Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt—Excerpt

Happy Book Birthday to Hans Rosenfeld! The creator of The Bridge and Marcella has started a brand new series that debuts today with Cry Wolf!

I have a little taste of the book to share with you today, but first a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Hannah Wester, a policewoman in the remote northern town of Haparanda, Sweden, finds herself on the precipice of chaos.

When human remains are found in the stomach of a dead wolf, Hannah knows that this summer won’t be like any other. The remains are linked to a bloody drug deal across the border in Finland. But how did the victim end up in the woods outside of Haparanda? And where have the drugs and money gone?

Hannah and her colleagues leave no stone unturned. But time is scarce and they aren’t the only ones looking. When the secretive and deadly Katja arrives, unexpected and brutal events start to pile up. In just a few days, life in Haparanda is turned upside down. Not least for Hannah, who is finally forced to confront her own past.

I can tell you that this book has a truly explosive beginning—I've been listening to it on audio (narrated by Sofia Engstrand) and it is hard to tear myself away from it!

Thanks to the publisher, I get to share those opening pages here for you:

Everything had gone according to plan.

First their arrival.

Be the first in place, park the jeep and black Mercedes be-side each other on a rutted clearing in the middle of the forest, used by lumber trucks and harvesters for loading and U-turns, then position the coolers to face the narrow forest road they’d just come down. The ruts beneath them, the nocturnal birdsong around them, the only thing besides absolute silence until the sound of engines announced the arrival of the Finns.

A Volvo XC90, also black, drove up. Vadim watched as Artjom and Michail took their weapons and left the Mercedes, while he and Ljuba climbed out of their jeep. He liked Ljuba, thought she liked him, too. They’d gone out for a beer together a few times, and when they asked her who she wanted to drive with, she’d chosen him. For a moment he considered telling her to wait in the car, take cover, say he had a premonition this might go wrong. But if he did that, what would they do afterwards?

Run away together? Live happily ever after?

That would be impossible once she knew what had happened. She’d never betray Valerij; she didn’t like him that much, he was sure of it. So he said nothing.

The Volvo stopped a few meters in front of them, the engine switched off, the doors opened and four men stepped out. All of them armed. Looked around suspiciously as they fanned out.

Everything was still.

The calm before the storm.

The Finnish leader, a large man with a buzz cut and a tribal tattoo wrapped around one eye, nodded to the smallest of the four Finns, who holstered his gun, walked behind the Volvo and opened the trunk. Vadim also backed up a few steps to un-lock his jeep’s trunk.

So far everything was going according to their plan.

Time for his plan.

A bullet from a rifle with a silencer on it entered just beneath the eye of the large Finn closest to the car. The sudden explosion of bone, blood, and brain matter as the projectile made its way through the back of his head made the others react instinctively.

Everyone started shooting at the same time.

Everyone except Vadim, who threw himself behind the shelter of the jeep.

The man with the tattoo on his face roared loudly, hugged his trigger, and immediately took down Michail with four or five shots to the chest. Artyom answered with gunfire. The tattooed man was hit by two bullets, staggered back, but re-gained his balance and turned his weapon on Artyom, who threw himself behind the cover of the Mercedes, but it was too late. Several bullets hit his legs from the hip down. Shrieking in pain, he landed on dry gravel. The tattooed man continued bleeding, roaring, and shooting as he moved toward the Volvo, determined to make it out of here alive. But a second later he fell to his knees gurgling, let go of his weapon and pressed his hands to what was left of his neck.

Somewhere more shots were fired, more screams could be heard.

Artjom slid up into a sitting position, while trying to stop the blood that gushed from his thigh in the same rhythm as his racing heartbeat. Then another series of shots, and he went still, his gaze turning from desperation to emptiness, his lips forming some soundless word before his head slumped onto his chest.

The third Finn had thrown himself into the cover of a shallow ditch with a good view beneath the parked cars. A round of concentrated fire from his semi-automatic had hit Artjom in the back. Vadim realized that he, too, must be visible and flung himself around the jeep to hide behind one of its large wheels. When he got to the side of the car, he saw the smallest of the four Finns lying dead on the ground.

Ljuba wasn’t visible.

Another round of shots sounded from the ditch at the forest edge and bullets hit the metal on the back of the wheel, puncturing the tire. One went through the rubber and hit him in the side, just above his butt. The pain was a white-hot flash through his body. He closed his eyes, swallowed a scream, leaned his forehead against his knees and made himself as small as he could. As he slowly let the air in his lungs out again, he realized the gunfire had ceased.

It was silent. Completely silent.

No movement, no voices, no roar of pain or betrayal, no bird-song, nothing. As if the very place itself were holding its breath.

He peeked out carefully from behind the jeep.

Still silent. And still.

Slowly, slowly he raised his head for a better view. The sun hung below the trees, but still above the horizon; the scene in front of him was bathed in that particular soft, warm light of the midnight sun.

He rose cautiously to his feet. A bullet was still lodged in his muscle and tissue, but it didn’t seem to have damaged any vital organs. He pressed his hand to the wound. Blood, but no more than he could stop with a compress.


Ljuba was leaning against the rear bumper of the Finn’s car, breathing shallowly, the front of her gray T-shirt beneath her jacket soaked in blood, the gun still in her right hand. Vadim assessed the damage. The blood was running out at a steady rate, so it hadn’t nicked an artery. No air bubbles, so her lungs were probably intact. She might very well survive.

“Who shot us?” she asked, out of breath, grabbing Vadim’s jacket with a bloody hand. “Who the fuck started shooting?”

“He’s with us.”

“What? What do you mean with us? Who is he?”

“Come on.”

