravel and he finds himself willing to do whatever it takes to make sure no one learns the truth.

Aloft - an afternoon's adventure strands a man on a cloud that's anything but!

Rain - a hot day leaves everyone looking to the coming rain shower for relief. But the rain is deadly and kicks off an apocalyptic event that leaves one man desperate to connect with his only remaining family, even if it means getting caught in another shower. 

I loved this collection. It's meaty and thought provoking, but it's also fun.

Snapshot and Rain were definitely my two favorites. The latter of which is a post apocalyptic tale, so of course it hits all the right buttons for me in that sense. The former is a tale looking back on the narrator's childhood, a bit of a coming of age story, which I also love.

Loaded is a bit of a touchy one to listen to in this day and age, but that's definitely the point. And it is likely the one to get your gray matter most whirling.

Aloft is just plain weird and fun!

I had the pleasure of listening to this one on audio book on a long road trip and it was quite perfect. Though each story shares a basic good vs evil theme, each one is very different in the telling and in tone. And each one has a different narrator to go along with that. Wil Wheaton, Stephen Lang, Dennis Boutsikaris, and Kate Mulgrew take on one story each and Joe Hill himself reads the afterword.

Strange Weather released in October of last year and won Hill the Stoker for "Best Achievement in a Fiction Collection." It's new out in paperback this week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home For Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynn DeFino

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Terri-Lynn DeFino's The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses).

The Bar Harbor Home for the Elderly was founded with publishing professionals in mind. Authors, editors, anyone who made a living with books can stay there. Their newest resident, Alfonse Carducci, has been expected and there's much buzz about his arrival, but his health is not great and he spends much of his early days confined to his room. That doesn't mean no one sees him, though. Fellow author and one time lover Olivia Peppernell has been keeping him company. And Cecibel Bringer, an orderly who hides her face and the story behind it, has caught Carducci's attention. So much so that Cecibel has inspired in Carducci a new story. In return Carducci awakens a desire in Cecibel that has long been dormant - a desire to live life once again. 

A book about writers and books, what more could a book junkie ask for, right?

The characters are gorgeously wrought and the story alternates between their story and the one that Carducci himself is writing. I'll admit Cecibel in particular was the narrator I was most drawn to and I did find myself occasionally rushing through the other parts of the narrative in order to get back to her story.

The book is much more character driven than is my usual preference but there are small subplots that add an air of mystery to the tale and keep the story moving along. The biggest (back to Cecibel again) is the story behind Cecibel's injuries.

Anyone who loves books about books will adore DeFino's debut!

To see more stops on the tour check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Terri-Lynne DeFino and her work you can visit her website here.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

I've long heard that Elin Hilderbrand is the quintessential summer author and based on The Perfect Couple, I have to say I'm in agreement with that sentiment.

The morning of Celeste Otis and Benji Winbury's wedding is one no one on Nantucket is likely to forget any time soon. Rather than nuptials and the sure to be grand celebration to follow, Celeste awakens to discover her maid of honor floating dead in the water.

The police are called, the wedding is cancelled, and everyone at the Winbury estate of Summerland is a suspect until the investigation proves otherwise. As the local chief tries to trace back the happenings of the previous evening the suspect list doesn't shorten. It seems everyone at the Otis-Winbury wedding has something to hide.

I've never read Elin Hilderbrand before, but I definitely will be reading more!

Not only is this a summer read, it's a Nantucket summer read. Even with a murder investigation underway - which is just the present day thread of the story - Hilderbrand manages to squeeze in a bevy of balmy beach days, lobster rolls, and perfectly mixed cocktails to give the reader the ultimate Nantucket feel. That atmosphere of course offers a bit of a jarring feel against a backdrop of a dead maid of honor, but in a way that understandably draws the reader into the story even further: How could anything bad happen in such a perfect paradise?

And of course that's the rub - it isn't a perfect paradise at all. The town itself is filled with locals just living their lives. The chief, raising his wife's twin niece and nephew after their own parents died (the subject of a previous book), the local head of security at the airport trying to get a date, the chief's nephew's girlfriend who just wants her boyfriend's adopted parents to like her... And yet, natives aside, Nantucket is the playground for the uber rich and fabulous like the Winbury family.

Celeste Otis is nothing like the Winburys. Their extravagant wealth and their ability to buy and spend however they please is not something she's ever known. Her own small but tight-knit family of three saved scrupulously for everything they have. And at the time of her wedding, her mother is dying of breast cancer. So she knows how much the wedding means to her parents and she wants them to have a good time. Which presents a problem because Celeste is no longer sure about anything in her life. And her mother suspects it.

As the story unfolds, readers are given an inside peek into various characters' perspectives both through their own narration as well as through the police questioning. There are multiple potential suspects, many potential motives, and so many places the story could go. Following along is the ultimate voyeuristic fun!

And while the mystery at the heart of The Perfect Couple - what happened to the maid of honor - certainly pulls the story along and at a fabulous pace, but it's the characters as a whole that take center stage here. I loved every second of my time between it's pages and look forward to returning to Hilderbrand's Nantucket very soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Amy Mason Doan's debut, The Summer List.

It's been seventeen years since Laura and Casey last spoke. Seventeen years since their friendship fell apart. Laura's mother has kept her apprised of some of the bigger moments in Casey's life since, more out of spite than anything else. But the one time best friends haven't seen one another since Laura abruptly left their tiny town of Coeur de Lune, never to return. 

At least that was the plan. 

A pink envelope with a mermaid sticker changes all of that. An invitation to one final scavenger hunt together, a tradition started the summer before their junior year in high school. Laura knows it'll be uncomfortable but curiosity wins out. As they make their way through the list - one designed to bring to mind all the memories they once shared - the hunt also brings up a long buried secret that could break their tenuously mended bond once and for all. 

Ah the heady days of balmy teenage summers, dreadfully awkward high school, crushes, first loves, and best friends forever. The Summer List plays on all of that teen nostalgia - for me especially, considering I'm the same age as the characters. Their high school playlists and experiences read almost like a map to my own teen years.


It's a bittersweet read as well, though. One I thankfully can't relate too closely to!

Laura and Casey's story plays out in two timelines, interspersed with chapters from a perspective that only begins to reveal itself as the story progresses. Laura travels back to Coeur de Lune and the girls' quite stiff reintroduction, then we travel back to the summer they first met, hopscotching back and forth between the two timelines as the reason for the break in their friendship begins to become more clear.

The third perspective is at summer camp - an unknown narrator with a crush on an older man, relegated to the camp while her own mother attends an adult retreat in the wake of what seems to be a breakdown.

I loved this book, even the more heartbreaking parts. The friendship between Laura and Casey rang so true and reminded me of my own high school friendships and the mystery behind their split - as well as that of the third narrator and the secret the book's cover copy hints at - made this even more of a page turner.

The Summer List is an excellently crafted debut and a read that'll give you lots to think about. Even at its heaviest moments, though, it's a quick and easy read that pulls you along from the very first page all the way through to the end.

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

For more on Amy Mason Doan 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, 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