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: