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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).

Anyway! 

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!


Saturday, July 2, 2022

A Scandal in Brooklyn by Lauren Wilkinson - Excerpt and Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm super excited to be able to share an excerpt from Lauren Wilkinson's new story "A Scandal in Brooklyn." And if you read through to the end, there's a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Before we dive in, here's a bit about the story:

A top-secret experiment at a restricted virtual-reality compound pulls attorney Tommy Diaz back into the orbit of Irene Adler, an old friend with an eidetic memory, a love of true-crime podcasts, and a knack for solving the unsolvable. But this? At a remote warehouse, a VR trial goes awry when a willing test subject, alone in the observation room, drops dead of anaphylaxis—from the sting of a virtual bee. Though the tech titan behind the research believes in the power of the outrageous, Irene relies on clues, hard facts, and a level head. However, in a case this peculiar, how elementary can it be?

"A Scandal in Brooklyn" is fun and fast—a perfect one sitting read that will surely send you looking for Wilkinson's other work!

A Scandal in Brooklyn Excerpt

We went inside, and into what looked like a clearing in the woods. It took me a moment to realize that the floor, walls and ceiling were all covered in LED panels that were projecting a three-dimensional image. Victor lay in a patch of grass in one corner of the room beside a tree whose branches stretched outward into the simulated sky. A cloud of bees was buzzing around the hive dangling from one of the branches.

“I . . . can’t breathe. Help me,” Victor said without turning to face us. His voice was ragged.

“Where did those bees come from?” The kid with the buzz cut sounded confused. He had a Russian accent, and couldn’t have been more than twenty-five.

“There are more over there,” Tyler said and pointed to the LED panels on the opposite wall.

“Victor must’ve been stung. But how—”

“He’s allergic to bees,” Priya shouted. “He’ll die!”

“He’s going into anaphylaxis,” Tyler said. “There’s epinephrine in the first aid kit.” He ran out into the hall to retrieve it, and when he returned, he shouted, “Someone call 911!”

I tried to but the call was rerouted. As an automated voice thanked me for contacting Avisa’s private emergency number, I watched Tyler poke a needle into a vial of epinephrine and draw the clear liquid up into it. He plunged the needle into Victor’s thigh.

A woman with a soothing voice came on the line, and after I explained what was going on, she told me she’d send emergency personnel to Avisa House. The alarm stopped suddenly, and I hung up and glanced over at Irene. She was observing everything, doing her best to commit the moment to memory.

I’d assumed that the shot would’ve immediately revived Victor, like in the movies. Instead, his eyes rolled up into his head and his body went limp.

“He passed out,” Priya said. “Do something, please!”

Tyler started CPR. A blonde woman with a magazine tucked underneath her arm came through the open door. My best guess was that this was the chef, Carol. “What the hell is going on? What was that alarm?”

Victor was still unconscious. He must’ve had a serious allergic reaction—his cheeks had ballooned to grotesque proportions, his eyes were swollen shut, and a bright-red rash had broken out on his neck and chin. Tyler stopped pumping his heart and put two fingers to Victor’s wrist to check his pulse. After a moment, he said, “He’s dead. I’m so sorry.”

Priya dropped to her knees beside him. She started to sob. I was too stunned to say anything. We all were. The room was so quiet that I could hear the distant sound of rain drumming on the roof. A couple of EMTs showed up a few minutes later—looking back, I wonder if they really were EMTs. They had both the air of authority and the equipment of medical professionals, but I can’t say for certain.

“I don’t understand this.” Priya had gotten up and was standing with Irene, Shinwell, and me. Her eyes darted back and forth between Irene’s face and Victor’s body as it was loaded onto a gurney. “He was fine just a few minutes ago.”

“Was he stung by digital bees?” I asked in a low voice.

“I think someone wanted it to look that way,” Irene said. “But I don’t buy it.”

Author Biography: Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel, American Spy, was a Washington Post bestseller; was nominated for the NAACP Image Award, Anthony Award, and Edgar Award; and was included on Barack Obama’s 2019 Recommended Reading List. Her writing has appeared in New York Magazine and the New York Times, among other publications.

For more on Lauren and her work you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Instagram.

