Sunday, October 29, 2017

New Releases 10/31/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Usual Santas ed by Peter Lovesey

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

Alone by Cyn Balog

Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

New on DVD:
The Dark Tower

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

It's Thursday, y'all!

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Joshua Max Feldman's Start Without Me.

Adam is pretty fresh out of rehab and visiting home for the first time in quite a while. In truth, it's the first time he's even been invited home in a year. It's Thanksgiving and, as it turns out, the pressure of the holiday is almost too much for him to handle. Which is why he bails. 

Marissa has just arrived on a flight from Seattle. A flight attendant whose job is a bitter point of contention between herself and her husband, she's supposed to pick up and drive to her in-laws' for the holiday. But she's less than enthused. More so when she discovers she's pregnant - and the baby isn't her husband's. 

Adam and Marissa cross paths at an airport restaurant - Adam determined to return to San Francisco and put the barely missed disastrous holiday behind him and Marissa stalling as long as she can before driving to Vermont. Their fateful meeting brings them together as they both struggle with expectations and suspected disappointments they both feel are inevitable.

Thanksgiving is such a strange holiday. Like Christmas, it's a holiday that comes with a lot of built up pressure and potential anxiety. Depending on your situation, like our characters, you may have waited all year to reconnect with extended family over turkey and fixings. But it's like the ice breaker considering Christmas falls just one month later.

For Adam, as mentioned, it's his first time home for some time. He's sober and has given up his career as a musician in exchange for a safer, more controllable job at a bank. It's a life of order and routine, which is what he needs to keep from falling back into drinking.

Marissa doesn't have much of a relationship with her own mother, something we learn more about as the story progresses. And her relationship with her husband and her in-laws is tense. In fact, as we meet her she's receiving an apology text from her husband regarding an argument they'd been having when she left for her last flight. An argument it turns out her husband has gone over with his own mother, who just happens to be a divorce attorney. Try unpacking all that baggage!

At the outset, it seems almost strange that Adam and Marissa would connect, and yet it doesn't. Neither wants to be alone with their problems, even if they wouldn't admit it to themselves. And both of them need a shoulder to cry on, or just another set of ears to hear them out.

Start Without Me takes place over the course of just one day, making the read both quick and propulsive. And in spite of what my synopsis might lead you to believe, it's not a particularly heavy book. Instead, it's a book that's easy to sink into and incredibly easy to relate to. No, I've not been where either Adam or Marissa are, but in each of them Feldman has created a character that feels intensely real, making it easy to sympathize with them and want to see their story through.

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

For more on Joshua Max Feldman 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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Queso!: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain

Readers, you may wonder if you (or I) need a cookbook full of cheese dip recipes. I would have to say yes. But then again, I'm a bit of a queso fiend!

Lisa Fain, aka the Homesick Texan, has a brand spanking new cookbook out and it's devoted entirely to the ooey gooey goodness that is queso. Cheesy, meaty, and even vegan, Fain's cookbook has it all.

It's interesting, and maybe a little eye opening, to realize that queso as I know it is such a Tex-Mex thing. Fain talks about moving from Texas to New York and discovering that the prevalence of even the basics for making queso were much less abundant in NYC in those days. It's also interesting to learn that there really is so much variation in the dish when traveling from region to region, even within Texas itself. And Fain explores all of those varieties!

The book begins with a breakdown of the basics - chiles and cheese and the abundance of difference choices between the two. Fain then jumps into a history of the dish, outlining some of the earliest references and recipes.

The recipes range from, as I mentioned, traditional cheese, tomato, and peppers variety akin to the Ro-Tel we all know and love - thanks to Lady Bird Johnson herself (though Fain notes the Johnson recipe calls for cheddar, which doesn't quite melt the way you want for true queso - and her note on that recipe makes sense as well) - to runnier saucier versions (the Arkansa Cheese Dip, for example). There are also thicker varieties like the Van Horn Chile Con Queso, which called for Muenster cheese, and Queso Fundido with Squash Blossoms.

