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!