Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Blue Zones American Kitchen by Dan Buettner

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Dan Buettner's The Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

Many of you might already be familiar with "Blue Zones." After all, this is only the latest title from Buettner about such. 

If you aren't familiar, blue zones are areas Buettner and National Geographic have determined are areas where people live longer. And they attribute this to diet. It's the same philosophy behind other diets as well. And I use diet here not in the crazy fasting or trendy lose weight quick methods but rather in the overall habit of a person's eating. 

Plant based, whole food diets have been proven to be better for your health. They promote heart health and overall wellness. 

Sure, you could go plant based and subsist on french fries and potato chips, but that's not what they mean. Nor is that what this cookbook is all about. 

In this latest, Buettner has focused strictly on the Americas, collecting recipes from home cooks, chefs, and even historians. The result is a collection of recipes and stories that are both appealing and fascinating!

Sections are broken into: Indigenous, Native, and Early American; African American; Latin American; Asian American; and Regional and Contemporary American. There are also guidelines and bios on the contributors. 

But what about the recipes?! I know, as a cookbook junkie it's really the recipes that count! And as someone who has recognized that I need to make healthier decisions (due to family history and other components), the recipes are an even bigger factor!

Paired with fabulous photography, the book is a collection of truly appealing and approachable recipes that can be made (with a few exceptions) with easy to find ingredients and techniques/methods most home cooks will be comfortable with. And while the book isn't necessarily focused on seasonality, it's clear that many of the contributors count this as a factor in creating the recipes. 

In the Indigenous section, for example, the very first recipe in the book is a fantastic recipe perfect for combatting the doldrums of winter: Baked Acorn Squash with Berries (dried blueberries and fresh cranberries)!

The African American section, which does call for Carolina Gold Rice (easy to find online) has multiple recipes particularly suitable for New Year's Day (minus the pork): Hoppin' John With Carolina Gold Rice and Sapelo Red Peas (an heirloom field pea that can be substituted with black eyed peas) and the Spicy Cabbage Salad or you can go an even cozier route with The Last Meal: Sweet Potato and Black-Eyed Pea Soup (paired with the cabbage salad, of course). 

As someone who has a particular affinity for seafood, the Latin American section offered a recipe I admit was the very first to draw me as a must make: Hearts of Palm Ceviche (hearts of palm are wonderful and are not used nearly as much as they should be!). There's also a Jicama "Scallop" Aguachile that's truly amazing!

The Asian American section is a bit of a catch-all, featuring Vietnamese, Indian, Filipino, Korean, etc (there's a lot included in this section, which would be my only complaint as I think each one could fill a chapter themselves!). And while I don't have much of a sweet tooth, the Brown Rice Pudding with Nuts and Cardamom called to me immediately! (I adore rice pudding!) Mayak Gimbap (which no longer intimidate me after making some from Eric Kim's Korean American) and Kimchi Pancakes are two of my favorite easy Korean dishes. And of course there's a Miso Ramen that I think you might find yourself craving on the regular!

Finally there's the Regional and Contemporary American section, which features, amongst others, Cajun recipes! There's no way I can pass up trying plant-based Cajun food. I joke, a lot, but for various reasons it's a cuisine that doesn't necessarily feature much by way of vegetarian or vegan food. And yet, there's a Mushroom Etoufee that's much easier to make in landlocked Colorado than the traditional crawfish! And since it's winter and I'm a fan of all things comfort food, the Modern Borscht is next on my list to make :)

All in all, I think this is a perfect cookbook for anyone looking to go plant based, anyone even remotely interested in adding more plant-based dishes to their meal rotation (me), and especially anyone under the false impression that plant-based meals can't be as exciting and tasty as the dishes they're used to!

Huge thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on the tour! The Blue Zones American Kitchen is out now!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop.org

Monday, December 5, 2022

A Deadly Covenant by Michael Stanley

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for the latest Detective Kubu mystery, A Deadly Covenant!

A water pipeline could mean great benefit for a the small village in Botswana. But when bones are discovered at the proposed site, the project comes to a screeching halt. 

Detective Sergeant Kubu is sent to the scene along with a pathologist, to observe the recovery. Or at least that was the plan. It doesn't take long for them to realize there are in fact nine bodies at the site. And by all appearances the remains of Bushmen. The fact that the remains are bones means they've been there for some time, but a mass grave definitely warrants investigation. 

Unfortunately, the mass grave isn't the only problem in the area. Kubu learns of not one but two men who went missing right around the same time in the mid 70s and decides to look into the case. But there are more immediate concerns when a local man is murdered in what appears to be a burglary gone wrong. Neither case is exactly under Kubu's purview, but the locals seem determined to settle the blame on a man who very well may be innocent. 

This is the second book in the prequel series featuring a rookie Detective Kubu, following Facets of Death

This is really such a fun series! Whether you've read the early books from later in Kubu's career or are completely new to the books, A Deadly Covenant is a fabulous read!

These particular prequels are set in the 90s, early in Kubu's career. He's still learning the ropes and not quite the pro he'll become. But he is still more driven and more observant than many in his line of work!

One of the many things I adore about this series is Kubu's sense of justice. In this particular outing, when a Bushman appears at the crime scene and is later used as a scapegoat, Kubu is one of the ones determined to see the man freed. Not only does he suspect the man is innocent, but he quickly realizes the local police are willing to do whatever it takes to close the case quickly and easily, without worrying about evidence that goes against their theory. 

Of course politics play a big role as well—both local and wider. The treatment of the Bushmen is already fodder for international news and the story of a massacre and mass grave only make things worse. 

And that's literally just one small facet of what occurs in the book! A huge part of the fun is watching how the story unfolds as the authors weave together multiple threads to form a suspenseful and fascinating mystery!

Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip never fail to amaze me and never disappoint either!

A Deadly Covenant is out in the UK on December 8 from Orenda!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Dragonfly Summer by J.H. Moncrieff

Hello, everyone! We are now in the thick of holiday season. Here's to keeping your sanity!

Today I'm excited to be part of the Random Things tour for J.H. Moncrieff's latest, Dragonfly Summer!

It's been almost thirty years since Jo left the tiny town of Clear Springs. In that time, not only has she never looked back, but apparently she's forgotten most of it. 

Including the disappearance of one of her best friends. 

But someone wants her to remember. She receives an anonymous note with information about a vigil to be held all these years later. And on the note is a message to find Sam. 

Sam's case was never solved. Most assume she died. And while someone wants Jo to find the truth, many want this part of the past to remain buried. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest from Moncrieff! A decades-old mystery and the drama of teenage friendships...it had an air of Yellowjackets around it that I am 100% on board for!

Jo has been living in New York City ever since graduating high school. And though her plans to become a writer have fizzled, her interest in investigations can't be denied. Most disturbing though is the fact that when the article about Sam's vigil arrives, Jo has no memory of her at all. 

As the dawning realization hits that this is someone she knew and that this was undeniably a huge event in her life, the prompt to look into it is one that pulls her back to Clear Springs. That and the discovery that the other friend in their old trio has died as well. 

Jo is the only one left who seems to want to find out the truth about Sam. But she can't even trust her own memories, which is something I find absolutely fascinating!

I know for most, comfort reading right now means holiday rom coms. For me, though, Dragonfly Summer is exactly the kind of comfort read I'm looking for! A good mystery, a twisty plot, and a book that I can get cozy and curl up with that begs to be read in a single sitting! 

Dragonfly Summer is out from Flame Tree now! Order a copy today from Bookshop.org!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Short Fiction Friday: Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

When Celeste's beloved sister, Mariel, is accused of murder, she's willing to do absolutely anything to make sure her name is cleared. 

Celeste and Mariel are both Fallen. But Celeste can pass as one of the Elect. So much so that her father separated the two, taking Celeste with him to live as one of the privileged while Mariel and her mother were relegated to the Drench. 

And Celeste swore she would never abandon Mariel again. So even though that means aligning herself with the one demon she swore she'd never see again. And even though it means risking her own soul with the Order of Archangels, Celeste agrees to become Mariel's advocate in her case. And she's decided to take it one further and find the real killer, thereby ensuring her sister's freedom. 

But investigating a murder in Goetia, much less the murder of one of the Virtues, is no easy task. And Celeste is about to learn just how little she truly knows her own sister.

It's Friday! (Finally!) 

I haven't been doing much leisure reading of late because I've been working to catch up on client projects. But I have a stack of designated one sitting reads that I've been plumbing for relaxing reading. And I've been taking advantage of audiobooks as well. 

In the case of Tread of Angels, it's both short (just about 200 pages) AND I have the audio from Libro.fm. Add to that the fact that it's Indigenous Heritage Month and that the book released this week, and it immediately made the tippy top of my TBR list. 

This is a little book that FEELS bigger. At least in terms of scope and world! 

Roanhorse mirrors real world class and race issues by packing the pages of this book with a world in which descendants of fallen angels are the lower and lesser class. The setting is Victorian meets Western but wholly unique. 

Celeste is a card dealer at the Eden, where her sister is also a performer/singer. It's a gambling house and drinking hole where knife fights and gun shots aren't completely unheard of. And it's there, during a brawl, that Mariel is dragged off as the prime suspect in a murder. 

But the whole thing stinks of privilege and conspiracy! Of course when one of the elite is killed officials would turn an eye to a Fallen. And they have little to no recourse against the powers that be. 

But that's not going to deter Celeste. Nor are the various tests she must figure out how to trick her way through so she doesn't get caught as a Fallen herself. It's a good thing she has an ally of sorts with a local demon lord! (Not that she really wants to ask for his help.)

This book is tiny but mighty! My only real complaint: I want more of Goetia! Which surprised me a little considering I'd thought I was over anything pertaining to fallen angels. Just goes to show you that a great story can pull you in no matter what!

Shout out to Dion Graham who narrates the audio. He is a delight to listen to! (The audio clocks in at 4 hours 25 minutes.)

Tread of Angels is out now from Saga! Order a copy from Bookshop.org!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Stars Undying by Emery Robin

Happy hump day! Today I'm a stop on the Compulsive Readers tour for Emery Robin's debut, The Stars Undying. (The first in the Empire Without End series.)

Princess Altagracia was always meant to rule Szayet, but when her twin sister steals the throne and the Pearl that contains the wisdom of their dead god. 

Altagracia is set to flee but her sister has already hired someone to ensure that doesn't happen. Altagracia's only hope is to win that very same man over to her side. To have him as support is the only thing that might alter the course her sister has set in motion. 

The Stars Undying is an epic space opera BASED ON CLEOPATRA! 

Now let me be very clear, I know nothing about Cleopatra. And you don't have to know anything about her either to enjoy this book. Robin has put together a story inspired by historical figures, but set in a world so very different from our own. 

And the world building is truly spectacular! A monarchy set around gods and prophets alongside technology. War that stretches into space. 

I should warn you, don't plan to start this book at bedtime unless you can definitely afford lost hours of sleep! The Stars Undying is incredibly engaging but also pretty complex in terms of the politics (or maybe not complex in terms of politics but more accurately in terms of the players and their various plays!).

This is also a perfect cross over read for fantasy fans who don't usually dip their toes into science fiction and vice versa! 

The Stars Undying is out now from Orbit. Order a copy today from Bookshop.org!

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Vicious Circle by Katherine St. John

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Katherine St. John's latest, The Vicious Circle

Sveta's Uncle Paul (now Shiva) is a popular self-help turned spiritual guru. And though she's been estranged from him for most of his life, she's followed his career from the sidelines for quite some time. But Shiva has been out of the public eye ever since a supposedly false #MeToo accusation, living in South America at his palatial retreat, Xanadu, with his wife, Kali, and their followers. And although she'd heard he had some health problems, Sveta is still shocked to learn that Shiva has died. Even more shocking is the fact that he's left everything to her. Not Kali. 

Sveta travels to Xanadu for the funeral and finds what appears to be a utopian enclave filled with the spiritually enlightened. But from the start things seem off. Shiva's lawyer says he wanted to shut down Xanadu. And Kali is all smiles until she turns up the "real will" leaving everything to herself. Sveta doesn't know what to think, but she soon realizes she's essentially trapped in the middle of nowhere and completely unsure who she can trust.  

I love Katherine St. John's work! Rich and privileged people behaving badly. Everyone else caught up in their various webs of misdeeds!

When we meet Sveta, she's preparing for a New Year's Eve party with her fiancé and his brother. And it soon becomes very clear that the relationship is more than a little strained between the former model and her soon to be in-laws. News that her uncle, a man she'd always loved deeply but who'd been distanced from the family since her father's death, hits her hard. As does the news that she's inherited his fortune, his company, and his property. 

Fortunately for the reader, Sveta is a bit more grounded than you might expect of someone who's been in the modeling industry since she was 14. 

She's easy to like, easy to empathize with, and you really don't want to see her get hurt in any way!

So it's easy to get wrapped up in her story! Plus, it really is a fun read. If you've read either (or both) The Lion's Den and Siren, you will definitely love The Vicious Circle!

If you're new to St. John, The Vicious Circle is billed as being "a gripping, escapist suspense" "for fans of Lucy Foley and Liane Moriarty." Which is all true! (And pretty perfect comps considering I've read all three authors.) Definitely one I recommend for your fall reading TBR! If you're anything like me, you'll gobble it up in one sitting :)

The Vicious Circle is out now in the UK and in the States!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Cruise by Catherine Cooper

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Catherine Cooper's latest, The Cruise!

A luxury cruise liner and a missing person. Believe it or not, it's not an unheard of scenario. Though not an ideal one for the Heracles company or their pride and joy, the Immanis

When a passenger's report that someone went overboard coincides with the disappearance of one of the ship's dancers, people aren't quite sure what to make of it. There's no evidence that anything actually happened. The witness had been drinking so no one can even be sure if she did actually see someone go overboard. But Lola has gone missing, that's a fact that no one can deny. And two weeks later, another employee is dead. 

Catherine Cooper's thrillers are pure popcorn entertainment! With fabulous locales—a grand but fallen French chateau, a chalet in the French Alps, and now a luxury cruise ship—Cooper's books are pretty perfect for armchair travelers who like their fictional vacations with more than a touch of mystery!

As someone who is particularly inclined to never going on a cruise, I do love them as settings for nefarious doings. So this was definitely up my alley (it was up my alley already because I enjoy Cooper's work)!

This book has such a fun progression in terms of how the story is laid out. We begin with a passenger who has won his trip on the cruise. We then jump to the staff on Immanis on New Year's Eve 2021 leading up to Lola's disappearance. 

Then we jump two weeks ahead to Immanis in port undergoing renovations (including security upgrades) while a skeleton crew remains on board. And of those crew, it soon becomes clear that everyone is hiding something!

But then we jump back to 2013 and a girl who wakes in the hospital after an accident. How her story ties into that of the occurrences on Immanis is part of the fantastic and twisted journey Cooper has in store for us as readers!