There's a whole chapter on quirky quesos that includes the likes of Austin-Style Vegan Queso (for those who can't eat cheese and miss the wondrous concoction), a Chilled Chile Con Queso with Avocado (courtesy of an El Paso Junior League cookbook that calls for cottage cheese!), and even an Indian Queso with Jalapeño Chutney.

There are quesos with meat in them too. Like the Choriqueso with chorizo mixed in, Queso with Beef Picadillo, and Boudin Queso that even has a recipe for homemade boudin (which I've not tried because we have ours shipped home from Louisiana).

In addition to the queso, there are accompaniments as well - Tortilla Chips and Puff Tostadas (which are AMAZING with queso), homemade Pickled Jalapeños, which you need to make the bean dip part of the Bean Dip Queso, and Chile Jam (aka Pepper Jelly) for a surprising Green Chile & Cream Cheese Ice Cream Sundaes recipe. And then there are recipes for using the queso!

In the time since I got my hands on a copy, I've tried at least half a dozen varieties. My garden this summer produced just enough poblanos, anaheims, and jalapeños that it made sense to try a new recipe just about every weekend - I mean, I had to spread them out so I didn't catch too much flak for eating cheese dip every day. I totally would have otherwise :) The Damn Good Queso which claims to be a copycat version of a taco joint's famous queso and includes recipes for both a Green Chile Salsa Verde, Guacamole, and Fiery Red Salsa (which is amazing by itself too) is in my top two. Amazingly, or not, my favorite one so far is the queso base for the Bean Dip Queso!

Whether you're a fan of the traditional tailgating variety we all know and love or queso fundido. Whether you like yours spicy or mild. And whether you prefer it with meat, veggies, seafood, or straight up cheese only, Fain has something for you.

There are, if you're interested, a few recipes out in the wild that you can try. Fain herself has shared the Chili Parlor Queso on her blog. You can also check out this Houston Chronicle article, which includes four recipes!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Spotlight: Lilac Lane by Sherry Woods

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sherryl Woods's latest with a spotlight on Lilac Lane.

Here's a bit about Lilac Lane from Goodreads:

At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens

Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

This is the fourteenth book in Woods's beloved Chesepeake Shores series.

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

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

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

New Releases 10.24.17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The It Girls by Karen Harper

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

The First Day by Phil Harrison

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

The Glass Spare by Lauren Destefano

New on DVD:
War for the Planet of the Apes
Annabelle Creation

Friday, October 20, 2017

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Jenny Colgan's latest, Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery.

It's Christmas season on Mount Polbearne and Polly is determined that everything will be perfect. Unfortunately, everything seems to be going against Polly's careful plans. First, there's a wee issue with her best friend and her best friend's husband (who also happens to be Huckle's best friend) and a secret Polly has been trusted with regarding said issue. Then, a storm cuts the island off, leaving Polly stranded on the mainland through the holiday. As tensions rise and fights break out, it begins to look as though Christmas will be ruined beyond repair!

At this point in their story, Huckle is thinking about what's to come and Polly is digging in her heels. Which also makes for more tension as the little issue with Kerensa and Reuben grows to its inevitable climax. There's holiday drama, family drama, relationship drama, oh, so much drama! Oh, and there's baking too. Lots, as is to be expected!

Of course Christmas isn't ruined. But as the story progresses and things get more fraught, it's easy to see why Polly would worry. And yet, as a reader familiar with Colgan's work, I wasn't worried on bit!

Colgan's stories are always such a delight and returning to Mount Polbearne for the third part of Polly's and Huckle's (and Neil's!!!) story was so much fun!

If you're in the mood for a light and breezy, sweet as pie read, you can't go wrong with any of Jenny Colgan's titles!

