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Monday, December 4, 2017

What I'm Reading: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Karen Swan's The Paris Secret.

Apologies, readers, my work load has been such that I haven't been able to finish reading this one, much as I've been dying to! So rather than my usual homemade synopsis, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.

High-flying Fine Art Agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to asses these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and just who has concealed them for so long.

Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?


A few years ago, a story broke about an abandoned apartment in Paris packed full of art and other sundries. The apartment had been locked up since WWII and untouched until three years after the owner's death. And of course upon hearing the story I was immediately intrigued. (You can read bit about it here.) And I wasn't the only one, Karen Swan was inspired by that very same story in writing The Paris Secret

With the exception of a few details, Swan's imaginings of the story behind the apartment are much different than the reality. The story is set around Flora Sykes, who has been brought in to research and determine the value of items discovered within the apartment. The daughter of a former chief auctioneer at Christie's, Flora has art in her blood. But Flora doesn't really expect to find any real treasures. And yet, that's pretty much exactly what she finds! And the stories behind those treasures...

At one point, Flora muses over the fact that no one ever discovered the apartment was abandoned in all the time before it was opened. It's a thought I had as well - the building (real and fictional) must have had excellent security! In fact, the boon begins with the apartment being broken into (again different from the real story, which I understand was that the owner's death prompted opening of the apartment). 

I love Swan's version. I love the rich and vibrant details of the story and the art. And I love the mystery she's built around an already fascinating tale, making it completely her own!

And now for the giveaway! I've got one copy to give away to one lucky reader here. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, December 18. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

For more on Karen Swan you can like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, December 3, 2017

New Releases 12/5/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Year One by Nora Roberts

Alive in Shape and Color ed by Lawrence Block

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

Not Safe After Dark by Peter Robinson

Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

New on DVD:
Despicable Me 3
Better Watch Out
American Assassin

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

Oh, what!? There's a new Josh Malerman coming out! Well, it's a few months down the line, but I can't possibly contain my excitement any longer.

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.

The haunting story of a woman literally bringing herself back from the dead, Unbury Carol is a twisted take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.


Unbury Carol is due out from Del Rey in April. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie

Good morning, everyone! Are you ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow? I know I am.

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Deborah Crombie's Garden of Lamentations, the 17th installment in her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series.

When a young girl is found dead in one of Notting Hill's private gardens, Gemma James isn't initially part of the investigation. She soon learns, though, that the girl was both a full time nanny and a part time babysitter and model for a good friend. At first, as a favor for her friend, she only accompanies her to offer condolences to the family. But soon, Gemma finds herself drawn into the case.

Meanwhile, Duncan has learned that his former boss is back in the office and is on the hunt for answers. Still reeling from the loss of a fellow officer, Duncan has never had an explanation about why he was transferred so suddenly out of his former position. It appears his suspicion of corruption at the Yard might be on point, cryptically confirmed by the very same old boss. But when that man is attacked just moments after meeting with Duncan, he realizes the issue is much deeper than he'd initially thought. And now he wonders if his family is at risk. 

I love this series! If you're looking for a fantastic set of mysteries with characters you can root for and a deep backlist to keep you busy, Deborah Crombie's series is it!

I've mentioned in past reviews of series installments that you can read these out of order, but (fair warning) each one does link directly to the one before. In this one, there are a lot of threads that tie back to To Dwell in Darkness. A lot! And of course by diving straight in here you do miss a lot of the backstory of these characters and their relationships.

And yet, I feel comfortable saying that the worst would be potential spoilers for the previous novel. The plotting and pacing of each new book is always stellar and Crombie pays ample attention in each new book to further developing her characters and their stories, so there is plenty to fall in love with even if you are new to the series. Enough to hook you and make you want to go back and read those earlier books!

If you want to start the series from the beginning, the series list is:

A Share in Death
All Shall Be Well
Leave the Grave Green
Mourn Not Your Dead
Dreaming of the Bones
Kissed a Sad Goodbye
A Finer End
And Justice There is None
Now You May Weep
In a Dark House
Water Like a Stone
Where Memories Lie
Necessary as Blood
No Mark Upon Her
The Sound of Broken Glass
To Dwell in Darkness
Garden of Lamentations

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

For more on Deborah Crombie and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guest Post by Christy Carlyle

Hi, readers! Today I have a special treat, I'm hosting author Christy Carlyle, author of How to Woo a Wallflower! Before I hand things over to Christy, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

An Unconventional Wallflower…

Clarissa Ruthven was born to be a proper lady, but she’s never wanted to live up to the expectations her late father set. Determined to use her inheritance to help the less fortunate women of London, she’s devastated to learn that she won’t be inheriting anything until she marries, a fate she has no interest in. Unwilling to let go of her plans, Clary works at Ruthven Publishing for Gabriel Adamson, a man who’s always hated her. She’s always returned the feeling, but as she begins to turn her family’s publishing company upside down, she finds herself unable to forget her handsome boss.

Never Follows the Rules…

Gabriel Adamson believes in order. He certainly doesn’t believe Clary should be sticking her nose in the publishing company, and she definitely has no business invading his every thought. But Gabe soon finds he can’t resist Clary’s sense of freedom or her passionate kisses and he starts to crave everything she’s willing to give him.

Especially When It Comes to Love…

When Gabe’s dark past comes back to haunt him, he’ll do anything to make sure that Clary isn’t hurt…even if it means giving up the only woman he’s ever loved.

The fact that this one involves a woman working in publishing, makes it all that much more appealing to me!

And now, over to Christy!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower in Historical Romance 
by Christy Carlyle 

I relate to wallflowers in fiction. Could be because, way back in the Stranger Things era, I kind of was one.