He gently took the gun away from her, pushed it into his pocket before standing up, leaned forward and helped her to her feet. She grimaced from the pain of exertion but managed to stand. With his arm around her waist and her arm around his shoulders, they walked out into the open area between the cars. When they reached the rise where the tattooed Finn had fallen, Vadim stopped, gently removed Ljuba’s arm, released his supportive grip from around her waist, and backed away with two large steps.

“I’m sorry…”

Ljuba’s gaze was uncomprehending at first, but she soon realized what was happening, why he’d brought her here. Seconds later a bullet pierced her temple and she was thrown to the ground.

Vadim pressed his hand to the wound on his lower back and stretched, let out a deep sigh.

In the end, everything had gone according to plan.

Excerpted from Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt, Copyright © 2022 by Hans Rosenfeldt. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

See what I mean!? Cry Wolf is officially out now, so you can run out and snag a copy at your favorite bookstore or via the links below! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Whitesands by Johan Thorsson

Hello, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Compulsive Readers tour for Johan Thorsson's debut, Whitesands!

It's been two years since John Dark's daughter went missing. And everyday he wonders what kind of detective he is if he can't find her. 

His actions in those two years have resulted in the otherwise gifted detective riding a desk and working minor calls. Until he's called to what at first appears to be a domestic disturbance. 

The first officers on the scene quickly realize they're dealing with a homicide. But it seems to be an open and shut case as far as the evidence is concerned—weird as said evidence may be. Except that John isn't convinced. Especially after interviewing the suspect. 

And then another murder occurs and everything is thrown into question. 

Whitesands is a great blending of horror and police procedural! It's also the start of a promising new series from Thorsson!

John Dark is, as the all the best series leads are, damaged. He's been carrying the weight and guilt of his daughter's disappearance for two years now. But he's just as determined as ever to find out what happened to her. 


But, as mentioned, it's affected his work. And it's affected his relationship with his wife and his son. 

And yet, John is known for having something of a sixth sense when it comes to a suspect's guilt. And everything about his suspect screams innocence. And that's before the weird stuff really starts happening. 

I absolutely love genre-bending stories like this! Horror/supernatural elements work so well in a suspense/thriller setting, making it kind of the perfect marriage in my opinion. And Thorsson has a cinematic element to his writing. The whole time I was reading, I could picture everything so clearly. Which makes for some deliciously disturbing reading, let me tell you!

There's also a great set up here as the start of a series. 

Whitesands is out now from Headshot Books. It's a must for anyone who likes a good atmospheric and dark (sorry, pun intended) read that will keep them up at night!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Dinah Jefferies's latest, Daughters of War

It's 1944 and for the past seven years, sisters Hélène, Elise, and Florence have been living on their own in the family house in France. And while things have been relatively fine, there is a war on and each sister is doing their part. 

Hélène sees first hand the damage caused by war in her job with the local doctor. And though the law only recently allowed for her to train in this capacity, she's already made great strides. 

Elise owns a cafe in town but her own passion is the resistance. And the cafe serves as a letter box and more as the war becomes more drawn out. 

Florence is the sister they call their "little witch." And with rations and little resources, she plays to that completely. Florence is their gardener and cook (even cooking for the cafe). And she's managed to hide produce and more from the occupying Germans, keeping her sisters well fed and comfortable enough. 

But it's when two very different men land on their doorstep in need of help that things really take a turn. 

Florence finds a young German deserter and offers him shelter in their home on the same day a Special Operations man from England is brought to them to recover from a parachute accident. Both men are grave dangers for the sisters—if the Germans were to search and find either one, they'd all be done for. 

Three sisters trying to survive in occupied France. And they're hiding a secret they aren't even aware of. Beyond the two men they're sheltering, that is. 

I loved the sisters and their relationships. Hélène in particular, the pragmatic one, was my favorite. She's the one who does all of the worrying, something I can relate to. 

Elise is driven and determined, paying no mind to the danger she herself might be in as long as she's doing something to help their cause and fight against the Germans. 

And Florence has her heads completely in the clouds. Of course she did spend much of her teenage years with just her sisters for support. And she is quite capable in spite of it all. 

This is quite a chunky read and there were definitely times when I felt like there was a bit too much going on in the book. In the beginning, for example, Florence meets a German in the garden. And then the next chapter begins with her sisters discovering she's hidden a deserter in their home. And it took me a few beats to realize they were not in fact the same German man. 

In spite of a few stumbles along those lines but not quite the same, I did find that I enjoyed this story quite a bit. It's hefty but moves steadily along. 

This is apparently the first in a planned trilogy and I'm interested to see exactly where the story will go now that this one is done. 

This is a must-read for fans of WWII-based historical fiction and family dramas!

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

For more on Dinah Jefferies and her work you can check out her website here. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Lost by Simon Beckett

Good morning, everyone! Today I’m a stop on the Compulsive Readers blog tour for Simon Beckett’s latest, The Lost!

It’s been ten years since Jonah Colley fell out with his friend and fellow officer Gavin McKinney. But when he receives a call from Gavin asking for help, he can’t say no. 

Jonah arrives at a remote warehouse only to find Gavin and a handful of others dead and wrapped in plastic. Except one person seems to have survived. Determined to save her, Jonah is distracted and attacked himself. He only barely survives and manages to connect a call before passing out. 

He wakes up in the hospital to find that he’s under suspicion. Of exactly what, he isn’t sure. What he does know is that the killer appears to have gotten away. Now, in order to clear his own name as well as find out the truth about what happened at the aptly named Slaughter Quay, he’ll have to dive into the investigation himself. All while facing the memories of the worst time in his life.

Ooh! I really hope this is the start of a new series from Beckett! I was a really big fan of his David Hunter books and have been looking forward to reading more from him!

