Always With a Book

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review: The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

Title: The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author: Hester Fox
Published: September 2019, Graydon House
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Maine, 1846. Gideon Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife's death, so he moves to Pale Harbor, Maine, where there is a vacancy for a new minister. Gideon and his late wife had always dreamed of building their own church, and Pale Harbor is the perfect opportunity.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town of Pale Harbor. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople know that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a widow who lives with a spinster maid in the decaying Castle Carver on the edge of town. Sophronia is a recluse, rumored to be a witch who killed her husband.

When Gideon meets her, he knows the charming, beautiful woman cannot be guilty of anything. Together, Gideon and Sophronia realize that the mysterious events have one thing in common: they all contain an element from the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And when the events escalate to murder, Gideon and Sophronia must find the real killer, before it's too late for them both.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Hester Fox and if this book is anything to judge by, it will certainly not be the last book I read by her! I was immediately captivated by the writing of this and know that I will be definitely picking up her other book, The Witch of Willow Hall, very soon.

I loved the gothic vibe of this book. Add in all the Poe references and it made for the perfect fall book, especially as it was set in a spooky harbor town! There are a few murders that take place and it seems our murderer has a bit of an Edgar Allen Poe obsession. Now, it's been a while since I've read any Poe, but I'm feeling like I might need to revisit some of his work soon!

This book has some really interesting characters, which helped to keep me engaged in the book - an accused witch, a new minister in town who preaches transcendentalism and a cast of others. I thought I had figured out who was behind everything rather early, but I was proven wrong, which made for an even better reveal once it was finally made.

This book oozes atmosphere. It is dark and mysterious and will appeal to fans of gothic mysteries. It is the perfect read to cozy up with on a fall night!


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

Title: The Stranger Inside
Author: Lisa Unger
Published: September 2019, Park Row
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Even good people are drawn to do evil things...

Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend's house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice--and killed him in cold blood.

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends' abductor force Rain to revisit memories she's worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can't Rain just let it go?

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them.

My thoughts: I have been a fan of Lisa Unger's books for quite some time now, having read many of her books, and I love that she still manages to surprise me with the depth of her writing. She writes such dark and intense books that are so addicting and this latest one is no exception.

Right from the start, I was pulled into this one. It's twisty and suspenseful and has you questioning everything that is happening. It also makes you think. This is a story of survival, but is also about justice. I loved the vigilante justice element to this story and it really makes you wonder just how often this happens in the real world. 

This is the type of story that you think you know what is going on, but you really don't. The twists are deftly played and just pull you in deeper and deeper. It really is a brilliantly crafted thriller that keeps you turning those pages to see just how things end up. 

I loved that we got to go into the minds of both the victim and the killer. Each point of view was so expertly crafted, at times chilling as through flashbacks, we are taken back to the incident that put everything in motion. This one definitely gets inside your head and you won't stop thinking about it until you reach that last page!

I loved this book. It's definitely a binge-worthy, dark read with a fantastic, twisted ending that I highly recommend.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier

Title: The Second Chance Supper Club
Author: Nicole Meier
Published: September 2019, Lake Union Publishing
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Source: Publisher via GetRed PR

Two estranged sisters reunite in an emotional novel of family, forgiveness, lost hope, and new beginnings.

They had a forever bond, until a sudden tragedy thrust them apart. Now, each at a crossroad in her own life, two sisters’ paths are about to intersect.

Broadcast journalist Julia Frank has it all: a career, an ambitious fiancé, and the hard-won respect of her peers. Until a ruinous decision destroys her reputation, puts her job at risk, and sends her reeling toward the only soul left to turn to: her estranged sister, Ginny.

The owner of a clandestine supper club hidden in the Arizona desert, Ginny Frank has a lot on her plate. The last thing she wants is more drama—or the burden of nursing her younger sister’s wounded ego. But family is family. Besides, Ginny can use the help in more ways than one, and she’s going to make sure Julia pulls her weight.

As a tenuous reunion reopens old wounds, Julia and Ginny have no choice but to confront the pain and betrayals of the past. Will working to keep the secret supper club running be just what they need to find common ground and a path toward forgiveness, or will the increasing stress push them even further apart?

