Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Triple Love Score by Brandi Megan Granett

Miranda Shane has a secret - an online identity building a massive following creating poems using a Scrabble board. The idea came to her one evening, after moving into her newest apartment, when an aging and unused Scrabble box kicked the bucket spilling tiles that spelled "poem" onto her floor. And for a poetry teacher, currently blocked in her writing, no sign could be clearer. 

But as that part of her life begins to come into focus, her love life takes a complicated turn. The one that got away, so to speak, is back in her life. And so is a hot Irish grad student. 

If you're looking for a fun story full of heart just in time for the holidays, Triple Love Score is definitely the book for you.

The book begins in the days just before Thanksgiving with Miranda Shane looking for an excuse not to go home for the holiday. Not that she'd skip, but the promise of seeing a man she'd pined over most of her life who then vanished without as much as a goodbye six years ago is enough to make her hop a plane to any location other than home!

But just as the dreaded reunion becomes a reality, a grad student begins making a play for Miranda. And in a moment of weakness, she finds herself open to the idea.

As if that weren't enough to make a girl's head spin, Miranda has been moonlighting as Blocked Poet, and is becoming famous for it. It's always been a bit of a lark, something she can enjoy secretly, but now it looks as though she can really make a name for herself doing it. Christmas comes and goes, as does the New Year, and Miranda's story twists and turns beyond her own imagining. And that's saying a lot for a creatively inclined person like Miranda. (Though as a character she believes she's more logic minded than she thinks she should be.)

Miranda will likely steal your heart, readers. In her, Brandi Megan Granett has created a character who is honest and authentic. She's smart and grounded, too. In spite of what happens to her. And even if she doesn't steal your heart, Lynn definitely will! (You'll see.)

Triple Love Score is a sweet read with a touch of poetry and a bit of steamy romance as well.

For more on Brandi Megan Granett and her work, you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Karin Slaughter's latest, The Kept Woman.

Will Trent's morning is about to get ugly. He and partner Faith have been called to the scene of a murder - an ex-cop's murder to be more specific. The scene: the currently-at-a-standstill construction site that is to be a star basketball player's future night club. Said basketball player's club has been held up thanks to Trent's most recent case, pursuing allegations this player raped and assaulted a woman at a New Year's party held in his own home. And yet the amount of money and lawyers on the side of the player have almost permanently squashed any validity on the victim's part. 

The case is a literal mess from the start. The empty building is full of evidence, most of it likely unconnected considering it appears to have become a den for junkies as well as a hang out for Atlanta's homeless. And while there's plenty of blood on the scene, it seems very little of it is from the victim. But when a gun found nearby traces back to Trent's own wife, things get really messy.

This latest in the Will Trent series is TWISTED! I've read enough of Slaughter's work that I should expect that by now, but that doesn't mean I was in any way prepared for the surprises The Kept Woman kept throwing out.

Fortunately, for me and any other readers who may be reading Slaughter out of order, The Kept Woman does work fairly well as a stand alone. I'm certain there are details about Will's background and relationships with coworkers and significant others that would be beneficial to know, but I was comfortable enough with the amount of history that was laid out in this particular installment that I never felt like I was wandering lost in the wilderness of the tale with no idea what was going on.

Will and his wife have, apparently, a complicated history. They're split and Will is involved with another woman (has been for quite some time) but they're not officially divorced - in spite of Will's efforts. And as it turns out, Angie (the wife) has been keeping tabs on Will in a way that definitely disturbs his current GF Sara.

From the start, the investigation splits in two directions: the discovered victim and Angie. The ex-cop, dirty by all accounts, had been selling himself as a PI with possible connections to the building's owners. But digging into the victim's history leads to a rabbit hole of bizarre and disturbing information. Meanwhile, Angie is deemed to have been injured quite badly (based on the amount of blood at the scene) that she couldn't possibly survive for long. And yet, there's one key piece of info the reader knows that the investigators don't: she wasn't the only other person at the scene!

Like I said, full of surprises! As for the twisted part, well you'll have to discover that yourself. Trust me, if you're ok with dark, this is one that will keep you reading into the wee hours and/or dropping all your commitments to get to the end!

If you're interested in starting the series from the beginning, (and trust me you don't need to in order to dive in with The Kept Woman), here's the full list of Will Trent titles, in order:

Tryptich
Fractured
Undone
Broken
Fallen
Criminal
Unseen
The Kept Woman

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

For more on Karin Slaughter and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Monday, September 26, 2016

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

Their father is dying. He's returned home to stay with his middle child who purchased the family house from him a few years ago. Together they've got a routine, a plan of sorts for his final days. And as each of his other children pays their final visits, tension between the siblings runs high. The middle daughter longs for the quiet and peace that will come with their leaving as her father's end draws nearer. Because, she believes, his end will bring about a wondrous sight. Something she's witnessed just twice before. Something that's come for her in her darkest moments. 

The Language of Dying is an odd one to sum up. It's about grief. It's about families. It's about the relationship between parents and their children and relationships between siblings.

