Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Window by Amelia Brunskill

Jess and Anna may be identical twins, but they couldn't be more different. Anna is outgoing and well liked while Jess is quiet and only truly comfortable around Anna. In fact, Anna is Jess's best friend - they tell each other everything. But then Anna is found dead in what the police believe was an accident while she attempted to sneak out one evening, leaving Jess confused and heartbroken. Not only has she lost her sister, but it seems Anna was keeping secrets from Jess. Determined to find out, at the very least, why Anna was sneaking out, Jess begins digging into Anna's life. And soon it becomes clear, Anna wasn't the only one keeping secrets. 

Amelia Brunskill's debut is a amazing! And I do mean that. Plot is always key for me - I've said before that I'm not hugely into character driven novels but that I do like plot driven tales with strong characters. That's what The Window is. It's plot driven - what happened to Anna? - with an amazingly strong character and fabulous voice.

Jess is an odd duck. She makes no bones about this, readily copping to the fact that she avoids contact with people as much as possible. But the possibility of uncovering the truth about her twin's death forces her to socialize. She joins track, she starts talking to Anna's friends... things she would never have done before have become possible because she's motivated by discovering a truth no one else seems interested in.

It's not that Anna's death is questionable. It's clear she was sneaking out. But Anna was wearing a dress and smelled of lavender, something she admitted to Jess she dreamed about doing for a first date. So the idea that boyfriendless Anna was simply sneaking out to see her cross-country friend, and slipped and fell, is too simplistic for Jess. There has to be more.

Jess's voice is so strong and clear that she immediately pulls the reader in. We can't be sure, truly, if there is more to Anna's death or not. But Jess believes there is and trekking alongside her in her quest, the reader quickly becomes ensnared in this attempt to find the truth. Part of that, too, is experiencing Jess finally opening up to the possibilities around her.

The Window is a bit of a quiet book, but one that is definitely not to be missed. And Brunskill is someone I will be watching and anxiously waiting for more from!

The Window officially hits shelves on April 3.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

I mean, what could be a more intriguing beginning than that!?

Amber Reynolds is in a coma. She's been in an accident and is lying in a bed in a hospital. She doesn't know what happened and she can't speak to those around her. But she's aware of everything going on around her. As her sister and her husband visit and wonder what happened to Amber, she travels her memories leading up to the accident, revisiting her own past in an attempt to figure out what's going on. And the hints she picks up on don't point to anything good. Was she in an accident, as everyone says? Or was the accident anything but? And if the latter, who is responsible?

Sometimes I Lie is a thriller with the most unreliable of unreliable narrators. First, she's fully admitted on the opening page that sometimes she lies, which of course sets the reader up to wonder exactly what she's lying about and when. Second, she can't remember how she ended up in the hospital. She's an observer to her own present tense - one without all the information.

It's only in revisiting the events of her past that she can begin to piece together the pieces of her present.

The story alternates between Amber and childhood diary entries. We aren't sure, until the end that is, whose diary entries these are, but they add a massively dark tone to the book as a whole.

I had the chance to listen to this one on audio, narrated by Stephanie Racine. It was a short listen, one that I didn't want to turn off once I started. Trust me, I found plenty of activities to occupy myself so that it was permissible to listen almost straight through!

In the current trend of domestic thrillers with unreliable narrators, there have been some smash hits and some bombs. Fortunately Sometimes I Lie is a great one!

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Kate Rorick's The Baby Plan.

Nathalie has been planning for her pregnancy for quite some time. After three years of trying and thirteen weeks in, she's finally ready to announce that she's expecting. But her moment is stolen when her younger sister, Lyndi, barfs into the Thanksgiving cornucopia and steals the spotlight with her own pregnancy announcement. 

Lyndi hadn't planned on becoming pregnant. Nor had she planned to steal her sister's thunder. In fact, Lyndi has just been happily promoted. She has no plan or even any idea what to expect now that she's expecting. 

Sophia is also happy in her career and unexpectedly pregnant. In fact, she thought she was done, having had her own child at eighteen. But now, at 36, she couldn't be happier to be expecting again. But seventeen-year-old Maisey definitely isn't prepared to be an older sister. 

Kate Rorick's latest is a fun romp through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. All four women's stories collide and intertwine throughout as they navigate the changes in their lives and careers (not to mention the changes to their bodies) as their pregnancies progress. And each has their own hurdles to overcome.