Jonah Colley is a haunted man. Ten years ago, his four-year-old son disappeared while playing in the park. Jonah was with him that day but fell asleep.

Everything fell apart for him after that. But even after his wife has left and he’s fallen out with Gavin, the godfather of his son, he continued to work. But now, battered and trying to recover from the ordeal, even his job is threatened.

This is the first time Jonah finds himself a suspect. It’s usually his job to do the questioning. His job to put pressure on the suspects. But now the tables have definitely turned. That and the fact that it involves his once best friend, Jonah knows he won’t find peace until he solves the case. 

As the story unfolds, the reader is given glimpses of the events of a decade ago. His son’s disappearance and the investigation around that. And also the real reason he and McKinney haven’t spoken since. 

It’s been my experience that Beckett’s books tend to read at a propulsive pace and The Lost is no different! There is no easing into this story. To use a cliche phrase, we hit the ground running and the story never lets up!

And this is a dark read, to be truly honest! One that is quite difficult at times. Especially reading about Jonah’s son and watching how that affects Jonah and his life. 

I am so freaking glad that Beckett is back and expect that we’ll be seeing more of him and Jonah to come! I highly, highly recommend checking this one out if you’re a fan of dark thrillers and police procedurals. This is the best of both worlds and a character that’s perfect for a new series!

Huge, huge thanks to Tracy for inviting me to be part of the tour!

To find our more about Simon Beckett and his work you can check out his website here. The Lost is out this week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Paul Cleave's latest, The Quiet People

When seven-year-old Zach Murdoch disappears, suspicion immediately falls on his parents. 

Bestselling crime authors Cameron and Lisa Murdoch have often bragged that no one knows crime like they do. And so of course, in this day and age where everything said is analyzed and picked apart by anyone with a social media presence, they would come under scrutiny. And in the court of public opinion, the lines have definitely been drawn. 

And Zach is a difficult child. But could—or better yet, would—his parents really go that far?

As a parent, this one of those kinds of stories that truly terrifies me! Not only does it involve a missing child but the parents themselves becoming the center of the investigation...

Much of the book is narrated by Cameron Murdoch himself. And through his eyes we see not only the challenges of being a parent but also the emotions involved in every step of the story. 

And in fact, the opening chapter offers a taste of what's to come when Cameron loses sight of Zach at the playground (something that literally causes me to panic at even just the thought of it occurring!). 

But his isn't the only perspective offered up. Though his is the only one that is first person, giving us that internal monologue. 

Paul Cleave's name isn't new to me but I'm almost embarrassed to say that this is the first of his books that I've read. And though it does absolutely ratchet up my own anxiety, I did quite enjoy the story!

It doesn't take long for this book to really take off and the pacing is truly phenomenal! It's the kind of book you want to read in one sitting because you're desperate to know what's happened. But it's also the kind of book that begs to be read in one sitting simply because the plot moves along so quickly!

This one officially hits shelves in the UK on November 25 and it's out in the US next spring. 

Another excellent read that proves the folks at Orenda have fabulous taste! And also, that I should be reading WAY more New Zealand crime fiction in general—and specifically way more Paul Cleave!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant

For eight years, Cooper has lived in a cabin in the woods with his young daughter, Finch. They're completely cut off from the outside world. Isolated and reliant on Cooper's old army buddy, Jake—who owns the cabin they call home, to bring them supplies. 

Cooper and Finch aren't their real names, just the ones they share with the only other person they ever see, an old hermit who calls himself Scotland. And Cooper would really rather they not see or speak to him either. 

Cooper doesn't trust easily. 

But one day Jake doesn't arrive for his annual supply run. And Cooper and Finch see a girl in the woods. A girl with a camera. And now, everything that Cooper has built for him and his daughter is in danger of falling apart. 

Wow. These Silent Woods is an amazing read. With the pacing of a thriller but the heart of something much deeper, this is the kind of book that keeps you up all night and really stays with you long after you finish. 

Cooper has secrets in his past. Lots of them. 

He's a retired Ranger who served four tours before returning to his small town home. And he doesn't trust anyone except Finch and Jake. 

He has his routines and the little family of two lives a quiet but comfortable life in the wilderness. It's only occasionally broken by invasions from the outside world—the rare hiker who stumbles on the cabin. And in that event, Cooper and Finch never allow themselves to be seen. 

But one day a young girl appears in the woods. And Finch becomes obsessed. 

That young girl is the start of a series of events that turns Cooper's carefully manufactured world upside down!

This is my introduction to Kimi Cunningham Grant's writing and I have to say that it packs a huge punch. It was easy to sink into the story and absolutely lose myself. And I was so utterly invested in Cooper's story that the book actually gave me nightmares. It's not really THAT kind of book, but becoming in entrenched in Cooper and Finch's lives for just under 300 pages was a whole experience for me! 

The self-imposed isolation and the literal isolation of the setting felt real to me. Not only that, but Cooper's determination to protect his daughter and the revelations of exactly what prompted that hit me hard as parent. (Not that I think you need to be a parent to get it at all!)

These Silent Woods is a must read this fall and Kimi Cunningham Grant's books are going on my must have list immediately!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly

Good morning, everyone! Today I am super excited to be part of the Compulsive Readers tour for Michael Connelly's latest, The Dark Hours

It's New Year's Eve 2020 and Renée Ballard is working her usual night shift when a call comes in about a possible shooting. 

Ballard was actually already working a case, that of the Midnight Men, a pair of rapists who'd already established an MO of attacking on holidays. But as the night detective, it's Ballard's job to respond to any calls where a detective is needed. 

And that's why she finds herself at a car lot where a neighborhood celebration has apparently ended in a death. And while it's commonplace for the midnight shooting in LA to cause damage, Ballard immediately suspects this is something much worse. 

