Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Releases 3/20/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage

Torn by Rowenna Miller

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

A Guide for Murdered Children by Sara Sparrow

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen

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

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

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

Tyler Rose Was Here by Jay Coles

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now, for a little taste:

Death of An Unsung Hero
by Tessa Arlen

Chapter One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Alison Gaylin's latest, If I Die Tonight.

In the middle of the night, a woman bursts into the Havenkill police department screaming about an accident. It seems a boy in a black hoodie carjacked her. When another boy came to her rescue, he was run over in the escape, ending up in the hospital in critical condition. 

Jackie's is just one of the houses included in the police department's neighborhood canvas area. It's a terrible accident and Jackie feels for the boy's family, but as more information comes out about the accident, one of Jackie's own sons is implicated. And sure, the boy has grown surly and distant, but that's normal for teens. Right? Certain she knows her son better than anyone else, Jackie is the last to believe the rumors. But doubt begins to creep in and she has to wonder just how well she knows this boy - man - who is her son. 

This is a frightening read in that it examines this sort of court of public opinion that is social media today. Liam, who is the victim in the accident, is increasingly painted as the golden boy, the hero. And Jackie's son, Wade, already an outcast when the story begins, grows into a sort of mythic villain thanks to public outcry and gossip.

The case gains even more traction due to the the involvement of a one time pop star, Aimee En. It's Aimee's flashy car that's stolen. And it's Aimee and her followers that help give the story even more visibility than it may get otherwise.

The story alternates between narrators, none of whom has access to the whole story themselves, which means the reader has to rely on piecing each bit together to try and come to their own conclusions as the story progresses. Of course the biggest questions are: Is Wade really the villain? If he isn't, what is he hiding? And if Wade is innocent, then who is actually responsible.

Jackie is the character you most want to sympathize with. She's a working, single mom raising two teenage boys. And she tries to balance between being attentive and watchful and still giving them space to grow. Which I think is something every parent has always struggled with. Except now, the added wrinkle of social media and the internet makes it even harder.

The scariest thing about this book is that it was, in fact, inspired by an actual event and Gaylin's own attempt to, as she says in the extras, make sense of it. And while I don't think anyone can ever make sense of a situation like this, I do think she's done a great job weaving a story that humanizes each of the players involved, giving the reader a chance to see the whole of the accused, the victim, and the people most affected by the maelstrom of dangerous conclusions that comes out of a tragic accident when no one knows the whole story.

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

For more information on Alison Gaylin and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, March 12, 2018

Paper Girls: Book One

Four twelve year old paper delivery girls in the 80s (which is another draw for me) find themselves at the center of strange events on Hell Morning. Before they know it, they've met masked men (boys) from another time, faced death, and traveled into the future!!! 

It's the morning after Halloween when Erin, new to the paper delivery game, runs into Mac, KJ, and Tiffany. Well, not so much runs into considering they come to her rescue when some local teens begin harassing her during her delivery. Because of the holiday antics, the three girls are already delivering together and invite Erin to tag along. Unfortunately teaming up doesn't prevent three weirdos still in costume from attacking KJ and Tiffany and stealing one of their walkie talkies. The girls give chase, tracking their attackers to an abandoned house and that's when things get weird...

First off let me say that I have struggled in the past trying to get into comics. I read my brother's X-Men comics when we were kids - in particular anything Rogue/Gambit and Jubilee. Beyond that, I did very briefly try to buy Buffy comics when they started releasing. And this is likely why I also stopped - a quick perusal of my oh, so small comic collection from those days revealed two copies of the same comic (with different covers) and four comics that I apparently thought followed the duplicate, but were actually part of a completely different series. This was before the bound books, folks!

But there's that whole Read Harder challenge (which has THREE comic categories this year). As such, I've been open to trying some comics. In particular two series I heard about on Book Riot that sounded right up my alley. And while we were in San Diego, I decided it was time to give a few a try. 

Paper Girls had been described as perfect for fans of Stranger Things, so of course it was at the top of my list (right alongside Misfit City, aka The Goonies for girls)! And it's probably no surprise that I fell in love with this series!

Paper Girls is ongoing, currently clocking in at 20 installments. Paper Girls: Book One, with its impossible to miss hot pink cover, collects issues 1-10 (or vol 1 and vol 2). And it has a total cliff hanger ending, which means that I was dying to get my hands on vol 3 and the soon to be released vol 4!

The story is oddball and the Stranger Things comp is completely appropriate. First, it starts in the 80s. Second, there's paranormal weirdness - in this case, time travel! Before the girls know it, there are dinosaur riding people in space suits after them!

I know I'm new to the comics world, and there are plenty of people who've been into it longer and know more than I do. I also know that Vaughan's other series, Saga, is so incredibly, massively popular that you can't miss references to it. There are even Saga Funkos now! But, I don't think anything can possibly top Paper Girls for me. The series is super fantastic fun! The story is engaging and the illustrations are phenomenal. And, obviously, it's perfect for folks just getting into comics!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

New Releases 3/13/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Let Me Lieby Clare Mackintosh

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

The Waters & The Wild by DeSales Harrison

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

Dayfall by Michael David Ares

Death of An Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlan

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

The Neighbors by Hammah Mary McKinnon

A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson

The Last Watchmand of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

New on DVD:
The Shape of Water
I, Tonya
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Justice League

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Elsie thought her life was set when she married Rupert Bainbridge. But shortly after their wedding, Rupert has passed. It was certainly sudden and unexpected. He'd been visiting his family home, The Bridge, when it happened.