My thoughts: Last year I read The Girl Made of Clay by Nicole Meier and really enjoyed it. And I knew after finishing that book that I would be reading more of this author. As much as I love my psychological thrillers and mysteries, sometimes it's nice to take a break from them and read something different and that's exactly what this is. This book delves into family relationships and forgiveness as well as new beginnings.

I love books about sisters and their relationships. Maybe it's because I have two sisters, but I always find these type of books to be so interesting. And I felt this book was really relatable, that the relationships that Nicole Meier gives us between Julia and Ginny was spot on. I've seen how death can tear sibling relationships apart, so I got that, but I loved that when something so terrible happens in your life, the one person you turn to is your sister. Once Julia headed out to Arizona, I liked that it took time for her and Ginny to repair their relationship, that it didn't happen overnight. 

I also loved the foodie aspect of this book. I'm just getting into cooking myself - my husband is the real cook in this house - so I love books that talk about cooking. And I was drooling over all the meals that Ginny was cooking up. But how cool is the idea of a secret supper club? Oh how I would love to attend one of them! 

This book was such a delight to read, full of heartwarming moments that will have you shedding a tear or two at times, laughing and possibly even wanting to start cooking yourself - or at the very least, it will leave you hungry! It's a great read for anyone who enjoys women's fiction.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Published: August 2019, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she's seen her fair share of them, and she's excellent at dealing with other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it's an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie's old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren't exactly thrilled to have a "lady" on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn't seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can't think about that. Because she doesn't fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don't date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping...but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she's worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center's Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

My thoughts: Katherine Center has been a favorite author of mine for a while. I had read quite a few of her earlier books and then I hadn't read anything by her for a while, until her most recent two releases...and for the life of me I can't figure out why I stopped reading her. She creates such real, relatable characters and is able to infuse humor into her stories at just the right time while still giving us little moments of truth.

I really enjoyed this story. I loved that we get a strong female character working in a non-traditional role. But she comes with a lot of baggage and this had forced her to put up walls that are going to require a lot to come down. And the biggest lesson she needs to learn is to forgive. Not only does she need to learn to forgive herself, but she also needs to be able to forgive others and I know this is something most people, myself included, struggle with.

This book gives so much food for thought, as most of Katherine Center's books do. The characters are instantly likeable and you will find yourself caring for and rooting for them. It makes you realize that being a little vulnerable now and again isn't such a bad thing. 

Katherine Center is definitely an author I know I can count on. Her books all have little bits of wisdom peppered throughout and leave you with food for thought along with a great story to get lost in and I can't recommend them enough! If you haven't picked this one up yet, I definitely encourage you to do so!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Cover Reveal: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I am so excited to help Kristy Woodsen Harvey spread the news today about her newest book - and share the cover!!! I have adored Kristy's previous books and I am so excited to read this one...Kristy writes from the heart and that definitely comes across in her writing! 

This book will be released April 28, 2020, but if you pre-order between now (September 13th) and September 20th, Kristy is donating 100% of the profits to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. See the pre-order links below.

Title: Feels Like Falling
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Published: April 2020, Gallery Books
Format: Paperback, 400 pages

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand) and the bestselling author of the Peachtree Bluff series comes an odd couple tale of friendship that asks just how much our past choices define our happiness.

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her evangelical husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a busted Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn, but when the one that got away comes back, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wittiest, and wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.


Short & Sweet Review: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson

Title: The 17th Suspect
Author: James Patterson
Series: Women's Murder Club, #17
Published: April 2018, Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover, 351 pages
Source: Personal copy

In this #1 NYT bestseller, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer puts her life on the line to protect San Francisco from a shrewd and unpredictable killer.
When a series of shootings exposes San Francisco to a mysterious killer, a reluctant woman decides to put her trust in Sergeant Lindsay Boxer. The confidential informant's tip leads Lindsay to a disturbing conclusion: something has gone horribly wrong inside the police department.

The hunt for the killer lures Lindsay out of her jurisdiction and impacts her in dangerous ways. She suffers unsettling medical symptoms, and her friends in the Women's Murder Club warn her against taking the crimes to heart. But with lives at stake, the detective can't help but follow the case into terrifying terrain.

A decorated officer, loving wife, devoted mother, and loyal friend, Lindsay has always acted with unwavering integrity. But now she is confronting a killer who is determined to undermine it all.