And it's about, I think, the magic of hope.

Whatever your take away is from this slim book, I guarantee it's one you won't escape without experiencing a serious range of emotions. To that end, it's something of a painful read. It's a read that's certainly stayed with me since I finished it. And it's a read that, I think obviously by this review, I've had trouble compiling my own thoughts about.

Sarah Pinborough has long been a favorite of mine, even though I've yet to read through all of her current body of work. The Language of Dying is like nothing I've ever read by her. Yes, it's all her - writing, style, pacing... - but I've only delved so far into her straight up horror. This is definitely not horror. Or at least not in the most traditional sense.

Grief can be horrific. The way the various siblings deal with losing their father certainly illustrates that. Two of them can't, or won't, cope at all. One offers up the expected support. And another even surprises our narrator. And while our narrator puts up a good front for her father, she does eventually crack a bit under the pressure, letting loose some emotion she's kept bottled up for quite some time.

Through all of this, though, the narrator longs for something she's kept mostly secret. It's this secret that allows her to live through the grief she feels. The expectation that this, one of the worst moments of her life, will bring magic.

As I said, a hard one to sum up. An odd one for sure, but one that very obviously shows what a massive talent Sarah Pinborough is!

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New Releases 9/27/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Devil Sent the Rain by Lisa Turner

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

Soulmates by Jessica Grose

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

The Dreaming Hunt by Cindy Dees & Bill Flippen

Mercury by Margot Livesey

Cloudbound by Fran Wilde

The Gradual by Christopher Priest

Presumption of Guilt by Archer Mayor

The Fall of the House of Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard

Reckless Creed by Alex Kava

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

The Dead Boyfriend by R. L. Stine

Like a River by Rae Carson

The Fever Code by James Dashner

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

The Immortal Throne by Bree Despain

New on DVD:
Cell
Warcraft
The Shallows
The Neon Demon
Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates
Central Intelligence

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Short Fiction... Saturday: Children of Lovecraft ed by Ellen Datlow

Happy Saturday, readers! I hope you all had a fabulous reading week - I know I did. Sort of. After forcing myself to DNF a current YA darling (which was admittedly good, when I could get to it), I decided to treat myself to some shorts. I was a good decision as this was definitely one of those weeks where manuscripts, other work stuff, and general blah-ness left me in need of short, punchy reads. And boy did I get what I asked for.

I've sung Ellen Datlow's praises here quite a bit. Behind the scenes, because I haven't talked much about it yet, I've been reading A LOT of Lovecraft inspired works. Tor.com has THREE new or upcoming novellas in this vein (in addition to Victor Lavalle's release from earlier this year). And hubs recently treated me to three Innsmouth inspired collections as well. So I'm absolutely steeped in Lovecraft - or rather Lovecraft-inspired reads these days.

BTW, if you're interested you should check out this fabulous interview with Kij Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, and Ruthanna Emrys about their new novellas, Lovecraft, etc here.

So, back to topic. Datlow has done Lovecraft before, but when I saw that it was the topic of her newest anthology (timely!) I immediately had to have it. I know by now that I can count on Datlow for a fabulously cultivated collection of weird tales by authors I either already love or will come to!

Children of Lovecraft was, of course, no exception. The premise of the anthology is this: the authors were tasked with writing Lovecraft-inspired shorts using, as Datlow states, the best of Lovecraft, while also exploring new themes and horrors. And boy did the authors to just that! From the Dust Bowl to a tale inspired by Boulder's recent epic flood, most of the stories don't explicitly use any Lovecraft specific creations - Cthulu, etc - but instead are imbued with the eerie and terrifying ambiance of Lovecraft. And yes, plenty of bizarre creations and creatures as well!

Here's the full TOC:

"Nesters" by Siobhan Carroll
"Little Ease" by Gemma Files
"Eternal Troutland" by Stephen Graham Jones
"The Supplement" by John Langan
"Mortensen's Muse" by Orrin Grey
"Oblivion Mode" by Laird Barron
"Mr. Doornail" by Maria Dahvana Headley
"The Secrets of Insects" by Richard Kadrey
"Excerpts from An Eschatology Quadrille" by Caitlin R. Kiernan
"Jules and Richard" by David Nickel
"Glasses" by Brian Evenson
"When the Stitches Come Undone" by A. C. Wise
"On These Blackened Shores of Time" by Brian Hodge
"Bright Crown of Joy" by Livia Llewellyn

A few of my personal favorites include Siobhan Carroll's "Nesters" - a truly creepy tale made more so by being set during the desperation of the Dust Bowl, Richard Kadrey's procedural-esque "The Secrets of Insects," A. C. Wise's gory and disturbing "When the Stitches Come Undone," Brian Hodge's "On These Blackened Shores of Time" the aforementioned Boulder flood inspired tale (set in Pennsylvania mining country), and Brian Evenson's "Glasses" - oh, Brian Evenson's "Glasses"! This was kind of a delightful one - a bit of comic relief, so to speak, amidst what could be a quite unsettling collection!

In truth, though, I quite enjoyed the whole anthology. It is a perfect one to treat yourself to if you're craving weird and scary! And probably the best part, you don't have to know Lovecraft at all to enjoy it. You do have to love horror, though.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Breezy doesn't remember dying. She doesn't remember being buried either. But she knows she was under ground for a year when the first man she killed dug her up. Since then she's made her way haphazardly across the country, hitchhiking when she can and skateboarding when she can't. And it's ok, because Breezy can see the shadows that haunt killers. Oh, and she apparently can't die. Because Breezy is no longer completely human.

Kali Wallace's debut is fun, y'all! And dark.

The world of Shallow Graves is packed with monsters, human and otherwise. And it's the former who are the big problem. The latter live their lives quietly among us, passing as much as they can for "normal." Witches, ghouls, you name it... well, maybe not unicorns.

And then there's Breezy. Breezy is something else. Something no one can quite explain. And while she can't die, doesn't need to eat, and doesn't even need to breathe, Breezy does need answers.

The story is set roughly two weeks after Breezy wakes. As mentioned above, she knows she's been dead for a year but she has no memory of what happened. Nor does she know why she was dug up, why all the birds died that day, or how the man she killed even knew where to find her.

She knows she can't stay in her hometown. So she travels, aimlessly. And while hitchhiking might present problems for a normal person, Breezy is doubly safe. Not only can she not die by any obvious means (she's tried), but she has the ability to see the human monsters around her. The killers who drive and walk the streets she's traveling.

But Breezy isn't actually as safe as she believes. Apparently in her reality there are people who want to rid the world of its monsters and monsters who would help them in their efforts.

Reading along as Breezy tries to find out what she is and what her purpose might be is fabulous. I loved her as a character - she felt authentic and substantial. The kind of character who comes to life on the page in such a way that you think you could almost recognize them if you were to cross paths with them in the real world.

And there was an added layer to that authenticity for me thanks to the setting. Pieces of the story are set in Boulder, Colorado, and I found myself oddly trying to place the vaguely mentioned people and locations as I was reading. It was almost as though I could run into Breezy and Zeke and Jake strolling down Pearl Street one day and I needed to be prepared!

I know that's an element that most people won't have in their reading. It happens, though, that books are set in real places and readers can recognize those places. It happens seemingly less often for me than you might think - my hometown and college town are both small enough that they lose out to larger Louisiana cities for the most part when settings there are chosen. Here in Colorado it's less odd but still fun when it happens!

Anywho, I quite enjoyed Shallow Graves, if you couldn't tell. It's a great debut and a satisfyingly dark and quirky read!

Rating: 4/5

(Big thanks to Jennifer at Book Den for making me push this one up my reading list!)


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

Music City Salvage can't really afford the deal being offered on Withrow mansion, but the promise of salvage that could finally earn them some cash is too good to pass up. And so, Chuck Dutton decides to risk everything to make it happen. 

Dahlia Dutton is well aware of the fact that the job at Withrow can literally make or break the family business. And so, when things start to turn strange, she's ready to brush it off and get the job done. It's just a week, after all, and everyone sees ghosts at these old places. But as she and the crew continue, things become not only weirder but potentially more dangerous. Ghosts haunt a graveyard said to contain no real graves, another specter lives inside the mansion itself terrorizing the crew increasingly as the week passes, and then there are clues found around the estate that seem to indicate not all is on the up and up with the Withrow family history. 

But again, it's only a week...

I love Cherie Priest's horror. It's what introduced me to her work - her Eden Moore trilogy, that is. So I was definitely stoked to see her return to those roots, so to speak.

The Family Plot never quite reached the same level of creepiness as Four and Twenty Blackbirds. But it was a quite fun outing anyway. Inspired by reality tv salvage shows, the book features a Nashville salvage company hired to gut an old estate near Chattanooga, Tennessee. They're told the house features chestnut flooring, marble fireplaces, and more - details that definitely start owner Chuck's mind working. With unpaid accounts out there, the business is already in trouble but the promise of chestnut alone, a wood lusted after in the salvage community, is enough for him to say yes to the job.

A job two other companies already turned down.

Dahlia is also risking everything, she can't afford for the family business to shut down especially now that she's divorced and living on just her income alone. Her salary barely covers her rent but the loss of it would be a serious detriment.

So you have a family business that has sunk everything they have left into one job that HAS to pay out, or else. Of course they're going to ignore any ghostly visions. And they trust, based on years of experience, reality ghost hunting shows, and stories amongst the industry, that nothing bad is going to happen to them regardless of how many ghosts they encounter.

And of course that decision gets them all in trouble!

I have to say this particular element - the fact that they all believe in the possibility of ghosts and that they even refer to ghost hunting shows and such as proof that nothing bad will happen was extra fun. You don't have to be a fan of  reality tv to love Priest's latest, but I would definitely say that you have to be a fan of haunted house books!

Rating: 3.5/5