Now Elsie, pregnant and grieving, is a widow. She's traveled from the city to The Bridge for the funeral and to mourn and wait out her pregnancy. It's thought that time at the manor will be a quiet respite that will give Elsie time to settle in and prepare for the birth of her child. But The Bridge offers anything but quiet respite. First there are the locals, who seem to fear The Bridge and anyone associated with the manor house. And there are the rumors of deaths even beyond that of her husband's. Then Elsie and her cousin discover a diary tucked away inside a locked room and an all too lifelike wooden figure that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself, the strange happenings in the house become too much to bear. Is Elsie losing her mind? Or are there forces at work that defy logical explanation?

The Silent Companions is a deliciously creepy and satisfying read.

The book begins at the end, in a way. Elsie is in a mental institution. Unable to speak and under suspicion of murder, she takes the reader back to her arrival at The Bridge. Eventually, we learn that by the time Elsie met Rupert Bainbridge, she had pretty much given up on marriage. And Rupert saved her from more than just spinsterhood. His inheritance was just what Elsie and her brother needed to keep the family business afloat.

In truth, to be wooed, wed, and widowed in such a short amount of time is a lot to take in, and Elsie arrives at The Bridge saddened by Rupert's death but determined to carry on. She's to be a mother, after all. Unfortunately she doesn't feel at home at The Bridge. She has secrets she'd prefer to keep from her new staff and family - Rupert's cousin, Elsie's new companion.

Her discomfort is clear to the reader from the start. And when they discover the diary, chapters begin alternating between Elsie - past and present - and The Bridge's most infamous mistress, Anne Bainbridge.

A gloomy manor house, unwelcoming locals, and a number of curious deaths... Purcell builds the atmosphere fabulously and the tension and mystery grow steadily until the big reveal at the end. The Silent Companion is super fun, bearing all the hallmarks of classic gothic literature. The perfect read for a rainy and dreary day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Laura Lippman's latest, Sunburn.

Polly has abandoned her family. Adam has been hired to find her. They both settle in Belleville, both take a job at the High-Ho, both enter into the relationship with one another under false pretenses. 

And  then someone dies. 

Things have gotten complicated, to say the least. And as the affair goes on, it only gets worse. Do they really love one another? And if so, can their love last as the lies begin to unravel around them?

I love Laura Lippman. She's truly fabulously talented writer, as is made even more evident by Sunburn.

The thing that jumps out at you first with this one is the voice. It's strong and sultry with a gray tinge of classic noir - a hint of danger that slinks through the story even before the actual danger begins on the page. As a longtime reader of Lippman's work, it's also different from all of the books that have come before.

And then you get into the meat of the story and realize how cleverly crafted it really is. The secrets and lies that each character is hiding start to reveal themselves and it becomes pretty impossible to guess what's coming next.

Honestly, from the opening lines I really didn't know what to expect with this one. We've got a man and a woman in a bar - she's a redhead with a sunburn and he's intent on catching her attention. And then we flash back to Pauline/Polly's family beach vacation. A trip she's decided is the perfect time to make her escape. By the next chapter we know that Adam Bosk has been hired to find and get close to Polly, but we don't know why. It makes sense that her husband would hire him to find her, and yet within a few short chapters we know that's not the case. And that's just one of the things we as the reader have to wait to find out.

The book progresses quickly - the chapters are short and alternate mostly between Adam and Polly. And that underlying sinister edge keeps up throughout, making this one read you won't want to put down until the very end.

If you haven't had a chance to dive into Lippman's books yet, this is a perfect place to start. Trust me, you'll love her!

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

For more on Laura Lippman and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

One thing people are surprised to learn about me is that I have a BA in criminal justice. I've got 16 years and counting working in the publishing industry in one form or another, and a degree in criminal justice that I've never used. (I did minor in anthropology and English, so I'm using part of my education at least.) And I did love my university experience. I loved my major and I especially loved the department.

But even now, as a reader, I generally spend my time in fictional crime, avoiding the true stuff. Part of that could be attributed to attempting to read the wrong selection of true crime too early. It doesn't mean that I haven't been fascinated by the same cases that catch the attention of everyone else - I wrote a paper on Jack the Ripper, for goodness' sake. But still, the fictional pages of Kinsey Millhone's investigations were much more my jam than Ann Rule's.

Which brings me to today's post and Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. My husband and I are fans of Patton Oswalt - and that's the easiest explanation for seeing this one here. But I'm also doing the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which requires reading a true crime as one of the tasks.

More so than both of those, though, has been the fact that McNamara, who was already well known because of her site, True Crime Diary, would have been kicking off what would no doubt be a huge career as a well-known true crime writer with the release of her first book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark.

That made this a much more difficult read.

The book, which is about McNamara's search for the identity of a serial rapist and murderer she dubbed the Golden State Killer, was deeply personal in addition to being a literal hunt for the identity of a killer whose crimes were only connected in the early 2000's in spite of the fact that the crimes occurred over two decades prior. Because it was her first book, McNamara delved into her own history and where her interest in true crime began - the unsolved murder of a neighborhood girl when McNamara was a child. And McNamara talks about that case as well as her own childhood and background, even admitting that the draw to investigating cold cases, something her husband supported wholly, was much more appealing than red carpet events (as an introvert, this is totally understandable!).