Her suspicions are soon confirmed and the case is labeled a homicide. And when Ballard learns that it's tied to an old case worked by Harry Bosch, she's determined to keep it. Except the Midnight Men did indeed claim a victim that night as well. And Ballard is on thin ice working both cases, especially when she brings the retired Bosch into the fold. 

But at a time when the department is under so much pressure and scrutiny, Ballard doesn't have the faith that her colleagues can, or will, actually do either job justice. 

I love this series so much! 

To be very clear, this is book 4 in the Renée Ballard series and technically book 23 in the Harry Bosh series—and (deep breath) book 35 in the Harry Bosch UNIVERSE. It's a lot, I know! (Mickey Haller is Bosch's half brother, so those books are tied into the official series, but all of the characters live in the Bosch universe, which means there's a lot of cross over.)

And I was actually super intimidated to dive into the Bosch series itself given the massive backlist. But I was, admittedly, already a HUGE fan and supporter of the show.  So when Connelly debuted a new, at the time, standalone featuring a detective relegated to the night shift, I was all in. And when it expanded into a series that also included Bosch...well, that was all I needed to dive wholeheartedly into Bosch's world!

If you fall into that same conundrum, I would highly recommend starting with Renée to bring you into the world. And I do suggest reading the books in order. They are:

Dark Sacred Night (I read this one with a newborn in tow and didn't actually get around to doing a post)
The Dark Hours

Ballard is fantastic! She's dogged and determined. And she really does not take any shit. Which is kind of why she's on the night shift already. Except that she actually likes it. 

But it means she usually has to hand over any cases to the actual investigating departments once day comes. Understandably frustrating for a cop who likes to see things through to the end. 

The book is set mid pandemic and Connelly acknowledges, in more than one way, the current happenings. The department is seeing the effects of the protests and Covid, and Ballard both understands and bucks the fatigue many of her colleagues are feeling. But it's frustrating for her, too. 

She's supposed to have a partner in the Midnight Men investigation, something odd for the detective who usually works solo. And she's stuck handling it alone when said partner decides too soon that their perps took a break for New Years. 

Which is another reason she ends up leaning on Bosch. And while Ballard fully recognizes that Harry is the kind of mentor she both wants and needs, his own history with the department and the fact that he's retired means it could land her in a lot of trouble. 

But Ballard and Bosch make a truly excellent team. And it's a great way for the retired detective to remain in the game. Especially considering he has so many cases that still gnaw at him!

Be sue to check out the remaining stops on Connelly's virtual tour here

Friday, November 5, 2021

Baby, Unplugged by Sophie Brickman

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Sophie Brickman's Baby, Unplugged: One Mother's Search for Balance, Reason, and Sanity in the Digital Age

At this time in our culture it certainly does seem like there's a new recommended app or item that will help parents keep their kids healthy, teach them various necessary skills, and even get them on track for college when they're only 6 months old! And with so many of these bombarding us daily, it's hard to know what might actually be helpful and what's just too damn much!

And, after admitting to have struggled with the idea of how much tech is needed for raising children (or, better yet, how much tech is too much tech when it comes to raising children), this is exactly what reporter and mother of two Sophie Brickman tries to determine in her book. 

One note, the book was completed prior to Covid lockdown. Brickman does include, in her intro, a bit about whether she felt the research she'd done was even relevant given the current situation—ultimately deciding it was more useful and important than ever.

So a little background on me before I get into my review: I work two jobs and have a toddler. My husband is self-employed and works crazy hours. We started daycare on March 1, 2020. 


And I have come to the conclusion that parenting does make people like me more than just a little neurotic (and let's face it, I probably was leaning that way before adding a kid to the equation given all of my anxiety issues). So with all of that in mind, I'll admit parenting books drive me up the wall. One of our potty training books left me in tears and so angry that I put it in the recycling bin (after my kid went to sleep because I didn't want him to see mommy essentially throwing away a book!). 

And it's with all of that in my head that I dove into Brickman's book. And instantly felt my anxiety peaking!

But that's kind of the point. All of these recommended products and such do drive us all a bit crazy. Especially if we're inclined to worry. Brickman talks about products meant to track your baby's sleep, sending oodles of data to your phone so you can examine numbers that mean what?! And the trend of showing up at the doctor's office already telling your pediatrician what you've diagnosed your child with thanks to the internet (and that's not limited to parents, btw). And that's just the first chapter, which thankfully ends with the determination that all of that info aside, if you're simply loving and caring for your child, maybe mindfulness is more important. 

Brickman tackles mommy groups, smart toys, AAP guidelines, kids' TV, and more. Her style is conversational and easy to read even when she does dive into statistics (which never become overwhelming). But I did walk away feel a little like I was being shamed for letting my almost three year old watch PAW Patrol!

To be fair, I already felt guilty about it. But I'm finally getting to a point where I don't care! We've set our own limits. We're trying to become comfortable with the decisions we make as parents regarding our child's interactions with tech. And a lot of Brickman's info reinforces decisions we've already made. 

So I might not recommend this one for parents like me who literally feel as though they're constantly being judged and ranked as worst parent ever (I have a therapist for this, don't worry). 

But for folks who maybe aren't as anxiety ridden as me, this is probably a useful tool to help in coming up with your own level of comfort regarding your life and kids and digital culture. 

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

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Babes in the Wood by Mark Stay

Hello, dear readers! Today I am stop on the Random Things tour for the second book in Mark Stay's Witches of Woodville series, Babes in the Wood!

It's July in Woodville and the Battle of Britain has officially begun. But overall, life in the village is fairly normal.

Faye, Bertie, and the rest of the bell ringers are returning home from an afternoon outing to Canterbury when they witness a plane crashing into one of the townspeople's houses. 