If you time traveled back to the 1980’s, you’d find me somewhere in the cluttered rush of a high school hallway. I wasn’t the cool girl or the super fashionable one. I was bookish and bespectacled, though I did have an elaborately decorated locker.

There weren’t any fancy balls in my life, no Empire gowns or chairs at the back of a room full of elegant dancers. I was just quirky. I didn’t fit in any of the cliques that existed at my high school. Maybe I was a bit of a loner. I certainly never got an invite to the prom.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never defined wallflowers as the shy unassuming girl, but the unique one. Sure, she might prefer books to most people, or be awkward when she means to be eloquent, but there’s more to every wallflower, and she’ll surprise you every time.

I think of wallflowers on a continuum that includes Molly Ringwald’s Andie in Pretty in Pink every bit as much as Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Take the time to notice an unappreciated young woman, and you might just find someone who’s fierce and clever and as interesting as any heroine ever written.

History—where the marriage plot rules and women who didn’t conform to society’s expectations were likely to be scorned or overlooked— isn’t the same as historical romance. Romance is the ideal place to celebrate the wallflower who no one expects to be fabulous. In historical romance being unusual isn’t a curse. It’s an opportunity to shine.

So, who are a couple of my favorite recent quirky, unconventional wallflowers in historical romance?

Lisa Kleypas gave us a perfect example in one of my favorite books this year, Devil in Spring. The story opens with Lady Pandora Ravenel sitting in a chair at a ball, bored out of her mind. Oh, so relatable. And we soon find that Pandora isn’t shy or meek. She’s loyal, stubborn, and bold. And once the hero actually takes the time to notice her—let’s just say, in an odd situation—he can’t stop noticing how unique and appealing she is. Pandora is the quintessential unconventional wallflower.

Lily Maxton’s recent The Rogue’s Conquest gave me a wallflower to love too. Eleanor Thompson is more interested in entomology than etiquette, and she’s bold enough to go and present her paper at a men’s scientific society—in disguise, of course. And, of course, former prize fighter James MacGregor notices her, including her faulty disguise, and does what a rogue should never do. He becomes bewitched by a wallflower.

In my latest book, How to Woo a Wallflower, I loved allowing my quirky heroine to revel in all of her uniqueness. Clary Ruthven was the girl in the back of the ballroom who nobody asked to dance, partly because she has no intention of conforming to society’s expectations. Despite being the daughter of an etiquette book writer, she’s a natural born rebel and never follows the rules, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. She’s not your typical Victorian lady, but she’s one of my favorite wallflowers.

Who are your favorite literary wallflowers? 

About the author: Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Huge, huge thanks to Christy for being here today. And huge thanks to her fabulous publicist for setting this up!   

My own favorite literary wallflowers, the wife in Rebecca and Jane of Jane Eyre!

How to Woo a Wallflower is the third in the Romancing the Rules series and is out on shelves now.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Releases 11/21/17

It's slim pickings this week because of the holiday, but here goes. Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

Winter of Ice and Iron by Rachel Neumeier

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

New on DVD:
The Hitman's Bodyguard
Birth of the Dragon
Valerian
Leap

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Say it with me now, Murderbot! Murderbot! Murderbot!

When I started Martha Wells's All Systems Red earlier this year, I really didn't know what I was in for. Yes, the description sounded fun but I was new to Martha Wells. Aside from the fact that I've loved just about every Tor.com novella thus far, I didn't really know what to expect.

Readers, it was oh, so freaking fabulous! And now, the second installment in Martha Wells's Murderbot Diaries is probably the sci fi title I'm most looking forward to at this very moment! Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”.

But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

This one doesn't come out until May, but you can tide yourself over until then by reading the first one if you haven't yet. Trust me, you want to - you're in for a huge treat!

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for C. L. Taylor's The Missing.

It's been six months since Billy went missing and not a day goes by that Claire doesn't try to find him. Her family is falling apart and the police seem to have given up, but she refuses. She knows, without a doubt, that he's out there somewhere. All she wants is for her family to be together again, the way they used to be.

The public are sure the family is involved. It's always the way, isn't it? But Claire is just as certain her family can't have had anything to do with Billy's going missing. But as more time goes by, Claire begins to realize her own family is full of dark secrets.

The Missing is a dark and twisty read. It clocks in at almost 500 pages, but it moves along at a super fast pace.

Of course part of the pacing is the mystery about Billy's disappearance. Claire drives the story along with her relentless search for answers, taking the reader right along with her as she attempts to comb through Billy's world. Any minute clue she can find leads her down another path, all in an attempt to find answers.

But Claire's having blackouts. The first happens not long into the story, just a day or so after the six month appeal on tv. She's with a friend, when the friend makes a comment about moving on and next thing she knows, she's waking up in a B&B her family used to visit when her sons were young.

Of course one black out would be worrisome, but then it happens again.

Meanwhile, her family is literally falling apart. Her nineteen-year-old son is drinking, his relationship with his live in girlfriend is rocky, and Claire finds out both he and her husband are keeping things from her.

The Missing kept me guessing right through to the end!

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

For more on C. L. Taylor and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Anne of Green Gables Deluxe Edition Giveaway

Happy Thursday, all! Today I have a special treat for all you "Anne with an e" fans. The good folks over at Penguin have just released a brand new, deluxe edition of the L.M. Montgomery classic and it is gorgeous!

Here's a little bit of info from the publisher:

If you’re anything like me, you grew up reading and loving Anne of Green Gables, the classic coming-of-age tale by L.M. Montgomery. For more than a century now, Anne has been a literary icon—clever, scrappy, and imaginative, a heroine for the ages whose journey continues to capture the hearts of readers everywhere.

This fall, Penguin Classics is excited to publish a brand new deluxe edition of Anne of Green Gables, featuring a foreword by the New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan (Maine, Commencement, The Engagements) and an introduction by L.M. Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre. This new publication also features reviews and a selection of early writing by Montgomery about the process of creating the book, along with stunning cover art by Siobhán Gallagher, whose artwork has been featured in US Weekly, Lenny Letter, Bustle, and more.

Mark Twain once described Anne as “the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice,” and The New York Times calls the novel, “a Canadian cultural export matched only by hockey and the Mounties.” Since its original publication in 1908, Anne of Green Gables has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 36 languages. Anne’s tale is a celebration of fierce individualism, and the power of the families we create, rather than the ones we are born into.

In other words, if you're an Anne fan, you definitely want this book! 

Thanks to Penguin, I am offering up one copy of this new edition to one of you lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, December 4. Open US only and no PO boxes please. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Lois Clary is a programmer. Her job is just one of many at General Dexterity, working to make robot arms as good as the real thing. But the long days and lonely nights have left Lois with a twisted up stomach and no real friends.

All of that changes when she finds the Clement Street Soup and Sourdough menu taped to her door. They serve two things: a spicy soup or a spicy sandwich, which you can order as a combo (double spicy) that comes with sourdough bread for dunking. And it's amazing! Life changing amazing! Lois orders so often the brothers who run Clement Street Soup and Sourdough call her their #1 eater.

But then the brothers announce that they're leaving, their visas have run out. Before they go, though, they gift Lois with their starter - a living, breathing thing that needs to be cared for an fed! It's the start of a new adventure for Lois, one that'll change her life in ways she couldn't imagine!

Lois, who's never baked and has barely managed to keep a cactus alive, has to take care of a sourdough starter. But it's not just any sourdough starter. This one has to be kept happy and fed like any other, but she's also been instructed to play it music. And the bread that results from this starter, when Lois tries her hand, has faces in it!

But it's a magnificent bread, one that Lois shares and eventually sells. But the bread, and the brothers who gave it to her, have an odd history. Chaimen and Beoreg call themselves Mazg, something Lois has never heard of and can't really find anything about online. In an age when everything is available online!

This is such a lovely book! There's really no better word to describe it, it's just absolutely delightful! And it's weird - the kind of book that doesn't really easily fit into a category. Annalee Newitz listed it on this Sci Fi and Fantasy list, so Imma go with it being sci fi. And it does certainly have elements of that, not least of which is the market that Lois eventually becomes part of, which is focused on new innovation in food. But again, genre aside, it's a feel good book that I'm certain will appeal to anyone looking for a read that'll give them the warm and fuzzies!

This was another audio book for me and I just adored it. The narrator, Therese Plummer, was fantastic - wry and charming and the perfect embodiment (through voice, obvs) of Lois. Not only that, but the audio includes the music of the Mazg.

Whichever way you choose to read it, print or audio, Sourdough is unique and fabulous. Definitely one I highly recommend!



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Artemis by Andy Weir

It's Artemis release day!!!

Jazz Bashara lives on the moon. She wasn't born there, children under a certain age aren't allowed to live on the moon because it affects their development, but she's lived there most of her life. And she owns the place! Not literally, but she knows all the nooks and crannies and is one of the top smugglers in Artemis. She can get you pretty much anything you need. Which is how she ends up getting tangled up in a job that's much bigger than anything Jazz could ever have imagined. Now, with people gunning for her on all sides, she'll have to execute a masterful crime in order to set things right and save her own skin!

I loved Jazz! She's a little different from Mark Watney, but probably just as smart. She doesn't have the discipline, that's for sure. She does know how to think her way out of a problem, though, so they have that in common.

Jazz is a troublemaker. She's been told from day one that she's gifted and smart, but she wants no part of it. She just wants to do her thing and be on her own. And she pretty much is, but not necessarily by choice, as we come to learn.

Artemis is a small community. Made up of domes named after famous astronauts. And the domes are divided, somewhat, by class. Jazz doesn't live in the worst, but she doesn't live in the best either. Her living quarters, all she can currently afford, are little more than a cubby with a bunk and a little storage space. Her dream is to save up enough to buy a place that'll allow her the privacy of her own bathroom!

Which is why she takes on a job that's highly illegal and definitely dangerous. And while Jazz is a bit reckless, she was spunky and snarky, the kind of character I most enjoy!

Artemis is fun - high stakes, lots of action, and the same super accessible hard sci fi as The Martian. I read it in one sitting, quite happily. At least until it was done and I realized I'd have to wait that much longer for another read from Andy Weir. Ah, the plight of a book junkie!


Sunday, November 12, 2017

New Releases 11/14/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Artemis by Andy Weir

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

Creatures of Will & Temper by Molly Tanzer

After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

End Game by David Baldacci

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

The Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emma Lang

Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda

Goldeline by Jimmy Cajoleas

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

New on DVD:
Wind River
Atomic Blonde

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Imagine if our history was different. If women held power rather than men. If matriarchal societies were the norm and men were viewed as the nurturing caregivers. Naomi Alderman has done just that, imagined a world where an event flips the current hierarchy as we know it making men vulnerable and leaving women in control.

Roxy was one of the first. Two men came for her mother - Roxy wasn't supposed to be home. And while Roxy hid, something blossomed inside her. Something she could use against the men to save her mother. 

Allie, orphaned and left at the mercy of a family who never should have had a child, uses her power to free herself. Guided by the voice in her head, she makes her way to a safe place - a place where her own voice becomes a guiding light for other girls just like her. 

Margot is one of the first who learns that the young ones can pass it on, awakening it in older women. She keeps her power secret even as her own daughter struggles to control the unpredictable ebb and flow of electricity that runs through her. Margot can't let her own talent slip, she's in a position to effect real change, but only as long as she isn't viewed as a threat. 

And then there's Tunde. On break from college when a girl uses the power on him. When he next witnesses it, during an incident at the grocery store, he catches it on camera and becomes one of the leading names documenting the shocking events now taking place all over the world. 

Each of their stories intertwines, telling a story within a story. A "fictional" take on how Neil and Naomi's world came to be. And even as Naomi has trouble imagining a time when men were soldiers and maybe even rulers, Neil stands by his story. 

Naomi Alderman is a co-creator and writer of Zombies, Run!, which is actually what first caught my eye with regards to The Power. That and comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale, amongst other accolades.

It's an interesting statement piece. A book within a book and set in a world that's the opposite of the one we currently inhabit. And it begins with "Naomi" stating that a world where men were in charge would surely be a more peaceful one!

Certainly the world in The Power is not a peaceful one by any means. The power itself awakens in women and proves to be tied to a skein along their collarbones. And while a small number of women never develop the power, the majority do and use it to enact change. And yet, Alderman's story is one where power itself is the big bad. Regardless of who has it, it's twisted and turned until the very forces fighting against corruption become corrupt themselves.

It's a dark story, to be sure, and a pretty brutally violent one as well. And things don't necessarily come to a nice neat ending for any of our main characters. But it's also a powerful and thought provoking read as well, one that's earned Alderman heaps of praise so far. (It's been out for some time but was just released in October here in the States.)

I actually listened to this one in its entirety on audio. Overall I think the main narrator, Adjoah Andoh, did a pretty good job, affecting different accents and tones for each of the varying characters. (If you're an avid audiobook listener, Andoh also reads Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie's Americanah and Ann Leckie's books, amongst others.) There were also fun audio guide outtakes from the museum of cataclysmic history.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

In 1989, Salem was the site of a horrendous crime. It was Halloween and three women were brutally murdered, left in the same location the bodies of the accused witches were left all those centuries ago. There was a suspect, a woman found walking Salem's streets seemingly out of her mind. There was also a survivor - a little girl, the daughter of one of the victims. 

Today the crime is still unsolved. But the crime is never far from peoples' thoughts. And when the suspect in that very same case is accused of murder once again, it's all the local police chief can do to keep a woman he knows is innocent out of prison. Things are further complicated with the girl who survived, now grown, returns to town. The spitting image of her dead mother, it's only a matter of time before the real killer realizes who she is. 

Brunonia Barry's latest absolutely screams fall. Of course it should, it begins in Halloween. But the atmosphere she's built throughout the story is all cool breezes, crackling leaves, and the scent of cider!

Rose Whelan was a respected historian in Salem until that Halloween in 1989. She and three other women went down to the place the bodies were left after the Salem witch trials to consecrate the grounds. Note, it's not the final resting place. Apparently all the bodies disappeared shortly after their execution. Rose's one goal was and has been to identify the hanging tree from those very trials. A tree, not a gallows, and a location very much different from the one history says it is. But the events of that night have left her a literal shell of the woman she once was, rambling about banshees and death.

Callie remembers the night her mother was murdered, but she was just a child. She was told, in the wake of the event, that Rose had died. And so she had no reason to return to Salem at all until Rose is accused of murder once again. It's the news report of the incident that reveals the fact that Rose is still alive!

And so Callie returns to Salem. Callie has a touch of mysticism about her, so she fits right in. Especially amongst the women at Towner Whitney's tearoom. But Towner's husband, the local police chief, worries that too many people knowing Callie's true identity could be a real danger to the woman. He knows Rose Whelan is no killer, but he also knows that the fact she's been a scapegoat for so long has clearly made whoever did the killing comfortable in knowing they'll never get caught.

As Halloween turns to Thanksgiving and beyond, the town is in an uproar over Rose. Which means tensions are getting pretty high in Salem. Barry builds that suspense quietly, giving readers a chance to get to know the characters and ease into the story. There's always an underlying worry about the inevitable end of the story, but it creeps throughout rather than overwhelming the tale.

The attention to Salem history and the characters themselves is something I really appreciated in this one. And again, that atmosphere. I could almost taste the tea at Towner's tea room! It all makes for a compelling read and a great mystery, that's for sure!

If you're familiar with Barry's work, you'll see some familiar faces within the pages of her latest. Zee Finch of Map of True Places is Rose Whelan's (the accused woman) therapist and of course there's Towner Whitney of The Lace Reader. The Fifth Petal is, however, a complete stand alone. It's my understanding, too, that Barry's next book will actually take place prior to The Fifth Petal in the Salem timeline.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I think every book person longs for those reads that are so fantastic that you just have to tell everyone about it. A book so good you have to shout it from the rooftops! Krysten Ritter's debut, Bonfire, was one of those books for me.

First off yes, that Krysten Ritter. Known for her roles on Jessica Jones, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, and (my favorite) Veronica Mars. And given I'm a fan, Bonfire made my must have list as soon as it was announced. And while I hoped, as is the case with any book, that I would like it, it turns out I actually quite adored it!

Abby Williams left Barrens, Indiana after graduation and never planned to return. But, ten years later, working as an environmental lawyer, she finds Barrens calling her home once again. 

Optimal Plastics took a dying town and breathed new life into it. They've given money for new additions to the local school, for a brand new community center, and, of course, employ a massive number of locals. But when a farmer complains that his crops are suffering because of tainted water, he places the blame right at the feet of Optimal. And his isn't the only complaint. Which is where Abby and her team come in. 

For Abby, though, it's much more than just the current claims against Optimal. When Abby was a senior, a fellow group of classmates began exhibiting strange symptoms. In the end, the girls responsible convinced everyone it was all fake, but the leader of the so called prank disappeared shortly after. Abby always wondered what happened to Kaycee Mitchell, but returning to Barrens has turned that wondering into obsession. Especially when she convinces herself Kaycee might have been telling the truth about her illness and that Optimal could have been the cause.  

Bonfire is a great mystery but it's more than that too. It's a story about a girl facing her past.

Abby wasn't popular. She was actually bullied by Kaycee Mitchell and her friends, which is part of the reason she left in the first place. But her home life wasn't great either and her drive as a lawyer is at odds with her almost overwhelming desire to avoid her father at all cost.

So she's there for work, and it's not an easy job investigating a company that can basically do no wrong in the eyes of most of the community, she's reunited with the very people she didn't get along with in school, and avoiding her father is out of the question. We soon learn, too, that Abby turns to the bottle a little too quickly when under stress - and returning the Barrens is nothing but!

And that's all in the beginning of the book. As we get deeper into the story, we learn much more about the town Abby grew up in and the secrets that have been buried there for so long.

Bonfire is an abandon everything read. A book that sucks you in and demands that you finish it in as few sittings as possible. I know, because I would have finished in one sitting but obligations tore me away! So it took me two sittings. But don't think it wasn't on my mind every second I was away from it! Ritter's story invaded my brain and actually hasn't left it. And now I want all of you to read it and love it too!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sara Pekkanen

Good morning, readers! Today I have a special treat for you, I'm part of an early blog tour for the upcoming thriller, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

Nellie is about to be married and couldn't be happier. Richard is everything she's ever wanted in a man. He's kind and caring, and soon he'll be her husband. But the nagging feeling that she's being watched won't go away. 

Vanessa loves Richard in spite of their divorce. And she's tried to move on. She's living with her aunt and has even started a new job. But when she hears that she's been replaced, she won't sit idly by. 

First off, this book isn't what you think it is. And that's half the fun!

Nellie is a preschool teacher who is looking forward to marriage. Richard is older, but the age difference doesn't matter, they love one another and Nellie is certain they'll be happy together.

Vanessa is a broken woman. She can't believe her husband is already getting married again and it's affecting her deeply. She drinks, she misses work, she becomes obsessed with ensuring this new marriage doesn't happen.

Hendricks and Pekkanen have created a seamlessly woven thriller full of unexpected twists. And each one came as a complete surprise! And that's in spite of my efforts throughout the book to predict exactly what each twist was going to be and when it was going to hit.

This is a book I definitely don't want to give away too much about. Like I said, the twists are half the fun. Know this, though, The Wife Between Us is a whiplash paced read that you'll absolutely gobble up. Once you start, there's pretty much no setting it down until you get to the end and find out the truth about the story!

The Wife Between Us is due out January 9 from St. Martins.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

New Releases 11/7/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Mrs. Osmond by John Banville

The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch

The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith

Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda

The Midnight Line by Lee Child

The End We Start From  by Megan Hunter

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

 Follow Me by Sara Shepard

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvuda

Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin

The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

Eight Days on Planet Earth by Cat Jordan

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

The Speaker by Traci Chee

New on DVD:
Ingrid Goes West
Cars 3
The Glass Castle

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sci Fi Month!


You guys, I didn't know Sci Fi month was a thing! And it's definitely a thing I need right at this moment. I was literally trying to pick my latest read last night and pondering over multiple SF reads. I figured whichever one I picked (Artemis, with the help of some votes) it would kick off a sci fi binge - and now I have the perfect excuse.

Sci Fi month is being hosted by Lisa and Imyril - you can find the sign up page at the link I've provided for Imyril. And I found out about it thanks to Tammy at BooksBonesBuffy.

As I mentioned, I'm starting the month with Andy Weir's latest, Artemis. I also have An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, some Expanse titles to get through (in anticipation of the upcoming release of Persepolis Rising in December), and a slew of other possibilities this month.

I do have some non sci fi related scheduled posts this month as well, but it will be overwhelmingly science fiction up in here this month and I'm super stoked!

A few lists to get you started if you want to read along:

This list courtesy of Annalee Newitz and arstechnica is a smorgasbord of science fiction she says will get you through the holidays! (I have most of these on hand and will be reading through them for sure!)

This list from the Verge is a mix of science fiction and fantasy they say you should read in November.

Oh, and there's an official Twitter account, @scifimonth, to follow along as well!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

New Releases 10/31/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Usual Santas ed by Peter Lovesey

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

Alone by Cyn Balog

Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

New on DVD:
The Dark Tower
Kidnap

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

It's Thursday, y'all!

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Joshua Max Feldman's Start Without Me.

Adam is pretty fresh out of rehab and visiting home for the first time in quite a while. In truth, it's the first time he's even been invited home in a year. It's Thanksgiving and, as it turns out, the pressure of the holiday is almost too much for him to handle. Which is why he bails. 

Marissa has just arrived on a flight from Seattle. A flight attendant whose job is a bitter point of contention between herself and her husband, she's supposed to pick up and drive to her in-laws' for the holiday. But she's less than enthused. More so when she discovers she's pregnant - and the baby isn't her husband's. 

Adam and Marissa cross paths at an airport restaurant - Adam determined to return to San Francisco and put the barely missed disastrous holiday behind him and Marissa stalling as long as she can before driving to Vermont. Their fateful meeting brings them together as they both struggle with expectations and suspected disappointments they both feel are inevitable.

Thanksgiving is such a strange holiday. Like Christmas, it's a holiday that comes with a lot of built up pressure and potential anxiety. Depending on your situation, like our characters, you may have waited all year to reconnect with extended family over turkey and fixings. But it's like the ice breaker considering Christmas falls just one month later.

For Adam, as mentioned, it's his first time home for some time. He's sober and has given up his career as a musician in exchange for a safer, more controllable job at a bank. It's a life of order and routine, which is what he needs to keep from falling back into drinking.

Marissa doesn't have much of a relationship with her own mother, something we learn more about as the story progresses. And her relationship with her husband and her in-laws is tense. In fact, as we meet her she's receiving an apology text from her husband regarding an argument they'd been having when she left for her last flight. An argument it turns out her husband has gone over with his own mother, who just happens to be a divorce attorney. Try unpacking all that baggage!

At the outset, it seems almost strange that Adam and Marissa would connect, and yet it doesn't. Neither wants to be alone with their problems, even if they wouldn't admit it to themselves. And both of them need a shoulder to cry on, or just another set of ears to hear them out.

Start Without Me takes place over the course of just one day, making the read both quick and propulsive. And in spite of what my synopsis might lead you to believe, it's not a particularly heavy book. Instead, it's a book that's easy to sink into and incredibly easy to relate to. No, I've not been where either Adam or Marissa are, but in each of them Feldman has created a character that feels intensely real, making it easy to sympathize with them and want to see their story through.

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

For more on Joshua Max Feldman and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Queso!: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain

Readers, you may wonder if you (or I) need a cookbook full of cheese dip recipes. I would have to say yes. But then again, I'm a bit of a queso fiend!

Lisa Fain, aka the Homesick Texan, has a brand spanking new cookbook out and it's devoted entirely to the ooey gooey goodness that is queso. Cheesy, meaty, and even vegan, Fain's cookbook has it all.

It's interesting, and maybe a little eye opening, to realize that queso as I know it is such a Tex-Mex thing. Fain talks about moving from Texas to New York and discovering that the prevalence of even the basics for making queso were much less abundant in NYC in those days. It's also interesting to learn that there really is so much variation in the dish when traveling from region to region, even within Texas itself. And Fain explores all of those varieties!

The book begins with a breakdown of the basics - chiles and cheese and the abundance of difference choices between the two. Fain then jumps into a history of the dish, outlining some of the earliest references and recipes.

The recipes range from, as I mentioned, traditional cheese, tomato, and peppers variety akin to the Ro-Tel we all know and love - thanks to Lady Bird Johnson herself (though Fain notes the Johnson recipe calls for cheddar, which doesn't quite melt the way you want for true queso - and her note on that recipe makes sense as well) - to runnier saucier versions (the Arkansa Cheese Dip, for example). There are also thicker varieties like the Van Horn Chile Con Queso, which called for Muenster cheese, and Queso Fundido with Squash Blossoms.

There's a whole chapter on quirky quesos that includes the likes of Austin-Style Vegan Queso (for those who can't eat cheese and miss the wondrous concoction), a Chilled Chile Con Queso with Avocado (courtesy of an El Paso Junior League cookbook that calls for cottage cheese!), and even an Indian Queso with Jalapeño Chutney.

There are quesos with meat in them too. Like the Choriqueso with chorizo mixed in, Queso with Beef Picadillo, and Boudin Queso that even has a recipe for homemade boudin (which I've not tried because we have ours shipped home from Louisiana).

In addition to the queso, there are accompaniments as well - Tortilla Chips and Puff Tostadas (which are AMAZING with queso), homemade Pickled Jalapeños, which you need to make the bean dip part of the Bean Dip Queso, and Chile Jam (aka Pepper Jelly) for a surprising Green Chile & Cream Cheese Ice Cream Sundaes recipe. And then there are recipes for using the queso!

In the time since I got my hands on a copy, I've tried at least half a dozen varieties. My garden this summer produced just enough poblanos, anaheims, and jalapeños that it made sense to try a new recipe just about every weekend - I mean, I had to spread them out so I didn't catch too much flak for eating cheese dip every day. I totally would have otherwise :) The Damn Good Queso which claims to be a copycat version of a taco joint's famous queso and includes recipes for both a Green Chile Salsa Verde, Guacamole, and Fiery Red Salsa (which is amazing by itself too) is in my top two. Amazingly, or not, my favorite one so far is the queso base for the Bean Dip Queso!

Whether you're a fan of the traditional tailgating variety we all know and love or queso fundido. Whether you like yours spicy or mild. And whether you prefer it with meat, veggies, seafood, or straight up cheese only, Fain has something for you.

There are, if you're interested, a few recipes out in the wild that you can try. Fain herself has shared the Chili Parlor Queso on her blog. You can also check out this Houston Chronicle article, which includes four recipes!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Spotlight: Lilac Lane by Sherry Woods

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sherryl Woods's latest with a spotlight on Lilac Lane.

Here's a bit about Lilac Lane from Goodreads:

At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens

Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

This is the fourteenth book in Woods's beloved Chesepeake Shores series.

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

For more on Sherryl Woods and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, October 22, 2017

New Releases 10.24.17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The It Girls by Karen Harper

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

The First Day by Phil Harrison

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

The Glass Spare by Lauren Destefano

New on DVD:
War for the Planet of the Apes
Annabelle Creation

Friday, October 20, 2017

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Jenny Colgan's latest, Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery.

It's Christmas season on Mount Polbearne and Polly is determined that everything will be perfect. Unfortunately, everything seems to be going against Polly's careful plans. First, there's a wee issue with her best friend and her best friend's husband (who also happens to be Huckle's best friend) and a secret Polly has been trusted with regarding said issue. Then, a storm cuts the island off, leaving Polly stranded on the mainland through the holiday. As tensions rise and fights break out, it begins to look as though Christmas will be ruined beyond repair!

At this point in their story, Huckle is thinking about what's to come and Polly is digging in her heels. Which also makes for more tension as the little issue with Kerensa and Reuben grows to its inevitable climax. There's holiday drama, family drama, relationship drama, oh, so much drama! Oh, and there's baking too. Lots, as is to be expected!

Of course Christmas isn't ruined. But as the story progresses and things get more fraught, it's easy to see why Polly would worry. And yet, as a reader familiar with Colgan's work, I wasn't worried on bit!

Colgan's stories are always such a delight and returning to Mount Polbearne for the third part of Polly's and Huckle's (and Neil's!!!) story was so much fun!

If you're in the mood for a light and breezy, sweet as pie read, you can't go wrong with any of Jenny Colgan's titles!

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

For more on Jenny Colgan and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

Theo Cray is winding down research in Montana, just days away from the start of a new semester,  when he's arrested. It seems a former student of his has been brutally murdered just a few miles away and the coincidence of their both being in the same place is enough for the police to pull him in as a suspect. Fortunately for Theo, he's quickly released when it appears the killing was at the hands of a bear rather than a human. 

Cray, a computational biologist, isn't so sure the case is that easily closed, though. And when he's mistakenly given some of the victim's blood, which comes paired with a hair from the beast that supposedly killed her, he's even more certain. 

But the cops have their man, or bear, and are certain Cray is driven solely by misplaced grief. If they're right, though, why does Cray keep finding bodies?

This is such a cool premise! I'm a longtime reader of mysteries and it's always refreshing when someone comes up with a new twist. Theo Cray is a professor, and like other erstwhile detectives thrown into crime investigation due to circumstance, he uses his skills to untangle a web of clues the police aren't interested in seeing.

Cray uses a combination of computer programming and biology to drive his investigation, tracking data points to create a map that could (and does) reveal more victims. Tracking the data turns out to be the easy part. Convincing the authorities that he's a. a person to be taken seriously and b. that the killer may be human rather than bear are the hard parts.

To be fair, it seems quite clear to the police involved in the case that they have a killer bear on their hands. And Cray's evidence otherwise comes across as that from a crazed person who was a suspect just shortly prior to revealing said evidence.

Like a dog with a bone, our stubborn hero just won't let it go. Which makes the reading all the more fun.

In Cray, Andrew Mayne has built a fascinating amateur sleuth with a unique set of skills that sets him a bit apart from other mystery/thriller main characters. The Naturalist is apparently the start of a new series - book two, Looking Glass, is due out in March and I'll definitely be first in line to grab a copy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lona Chang by Ashleyrose Sullivan

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Ashelyrose Sullivan's Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story.

Lona Chang and Awesome Jones are good. They're to be married, Awesome has taken on the mantle of his father - even though the Guild says he's not allowed, and Lona herself has come into a power she's just beginning to learn about. But all that changes when a good friend and fellow superhero dies in Lona's arms. His death shakes Arc City to its core, but none are more affected than Lona herself. The hero's cryptic final words, the strange circumstances of his death, and an odd book with seemingly hidden clues are more than enough to force her to investigate. And what she finds could mean bad news for all of Arc City. 

Lona Chang is a cute idea - a story told in comic book style complete with bold faced lead ins like you'd see in a comic panel. There are even comic panels throughout the book. Of course, it's also a story about superheroes, which is always fun. And it's got within the story as Lona takes her investigation further and finds more clues in different books.

And the story is fun. A murder mystery, flashbacks to a story that began some years ago, and even Lona and Awesome's relationships with one another and their friends all make this an entertaining read. And yet, the execution wasn't as polished as I would have liked.

I found myself a bit confused by the progress of the book from the start, rereading sections in order to try and get a grasp on what was happening. I often felt, too, like more effort was put into the mystery than the characters themselves - I wanted to spend less time in the pages of the books Lona was reading, for example, and more time with Lona herself.

Lona Chang is the second book in the series, following Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale. Character development aside, Lona Chang can be read as the starting point quite easily. I say character development aside because I assume there's maybe more emphasis on their development in that first outing. And yet, it doesn't mean it's not needed in the second.

Lona Chang is a great concept and a fun afternoon read, but I found wanted more depth overall.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Ashleyrose Sullivan and her work you can visit her website here.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Releases 10/17/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Live Constantine

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornok

Forbidden Suns by D. Nolan Clark

Righteous by Joe Ide

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst

It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Strange Lies by Maggie Thrash

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

New on DVD:
Spiderman: Homecoming
Landline
Girls Trip

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Browsing is, I think, the best part of being in a bookstore. And online avenues have created a new sort of browsing. I was scrolling through Edelweiss recently and came across Laura Purcell's upcoming title and now I can't wait to read it!

Edelweiss is kind of great for discovering upcoming titles, if you didn't know. You can browse publishers' catalogs, you can see comp titles, all kinds of fun stuff. And as a book junkie who not only loves to wander the spines of bookstores' collections, I very much like to stay in the know about what I need to buy down the line as well.

And this one, readers, is one I definitely need to buy!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.

This is not Purcell's debut, but it is the first of her books to be released here in the States and it's said to be a great one for fans of Shirley Jackson!

The Silent Companions is due out in March from Penguin. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Short Fiction Friday: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Molly Southbourne has to be careful. Any drop of blood has to be quickly taken care of, or it'll turn into another Molly - intent on murder. Yes, since she was a little girl, Molly has been killing herself over and over and over. But with strict care and attention, and the help of her parents, Molly has made it to adulthood still living and breathing. 

But that doesn't mean she's safe. In fact, as she grows older things only become more dangerous. 

Sooo this one wasn't a big hit for me. It should have been. Everything about the premise promised it would be. But something about Thompson's style just didn't click for me. Instead of being strange and mysterious, it was just plain hard to follow.

Molly bleeds and her blood becomes another Molly. Not a baby Molly, but another Molly exactly the same age and appearance as the Molly that bleeds. And yes, the doppelgängers appear from any Molly's blood, hence the care and attention it takes not only in getting rid of Molly's blood but in getting rid of other Mollys.

The story begins with Molly chained up, visited by at least one other Molly who narrates the story. And of course, without context the reader is immediately asking, which Molly is which?

The bigger questions, for me, are why do the Mollys all want to kill and why does Molly have this strange ability in the first place? (Because I have control issues and apparently can't always follow a story where it leads my - just going with the flow!)

Molly's backstory is never quite revealed to my satisfaction. It's more a read between the lines story than anything. Yes, there's some detail given about her mother and about what led to Molly's problem, but I wanted more. (See, control issues.)

I've gotten better over the years with less explanation in stories. As a teen, I'd have had a much stronger reaction to the pieces of the story that are left out. As an adult, I accept it as an interesting read, but admit I still crave more answers in order to be thoroughly satisfied.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is being adapted as a movie and I'll be interested to see how it turns out. I'd also be interested in reading more should Thompson revisit this story in some way down the line, so clearly I didn't dislike it. I just want loose ends tied up. Control.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

It's Thursday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Gilly Macmillan's latest, Odd Child Out.

Two boys - best friends - but then one ends up hospitalized after an accident that may be more than that. 

DI Jim Clemo is just back on duty after mandatory leave and therapy thanks to a very public breakdown. His boss, and everyone besides, thinks this is a straightforward accident that'll be open and shut. Unfortunately, the case is much more complicated than it seems. An eyewitness claims to have seen the boys fighting, but by all accounts Noah and Abdi never fight. With Noah in a coma, though, and Abdi silent, the police don't have much to go on. And then the public gets wind of the case. 

I've not read Gilly Macmillan's What She Knew, so this is my first meeting with Jim Clemo. And yet, this second outing does stand well enough on its own that it made for a great introduction.

Jim is the kind of cop who gets over involved in his cases. Which is why he's good at his job, but also why he suffered a breakdown before the events of Odd Child Out take place. From the start, though, I could tell that it was beneficial, not just for him but for Abdi. There's a line in the book when Jim is interviewing Abdi for the first time, or trying to, and he says his own father would have taken the boy into the station.

Abdi and his family are refugees from Somalia. It's an area Noah's father actually knows well as he's spent time there photographing the very camp Abdi's family once lived in. And this detail - Abdi's background, that is - is part of what makes the book such an emotional read. From page one it's obvious this is not going to help Abdi. Comments that seem to be in passing - a tut tut from a fellow bus passenger that Abdi's sister overhears, yelled slurs at the hospital when Abdi's parents arrive to pick him up - make it clear (even if you've been living under a rock) what kind of backlash there will inevitably be. And it doesn't make Jim's job any easier.

As I mentioned, Odd Child Out is an emotional read. Chapters alternate between multiple characters, including Noah himself while he's in his coma. Normally a mystery will draw anger and sympathy from me as a reader, but this one got to me much deeper than that. I don't want to give anything away, but Macmillan does a fantastic job at tugging at your heartstrings while also giving the reader a great mystery. Be prepared!

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

For more on Gilly Macmillan you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hide and Seek by MJ Arlidge

Happy Book Birthday to MJ Arlidge whose latest Helen Grace mystery hits shelves today!

After being framed for a series of murders, Helen Grace has been sent to Halloway to await trial. The prison is on its last legs, set to be closed by the end of the year and understaffed as a result. Helen, a cop responsible for a fair number of the women housed there, certainly hasn't made any friends. It's just a matter of keeping her head down and waiting for trial - or to be proven innocent. As far as the latter, she has help on the outside, but most of her former colleagues have turned against her in the wake of her arrest. 

Then an inmate in the cell next to Helen's is brutally murdered. While locked up for the night. Helen heard nothing, but can't help investigate. And as more bodies pile up, it becomes clear time is running out: not only must she find a way to clear her name, she now has to survive Halloway, too!

If dark and twisty is to your taste (as it definitely is mine), this is a series you really don't want to miss. And I can personally attest to the fact that you can dive into this one without having read the five predecessors - I missed book five, Little Boy Blue. Much to my shame! Though there are spoilers for Blue in Hide and Seek, I plan to go back and read that one very shortly. I love this series!

Helen is hard as nails, but she has a hidden side. This is something we know from previous outings and is reiterated here in Hide and Seek. That facade and the fact that she lets very few people in is exactly what's left her now at the mercy of the prison system and the courts. She's been framed for murder. By her own nephew. And only one cop on the outside is pursuing the case from that angle. Everyone else has apparently washed their hands of Helen in spite of the years she's spent on the police force and the accomplishments she's made there.

Which sucks.

As a reader who's taken the time to get to know Helen through much of the series, it really sucks to see her in this situation. And yet, she's Helen Grace! And of course when inmates start getting murdered in their own locked cells she's going to investigate!

Arlidge's plots are complex and, as mentioned, quite twisted. But they're also oh so fabulously put together. And again, you can dive into this one straight away, but if you want to start from the beginning, you'll see that Helen's (and the department's) growth from each installment to the next is fabulously thought out. I can't wait for the next installment!

Here's the series list in order, if you're interested:
Eeeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Doll's House
Liar Liar
Little Boy Blue
Hide and Seek
Love Me Not (2018)