Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Tour Announcement, Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Sandman by Lars Kepler

Next week, Lars Kepler's latest book in their Joona Linna series, THE SANDMAN, will be released in the US. This Scandinavian thriller is perfect for those readers who like gritty, chilling, fast-paced crime-fiction. Now, not to worry if you haven't read the prior books - this book works great as a stand-alone (and where I am starting!). If you like Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo...this book, and series, is for you!

To help garner interest in their new book, Lars Kepler will be embarking on a book tour across the US. I'm hoping to attend the one in NYC next week - hopefully my schedule cooperates :)



And, last but not least...I have one hardcover copy of the book to giveaway - to help entice more interest in the book and these authors! I'm telling you...this book is good. I'm about halfway through right now and I can't read it fast enough - between the short chapters and the suspense on both the psychological and physical level - I'm having a hard time putting it down to get anything else done. I know for sure that I will definitely be picking up the prior books in this series after I finish this one!

 

Title: The Sandman
Author: Lars Kepler
Series: Joona Linna, #4
Published: March 2018, Knopf Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages

Summary:
The #1 internationally best-selling thriller from the author of The Hypnotist tells the chilling story of a manipulative serial killer and the two brilliant police agents who must try to beat him at his own game. 

Late one night, outside Stockholm, Mikael Kohler-Frost is found wandering. Thirteen years earlier, he went missing along with his younger sister. They were long thought to have been victims of Sweden's most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, now serving a life sentence in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now Mikael tells the police that his sister is still alive and being held by someone he knows only as the Sandman. Years ago, Detective Inspector Joona Linna made an excruciating personal sacrifice to ensure Jurek's capture. He is keenly aware of what this killer is capable of, and now he is certain that Jurek has an accomplice. He knows that any chance of rescuing Mikael's sister depends on getting Jurek to talk, and that the only agent capable of this is Inspector Saga Bauer, a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy. She will have to go under deep cover in the psychiatric ward where Jurek is imprisoned, and she will have to find a way to get to the psychopath before it's too late--and before he gets inside her head.


What readers are saying:

"Hurtles along.... Full of nuanced detail which sets it far above the average thriller.... You'll be terrified." -- Evening Standard 

"The Sandman has plenty of speed, suspense, and twists of plot, as well as the ever-popular gore, menace and awesome cruelty." -- Joan Barfoot, London Free Press 

The Sandman is Nordic noir at its best: a modern, nightmarish fairytale with an heroic, intuitive policeman, a monstrous villain and a maiden in distress. Kepler’s effective use of short chapters quickens the exhilarating pace of the narrative and the unexpected ending increases the enigma that is Joona Linna.” -- Sydney Morning Herald, Australia


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Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publisher, one reader will win a copy of The Sandman by Lars Kepler. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by March 7th.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends March 7th.


Good Luck!!!

 
   
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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Enigma by Catherine Coulter

Today, Catherine Coulter's latest FBI Thriller, Enigma, is being released in Trade Paperback and to help get the word out, I'm pleased to offer you, my readers, a chance to win a copy...and there are 2 copies up for grabs!!! I am desperately behind in this series and have so serious catching up to do, but I can assure you, it's on my list...but in the meantime, read the spotlight, see what other's have to say, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!!!



Title: Engima
Author: Catherine Coulter
Series: FBI Thriller, #21
Published: February 2018, Gallery Books
Format: Trade Paperback, 496 pages

Summary:
The highly anticipated twenty-first FBI thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter presents Agents Savich and Sherlock with two baffling mysteries. Working with Agent Cam Wittier (Insidious) and New York-based former Special Forces agent Jack Cabot, they must race against the clock to catch an international criminal and solve the enigma of the man called John Doe.

A Distraught Mother…


Kara Moody’s perfect pregnancy turns into a nightmare when her newborn son is nowhere to be found in her Georgetown hospital. FBI agents Savich and Sherlock think they’re investigating an abduction, but soon discover their case is tangled in a web of medical mystery that could make immortality possible.

