Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Excerpt

Good morning, readers! And a Happy Book Birthday to Jennifer L. Armentrout, whose latest, Till Death, hits shelves today!

Thanks to the publisher, I have an excerpt to share with all of you today. But first, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

I don't know about y'all, but I think this sounds crazy intense! Romantic Times gave it a four and a half star review, and warns that you'll want to read it with all the lights on :)

Now here's a little taste to whet your appetite!

Till Death
by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Rules that shouldn’t be broken, but it had happened this time and damn it, it would happen again. Didn’t matter that everything had been under control up until this point. Didn’t matter that the rules had been followed and needed to be followed.

Everything was different now.

She was coming back.

And she would ruin everything again.

The huddled, pathetic shadow in the corner whimpered. The woman was awake. Finally. It wasn’t nearly as fun when they were passed out through all the good parts. Planning required patience, and patience was truly a virtue, one mastered over years and years of waiting.

Bloodied, dirtied rope circled the ankles and wrists. When she slowly lifted her chin and her lashes uttered open, her startled cry came from deep within a well of endless terror. It was in her wide glazed-over eyes. She knew. Oh yeah, she knew she wasn’t walking out of here. She knew that the sunlight she’d seen when she’d gotten into her car the morning she’d left for work was the last sunlight she’d see. She knew that was the last time she’d breathe fresh air.

Dim artificial light was her home now. The musky, earthy scent would be with her right down to the very last breath she took, and that scent would clog her pores and cling to her hair.

This would be her final place.

The woman tipped her head back against the damp brick wall. The terror in her gaze gave way to pleading. Always did. So fucking predictable. So pointless. There was no hope here. There was no chance of a miracle. Once they came here, there was no knight riding to the rescue.

Footsteps sounded upstairs. A second later, faint laughter echoed, drawing the woman’s wide gaze to the ceiling. She tried to yell, to scream, but the sounds were muffled. Those pathetic sounds stopped when dull light glimmered off the sharp blade.

She shook her head wildly, flinging limp blond strands across her pale face. Tears filled her brown eyes.

“It’s not your fault.”

Her chest heaved with erratic breaths.

“If she wasn’t coming back, this may never have happened to you. It’s her fault.” There was a pause as the woman’s gaze flew to the end of the knife. “She fucked me and I will fuck her back in the most unpleasant manner.”

This time it was going to end like it always should. She was going to die, but first, she would pay. Pay for everything.


MY HEART STARTED racing as my gaze trekked to the rearview mirror. My brown eyes seemed too big and wide at the moment. I looked freaked out, and I was.

Taking a deep breath, I grabbed my purse and opened the door of my Honda, stepping out. Cold air immediately coasted under the thin sweater I wore as I closed the door behind me. I inhaled deeply, surrounded by the scent of freshly cut grass.

I took a step toward the inn I’d grown up in and hadn’t seen in years. It was the way I remembered. Wind stirred the vacant rockers. The bushy ferns that hung from late spring to early fall were gone. The clapboard was painted a fresh white. Shutters a deep forest green and . . .

And my throat dried. Tiny bumps raced across my skin, lifting the wisps of blond hair at the nape of my neck. An awful, surreal feeling slammed into my gut. My breath caught in my throat once more.

The feeling was like a slick, too-heavy caress down the center of my back. The nape of my neck burned like it had when he would sit behind me—

Pivoting around, I scanned the front yard. Tall hedges lined the property. It was a decent distance from Queen Street, the main road cutting straight through the town, but I could hear the cars passing by. No one was out here. I turned full circle. No one was on the porch or in the yard. Maybe someone was at one of the windows or the inn, but I was alone out here despite the way my pulse pounded or what instinct screamed at me.

I focused on the green hedges again. They were so thick someone could be hidden behind them, watching and waiting for—

“Stop it.” I closed my free hand into a st. “You’re being paranoid and stupid. Just stop it. No one is watching you.”

But my heart didn’t slow down and a fine tremor coursed through my tensing muscles. I reacted physically and without thought.

I panicked.

Icy claws of terror sunk deep into my chest and I ran—ran from the side of my car and into the inn. Everything was a blind blur as I hit the stairs and kept running, all the way to the upper level.

There, in the quiet and narrow hallway outside the apartments above the inn, out of breath and feeling sick, I dropped my purse on the oor and bent over, clasping my knees as I dragged in deep, uneven breaths.

I hadn’t stopped to notice if the inn had changed in the years I’d been absent, hadn’t stopped to notice if the inn had changed in the years I'd been absent, hadn't stopped to find my mother. I’d run like there were demons snapping at my heels.

And that was how this felt.

This was a mistake.

Intriguing, no? 