Nathalie's husband has suddenly become distant and more career driven, putting off any discussions about their and the baby's future. Lyndi's haphazard way of stumbling through her own life extends into pregnancy, making her sister almost irrationally irritated. Sophia faces possible health issues as well as worrying about her daughter who's applying to colleges. And Maisey's whole world has basically been turned upside down - not all because of the baby, but the timing definitely isn't ideal.

I absolutely loved these characters! They couldn't be more different in terms of life choices, but pregnancy seems to draw them together. It doesn't hurt that Nathalie is Maisey's teacher! There are other connections as well, little things that draw each of them together as the story progresses and it was fun to see them each grow and find support in one another.

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

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, March 25, 2018

New Releases 3/27/18

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

Death By Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Not That I Could Tell by Jesica Strawser

Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Invasion by Peadar O'Guilin

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

In Her Skin by Kim Savage

New on DVD:
I Remember You
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Shimmer by Carsten Stroud

Readers, I recently spent as much time as I could stretching out the Netflix show Dark. If you haven't watched, I highly recommend it - it's a German time travel mystery series that is absolutely fantastic. Like totally blew me away fantastic. And while I've read a few time travel mysteries - the amazing Man From Primrose Lane and the equally amazing Shining Girls - I'd already read those and Dark left me wanting even more!

So I was super excited to hear that Carsten Stroud's upcoming release, The Shimmer, is going to be a time travel mystery! Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

How do you hunt a killer who can go back in time and make sure you're never born?

A police pursuit kicks Sergeant Jack Redding of the Florida Highway Patrol and his trainee, Julie Karras, into a shoot-out that ends with one girl dead and another in cuffs, and the driver of the SUV fleeing into the Intracoastal Waterway. Redding stays on the hunt, driven by the trace memory that he knows that running woman--and he does, because his grandfather, a cop in Jacksonville, was hunting the same woman in 1957.Redding and his partner, Pandora Jansson, chase a seductive serial killer who can ride The Shimmer across decades. The pursuit cuts from modern-day Jacksonville to Mafia-ruled St. Augustine in 1957, then to the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1914. The stakes turn brutal when Jack, whose wife and child died in a crash the previous Christmas Eve, faces a terrible choice: help his grandfather catch the killer, or change time itself and try to save his wife and child.

The Shimmer is due out in June from Mira. And if you're like me and you've seen Dark and also want more to tide you over, check out The Man From Primrose Lane, Shining Girls, and maybe even Peter Clines's Paradox Bound - you'll thank me!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Short Fiction Friday: Guardian Angels & Other Monsters by Daniel H. Wilson

Technology, science, and humanity collide in Daniel H. Wilson's newest, a collection of shorts featuring bits and pieces of all three of those subjects.

In the opening tale, "Miss Gloria", a robot does its utmost best to save the child it's been created to teach and protect. In "Helmet" a boy learns the all too horrific truth about the electronic monsters that plague his world. "Parasite: A Robopocalypse Story" brings us back to the world of Robopocalypse and "One For Sorrow: A Clockwork Dynasty Story" brings us back to, you guessed it, A Clockwork Dynasty!

The book is a mix of previously published pieces and pieces new to the collection. "The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever", which finds a father racing home to be with his daughter as a disaster he's one of the few to recognize looms, appeared in Carbide Tipped Pens. "God Mode" appeared Press Start to Play, and the aforementioned "Parasite" actually appeared in 21st Century Dead.

Altogether, it's a really fantastic collection. Some of the tales are poignant and touching. Others are downright scary. All of them are utterly thought provoking and wonderful. I should note, too, that this is the first time Wilson's shorts have appeared together in one place. If you haven't read him before, this is a great starting place. And if you're a longtime fan, this is definitely a must have for your collection!

Here's the full TOC:

"Miss Gloria"
"The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever"
"Jack, the Determined"
"The Executor"
"Blood Memory"
"Foul Weather"
"The Nostalgist"
"Parasite: A Robopocalypse Story"
"God Mode"
"Garden of Life"
"All Kinds of Proof"
"One for Sorrow: A Clockwork Dynasty Story"
"Special Automatic"

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fingerprints of Previous Owners by Rebecca Entel

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Rebecca Entel's Fingerprints of Previous Owners.