I absolutely loved The Cruise! I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a dark diversion in their reading lives. And if it's your introduction to Cooper, I definitely suggest picking up her previous books as well—you won't regret it!

The Cruise is out now in the UK and is due out in the States in February! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Hide by Kiersten White

It’s Hide and Seek—competition style. At least, that’s what the participants are being told. A sporting goods company looking to build up it’s brand and name recognition is offering fourteen competitors a chance to win $50,000 if they can last through a seven day game of hide and seek. 

For Mack, winning would mean everything. Orphaned and homeless, the money would be life changing. And she’s knows how to hide. It saved her life once already. 

This is a hell of a fun read! Kiersten White reimagines the legend of the minotaur and the labyrinth but sets it in an uber creepy, abandoned amusement park! (Who doesn't love an abandoned amusement park setting?!)

Each of the competitors has been chosen for a very specific reason. And each one is pretty desperate to win, as becomes obvious when they realize exactly what is at stake in this game.

Mack, though, she's a real survivor. And anyone who hears her real name knows her story. 

I'm not going to lie, this book was a little reminiscent of the movie The Hunt. Which is not a comparison that I hate because I actually kind of enjoyed it (sorry to those of you who expected me to like something more high brow). 

But of course Hide leans into the mythology aspect to such a satisfying degree!

I read this in the middle of a slump. And I read it in one day. Which automatically gives a book high marks from me. But all of the pieces of this book—mythology, survival games, THE SETTING, and a heroine I really loved—made this such a fabulously enjoyable read!

Order a copy from Bookshop!

Friday, October 21, 2022

Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison

Rory never planned to return to her hometown. But when her sister's partner leaves in the midst of her pregnancy, Rory is the one she calls. 

Which is why Rory is back. And why she has a run in with an old friend who could be more. And why she finds herself getting attacked by a wild animal in the middle of the night.

And after that happens...things start to change for Rory. And not necessarily for the better.

If you didn't know, this is a werewolf book. And it's so much fabulous fun! I love Harrison's style of dark humor. It makes her books such completely enjoyable reads!

Rory is a big city girl who escaped her small town and truly never intended to return. 

Yes, she has family and friends there. But that's about it. It's a dead end and she wants to go places!

But when her sister calls, Rory is definitely not going to say no. Especially when her turd of an SO abandoned her! (Rory feels a little protective of her sister.)

The last thing she wants, though, is a complication tying her down. And that's exactly what she gets—in spades. 

She's attacked by something. Some say it was a bear, but Rory kind of thinks not. But it's when Rory starts to notice certain changes in herself that she begins to think the creature in question is actually one that couldn't possibly exist in real life!

I loved Rory's evolution in this book. She's kind of a bitch when we meet her. Very wrapped up in herself, in spite of the fact that she does clearly care about and want to support her sister. And the family dynamics are fantastic!

Harrison's exploration of personal growth through the lens of someone coming to grips with being a werewolf is the perfect combination of heart and escapism! With, of course, an excellent helping of horror!

Order a copy from Bookshop.org!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Malice House by Megan Shepherd

Haven's father was a famous name in literary scenes. But as a dad, he was somewhat lacking. Which is why she'd barely seen him in the years leading up to his death. 

But here she is, six months after he's died, with almost nothing to her name and taking up residence in his home. A home he claimed was haunted. A home that was no comfort in his last days.

When Haven finds an unpublished manuscript of her father's hidden in the attic, she thinks it could be just the thing to change her life. It would mean money for one, but as a hopeful illustrator, it could mean launching her career. After she finds the manuscript, though, things start to become...weird.

Is she imagining the noises within the walls? Was her father right about the house being haunted?

Shepherd's latest is a super fun and creepy read perfect for spooky season! (And any other time, at that!) A book about books, monsters, fathers and daughters, and some super creepy monsters of both the human and supernatural type!

Haven had been putting off dealing with her father's things, but life suddenly has left her with pretty much no choice. With just her art supplies in hand, she leaves everything—including her husband—behind. And it's clear that she didn't leave under great circumstances. 

You could say she's on edge pretty much from the start. 

The discovery of the manuscript—what appears to be a collection of eerie stories in the vein of fairy tales—is almost more than Haven can hope for. Her father left behind a lot of debt. Debt that was addressed by signing over future royalties to the man's published works. Which means that in spite of his popularity, Haven won't see a dime from them. 

But this, this is an undiscovered manuscript, this is a book that isn't tied into the financial mess. What's more, this is an opportunity!

Haven's goal is to work as an illustrator and this could be exactly what she needs to solve her money problems and get her foot in the door, making a name for herself.

Which is why, at first, she's willing to believe that the bizarre happenings in the house are all her own imagination. Plus, being there in the house with the manuscript is exactly the inspiration she needs to create the art she hopes will land her an agent and a book deal. 

But let's make it clear, Haven has no other choice anyway. She's got nowhere else to go and no money for a hotel. Even when people start dying under pretty strange circumstances near the property...

It was easy to sympathize with Haven considering her situation. Plus, I'm a sucker for books about books!

I found this so enjoyable! Especially the glimpses of Haven's father's tales. Everything about Malice House was freaky fun!

Order a copy from Bookshop.org!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Big Bad by Lily Anderson

Happy Wednesday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Lily Anderson's Big Bad!
Into every generation a slayer is born...

When Buffy is transported from her own Sunnydale into an alternate dimension, she's willing to do whatever it takes to get home. And that includes stealing a dowsing rod that will find the biggest evils and a creation gem that can destroy them. 

But for Anya and Jonathan, the lately dubbed Demondale is their home. Sure it's not the safest place for humans ever since the mayor blocked out the sun, but Jonathan gets by. And plans to make his pal Warren a demon mean that he and his other friend Andrew will have protection. All of that goes terribly wrong with the Slayer crashes their ascension party and raises—or actually kills—hell! 

Jonathan had hoped that Anya would be able to grant his wish to bring Warren back, but with the creation stone missing her power is gone. Which means they must team up to find this Slayer, stop her plans, and retrieve the stone. And in order to do so, they're going to have to get help from the people who know the most about slayers—the vampires responsible for killing a large number of them and a warlock known as Ripper. 

Ah, a delightful and welcome return to Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

I am a huge Buffy fan. Always have been. In fact, I remember the summer I watched the movie just about every day courtesy of a VHS recording from our neighbor who actually had HBO! Needless to say, by the time the show premiered, I was tuning in without fail!

It has been quite a while, but I was super excited to hear that Lily Anderson was penning a new Buffy adventure! And it is SUPER good! All of the favorites are here including (but certainly not limited to) Angel(us), Drusilla, Spike, Anya (my personal favorite and one of the main POVs of the book)...and some I don't want to give away!

Anderson is clearly an undeniable fan of the franchise and has done it (and us) a huge service in imagining such a fabulous return! I certainly hope she has more planned in the future, as I would happily dive into her version of the Buffy-verse again in a heartbeat!

For more about Lily Anderson and her work, you can visit her website here

Friday, September 30, 2022

Silverweed Road by Simon Crook

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Simon Crook's Silverweed Road!

Police are baffled by the occurrences on Silverweed Road. A quiet suburban street that appears, at least at the outset, to be totally normal, Silverweed Road is anything but. Every house is affected and every house has a story. 

A wife is left speechless and alone after her husband disappears without a trace. Only she knows about his battles with a pair of birds. 

An artist is just the latest in a string of disappearances after her stay on Silverweed Road. What the police can't know is that the pool in the backyard is part of the mystery. 

And the woods at the end of the road...Well, it's not exactly the place you want to go to commune with nature. 

These stories and more make up the recent history of an otherwise normal street. Secrets that outsiders aren't tuned into. Mysteries that will likely never be solved!

Simon Crook's collection of connected tales reminds me of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio by  way of Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson! Maybe a little Daphne du Maurier thrown in for good measure considering the opening story!

I love short stories and I have always had a special fondness for connected collections. With the framework of a personal blog by one of the (former) police investigating Silverweed Road, each chapter tells the story of a different home. And throughout, each tale has other connections to its neighbors (repeated appearances of the flowers at the crash site, certain neighbors, and even the jackdaw), which makes for a fantastic familiar thread woven throughout. 

Whether you read this one in sips, gulps, or one sitting, Silverweed Road is an absolutely perfect Spooky Season read! (By the way, Spooky Season is all year long!)

Silverweed Road is out now from Harper Voyager! Happiest of reading, horror fans!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Good morning, everyone! Today I am super excited to be part of the Random Things blog tour for Sulari Gentill's latest, The Woman in the Library!

This is a book that has been getting lots of buzz from places I pay attention to! Plus, it's been touted as the perfect read for fans of Only Murders in the Building and White Lotus (the latter of which I admittedly haven't watched, but I adore Only Murders!). All that's to say, of course I had to read (and listen, as it turned out). 

Hannah is an author living in Australia. She's chosen to pen her latest novel set in Boston, which is why she's sending chapters back and forth to her friend Leo. Leo is willing and able to offer critique while Hannah is waiting to be able to take a research trip to the States. And his info on the layout and various Boston-isms that might elude the Aussie are genuinely helpful. 

Within the pages of Hannah's novel, Freddie, also a novelist from Australia but living in Boston as part of her fellowship, is working on her own novel. The Muse visits while sitting in one of the many reading rooms of the Boston Public Library and characters begin to form, inspired by the patrons that surround her. They are strangers, until a scream rings out. The mystery behind the scream in the library links the four whose collective curiosity cannot keep them from digging into the nearby happenings. 

Of course, with Hannah behind their actions, the four become mixed up in a case that could cost them much more than their academic careers!

This is a cleverly layered novel that truly blossoms into much more than you'd expect it to from the start. 

At first, the story within a story—the frame of a novelist penning a book that is the bulk of the book itself—took a bit for me to ease into. It felt as though Leo's letters were pulling me from the narrative. But as that part of the tale began to unfold a bit more, I was increasingly and equally intrigued by both parts of the tale!

I have to say, as someone who's been in a major reading slump of late, I seem to be on a roll with excellent reads to pull myself out of it!

I always did love books about books and The Woman in the Library is kind of the ultimate book about a book! And though Hannah's story is from the outset happening in the fringes of the book, it is incredibly fun! But I wouldn't want to spoil any of this delightfully thrilling book!

As an aside, I did listen to part of this one on audio via Libro.fm. Narrator Katherine Littrell is a joy to listen to as she gives voice to the variety of characters throughout!

The Woman in the Library is out now in the US and the UK!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Fellstones by Ramsey Campbell

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Ramsey Campbell's Fellstones, out now from Flame Tree Press! 

Paul Dunstan always felt responsible for his parents' deaths. After all, if they'd never met the Staveleys, he wouldn't have been under their tutelage, and the drive that caused the accident that killed his folks would never have happened. 

The Staveleys took Paul (then called Michael) in and adopted him, making him part of their family. But by the time Paul left for college, he'd already started to distance himself from them. 

Now, he's changed his name and hasn't seen any of them in year. Until their daughter, Adele, shows up at his work. She says her parents are aging and miss him. She begs him to visit. 

Which is why Paul finds himself once again in Fellstones. And once again remembering why he distanced himself from the Staveleys in the first place. 

But the truth is so much more horrifying than even Paul knows or remembers...

What a way to start off spooky season! (I mean, that's year round for me, but still!)

Ramsey Campbell has long been hailed as one of the best in the horror business. He's well respected and talked of in every corner of the genre and by every big name (which reminds me, Flame Tree is bringing his Ancient Images back into print and this is one Gemma Files mentions in the fancy edition of Experimental Film).


Fellstones is that perfect blend of weird tiny towns, odd lore, and ancient relics (in this case, standing stones). In other words, folk horror! With a side of cosmic horror thrown in for extra flavor! And it's uber weird right from the start. But you know it's going to be considering our main character has basically been hiding from this family for years and has never told his current partner anything about them!

But then why does he return? Easy, he doesn't actually remember most of it!

I love Campbell's work and found this to be as much fun as I hoped plus more! If you're in need of an odd read this spooky season (or anytime!) definitely check out Fellstones. (And remember to add Ancient Images to your must have list as well!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

All the Broken Girls by Linda Hurtado Bond

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Linda Hurtido Bond's All the Broken Girls, out now from Entangled!

Mari Alvarez intended to lie low after returning from suspension. After all, as a crime reporter who's last story ended in a lawsuit, she's lucky to still have a job.

But on the way to covering a baby sloth birth (lucky to have a job, lucky to have a job) she and her photographer catch wind of a dead body. Mari is told to stay put while her cameraman gets footage for the station, and she fully intends to, but there's something about the scene that she can't ignore. Something that reminds her of her own mother's murder. Soon Mari finds herself pulled once again into an investigation. Even, potentially, that of another serial killer. And this time, the killer seems to have her in his sights. 

I quite enjoyed this one! It reminded me of JT Ellison and Hank Phillippi Ryan, the latter of whom, like Bond, is also an author and reporter. 

Bond is a journalist by day and it's clear that she's pulled on that experience as well as her own family in creating the framework for Mari and the book. Mari's abuela is inspired by Bond's own mother in law!

All the Broken Girls is set in Tampa and features Cuban culture and religion heavily. It places Mari right in the middle of more than one conundrum, forcing her to reckon with beliefs she's never been sure she aligns with in spite of her abuela. And of course it's all wrapped up in a serial killer plot!

All the Broken Girls is super fun and full of suspense! Mari is an excellent lead and I certainly hope we'll see more of her in the future!

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

For more on Linda Hurtado Bond and her work you can check out her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Friday, August 26, 2022

Better the Blood by Michael Bennett

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things blog tour for Michael Bennett's Better the Blood

Hana Westerman is a good cop. But with a false complaint against her and stress with her daughter, the last thing she needs is for a killer to target her. 

But that's exactly what seems to have happened when she receives an anonymous video that leads to the discovery of a dead body. 

And then it happens again. Hana is the first to wonder if they could be dealing with a serial killer. But this killer is motivated by something stronger than desire. This killer is interested in meeting out justice. And Hana has caught his attention. The question is, can Hana catch him before he sets his eye on her as a victim?

I love, love, love this book! A Māori detective living in Auckland and investigating a serial killer is interesting enough. But in Better the Blood our main character is also forced to face the dirty history of her land and the way her own people were treated—and her involvement in a system built on racism! 

The book begins with a daguerreotype. A picture of a group of police and the "criminal" they've caught and punished. 

And while it's not immediately clear what bearing the photo has on a story that takes place well over a century later, it is certain that it's not the last we've seen of the picture or the story behind it. 

And it does indeed come into play again later as Hana investigates the crimes taking place in her city. 

I know very little about New Zealand and its history. Fortunately, Bennett does a great job of describing the land and the culture in such a way that the details truly come to life—the good and the bad. It makes for a read that elicits complicated emotions as the characters' stories and the killer's motives become more clear. 

This is a UK release that I highly suggest seeking out as it's an absolutely must read for crime fiction fans! And another excellent addition to New Zealand's community of crime fiction!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Chinese-ish by Rosheen Kaul & Joanna Hu

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu's Chinese-ish: Home cooking, not quite authenti, 100% delicious. 

I love food. Always have. And I really love books about food. Specifically cookbooks. It's becoming an issue :)

But what a good issue to have! 

To me, a good cookbook is clear and well written and exciting to the point that it inspires you to head into your kitchen and try your own hand at someone else's favorite dishes!

Chinese-Ish fit the bill in both those regards. 

The book uses a combination of illustrations and pictures (because, let's face it, pictures are pretty much key in making you want to try a recipe!)

The book starts off with a great section on "key information"—info on basics you should know and understand for the cookbook ahead (standard Chinese cooking techniques, "how to cook nearly every type of noodle," how to make dumplings, and even condiments!). And once we get past the basics, we dive straight into the authors' fabulous recipes! Some are more of a twist on a traditional dish, but everything is excellent! 

I had to start with "A Very Inauthentic Prawn Toast." I don't know why this was such a common dish on takeout menus back home but I haven't seen it on any menus since we moved! Which makes me sad. Being able to make it at home makes me happy!

Chao ta bee hoon (Crispy Rice Vermicelli Pancakes) are another win and a definite must make! 

There are multiple wonton recipes and multiple ways to cook them. Even a recipe for making your own wonton wrappers and a Wonton Skin Cannoli with Sweet Potato Custard (if you have any wonton wrappers left over!). 

Chinese-ish is out now in the UK from Murdoch books. (It'll be out in the States in November.)

Happy cooking!

Friday, July 29, 2022

We Will Rise by Tim Waggoner

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Tim Waggoner's latest, We Will Rise

Something is happening in the town of Echo Springs. The dead are coming back...

Randy Herrera was the first. Eddie has mourned the loss of his little brother for decades after he drowned in a terrible accident. And it's taken that long for Eddie to get over his fear of water. None of that matters when Randy comes back, though. Because he's taking Eddie with him this time!

All over town, people are faced with dead friends and relatives. No one knows why they're back but it's clear they're determined to increase their ranks, taking as many of Echo Springs' living as they can!

Tim Waggoner is something of a legend in the horror world. With umpteen short stories under his belt and almost as many books, he is definitely someone every horror fan should be reading! (Plus, he's a pretty nice dude!)

We Will Rise is a fun and creepy ghost story. Definitely different from anything else I've read in quite a while. 

A town plagued by its dead—and they're not zombies! That alone makes this a stand out :)

If you're looking for a great chiller to read this summer, you should absolutely add We Will Rise to your TBR pile!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Last Time We Met by Emily Houghton

Happy Friday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Emily Houghton's latest, Last Time We Met!

Eleanor and Fin were once the best of friends. In fact, they were so close that when they were thirteen they made a pact to marry each other if they were both single at thirty-five. 

But that was then. Now, they're virtual strangers. 

Fin, who's been living and working in the States, has been gone for years and Eleanor, who was in a committed relationship since she was a freshman in college, is newly single and trying to move on. The two collide, literally, at a mutual friend's wedding, forcing them back into one another's lives. But can their friendship recover from the hurt and betrayal that tore them apart in the first place?

Last Time We Met is a mostly easy breezy and sweet romantic read, perfect for summer! 

Poor Eleanor. Her life has truly been shaken up by her recent break up. What's more, everyone around her is pushing her to move on when she isn't quite sure that she's ready. 

Fin is also at his wits end. After leaving everything and everyone behind, he's forced to come home after learning that his mother's health is rapidly declining. But there's a reason he left and there's a reason he hasn't spoken to anyone for so long. 

The story flashes back between then and now, illustrating for the reader just how integral Fin and Eleanor were in each other's lives before revealing what happened to separate them in the first place (also why Fin left and hasn't spoken to his mother). And while there are some truly heart wrenching moments, Last Time We Met is ultimately a feel good (and I'll stress again, light) read. 

Last Time We Met is officially out in the UK on August 4!

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik

Happy Book Birthday to Jessie Mihalik whose latest, Eclipse the Moon, is out now!

This second in the Starlight's Shadow series (following last year's Hunt the Stars) finds Kee Ildez working alongside her crush, Varro Runkow, to stop an intergalactic war!

Here's a bit more about the book from Goodreads:

Kee Ildez has been many things: hacker, soldier, bounty hunter. She never expected to be a hero, but when a shadowy group of traitors starts trying to goad the galaxy’s two superpowers into instigating an interstellar war, Kee throws herself into the search to find out who is responsible—and stop them.

Digging up hidden information is her job, so hunting traitors should be a piece of cake, but the primary suspect spent years in the military, and someone powerful is still covering his tracks. Disrupting their plans will require the help of her entire team, including Varro Runkow, a Valovian weapons expert who makes her pulse race.

Quiet, grumpy, and incredibly handsome, Varro watches her with hot eyes but ignores all of her flirting, so Kee silently vows to keep her feelings strictly platonic. But that vow will be put to the test when she and Varro are forced to leave the safety of their ship and venture into enemy territory alone.

Cut off from the rest of their team, they must figure out how to work together—and fast—because a single misstep will cost thousands of lives.

Note this is the second in the series and there are pretty big spoilers regarding the first one if you dive straight in here. Also, there's a third planned in the series, Capture the Sun, featuring two other characters due out next year!

If you like your science fiction packed chock full with action and a little romance, this series is definitely one you should have on your radar!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Monday, July 11, 2022

The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

Happy Monday! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for the latest installment in Mark Stay's fabulous Witches of Woodville series, The Ghost of Ivy Barn

It's August of 1940 and recent incidents have left England's witches in a bit of an upheaval. The High Witch, Vera Fivetrees, is under investigation after recent incidents in Woodville. Thankfully Faye, Miss Charlotte, and Miss Teach are so far in the clear as far as blame. But Otto Kopp is still on the loose and still wreaking havoc. And as the war continues to rage on, plans are being made for the witches to get involved. Plans Kopp is intent on ruining. 

Oh, how I adore this series! Mark Stay's Woodville is a charming little place where some really weird things have happened. In no small party thanks to the three witches who call it home. And of course the series begins with one of said witches only just learning witches exist at all, much less that she herself is one. 

Faye continues to learn to use her powers, with grumpy Mrs. Teach and Miss Charlotte teaching her. And they continue to skirt the lines of what's acceptable within the witch community. 

But since the stories take place during WWII there are actually bigger problems to worry about!

Faye and the others aside, Woodville and the people who live there are so completely charming and quirky that you can't help but fall in love! With hand bell ringers bouting against local Morris Men and even a little romance in the air, it's easy to forget the dangers of the outside world. 

At least until those dangers come knocking. 

And it's not just German bombers Woodville, and even the UK, are up against!

The Witches of Woodville series is such a breath of fresh air! It's fun and unique—an absolute perfect blend of supernatural, historical, and, as I mentioned, absolute charm!

Fair warning, this is the third book in the series and I do recommend reading them in order: The Crow Folk, Babes in the Woods, and then The Ghost of Ivy Barn. And if you read them and love them as much as I do, you can check out the official Witches of Woodville website for some super fun extras!

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Night Shadows by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Eva Björg Ægisdóttir's third Forbidden Iceland title, Night Shadows

Everyone knows everyone in Akranes, which is why, when a fire breaks out in a family home killing a young man, everyone is devastated. And when the police immediately find proof that the fire was the result of arson, there are soon more questions than answers. 

Elma is one of the detectives on the case. One of whom begins to realize that it could be tied to that of a missing au pair. But as the investigation becomes more drawn out, it becomes clear that there is a tangle of secrets at the center of this perplexing case. 

I love this Icelandic suspense series so much! If you've not read them, you are truly in for a treat! And you can easily start with Night Shadows if you like! (If you're a completionist, like me, the series in order is: The Creak on the Stairs, Girls Who Lie, Night Shadows.)

One of my favorite things, plots and human characters aside, is the strong sense of place conveyed in the series. I've never been to Iceland, much less, Akranes, but the author draws such a vivid picture of the town and what life is like there that it truly makes reading the series a rich experience!

Night Shadows is out in e format later this month. The paperback will release in the States in November. 

Monday, July 4, 2022

The White Hare by Jane Johnson

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Jane Johnson's The White Hare

Mila, her mother Magda, and her daughter have come to White Valley to turn a rundown country home into a guest house. But from the start things go awry. 

The locals are superstitious and surly. The location is remote. And two women on their own aren't necessarily going to be treated with much respect. But that's not all. Things have gone missing, workers have gotten injured, and everyone hints of strange and possibly dark happenings at the house. 

Mila is hesitant to believe local lore, but even she has to admit there's something strange about the house and the area. But is it a ghost. Or is it something older, something wilder, something that traces back to the earliest Cornish people?

The White Hare is brimming with brilliant characters and excellent atmosphere. And I absolutely love it!

Set after WWII, the book finds Mila, a newly single mom in a quite awkward position, her mother, Magda, a formidable Polish woman not to be trifled with, stuck together in this new venture. Mila wants what's best for her daughter Janey. Magda wants...what Magda wants. And Mila already feels trapped just a few days into their arrival at the new home. 

Before long, they meet a stranger, Jack, who is a help. But not all of the locals are as welcoming. And the already remote setting plus the local sentiment has Mila feeling even worse than before, longing for her lost home in London. 

Janey on the other hand seems to find things to like in the new place. And her imaginary friend, Rabbit, is almost always by her side. But she's begun to say strangely prescient things and her drawings have become odd as well. And Mila isn't sure what to do. 

Mila and her struggle to provide the best for her daughter are at the heart of the story. As is the mystery of the valley and the house itself, which is hinted at throughout. 

This is a book to be savored. A book that will transport you to the Cornish countryside no matter where you happen to be while reading. A book that's perfect for anyone who enjoys a little bit of mystery and a little bit of magic in their reading!