Till Death is out on bookshelves now, so run out and grab a copy ASAP and find out what happens next!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty + a Giveaway

Hello, everybody! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Judy Fogarty's Breaking and Holding. I am giving away a copy today, so be sure to read through to the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Patricia knows she should leave her husband, but even after discovering he's been cheating, she doesn't have the courage to really do it. To get the ball rolling on a new deal for his agency, Jack takes Patricia on a trip to Kiawah Island. When the trip is over, though, Patricia refuses to return to New York. Maybe, just maybe, time alone in their beach house will help her make her decision. 

Lynn, Jack's assistant, has long played the middle man in Jack and Patricia's relationship. Too long, in fact. So when the Kiawah account is handed to her, she finds herself not only in the middle, but in the literal thick of Patricia's summer of discovery. And it's not a place she's sure she wants to be. 

The summer proves to be tumultuous and life altering for all three - Patricia, Jack, and Lynn - but as their own lives are affected, so are the lives of those they interact with over the course of the long hot months. 

Judy Fogarty's debut is a tale of love and madness, tennis, and breaking free.

Patricia is meek and uncertain as the story begins, but when she meets tennis player Terry Sloane, all of that begins to change.

Patricia's back story is huge, certainly in terms of the forming of her character, but it's more alluded to than drastically developed. In fact, it's not until she reveals a big part of her story to Terry himself that we get a better understanding of her relationship with Jack. And while there were a few dangling threads, for the most part the allusion works well.

Because this isn't the story of Patricia's past. Or Lynn's. Or even Jack's. It's about their futures. It's about how Patricia is finally given the opportunity to (or one could even say is forced to) come into her own. And how Lynn is also forced to do the same.

Setting is a key player in this tale. The story is set in 1978 and Fogarty references not only some of the actual tennis history of the era - to set the scene for Terry - but some key feminist history as well.

Patricia is a lover of literature. She finds solace and friendship within the pages of her books and has for quite some time, so it could readily be argued that her transformation begins with a book - Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. A book that Lynn even takes the time to warns Jack about when she discovers Patricia is reading it. And it's a warning Jack definitely doesn't take to heart.

Of course Patricia and Jack's relationship is completely unhealthy and had he heeded Lynn's warning, the story would be completely different!

Breaking and Holding proved to be quite a gripping tale for me. Though I was definitely drawn to the setting, I'd never describe myself as a tennis fan and I was afraid, if the story leaned too far in that direction, that it might not quite suit my taste. But as the tale continued I found myself literally unable to tear myself away! I loved Lynn and rallied behind Tricia and there was no way I could put the book down until I found out how their stories would end!

Rating: 4/5

And now for the giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Raffelcopter below before Monday, March 13. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

For more on Judy Fogarty and her work you can visit her website here. You can also friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Releases 2.28.17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Golden Hour by T. Greenwood

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

Marked for Revenge by Emilie Schepp

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide

The Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Bone Box by Faye Kellerman

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

The Fifth Element by Jørgen Brekke

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

One Blood Ruby by Melissa Marr

10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

New on DVD:
Doctor Strange
Shut In

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Dare You by Jennifer Brown

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nova by Margaret Fortune

Margaret Fortune's debut is fabulous fun! The first in the Spectre War series (currently projected to be 5 books, I believe) begins as one thing and morphs into a completely different kind of story. But what kind is something I'm not going to give away. That said, I'm going to attempt to be somewhat vague in my review. So here goes:

Lia Johansen is a refugee with a secret. One of hundreds of POWs recently released as part of negotiations over a habitable planet called New Earth, Lia and her fellow prisoners are given temporary asylum on New Sol Station. But Lia isn't there for asylum. Lia isn't Lia at all. She's a walking bomb whose clock is counting down swiftly.

Until it's not. Ready to go nova and take the entire station with her, Lia is given a reprieve when she proves to be a dud. But the stay is only temporary and she has no idea how long it will take for the final minutes of her clock to count down. 

Her mission is complicated by two factors beyond the bomb's fickleness: one, she has no memory of her mission. Two, the memories she does have are the real Lia's. And when one of Lia's friends turns out to be living on New Sol, going nova begins to seem like a bad idea.

We meet Lia as her transport is arriving at New Sol. Lia, the real Lia, was a citizen of Aurora Colony, one of many terraformed colonies throughout the expanse. When the colony fell, she and her family were taken to the Tiersten Internment Colony, as prisoners of the Tellurian Alliance, one of two governing factions that controls (and fights over) space.

See the Tellurians and the Celestians have been fighting for ages over everything. And while new colonies are being terraformed for human habitation, the discovery of a seemingly Earth-like planet perfect for habitation as is, is the center of the current conflict between the two groups. Unfortunately, Lia and the other refugees were caught at the center of the conflict until just recently. A tenuous treaty has been negotiated, and the POWs have been released.