See, difficult.

And the case she's investigating is highly disturbing. Fair warning before going in!

I had no familiarity with this case at all. And it's likely that most people reading this book won't either. The East Area Rapist/The Original Night Stalker terrorized California from 1978 to 1986. And, as mentioned above, the true scope of his crimes wasn't actually connected until DNA evidence was reexamined in 2001. McNamara stresses throughout the book that police at the time believed they were dealing with two different criminals due to both the widespread area of the crimes and the evolution from rapist to murderer. This was enhanced by the lack of communication between departments at the time as well.

And the case has never been solved. According to Wikipedia, a reward was offered as late as 2016 in an attempt to finally close the case.

McNamara was, as her subtitle states, obsessed. But her writing adds a human element to her own story as well as the victims, their families, the investigators, all of whom were haunted by these crimes. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the foreword (and narrates that portion of the audiobook as well), admits to her own fascination with true crime and the understanding that the genre as a whole is built on tragedy and the people who suffered it, also says that her cherrypicked readings of the genre have been dependent on the people writing the books - that human element, that focus on the victims and their story, a care and attention that you get here in McNamara's writing.

I really can't recommend this book highly enough. It is gripping and amazing and it really makes me wonder what McNamara could have or would have tackled next. It's a bittersweet read in that sense as McNamara was clearly a huge talent.

I'll Be Gone In the Dark was unfinished at the time of McNamara's death but the book is complete. Or as complete as it can be, thanks to McNamara's husband, her research assistant, an investigative journalist who was hired to help, and her editor. The book hit shelves just last week and is followed by a podcast behind the book (which kicked off yesterday), which also coincides with a four part series on the Golden State Killer on the ID channel. According to the book, McNamara's own blog and discussion boards on the case are still open as well. Hopefully, McNamara's work will spawn new interest and bring about some sort of closure to the case!

As a bit of an afterword, I did read this one on audio. The foreword is read by Gillian Flynn herself, the epilogue by Patton Oswalt, and the book is read by Gabra Zackman, who is a completely fantastic narrator.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

New Releases 3/6/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

The Reluctant Fortune-Teller by Keziah Frost

Guardian Angels & Other Monsters by Daniel H. Wilson

Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

The Sandman by Lars Kepler

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

Holmes Entagled by Gordon McAlpine

The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

The Day She Disappeared by Christobel Kent

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon

Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, & Kate Beth

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Girlfriend by Sarah J. Naughton

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

New on DVD:
Thor: Ragnarok
Lady Bird
The Man Who Invented Christmas
The Breadwinner

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Go Ask Fannie by Elizabeth Hyde

My family has a bit of an addiction to banana bread. And while I like to experiment, changing it up sometimes (out of necessity since I moved from sea level to high altitude), my dad is a firm believer that the recipe we've always used is the best one and there's no need to deviate from it. 

That recipe comes from a book pretty beloved by my family - The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. My grandmother had a copy, my mom has a copy that's falling apart, and when I moved out on my own my grandmother bought me a copy as well. 

When I stumbled upon Elizabeth Hyde's upcoming Go Ask Fannie, it piqued my interest. And when a read through of the synopsis confirmed the Fannie in question was indeed Fannie Farmer, I immediately had to read it. Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Everyone has baggage. The Blaire siblings are just taking theirs home for the long weekend.

When Murray Blaire invites his three grown children to his New Hampshire farm for a few days, he makes it clear he expects them to keep things pleasant. The rest of his agenda–using Ruth and George to convince their younger sister, Lizzie, to break up with her much older boyfriend–that he chooses to keep private. But Ruth and George arrive bickering, with old scores to settle. And, in a classic Blaire move, Lizzie derails everything when she turns up late, cradling a damaged family cookbook, and talking about possible criminal charges against her.

This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a time when they were a family of six, not four, with a father running for Congress and a mother building a private life of her own. The now -obscured notes written in its pages provide tantalizing clues to their mother’s ambitions and the mysterious choices she once made, choices her children have always sought without success to understand. Until this weekend.

As the Blaire siblings piece together their mother’s story, they come to realize not just what they’ve lost, but how they can find their way back to each other. In this way, celebrated author Elisabeth Hyde reminds readers that family survival isn’t about simply setting aside old rivalries, but preserving the love that’s written between the lines.

As an added bonus, Hyde is a local author here in the Boulder/Denver area. You can read more about Go Ask Fannie, including an excerpt, over on her website

Go Ask Fannie is due out from Putnam in April. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole + a Giveaway

The emails from the so-called Kingdom of Thesolo were amusing at first, but Naledi Smith is fed up. Little does she know, the emails aren't some Nigerian scam. They're very real indeed. 

Naledi's parents both died when she was young, leaving her to be raised in the foster system. The shuttling from home to home left her with a feeling that no one wanted her - her theory of reverse velcro. And so she's made it on her own. Now, a grad student studying to be an epidemiologist, her education and career are her only focus. But then the smoking hot Jamal shows up at work and then in her apartment building and she finds herself beginning to entertain the idea that someone might finally stick. 