Cruffey Island, aka Furnace Island, is a resort today but once upon a time it was a slave plantation. Myrna works at the resort by day and investigates the old ruins of the plantation by night. She's fascinated by the history and by the idea of uncovering the story of the island's earliest inhabitants who lived in the old ruins. But it's a history no one other than Myrna wants to dig too deep into. Soon, a new arrival to the island and new revelations about the violent history of the place spur conflict between the locals and the resort.

Rebecca Entel's debut is a confident and assured one. Her writing bleeds emotion but also has a spareness to it that makes it unique compared to similar tales.

The setting for the story is a fiction island, but the story is obviously one that draws influence from very real events. And while Entel herself is not Caribbean, as her main character is, her care and attention to her research and to giving voice to Myrna is obvious.

Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a good illustration of a larger issue - the history of slavery and the attempt to gloss over, or even sweep away that history in order to avoid uncomfortable conversations.

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

For more on Rebecca Entel 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, March 18, 2018

New Releases 3/20/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage

Torn by Rowenna Miller

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

A Guide for Murdered Children by Sara Sparrow

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen

How to Fall In Love With a Man Who Lives In A Bush by Emmy Abrahamson

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

Tyler Rose Was Here by Jay Coles

New on DVD:
Pitch Perfect 3
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Death of an Unsung Hero by Tess Arlen - Excerpt + a Giveaway

This week marks the release of the fourth entry in Tessa Arlen's Lady Montfort mystery series. To celebrate, I've got an excerpt to share with you today as well as a giveaway. But first, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to get you started:

Lady Montfort and her pragmatic housekeeper Mrs. Jackson investigate a murder of a WWI officer with amnesia in the 20th-century English countryside.

Building on the success of her last three mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe in Death of an Unsung Hero with more secrets, intrigue, and charming descriptions of the English countryside.

In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer the dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Monfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.

This series is perfect for fans of Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear!

And now, for a little taste:

Death of An Unsung Hero
by Tessa Arlen

Chapter One

“How very nice, Mrs. Jackson.” Iyntwood’s elderly butler settled into his chair by the window. “Why, it’s almost like old times again.” George Hollyoak’s glance took in the claustrophobic and over-furnished room: shabby velvet chairs jostled with a heavy mahogany desk, taking up far too much space in front of the windows, both of which were swathed in heavy curtains in a dusty but strident red plaid.

The dowager Countess of Montfort had died two years ago and her character, or that of the late Queen Victoria, whom she had revered, was still heavily imprinted on the dower house furnished as a faithful replica of the old queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle. Bright and, to Mrs. Jackson’s flinching eye, brash tartans dominated most of the reception rooms on the ground floor of Haversham Hall.

Mrs. Jackson was encouraged to see George Hollyoak sitting in her new office. It had taken weeks to coax him to visit her and now after all sorts of silly excuses here he was. Though even with her old friend and mentor sitting at his leisure with a cup of afternoon tea in his hand it wasn’t really like old times, no matter how much they all wished it were. The war had changed everything. Her face must have reflected her thoughts as she followed his gaze around the oppressively furnished room. “Perhaps not quite like old times.” Her guest smiled as he observed a shaft of dust motes dancing thickly in the late summer sunlight. “I must say you are looking well, Mrs. Jackson, and so very smart in your uniform: Voluntary Aid Detachment or Red Cross?” This was the first time he had acknowledged that Iyntwood’s dower house had been transformed into an auxiliary hospital.

“The hospital comes under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross, but I trained with the VAD. I am not an assisting nurse, so I am spared the traditional starched apron and the rather claustrophobic cap,” she answered. Long aprons and linen caps, in her experience, were worn by cooks, and although Mrs. Jackson was not a snob, she was conscious of little things like rank and station.

In acknowledging Haversham Hall’s new status the old man evidently felt he might ask his next question. He leaned forward, curiosity bright in his eyes. “And how are you finding life in your new abode?”

Mrs. Jackson hesitated before she answered. She had never liked Haversham Hall; it was as overbearing as the Victorian age it had been built in and an ugly building in comparison to the Elizabethan elegance of Iyntwood. But she had made the adjustment from being a senior servant to Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the Earl of Montfort, at his principal country-seat, to the rank of quartermaster at Lady Montfort’s new hospital far more easily than she had anticipated. The real challenge had come when their first patients had arrived, but this was something she was not prepared to share with Mr. Hollyoak—not just yet.

“It is not as different as I thought it would be. Haversham Hall is not Iyntwood, but it is a building I am familiar with, and my duties here are similar to those of my position as housekeeper at Iyntwood.” That’s not strictly true, she thought, but it will do for now.

Her new job was not at all like her old one, any more than this hospital was like many of the others that had sprung up all over the country in the many private houses of the rich and titled, speedily converted to cope with an unceasing flow of wounded men from France. At Haversham Hall Hospital there were no wards lined with rows of beds, no operating theaters with trays of steel surgical instruments, or hastily installed sluices and sterilizers. Certainly there was an occasionally used sick bay and a first aid room in what was known as the medical wing, but they were merely a token adjunct. And it was these diferences that were the cause for Mr. Hollyoak’s initial reluctance to visit her and for his searching question, “How are you finding life in your new abode?” because Haversham Hall Hospital was not a conventional Red Cross hospital, not by a long stretch of the imagination.

She raised her teacup to her lips and took a sip. If she was to help a man whose conventions were deeply mired in the nineteenth century to understand the value of the hospital’s purpose, she must proceed with cautious tact. She decided to start with a prosaic description of the practicalities.

“I am responsible for the running of the hospital’s housekeeping and for ordering all supplies, which means I spend most of my time sitting at my desk filling in requisition forms; the bureaucracy of wartime, her ladyship calls it. But we have plenty of nice young women from the Voluntary Aid Detachment to help with the housekeeping as well as some of our nursing duties. And I certainly need to be well placed here on the ground floor of the house to supervise them.” She did not add “every step of the way” because that way of thinking made her resent how difficult it was to work with inexpert help. To go with her cheerful tone she exhibited her most optimistic smile. VAD girls from nice middle-class families were a nightmare to train in comparison to sensible, sturdy village women who were ready to roll up their sleeves and had no romantic illusions about their part in the war efort. 

Having given her visitor the briefest outline of her duties, she decided that she would wait for him to display genuine interest—enthusiasm would be too much to hope for—in what they were accomplishing here before she continued. She ofered Mr. Hollyoak a plate of sandwiches: delicate triangles of egg with cress. She had prepared them herself, mashing the hard-boiled egg finely with a narrow-tined fork and adding just the right amount of salt, pepper, and cress to spread on lightly buttered crustless bread. He took a sandwich and closed his eyes as he chewed and swallowed the first bite.

“Perfect,” he said and smiled his appreciation, “quite perfect. I need not say how much you are missed at Iyntwood.” He took another bite of sandwich and then slowly shook his head. “The house simply isn’t the same without you.”

And now for the giveaway! To win a copy of Tessa Arlen's Death of an Unsung Hero, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 26. Open US only and no PO boxes please. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Alison Gaylin's latest, If I Die Tonight.

In the middle of the night, a woman bursts into the Havenkill police department screaming about an accident. It seems a boy in a black hoodie carjacked her. When another boy came to her rescue, he was run over in the escape, ending up in the hospital in critical condition. 

Jackie's is just one of the houses included in the police department's neighborhood canvas area. It's a terrible accident and Jackie feels for the boy's family, but as more information comes out about the accident, one of Jackie's own sons is implicated. And sure, the boy has grown surly and distant, but that's normal for teens. Right? Certain she knows her son better than anyone else, Jackie is the last to believe the rumors. But doubt begins to creep in and she has to wonder just how well she knows this boy - man - who is her son. 

This is a frightening read in that it examines this sort of court of public opinion that is social media today. Liam, who is the victim in the accident, is increasingly painted as the golden boy, the hero. And Jackie's son, Wade, already an outcast when the story begins, grows into a sort of mythic villain thanks to public outcry and gossip.

The case gains even more traction due to the the involvement of a one time pop star, Aimee En. It's Aimee's flashy car that's stolen. And it's Aimee and her followers that help give the story even more visibility than it may get otherwise.

The story alternates between narrators, none of whom has access to the whole story themselves, which means the reader has to rely on piecing each bit together to try and come to their own conclusions as the story progresses. Of course the biggest questions are: Is Wade really the villain? If he isn't, what is he hiding? And if Wade is innocent, then who is actually responsible.

Jackie is the character you most want to sympathize with. She's a working, single mom raising two teenage boys. And she tries to balance between being attentive and watchful and still giving them space to grow. Which I think is something every parent has always struggled with. Except now, the added wrinkle of social media and the internet makes it even harder.

The scariest thing about this book is that it was, in fact, inspired by an actual event and Gaylin's own attempt to, as she says in the extras, make sense of it. And while I don't think anyone can ever make sense of a situation like this, I do think she's done a great job weaving a story that humanizes each of the players involved, giving the reader a chance to see the whole of the accused, the victim, and the people most affected by the maelstrom of dangerous conclusions that comes out of a tragic accident when no one knows the whole story.

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

For more information on Alison Gaylin 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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Paper Girls: Book One

Four twelve year old paper delivery girls in the 80s (which is another draw for me) find themselves at the center of strange events on Hell Morning. Before they know it, they've met masked men (boys) from another time, faced death, and traveled into the future!!! 

It's the morning after Halloween when Erin, new to the paper delivery game, runs into Mac, KJ, and Tiffany. Well, not so much runs into considering they come to her rescue when some local teens begin harassing her during her delivery. Because of the holiday antics, the three girls are already delivering together and invite Erin to tag along. Unfortunately teaming up doesn't prevent three weirdos still in costume from attacking KJ and Tiffany and stealing one of their walkie talkies. The girls give chase, tracking their attackers to an abandoned house and that's when things get weird...

First off let me say that I have struggled in the past trying to get into comics. I read my brother's X-Men comics when we were kids - in particular anything Rogue/Gambit and Jubilee. Beyond that, I did very briefly try to buy Buffy comics when they started releasing. And this is likely why I also stopped - a quick perusal of my oh, so small comic collection from those days revealed two copies of the same comic (with different covers) and four comics that I apparently thought followed the duplicate, but were actually part of a completely different series. This was before the bound books, folks!

But there's that whole Read Harder challenge (which has THREE comic categories this year). As such, I've been open to trying some comics. In particular two series I heard about on Book Riot that sounded right up my alley. And while we were in San Diego, I decided it was time to give a few a try. 

Paper Girls had been described as perfect for fans of Stranger Things, so of course it was at the top of my list (right alongside Misfit City, aka The Goonies for girls)! And it's probably no surprise that I fell in love with this series!

Paper Girls is ongoing, currently clocking in at 20 installments. Paper Girls: Book One, with its impossible to miss hot pink cover, collects issues 1-10 (or vol 1 and vol 2). And it has a total cliff hanger ending, which means that I was dying to get my hands on vol 3 and the soon to be released vol 4!

The story is oddball and the Stranger Things comp is completely appropriate. First, it starts in the 80s. Second, there's paranormal weirdness - in this case, time travel! Before the girls know it, there are dinosaur riding people in space suits after them!

I know I'm new to the comics world, and there are plenty of people who've been into it longer and know more than I do. I also know that Vaughan's other series, Saga, is so incredibly, massively popular that you can't miss references to it. There are even Saga Funkos now! But, I don't think anything can possibly top Paper Girls for me. The series is super fantastic fun! The story is engaging and the illustrations are phenomenal. And, obviously, it's perfect for folks just getting into comics!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

New Releases 3/13/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Let Me Lieby Clare Mackintosh

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

The Waters & The Wild by DeSales Harrison

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

Dayfall by Michael David Ares

Death of An Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlan

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

The Neighbors by Hammah Mary McKinnon

A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson

The Last Watchmand of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

New on DVD:
The Shape of Water
I, Tonya
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Justice League

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Elsie thought her life was set when she married Rupert Bainbridge. But shortly after their wedding, Rupert has passed. It was certainly sudden and unexpected. He'd been visiting his family home, The Bridge, when it happened.

Now Elsie, pregnant and grieving, is a widow. She's traveled from the city to The Bridge for the funeral and to mourn and wait out her pregnancy. It's thought that time at the manor will be a quiet respite that will give Elsie time to settle in and prepare for the birth of her child. But The Bridge offers anything but quiet respite. First there are the locals, who seem to fear The Bridge and anyone associated with the manor house. And there are the rumors of deaths even beyond that of her husband's. Then Elsie and her cousin discover a diary tucked away inside a locked room and an all too lifelike wooden figure that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself, the strange happenings in the house become too much to bear. Is Elsie losing her mind? Or are there forces at work that defy logical explanation?

The Silent Companions is a deliciously creepy and satisfying read.

The book begins at the end, in a way. Elsie is in a mental institution. Unable to speak and under suspicion of murder, she takes the reader back to her arrival at The Bridge. Eventually, we learn that by the time Elsie met Rupert Bainbridge, she had pretty much given up on marriage. And Rupert saved her from more than just spinsterhood. His inheritance was just what Elsie and her brother needed to keep the family business afloat.

In truth, to be wooed, wed, and widowed in such a short amount of time is a lot to take in, and Elsie arrives at The Bridge saddened by Rupert's death but determined to carry on. She's to be a mother, after all. Unfortunately she doesn't feel at home at The Bridge. She has secrets she'd prefer to keep from her new staff and family - Rupert's cousin, Elsie's new companion.

Her discomfort is clear to the reader from the start. And when they discover the diary, chapters begin alternating between Elsie - past and present - and The Bridge's most infamous mistress, Anne Bainbridge.

A gloomy manor house, unwelcoming locals, and a number of curious deaths... Purcell builds the atmosphere fabulously and the tension and mystery grow steadily until the big reveal at the end. The Silent Companion is super fun, bearing all the hallmarks of classic gothic literature. The perfect read for a rainy and dreary day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Laura Lippman's latest, Sunburn.

Polly has abandoned her family. Adam has been hired to find her. They both settle in Belleville, both take a job at the High-Ho, both enter into the relationship with one another under false pretenses. 

And  then someone dies. 

Things have gotten complicated, to say the least. And as the affair goes on, it only gets worse. Do they really love one another? And if so, can their love last as the lies begin to unravel around them?

I love Laura Lippman. She's truly fabulously talented writer, as is made even more evident by Sunburn.

The thing that jumps out at you first with this one is the voice. It's strong and sultry with a gray tinge of classic noir - a hint of danger that slinks through the story even before the actual danger begins on the page. As a longtime reader of Lippman's work, it's also different from all of the books that have come before.

And then you get into the meat of the story and realize how cleverly crafted it really is. The secrets and lies that each character is hiding start to reveal themselves and it becomes pretty impossible to guess what's coming next.

Honestly, from the opening lines I really didn't know what to expect with this one. We've got a man and a woman in a bar - she's a redhead with a sunburn and he's intent on catching her attention. And then we flash back to Pauline/Polly's family beach vacation. A trip she's decided is the perfect time to make her escape. By the next chapter we know that Adam Bosk has been hired to find and get close to Polly, but we don't know why. It makes sense that her husband would hire him to find her, and yet within a few short chapters we know that's not the case. And that's just one of the things we as the reader have to wait to find out.

The book progresses quickly - the chapters are short and alternate mostly between Adam and Polly. And that underlying sinister edge keeps up throughout, making this one read you won't want to put down until the very end.

If you haven't had a chance to dive into Lippman's books yet, this is a perfect place to start. Trust me, you'll love her!

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

For more on Laura Lippman 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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

One thing people are surprised to learn about me is that I have a BA in criminal justice. I've got 16 years and counting working in the publishing industry in one form or another, and a degree in criminal justice that I've never used. (I did minor in anthropology and English, so I'm using part of my education at least.) And I did love my university experience. I loved my major and I especially loved the department.

But even now, as a reader, I generally spend my time in fictional crime, avoiding the true stuff. Part of that could be attributed to attempting to read the wrong selection of true crime too early. It doesn't mean that I haven't been fascinated by the same cases that catch the attention of everyone else - I wrote a paper on Jack the Ripper, for goodness' sake. But still, the fictional pages of Kinsey Millhone's investigations were much more my jam than Ann Rule's.

Which brings me to today's post and Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. My husband and I are fans of Patton Oswalt - and that's the easiest explanation for seeing this one here. But I'm also doing the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which requires reading a true crime as one of the tasks.

More so than both of those, though, has been the fact that McNamara, who was already well known because of her site, True Crime Diary, would have been kicking off what would no doubt be a huge career as a well-known true crime writer with the release of her first book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark.

That made this a much more difficult read.

The book, which is about McNamara's search for the identity of a serial rapist and murderer she dubbed the Golden State Killer, was deeply personal in addition to being a literal hunt for the identity of a killer whose crimes were only connected in the early 2000's in spite of the fact that the crimes occurred over two decades prior. Because it was her first book, McNamara delved into her own history and where her interest in true crime began - the unsolved murder of a neighborhood girl when McNamara was a child. And McNamara talks about that case as well as her own childhood and background, even admitting that the draw to investigating cold cases, something her husband supported wholly, was much more appealing than red carpet events (as an introvert, this is totally understandable!).

See, difficult.

And the case she's investigating is highly disturbing. Fair warning before going in!

I had no familiarity with this case at all. And it's likely that most people reading this book won't either. The East Area Rapist/The Original Night Stalker terrorized California from 1978 to 1986. And, as mentioned above, the true scope of his crimes wasn't actually connected until DNA evidence was reexamined in 2001. McNamara stresses throughout the book that police at the time believed they were dealing with two different criminals due to both the widespread area of the crimes and the evolution from rapist to murderer. This was enhanced by the lack of communication between departments at the time as well.

And the case has never been solved. According to Wikipedia, a reward was offered as late as 2016 in an attempt to finally close the case.

McNamara was, as her subtitle states, obsessed. But her writing adds a human element to her own story as well as the victims, their families, the investigators, all of whom were haunted by these crimes. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the foreword (and narrates that portion of the audiobook as well), admits to her own fascination with true crime and the understanding that the genre as a whole is built on tragedy and the people who suffered it, also says that her cherrypicked readings of the genre have been dependent on the people writing the books - that human element, that focus on the victims and their story, a care and attention that you get here in McNamara's writing.

I really can't recommend this book highly enough. It is gripping and amazing and it really makes me wonder what McNamara could have or would have tackled next. It's a bittersweet read in that sense as McNamara was clearly a huge talent.

I'll Be Gone In the Dark was unfinished at the time of McNamara's death but the book is complete. Or as complete as it can be, thanks to McNamara's husband, her research assistant, an investigative journalist who was hired to help, and her editor. The book hit shelves just last week and is followed by a podcast behind the book (which kicked off yesterday), which also coincides with a four part series on the Golden State Killer on the ID channel. According to the book, McNamara's own blog and discussion boards on the case are still open as well. Hopefully, McNamara's work will spawn new interest and bring about some sort of closure to the case!

As a bit of an afterword, I did read this one on audio. The foreword is read by Gillian Flynn herself, the epilogue by Patton Oswalt, and the book is read by Gabra Zackman, who is a completely fantastic narrator.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

New Releases 3/6/18

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

The Reluctant Fortune-Teller by Keziah Frost

Guardian Angels & Other Monsters by Daniel H. Wilson

Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

The Sandman by Lars Kepler

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

Holmes Entagled by Gordon McAlpine

The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

The Day She Disappeared by Christobel Kent

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon

Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, & Kate Beth

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Girlfriend by Sarah J. Naughton

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

New on DVD:
Thor: Ragnarok
Lady Bird
The Man Who Invented Christmas
The Breadwinner

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Go Ask Fannie by Elizabeth Hyde

My family has a bit of an addiction to banana bread. And while I like to experiment, changing it up sometimes (out of necessity since I moved from sea level to high altitude), my dad is a firm believer that the recipe we've always used is the best one and there's no need to deviate from it. 

That recipe comes from a book pretty beloved by my family - The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. My grandmother had a copy, my mom has a copy that's falling apart, and when I moved out on my own my grandmother bought me a copy as well. 

When I stumbled upon Elizabeth Hyde's upcoming Go Ask Fannie, it piqued my interest. And when a read through of the synopsis confirmed the Fannie in question was indeed Fannie Farmer, I immediately had to read it. Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Everyone has baggage. The Blaire siblings are just taking theirs home for the long weekend.

When Murray Blaire invites his three grown children to his New Hampshire farm for a few days, he makes it clear he expects them to keep things pleasant. The rest of his agenda–using Ruth and George to convince their younger sister, Lizzie, to break up with her much older boyfriend–that he chooses to keep private. But Ruth and George arrive bickering, with old scores to settle. And, in a classic Blaire move, Lizzie derails everything when she turns up late, cradling a damaged family cookbook, and talking about possible criminal charges against her.

This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a time when they were a family of six, not four, with a father running for Congress and a mother building a private life of her own. The now -obscured notes written in its pages provide tantalizing clues to their mother’s ambitions and the mysterious choices she once made, choices her children have always sought without success to understand. Until this weekend.

As the Blaire siblings piece together their mother’s story, they come to realize not just what they’ve lost, but how they can find their way back to each other. In this way, celebrated author Elisabeth Hyde reminds readers that family survival isn’t about simply setting aside old rivalries, but preserving the love that’s written between the lines.

As an added bonus, Hyde is a local author here in the Boulder/Denver area. You can read more about Go Ask Fannie, including an excerpt, over on her website

Go Ask Fannie is due out from Putnam in April.