But things aren't quite hunky dory, as evidenced by the fact that this Lia, our narrator Lia, is carrying a bomb meant to destroy New Sol!

Unfortunately, whatever plan Lia is part of has gone massively awry. And with no knowledge of what the plan actually is, Lia isn't sure she wants to continue carrying it out. Especially when she's taken under the wing of Lia's old friend from Aurora, Michael.

As her time on New Sol stretches out, Lia becomes close to Michael, even convincing herself that she can live some sort of life with an actual future.

Lia is an unreliable narrator in that she doesn't know her own story. Her internal battle between what she thinks is her purpose and what she actually wants is one that propels the story from start to finish and each new piece of information she discovers about herself and the world she lives in proves to complicate things further for her.

As her clock ticks down, the pacing of the story increases, leaving the reader wondering what fate Lia will choose and how this will affect the world we've come to know.

Nova is an excellent start to a series. It's the kind of book that has huge cross over potential - a teen narrator in an adult SF tale that definitely appeals to both audiences. But there's a massive and fabulous twist beyond all of that that really makes Nova fantastic.

Rating: 4/5

Nova has been out in paperback for some time, but next month marks the release of the second book in the series, Archangel. So now's the perfect opportunity to catch up! Be sure to check back here next month as I'll be giving away a copy of Archangel here on the blog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Drifter by Christine Lennon + a Giveaway

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Christine Lennon's debut, The Drifter. I am giving away a copy today, so be sure to read through to the end to enter the Rafflecopter.

One more semester. Just a few final months to go before the end of college and the next phase in Betsy's life. But the semester is not off to a great start. After crashing all summer in her friends' apartment, Betsy has become a third wheel. 

She, Ginny, and Caroline met at rush and have been friends ever since, but things between Caroline and Betsy have become more than strained. Things were fine while Caroline was gone for the summer, but now she's back and things are weird as ever. To make matters worse, Gainesville has become the new stomping grounds for an apparent serial killer. In a town full of women, it's unlikely any of the three will ever cross his path. Or so they think. 

Twenty years later, Betsy still hasn't recovered from the death of her friend. She's overly cautious and afraid of letting her daughter out of her sight. Things aren't helped when she receives an invite from a sorority sister to attend their twenty year reunion. If she's ever to move on with her life, it appears she'll have to face the horrors of her final months in Florida. 

The Drifter wasn't quite what I expected. It's being compared to Megan Abbott and M.O. Walsh, the latter of which is actually a pretty perfect comparison in retrospect.

As with Walsh's debut, The Drifter is less a thriller than an examination of how events shape our lives. We're introduced to Betsy in 2010 as her daughter is beginning preschool, and it's clear that Betsy has issues. She's obsessed with background checks and security at the school and is even caught lurking outside. But what the school doesn't know is that Betsy's fear is grounded in a very real and tragic event - her best friend's murder.

Cut to 1990 and everything is apparently, mostly, hunky dory. Betsy is carefree and happy, somewhat. Yes, the trio of friends is experiencing a rocky patch, but all is fairly normal. Except that two women have been murdered in their little college town.

While we do get some chapters beyond Betsy's final months in college, much of the story is focused between August 22 and August 30, or the days leading up to the murder of one of Betsy's friends. From there, it's clear her life could only be influenced by that event. Understandably.

From the description, I definitely did expect more of a thriller. And while The Drifter certainly has thriller leanings and aspects, it's more a coming of age tale about a woman whose life is affected by a great tragedy. It's also about healing from, and dealing with the guilt of, that event.

To that end, The Drifter is not necessarily paced like a thriller. There's much more introspection and examination of the time leading up to the event. (As is the case with Walsh's title, hence the apt comparison.) And by honing in on the tiny details that make up the days leading up to and even beyond the crime in question, Lennon really gives readers a chance to get inside Betsy's life and mind. To experience the emotions and the uncertainty of those final days of college, the testiness of a close friendship, and the tragedy of loss.

The book is set at an interesting time, in my opinion. 1990 did mark a significant change from the 80s. There was a different feel to everything: fashion, music, movies... I may be biased because I lived through it, but I'd say anyone my age likely feels the same. To set the tone, Lennon created a Spotify playlist. I highly recommend listening along as you read as it really does create a great mood for the book. You can also check out a great guest post by Lennon over at BookClubGirl.com.

And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 6. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

For more on Christine Lennon and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Jennifer Ryan's The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.

With the men off to war, the Vicar of Chilbury has decided to shutter the local choir. But the women have a different idea. Together, with the help of an enigmatic new local music teacher, they form the Chilbury Ladies' Choir. 