Huge thanks to the tour organizers for letting me share the excerpt today! To enter the giveaway be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter here

"A Scandal in Brooklyn" is out now for your reading pleasure!

Friday, July 1, 2022

Blackout by Erin Flanagan

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Erin Flanagan's latest, Blackout

Maris is no stranger to blackouts. But she's been sober for seven months when the latest one happens. 

At first, she thinks it's just a fluke. 

Then it happens again. And finally causes what could have been a tragic accident! 

And Maris hasn't been drinking. What's more, it seems other women have been experiencing the same thing. As Maris tries to figure out what's going on, her fear and paranoia have hit their limit waiting for the next blackout and its repercussions. What or who is causing the blackouts? And why?

This is an interesting premise. And because of Maris's background as a heavy drinker, she understandably doesn't want to raise any flags when the first couple of blackouts happen. In fact, she tries as hard as she can to figure out a logical explanation—stress, lack of sleep, migraines...

That's until she crashes her car in the midst of one of them. Now she can't ignore them. 

And if she'd returned to drinking, that would make more sense. Except that she hasn't. 

Meanwhile, life isn't exactly stressless. She's up for tenure and, after a string of articles focusing on a local college man who served a paltry sentence for sexual assault, she's now in the midst of continued coverage on the aftermath. Which means she's in the public eye. 

And since she's been sober for just seven months, those around her aren't sure what to think either. Her daughter is becoming distant. Her husband ordered a tox report after the accident, just in case. 

Maris is a time bomb waiting to explode with all the stress! And reading it makes for a tense experience, to say the least!

Blackout is a timely and intriguing read. 

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

For more on Erin and her work you can visit her website here

Blackout is officially out today. Be sure to order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Ghost Games by Brooke Mackenzie

Happy Monday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Brooke Mackenzie's Ghost Games!

Games like Bloody Mary are just urban legends, right? 

But what if they're not. What if a certain sequence of floors in an elevator can take you to another dimension? What if all you need to summon a demon is a walk-in closet? What if there's a much darker Telephone Game than the one you remember as a kid?

These and more are the subjects of Brooke Mackenzie's short story collection, Ghost Games

In each tale, someone elects to play, in spite of all the warnings not to. And, of course, bad things happen!

I can honestly say that other than Bloody Mary and the Ouija Board, all of the games that inspire these stories were new to me. And imagine my surprise when I found that they were not created specifically for the collection!

I thoroughly enjoyed Mackenzie's stories. They're super creepy! Which of course makes for fun reading for any horror fan! Upping the creep factor is the fact that Mackenzie includes instructions for each of the games, along with the ominous note that you shouldn't ever play them!

There's a definite cinematic quality to Mackenzie's writing. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking I'd like to see each of the stories adapted as films—in part so that I could experience them again for the first time!

If you're in the mood for a great collection of chilling tales, Ghost Games is definitely one you don't want to miss!

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

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

The Beacon Hill Butcher is one of Seattle's most infamous serial killers. Edward Shank is the local hero who took him down, killing him and ending his violent murder streak. 

Sam has been dating Edward's grandson for some time now. And she knows his aspirations as a chef are important. But she longs to take their relationship to the next level. At the very least, she'd like to move in with him when his grandfather leaves him his old house!

And Sam has aspirations of her own. She believes that the Beacon Hill Butcher wasn't caught all those years ago. In fact, she believes her own mother may have been one of his victims—even though her murder occurred a full two years after Edward caught and killed the suspected murderer. 

Sam has been researching the killings and thinks there's more to the story. And neither Edward or Matt pay her much attention in that regard, certain that Edward's story from all those years ago is the end. 

But that's before Matt begins renovating his grandfather's home. 

Here we have a serial killer, a stressed out chef who doesn't know the half of his family secrets, and the daughter of a murder victim desperately trying to get justice for her mom. That they all collide in a weirdly coincidental way means nothing good will can really come of it!

Sam is all around a great main character. And she shares the narration with Edward and Matt. So not only do we see from her point of view as she investigates the Beacon Hill Butcher, we also see from Matt's and Edward's perspectives as well.

And Hillier isn't afraid to delve into dark and disturbing corners of the human psyche. You should know that going in. But her careful attention to detail really does suck you into the story completely!

In The Butcher Jennifer Hillier has created a disturbingly dark serial killer novel that explores exactly what happens when the real killer is able to evade capture for decades! 

She also explores the trickle down effect on the family members of the investigators, the victims, and the killer himself. 

This is a super fast-paced read—the kind you shouldn't start at bedtime without being prepared to read straight through!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Mirror Man by Lars Kepler

Good morning, readers! Today I'm super excited to be a stop on the Random Things tour for the latest in Lars Kepler's Joona Linna series, The Mirror Man

Jenny Lind disappeared five years ago and in all that time there's never been a hint of a trace of her. 

Everyone assumed she was dead. But that wasn't the case. Until now. 

When her body is found hanging in a playground, Joona Linna immediately recognizes the girl. But while everyone admits Linna is an amazing detective, his new boss has told him to step aside. Something he's unwilling to do. And it's Linna who draws a connection between the Lind murder and another, older case. 

When another girl goes missing, Linna is convinced they're dealing with a serial killer. But he doesn't know the whole story. He doesn't know what Jenny Lind lived through for five years. He doesn't know how meticulously she planned her escape. All he knows is that whoever killed her is going to do it again if they can't stop him. 

I do so love this series. It's equal parts dark and creepy—packed with atmosphere and truly disturbing plots. But also characters you want to continue following from book to book. And, admittedly, I've read them out of order, so do be aware that's possible :) However, if you're a true stickler for reading series IN ORDER, here's the full list:

The Hypnotist
The Nightmare
The Fire Witness
The Sandman
Stalker
The Rabbit Hunter
Lazarus
The Mirror Man

Having said that, I will say that The Mirror Man works fine as a bit of a standalone. There are mentions of past cases, which could prove to be somewhat spoiler-y if you go back to the beginning, but otherwise you can dive in with this installment as an easy introduction to the series. 

The plot revolves around sex trafficking, so that's something to know going in. If you're a longtime fan of the husband and wife team that make up Lars Kepler, you know they don't shy away from things. If you're new to them, however, you've been warned. 

It's hard to call this a fun read, given the subject matter. But I am a huge fan and I look forward to each new installment with great anticipation. Linna is brilliant and quirky. And the books follow suit. The writing is amazing—like any great cowriting team, it reads seamlessly, with no obvious indication there are two separate writers involved. And the plotting is always purposeful and intricate with unpredictable twists along the way. 

Like I said, I'm a huge fan! If you're looking for a fantastic blend of psychological thriller and police procedural, this series is one of the absolute best!

The Mirror Man is out now in both the UK and the US. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Lucy Clarke's latest, One of the Girls!

No one expected Lexi to ever get married. Least of all Lexi herself. But here she is, just weeks away from settling down with Ed. 

But first, her friends have planned an epic hen party to see her off!

Bella, the wild one, planned the whole thing. With the help of her girlfriend, Fen, whose aunt owns a fabulous villa in Greece! Robyn, a single mom, deserves a weekend away in paradise celebrating her best friend. Eleanor, who recently lost her own fiance, is there as Ed's sister, so that Lexi can get to know her better. And finally, Ana, the newest of the bunch, who met Lexi during yoga one day and became fast friends. 

It's to be a weekend of sun, fun, and drinks. Except they're all lying to one another. And at least one of them has ulterior motives in being there. And by the end of the weekend, someone will be dead. 

A beachy thriller that begins with the reader knowing something terrible is coming!

So six women, three of whom have been best friends since they were kids, convene in what is undeniably paradise to party and celebrate the Lexi's upcoming nuptials.  

Lexi, once a backup dancer for various acts—and a verifiable party girl, has traded in her wilder ways for a yoga studio and a steady relationship. And honestly, no one ever expected it. In fact, Lexi swore she'd never get married. Just goes to show what can happen when you meet the right person.

Bella isn't ready to give up her wild ways. In fact, she misses having Lexi along for the ride. And as the self-appointed maid of honor, she's vowed to give that Lexi one final weekend. 

Fen, isn't jazzed about returning to her aunt's villa. Her memories of the place are tainted in a way the even Bella, her own girlfriend, isn't aware of. But she knows that in spite of that, it is the perfect place for a hen weekend. If only it hadn't started out so very badly for her and Bella. 

Robyn hasn't had much time to spend with her old friends for quite a while. As a soon to be divorced single mom, all of her focus and energy has been on her infant son and her job. And having to move back in with her parents while trying to decide what comes next for her and her small family hasn't made things easier. She needs this weekend away. But she can't help feeling guilty. And things have been frosty between her and Bella for some time too. 

Eleanor and Ana are the outsiders. And they both feel it. Eleanor has never quite fit in and the loss of her fiance has made her even more uncomfortable at a hen party of all places. Plus, she can't help but feel that she's only there because Lexi feels obligated to invite her as Ed's sister. 

Ana, meanwhile, is also a single mom. And would never spend her hard earned and should be saved money on a trip to Greece under normal circumstances. But her sister has taken her sullen teen son for the weekend and Lexi really wanted her new friend to be there. 

Together, they all make a bit of an odd group. But they all have one thing in common. Lexi. Which is not to say that all of them are there for exactly the same reasons!

The book begins with the glaring fact that something has gone terribly wrong on this particular party weekend. And it's easy to guess what that something is. But the facts around it are teased and throughout the book as we go back to the beginning and the group's arrival on the fictional island. 

Points of view alternate between all of the women and a mysterious narrator who sprinkles in more clues about what's to come, giving the reader a chance to get to know each of the women and what motivates them as the plot progresses. 

One of the Girls was great fun! A perfect summer read with just the right amount of tension!

One of the Girls is out now in ebook and due out in paperback and hardcover (in the UK) and in hardcover (in the States) later this month. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jónasson

"Teacher wanted at the end of the world." It's exactly the kind of thing Una needs!

It’s 1985 and Una can barely make ends meet as a teacher. But the posting for a position in Skálar is perfect! Not only does it come with room and board included, the remote location means there’s nothing else to spend money on either. Una may finally be able to save enough for a deposit on a place of her own. 

Plus, the location means getting away from things Una has been trying to escape in her personal life. 

Unfortunately, Una doesn’t realize exactly what she’s in for until she arrives. She’s only got two students. In fact, the town is all but abandoned, with just ten residents total. And they aren’t exactly warm to outsiders. 

Una can deal with most of it. But the nightmares and the strange sounds she hears at night are too much for her to ignore. And when a villager dies suddenly, Una realizes that she can’t ignore what’s happening around her any longer. 

Ragnar Jónasson’s latest is a stand alone that combines a mystery inspired by the very real one with a ghost story set in one of the most remote areas of Iceland. It makes for a truly compelling and eerie read that I enjoyed immensely!

In 1974, two men disappeared in Iceland. Not only were they never found, questions still remain today regarding the two cases. There’s an entire documentary about the cases on Netflix right now. Of course the book is only inspired by those events. The setting for the story, the remote village of Skálar, was completely abandoned by 1985 and, as far as anyone knows, has no ties to the case at all. But it does make for a great premise and a perfect setting!

Una is desperate to escape her past. And Skálar might jus offer that. But the remote location plays havoc on her mental health, especially considering her access to alcohol. And the locals notice. Which is why, when she considers asking about the girl she sees in her dreams and the song she hears in her little apartment, she’s tries to hide her fears. 

And yet, the haunting melody and the little girl are too much to ignore. Especially after the town is struck by tragedy. 

Una isn’t treated badly, per se. But she is discouraged from asking too many questions about the townspeople and their past. It’s an insular community that keeps their secrets close and definitely doesn’t welcome nosy outsiders. Which is how Una is soon perceived. 

I really loved this latest from Jónasson. Una is carrying some really heavy weight when she arrives in town. It’s something that’s revealed as the story progresses. So really this is the kind of story that unfolds in a lot of different layers: Una’s story, the truth behind the “ghost,” the mysterious death that occurs, and how it all ties into the missing men (which comes out in part through an unnamed narrator). It makes for a somewhat slower pacing, but not a true slow burn. In fact, while there’s a lot of development, I was drawn in quite easily and found it to be a rather quick read simply because I was so sucked in! No doubt this is because of the perfect union of Jónasson’s writing and Victoria Cribb’s seamless translation!

The Girl Who Died is out now in paperback. 

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Joanna Cannon's latest, A Tidy Ending!

Linda's life is fairly uneventful. She spends her days working part time and keeping house. She and her husband, Terry, have fallen into a life of routine...habit...boredom even. 

But that was before the murders. And the mail. 

The murders, two women the news say are connected, immediately get Linda's attention. Because she's noticed something. But she knows the police won't listen to her. They never do. The mail...well, that's Rebecca's. Mail that gets delivered to Linda's new home, addressed to the prior resident. Mail that suggested this Rebecca leads a much more interesting life than Linda. 

You could say that Linda becomes a bit obsessed. So much so, that when her husband starts spending more time at work, the distraction is welcome. But Linda's not quite what she seems. And that routine life isn't quite as routine as you might think. 

A Tidy Ending is, dare I say, quite a delight to read!

First, I'm a sucker for a quirky main character. And Linda is quirky indeed!

Second, I'm an even bigger sucker for books with unexpected (or, not quite unexpected in this case) twists that turn the beginning framework you expect on its head. 

And third, I do so love dark reads!

This is, if you haven't gathered, one that could very easily be spoiled. I will say, however, that it is great fun and I absolutely loved it!

A Tidy Ending is out now in the UK from The Borough Press. It'll release this summer in the States. Wherever you are, I highly recommend snagging a copy for your TBR!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Attic child by Lola Jaye

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Lola Jaye's The Attic Child

Two children separated by almost seven decades, share a similar trauma in this latest from Lola Jaye. 

Dikembe was just a boy when he was given over to Sir Richard. In truth, he couldn't have known his mother's fears for his future. And she was promised that he would gain an education and be brought up as an English gentleman. 

Torn from his home and everything he'd ever known, he was thrown into British society. Renamed Celestine, he served as Sir Richard's companion and was given every privilege befitting Sir Richard's place in society. 

But he always longed for home. Even when he was told his home and his family were gone. 

And then Sir Richard died. 

Lowra's early life was a happy one. But when her mother died and her father remarried, all of that changed. Her father disappeared, leaving her in the charge of her new stepmother, who made no bones about her feelings for the young girl. And the abuse she suffered at the woman's hands were unknown to everyone else in her life. 

She escaped when she was fifteen, living in group homes until she turned eighteen. 

Now, at thirty, she has just learned that her stepmother has died. And the house where she experienced the worst years of her life is hers. It's there that she once found evidence of another child. And now, so many years later, she's determined to find out what she can about the boy who lived in the attic before her. 

This is a hard read. The abuse both Dikembe and Lowra suffer truly made my heart ache as I read the book. But it's about a deeper trauma than that. A history of upper class society figures basically kidnapping children from what they viewed as lesser societies. 

These children, and there are a few mentioned in the book, were, as Dikembe is, part of a collection. Yet another piece or artifact showing off wealthy people's travels and allowing them to pat themselves on the back for their "good deeds."

In truth, Dikembe's slate is wiped clean as soon as he's handed over to Sir Richard. His name, his history, his culture, his family...all of it is lost to him. 

Lowra too experiences something of the same at the hands of her stepmother. All of the photographs of her family are gone. She knows nothing of her past or her family connections. Nothing of her own story. 

This is a heart wrenching book. But it's also one about holding on to the things that are important to you. Dikembe never forgets his family. Never forgets where he came from. And in searching for his story, Lowra learns more than she ever expected about a history she was completely unaware of. 

The Attic Child is a beautifully written story, even at it's most painful to read parts. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Last Guests by J. P. Pomare

Funds have been tight for Lina and Cain for some time. Cain, a former SAS soldier, has been trying to get a personal training business off the ground but it's Lina's job as a paramedic that keeps them afloat. 

And then their friends turn them onto WeStay, a site that would let Lina and Cain list Lina's grandparents' house for rent to guests. 

It's a nice house, just needs some sprucing up. And it's ideally situated on a lake. But Lina has reservations about opening it up to strangers. It's the house she grew up in. The one she wants to raise her own family in. 

But she goes along with it anyway. Until it turns into a nightmare that threatens to reveal her darkest secrets. 

Let's just call this book what it is, the one that make never want to stay in an AirBnB ever again!

Lina and Cain both have secrets. Cain had a bit of an issue with gambling, but it seems to have ended by the time the book begins. And yet, they still have money problems Lina can't quite figure out. 

The bigger problem is the fact that they've been told it will take a virtual miracle for them to conceive a child. Which is where Lina's big secret comes in. And both issues are what make her agree to list her grandparents' home on WeStay. 

And at first things are fine. The reservations start rolling in and they're getting good reviews. Easy money. 

Except anything that seems to good to be true...

The prologue for the book really does set the tone. An anonymous man is placing cameras in a rental home. And that definitely tells you where some of the plot is heading. But there's way more to the plot that just a twisted voyeur. 

This is a super creepy premise—maybe more for people like me who are already inclined to be uncomfortable with vacation rentals :)

I should note that I both read the physical book and listened to the audio over the weekend. Sarah Mollo-Christensen is the narrator on that edition and she does a fabulous job!

Pomare is a a new-to-me author I've been aware of but hadn't read yet. He's an award-winning author from New Zealand (where this title is set), currently living in Australia. 

I really enjoy both New Zealand and Australian crime fiction and I've been trying to read more of it of late. If it's a genre that interests you, I've been getting recs from Craig Sisterson's Southern Cross Crime

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson's The Agathas!

Apologies as this was supposed to post last Thursday. 

Alice Ogilvie has been on the outs with her best friend ever since she stole her boyfriend. In fact, when Alice and Steve broke up, she was so upset about the whole thing that she decided to teach everyone a lesson and disappear. Her hope was that they'd all be so worried about her, Steve in particular, that he'd beg for her to take him back. 

It didn't quite work out that way. And now Steve is dating Brooke. 

But when Brooke herself goes missing after the big Halloween party, Alice knows she has to do something. Even though she hated Brooke, she was still her best friend. Plus, Alice has an admittedly big admiration for everything Agatha Christie. 

Iris Adams is not an Agatha Christe fan. But she is Alice's new tutor. And, seemingly, Alice's only friend currently. So when Alice becomes determined to solve the mystery of Brooke's disappearance, Iris agrees to go along. 

It helps that Brooke's uber rich grandmother is offering a reward—money that would go a long way towards getting Iris out of town. 

Two teen detectives and a town with a history of missing girls...The Agathas is a fabulously fun read and an excellent homage to Agatha Christie!

Alice and Iris are seemingly as different as two girls can be. Alice is a "Main" or one of the popular kids. At least she was before she faked her own disappearance and got caught. Now she's on the outs with all of her old friends. 

Iris is a "Zoner" one of a group that doesn't really fit in with anyone. But Iris is also super smart, which is why she's tapped to tutor Alice once she returns to school after being on house arrest. 

It's the tutoring that throws them together but it's Brooke that forms the bond. See, Alice was involved in a bit of a tiff between Brooke and Steve on the night of Brooke's disappearance. And Iris...well, it seems she might have been the last person to see Brooke alive. 

Together, with some of Iris's buddies, they take on a case the cops believe is open and shut. Which of course turns out to be anything but!

The plotting is tight and the pacing follow suit. But it's definitely Iris and Alice (and Agatha Christie) that make this a great read! 

Alice has been knocked down several spots in high school popularity. She's actually become something of a pariah. Which is a shame because her parents are pretty much nonexistent in her life. Iris offers some stability, but she has her own issues and is desperate to get our of Castle Cove as soon as possible. Both of their stories are intertwined with that of Brooke and the mystery that makes up the bulk of the story, making it a rich and layered read—perfect for, dare I say, Christie fans!

I absolutely loved The Agathas! And I can't be sure, but I think we may see a return of Alice and Iris in future books. At least, that's what seems to be hinted at in the end. Castle Cove is a hotbed of mysteries, it seems, and I would definitely like to see them return in at least a few more titles!