Jamal, aka Prince Thabiso of Thesolo, has been searching for Naledi for some time now. As children, they were betrothed in a ceremony witnessed by the goddess herself. And then Naledi disappeared. Now, both adults, Thabiso can't understand why she would abandon him, their kingdom, and her duties. And so, after tracking her down, he's decided to confront her about it. Except when they meet and she mistakes him for a fellow grad student, he can't resist the opportunity to get to know her - and she him - without his title getting in the way. 

A Princess in Theory kicks off Alyssa Cole's new Reluctant Royals series, and it is seriously fun!

If you hadn't noticed, other than dark, I'm drawn to fun. Cole's name wasn't new to me, she's comes highly recommended from folks in the know, but this was my first time reading her.

From the start, I loved the playful tone of this one. It kicks off with a string of the Kingdom of Thesolo emails, all claiming that Naledi is a long lost princess - which, of course, no woman would believe! And Naledi's first and only response to the emails is... appropriate and won me over even more. The thing that sealed the deal, though, was that Naledi is a scientist. An epidemiologist, to be specific. Which I loved!

Enter Prince Thabiso, who is definitely a playboy in every sense of the word. And yet, he too is a more than competent leader. He cares about his country, the fictional kingdom of Thesolo, and the future of the people he serves. And he sticks to that idea - that he is a servant of those people.

Of course, as the story progresses and the characters inevitably fall for one another, the twist is that that relationship is built on one big lie - Prince Thabiso's identity. And thanks to the publisher, I'm able to share a teeny taste of the book, right around the point when Thabiso tries to come clean...

“I need to tell you,” Prince Thabiso said between kisses, “who I am.”

Who I really am, he added silently.

“I know who you are,” Ledi said. She pulled off her t- shirt, revealing a soft, worn-looking gray bra cupping her silky brown breasts. “You’re the guy who learned to cook for me. The guy who’s made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. The guy who— ” She whispered the rest in his ear.

He chuckled and ran a fingertip over the lace that edged her bra. “I love that you speak so freely.”

“Only with you. I feel like my entire life has been me trying to keep everything to-gether, but right now I want to fall apart.”

He could see the want in her eyes. “I must tell you something, Ledi.”

But how could he?

I love, love, loved this book! It's smart and sweet and steamy! Basically, I think Alyssa Cole is brilliant and I can't wait to read more from her! And actually, the second book in the series, A Duke By Default, is due out this summer and will feature Naledi's best friend, Portia (though I'm already wondering if Portia's intensely awesome sister will be getting her own book as well). 

And because I loved this so much, I'm going to give away a copy! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 12. Open US only. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Promise by Minrose Gwin + a Giveaway

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Minrose Gwin's Promise

On Palm Sunday, 1936, a devastating tornado ripped through Tupelo, Mississippi. Dovey smelled the storm coming and was pulling in the wash when the winds kicked up. Sixteen-year-old Jo was just returning from church. 

Though the two share connections - both normal and dark - the tornado throws them together in a way they never could have expected. Jo's family has not been spared by the massive force of the tornado and Dovey, on her way to find her own granddaughter and great-grandson, learns that their own new baby has disappeared in the storm. The two are drawn together as they both search for their loved ones. But it's Jo who finds her brother first, promising to care for the boy no matter what. Even when his own mother won't claim him...

It's easy to see the biggest aspect of this story coming from a mile away. But it's not meant to be a twist. It is a story of loss and tragedy, and ultimately one of hope. 

Gwin's latest is based on a very real event. Dubbed the fourth most deadly tornado in US history, the author learned that the storm's body count was grossly inaccurate. Incredibly, only the white fatalities and injuries were counted - the affects to the black community in Tupelo were not tracked. 

The story is in part driven by this historical fact. It's also inspired by Gwin's own grandmother's stories about the storm as well as local coverage. Again, though, it's the human aspect and, in particular an attempt to give voice to the untold history of the storm, that is the story. 

This isn't an easy read. We know from the beginning that Jo's oldest brother is Dreama's child's father by force. We also know that Jo herself has suffered at the hands of her brother. Even his own family may publicly deny his crimes, but secretly pays Dreama money each month. And all of that's told before the storm even hits. 

While Promise may not be a happy tale or even a pretty one, it is one about human spirit and undying hope. Brought to life by Rose's lyrical prose and intricate detail, Promise is about race, women, and family all wrapped up in a retelling of one horrific event in Mississippi history. 

I'm giving away one copy of Promise today. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 12. 

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, February 25, 2018

New Releases 2/27/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Green Sun by Kent Anderson

The Listener by Robert McCammon

The Strange Bird by Jeff Vandermeer

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreason

Chicago by David Mamet

The Shape of Water by Daniel Kraus

The Hush by John Hart

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern

Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira

Bone Music by Christopher Rice

All Out ed by Saundra Mitchell

Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

People Like Us by Dana Mele

The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias Buckell

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

New on DVD:
Murder on the Orient Express
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Darkest Hour
Just Getting Started

Friday, February 23, 2018

Short Fiction Friday: The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

Heloise knows the laws. She knows the rumors about demons. But it's been so long since anyone has seen one she's no longer sure if the laws or even the demons are real. What she does know is that seemingly innocent people are being butchered in the name of an antiquated law. Friends, family, anyone can be their next target. All it takes is a whisper of magic, or the crossing of the wrong person. 

I had the chance to snag an early copy of Myke Cole's latest at our regional trade show last fall and started reading it immediately. Before I knew it, I'd zipped through the whole thing! And of course now I'm waiting for more :)

Heloise follows the rules. Everyone does in her world because to toe the line even the tiniest bit can mean bringing down the wrath of the Order. They say they're hunting demons and they say that the use of magic brings the demons. But in reality, some of them revel in their power just a bit too much. And witnessing this one too many times pushes Heloise over the edge, making her question everything she's been taught to believe. But even questioning is enough to get a person condemned.

In truth, Heloise and those around her have never actually seen evidence of demons. Just gossip and rumors - and of course the devastating consequences of the Order's hunts.

Cole's latest may be short, but it packs a serious punch. The world is so finely detailed that you can feel the underlying unease that Heloise and those around her live with constantly. Of course, the book kicks off with an incident that makes that more than abundantly clear.

Heloise, like any teen, is coming into her own. She's learning to listen and observe and make her own decisions about things. She's also coming to realize that she herself may not be exactly what the Order believes she should be. These things combine to put her in a very uncomfortable position - can she, a person who for all intents and purposes has never done anything bad and wishes no harm to anyone be inherently bad as per the laws of her world?

Though the story is couched as fantasy, Heloise's struggle is one many can identify with. Especially in this day and age. And I loved her oh so completely!

The Armored Saint is wonderful and magical and dark and gritty. It's also incredibly thought provoking. Everyone should read it!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green + a Giveaway

Neve has just about had it. She's been couch surfing at her sister's and knows her brother in law is at the end of his rope. She's also pretty sure her job is just about at its end too, especially considering they're prepping for a big buyout. She's pondering much of this as she makes her way home late one evening after a brief fling, when she comes across a woman on Waterloo Bridge. She looks cold and lost and Neve offers to help. But before she knows it, the woman jumps off the bridge.

A few weeks later, Neve discovers that the dead woman, Isabelle, has left her a cottage. It's all legal, according to Isabelle's lawyers, and, in spite of the circumstances, Neve thinks maybe it could be exactly what she needs to get her life straight. When she arrives, though, Neve realizes this cottage is definitely not a dream home or much-needed escape: There are bars on the windows and a dead bird in the kitchen, to start. Then Neve learns that Isabelle believed she was being watched. Given how things ended, Neve isn't sure what to believe, but she soon becomes convinced Isabelle may have been right!

Cass Green's latest is psychological suspense with great atmosphere.

Neve is immature and also a bit down on her luck. She and her boyfriend split, leaving Isabelle homeless and her bank account isn't any help in that matter. So she's staying with her sister's family. But Neve's penchant for late nights and hangovers doesn't really endear her to her sister's husband. Neve would have you believe he's unreasonable and overly stiff, but it doesn't take long for the reader to realize that Neve is a bit self absorbed.

And yet, she does take the time to try and help Isabelle. And she's rewarded for it. Sort of.

Neve, of course, imagines a cozy abode in the not so countryside - in other words, walking distance from anything she may need. Which isn't exactly the case. The cottage is gloomy and uninviting with metered electricity that requires regular topping off. Considering Neve has no mode of transportation and dwindling funds, neither bodes well for her. Plus, she stormed off in a huff without telling her sister that a. she's inherited a house and b. she's decided to take up residence there for a while.

So yeah, Neve's in the middle of nowhere with no car and barely any money. Oh, and no one knows she's there. Sounds like the start of a great adventure, right?

It is the start of a quick and fun read, whether you like Neve or not. The story draws you along easily and is, as mentioned, absolutely packed with atmosphere. In the end it turned out to be a bit of a lighter read that I'd expected based on the build, but one that I could easily see appealing to fans of both cozier leaning mysteries as well as darker thrillers.

I do have a copy to give away today. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter before Monday, March 12. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 19, 2018

Comic Review - Bingo Love

Diving into comics has been a bit of an eye opening experience for me. I've binge purchased a ton of them at this stage, all based on recommendations from people who have been reading them WAY longer than I have. And let's face it, I have a lot to catch up on!

Comics have turned out to be perfect reading as my agenting work gets busier and busier. When I'm in the midst of edits and putting together pitches and need to get away for a bit, but don't have time for a full novel, comics fit in perfectly alongside the shorts and novellas that have been my go to for short breaks.

And it was in one of these breaks that I discovered Bingo Love! Newly released from Image, this comic is about true love that stands the test of time!

It's 1963 when Hazel Johnson meets Mari McCray. She glimpses the new girl across the bingo hall, but doesn't meet her properly until she's introduced in class the next day - and she's instantly smitten! Hazel is elated when the two become fast friends, but she also realizes she wants more than just friendship with Mari. And when it turns out Mari feels the same, she couldn't be happier! Unfortunately the two are torn apart when Mari's grandmother catches them kissing.

Decades later, the Hazel and Mari meet again - over bingo - and find their love is still as strong as ever!

This story has all the feels! I mean ALL THE FEELS!

Hazel and Mari are teens in the 60s and well aware of the fact that the timing is not right for them. But the betrayal by each of their families when their love is discovered is way worse. And so - and these aren't spoilers - the two women go on with their lives without one another.

We get the story from Hazel's perspective - we begin with her in 2038 as she begins recounting her story, jumping back to February 1963 when she first catches sight of Mari and she takes readers all the way through to her present day.