That's right, a choir featuring all women. 

It may be unheard of, but in this time of need there's simply no other choice. And to be certain, this is indeed a time of need that calls for a choir. As the threat of war looms ever heavier over England as a whole, and the village of Chilbury in particular, music and the choir prove to be just the thing to keep up the town's spirits. And the women's spirits as well. 

Told through diaries, letters, and the occasional local announcement, Jennifer Ryan brings Chilbury and its citizens into vivid life.

Our main narrators include Kitty Winthrop, an almost fourteen-year-old girl determined to become the best singer she can be; her sister, Venetia Winthrop, the village's seemingly remaining free-spirited troublemaker, who has her eyes set on a local artist as her latest conquest; Mrs. Tilling, a widowed nurse whose own son has just set off for the front; and Miss Edwina Paltry, a local midwife looking to make an extra pound any way she can.

Kitty and Mrs. Tilling have both begun journals as per the suggestion of the same radio program. (According to Ryan, this was a very real effort during WWII to chronicle the happenings on the Home Front during the war.) Venetia, meanwhile, keeps track of her efforts to woo an artist through correspondence with her friend, (who everyone agrees is a terrible influence) living in London throughout the story. And Miss Paltry keeps up her own correspondence with her sister, outlining a plot that becomes more complicated and troublesome as her part in the story progresses.

Together, and with a few extras, the happenings in Chilbury from March 26, 1940 through September 6, 1940 are outlined in great detail. And I do mean great. The characters run the gamut of personalities, ages, and social rank. We even get a bit of insight from a couple of men and a refugee who's been taken in as well.

And while the choir is much of the focus, it's really the framework for the larger story of England's WWII Home Front - the hopes and dreams and fears of a people at war and the ever changing social structure brought about by that war.

I quite adored this book! It is quite fabulous and heartfelt, making it the perfect read for any historical fiction fan. It's sweet, without being sappy, and it feels authentic in terms of both characters and scope. Definitely recommended!

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

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

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Releases 2.21.17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Drifter by Christine Lennon

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Most Dangerous Place by James Grippando

Running by Cara Hoffman

A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

Fatal Option by Chris Beakey

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

The Book of Mirrors by E. O. Chirovici

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

New on DVD:
Nocturnal Animals
Hacksaw Ridge
Manchester By the Sea

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Ghost Line: The Titanic of the Stars by Andrew Neil Gray

Ooh, readers! Today's pre pub title is one that I'm super looking forward to this year!

It's no secret I've been a big fan of Tor.com's novellas. I've reviewed a number of them so far and have enjoyed each and every one immensely. I expect The Ghost Line: The Titanic of the Stars by Andrew Neil Gray will be no exception to that rule! 

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

The Martian Queen was the Titanic of the stars before it was decommissioned, set to drift back and forth between Earth and Mars on the off-chance that reclaiming it ever became profitable for the owners. For Saga and her husband Michel the cruise ship represents a massive payday. Hacking and stealing the ship could earn them enough to settle down, have children, and pay for the treatments to save Saga's mother's life.

But the Martian Queen is much more than their employer has told them. In the twenty years since it was abandoned, something strange and dangerous has come to reside in the decadent vessel. Saga feels herself being drawn into a spider's web, and must navigate the traps and lures of an awakening intelligence if she wants to go home again.

But the Martian Queen is much more than their employer has told them. In the twenty years since it was abandoned, something strange and dangerous has come to reside in the decadent vessel. Saga feels herself being drawn into a spider's web, and must navigate the traps and lures of an awakening intelligence if she wants to go home again.

Tell me you're not dying to read this one yourself now!!!

The Ghost Line is due out in July from Tor.com. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

Happy Valentine's Day, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Meredith Jaeger's debut, The Dressmaker's Dowry.

Sarah Havensworth has stalled on her novel. Writers block is one thing, but this is to be the thesis for her MFA! As if that weren't bad enough, Sarah also feels guilty about the lack of progress considering she's quit her job and let her husband support her through the endeavor. Though his family has plenty, she's all too aware that she doesn't quite fit the Havensworth mold, something her father-in-law's displeased attitude reminds her of any time the family gets together. 

Fortunately, new inspiration strikes when Sarah stumbles upon a story of two missing dressmakers in nineteenth century San Francisco. Dumping the novel, Sarah returns to her journalist roots and decides to pen a narrative non fiction focused on the terrible working conditions in her city's past history, all the while telling the story of Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien, the two missing women. But as she investigates the century-plus old mystery, secrets new and old begin to threaten her marriage. 

The premise of The Dressmaker's Dowry is an intriguing one and I quite enjoyed Sarah's attempts to solve a hundred-year-old mystery. Chapters alternate between Sarah and Hanna, illustrating the events of 1876 alongside Sarah's investigation.

This was an easy one to get sucked into and I thought it was a lot of fun. That said, it was also a bit too easy. Details about Sarah and the other characters are conveniently placed, sometimes awkwardly so, and some pieces of the story definitely come together in a way that's not quite believable. None of the characters is very deeply developed, either, which was a shame because I quite liked both Hanna and (especially) Sarah and would have liked more out of both of them.

While the plot certainly could have benefitted from a bit more complexity, at the moment I must admit that easy breezy is kind of what I needed. I recognize the flaws in The Dressmaker's Dowry but it hit me at the right time and I quite enjoyed it in spite of that.

Historical fiction fans in search of something a bit on the light side will enjoy this first outing from Jaeger.

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

For more on Meredith Jaeger 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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Janie Chang's latest, Dragon Springs Road. I am giving away a copy of Dragon Springs Road so be sure to read through to the end to enter.

Jialing and her mother lived together happily for years. Their home, the Western Residence of a larger estate, was their own and only Jialing's mother ventured out for the things they needed. And though her mother had left before, she always came back. 

That changes the year Jialing turns seven. This time, her mother leaves and never returns. As it turns out, the estate has been sold to a new family, one that, upon discovering the orphaned Jialing, agree to take her on as a bond servant. With the Yangs, Jialing has a home, food, and even a friend. But as the years pass and Jialing becomes older, she realizes that she won't be able to rely on the Yangs forever. And the prospects of any other Shanghai girl aren't necessarily open to Jialing. See, Jialing is zazhong - Eurasian. 

With the surprising guidance of a fox, Jialing comes into her own and decides the first thing to be done is to find her mother. But as hurdle after hurdle is thrown her way, the world around her becomes more tense. The government is overthrown, the economy suffers, and Jialing's future becomes more unclear. 

In Dragon Springs Road, Janie Chang once again combines history, culture, and lore in a story about  courage, friendship, and identity. The book is set between the years of 1908 and 1920, a great period of change and upheaval for China. And while that's not the main focus of the story, those changes affect Jialing even when she's too young to notice them.

Jialing has little interest in much of those happenings, especially in her early years. She's waiting for her mother to return. That she'll return is something young Jialing never doubts, but as she grows older it becomes clearer to her just how little she even knows about her mother. She knows the name of the man who owned the estate they lived on. She knows her mother was there with his blessing, likely as his mistress. And she knows when they left. Not much for a girl determined to track someone down to go on.

Honestly, the setting and Jialing's own mixed parentage provide a backdrop for a story that really could have been much darker for our heroine. Instead, Jialing, who is quite clever in her own right, finds a surprising ally in a fox spirit that resides on the estate. That spirit shows Jialing its own history while guiding her to opportunities and people that have great impact on the girl's life. The challenges she faces do make her stronger and, though there are dark threads throughout the tale, her story is ultimately a hopeful one.

I absolutely adore Janie Chang's writing. Her debut, Three Souls, was a definite favorite of mine and Dragon Springs Road easily joins ranks alongside its predecessor. Chang is a wonderful storyteller, weaving history and fiction together in such a way as to enhance the understanding of one and the enjoyment of the other without fail. Diving into her work is a truly wonderful experience!

And now for the giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, February 27. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

For more on Janie Chang 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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

New Releases 2/14/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Shimmering Road by Hester Young

Among the Ruins by Ausmet Zehanat Khan

Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

All That's Left to Tell by Daniel Lowe

Gilded Cage by Vic James

The Last Night at Tremore Beach by Mikel Santiago

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

New on DVD:
The Arrival
The Edge of Seventeen
Bleed For This
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts

I have a confession about today's pre pub title - I've already read it (twice!). It was one of the very first manuscripts I read at the agency and it blew me away!

I know what you're thinking - that I'm biased because she's repped by the agency I work for. Nope. Not one bit. It's just a freaking good book. And you don't have to take my word for it - it's already earned great blurbs and five star reviews. It was also featured at this year's Winter Institute, so I expect booksellers will be chiming in with advance praise as well. So see, it's not just me :)

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to whet your appetite:

Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.

Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.

But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.

This is the kind of book that really gets to you. The characters are wonderfully rendered, as is the setting. Which makes sense because Margo Catts is local to Colorado. It's also a super emotional read, so have your tissues ready!

Among the Lesser Gods hits shelves in May from the Arcade imprint of Skyhorse.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

Good morning, readers! Today I'm kicking off the TLC blog tour for Sara Flannery Murphy's The Possessions.

For five years now, Edie has been employed by the Elysian Society. Here, workers called bodies offer themselves up to the dead and the living - playing host to the deceased and giving their family and loved ones a chance to reunite and work through their grief. No one stays as long as Edie, but she has her reasons. And it's really just a job: there are procedures and rules to keep everyone safe - no suicides, no touching - and of course only scheduled interactions. 

Edie never gets attached and never breaks the rules. Until now. A new client has brought out a new emotion in Edie. Desire. And whether that desire is Edie's or the client's dead wife's, Edie begins to act on it. But as Edie becomes more wrapped up in this couple and their story, she also finds that the wife's death isn't as clear cut as it may initially have seemed. The circumstances are mysterious, to say the least, and Edie has starts to have flashbacks that seem to be the woman's own memories. 

Wow! The Possessions is, regardless of how you feel about it overall in the end, an entrancing and intriguing read.

I thought it was fantastic. The idea that people like Edie offer themselves up as hosts to the spirits of the dead is a strange one to consider. Would you? Or would you be a client, meeting regularly with your channeled beloved? Edie is the body we really get to know, and again she does have her reasons for working at Elysian Society (which are part of the story as well). It's clearly a job that's not meant for everyone, though. Bodies come and go and no employee comes close to Edie's five years there.

There's a starkness to Sara Flannery Murphy's writing that I found incredibly intriguing. Edie is not one to wax poetic about anything. And as our narrator, she controls the story, sharing what she sees and knows with the reader. Don't get me wrong, she gives us plenty of detail about her job and her world, but she also keeps a lot to herself. For me, it added to the suspense of the tale.

And there is plenty of suspense. Not only is Edie's newest client potentially hiding something (yeah, he maybe could have murdered his wife!), there's another murder that's caught the attention of everyone around the Elysian Society. The body of a girl found in an abandoned house just before it was to be torn down is a story that winds its way through The Possessions. Again, as Edie catches pieces of the headlines and such. And they mystery of that death becomes a bigger part of Edie's story as the book progresses.

What's interesting, too, about The Possessions are the questions it brings up. Again, if this were a service that was offered would you partake? At one point, a character notes that Elysian Society doesn't allow suicides because they won't force those departed to come back when they so clearly wanted to leave. The comment is countered by the question as to whether any of the departed want to come back. And because Edie isn't present during the actual encounters, we don't really know what goes on between these deceased and the people paying to communicate with them...

Again, I thought The Possessions was fabulous! Really an amazing debut!

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

For more on Sara Flannery Murphy 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

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty + a Giveaway

Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina have been taking an annual trip together for years. And Joni is determined to see the tradition survive.

The girls met when they were twelve - when their teacher announced that each of them, all C last names, also shared the same zodiac sign. That was when Joni knew it was meant to be. But as they've each grown, started careers and families, it seems their friendship has begun to wear. Recalling a pact they'd made to write letters to one another in a shared notebook, the women decide to do a one off on their latest trip: each is to write down one secret, anonymously, to be shared with the group.

But one of the women has a secret she regrets. A secret she tries to hide by swapping and destroying her original letter. Unfortunately, Joni finds the letter's remains and it's bad enough to potentially ruin everything. 

The Fifth Letter explores the friendship of four women. They've known each other since they were twelve - so now, in their mid thirties, over half their lives. I've been in need of some light escapism reading and The Fifth Letter most definitely fit the bill.

Deb is an insurance investigator, married with one kid. Eden is a performer who supplements her income with homes sales trends (Tupperware and such) and is married with two kids of her own. And Trina teaches PE and is married, with her own toddler. Joni, who writes for a popular website, fell behind a bit and has only been married for two years now. No kids.

When the story begins, Joni is sitting in a confessional booth ready to pour her heart out to the attending priest. And pour she does! She tells him all about her own woes as well as the friends' history, the trip, the letters, and her dilemma in finding the fifth letter. See, Joni isn't sure what to do. If she mentions it to any of the other women, it could very well be the woman who penned it in the first place. But she can't let it rest either, because for Joni, who is going through some things personally, the group and their friendships with one another are simply too important to throw away.

The letter in question is pretty damning and would literally ruin the bond the friends have shared. But as the friends each read one another's actual letters, the tensions between them begin to run high anyway.

Joni is our narrator, for the most part, so she is the one the reader is given the most chance to get to know and connect with. But I really thought that Moriarty did a wonderful job fleshing out the other three women through Joni's eyes as well. Joni is a true and fast friend and because she relies so heavily on the group and the friendship, she pays attention to the women around. Of course this doesn't mean that she isn't grossly wrong about which letter belongs to which woman. Her own issues color her perception just a bit...

The Fifth Letter is a mostly fun and light read. A book about friends growing older and growing apart, and, to an extent, realizing your dreams and finding your place in the world.

While The Fifth Letter isn't Nicola Moriarty's true debut, it is the first of her titles to be released here in the States, making her the third Moriarty sibling whose books have hit our shores. And I predict she'll be equally welcome and beloved as Liane and Jaclyn!

And now for the giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, February 20. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 5, 2017

New Releases 2/7/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Devil Crept In by Anna Ahlborn

The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey

The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Under the Knife by Kelly Parsons

What You Break by Reed Farrel Coleman

The Young Widower's Handbook by Tom McAllister

What You Don't Know by Joann Chaney

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

The Burning World by Isaac Marion

Always by Sarah Jio

To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

New on DVD:
The Take
The 9th Life of Louis Drax
Frank & Lola

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Readers, I imagine a title like today's Pre Pub Book Buzz pick brings to mind a certain kind of read. I mean Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows... a title like that is going to draw your attention, that's for sure! 

It certainly grabbed my attention. As did the absolutely fabulous cover and the description, all of which earned it an immediate spot at the top of my must read list.

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she's spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father's death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London's close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected and exciting kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community's "moral police." But when the widows gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife a modern woman like Nikki and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

This is not Balli Kaur Jaswal's debut, but it is the first of her titles to come to my attention and I think you'll agree that it sounds amazing! 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is out in the States in June from William Morrow and in the UK in March from HarperCollins UK. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

For years, Scarlett wrote to the infamous Caraval Master Legend in the hopes that he would bring his famed performers to the Isle of Trisda. Their mother had abandoned them, their father had turned cold, and it was their Nana's stories of the magical Caravel that kept Scarlett and her sister, Donatella, amused. Not only that, the tales allowed the girls to dream. 

Years passed, though, with no answer from Legend. Escape from Trisda is always on their minds, however, and it seems it will finally come to pass with Scarlett's betrothal. And it's this, that finally prompts a response from Legend. Now, Donatella has gone missing, part of Legend's twisted game, and it's up to Scarlett to follow the clues and find her. Her only hope for saving them both is winning the game, but this game and its players don't play fair or follow the rules. 

Oh, Caraval. Stephanie Garber's debut is probably one of the most anticipated of the new year. That anticipation, though, may have been my own downfall in the reading.

Scarlett and her sister have basically been held prisoner by their father since their mother left. And there's been no trace of Paloma in all that time. Their literal only hope for escape is Scarlett's marriage, and the girl is determined not to see it put at risk no matter what. And that includes being put at risk by the one other thing she's always hoped and dreamed for: attending Caraval.

But her stubborn sister has other ideas. So not only are they part of a game, Scarlett fears inevitable repercussions at the hands of her father and the very possible breaking of her betrothal as well. But Scarlett and Tella have only ever had each other, and that bond means that the sisters will do anything for one another.

Caraval is a magical and wonderful and, as Scarlett discovers, terrible place. Held on an island far from her home, the entire landscape is enchanted. The game is played at night and time passes much differently while in the game. Garber's imagery is amazing. The whimsy and sorcery of Caraval is beautifully and horrifically described, coming to life through Garber's narrative and is definitely a highlight of the tale.

Sadly, I wasn't as enchanted by Caraval as I'd expected to be. It's set up with a bit of a cliffhanger ending and some plot elements that aren't fully tied up - in particular, the tunnels that promise madness and the multiple incidents involving a woman in a gray dress that are never really explained - I assume these will be fodder for the next installment. There was also a general feeling while I read that the story dragged a little and should have ended earlier than it actually did.

Scarlett as a lead was enjoyable. Seeing her try to tease out the meaning of the various clues was definitely a highlight - as was her meeting of various side characters (I loved Aiko!). But  my biggest issue with the story was Tella. She was so infuriating! At no point did she win me over, unfortunately, and so there was a part of me that really wasn't rooting for Scarlett to win the game in the end!

So while the concept was wonderful and most of the execution fine, this debut was unfortunately missing just a bit of magic for me. The elements I liked in the tale were strong enough to keep me interested and invested. It was really only the end that lost me but I'll likely hop on board with the follow up nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Q&A With Cecelia Galante + a Giveaway

This week marks the release of Cecelia Galante's latest, The Odds of You and Me. Thanks to the publisher I have a great Q&A with the author to share with you today - and I'm giving away a copy of Odds as well!

But first, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Thirteen days. That’s all Bernadette, “Bird,” Sincavage has left to go until she’s done with her probation and can be free again. Free from making payments to the supermarket she wrote bad checks to. Free from living at home with her overzealous mother who’s constantly nagging her about attending church again. Free to give her four-year-old son, Angus, the normal life he deserves. Her impending freedom and move to Moon Lake, where she’s plunked down a deposit on a brand new apartment, is so close she can almost taste it. What trouble could she possibly get into in just 13 days?

But trouble does follow in the form of James Rittenhouse—someone she worked with a few years ago. At first, Bird is stunned to see James make the evening news when he’s arrested for assaulting someone in a local bar. But that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she discovers James hiding out in an abandoned church choir loft. Somehow he escaped police custody, broke his leg, and got his hand on a gun, which he’s now pointing at her.

Although Bird doesn’t tell anyone she saw James, there’s no way she’s helping him. She can’t screw up her probation or her second chance for a new future. And she has her son’s welfare to think about. Still. If only she could stop thinking about the terrified look in James’ eyes and the fact that he’s hurt. If only she could forget that once, long ago, James helped her out, and she owes him a debt like no other.

Will Bird jeopardize her future for someone who helped her out in the past? A past that holds secrets she’s not quite sure she’s ready to face? Or will she turn a blind eye and learn to live with the consequences?

This one is currently topping my TBR and I can't wait to dive in!

And now for the Q&A:

Did you learn anything new or surprising while writing your latest book?

I did, actually. The most obvious were all the strange facts I researched for James’ Curious Facts and Data book. Sometimes research for a book can be tedious, but the incredible information I uncovered for this one, including how the human heart beats more than 100,000 times a day, and that there is an actual name for the metallic way the air smells after it rains, were so interesting that it never felt like work. It was just so much fun!
How would you say the landscape in which you grew up (i.e. the region, culture, family) has shaped you as a writer?

I always sigh a bit when I get this question because I know I’ll have to go into a lot of strange detail about my somewhat unusual background (born into and raised in a fanatically religious cult for the first fifteen years of my life in upstate New York) but I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s is not the physical place or the culture that shapes people who end up writing – it’s the books along the way. At least that was true for me. I’d be errant if I said that growing up without a solid relationship to my parents has influenced several storylines in my books, (including this most recent one) but I’m also pretty sure I became a writer because my eleventh-grade English teacher, who may have noticed that I was a little bit out of my element, having just moved from the cult into the “real world,” left a copy of The Catcher in the Rye on my desk.

I read the novel in a day, finishing the last chapter inside the school’s bathroom stall, weeping uncontrollably. In a world where almost nothing made any sense, here was someone who told the truth – no matter how ugly or scary or funny it was – without worrying whether or not others would stop loving him if he did. Was that how things worked out here? Were we really allowed to write and say things that might make us look weak or even downright crazy? Because if it was, I knew that day, that it was all I ever wanted to do with the rest of my life. And it still is.

What is the difference between a fleeting idea you have for a book, which you eventually forget or discard, and one that gets you putting pen to paper, so to speak? 

I’m not sure if there is a difference between the two. I’d say it’s more of a seed and soil analogy; almost all of my ideas that have eventually led me to the page have always started off as a fleeting thought of some sort. Sometimes it’s not even an idea; it’s just a character who has found herself in a ridiculously interesting situation. That might be the glimmer of the idea. The one that gets to the page is the one that keeps on glimmering, day after day, week after week, until it gets so bright you’ve got to put the damn thing down before you go blind.

Who or what inspires your characters? Do you have a particular type of character that fascinates you?

If I admitted to all the people I’ve known over the years who have influenced a character of mine in some way, I’d probably get in a lot of trouble! I’ve rarely based a character completely off someone I know; the process is more of an organic one, in which I start off thinking of someone and then watch as the character flourishes into someone in her own right. It happens like that all the time, and it always amazes me when it does, because the finished character is almost nothing like the original one I had in my head. The process is just incredible.

As for characters that fascinate me, I’d have to say the angry ones. Or more accurately, the ones that aren’t afraid to be angry or piss people off. I LOVE writing characters like that, probably because I am the polar opposite of them. It’s freeing to live vicariously through someone else for a while, even if it’s just on the page.

What is the best piece of advice you have received that has influenced you as an author?

Best advice I’ve ever received as a writer: Sit down and write. 

Best advice I’ve ever received as an author: Don’t take no for an answer.

What is the most important thing you want readers to take away from your book?

Probably what I discovered while writing it: that God and parents and everything that goes with them are nothing without love. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CECILIA GALANTE, who received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Vermont, is the author of six young adult novels and a children’s chapter-book series. She has been the recipient of many awards, including an NAIBA Best Book of the Year, and an Oprah’s Teen Read Selection for her first novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies.

She lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania with her three children.

Big thanks to the publisher for providing the Q&A today! The Odds of You and Me is out on shelves now!

And now for the giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, February 13. Open US only.