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 fiancĂ© 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!