An Irish Killer…

 
Liam Hennessy, notorious thief and one of the FBI’s most wanted, has escaped into the deep woods of the Appalachians—and when he wants to be hidden, few can find the Manta Ray.

Special agents Jack Cabot and Cam Wittier are sent to find him, but they find something else entirely.


A FBI team running out of time…
 

As each agent tirelessly pursues their prey, the clock is ticking. The odds grow ever slimmer that Kara Moody will ever see her baby again. Savich and his team will have to go way beyond the ordinary if they are to solve the cases of a lifetime.


What readers are saying: 

"Bestseller Coulter is at the top of her game in her 21st FBI thriller ... Twists and turns galore in both investigations ensure there's never a dull moment." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Enigma is a new seductive and menacing thriller that sets new standards to judge thrillers. It’s a thriller most people would like to finish it in one sitting. It is intense and packed with action and inventive fantasy Catherine Coulter is known for. This must be next on your reading list if you love to read thrillers." --The Washington Book Review

"A master of smooth, eminently readable narratives." --Booklist  


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Giveaway Details -- (US Only)
Thanks to the publisher,  two readers will win a copy of Enigma by Catherine Coulter. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by March 6th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends March 6th.


Good Luck!!!
 
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Monday, February 26, 2018

#WRC2018 Book Spotlight: Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell


Title: Dreaming in Chocolate
Author: Susan Bishop Crispell
Published: February 2018, St. Martin's Griffin
Format: Paperback, 288 pages

Summary:
A story of love, hot chocolate, and one little girl's wish for her mother that will make your heart swell.

At twenty-seven, Penelope Dalton is quickly ticking off items on a bucket list. Only the list isn’t hers. After her eight year-old daughter Ella is given just six months to live thanks to an inoperable brain tumor, Penelope is determined to fill Ella’s remaining days with as many new experiences as she can.

With an endless supply of magical gifts and recipes from the hot chocolate cafĂ© Penelope runs alongside her mother in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, she is able to give her daughter almost everything she wants. The one sticking point is Ella’s latest addition to her list: get a dad. And not just any dad. Ella has her sights set on Noah Gregory, her biological father and the only person Penelope knows to have proved her true love hot chocolate wrong.

Now Noah’s back in town for a few months—and as charming as ever—and the part of her that dreamed he was her fate in the first place wonders if she made the right decision to keep the truth of their daughter from him. The other, more practical part, is determined to keep him from breaking Ella’s heart too.

But as Ella’s health declines, Penelope must give in to her fate or face a future of regrets.



What readers are saying: 

“Come for the life-changing chocolates and opinionated apothecary table, stay for the enchanting eight-year old and complicated secrets. After reading Susan Bishop Crispell’s charming Dreaming in Chocolate, you’ll want to take up residence in Malarkey, sip magical hot cocoa, and change your own fate!" ―Amy Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

"Dreaming in Chocolate is an endearing and beautifully spun tale of three generations of women and the enchanted chocolate shop that they share. A story of broken hearts, missed opportunities and the sometimes excruciating realities of motherhood, Susan Bishop Crispell teaches us that, even in a life surrounded by the mystical and inexplicable, sometimes, finding true love is the real magic." ―Kristy Woodson Harvey, author of Slightly South of Simple

“In a world where people too often lose faith in second chances, happy endings, heart’s desires and homemade miracles, Susan Bishop Crispell’s Dreaming in Chocolate makes me a believer again. This tender story about unthinkable loss and the strength of a family’s love to bring them together as they face a future that is uncertain, is a reminder that the most powerful magic any of us possesses is hope.” ―Kimberly Brock, award winning author of The River Witch

"Set in the world where salty caramels inspire truth telling and bittersweet truffles conjure happiness, the real magic of this warm and enchanting romance is found in the love the characters have for each other. A sweet treat for fans of Joanne Harris and Alice Hoffman."Louise Miller, author of The City Baker's Guide to Country Living

 "Like a good piece of chocolate, Crispell's latest is sweet, without being cloying, and utterly satisfying. Perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, this is a real treat of a novel." ― Colleen Oakley, author of Close Enough to Touch


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Dreaming in Chocolate  by Susan Bishop Crispell is one of  BookSparks "Winter Reads" reading selection picks.  

 Follow the #WRC2018 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other winter books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #WRC2018  and other fun links.
 
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Review: White Houses by Amy Bloom


Title: White Houes
Author: Amy Bloom
Published: February 2018, Random House
Format: ARC Paperback, 240 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary:
The unexpected and forbidden affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok unfolds in a triumph of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us.
"I never envied a wife or a husband, until I met Eleanor. Then, I would have traded everything I ever had, every limo ride, every skinny dip, every byline and carefree stroll, for what Franklin had, polio and all."

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick," as she's known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as "first friend" is an open secret, as are FDR's own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick's bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan's Washington Square, Amy Bloom's new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.

"Amy Bloom knows the urgency of love," wrote The Washington Post about Bloom's acclaimed bestseller Away. The same could be said of White Houses, an unforgettable novel about the power of passion and the endurance of love.



My thoughts: Ever since visiting Hyde Park and Val-Kill a while back, I've become slightly obsessed with all things Eleanor Roosevelt and have slowly started collecting books about anything related to her. Of course, when I saw that Amy Bloom - an author I am ashamed to admit I have yet to read - had written a book about Eleanor's secret affair with Lorena Hickok, I just knew I had to read it!

I remember when I was taking the tour of Val-Kill, the tour guide made one statement that stuck with me and as I was reading this book, that statement kept coming back to me. The statement went something like this, "The grandkids of Eleanor and Franklin were not bothered by their many dalliances of either sexes...they loved them for who they were." So, they were aware that both had many affairs, some of opposite sexes, and some of the same sexes, but it didn't seem to bother them. I wonder if it's everyone else that seems bothered by it.

This is a fictional account of the love affair that happened between Lorena "Hicks" Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. It's told from Hicks' point of view and while centered around the few days right after FDR's death, it does move back and forth in time as Hicks reminisces about not only her childhood but about the early days of her affair with Eleanor. It truly is a remarkable character study of all involved.

It's hard to imagine that this secret (or maybe not so secret after all) affair started when Hicks was still a journalist and came to the White House to interview First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The two hit it off and so their friendship was started. It just so happened that at this time, there was no longer any spark between FDR and Eleanor, so I guess you can say timing is everything. But, here's where things get interesting. Eleanor moves Hicks into the White House and is able to keep her "relationship" with Hicks quiet, yet FDR was not as secretive with his affairs. It definitely wasn't the case of what's good for the goose is good for the gander. 

This was a beautifully written, tragic love story. And it's one of the stories that makes you want to read more about the topic because while this is a fictionalized account, it is based in reality. Apparently there were an enormous troupe of letters written between these two women that have provided fodder for numerous books to be written on this relationship - and I have to admit I am slightly curious to see just how each other has put their own spin on it. So dear readers, don't be alarmed if you see other reviews of books about this same topic. My curiosity is piqued and I am ready to devour these books! Have you read a book about this relationship? Please share! 

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review: Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza (audio)


Title: Cold Blood
Author: Robert Bryndza
Series: Detective Erika Foster, #5
Narrator: Jan Cramer
Published: September 2017, Bookouture
Length: 9 hours 34 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

Summary: 
She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…
When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery
there’s more than one killer.



My thoughts: This is another series that I just love and find that gets stronger and better with each new installment. This is the 5th book in Robert Bryndza's Detective Erika Foster crime thriller series. These books are dark and twisted and oh so good!!!

Once again we have an action-packed tale that takes off right from the start and never really lets go until the very end. Unfortunately, things get a little personal this time around as Erika is brutally attacked during the investigation and sidelined for a bit...though, in true Erika fashion, not for long! This is why I love her so much - nothing really keeps her down for long! She is tough and persistent and despite all that happens to her in this book, she still makes this case her number one priority. I do wish, though, that at some point in this series, she gets a little bit of happiness thrown her way - just a little!

I also love that the characters that we meet in these books, the ones that are not necessarily part of the series from book to book, are so well-developed. And they are also not always so likeable. These characters have dimension and complexities to them, and make them more relatable, and you can get a feel for why they may or may not be in the predicament that they find themselves in.

This book is equal parts creepy and disturbing and I loved every bit of it. It's so easy to get completely caught up in these stories - both for the character development that occurs in each book and for the crime that the team is solving. At times, it is a bit graphic and gruesome, but it is equally intriguing and captivating and keeps me engaged throughout.


Audio thoughts: Once again, Jan Cramer shines in her narration of this series. She just gets these characters and the story lines. I truly believe that having the same narrator narrate this series really helps with the consistency in the voices and nuances of the characters that both Robert Bryndza has created for them and then Jan Cramer has made them to be. This book really comes alive with Jan Cramer's narration and I so hope she continues narrating the series for as long as Robert Bryndza continues writing it!



Books in this series: 

  1. The Girl in the Ice
  2. The Night Stalker
  3. Dark Water 
  4. Last Breath 
  5. Cold Blood 
  6. Deadly Secrets - due out April 2018
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas (audio)


Title: Local Girl Missing
Author: Claire Douglas
Narrator: Hannah Murray, Emilia Fox
Published: July 2017, Harper Audio / Harper Paperbacks
Length: 10 hours 24 minutes / 352 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

Summary:
Someone knows where she is…

The old Victorian pier was a thing of beauty until it was allowed to decay. It was where the youth of Oldcliffe-on-Sea would go to hang out. It’s also where twenty-one-year-old Sophie Collier disappeared eighteen years ago.

Francesca Howe, known as Frankie, was Sophie’s best friend, and even now she is haunted by the mystery of what happened to her. When Frankie gets a call from Sophie’s brother, Daniel, informing her that human remains have been found washed up nearby, she immediately wonders if it could be Sophie, and returns to her old hometown to try and find closure. Now an editor at a local newspaper, Daniel believes that Sophie was terrified of someone and that her death was the result of foul play rather than “death by misadventure,” as the police claim.

Daniel arranges a holiday rental for Frankie that overlooks the pier where Sophie disappeared. In the middle of winter and out of season, Frankie feels isolated and unnerved, especially when she is out on the pier late one night and catches a glimpse of a woman who looks like Sophie. Is the pier really haunted, as they joked all those years ago? Could she really be seeing her friend’s ghost? And what actually happened to her best friend all those years ago?

Harrowing, electrifying, and thoroughly compelling, Local Girl Missing showcases once again bestselling author Claire Douglas’ extraordinary storytelling talent.


My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Claire Douglas and it definitely won't be my last. This book was so twisty and haunting - just how I like my psychological thrillers to be. I found myself completely mesmerized by this story - I was immediately drawn in and felt that it never really let up until the very end, an ending I definitely did not see coming!

I loved how this story was told - it alternates between the past, surrounding the time leading up to when Sophie goes missing, and the present when human remains have turned up that quite possibly may belong to Sophie. It is a chilling tale that pieces together just what happened leading up to that frightful night and as we meet all the players involved, you are taken on quite a ride.

I found myself constantly trying to guess who was behind what happened to Sophie and questioning everyone we meet in this book. The characters are so richly drawn, yet their motivations are quite questionable and I loved this. I didn't know who was to be trusted and as pieces and clues are revealed, everything becomes more and more suspect. On top of this, the setting contributes so much to the story - it is atmospheric and creepy, adding another element to an already tense and chilling situation. 

This book really kept me on my toes the entire time and the few twists and turns just added the right amount of suspense to heighten my enjoyment. I can't wait to read more from this talented author...she surely know how to spin a tale!


Audio thoughts: I thought this was a great book to listen to and while I was unfamiliar with Hannah Murray prior to listening to this audio book, I have listened to Emilia Fox before. I thought both narrators did a great job with the parts they portrayed in this audio book - their pacing and intonations were good and they infused just the right amount of tension and suspense into their voices as needed. I enjoyed listening to this audio book. 


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Monday, February 19, 2018

#WRC2018 Book Spotlight: Things to Do When It's Raining by Marissa Stapley


Title: Things to Do When It's Raining
Author: Marissa Stapley
Published: February 2018, Graydon House
Format: Paperback, 384 pages

Summary:
Two families, three generations and a lie that almost destroys them. Is their love strong enough to heal old wounds?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers' Inn, perched at the edge of the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae's grandparents, Lilly and George. Their childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love--a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe's unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak and started a life for herself in New York City. After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers' Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline with their past unraveling around her. A lifetime of secrets stands in the way of this unconventional family's happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.
 



What readers are saying: 

"I enjoyed THINGS TO DO WHEN IT'S RAINING enormously. A lovely book full of emotion and wisdom." - Marian Keyes, bestselling author of The Break "A charming tale with an enchanting setting, Stapley's latest (after Mating for Life, 2014) is an engaging read about keeping secrets, starting over, and loving the family you choose."-Booklist

"Fans of Nicholas Sparks will adore Things to Do When It's Raining... Marissa Stapley's writing is a gift." -Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan's Tale "Emotionally powerful and finely wrought."--Publishers Weekly

"THINGS TO DO WHEN IT'S RAINING has heart and soul and guts, and it has achingly beautiful prose and characters so dear and real I couldn't bear to say goodbye when I reached its final page. It's a book about friendship and secrets, grief and regret, the peculiar shape of families and the redemptive nature of love. And it is, quite frankly, one of the best books I have read in a very long time." -Jennifer Robson, internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over

"Profound and intimate, raw and real-Things to Do When It's Raining is hard to put down. Loved the ending but hated to have it end!" -Nan Rossiter, New York Times bestselling author of Firefly Summer

"Regrets, secrets, and hidden longings swirl beneath the surface of this beautifully atmospheric story of love found, lost, and rediscovered. I couldn't stop reading."--Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach at Painter's Cove


"Written with compassion and insight, Things to Do When It's Raining is a truly captivating novel with exquisite prose and moments of bittersweet tenderness." -Nicola Moriarty, author of The Fifth Letter

"Marissa Stapley's THINGS TO DO WHEN IT'S RAINING packs a serious punch. It's a tightly-woven story that beautifully illustrates how tragedy and human weakness can cause heartbreaking ripples for years and generations to come." -K.A. Tucker, USA TODAY Bestselling Author of He Will Be My Ruin

"Things to Do When It's Raining is the complex and moving saga of a non-traditional family with deep bonds and even deeper secrets. Set against the idyllic background of a far-flung seaside town, the finely-drawn characters of this novel test the limits of friendship, love, and forgiveness. A story that lingers long after the final page is turned."  --Andrea Dunlop, author of Losing the Light

"A generous book about imperfect people, a novel about the family we choose, the mistakes we make, and how love, flawed and searching and messy, is the only path to forgiveness.  It's also a gorgeously written page-turner, and when I finished it, I flipped right back to page one to savor it just a little bit more." --Lauren Fox, author of Days of Awe

"Marissa Stapley's THINGS TO DO WHEN IT'S RAINING is evocative, wise and infused with heart. A deeply moving story about family, love and loss, it shows how secrets can either haunt us or set us free, depending on who we trust them with. One of my favorite books this year!" – Karma Brown, bestselling author of Come Away With Me
  


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Things to Do When It's Raining  by Marissa Stapley is one of  BookSparks "Winter Reads" reading selection picks.  

 Follow the #WRC2018 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other winter books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #WRC2018  and other fun links.
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