As the group works to put out the fire, Faye hears a cry for help and discovers four people trapped in a car. She's able to save them and quickly discovers that they're German. To be specific, they're Jews seeking refuge in Woodville. 

But shortly after their arrival, their guardian dies and Faye realizes that the children are in very grave danger from something other than the Nazis. And of course it's up to her to save the day. Again!

I don't think I can adequately express just how freaking excited I was about getting to be part of this tour! I reviewed the first book in the series, The Crow Folk, last February and even with toddler shenanigans (because we hadn't even started daycare/school at that point) it was a one day read for me. (Pre-toddler, it would absolutely have been one sitting!)

I adored it! And I've been anticipating the follow up ever since! And now it's officially here!

This one is set a month after the events of The Crow Folk and the town has not only recovered from those events, but they've become a bit indoctrinated to oddities now. But as much as they've gone back to "normal" there is still a war on. And things have changed accordingly. The bells, for example, are no longer allowed to ring. Much to the disappointment of the Saint Irene's Bell Ringers. 

And it would be fair to say that the arrival of four German Jews throws the town a bit. 

Faye begins the story playing hero once again. As mentioned above, they all dive in to try and control the fire that's broken out thanks to the plane crash, but when Faye hears the cries for help, she doesn't hesitate even if it means heading into a burning building! And she also puts herself between the townsfolk and the children when they hear the kids speaking German. 

From the start, Faye is experiencing something odd around the new arrivals. Visions of a sort, that only begin to make sense when the kids' guardian dies. 

I so love these books! I love the historical setting blended in with all the witchy magic and lore! The series just hits so many great beats in terms of things that interest me. Plus, the story is fun, there's a fabulous—light—creepy edge to it, and I genuinely care about Faye and everyone in Woodville!

And the writing is great! Absolutely great! Stay has clearly done deep research into the era that he writes about and he incorporates so many details that make these books so rich and real. (And yet another reason that we do care so much about Woodville.)

Babes in the Wood is out now from Simon and Schuster UK. Go forth and seek out a copy, good readers! And if you haven't had the pleasure of reading The Crow Folk as of yet, definitely grab a copy of that one too. You'll want to read them in order—and back to back. I promise you, you will not regret it!

I also highly recommend you check out Mark Stay's virtual launch video over on his website. And if you sign up for his newsletter, you get access to free Woodville extras!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Beyond the Veil edited by Mark Morris

It's November 1 and I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Mark Morris's latest horror anthology, Beyond the Veil!

This is the second collection that Morris has put together for Flame Tree, following last year's After Sundown

And it's actually the fourth unthemed horror anthology that he's edited: New Fears: New Horror Stories by Masters of the Genre released in 2017 from Titan, followed in 2018 by New Fears 2: More New Stories by Masters of the Macabre

Morris has a real eye for truly terrifying tales and he really may have outdone himself with Beyond the Veil

The very first story, "The God Bag" from Christopher Golden sets the tone for a seriously unsettling series of stories. 

The full story list is as follows:

The God Bag by Christopher Golden
Caker's Man by Matthew Holness
The Beechfield Miracles by Priya Sharma
Clockwork by Dan Coxon
Soapstone by Aliya Whiteley
The Dark Bit by Toby Litt
Provenance Pond by Josh Malerman
For All the Dead by Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten
The Girl in the Pool by Bracken MacLeod
Nurse Varden by Jeremy Dyson
If, Then by Lisa L. Hannett
Aquarium Ward by Karter Mycroft
A Mystery for Julie Chu by Stephen Gallagher
Away Day by Lisa Tuttle
Polaroid and Seaweed by Peter Harness
Der Geisterbahnhof by Lynda E. Rucker
Arnie's Ashes by John Everson
A Brief Tour of the Night by Nathan Ballingrud
The Care and Feeded of Household Gods by Frank J. Oreto
Yellowback by Gemma Files

I've said it before and I'll continue to scream it from the rooftops, but I really do love short stories and especially anthologies like this one! When I'm tight for time, a short piece that I can read in between toddler responsibilities and other daily tasks is perfect. And this collection features pieces from favorites like Christopher Golden, Priya Sharma, Josh Malerman, and Stephen Gallagher (to name a few), who I know are going to deliver on a great tale! 

Anthologies are also a great way to discover new to you authors, too. Matthew Holness's "Caker's Man" would not leave my head after I read it! Dan Coxon and Lynda E. Rucker are also a few of the names that were completely new to me—and definitely on my to read list from here on out!

Truly, each piece in here is a gem that is guaranteed to give you nightmares! Just what I'm looking for when I dive into a collection. And again, Morris seems to have a sincere talent for bringing together a great collection!

Beyond the Veil is out now from Flame Tree Press! Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Happy Halloween eve! Today I'm part of the Compulsive Readers tour for Tade Thompson's latest, Far From the Light Of Heaven

Michelle "Shell" Campion is a third generation astronaut. But she gave up her NASA training to join up with a private company, shuttling settlers off world to their new home planets. 

It's her first assignment and though she's technically First Officer, it's in name only. The AI that captains the ship never fails. 

Except this time it has. Not only that, something has gone horribly wrong on the ship.

Rasheed Fin is a detective noted for his observation skills. He's also been on forced leave for almost a year when he's assigned the investigation upon the Ragtime. Oh, and he hates being in space. Together with Shell and his own AI partner, Salvo, they must quickly determine exactly what's happened on board the ship. 

But as they investigate, political personalities on Earth and on the Lagos station have their own agendas. And the ramifications of the investigation affects them all, one way or another. Which means they have a vested interest in how it plays out and, ultimately, what is revealed. 

This might be my favorite book by Thompson so far!

The author of the acclaimed Molly Southbourne series and the Wormwood trilogy has already proven he can do dark and he can do complex science fiction with fascinating characters. Here he blends both creating a science fiction mystery (LOVE IT!) set in a future that's incredibly believable.

In this world, humans have set sail for the stars, settling new planets in the name of Lagos, Waikiki, and others. 

But humans are humans and politics are always an issue. As is murder. 

Shell and Fin are both fantastic characters. 

Shell, whose own father went missing while on a mission, has trained to be in space. And she keeps her cool in spite of a discovery that would shake even the strongest of people. In part because the only way she can survive on Ragtime is doing exactly that—keeping her cool and doing exactly what she's been trained to do. 

Fin's transgression isn't revealed when we first meet him, but we soon learn why he specifically has been chosen for this case in spite of not being trained for space (he fails the quick training, horribly). And of course he's suspicious of Shell too. 

Fans of Thompson's work are going to love Far From the Light of Heaven. And readers who have yet to discover him are in for a real treat! (This one is absolutely perfect for fans of cross-genre sci-fi such as Six Wakes and The Expanse series.)

Far From the Light of Heaven is out now from Orbit. Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Restoration by J.H. Moncrieff

It's Thursday! And today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for J.H. Moncrieff's latest, The Restoration

As a single mom who works in historic home restoration, jobs are key to her survival. And so Terri is thrilled to be hired to restore Glenvale House. The owner, a hundred-year-old woman who doesn't look a day over eighty, wants the house fully restored and has given Terri a year to complete the project. What's more, Terri and her daughter, Dallas, can live on site throughout the restoration. 

Unfortunately for Terri, things begin to go wrong almost from the start. She's warned about the house and it's previous employees' proclivities. Basically, the owner tells her from the start that she holds not stock with the rumors of the house's hauntings and she won't put up with any whiff of trouble from Terri. (And by trouble she means mention of ghosts.) But she's not exactly honest about the circumstances by which the previous employees and other restorers left under. 

And Glenvale House is indeed haunted! In fact, the spirit that calls the place home targets Terri's daughter from the beginning. 

At first, Terri believes they could be dealing with a trespasser. Unfortunately for her, she's very wrong. And what first seems to be a lonely ghost looking for friendship turns into something much more dangerous!

It's funny when real life experiences start to align with your reading. And no, I'm not restoring a haunted house! But I have been pretty obsessed lately with Cheap Old Houses (the Instagram feed and the show), so I've been introduced a little more into the world that Terri inhabits more than I would have, say, a year ago!

And Terri's job is a fascinating one! But more than that, the focus in Moncrieff's latest is the struggle of a single mom trying her best to support herself and her daughter. 

Life hasn't been easy since her divorce and her ex offers no help at all. He's off living his own life and even has their daughter with him the majority of the time. The summer at Glenvale House is meant to be Terri's time to reconnect with her daughter. 

What it's not meant to be is putting her young daughter in direct danger! 

But Terri is feisty and stubborn. She's determined to take care of her daughter first, no matter what.

I truly felt for Terri and Dallas. And I feared for them as well! But the ultimate twist is that even the reader  isn't fully aware of just where the true danger of Glenvale House lies. 

The Restoration is an absolutely chilling story about dark secrets within families and the lengths some will go to in an attempt to ensure no one ever discovers the truth! And since ghost stories just happen to be my favorite flavor of horror, it's also super twisted fun!

The Restoration is out now from Flame Tree. Order a copy now from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

I'm off to tackled Moncrieff's backlist while there's still a little spooky season left :)

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Hideout by Camilla Grebe

Good morning, readers! Today I'm kicking off the Compulsive Readers tour for Camilla Grebe's latest, The Hideout!

Samuel didn't mind earning a little extra money taking stealing electronics and taking "pizza" orders for the local drug dealer. In fact, it was a lot of extra money! But then the job took a violent turn and his mom found out what he was doing, kicking him out of the house and also trashing the stash he was supposed to deliver. 

So he goes into hiding. In a small, isolated town that should be safe from the police and the drug lord he knows is searching for him. 

Hiding out is the first opportunity Samuel has taken to being a responsible adult. He's taken a job as an assistant, spending much of his time reading to a disabled boy. But it doesn't take long for him to start to wonder if things are a little off there. 

At the same time, the body of a man has washed up on shore. Manfred is dealing with his own personal tragedy, but is one of the detectives assigned to the case. And this is just the first body...

The Hideout is technically the third book in a very loosely framed series that began with The Ice Beneath Her Feet and continued with After She's Gone. Fortunately for crime fans, you do not have to have read either of the previous books in order to dive into this latest!

And I love that about this series! 

Grebe has a talent for creating fascinating characters and that is definitely on show here in The Hideout. But I should warn you that the book begins with a sucker punch of an opening chapter!

Manfred is enjoying life as a new father with a new, much younger wife. So much so that the job has taken a bit of a backseat. And yet, when tragedy strikes at home just as a series of bodies starts to wash up on shore, he's forced to put the job at the forefront as much as he can. 

At the same time, we meet Samuel and his mother, Pernilla. As mentioned, Samuel, who's only just turned 18, likes easy money. After all, why would he bother to get a real job that pays pennies compared to the money he makes pawning stolen goods? And the drugs, it's just a little weed. Nothing that bad. But he's definitely unprepared for the way the job escalates. 

His mother, who has cut him a little too much slack, isn't having it! She kicks him out, but has pretty immediate second thoughts. Raising him alone has been a chore and she knows he needs to take responsibility, but in the cool down period when she doesn't hear from him for a while...

The book alternates between the three of them: Manfred, Samuel, and Pernilla. And it's one that keeps you guessing along the way. I won't say much more because I don't want to spoil it, but I really do love the way the various threads of the plot are woven. It's impossible to gauge, from the start, just how things will all come together. And that's part of the fun in the reading!

The Hideout is officially out this week from Zaffre!

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Antti Tuomainen's latest, The Rabbit Factor!

Henri is an actuary with an insurance company. He finds order through math and numbers. What he doesn't have time for, though, is idle chit chat and gossip. Which apparently means that he no longer fits into his company's culture. 

And so he finds himself very unexpectedly unemployed. 

And then finds himself, also very unexpectedly, the new owner of YouMeFun, the adventure park his brother owned. Because, as it turns out, his brother has passed away and left everything to Henri. 

The park is fully staffed and, mostly, functional. But it's also not exactly doing well financially. And apparently Henri's brother had gotten tied in with some quite unsavory types! 

But amidst dealing with the park's troubles, a new staff of people he barely knows and has to manage, and the chaos that goes along with all of that, Henri also finds himself surprisingly drawn to the park's manager. Suddenly, his carefully ordered world has been turned upside down. And Henri doesn't know if he's equipped to deal with it all. 

Antti Tuomainen is an author whose reputation truly does precede him! His quirky Finnish thrillers have been on my must read list for some time now. Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this tour! And I have to say I am very happy that The Rabbit Factor turned out to be everything—and more—than I expected it to be!

First, the premise is pretty funny in an of itself. And once we really meet Henri, it becomes even more oddball and fun! 

The book begins just over three weeks into inheriting the park with Henri being chased around and forced to defend himself with a rabbit ear. I mean, I don't know how else we could better be set up for what's to come.

But the Henri prior to YouMeFun is stuck. Stuck in his ways. Stuck by himself. Stuck in a rut. Stuck without friends, a job, or even his own brother. And imagining that Henri becoming the Henri from the opening chapter seems like a pretty impossibly leap. Joining him on that journey is pure entertainment! 

Tuomainen clearly enjoys what he does and that enjoyment comes through in his prose. Albeit via translator David Hackston. 

And in a surprise twist, this is actually being adapted for film with Steve Carrell set to star. Which is quite possibly the most perfect casting I can imagine for Henri!

And I just want to take a quick minute to give some serious props to the cover designer here. That is, quite possibly, the most perfectly eye-catching and fantastic cover design I've seen in a while!

The Rabbit Factor is an excellent read, perfect for anyone who enjoys dark comedy and caper-style thrillers! I sincerely hope that it's also the book that makes Tuomainen the household name he should be worldwide!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Litani by Jess Lourey

Frankie's father has died, which means that the young teen has been sent away from their home in Pasadena, to live with her mom in the small Minnesota town of Litani.

She and her mom have never been close, which makes the move that much harder. But Frankie feels responsible for her father's death, so living with her closed-off mom is just part of the punishment she thinks she deserves. 

As soon as she arrives, Frankie is warned about dark things in Litani. Within just a few days, she's heard about dead animals and missing kids. Worse than that, she's heard about The Game. And whatever The Game might be, she knows it's something to be afraid of. 

As rumors of Satanic worship swirl around the small town, talk of Frankie's own father's past starts to make it's way to the girl. Frankie becomes determined to learn more about her family while also vowing to help make Litani safe for kids. But where does a fourteen year old start in an investigation that seemingly stumps the professionals?

Jess Lourey writes some incredibly disturbing stuff! In Litani, as with Unspeakable Things, the narrator is a young girl and it lends a wide-eyed innocence to the story that makes the content all that much more unsettling. 

Frankie is fourteen and—except for one visit that ended badly—this is her first time in Litani. But it's the town where her mother and father grew up. The town where they met. The town their families are from. Everyone knows who Frankie is as soon as she arrives. And they know things about her family that even she is unaware of. 

As soon becomes clear to Frankie, some very bad things are happening to the kids in Litani. But she doesn't quite understand what those bad things are. And because Frankie is young and has led a fairly sheltered life—not just because the story is set in 1984—she misses some of the hints about said bad things. Hints that the reader doesn't miss.

And I have to say that those things weigh heavy on your mind as you follow such a young main character through the narrative. 

Lourey does offer a slightly older foil who tries to open Frankie's eyes to some of the things she's not seeing. I'd say it helps the reader as well, but I think most readers (especially those familiar with Lourey's books) don't really need the help. 

Litani is not an easy read by way of theme. And it reminded me a lot of Clay McLeod Chapman's Whisper Down the Lane, in that it draws from the same fervor of the era and even mentions the very case the latter is based on. 

I enjoy Lourey's work because it is so gripping. And also incredibly layered. Yes, this is a dark tale in more ways than one. But it's also got a young heroine who is determined to be just that—a heroine. She has her own suffering but she wants to save everyone around her. Her story is not an easy one to read but she's easily the girl next door in every sense of the phrase: you quite literally do not know what the people around you are going through. 

Lourey is an absolute must read for me. If you can handle the darker aspects of real life, her thrillers are undeniably gripping and her talent is amazing! 

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cold as Hell by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Lilja Sigurðardóttir's latest, and first in a new series, Cold as Hell!

Áróra is no stranger to her sister's issues. In fact, she's had to return to Iceland a number of times to help the elder sister out of trouble. Which is why she's none too pleased when their mother calls and asks her to return once again to check on Ísafold. It seems she's been out of touch long enough for their mom to be concerned. What's more, she hasn't updated her social media either.

Áróra arrives certain that she'll find her sister in the same situation as before. And also certain that, like the previous times, she'll be nursing wounds from abuse by the boyfriend she refuses to leave.

And yet, when she arrives in Iceland she finds no trace of Ísafold. It's as though she's disappeared.

With the help of a detective, she begins to look into Ísafold's life, trying to find clues as to her whereabouts.

Meanwhile, she can't help but get involved in another case as well. And this one could be very financially rewarding!

First off, you'll notice I'm super late with this post. Like ten days by the poster. Life has been...yeah. And yet, as with last year, I find that Nordic Noir offers me such a welcome escape! Sinking into this story of sisters and financial investigation (which is what Áróra actually does for a living) was a fantastic diversion. 

Áróra and her sister have a complicated relationship. There's a big gap between them and Ísafold was resentful of her younger sister for quite some time. At least, it seems, until she could get something from her. Usually help in cleaning up her messes (literal and figurative). 

They moved to the UK young but Ísafold returned to Iceland as soon as she was able. And then she met Björn. Who was not a good partner. They tried to get Ísafold to leave him on multiple occasions, but inevitably she would refuse. And it's that combination of issues that has left Áróra with very little patience when it comes to her sister. 

And of course Áróra is concerned. But she knows her sister won't change. 

This time, though, things might just be different. Because no one has seen Ísafold. And not only that, the things that have happened in her life recently have been kept secret from her family...

The family dynamic is fabulous! But of course it's Áróra who drives the story. And I absolutely loved her! She has a bit of a nebulous sense of right and wrong, doing what she wants to do when she wants to do it regardless of whether it's exactly the right thing to do. 

She's a financial investigator and we meet her while she's working a case for a man who claims his wife stole all of their money and ran. She recovers it, but the man isn't going to pay up. Fortunately, Áróra has her own ways of negotiating with people like that. 

The book is about much, much more than just the sisters. And it is a bit of a slow burn—much more character driven than plot driven. Translator Quentin Bates does a fabulous job, in my opinion, of capturing and staying true to the author's style, which I think is always a challenge with translations. But Cold as Hell reads wonderfully, with characters and prose that grab you from the very start!

I cannot wait to read more with Áróra! She is exactly the kind of character I adore and is absolutely perfect to carry a series!

If you've yet to dip your toe into the incredibly deep and diverse well of Nordic Noir or, more specifically, Icelandic crime fiction, Cold as Hell is an excellent place to start!

This one is out now in the UK from the fabulous folks at Orenda. It will hit shelves in the States in February.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke

Happiest of Book Birthdays to C. J. Cooke! Her latest, The Lighthouse Witches is out today from Berkley and it is the absolute perfect fall read!

1998: Liv has been commissioned to paint a mural in a lighthouse located on a remote island in Scotland. 

She's been raising her daughters alone since the death of her husband a few years ago, and money has been tight. To say the least. Which is why the commission has come at the perfect time. Not only does it pay, but it comes with room and board for the duration of the project. 

As soon as they arrive on Lon Haven, Liv's oldest daughter, Saffy, dives into the island's odd lore thanks to a book she's found in their new home. The book outlines witch trials held on the island in the seventeenth century. But it also contains so much more...

2021: Luna has never given up hope that her mother and her two sisters will be found. But it is a shock when she receives a call saying that the youngest, Clover, has been located. Even more shocking is the fact that Clover hasn't aged a day in the two decades she's been missing. 

Luna has never returned to the island of Lon Haven in all these years. She also doesn't remember exactly what happened on her final days there—when her sisters and her mother disappeared. Now she'll have to return if she's ever to understand what's happened—and still happening—to her family. 

But on an island so steeped in folklore and mythology, where witchcraft still has a significant foothold, Luna will find herself in danger of falling prey to old beliefs!

The Lighthouse Witches is a perfect blend of supernatural and suspense! I loved every last bit of it!

First of all, the island the book is set on is fiction. BUT the witch trials that took place pretty much everywhere were particularly horrendous in Scotland. In fact, according to ye olde wikipedia, there were no less than 5 separate witch hunts that took place in the country. 


Witch lore is probably most fascinating because it's one of many pieces of history that plagues women in particular. Got a neighbor you don't like—point that finger and say the magic word! Want a particular piece of property? Feel like you've been wronged somehow? Thing your husband is having an affair?...And while the victims weren't exclusively women, the majority very much were. 

(This is not meant to be glib in any way, but I'm not an expert on the history and there are TONS of resources available.)

The setting for Cooke's latest is an island that still very much holds onto their old beliefs. And in addition to witches in particular, this island has a strong and long-held belief in wildlings (you may have heard them called changelings). 

So here comes a mom and her three daughters, plopped down in a setting that's super insular, super superstitious, and, as we soon come to learn, kind of under the thumb of a particular family as well. 

And the lighthouse Liv's been commissioned to paint? It's owned by an eccentric millionaire who is never around. Oh, and it sits on the very site where witches were burned over three centuries ago. 

And that's just half of the story. Present day, an adult Luna has her own struggles. She's pregnant and not certain she wants to be married (which her partner views as the end rather than an understanding of her complicated past—no thanks to the fact that she doesn't adequately communicate that to him!). 

She's a child therapist, though, which means that she should be perfectly suited to take young Clover under her wing. Except that it makes no sense that Clover is still a child!

Each of the women in this book are so well drawn. I loved Liv and felt her pain as a single mother. I loved Luna and also felt her pain as an orphaned woman trying to start her own family. Saffy, the snarky teen trying to find her way in the world reminded me of those awkward teenage years and how awful they could feel. 

There's one final woman who plays a big role in the book, but we don't actually get her perspective. Amy, who lives during the trials themselves, is only really seen through the eyes of the man who loves her. And it's their story that Saffy finds in the lighthouse bothy in 1998. 

The Lighthouse Witches is out now! I highly, highly recommend this one and hope you'll all run out and buy a copy! It's an excellent anytime read, but it's especially perfect for fall (part of it takes place at Halloween!).

This is going down as one of my favorite books of 2021!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop