Sunday, June 20, 2021

The High-Rise Diver by Julia von Lucadou

It's Sunday and I'm a stop on the Random Things tours today for Julia von Lucadou's The High-Rise Diver

Riva Karnovsky was at the top of her game when she surprised everyone and quit her high-rise diving gig. 

Plummeting from the highest buildings in their city, Riva was a sight to behold. Pulling up at the last minute, soaring through the skies for all her adoring fans to see. 

Hitomi was one of those viewers. But now she watches Riva in a different capacity. Because in their world, nothing is private. No one has personal space. Everything is recorded, fodder to be analyzed by people who can make decisions about just every aspect of your life. 

Julia von Lucadou's debut is a gripping look at what a future where government control gone wrong could look like. And I have to say, it's terrifying in it's possibility!

Riva's story is only ever seen through Hitomi's eyes. A psychologist who spends part of her day tracking and studying Riva's every move, Hitomi doesn't have much of a life herself when we meet her. In fact, she elects to spend nights at work so as to be seen as more efficient, essentially earning points that will reflect well on her down the line. 

In their society, productivity can land you a bigger apartment. A direct reward for your efforts. But it also locks a person into a situation where they cannot pursue the things that make them happy. 

The High-Rise Diver illustrates just how something that sounds good at the outset can actually become an insidious kind of evil. And I think, for someone like me, it comes down to control. No one in this book has control over their own lives!

Like I said, it's pretty terrifying!

The High-Rise Diver seems, at first, like a quiet book. But in fact, it's the kind of book that digs its hooks into you and forces you to see things through an affected lens. Because that's what this book does—it affects you. And once you've finished, it stays in your thoughts long after!

The High-Rise Diver is out now in the US and the UK from World Editions!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Let's Fly by

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Giles Fraser's Let's Fly

End of term, 1979, Nick Hunter had planned to travel with his girlfriend. But after she breaks up with him, he decides to move to London and start a band. 

They're living a little rough, squatting in an empty house in Notting Hill. And the band itself is short lived. But then one of their songs is used in a movie soundtrack leaving Nick more money than he'd ever imagined. 

It's a lucky break that, years later, turns out not to be so lucky at all. 

Cut to 2017, Nick is up to his eyes in debt when his wife is kidnapped. And if Nick can't come through with the kidnappers' demands, he'll lose everything. 

Let's Fly is perfectly paced and plotted, the kind of book that you can sink into on an evening and read straight through before you know it!

Nick is an average guy. When we meet him, though, he admits that his luck has run out. Or, better yet, that he didn't recognize his luck when he had it. 

High school Nick is a bit sheltered. He's grown up in a boarding school, surrounded by other boys of upper middle class households. He's into music, so much so that he met his girlfriend at a show. And plans to travel via rail to see and explore new things before having to do the adult thing. 

But she disappears, leaving only a note of apology. Which is what causes Nick's life to take the track that it does. And who knows what would have happened had he not moved to London when he did. 

Maybe his life over the next almost four decades would have been dramatically different!

Let's Fly is a fun thriller, perfect for readers who like to see everyday folks forced to face extraordinary circumstances (in other words, great for fans of Harlan Coben in particular!).

Let's Fly is available now in the UK. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Helga Flatland's One Last Time

Anne has been on her own for a while. A mother of two children, she had to learn early on to be strong and self-sufficient after her husband suffered a series of strokes that left him debilitated. Now her children are grown and her husband lives in a home with constant professional care. 

And Anne has just been diagnosed with cancer. 

Sigrid has always had a complicated relationship with her mother. And now she has a complicated relationship with her own daughter, Mia. But Anne's diagnosis changes things. 

Told from both Anne and Sigrid's perspectives, One Last Time is a story about life and relationships—specifically relationships between mothers and daughters. 

Sigrid has held on to a lot of heartache over the years. She blames her mother for things, a lot of them stemming from her mother's caring for her husband, Sigrid's ill father. Interestingly, she remembers things differently than Anne, which is part of the trouble between them. 

Meanwhile, Sigrid, who had her daughter very young, is faced with her daughter about to start college and reuniting with her birth father. The newly forming relationship between daughter and dad is one that strains the entire family. 

The parallels between Sigrid and Anne's experiences and the differences in the way they recall and latch on to parts of their own shared story and experience make this book so utterly real. 

Anne's diagnosis, rather than being the main focus of the book exclusively, is the driving force that brings the three generations of women together. It's the thing that finally makes them confront some of the issues that have been weighing over them for so long. And it's easy to see, as a reader, parallels in our own lives as well even if we haven't experienced exactly the same things as Anne, Sigrid, and Mia have. 

Helga Flatland's book is at times heart wrenching, but it's also eye opening in that it might make you reevaluate some of your own feelings about family. 

One Last Time is out now in the UK and will be out in the US in October from the fabulous folks over at Orenda!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm part of the Random Things tour for Sarah Hilary's latest, Fragile!

Nell and Joe are on the run, living rough. But one night, Joe takes off with another woman. Nell followed him, saw him leave with her, saw him disappear into a building, and that was it. 

Determined to find Joe, Nell manages to get hired on as housekeeper at the house where she last saw Joe. But there's no sign of him. In fact, it's just a man living in a house filled with boxes and dust. But Nell's new position gives her an opportunity to dig further and the secrets this house holds are darker than she'd expected. 

As Nell searches for traces of Joe, someone else is searching for Nell. 

Sarah Hilary breaks from her DI Marnie Rome series with this taut and suspenseful stand alone!

Nell has secrets. Secrets she's trying to escape.

She grew up in a foster home where she made herself useful. Cleaning, helping with the little kids, that sort of stuff. From her perspective it wasn't a happy existence, but it had its good points. Namely, Joe and Rosie. 

But something happened to Rosie. And Meaghan, the woman who fostered them, isn't going to forget. 

In her attempts to hang on to the things she cares about—in this case, Joe—Nell lands herself in a situation that isn't what she expected. 

Teasing out truth from lies, staying one step ahead of the Meaghans of the world, and, above all, taking care of the things that are important to her, take all of Nell's energy. 

Interestingly, though, we're given both Nell's and Meaghan's perspectives in the narrative. And while the beginning of the book sets up Nell as our heroine and Meaghan as the bad guy, that set up becomes murkier as the story takes off. 

This is twisty—and somewhat bleak—psychological suspense of the highest order!

Fragile is available now in the UK. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Sophie O'Neill is anxious to fit in amongst the Texas elite. Specifically Margot Banks's group. 

She follows Margot online way before she has a chance to meet her. And then, surprisingly, when they do finally meet, Margot invites her to go shooting. 

Every Friday, Margot and her friends get together to drink and shoot skeet. And sometimes they go hunting afterwards. Not hunting game in the traditional sense. Hunting for young men they can flirt with. And sometimes more. 

But when a dead body turns up on Margot's property, Sophie's world is turned upside down. Now it's up to her to find out who is responsible, or she could find herself facing murder charges!

May Cobb's latest is like a combination of Real Housewives meets Girls Gone Wild. 

Sophie and her husband have moved from the big city to a small Texas town in hopes it'll be a better environment to raise their son. They spend weekends at the farmer's market. Sophie has a garden that takes a lot of attention. And they have barbecues with one of Sophie's childhood friends on the regular. 

But Sophie has been closely following Margot Banks's every move. She's even tried to force their paths to cross on a few occasions. And when it finally happens, she's determined they're going to be friends. 

Sophie is obsessed with Margot. So much so that she's pretty much willing to do anything the queen bee says. And that's where Sophie starts to get in trouble. 

I can't say that Sophie is a main character I particularly liked. She's pretty determined to follow a path that the reader outright knows will be her downfall from the very beginning. And not only does she follow that path, she's pretty wasted the whole time she's on it. Some A+ decision making there. 

The Hunting Wives is a quick read. One it's hard to turn away from as Sophie's life becomes a train wreck of epic proportions. 

Huge thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review!

The Hunting Wives is out now from Berkley! 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Happy Friday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Threadneedle!

Anna has grown up with a magic she isn't allowed to use. 

Raised by her Aunt, Anna has been drilled endlessly on the danger of magic. It's why, when she's sixteen, she's to be bound to the Binders. In their eyes, magic is a sin. 

But Anna longs for more! And when Selene brings Effie and Attis on her next visit, Anna finally has her chance. 

Introduced to the wider world of the magic around her, Anna begins to finally come into her power. But the further she becomes drawn into magic, the more clear it becomes that there is something dark in her past. 

Threadneedle is great witchy fantasy fun!

First, the world building in Threadneedle is fabulous! The atmosphere of Anna's London is so imbued with magic through Thomas's words, but it's woven very subtly into the story.

Anna is a stubborn teen. She's lost her mother and her father and has been raised by an aunt who isn't affectionate or seemingly caring at all. One of the things Anna wants most is to practice real magic, but her aunt keeps her under such tight constraints that she knows it's likely never to happen. 

But then her mother's friend Selene arrives and Anna finally experiences a bit of freedom. More than that, she meets others who definitely don't feel the same way about magic as her aunt. 

The magic system in Threadneedle is a really cool one! In fact, it was probably my favorite thing about the book. And again, Thomas's descriptions were fabulous here!

Threadneedle is the first in the Language of Magic trilogy. It'll be really interesting to see what happens in the next installment.

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

Every month, an unlikely group of friends gets together at their local bookstore to talk about books. Sara, Judith, Jazmine, and others pick a new book each month and then spend an evening together, eating and drinking, and talking about said book. 

Judith, a middle-aged woman with grown kids and a husband who takes her for granted; Jazmine, a sports agent and single mother; Sara, who works part time at the bookstore to kill time while her husband is out of town for work. They would seemingly have nothing in common. 

Even newbies to the group like Erin, the young assistant who recently started working for Jazmine, and Dorothy, Sara's mother in law, find friendship and hope in the group. 

Each is facing different challenges in life but with their books and their reading friends by their sides, they find they can overcome just about anything. 

I love, love, love Wendy Wax's work. And I really love when her books revolve around books. Like this one!

But in addition to the books, it's the characters that really get me. Here, Wax has created a number of fully realized characters with their own unique stories and voices to tell them. 

And it's the connections between these women that I especially loved!

As I mentioned, this is a motley group. And there are more to the group than just the ones I've mentioned, including Jazmine's best friend, Judith's best friend, a pair of twin siblings, a fashion designer, an EMT, a golfer, and the bookstore owner herself (hopefully I got them all!). While the narrative does alternate between just Sara, Erin, Judith, and Jazmine's perspectives, Wax does a truly fabulous job of giving voice to each of the other members of the group as well. And that's a pretty big accomplishment! Developing even one main character can be a challenge for some. Never a challenge for Wax, however!

The whole group is a bit of a found family. A support system, working behind the scenes that comes through for each and every one of our narrators in the ways that they need them to. Which is saying something considering that in both Erin and Judith's positions, their own family and friend groups fall a little bit down on the job!

I've been purposely hazy about the actual plot points for each of the narrators. This is because I kind of dove into this one with very little knowledge of the book. Wax is an auto read for me, so I didn't read the book description at all and I truly enjoyed the journey of getting to know the characters without any teasers to get me started. 

The Break-Up Book Club is a fizzy and fabulous feel good read about female friendships and connections. 

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

I want to add a little note here, because the intro to the book was a harsh reminder of the events we're still going through to some extent. My most heartfelt condolences to Wendy Wax. I truly hope that the people in this book are based, at least in part, on the friends that she has around her in her own real life. And I truly hope that for anyone who has struggled in any way through these times.