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I am slowly getting caught up in this series...I only have a few more and then I will be up-to-date! This is definitely one of my favorite of all the James Patterson series I read - more for the characters than anything else and I have no shame in admitting that!

In this installment, we have Lindsay and Yuki who take center stage, which is becoming more and more the case - that the books tend to focus on one or two of the women as opposed to giving all four of them equal time. But anyway, both Lindsay and Yuki become embroiled in cases that were actually quite interesting. Lindsay finds herself involved in a case  of the murders of homeless people, the only problem is that the case is outside her jurisdiction. Yuki finds herself heading up the prosecution of a woman accused of raping a male colleague at gunpoint. 

But it was more than the cases that kept me flipping the pages. It was what was going on in the characters' personal lives that kept me engaged. Both Lindsay and Yuki had issues that they were dealing with and while some were resolved during the book, some were left hanging and I can't wait to see how it play out in the next book. This is why I love reading become involved in the characters lives and they people you care about.

Books in this series:

1.   1st to Die                                    13.   Unlucky 13
     2.   2nd Chance                               14.   14th Deadly Sin
     3.   3rd Degree                                15.    15th Affair
     4.   4th of July                                 15.5   The Trial
     5.   The 5th Horseman                   16.    16th Seduction
     6.   The 6th Target                          16.5   The Medical Examiner
     7.   7th Heaven                                 17.    The 17th Suspect   
     8.   The 8th Confession                  18.   The 18th Abduction
     9.   The 9th Judgment               19.   The 19th Christmas - due out Oct 2019
    10.  10th Anniversary
    11.   11th Hour
    12.   12th of Never       

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Short & Sweet Review: Mind Game by Iris Johansen

Title: Mind Game
Author: Iris Johansen
Series: Eve Duncan, #22
Published: October 2017, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Library

With Iris Johansen’s trademark adventure, intrigue, and explosive energy, Mind Game is a propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down.

Scotland holds a treasure that Jane MacGuire has been hunting for years. But as she scours the Highlands in search of it, she’s plagued by dreams of a girl in danger—dreams she can’t ignore no matter how hard she tries. Who is this girl, and what is she trying to tell Jane? And will Jane figure it out before it’s too late—for her and the mysterious young woman?

Things are further complicated when Seth Caleb comes back into Jane’s life. Their history is volatile to say the least. This time Jane finds herself pulled unexpectedly into his world as she fights to save him. But Caleb isn’t the only person sweeping her up into startling developments. When Eve Duncan surprises Jane with news of her own, Jane comes face to face with stunning changes in the lives of those she loves most.

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: It's been a while since I picked up an Iris Johansen book, but it is a series that I do love and so I decided it was one I was going to make a priority to get caught up on..and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed this one, especially since it had so many familiar faces in it!

One of the things I love about this series is that no matter how long it's been since the last book, you quickly get right back into the fray with the characters. Once I started flipping the pages, I remembered everything I loved about them - it all came right back to me what was going on with them, like it had only been yesterday that I read the last book, not a few years ago! 

This book is primarily Jane's story and I'm not mad about that at all. I love her character and this one really explores her relationship with Seth Caleb.It was interesting to see them working together as they don't necessarily always get along. The use of unconventional tactics was used, which was quite interesting. And we got to meet Seth's sister, which is how Jane got wrapped up in working with Seth in the first place! We also get to the bottom of the whole mystery surround Cira's lost treasure, a story line that has been ongoing for quite a while. 

I am looking forward to continuing on with this series...especially since there were some major developments concerning Eve and Joe! And I loved that we got to see all my favorite characters gathered together in one spot...I do love these characters and can't wait to see what the next book holds for them!

Books in this series:

     1.   The Face of Deception               16.   Taking Eve
     2.   The Killing Game                       17.   Hunting Eve
     3.   The Search                                   18.   Silencing Eve
     4.   Body of Lies                                 19.   Shadow Play                           
     4.5   Dead Aim                                   20.   Hide Away
     5.   Blind Alley                                   21.   Night & Day
     6.   Countdown                                  22.   Mind Game
     7.   Stalemate                                     23.   Shattered Mirror
     8.   Quicksand                                    24.  Dark Tribute
     9.   Blood Game                             25.   Smokescreen
   10.   Eight Days to Live
    11.   Chasing the Night        

   12.   Eve
   13.   Quinn
   14.   Bonnie
   15.   Sleep No More
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