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

For more on Jenny Colgan 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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

Theo Cray is winding down research in Montana, just days away from the start of a new semester,  when he's arrested. It seems a former student of his has been brutally murdered just a few miles away and the coincidence of their both being in the same place is enough for the police to pull him in as a suspect. Fortunately for Theo, he's quickly released when it appears the killing was at the hands of a bear rather than a human. 

Cray, a computational biologist, isn't so sure the case is that easily closed, though. And when he's mistakenly given some of the victim's blood, which comes paired with a hair from the beast that supposedly killed her, he's even more certain. 

But the cops have their man, or bear, and are certain Cray is driven solely by misplaced grief. If they're right, though, why does Cray keep finding bodies?

This is such a cool premise! I'm a longtime reader of mysteries and it's always refreshing when someone comes up with a new twist. Theo Cray is a professor, and like other erstwhile detectives thrown into crime investigation due to circumstance, he uses his skills to untangle a web of clues the police aren't interested in seeing.

Cray uses a combination of computer programming and biology to drive his investigation, tracking data points to create a map that could (and does) reveal more victims. Tracking the data turns out to be the easy part. Convincing the authorities that he's a. a person to be taken seriously and b. that the killer may be human rather than bear are the hard parts.

To be fair, it seems quite clear to the police involved in the case that they have a killer bear on their hands. And Cray's evidence otherwise comes across as that from a crazed person who was a suspect just shortly prior to revealing said evidence.

Like a dog with a bone, our stubborn hero just won't let it go. Which makes the reading all the more fun.

In Cray, Andrew Mayne has built a fascinating amateur sleuth with a unique set of skills that sets him a bit apart from other mystery/thriller main characters. The Naturalist is apparently the start of a new series - book two, Looking Glass, is due out in March and I'll definitely be first in line to grab a copy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lona Chang by Ashleyrose Sullivan

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Ashelyrose Sullivan's Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story.

Lona Chang and Awesome Jones are good. They're to be married, Awesome has taken on the mantle of his father - even though the Guild says he's not allowed, and Lona herself has come into a power she's just beginning to learn about. But all that changes when a good friend and fellow superhero dies in Lona's arms. His death shakes Arc City to its core, but none are more affected than Lona herself. The hero's cryptic final words, the strange circumstances of his death, and an odd book with seemingly hidden clues are more than enough to force her to investigate. And what she finds could mean bad news for all of Arc City. 

Lona Chang is a cute idea - a story told in comic book style complete with bold faced lead ins like you'd see in a comic panel. There are even comic panels throughout the book. Of course, it's also a story about superheroes, which is always fun. And it's got within the story as Lona takes her investigation further and finds more clues in different books.

And the story is fun. A murder mystery, flashbacks to a story that began some years ago, and even Lona and Awesome's relationships with one another and their friends all make this an entertaining read. And yet, the execution wasn't as polished as I would have liked.

I found myself a bit confused by the progress of the book from the start, rereading sections in order to try and get a grasp on what was happening. I often felt, too, like more effort was put into the mystery than the characters themselves - I wanted to spend less time in the pages of the books Lona was reading, for example, and more time with Lona herself.

Lona Chang is the second book in the series, following Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale. Character development aside, Lona Chang can be read as the starting point quite easily. I say character development aside because I assume there's maybe more emphasis on their development in that first outing. And yet, it doesn't mean it's not needed in the second.

Lona Chang is a great concept and a fun afternoon read, but I found wanted more depth overall.

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Releases 10/17/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Live Constantine

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornok

Forbidden Suns by D. Nolan Clark

Righteous by Joe Ide

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst

It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Strange Lies by Maggie Thrash

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

New on DVD:
Spiderman: Homecoming
Girls Trip

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Browsing is, I think, the best part of being in a bookstore. And online avenues have created a new sort of browsing. I was scrolling through Edelweiss recently and came across Laura Purcell's upcoming title and now I can't wait to read it!

Edelweiss is kind of great for discovering upcoming titles, if you didn't know. You can browse publishers' catalogs, you can see comp titles, all kinds of fun stuff. And as a book junkie who not only loves to wander the spines of bookstores' collections, I very much like to stay in the know about what I need to buy down the line as well.

And this one, readers, is one I definitely need to buy!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.

This is not Purcell's debut, but it is the first of her books to be released here in the States and it's said to be a great one for fans of Shirley Jackson!

The Silent Companions is due out in March from Penguin. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Short Fiction Friday: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Molly Southbourne has to be careful. Any drop of blood has to be quickly taken care of, or it'll turn into another Molly - intent on murder. Yes, since she was a little girl, Molly has been killing herself over and over and over. But with strict care and attention, and the help of her parents, Molly has made it to adulthood still living and breathing. 

But that doesn't mean she's safe. In fact, as she grows older things only become more dangerous. 

Sooo this one wasn't a big hit for me. It should have been. Everything about the premise promised it would be. But something about Thompson's style just didn't click for me. Instead of being strange and mysterious, it was just plain hard to follow.

Molly bleeds and her blood becomes another Molly. Not a baby Molly, but another Molly exactly the same age and appearance as the Molly that bleeds. And yes, the doppelgängers appear from any Molly's blood, hence the care and attention it takes not only in getting rid of Molly's blood but in getting rid of other Mollys.

The story begins with Molly chained up, visited by at least one other Molly who narrates the story. And of course, without context the reader is immediately asking, which Molly is which?

The bigger questions, for me, are why do the Mollys all want to kill and why does Molly have this strange ability in the first place? (Because I have control issues and apparently can't always follow a story where it leads my - just going with the flow!)

Molly's backstory is never quite revealed to my satisfaction. It's more a read between the lines story than anything. Yes, there's some detail given about her mother and about what led to Molly's problem, but I wanted more. (See, control issues.)

I've gotten better over the years with less explanation in stories. As a teen, I'd have had a much stronger reaction to the pieces of the story that are left out. As an adult, I accept it as an interesting read, but admit I still crave more answers in order to be thoroughly satisfied.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is being adapted as a movie and I'll be interested to see how it turns out. I'd also be interested in reading more should Thompson revisit this story in some way down the line, so clearly I didn't dislike it. I just want loose ends tied up. Control.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

It's Thursday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Gilly Macmillan's latest, Odd Child Out.

Two boys - best friends - but then one ends up hospitalized after an accident that may be more than that. 

DI Jim Clemo is just back on duty after mandatory leave and therapy thanks to a very public breakdown. His boss, and everyone besides, thinks this is a straightforward accident that'll be open and shut. Unfortunately, the case is much more complicated than it seems. An eyewitness claims to have seen the boys fighting, but by all accounts Noah and Abdi never fight. With Noah in a coma, though, and Abdi silent, the police don't have much to go on. And then the public gets wind of the case. 

I've not read Gilly Macmillan's What She Knew, so this is my first meeting with Jim Clemo. And yet, this second outing does stand well enough on its own that it made for a great introduction.

Jim is the kind of cop who gets over involved in his cases. Which is why he's good at his job, but also why he suffered a breakdown before the events of Odd Child Out take place. From the start, though, I could tell that it was beneficial, not just for him but for Abdi. There's a line in the book when Jim is interviewing Abdi for the first time, or trying to, and he says his own father would have taken the boy into the station.

Abdi and his family are refugees from Somalia. It's an area Noah's father actually knows well as he's spent time there photographing the very camp Abdi's family once lived in. And this detail - Abdi's background, that is - is part of what makes the book such an emotional read. From page one it's obvious this is not going to help Abdi. Comments that seem to be in passing - a tut tut from a fellow bus passenger that Abdi's sister overhears, yelled slurs at the hospital when Abdi's parents arrive to pick him up - make it clear (even if you've been living under a rock) what kind of backlash there will inevitably be. And it doesn't make Jim's job any easier.

As I mentioned, Odd Child Out is an emotional read. Chapters alternate between multiple characters, including Noah himself while he's in his coma. Normally a mystery will draw anger and sympathy from me as a reader, but this one got to me much deeper than that. I don't want to give anything away, but Macmillan does a fantastic job at tugging at your heartstrings while also giving the reader a great mystery. Be prepared!

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

For more on Gilly Macmillan you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hide and Seek by MJ Arlidge

Happy Book Birthday to MJ Arlidge whose latest Helen Grace mystery hits shelves today!

After being framed for a series of murders, Helen Grace has been sent to Halloway to await trial. The prison is on its last legs, set to be closed by the end of the year and understaffed as a result. Helen, a cop responsible for a fair number of the women housed there, certainly hasn't made any friends. It's just a matter of keeping her head down and waiting for trial - or to be proven innocent. As far as the latter, she has help on the outside, but most of her former colleagues have turned against her in the wake of her arrest. 

Then an inmate in the cell next to Helen's is brutally murdered. While locked up for the night. Helen heard nothing, but can't help investigate. And as more bodies pile up, it becomes clear time is running out: not only must she find a way to clear her name, she now has to survive Halloway, too!

If dark and twisty is to your taste (as it definitely is mine), this is a series you really don't want to miss. And I can personally attest to the fact that you can dive into this one without having read the five predecessors - I missed book five, Little Boy Blue. Much to my shame! Though there are spoilers for Blue in Hide and Seek, I plan to go back and read that one very shortly. I love this series!

Helen is hard as nails, but she has a hidden side. This is something we know from previous outings and is reiterated here in Hide and Seek. That facade and the fact that she lets very few people in is exactly what's left her now at the mercy of the prison system and the courts. She's been framed for murder. By her own nephew. And only one cop on the outside is pursuing the case from that angle. Everyone else has apparently washed their hands of Helen in spite of the years she's spent on the police force and the accomplishments she's made there.

Which sucks.

As a reader who's taken the time to get to know Helen through much of the series, it really sucks to see her in this situation. And yet, she's Helen Grace! And of course when inmates start getting murdered in their own locked cells she's going to investigate!

Arlidge's plots are complex and, as mentioned, quite twisted. But they're also oh so fabulously put together. And again, you can dive into this one straight away, but if you want to start from the beginning, you'll see that Helen's (and the department's) growth from each installment to the next is fabulously thought out. I can't wait for the next installment!

Here's the series list in order, if you're interested:
Eeeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Doll's House
Liar Liar
Little Boy Blue
Hide and Seek
Love Me Not (2018)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.

When Thomas and her brother, Will, went off to war, Evie Elliott promised to write. And write she did. Taking up residence at Will's writing desk, she kept them abreast of everything going down on the home front while they, sometimes in the case of Will, wrote to her of their experiences on the actual front. 

It was a war everyone expected to be over by Christmas, and yet it dragged mercilessly on and on. And throughout, Thomas and Evie kept up their correspondence. Decades later, Thomas is ready to rerun to Paris. Along the way, he reminisces over his letters, saving one final one for Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Paris is a (mostly) epistolary novel set within he framework of Thomas's trip in 1968. And while it might sound as though the letters that make up the tale are only between Evie and Thomas, that's not the case at all. There are letters between Evie and her friend Alice, letters between Thomas and his father, letters between Evie and Will, and telegrams and letters from and to others besides.

Through them, we see the evolution of each character through the most horrible of circumstances: war. They begin bright eyed and excited, ready to take on the world and defeat the enemy. But it doesn't take long for reality to set in. Evie, who can't go to the front, fights the only way she can: with her pen and her words. Thomas fights to gain his father's approval and to defend his country and others, but never expected it to be as brutal as it inevitably is revealed to be. Fortunately, through it all, they have one another to turn to.

Apparently the idea for this book came out of the anthology Fall of Poppies, edited by Heather Webb.  According to the authors' note, they wanted to tell more stories set in WWI. You can read the note yourself, but I find it fascinating to see how the idea for this came together. Two writer friends with a passion for history, emailed discussions back and forth, and an idea is born and brought to fruition!

And WWI is a fascinating time. The kind of battles fought were indeed different from those before with effects no one dreamed about. A virtual generation of men was lost. And the massive nature of the war caused huge social change as well. Women back home had to take on the roles left behind by men, roles that were then taken from them when the men returned. Both Evie and Thomas illustrate these issues and changes throughout the book.

Last Christmas in Paris works seamlessly and the fact that the authors were able to create such a great story while also giving ample life and breath to their characters through letters is fantastic! Definitely recommended for any fan of historical fiction!

Oh, and if you're like me and feel like reading Christmas books when it's not Christmas is just weird, this isn't really a Christmas book. Fair warning, though, it is a bit of a tearjerker!

And now for the giveaway! I've got one copy to give away to one of you lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 23. 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 Hazel Gaynor and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

For more on Heather Webb 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, October 8, 2017

New Releases 10/10/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (new edition)

Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne

Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

The Wonder Trees by Kali Wallace

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

The Knowing by Sharon Cameron

Beserker by Emmy Laybourne

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Turtles all the Way Down by John Green

All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi

New on DVD:
Baby Driver
The House
Wish Upon
The Beguiled

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren

I'm in the mood for a fun read, y'all, and Kari Maaren's debut sounds like just the ticket. Course it's not out just yet :)

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Freddy wants desperately to not be noticed. She doesn't want to be seen as different or unusual, but her step-brother Roland gets attention because he's deaf, and her little sister Mel thinks she's a private detective. All Freddy wants to do is navigate high school with as little trouble as possible.

Then someone moves into the house on Grosvenor Street. Two extremely odd someones.

Cuerva Lachance and Josiah aren't . . . normal. When they move in next door, the house begins to exhibit some decidedly strange tendencies, like not obeying the laws of physics or reality. Just as Freddy thinks she's had enough of Josiah following her around, she's plunged into an adventure millennia in the making and discovers the truth about the new neighbors.

So not only does this sound fab, it just earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly as well!

Weave a Circle Round is out in November from Tor.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen

It's Friday! It's also gloomy and ick out and I want to stay home and read something creepy! Like Tara Goedjen's debut, The Breathless.

It's been one year since Roxanne Cole died. One year of hunting for the person everyone knows is responsible, her boyfriend Cage. One year of grief and trying to move on. 

For Ro's younger sisters, Mae and Elle, moving on means two different things. Elle has taken to cleaning their downtrodden home in hopes of turning it into a b&b. Mae hasn't yet figured out how to move on. And when she finds an old journal Ro discovered just before dying, she becomes obsessed with the idea that it can help her understand what went down that terrible day. 

Then Cage shows up on their doorstep. Asking for Ro. No one's seen him since she died and he claims he can't remember where he's been. In spite of all her suspicions, Mae decides to help, in hopes that finding out about Cage's lost year will finally answer the questions surrounding Ro's death. 

The Breathless is just packed with fabulous atmosphere! A creepy old house filled with old pictures and stories of past generations. A journal with what appears to be spells and secrets that trace back as far as Mae's family history. Oh, and the whole mystery surrounding Ro's death as well.

Of course Mae's investigation is not easy. First, the journal that she thinks could hold answers? Yeah, her grandfather wants her to have nothing to do with it, so she has to read it in secret and hope no one finds out. And it's not exactly easy to interpret. Ro clearly made her own additions to the book, but Mae can't make heads or tales of them, which of course makes her even more certain the answers are in the book.

It also doesn't help that Mae's father has been literally hunting for Cage for the past year. He says he'll shoot him on site!

From the start I was trying to puzzle this one out on my own. And while I thought I maybe had an idea... Nope! Well, maybe some but I was wrong in just as many theories.

