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Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Good morning, everyone! Today I am super excited to be part of the Random Things blog tour for Sulari Gentill's latest, The Woman in the Library!

This is a book that has been getting lots of buzz from places I pay attention to! Plus, it's been touted as the perfect read for fans of Only Murders in the Building and White Lotus (the latter of which I admittedly haven't watched, but I adore Only Murders!). All that's to say, of course I had to read (and listen, as it turned out). 

Hannah is an author living in Australia. She's chosen to pen her latest novel set in Boston, which is why she's sending chapters back and forth to her friend Leo. Leo is willing and able to offer critique while Hannah is waiting to be able to take a research trip to the States. And his info on the layout and various Boston-isms that might elude the Aussie are genuinely helpful. 

Within the pages of Hannah's novel, Freddie, also a novelist from Australia but living in Boston as part of her fellowship, is working on her own novel. The Muse visits while sitting in one of the many reading rooms of the Boston Public Library and characters begin to form, inspired by the patrons that surround her. They are strangers, until a scream rings out. The mystery behind the scream in the library links the four whose collective curiosity cannot keep them from digging into the nearby happenings. 

Of course, with Hannah behind their actions, the four become mixed up in a case that could cost them much more than their academic careers!

This is a cleverly layered novel that truly blossoms into much more than you'd expect it to from the start. 

At first, the story within a story—the frame of a novelist penning a book that is the bulk of the book itself—took a bit for me to ease into. It felt as though Leo's letters were pulling me from the narrative. But as that part of the tale began to unfold a bit more, I was increasingly and equally intrigued by both parts of the tale!

I have to say, as someone who's been in a major reading slump of late, I seem to be on a roll with excellent reads to pull myself out of it!

I always did love books about books and The Woman in the Library is kind of the ultimate book about a book! And though Hannah's story is from the outset happening in the fringes of the book, it is incredibly fun! But I wouldn't want to spoil any of this delightfully thrilling book!

As an aside, I did listen to part of this one on audio via Libro.fm. Narrator Katherine Littrell is a joy to listen to as she gives voice to the variety of characters throughout!

The Woman in the Library is out now in the US and the UK!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Fellstones by Ramsey Campbell

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Ramsey Campbell's Fellstones, out now from Flame Tree Press! 

Paul Dunstan always felt responsible for his parents' deaths. After all, if they'd never met the Staveleys, he wouldn't have been under their tutelage, and the drive that caused the accident that killed his folks would never have happened. 

The Staveleys took Paul (then called Michael) in and adopted him, making him part of their family. But by the time Paul left for college, he'd already started to distance himself from them. 

Now, he's changed his name and hasn't seen any of them in year. Until their daughter, Adele, shows up at his work. She says her parents are aging and miss him. She begs him to visit. 

Which is why Paul finds himself once again in Fellstones. And once again remembering why he distanced himself from the Staveleys in the first place. 

But the truth is so much more horrifying than even Paul knows or remembers...

What a way to start off spooky season! (I mean, that's year round for me, but still!)

Ramsey Campbell has long been hailed as one of the best in the horror business. He's well respected and talked of in every corner of the genre and by every big name (which reminds me, Flame Tree is bringing his Ancient Images back into print and this is one Gemma Files mentions in the fancy edition of Experimental Film).

Anyway! 

Fellstones is that perfect blend of weird tiny towns, odd lore, and ancient relics (in this case, standing stones). In other words, folk horror! With a side of cosmic horror thrown in for extra flavor! And it's uber weird right from the start. But you know it's going to be considering our main character has basically been hiding from this family for years and has never told his current partner anything about them!

But then why does he return? Easy, he doesn't actually remember most of it!

I love Campbell's work and found this to be as much fun as I hoped plus more! If you're in need of an odd read this spooky season (or anytime!) definitely check out Fellstones. (And remember to add Ancient Images to your must have list as well!)


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

All the Broken Girls by Linda Hurtado Bond


Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Linda Hurtido Bond's All the Broken Girls, out now from Entangled!

Mari Alvarez intended to lie low after returning from suspension. After all, as a crime reporter who's last story ended in a lawsuit, she's lucky to still have a job.

But on the way to covering a baby sloth birth (lucky to have a job, lucky to have a job) she and her photographer catch wind of a dead body. Mari is told to stay put while her cameraman gets footage for the station, and she fully intends to, but there's something about the scene that she can't ignore. Something that reminds her of her own mother's murder. Soon Mari finds herself pulled once again into an investigation. Even, potentially, that of another serial killer. And this time, the killer seems to have her in his sights. 

I quite enjoyed this one! It reminded me of JT Ellison and Hank Phillippi Ryan, the latter of whom, like Bond, is also an author and reporter. 

Bond is a journalist by day and it's clear that she's pulled on that experience as well as her own family in creating the framework for Mari and the book. Mari's abuela is inspired by Bond's own mother in law!

All the Broken Girls is set in Tampa and features Cuban culture and religion heavily. It places Mari right in the middle of more than one conundrum, forcing her to reckon with beliefs she's never been sure she aligns with in spite of her abuela. And of course it's all wrapped up in a serial killer plot!

All the Broken Girls is super fun and full of suspense! Mari is an excellent lead and I certainly hope we'll see more of her in the future!

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

For more on Linda Hurtado Bond and her work you can check out her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Friday, August 26, 2022

Better the Blood by Michael Bennett

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things blog tour for Michael Bennett's Better the Blood

Hana Westerman is a good cop. But with a false complaint against her and stress with her daughter, the last thing she needs is for a killer to target her. 

But that's exactly what seems to have happened when she receives an anonymous video that leads to the discovery of a dead body. 

And then it happens again. Hana is the first to wonder if they could be dealing with a serial killer. But this killer is motivated by something stronger than desire. This killer is interested in meeting out justice. And Hana has caught his attention. The question is, can Hana catch him before he sets his eye on her as a victim?

I love, love, love this book! A Māori detective living in Auckland and investigating a serial killer is interesting enough. But in Better the Blood our main character is also forced to face the dirty history of her land and the way her own people were treated—and her involvement in a system built on racism! 

The book begins with a daguerreotype. A picture of a group of police and the "criminal" they've caught and punished. 

And while it's not immediately clear what bearing the photo has on a story that takes place well over a century later, it is certain that it's not the last we've seen of the picture or the story behind it. 

And it does indeed come into play again later as Hana investigates the crimes taking place in her city. 

I know very little about New Zealand and its history. Fortunately, Bennett does a great job of describing the land and the culture in such a way that the details truly come to life—the good and the bad. It makes for a read that elicits complicated emotions as the characters' stories and the killer's motives become more clear. 

This is a UK release that I highly suggest seeking out as it's an absolutely must read for crime fiction fans! And another excellent addition to New Zealand's community of crime fiction!




Monday, August 8, 2022

Chinese-ish by Rosheen Kaul & Joanna Hu

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu's Chinese-ish: Home cooking, not quite authenti, 100% delicious. 

I love food. Always have. And I really love books about food. Specifically cookbooks. It's becoming an issue :)

But what a good issue to have! 

To me, a good cookbook is clear and well written and exciting to the point that it inspires you to head into your kitchen and try your own hand at someone else's favorite dishes!

Chinese-Ish fit the bill in both those regards. 

The book uses a combination of illustrations and pictures (because, let's face it, pictures are pretty much key in making you want to try a recipe!)

The book starts off with a great section on "key information"—info on basics you should know and understand for the cookbook ahead (standard Chinese cooking techniques, "how to cook nearly every type of noodle," how to make dumplings, and even condiments!). And once we get past the basics, we dive straight into the authors' fabulous recipes! Some are more of a twist on a traditional dish, but everything is excellent! 

I had to start with "A Very Inauthentic Prawn Toast." I don't know why this was such a common dish on takeout menus back home but I haven't seen it on any menus since we moved! Which makes me sad. Being able to make it at home makes me happy!

Chao ta bee hoon (Crispy Rice Vermicelli Pancakes) are another win and a definite must make! 

There are multiple wonton recipes and multiple ways to cook them. Even a recipe for making your own wonton wrappers and a Wonton Skin Cannoli with Sweet Potato Custard (if you have any wonton wrappers left over!). 

Chinese-ish is out now in the UK from Murdoch books. (It'll be out in the States in November.)

Happy cooking!


Friday, July 29, 2022

We Will Rise by Tim Waggoner

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Tim Waggoner's latest, We Will Rise

Something is happening in the town of Echo Springs. The dead are coming back...

Randy Herrera was the first. Eddie has mourned the loss of his little brother for decades after he drowned in a terrible accident. And it's taken that long for Eddie to get over his fear of water. None of that matters when Randy comes back, though. Because he's taking Eddie with him this time!

All over town, people are faced with dead friends and relatives. No one knows why they're back but it's clear they're determined to increase their ranks, taking as many of Echo Springs' living as they can!

Tim Waggoner is something of a legend in the horror world. With umpteen short stories under his belt and almost as many books, he is definitely someone every horror fan should be reading! (Plus, he's a pretty nice dude!)

We Will Rise is a fun and creepy ghost story. Definitely different from anything else I've read in quite a while. 

A town plagued by its dead—and they're not zombies! That alone makes this a stand out :)

If you're looking for a great chiller to read this summer, you should absolutely add We Will Rise to your TBR pile!


Friday, July 15, 2022

Last Time We Met by Emily Houghton

Happy Friday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Emily Houghton's latest, Last Time We Met!

Eleanor and Fin were once the best of friends. In fact, they were so close that when they were thirteen they made a pact to marry each other if they were both single at thirty-five. 

But that was then. Now, they're virtual strangers. 

Fin, who's been living and working in the States, has been gone for years and Eleanor, who was in a committed relationship since she was a freshman in college, is newly single and trying to move on. The two collide, literally, at a mutual friend's wedding, forcing them back into one another's lives. But can their friendship recover from the hurt and betrayal that tore them apart in the first place?

Last Time We Met is a mostly easy breezy and sweet romantic read, perfect for summer! 

Poor Eleanor. Her life has truly been shaken up by her recent break up. What's more, everyone around her is pushing her to move on when she isn't quite sure that she's ready. 

Fin is also at his wits end. After leaving everything and everyone behind, he's forced to come home after learning that his mother's health is rapidly declining. But there's a reason he left and there's a reason he hasn't spoken to anyone for so long. 

The story flashes back between then and now, illustrating for the reader just how integral Fin and Eleanor were in each other's lives before revealing what happened to separate them in the first place (also why Fin left and hasn't spoken to his mother). And while there are some truly heart wrenching moments, Last Time We Met is ultimately a feel good (and I'll stress again, light) read. 

Last Time We Met is officially out in the UK on August 4!