And because this is a comic, I have to talk about the illustrations! I adored the illustrations in this one - they're gorgeous! And, paired with the writing, give readers the full extent of the characters' emotions as the story plays out.

Now, what I hadn't realized was that prior to being picked up by Image, Bing Love started as a graphic novella from Inclusive Press funded through Kickstarter last year. In October, it was announced that Image had picked it up and now that brand spanking new mass released edition is out too! So this is a double yay for the folks behind this sweet story! And according to the comic itself there's to be at least two more pieces to the Bingo Love story.

Bingo Love does stand alone as a full story. The extras promised within its pages are just that, welcome extras, including Hazel's husband's story.

Full credits for Bingo Love are:
Writer: Tee Franklin
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Colorist: Joy San
Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Editor: Erica Schultz

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Releases 2/20/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

The Clarity by Keith Thomas

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The One by John Marrs

Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Dreadful Young Ladies And Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin & Jennifer St. One

Lumberjanes v8: Stone Cold by Kat Leyh & Shannon Watters

These Vengeful Souls by Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker

New on DVD:
Daddy's Home 2

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Oh, readers. You know by now there are a few names that pop up again and again and again on this blog and I'm super excited to be posting yet another Sarah Pinborough installment. And it's another pre pub book buzz, which means we have another new title to look forward to!

Here's a bit about Cross Her Heart from Goodreads:

‘Cross my heart and hope to die…’

Promises only last if you trust each other, but what if one of you is hiding something?

A secret no one could ever guess.

Someone is living a lie.

Is it Lisa?

Maybe it’s her daughter, Ava.

Or could it be her best friend, Marilyn?

It's sparse, I know. But the best thing about Pinborough's latest titles is the less you know going in the better!

This is the UK cover - and the book will be out there in May. Looks like it'll be released Stateside in September from William Morrow. 

In other Sarah Pinborough news, it looks like Netflix is adapting her most recent release, 13 Minutes! I can't wait!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mister Tender's Girl by Carter Wilson

Two time Colorado Book Award Winner Carter Wilson is back in what promises to be his breakout hit!

Carter Wilson's latest is a story literally ripped from the headlines. Inspired by the recent Slenderman killings, Mister Tender's Girl introduces readers to Alice, the daughter of a graphic novel writer who's creation inspired two twin girls to commit a heinous crime. Alice survived, but moved overseas. Her father abandoned his popular creation, vowing never to write another Mister Tender tale. He passed away shortly thereafter.

Now grown up, Alice has done her best to move past the crime that so defined her youth. She's changed her name and owns a semi successful coffee shop. But she still suffers from anxiety and panic attacks and has to be on guard at all times if she's to combat them.

And then a package arrives. A package that appears to be a new Mister Tender tale and includes a log in to a website that proves someone knows who Alice really is.

Mister Tender's Girl is a leave all the lights on, check your doors and windows kind of read guaranteed to keep you up at night wondering just who might be watching you!

This is, surprisingly, almost a bit of a slow burn. The story moves quickly, but it starts with the nagging fear that something is coming. Alice knows she's being watched but she doesn't know why or by who. Clearly, though, she knows being the subject of someone's obsession isn't good. The only reason anyone has to be interested in her is her status as a survivor of that long ago crime. And the girls responsible are in prison.

Or they were.

This is not actually based on the Slenderman case. I had the chance to meet Wilson at our regional trade show where he discussed how this story came to be. Apparently he heard the headline and that's pretty much it. It kicked off the idea and he avoided everything else about the case while he was writing. So while the kernel of the story is founded in that all too real crime, the book itself is all Wilson.

Which is kind of scary if you really think about it :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Look For Her by Emily Winslow

Oh, the week is halfway over! And today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Emily Winslow's Look For Her.

Annalise Wood disappeared in 1976. Almost twenty years later, her body was found but her case was never solved. 

Fresh off leave thanks to PTSD and treatment, Morris Keene has returned to his job as a police officer in a somewhat different capacity. Partially retired thanks to injury, he's been drafted as part of a new cold case team and Annalise's case is to be his first. Back in 1992, when the body was discovered, DNA was found on an item of clothing found with the body. The DNA was tested and put into the database but no match was found. Until now. 

With former partner and new mom Chloe Frohmann by his side, Keene aims to finally lay the Wood case to rest. But that may be more complicated than it first appears.

Emily Winslow is another author that I was turned onto by a favorite author - though at this stage I can't remember the circumstances. I do know it was back when the second installment in the series, The Start of Everything, was released (Look For Her is actually the fourth entry in Winslow's Keene and Frohmann series). And since The Start of Everything was on my wishlist thanks to the recommendation, now seemed like a good time to read it as well. Which turned out to be a good decision considering all of the books in the series apparently take place over less than a year.

When I met Chloe and Morris in The Start of Everything, Morris was just returning to work after being injured on a case. He was still struggling with losing the use of the fingers on his right hand. And Chloe had just discovered she was pregnant.

When we begin Look For Her, Morris has been on leave after seeking treatment for PTSD, something he was just seeing signs of as The Start of Everything wound down and he's visiting Chloe and her newborn. There is a bit of bad blood between the two of them thanks to events that took place in the book in between, but Morris is finally ready to set that aside a bit and offers to take Chloe with him to interview the suspect in his new case. Of course, having been cooped up with no work to focus on, Chloe jumps at the opportunity (after her husband's suggestion)!

Morris is definitely my preferred character of the two, though the two irritate and grate at one another throughout. Morris's investigative style is a bit more intuitive, though, and Chloe comes across as quick to judge. In other words, they're a bit like a bickering couple and by the end of the book you feel like you know them both quite well!

I always find it funny when I end up reading books with unexpected connections. In this case, Emily Winslow used to create logic puzzles for Games magazine, a trait she shares with one of the main characters in Best Friends Forever.

Her experience with logic puzzles has served her well in plotting out suspense. This is the second book I've read in this series (back to back I might add) and her twisty turny plots are fabulous! I enjoyed working out the puzzle myself as Morris and Chloe investigate and even when I did figure it out first, still quite enjoyed seeing them work their way through the clues to the same conclusion.

I definitely recommend these if you're looking for a great new series to dive into. Each installment is fairly short and the suspense is such that they make for great one sitting reads!

As mentioned, there are currently four books in the series. They can actually be read as standalones very easily - you might have some spoilers for previous entries, but you can definitely dive in at any point. Here's the full title list if do you want to start from the beginning:

The Whole World
The Start of Everything
The Red House
Look For Her

In addition to the series, Winslow is also the author of Jane Doe January, a memoir. All of the titles are available thanks to the good folks at Harper Collins.

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

For more on Emily Winslow and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What I'm Reading: The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Happy book birthday to Kimmery Martin whose debut, The Queen of Hearts, hits shelves today! I'm currently in the midst of this one, so here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers--Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie's life--both professionally and personally--throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick's unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

Martin has a smooth style and a wonderful voice that really pulls you into the story! You are going to love these characters and their tale - and if my recommendation isn't quite enough to convince you, check out the blurb one of my favorite authors gave it:

"In The Queen of Hearts, debut author Kimmery Martin brings humor and insight into this exploration of friendships and secrets set in the fascinating world of practicing doctors. Sure to be a hit with fans of JoJo Moyes and Liane Moriarty."—Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of Hidden and The Good Liar


Added bonus: Martin is a physician as well as a writer, which means she's super talented (for one) and her characters feel authentic because they are!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Welcome back, everyone! Today is my second stop on the TLC blog tour for Margot Hunt's Best Friends Forever.

Alice and Kat have been friends ever since an opportune meeting in the airport. They were in New York - Kat after a trip to buy art for her gallery and Alice and her kids after a visit to her parents' - both flying back to Florida on a way delayed flight, and ended up sitting next to each other in the terminal. The chatted and commiserated with one another over martinis and that was that. But then Alice saw Kat drop her wallet at baggage claim, swooping it up and returning it to a thankful Kat. 

Three years later, they're as close as ever. 

But now Kat's husband is dead and the police are questioning Alice. Howard, Kat's husband, was drunk when he fell off their balcony. Alice thought it was a tragic accident, but the police are treating it like a homicide. And Kat's not returning her calls.

Hunt's debut is a fast and fun read that will make you wonder just how well you really know your friends!

From the start, we know Howard was a drunk. We know Kat was in London when he died. And we know Howard fell from the balcony. The police say they have a witness who claims otherwise, though, and Alice is the one they turn their eye to for answers.

Alice's marriage isn't what it used to be but she loves her family and her kids. Her friendship with Kat, though, gave her a chance to get away sometimes. Lunches with someone she could talk to about anything. And it seemed Kat felt the same.

But then why is Kat avoiding Alice? Why is Kat's family keeping Alice from seeing her? And why are the police harassing Alice in the first place?

Hunt does a great job building the suspense and teasing out details about the characters' lives. Kat and Alice seem so mundane when the story begins but as we get to know them, we understand they're hiding things.

As the story progresses, the timeline switches from present to past, bringing readers back three years to when Kat and Alice met. The past timeline progresses forward as the investigation does, and the two timelines weave together to bring us to the final pages. I loved the way the story played out, even when I did have my suspicions about what the eventual conclusion would be.

Best Friends Forever is a super quick read that was the perfect thing for a lazy weekend hiding out from the cold. Plus, it's set in Florida so I could almost imagine myself in that beachy setting alongside Alice and Kat. Or maybe peeking through their windows would be more appropriate :)

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

For more on Margot Hunt 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, February 11, 2018

New Releases 2/13/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Mrs. by Caitlin Macy

White Houses by Amy Bloom

The Invention of Ana by Mikkel Rosengaard

The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller

Olympus Bound by Jordan Max Brodsky

Island of Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman

Look For Her by Emily Winslow

Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Mister Tender's Girl by Carter Wilson

Madness is Better Than Defeat by Ned Beauman

A Dangerous Crossing by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Don't Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin

Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir

Starlings by Jo Walton

#PrettyBoy Must Die by Kimberly Reid

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Anne Aguirre

The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic

New on DVD:
Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

It's Friday already. This week really flew by!

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Karen Perry's Girl Unknown.

David and Caroline have gotten through something of a rough patch lately. A big renovation on their house that came with no small amount of stress and the fact that Caroline was having an affair (a flirtation, she calls it), pushed their relationship and greatly affected their trust for one another. And only time will heal this further. 

But one morning a student arrives in David's office claiming he's her father. And it seems likely it's true. If they trust her, how will allowing this new girl into their lives affect everything they've struggled to hold on to?

So first, this isn't the kind of secret child story you might think it is. David was in college when he met Linda, he and Caroline were split up. So the revelation of a daughter by this woman isn't a threat to their marriage in THAT way. And I don't think it's spoilers to reveal that, considering we find out within the first 50 pages.

Though, Girl Unknown is something of a short read!

It's a dense read, though. A psychological suspense rather than a rip roaring thriller. And the tension builds slowly.

Caroline and David are an average couple when we meet them. They've struggled and they've come out the other side. David is a professor and Caroline is back at work after years away. Their main point of stress at this stage - normal, everyday stuff aside - is David's mother's health.

But then this girl arrives. Claiming she just wanted David to know. Claiming it was easy and logical because she had to go to college anyway and there he was. And well, of course things aren't that easy at all!

Girl Unknown is a slow build, but it so worth it. Bonus tip: if you're a fan of Tana French, you'll want to check this one out. Karen Perry - is actually a pseudonym for writing team Karen Gillece and Paul Perry - earned a blurb from the genre favorite and thank her in the acknowledgements too!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official tour page here. And for more on Karen Perry and their work you can like them on Facebook.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner + a Giveaway

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Helen Warner's The Story of Our Lives. Note there is a tour wide giveaway on this one, so be sure to read through to the end for the Rafflecopter.

Best friends Sophie, Emily, Amy, and Melissa have been thick as thieves since their college days. Now that they're all out on their own, and even though they do see each other occasionally, they've made a tradition of getting together for a girls' weekend each year.

But as the years go by and each of their lives becomes more complicated:

Emily has never come clean about her son's father and being a single parent becomes difficult when she's challenged in a way she never could have imagined.

Amy has met the perfect man, but it soon becomes clear to her friends that something isn't quite right in her home life.

Melissa has always been freewheeling and free spirited, but her drinking and drug use is a growing cause for concern for the others.

And Sophie, who seems to have it all, struggles to find happiness in her family and home life.

Warner begins this story of friendship with the girls' summer in 1997 and it's made clear in just a few pages how strong the bond is between the four girls. And though we're plopped into their lives post college, we do get pieces of their earlier story as the book progresses.

Each set of chapters is divided by a year, taking the story through to 2012. There are fights, break ups, make ups, babies, weddings, and all sorts of everything in between. It's literally, as the title suggests, the story of their lives!

Or at least a short story of their lives, obviously there's quite a bit before and quite a bit to come, all things considered.

I loved the friendship between these women. They each have their flaws and they each have their issues, but they work through a lot of those side by side, supporting one another in the way only the closest of friends and family can! There are ups and downs throughout the book, so it's not an all the time feel good read, but there is a satisfactory end that I think qualifies it as such - feel good.

As mentioned, there is a tour wide giveaway on this one. To enter, simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sunday Silence by Nicci French

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Nicci French's latest, Sunday Silence. (See, see, Sunday is out!)

Sadly this is apparently the penultimate entry in the series :(

When a body is found beneath the boards of her very own floor, Frieda Klein finds herself the center of a criminal investigation. 

No, it's not the first time she's been involved in a criminal investigation. And no, it's not even the first time she's been the focus of the investigation as a potential suspect. In fact, it's just the latest in a game of cat and mouse that's been going on much too long. The killer, Frieda is certain, is the same man she's warned authorities about for years now. A man who's been stalking her, leaving behind clues that lead straight to Frieda. A man everyone else believes is dead. But Frieda knows the truth. The question is, can she finally convince the police before she herself becomes a victim?

A running theme in this series has been the growing contention between certain members of the police force and Frieda herself. As a consultant, she was a trusted ally and solved many cases for the authorities. And she still has friends on her side who know this to be true. And yet, there are certain people who have done their best to undermine her efforts and chip away at her credibility. We've seen this before in the series. We've also seen, time and again, Frieda plead her case that Dean Reeve is not indeed dead.

Both of these are at the center of Sunday Silence, the seventh book in this smart and seriously fabulous series! And of course it ratchets up the tension of the book. As a reader who's been by Frieda's side for so many years, we have the insider track. We know what Frieda knows, that Dean Reeve is alive and has been taunting authorities for years.

Balancing that tension is the fact that Frieda's circle of friends is steadfast. And the fact that the authors have spent fair time building that supporting cast is one of the things that makes this such a great series. Each character is carefully drawn and wonderfully fleshed out. And that includes Dean Reeve.

While Reeve has been at the periphery of a number of installments at this point, it's clear the series is building up to a big showdown between him and Frieda. And unfortunately, with just one more installment to go, it's certain that's coming soon. The final book in the series, Day of the Dead, releases in July and I have to admit that I don't want it to end! 

Mystery fans in search of a rich series should definitely add this series to their "Must Read" list. The plots are so intricately planned and clearly put together with each following story in mind - the attention to detail is phenomenal. Honestly, you just can't go wrong with this series!

I do recommend starting from the beginning, if only so you can experience the full emphasis of the character relationships and the way the overall arc builds (though each one can be read as a starting point without too much trouble), so here's the series list in order:

Blue Monday
Tuesday's Gone
Waiting For Wednesday
Thursday's Child
Friday on My Mind
Dark Saturday
Sunday Silence
Day of the Dead (forthcoming)  
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official tour page here.

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