Oh, and that atmosphere! I loved it. The story took it's time building, which I also appreciated, letting us get into the groove and get a good idea of the characters and the setting before easing us into the really weird stuff. And a lot of that stuff comes from flashbacks to that earlier generation of Coles. I don't want to spoil it, but if you're looking for a goosebump inducing southern gothic read, this is a good place to start!

The Breathless officially hits shelves Tuesday, October 10.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

It's Wednesday, everyone! And today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Wiley Cash's latest, The Last Ballad.

Ella May wanted nothing more than to be able to afford to take care of her kids. Her life was a hard one, working six nights a week at one of the local mills for just $9 a week. And that was just enough to pay the rent and not much else. Her husband left her after they lost a son and Ella has been left to fend for herself and her four kids alone. 

But when rumblings of union organizing begin, Ella saw hope. And it was that hope that led her to join up, to protest the terrible conditions she and others like her suffered. And ultimately it's what led to her death. 

Wiley Cash's latest is set in 1929 and is based on the very real Loray Mill Strike in Gastonia, North Carolina. Cash allows the story to unfold through Ella May's voice as well as others around her. In fact, the story begins with Ella May and then jumps forward seventy-six years to 2005 where her eldest daughter has resolved herself to telling her mother's story to her now grown nephew.

But the story stays mostly in 1929, told through the eyes of a fallen man, a mill owner and his wife and daughter, a black man from New York, and others. Through these characters, we get not only a look inside Ella May's final days but a look inside the political and cultural issues that ultimately led to much needed change. But it was change that did not come about easily.

Cash is one of my favorite new authors. Each of this stories features a wonderful sense of character and of place. And this latest has that added layer of history as well. His prose makes for rich and intense reading each and every time.

The Last Ballad is not an easy read. In fact, it's the kind that will no doubt make you realize how far we still have to go considering the current atmosphere around us. But it is a hopeful read, one that pays heed to the heroic efforts of real people through the lens of fiction.

The Last Ballad is the perfect read for anyone with an interest in American history. It's also a great book club pick - I can see lots of potential and meaty discussion around this one. And of course, The Last Ballad is sure to please fans of Cash's previous novels. If you haven't had the chance to read him yet, I definitely recommend doing so soon!

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

For more on Wiley Cash and his work you can visit his website here. You can also follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Satellite by Nick Lake

Happy Book Birthday to Nick Lake whose latest, Satellite, releases today!

Leo has never lived on Earth. He's spent almost sixteen years exclusively on Moon 2, a space station that orbits the planet. Born on Moon 2, Leo and twins Orion and Libra, were told they had to wait until their bodies were deemed strong enough to return to Earth. And that day has finally come. 

Leo looks forward to everything. Gravity, air on his face, the sun... And though Earth has always been referred to as home, it's not a place Leo, Orion, or Libra has ever belonged to. From the start, their trip isn't what they expected and now they have to try to navigate - and survive - against impossible odds. 

Nick Lake's latest is a bit like The Martian for teens. A bit.

We meet Leo and the others just shy of Leo's 16th birthday. He and the twins have been raised on a space station. All three were born there, unplanned, and unable to return unless and until their bodies are strong enough. And because of the effects of space travel on the body, they each only see their mothers for brief periods. So they've been raised by a rotating staff of Moon 2 scientists.

Leo loves space. He wants to be an astronaut. But he does want to see and experience Earth as well. So his trip home is one that he's been anticipating for quite some time. And yet, it's understandable that when he arrives the reality of this planet is not what he expected.

What's more, there are hints throughout that maybe life on Earth isn't all that great at the moment.

Set in the near future, Earth is experiencing drought and other problems. Nasa has been privatized and enveloped within a larger company. And then of course there's the fact that even though Leo and the others have trained for their Earth trip, they've never even faced gravity before much less everything else the planet has to throw at them.

Satellite takes a bit of getting used to. Leo narrates and his voice is clear from the beginning, including his penchant for not using capitalization and speaking almost Twitter like rather than fully spelling out everything. It's jarring at first, but I found I was quickly sucked in. And once I was, boy was Satellite fun!

There are elements that reminded me a lot of The Martian, but there were elements too that reminded me a bit of Jonathan Maberry's Mars One as well. I mean, they're all set in space... but Satellite definitely stands on its own and makes for a fantastic sci fi read. Sci fi for a non sci fi reader, as the book's actual editor puts it. And it's absolutely appropriate!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

Good morning, readers! We had a somewhat sunny weekend here, amidst our days of gloomy drizzle, and I got some reading done! One of the titles at the top of my list, Peter Clines's newly released Paradox Bound.

Eli lives a pretty boring life in a pretty boring town. With one exception. Every so often, he runs into a mysterious person in an antique car. 

It's true. It's happened three times - the first when he was just eight and a half. Harry was tinkering with a Model A Ford and in a rush to get going. Just before the car disappeared, young Eli thought he saw another car, this one with a shooter aiming at the Model A. If that's not adventure for an eight year old, nothing is!

When Eli was thirteen, he met Harry again. Fresh off a run-in with the town bully, Eli finds Harry once again tending to the same Model A. Eli gets more of a chance to talk to Harry this go around, but also comes to the shocking (for a thirteen-year-old boy, anyway) realization that Harry is a woman! 

Then, when Eli is twenty-nine, ready and waiting for a sight of that Model A, he is finally rewarded. But though Eli has aged, Harry seemingly has not. And when he asks her to stay, she jets off anyway, on a mission, she says, to Boston. 

But that's not where Eli and Harry's story ends. The following day, Eli is approached by a stranger intent on learning where Harry has gone and what she's told Eli. Worried for her, Eli travels to Boston himself, desperate to warn the woman he's become just a little obsessed with before the stranger can find her. And this effort lands Eli right in the middle of a conspiracy that stretches the lengths of history! On the run, alongside Harry, Eli experiences adventure he could never have imagined. But it's an adventure that will end either in victory or certain death. 

Peter Clines is one of my go to authors. He can undoubtedly be counted on for a fun read each and every time, and this one is no exception. What's more Paradox Bound is a bit of a Doctor Who read alike!

So Eli has become obsessed with this stranger who occasionally crosses his path. Of course he would be, there's mystery and danger surrounding this person. Why does she drive a Model A, one that she claims runs on water! And why does she dress in a frock coat and tricorn hat? And who would be shooting at her? (If that even happened, because it seems Eli doesn't entirely trust what his eight-and-a-half-year-old eyes witnessed.)

Eli becomes fascinated by classic cars and keeps a constant eye out for Harry's next arrival. Which is why he manages to spy her on the side of the road one late evening after he's been out drinking with friends. And that encounter would have been like the rest had Eli not felt it his duty to warn her about what happened next.

What Eli doesn't realize is that A. Harry is quite adept at taking care of herself and B. his little mission to save her lands himself in hot water instead.

Paradox Bound is a wibbly-wobbly time-wimey sic-fi adventure certain to please fans of fun reads and, as I mentioned, Doctor Who. Both of which describe me to a T!

Highly recommended for your fall TBR!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Releases 10/3/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Origin by Dan Brown

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

Blackwing by Ed McDonald

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood

The Witches' Tree by M.C. Beaton

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

The Deep Dark Descending by Allan Eskens

What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

The Vineyard by Maria Dueñas

Last Christmas In Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zahanat Khan

The Secrets of Chicory Lane by Raymond Benson

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Broken Circle by J.L. Powers & M.A. Powers

Ringer by Lauren Oliver

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Sparked by Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libbra Bray

Satellite by Nick Lake

Things I'm Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni

New on DVD:
The Book of Henry
Priates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales