Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Auctioneer by Joan Samson

How's this for a throwback post? So I recently dove into Grady Hendrix'x Paperbacks From Hell (review to come) and was inspired to seek out some of the titles he highlighted, including this one from 1977.

John Moore and his family may not have much, but they have each other. And they have their land. Paid off in full, the property has been in the family for generations. John and his wife, Mim, work hard to care for and live off of the land and it's their every intention to pass it along to their daughter one day. 

After a spate of crime rocks their small community, the local sheriff is grateful to the help offered by the new auctioneer in town. His weekend events have raised money enough to add more than one deputy to the force as well as a number of other assets. But when the auctions continue, week after week, the locals begin running out of things to give. 

The Auctioneer reminded me, to some extent, of Needful Things. Except instead of giving, the auctioneer takes. And takes and takes and takes.

This is a quiet tale compared to a lot of genre reads. It's not very graphic and it's definitely not in your face horror. Instead, it's a story of an insidious creeping kind. The horror sneaks up on you, just as it does on the characters in the story. And by the time you're well into it, it's much too late to turn back.

John Moore lives by his land. It's his everything. So at first, giving to the local auction, for a good cause, is fine. Even still, he should listen to his initial discomfort when he meets the auctioneer. But the auctioneer is good at what he does - he manipulates people. Sometimes it's through cleverness and charm, other times it's by other means. Either way, he gets the people in the community right where he wants them.

The moral of this story is the danger of standing by. The danger in assuming that if something isn't immediately affecting you, you're safe from the danger. And though it was published over 30 years ago, it's a moral that's all too timely today.

Incidentally, this is the only book Samson ever wrote. She unfortunately passed away shortly after this one was published. At the time, there was supposed to be a movie adaptation in the works that apparently also fell through when Samson passed.

The Auctioneer is currently out of print but I was able to find a used copy fairly easily. Maybe if there's enough demand a certain publisher that has brought back quite a few OOP horror titles will add it to their catalog!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Everything We Lost by Valerie Geary

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Valerie Geary's latest, Everything We Lost.

On December 5, 1999, Lucy's brother, Nolan, disappeared. Lucy was just fourteen at the time. Now, ten years later, she can't forget Nolan. And she can't move on with her life. So she returns to the place Nolan disappeared, reuniting with her estranged mother, and facing the secrets her family has hidden for so long. 

So Nolan headed off into the desert in search of UFOs, or at least that's what Lucy thinks happened. The story alternates between her present day story and Nolan's story leading up to his disappearance, giving readers the chance to see things from both sides. Which is helpful when your narrator isn't completely dependable - no one would be recalling things from when they were a kid!

My expectations were mixed with this one - I was intrigued by the promise of UFOs and such, but suspected it really wouldn't quite be the X-File kind. And I was right. Instead, the book is about mental illness and coming of age and such. Which was fine, but maybe not what I was exactly in the mood for. The book was also billed as a psychological thriller and I'm not sure that's completely accurate in setting up expectations either.

Nonetheless, Everything We Lost was an intriguing read and the mystery behind Nolan's fate had me fully engaged. Which is fortunate because this is a bit of a long one! Everything We Lost is a bit of a genre mash up, which I love, and the perfect read for a book club looking for a meaty story with lots of discussion points!

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

For more on Valerie Geary 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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Releases 8/29/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Sip by Brian Allan Carr

Valley of Terror by Zhou Haohui

The Final Hour by Tom Wood

The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines

Glass House by Louise Penny

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

Seance Infernale by Jonathan Skariton

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Extinction Evolution by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Red Dirt by Anna Jarzab

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee

Zero Repeat Forever by G. S. Predergast

The Girl With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

New on DVD

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison - Excerpt

Happy Friday, everyone! And what a Friday it is! I have a fabulous treat for you, as part of the TLC blog tour for J.T. Ellison's latest, Lie To Me, I get to share an early excerpt!

Y'all, J.T. Ellison is one of my favorite authors! In fact I can still remember - as a very new reviewer - getting an ARC of Ellison's first Taylor Jackson book, and I knew then that she was going to be a longtime favorite of mine.

So yeah, I'm pretty stoked to be able to share this with you today.

Before we dive in though, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Ooooh! I can't wait! And hopefully neither can you, but if you're still wavering, there are a series of excerpts you can check out to entice you further! I am, as part of the excerpt tour, the fifth stop. If you want to read the rest in order, you can check out the full list here.

Lie To Me
by J.T. Ellison

Beauty and the Beast 


Ethan’s agent nudged him. “There is a woman watching you from across the room.”

Ethan glanced over, didn’t see anyone of note. Then again, he was lubed up, like a lock drenched in oil. He’d already had a few cocktails, and had plans for a few more before he passed out in his soft king bed upstairs. He liked the rooms in the hotel, they were clean and spacious and pleasant, not at all threatening, unlike some of the aggressively modern places his publisher put him up at, thinking the extravagant price tag was a justifiable expense to keep their cash cow happy.

All he wanted from the evening was a solid drunk and a good night’s sleep. He didn’t have to fly back to Nashville until late in the afternoon. He could sleep in, have some room service delivered, take a long, hot shower and grab the car to the airport with plenty of time to spare. He had nothing else on his calendar, and he was glad for it. The week in New York had damn near killed him. Breakfasts and lunches and dinners, a few women taken back to that soft king bed, endless talking and applauding and schmoozing.

He needed a break from his life.

You wanted this, jackass. Be careful what you wish for.

“Ethan. Did you hear me? There’s a woman over there who’s practically drooling.”

“Bill, I have no time for more women. You know that.”

A hearty laugh and a punch on the arm. Sometimes he wondered if Bill was humoring him, being kind because he was making them both so much money. He thought they were friends; Bill knew almost everything there was to know about Ethan. Almost everything. But sometimes he wondered. Ethan had made Bill rich. Very, very rich. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that the man loathed him and was simply in it for the house in the Hamptons he would soon be able to buy with his fifteen percent.

Bill leered at him. “If you’re not interested, maybe you could throw an old dog a bone.”

“You’re married.”

“I’m married, I ain’t dead. I can look. Pretty please? Her dress is cut so deep in the front I won’t even have to stand on my tippy toes to look down it.”

Ethan glanced down at the much smaller man, shrugged. “Fine. Let me get a beer and we’ll wander over so you can gander at the lass.”

There were two lines at the bar. It was moving quickly. Maybe he’d have a Scotch instead of a beer. He started looking at the bottles lined up behind the bartenders; saw a Macallan 18. Nice. That would do.

He felt a hand on his arm. Glanced to his right. A woman stood next to him. Not the one from across the room. This one was tall, with long strawberry blond hair pulled back in a severe ponytail, and seemed endlessly fascinated with his arm. It wasn’t like she was touching him to get his attention, it was almost as if she was caressing him. It was a strange touch, wildly erotic, and the rest of the room bled away in an instant.

Was she drunk? She didn’t seem drunk. She seemed…hungry. And not in the let me take you to dinner way.

He smiled down at her. “I have another, if you’re wondering.”

She jerked back as if burned. Her face turned a becoming shade of red. She had freckles across her nose. Clean skin devoid of makeup. She didn’t need any. But no mask? In this mess? Interesting.

“Can I help you with something?” he asked.

She started to move away, still watching him.

“Wait.” What are you doing, you fool? Chick’s crazy, just another groupie. Let her go, stick with the plan.

The stranger halted, a deer in the headlights. Her voice was soft, her eyes clearly showing deep embarrassment and something else, something intriguing and attractive.

Her voice was throaty, and he felt something deep inside when she spoke.

“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I promise you I don’t go around touching strange men.” She turned on her heel and started off.

He stopped her, grabbed her hand. “Wait. Don’t run off. I don’t even know your name. I’m Ethan.”

She froze, glanced down at his hand, so large over hers. “I know. Ethan Montclair. I’m a fan of your work.”

He heard it so often it had become rote, but from this woman’s lips, it felt different. Like a prayer. A promise.

“Who are you with?”

“I’m sorry?” She finally met his eyes, and he had his first good look at her. What he saw was entrancing. She was pretty, wholesome, Irish descent, probably, with that reddish hair and the blue eyes. Her sleek black dress showed off a great figure, hourglass but lithe. She looked fresh, innocent. Girl next door, the kind you grow up crushing on, your best friend’s older sister. And then you become old enough to bed her legally, and the tables turn. This one, though, still had the suburban stink all over her. Intern, he thought.

“I meant, what house are you with?”

“Oh. None.”

“What are you doing here, then?”

“I…” The way she dropped her eyes when she was embarrassed, like a courtier looking up at him from her lashes, was maddening, in all the best ways. She took a deep breath. “Okay. We’re at the same house. You’re light years ahead of me, though.”

A small zing. “You’re not an intern?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Do you have a name?”

The blush deepened. “Sutton. Sutton Healy.”

Lie To Me is due out September 5 (so, super soon!) from Mira. I'll be doing a review as part of the tour on September 18, so be sure to check back then. 

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

For more on J.T. Ellison 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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Kate Hamer's latest, The Doll Funeral.

Ruby is thirteen when she finds out she's adopted. 

Her home life isn't great. Her father is abusive and her mother is the only thing that stands between Ruby and his ever present anger. So when things get too bad, Ruby takes off. She heads into the woods in hopes of finding her birth parents. With her best friend, Shadow, alongside her, Ruby settles with a family of siblings living in the Forest of Dean. With a real family, finally, it looks as though things have started to change for the better for Ruby. But as time passes, she isn't so certain this is the case anymore. 

The Doll Funeral is kind of a strange read. Ruby is an imaginative girl and it isn't always clear what's real and what isn't. This aspect adds a level of almost magical realism to the tale. I say almost, because it's not quite that, just bordering on it. It's the kind of book that really blends and melds aspects of multiple genres to create a story that defies easy labeling.

The story alternates between Ruby's perspective, her birth mother, Anna, and Ruby's friend Shadow. Anna's story begins in 1970, Ruby's begins in 1983, and Shadow's pieces are told alongside Ruby's. Shadow in particular adds another strange element to the novel. He seems to be a spirit drawn to Ruby...

Throughout the tale, there's this great underlying sense of mystery and even dread. And Ruby's story is dark, to be sure, again she's a child in an abusive home - that's dark enough. But the woods, the kids hiding out in the woods, Shadow... This underlying darkness, the kind you'd see in gothic fiction or even a fairy tale, never overwhelms the story, but it's there the whole time, giving the story shadowy corners and things seen from the corner of the eye.

The narrative really does pull you along as a reader. The strange blending of genres, the wonderful atmosphere Hamer threads throughout the story, and short, clipped chapters make the book more accessible than you might think. And it makes the story move along rather quickly as well. Plus, Ruby is an endearing character who you want to see get some sort of happily ever after resolution.

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

For more on Kate Hamer and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

I'm not going to lie, readers, August has been a crappy reading month for me. One of the main reasons for this seems to be thanks to the weather. Apparently I get barometric pressure headaches. I've known this for quite some time and I've joked frequently about being a human barometer. But I've always had headaches caused by various things on a pretty regular basis all my life and I've learned to pretty much live with them and function around them.

This month, though, has been a challenge. It's been raining quite a bit and with each rainstorm, the human barometer that's me gets an increasingly strong headache. Which sucks because I actually love the rain. To top it off, barometric pressure headaches can kick off migraines, and I was lucky enough to have that happen twice so far this month. TWICE! Two migraines in one month is new to me. I get them pretty rarely (thank GOD) but I'd really rather get them never!

So yeah, reading has been a challenge this month and it pushed me right into a reading slump. Ugh. Fortunately I seem to be coming out the other side, helped along by some really fun reads like this latest from Carrie Vaughn.

After the collapse of society, people have rebuilt in small, carefully controlled, communities. These communities grow only what they need to support those who live there. Every member of a household has a job and a purpose. And if there's excess or success that proves another can be provided for, they're granted a banner and permission to have a child. Then and only then are they allowed to remove the implant that prevents pregnancy. Then and only then are they allowed to procreate. They know it's the only way to survive and avoid the same fate that claimed their ancestors. 

Enid is a member of Haven, where she's lived her whole life. And she's started a household with three others, a household that has recently been granted its own banner. Enid is an investigator, her society's version of law enforcement. It's her job to travel where needed, answering the call for help whether it be an accusation of hoarding, an illegal pregnancy, or worse. 

When Enid and her enforcer, Tomas, are called to Pasadan to look into a suspicious death, they find they aren't entirely welcome. The dead man fell and the people of Pasadan are sure it was an accident. But Enid isn't so certain. As she begins her inquiry, questioning the people of Pasadan, she's met with increasing resistance. And though the village seems quiet and law abiding on the surface, Enid soon learns that may not be the case at all. 

Bannerless is a post apocalyptic dystopian novel - and I'm not going to lie when I say I'm not done with this genre by a long shot! So knowing that from the outset made this one an appealing read. That it's set generations after said apocalypse, when society has moved on and learned to live with and work with what they have is of even more appeal.

Enid is aware of some of what came before the fall. She's spent time reading the (fortunately) paper journals kept by the only member of Haven who lived through it. And she knows that even her job was much different before the fall. But she doesn't have those technologies at hand to help her in her investigation. Instead, she has to rely on instinct and questioning.

The story is told through two alternating timelines - the Pasadan investigation "present day" and Enid's past, the time before she started her household. It's this past timeline that really gives the reader a better understing of Enid's world.

In that timeline, she travels from community to community, remarking on the things she sees and experiences, broadening our sense of the world as it is now. She passes ruins of a big city, now said to be overrun with thieves and scavengers of the type worth avoiding. She passes an outpost quarantined and off limits. But it's not all doom and gloom, she also passes villages that celebrate visitors and news from other communities. People who are happy to share what little they have in exchange for what a traveler can offer. In this way, Enid gives readers a chance to see the world through her eyes and learn what's become of it and how it all works.

But her past also informs her present in many ways. First, it allowed her to experience things beyond Haven and to grow as a person. Second, it helped her decide to become and investigator. And third, well, you'll kind of have to see for yourself.

For some, Enid's point of view may prove to be a bit limiting in terms of world building, but I quite loved Enid and enjoyed experiencing her world alongside her. Plus, this is apparently the first in a series, so limited or not it's not the only piece of this world we'll be getting!

I also really liked the way the mystery built. It's not what I would call a suspenseful read in the traditional sense, but the suspense is there. What happened to the dead man? Why was he so universally disliked? And what is really going on in Pasadan?

I found Bannerless to be great fun, just the thing I needed to help me get through a slump!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Good morning, readers! Today I'm kicking off the TLC blog tour for Karin Slaughter's latest, The Good Daughter.

Charlie was only thirteen when her mother was murdered. Her father, a defense attorney known for getting some of the most controversial defendants in their area off, had made a lot of enemies. In fact, just one week earlier their house had been burned in the wake of yet another accused being set free under her father's eye. But this crime, this one was one meant to wipe out a debt. And Charlie witnessed the whole thing. 

Twenty-eight years later, Charlie has taken up the mantle as an attorney herself. And like her father, she's chosen defense as her specialty. Unlike her father, though, most of her cases are juveniles and drug offenders - a bit less likely to catch the ire of the Pikeville's public. 

Charlie's worked hard to get where she is and to put her past behind her. To bury the memories of that terrible night. But when she becomes witness to a shocking crime, all of those old memories come back to haunt her. 

I love a book that's the whole package - insane pacing, fabulous plotting, and characters that leap off the page. The Good Daughter has all of that and more!

The book begins with Charlie's sister Sam. It's 1989 and just eight days after their house has been firebombed. They've taken up residence in a musty farmhouse whose owner died in one of the lower bedrooms. This fact is something that keeps both Sam and Charlie from venturing into said room! Sam answers a call from her father who says the sheriff is sending a man over because his (dad's) latest case has gone in his favor once again. Given the result last time (the fire) he's concerned.

But the sheriff is too late. Sam and Charlie witness their mother's murder. Sam is shot and buried alive. And she has no idea whether Charlie, who she ordered to run, has made it away. But both girls know the name and face of one of their attackers.

And that's our prologue!!! And I don't know if you can imagine it, but the book gets more intense from there!

And poor Charlie (though she wouldn't want your sympathy) is going through a lot when we jump to present day. She's in the midst of a separation that hasn't yet become a divorce, and it's clear she doesn't want it to. And then she witnesses a terrible crime. And becomes wrapped up in the case. Which, as I mentioned, brings back tons of old memories of the day that's pretty much defined her life, much as she'd like to say it hasn't.

Fair warning, this book delves into some pretty dark territory. Slaughter never shies away from that, to be honest, and has literally no problem putting her characters through the virtual ringer.

The Good Daughter is a stand alone, so if you've been curious about delving into Slaughter's work but haven't been sure where to start, this is a great place! And though this one is a bit of a chunkster, just over 500 pages, it moves super fast. Though you probably will want to carve out a day to devote yourself to it, it's definitely not one you want to put down once you've begun!

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

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, August 21, 2017

World Tree Girl by Kerry Schafer

The second book in one of my favorite new series hit shelves earlier this month, yahoo!

Maureen Keslyn is no stranger to the weird and supernatural. She spent her career working for the FBI's top secret Unit, investigating just those things. But she's retired now, thanks to a disagreement that left the Unit ready to kill her to keep her secrets. The death of her old partner Phil left her in charge of Shadow Valley Manor, a retirement home with more than it's fair share of secrets, keeping her plenty busy. 

When a local man is found dead, with pictures of an unidentified girl Maureen and the local sheriff have taken to calling the World Tree Girl, they begin to fear that one of Shadow Valley Manor's worst may have gotten loose. The girl's body has gone missing, but not before a blogger revealed that all the blood in her body had turned into clear goo. The dead man, who coincidentally was just fired from the coroner's office that lost said body, appears to have been that blogger. And his own death appears to be somewhat suspicious as well. Could the Unit have gotten to him?

I love Maureen. I mentioned that in my review of the first entry in the series, Dead Before Dying. And this second picks up pretty much where that last one left off. So you do have to read them in order.

In addition to the dead body that Maureen and Jake are trying to track down, you know, to assure themselves that the whole blood turning to goo thing doesn't mean what they think it means (read Dead Before Dying), Shadow Valley Manor is having some issues as well. It seems the local spirits aren't crossing over the way they need to and they're ALL flocking to Shadow Valley Manor.

And then Phil's daughter arrives, claiming she's going to contest the will that left Maureen in charge of Shadow Valley Manor!

There are a lot of threads in World Tree Girl and I didn't feel that all of them came together quite as cleanly as they could have. A middle schooler catches wind of the happenings at Shadow Valley Manor, for example, and it kind of looked like she'd play more of a role in the story than she actually did and there are hints at something odd with Matt, the cook and undercover Unit agent (now double agent working with Maureen), just to name a couple.

But I enjoyed returning to Shadow Valley Manor and spending more time with Maureen. She really is my new favorite genre heroine! Plus, I've been in a massive reading slump and I'm really hoping that Maureen and her team might have pulled me out of it. I just hope some of those dangling threads are going to extend into the next entry where we'll get more explanation/resolution.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Releases 8/22/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Y Is For Yesterday by Sue Grafton

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Everything We Lost by Valerie Geary

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

The Sabateur by Andrew Gross

Stay With me by Ayobami Adebayo

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

The Sorbonne Affair by Mark Pryor

Sulphur Springs by William Kent Krueger

Shattered by Allison Brennan

The HEart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington

The Dire King by William Ritter

The Rattled Bones by S. M. Parker

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

New on DVD:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

There are a ton of literary "buzz" topics for me - you know, those things that when they appear in a book's description you just absolutely have to have them even though you have a gazillion other books about the same thing. And while I don't have a gazillion Anastasia books, it does qualify as one of those subjects I'll buy every time. So when I heard that Ariel Lawhon's new book was going to be about her, I immediately added it to my wishlist. (To be fair, Lawhon is an author a lot of authors I read read, so anything by her is likely to end up in my wishlist anyway.)

Here's a bit about I Was Anastasia from Goodreads:

Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water or even acknowledge her rescuers, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious young woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, old enemies and new threats are awakened. The question of who this woman is and what actually happened to Anastasia creates a saga that spans fifty years and three continents. This thrilling page-turner is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

I Was Anastasia isn't out until next February, but Lawhon's two previous releases The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress and Flight of Dreams (about the Hindenburg) are both out in paperback. And if you've read those and are a fan of stories based on Anastasia, I recommend checking out Ariana Franklin's City of Shadows in the meantime. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for David Handler's latest, The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes.

Stewart Hoag has made a name for himself as a writer (with his one acclaimed novel) and highly sought after ghostwriter (with three #1 bestsellers). His recent prospects haven't quite been up his alley (a Barney memoir, no thanks!), but now his agent has something big: years ago, critically acclaimed writer Richard Aintree disappeared. The widower left behind two orphaned daughters, one of whom Hoagy himself has a connection to. The other daughter, a Martha Stewart-esque brand in her own right, has been experiencing a bit of a downturn in her career and so, when a letter supposedly from her long lost dad arrives requesting that she, his old agent, and Hoagy get involved in a project together, curiosity and money win out. 

Hoagy and his canine companion, Lulu, travel to LA to stay with Monette Aintree as they wait for daddy dearest to reveal himself, and the story he wants told. Then Hoagy's long lost love - Monette's estranged sister, Reggie, shows up with a letter of her own. Not that Hoagy minds, the more the merrier plus it seems the perfect excuse for a party in Monette's eyes. Until said fĂȘte turns into a fiasco with Monette herself claiming responsibility for murder. But something smells, and it isn't just Lulu's breath. Now Hoagy has to put his investigative skills to use to find out what's really going on. 

The Girl With the Kaleidoscope Eyes marks a two decades in the making return to the Stewart Hoag series, apparently. The series debuted in 1988 with The Man Who Died Laughing and, until now, ended in 1997 with The Man Who Loved Women Too Much. And I wasn't familiar with any of them. At all. So I was a little worried. But apparently this is one of Harlan Coben's favorite series, which was enough for me to want to give it a shot.

And it worked fine. Consider it a series reboot - a starting place for newbies but a return to a long beloved series for fans as well.

And rather than bring the character and series forward to today, it's set in the 90s!

Hoagy (as he likes to be called) has a penchant for licorice ice cream and a knack for celebrity secrets. The latter, combined with his writing chops, makes him perfect as a celebrity ghostwriter (you know, the person who really pens those celebrity memoirs even though they don't get credit). But apparently he also has a knack for getting involved in murder investigations.

I enjoyed Handler's lighter tone and humorous style. Plus, these are mysteries about books! And I am a sucker for books about the industry. Though to be honest, there's not a whole lot of writing that goes on in this one - mostly they're hanging out waiting for Richard Raintree (or the person pretending to be him) to be revealed. But there's plenty of other things going on - Monette's in the middle of a nasty separation that, thanks to her celebrity status, is playing out very publicly. And Hoagy does consider that the sudden appearance of her "father" could be a publicity stunt. But he's threatened the very day he arrives in town, and apparently isn't one to back down from a fight. So hoax or no, he's in it to the end.

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes is fun and light. If you enjoy amateur sleuths, books about books, canine buddy reads, and/or celebrity gossip scandals, I'd absolutely recommend giving this one a try!

There aren't really many references to Hoagy's past adventures, which again means that it's easy to slip into this ninth in the series even without any former knowledge of its predecessors. But if you do want to start from the beginning, the series has been kept in print via ebook! Here's the full list:

The Man Who Died Laughing
The Man Who Lived By Night
The Man Who Would be F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Woman Who Fell From Grace
The Boy Who Never Grew Up
The Man Who Cancelled Himself
The Girl Who Ran Off With Daddy
The Man Who Loved Women to Death
The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes

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

For more on David Handler you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews - Excerpt

Oh, happy Monday, readers! Today I've got a fabulous excerpt for you as part of the blog tour for Temple Mathews latest, Bad Girl Gone. Before I dive into that, however, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to set the scene:

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she's in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There's just one problem: she's not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents' car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive but she's not.

She's a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn't quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she's presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.

If you're still not quite convinced that your bookshelves are begging for a copy of this one, here's a taste to whet your appetite:

Bad Girl Gone
by Temple Mathews


When I tried to remember exactly how I came to be lying in the cold black room, my mind couldn’t focus.

I could feel myself slowly climbing upward, clawing my way out of the clutches of a nightmare. This was usually a good feeling, because you knew you were just dreaming, and the nightmare was over. Except this time it wasn’t. My hands felt clammy. I gripped the sheets until I knew my knuckles must be white. Help me, I thought. Somebody please help me.

I had no idea where I was, and for a terrifying second I couldn’t even remember who I was. But then I remembered my name. Echo. Echo Stone. My real name is Eileen. When I was a toddler, I waddled around repeating everything my parents said and they called me “Echo,” and it just stuck.

Remembering my name and how I got it kick-started my brain. I knew who I was. I remembered that I was sixteen years old and lived in Kirkland, Washington, with my mom and dad. It was all coming back to me. Mom was a dentist and Dad taught middle school English. Good, I could remember parts of my life. But I was still in a dark, cold room and had no idea how I got there. I held back a scream, my chest tightening. Don’t lose it, Echo, keep it together, I told myself. Calm down, think good thoughts.

I pictured Andy, my boyfriend. Six feet tall, broad shoul- ders, blue eyes, and long golden-brown hair. He loved to feed me cookie bites and called me his rabbit. I called him Wolfie. Sometimes he got the hiccups for no reason at all and usually laughed them away. Thinking of Andy momentarily made me feel warm inside, even though the room was freezing.

Where was I? I was shivering and yet also bathed in sweat, my skin slick with it. I clutched for my trusty Saint Christo- pher necklace. But it wasn’t there. Mom gave it to me to protect me when I traveled. Would it protect me now? I would never have lost it. The chain must have broken. And then I had an ugly thought. What if someone had ripped it from my neck? I shuddered. Where are you, Andy? I need you!

I opened my eyes as wide as I could. It was pitch black. My pounding heart told me, This isn’t some nightmare—it’s real. I hugged myself and breathed deeply, trying to calm my nerves. My shoulders were tight. I rubbed the sheets beneath me. The ones at home in my bed were soft. These were stiff and coarse. I was somewhere completely and painfully foreign. In my head I was talking to myself in a rapid voice, my fear voice: What is this?—what is this?—what is this?

Someone nearby was crying. I had a knot in my stomach and my throat hurt, like I’d screamed for hours. My head hurt, too, and I guessed I must have fallen, or maybe something heavy fell on me. I explored my scalp, gently at first, then more bravely, moving my fingers, searching for a lump. I found nothing . . . no lump, no holes. My skull was intact, though my long auburn hair felt tangled and greasy. I inhaled through my nose, search- ing for familiar scents. Mom’s cinnamon rolls, Dad’s after- shave. But nothing smelled even vaguely familiar, and the odors that did find my nose were horrible. Smoke. Vinegar. Sulfur.

I reached for my bedside lamp—but my fingers touched something damp and stringy. Oh god. The knot in my stomach tightened and I yanked my hand back. I willed my eyes to ad- just to the dark, but as I blinked, strange pulsing figures leapt out at me. It must have been my mind playing tricks. Right?

I took five good, long breaths, sucking in through my nose and exhaling through my pursed lips, just like my grandma Tilly taught me years ago. But five breaths weren’t enough. So I took ten, and finally my heart rate slowed from a galloping panic to a steady, cautious thudding. Soon I was able to distin- guish shapes. Was that a girl in a bed next to mine? Her hair was impossibly thick and long, spilling down her back. Her sweaty hair. That’s what I must have reached out and touched. My heart returned to its punishing rhythm, a fist clenching and unclenching in my chest. The nearby crying stopped. But then it was replaced by something worse, a ripping sound, like bone being cut by a rusty saw. And then a gurgling . . . followed by a low, feral growling noise. Faraway cackling laughter. What the hell was going on?

I was terrified and breathing so loud I was afraid I’d wake up the sleeping girl. Something told me I should lie still and keep my mouth shut. Stupidly, I ignored it. My voice was raspy, my throat aching . . .

“Mom? Dad?” Nothing. “ANDY?”

The words sounded weak in the stony silence that followed. My ears strained for the comforting sound of my parents’ familiar footsteps—but I was met with more cruel noises drift- ing through the blackness.

I heard a faraway clock ticking and an odd whimpering, and then a cough. But it wasn’t Mom’s or Dad’s cough; it was the cough of a child—a girl, I think. I desperately wanted this to be a nightmare. So I closed my eyes and tried to float back to sleep. But the terrifying sounds continued: the soft, almost melodic crying; the rhythmic, persistent coughing; the howls and metal- lic noises; the rushing water. I couldn’t take it. I opened my eyes again.


An echo from the darkness. Distant. Haunting. Mocking.

“Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”

I sensed something under my bed. The hair on my neck prickled. I imagined dangling my fingers over the side of the mattress, envisioned them being latched onto, bitten by some creature that would drag me down into its fetid pit. I held my breath and listened. There it was. Someone, or something, was breathing beneath me.

I slid to the edge of the bed and then slowly lowered my head, my irises widening. I peered into the shadows—and saw a pair of feral eyes peering back at me. Acid panic flooded my veins as I jerked back, thinking, Please don’t kill me. If you touch me, my boyfriend will hunt you down and beat the living shit out of you!

I heard a rustling sound, then footsteps. I saw the creature leap out from under my bed. Its eyes found me, then it scam- pered out of the room, on two legs I think, a flash of white. It looked human, but it could have been something else. What- ever it was, thank god it was running from me. Or wait! Maybe it was going to gather more of its kind and they’d come back for me in a pack. My skin crawled. Get out!

I couldn’t stay in this room. I had to get up and move. My bare feet hit the cold, wood plank floor. I took tentative steps into the shadows. A floorboard creaked beneath my feet and I froze. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness and I could make out shapes. Up ahead I saw a shallow pool of light. I moved toward it.

I walked slowly, taking tentative steps, my eyes darting back and forth. The hallway felt like a perfect place for an ambush, so I was alert, my muscles taut.

I passed a closed door on my right, another on my left. I caught a scent of smoke. I heard a splashing sound, as if some- one was taking a bath right above my head. I kept my gaze fixed on the pool of light that was spilling out from under a large door at the end of the hallway. As I drew closer, I could see that the door was built from thick oak planks and looked like it weighed a thousand pounds. On it hung a thick brass ring. On my right was a tall, old grandfather clock, ticking away like a metronome but with no hands to tell time with. It made me afraid and angry. What was I doing in a place with a clock with no hands?

I stepped closer to the thick door. My stomach tightened in fear. Something was terribly wrong. I was lost, adrift, not only in the wrong place, but I felt as though somehow I was the wrong me. I was jolted by a terrible thought. What if I never saw Andy again?

I raised my hand to grasp the knocker but stopped. Because I felt someone behind me.

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” said a voice, barely above a whisper.

I turned and saw a slight boy, thin as a reed with long, snowy hair, eating a red candy apple. The hair on the nape of my neck rose.

“Wow. You’re a pretty one,” he said.

I might have blushed. I’d never thought of myself as pretty. My nose is crooked, and ever since someone told me my eyes were too far apart, I’ve been convinced of it.

“Want a bite?” he asked, holding out the apple. 

Bad Girl Gone hit shelves last week and is available wherever books are sold!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Releases 8/15/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey

Dog Dish of Doom by E. J. Copperman

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

The Store by James Patterson & Richard DiLalla

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

The Hawkweed Legacy by Irene Brignull

A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor

New on DVD:
Alien Covenant
Everything, Everything

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Quiet Child by John Burley

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for John Burley's latest, The Quiet Child.

Cottonwood, California is a small town. The kind of town too small for its own police force, where the sheriff and the firemen are volunteer. The kind of town where everyone knows everyone's name and everyone's stories. 

Kate McCray has always called Cottonwood home, even before she was a McCray. So of course everyone knows Kate and her husband, Michael. And when Kate becomes sick, everyone sympathizes. But Kate and Michael have two sons, Sean and Danny. And Danny doesn't speak. Not only that, but ever since Danny was born, people in Cottonwood have been getting sick. And small town gossip says it's something to do with Danny. So when Danny and Sean are kidnapped, some people think maybe it's for the best that Danny is gone. 

In spite of all of that, Sheriff Jim Kent is determined to find the boys. Even when almost a week has gone by without any clue as to their whereabouts, he isn't ready to give up. It's not until Michael takes off on his own, though, that Jim gets his first big lead. 

The Quiet Child makes for a great latest from Burley.

First, there are the twists I've come to expect from one of his books. And yes, there are twists here. And even though I had them figured, it actually didn't make the book any less gripping.

Second, there's the setting. Not only is this set in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone, it's set in the 1950s. Which makes tracking down two missing boys a different sort of animal than today. And I really appreciated the attention to detail in that regard. There's a piece where Kent and the two detectives assigned to the case end up having to trace a phone call that really brings this home for the reader.

Finally, though, this is a story about family. It's about how far you'd go to protect the people you love. Michael is our predominant narrator here and he's struggling. He's struggling as a father and as a husband. His wife is dying, his youngest son doesn't speak, and he knows all too well what the townspeople say about the boy. As the story builds, it becomes clear just why people have attached this superstition to the boy who, by all accounts (and by the pieces we get from his POV), is a good kid. And yet, as the reader you have to wonder if there's merit to the belief that he could be causing the town so much pain. And why.

Not that Burley gives us a why in the end. Which is ok too, because it means this is one that sticks with you!

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

For more on John Burley and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Hazel Gaynor's latest, The Cottingley Secret.

In 1917, two young girls conceived of a prank so elaborate it would entrance a nation. Cousins Elsie and Frances, armed with a camera and an imagination, took a series of five photographs in which they claimed to have found and frolicked with fairies! And while the first four images were proven to be fakes, the fifth was never analyzed. 

A century later, Olivia Kavanagh has inherited her grandfather's old bookshop in Ireland. Still grieving the lost of her beloved grandfather, she is gifted, alongside the key to said store, a story. A fairy tale of sorts - except this tale is that of the Cottingley Fairies, written by Frances herself. From the first pages, Olivia, who has always been enchanted by stories of the fae, is drawn in completely. And when she finds a sixth photograph, one no one has ever mentioned in the hub bub around this historical prank, she begins to wonder if their might be some truth to the story. 

So even after tackling the Titanic, I think this may be my very favorite of all of Hazel Gaynor's books so far. I don't recall when I first heard about the Cottingley Fairies myself, but it is definitely a story that has always intrigued me. First and foremost, the fact that two little girls could have so captured a country's attention with what was admittedly a prank. They even caught the eye of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, you know of Sherlock Holmes fame!

What I find most intriguing about the story of Olivia and her grandmother and Elsie and Frances is that Gaynor was able to speak to Frances's own daughter in the course of researching and writing the book. The author's note at the end includes a piece written by Christine Lynch, who believes there was some truth to her mother's stories. In fact, it's her hope that the fifth (because there isn't a sixth) image will one day be analyzed and prove that not all the pictures the girls took were fakes.

What a great story, right? I mean the fact that people put stock in what these two girls claimed in the first place, which, as Gaynor points out, is due in large part to the morale of the nation in the wake of WWI. But that even Doyle himself fell for the ruse is amazing to me. He even ran the pictures in his magazine!

But that's enough about the context. What about the book, you're probably asking? Well, it's true to Gaynor's previous outings - excellent research and fantastic attention to detail. Which set the scene and make the story one that feels authentic and, whether you believe the girls' tale or not, real.

And of course there's Olivia as our driving force behind the story. Olivia who, from the opening pages, is clearly a woman open to the fantastical. And a woman who is deeply grieving. So of course the Cottingley Fairies is exactly the kind of story that would draw her in.

Add to that the fact that the story also revolves around an old bookshop and never before read manuscripts and you have what is a pretty perfect recipe for a book any true book lover will fall head over heels for!

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

For more on Hazel Gaynor 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

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang + a Giveaway

Happy Friday, everybody! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Lydia Kang's latest, A Beautiful Poison.

It's 1918 and Allene Cutter is engaged to be married. But when a guest at her engagement party falls down the stairs, dying on impact, things get a little mysterious. 

One of Allene's guests, a friend with a tarnished past, swears he smells almonds on the breath of the dead girl. And he would know. But Allene's own father pays the police to hush things up quickly - after all, the dead girl was a socialite from a good family and Allene's own reputation could be affected. But when more people around Allene begin dying, each accompanied by a strange note, she can't help but investigate. With her friends Jasper and Birdie by her side, the trio begin digging into a case that puts them each in potentially grave danger. Can they unmask the killer without becoming victims themselves?

If you can't tell, A Beautiful Poison gets started pretty darn quickly. The players are introduced, the first mysterious death occurs, and a cover up begins all in the very first few pages. And it's oh, so deliciously fun!

Allene doesn't conform to the societal role expected of her. In fact, she bucks it pretty much every chance she gets. She's 18 and engaged, but not at all excited or really interested in marrying her fiancé. In fact, she'd rather spend her time studying science, something recently forbidden by her father in the wake of her mother's illness. But Allene doesn't really give a fig about that, hence her investigation!

Jasper is perfectly placed to help with this amateur sleuthing - he works at Bellevue Hospital as a janitor in the pathology building as he tries to save enough money for medical school. Jasper grew up alongside Allene until his family's position in society plummeted. His and Birdie's stories are revealed as the tale progresses, so I don't want to give anything away.

One of the really cool aspects of this book is the fact that Kang herself is a physician. And like Jasper, she worked at Bellevue. Her knowledge and expertise really comes through as the story progresses. And this is a story set during the outbreak of Spanish Flu that also has poison and (AND) Radium Girls! So yeah, all that combined makes for a pretty fabulously intriguing and cool story.

A Beautiful Poison is out now, but I am offering up a copy here to one of you fabulous readers! To throw your name in the hat, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 21. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

For more on Lydia Kang and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dangerous Ends by Alex Segura

Hello, everyone. Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Alex Segura's latest Pete Fernandez mystery, Dangerous Ends.

Maya Varela has always believed that her father was wrongfully convicted of her mother's murder. Varela, a cop, maintained that two men had broken into his apartment and murdered his wife. He also claimed that a witness, a woman in an orange dress, showed up in an attempt to help. Unfortunately, as the investigation progressed, the police - Varela's own colleagues - soon turned an eye to Varela himself as the killer, assuming he'd been lying about the two men. And even though witnesses did see the woman, when said woman took the stand she recanted, causing Varela and his attorney to lose ground with the jury. 

Years after the jury returned a guilty verdict, Gaspar Varela has run through most of his appeals and it seems a new trial is their only hope for his release. But that means finding new evidence. 

That's where Kathy and Pete come in. After being involved in some highly publicized local cases, the two have become something of a team. And Maya has hired them to help with her father's case: Pete to investigate and Kathy to write a book about the case. And it seems, at least a little, that Varela's claims of innocence may have some truth to them. But as Pete and Kathy, paired with an ex FBI agent and former associate of Varela's, dig into the case, it soon becomes clear that no one wants them to succeed. When those threats turn into attempts on their lives, though, Pete becomes even more determined than ever to see the case through to the end. 

I'm a big fan of a great PI mystery and as one of my favorite of favorites winds down, I'll admit that I've been looking for a new detective to hook me. Alex Segura's Pete Fernandez has some big shoes to fill, but it seems he might be a good fit for me.

Set in Miami, this third installment in the series brings a dark and criminal underbelly to light - gangs and gang politics that tie all the way back to Cuba. In fact, Pete's own grandfather gets a bit of attention with chapters beginning in 1959 Cuba interspersed throughout the present day chapters.

It seems Pete's grandfather turned down an offer made by Castro's own men in his earliest days in power, leaving the elder Fernandez no choice but to flee to America with his family. And though Pete knows nothing about this at the start of the story, his family's past is eventually revealed to him as a possible connection to the current case.

I really appreciated the fact that while this was the third book in a series, it was easy to dive into as an introduction. That said, Segura does spend a bit of time bringing the reader up to speed (or offering a refresher, as the case may be) with Pete and Kathy, which could potentially mean a bit of spoilers for those of us who backtrack to the previous installments.

Pete and Kathy have a history - in fact, Pete was hired to find Kathy in Segura's first outing of the series, Silent City. Theirs is obviously a relationship built on a certain amount of shared danger and trust, and ample ribbing on the part of both characters. And again, diving in further into their story didn't leave me at any sort of disadvantage. Their characters were well built, without Segura ever leaning on or relying on the previous installments, making it easy for a newbie like me to easily get to know them and get a good feel for their relationship.

And as characters go, Miami itself is equally as important as Pete and Kathy. Miami isn't a place I've spent much time, but Segura definitely brought me there through Pete's eyes and experiences. From the Cuban cafes where Pete gets his cafecito fix to the beaches that play host to tourists by day and crime scenes by night, the setting is brought completely to life, making the story is that much more rich and intense as a result.

It's early days for me and Pete, but with Dangerous Ends I think we're off to a promising start!

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

For more on Alex Segura and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble