Always With a Book

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir


Title: The Legacy
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Series: Children's House, #1
Published: January 2019, Minotaur Books (1st Published 2014 in Iceland)
Format: Paperback, 480 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
The first in a stunning new series from the author of The Silence of the Sea, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.
The Legacy is the first installment in a fantastic new series featuring the psychologist Freyja and the police officer Huldar.

The only person who might have the answers to a baffling murder case is the victim's seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she's not talking.

Newly-promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja for her expertise with traumatized young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn't best pleased. But she's determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues, but can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?




My thoughts: While this is the first book I've read by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and the first book in her newest series, Children's House, she is by no means a new author to me. I had the pleasure of meeting her a few years back when she came over to the states for an event and while I did purchase one of her books from her other series, I just haven't had the chance to read it yet. But after devouring this one, I definitely am going to be moving that other series up in priority...after I read the next book in this new series!

I cannot believe how consumed I was with this book, especially given how dark and disturbing it is, but the writing just pulled me in right from the beginning. The book comes in at just under 500 pages, yet I flew through the pages, finding that I needed to know how all these threads that Yrsa had given us were not only connected but were going to play out in the end.

The book starts in 1987 with three young children having to be separated after an unspeakable event happens to their mother. Not being able to find a family to take all three children in, they go off to three different families. Fast forward to 2015, and a set of gruesome murders start to occur. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. While there is no blood and gore, the way these murders are carried out - they are gruesome, shocking, and disturbing nonetheless and will be hard to forget once you read about them, so be forewarned. 

Fortunately, there was a witness to the first murder. The daughter of the murdered victim was hiding under the bed and has seen the murderer. She is brought to the Children's House for the necessary counseling and care. It's up to Freyja, the pyschologist in charge of the Children's House and Huldar, the lead detective on the case, to convince the young girl to open up about what she heard and saw that frightful night. 

This was such a great start to this series. I'm not sure if both Freyja and Huldar are going to be part of the series moving forward or just Freyja, but I loved the dynamics between the two of them. There was definitely tension between them due to a previous meeting and I would so love to see how this affects them moving forward. They were able to put this prior meeting aside for the sake of this case, but there are definitely unresolved issues there that I would love to see hashed out.

As far as the case goes, this was a chilling, haunting case that had me on the edge of my seat the further I got into the book. As much as I tried to figure out who was behind everything, I got nowhere and was completely gobsmacked at the reveal! I know that there is literally next to no crime in Iceland on the whole, so knowing this, I could appreciate the rationale behind the murderer's rage and wanting revenge when we finally get it - not that that is an excuse! 

This is such a layered, complex story and all the twists and turns it took really added to the building suspense that takes you on quite a ride. And the entire time, I was wondering how the prologue would tie in - and it's not til the end that it is revealed. This is such a binge-worthy, addicting read and I can't recommend it enough. I am quite eager to start the next book in this series, The Reckoning, which comes out next month, and hope that this series has a nice long run - I love long series! 


Books in this series:
  1. The Legacy
  2. The Reckoning - due out February 2019




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Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: The Guy Who Died Twice by Lisa Gardner


Title: The Guy Who Died Twice
Author: Lisa Gardner
Series: Detective D.D. Warren, #9.5
Published: January 2019, Dutton
Format: ARC E-copy, 72 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren confronts the strangest case of her career in this exclusive eBook short story by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

D. D. Warren was pretty sure she'd seen it all. Then a man walks into police headquarters, attempting desperately to convince the squad that he's dead. Explaining to him that he's very much alive, they finally send him on his way . . . and then hours later, he turns up actually dead. And it's on D. D. Warren to figure out how and why the dead man died . . . twice.

Plus: an early look at Gardner's next riveting thriller, Never Tell.




My thoughts: I am a huge fan of Lisa Gardner's Detective D.D. Warren series and so of course I am going to read any and all books she writes that are part of this...including the short stories. And what a fun, crazy short story this one turned out to be! 

I loved the way this one was structured - at night where she was decompressing after her crazy day, going over the case with her husband and then taking us back to the day itself, hour by hour. So we get to be there as D.D. is gathering facts and we get to hear her commentary after the fact as she rehashes the situation with her husband, but it's done side-by-side. It really was quite a clever way to structure the story, and allows you as the reader to try to put the clues together before the final reveal.

I'll tell you, this one definitely had me scratching my head as I wondered what really happened and I loved the sense of the closed room - or in this case, a closed house - feel we get from this book. And the author's note at the end is quite fascinating. Even though this really is quite a short story, coming in at under 100 pages, I found myself completely engaged and enjoyed every bit of it. This was the perfect little teaser for the upcoming new novel in this series - Never Tell, which comes out next month!


Books in this series: 
     1.  Alone                              
     2.  Hide                             
     3.  The Neighbor               
     4.  Live to Tell                               
     5.  Love You More
     5.5  The 7th Month
     6.  Catch Me
     7. Fear Nothing
     7.5  3 Truths & a Lie
     8.  Find Her
     9.  Look for Me   

     9.5  The Guy Who Died Twice
     10.  Never Tell - due out Feb 19

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

Earlier this week, Robyn Carr's latest novel, The Best of Us, was released, and because I ended up with an extra copy, I'm going to give that copy away - and it's a finished copy! This is the latest book in her Sullivan's Crossing series. I will be reading it soon and will be sure to share my review as soon as I do. You can see what others have to say and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!!!


Title: The Best of Us
Author: Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing, #4
Published: January 2019, MIRA
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages

Summary: 
In Sullivan’s Crossing, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr has created a place where good people, powerful emotions, great humor and a healthy dose of common sense are the key ingredients to a happy life. Sullivan’s Crossing brings out the best in people. It’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

Dr. Leigh Culver loves practicing medicine in Timberlake, Colorado. It is a much-needed change of pace from her stressful life in Chicago. The only drawback is she misses her aunt Helen, the woman who raised her. But it’s time that Leigh has her independence, and she hopes the beauty of the Colorado wilderness will entice her aunt to visit often.

Helen Culver is an independent woman who lovingly raised her sister’s orphaned child. Now, with Leigh grown, it’s time for her to live life for herself. The retired teacher has become a successful mystery writer who loves to travel and intends to never experience winter again.

When Helen visits Leigh, she is surprised to find her niece still needs her, especially when it comes to sorting out her love life. But the biggest surprise comes when Leigh takes Helen out to Sullivan’s Crossing and Helen finds herself falling for the place and one special person. Helen and Leigh will each have to decide if they can open themselves up to love neither expected to find and seize the opportunity to live their best lives.


What readers are saying:

"The Best of Us is a charming novel containing well-defined characters...the small town camaraderie, the colorful mountain locale, and straightforward prose highlight the down-to-earth players making this a fun and delightful tale." --New York Journal

"Two independent women will find love in the most unexpected places in this new novel from New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr." --PopSugar

"A warm bath in the dead of winter that will keep the reader feeling cozy and keep them smiling." --All About Romance



*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publicist, one reader will win a finished copy of  The Best of Us  by Robyn Carr. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by January 18th.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends January 18th.

Good Luck!!!   


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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review: Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford (audio)


Title: Secrets of Cavendon
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Series: Cavendon Hall, #4
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Published: November 2017, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 13 hours 10 minutes / 390 pages
Source: Audio - borrowed via Library / Print - Hardcover via GetRed PR

Summary: 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford, comes a striking, breathtaking saga featuring the aristocratic Inghams and the Swann family, who have loyally served them for generations.
 
It’s the summer of 1949, and things have run smoothly at Cavendon Hall for years, with very few quarrels, dramas, or upsets between the two families. But since the end of World War II, changes have arrived at Cavendon. A new generation is at the helm, and also at the forefront of new scandal and intrigue. With romance, betrayal, heartbreak, and possible murder threatening to tear them apart, the Inghams and Swanns will have to find a way to come together and protect each other in the face of threats they never could have predicted.

Told with Bradford’s inimitable deftness of prose and a beloved cast of characters, Secrets of Cavendon is a captivating novel that will draw readers in and grip them until the very last page.



My thoughts: This is the fourth book in Barbara Taylor Bradford's Cavendon Hall series and I am so glad that she wrote this one. I had thought that the series was originally going to be a trilogy, so I was quite surprised when this book showed up.

If there is one thing Barbara Taylor Bradford does well, it's family saga and this series is definitely a testament to that. I devoured the first three books in this series and even though it's been a while since I read them, picking this book up was like revisiting old friends. Barbara Taylor Bradford gives just enough back story to refresh your memory on what has happened in the previous books so that any lingering threads will make sense. And if you are new to the story, she fills in just enough without rehashing the whole series, though I do highly recommend reading the earlier books for a more richer reading experience.

This book is so aptly named because we learn so many of the family secrets - finally! With family sagas, you expect lots of family secrets, and this series has been riddled with them, but many have not been revealed until now. And the revelations of them are so telling. We learn the reasons for why characters behave the way they do, why they choose to live where they do and why some relations are strained. It gives us so many answers to questions that have been lingering book after book.

I also loved that once again a cameo appearance was put in by my all-time favorite Barbara Taylor Bradford character, Emma Hart, though not in person this time like it was in the previous book. Even though she is only mentioned in conversation, she is still mentioned and that still counts for me. But, more importantly is that BTB kept true to Emma Hart's character which I so appreciated. If you have read any of the Woman of Substance series, you know what a tremendous mentor Emma is for Cecily in business, so of course she would reach out to her when she needed a guiding hand. I loved that my favorite character in the Cavendon series connected with my favorite character in the Woman of Substance series. And in a natural way.

As much as I would love for the Cavendon books to continue, I feel that this one might truly be the last. It just had that final, wrap-up type of feel to it. Maybe I'm wrong (and I would so love to be!) but I don't think so. In the meantime, though, I am excited because Barbara Taylor Bradford has a brand new series out - House of Falconer, and I have the first book, Master of Fate. I will most likely listen to this as I did with the Cavendon series because it was so enjoyable on audio. And then I think I want to reread or maybe listen to the Woman of Substance series again...it's been years since I read that series. Have you read it?


Audio thoughts: This was a great audio to listen to and even though it was narrated by a different narrator than the previous three books, I still enjoyed the narration. I think Saskia Maarleveld did a great job with the voices and her pacing and intonation were spot on. I have listened to her before and know she does great work.


Books in this series:  

  1. Cavendon Hall
  2. The Cavendon Women
  3. The Cavendon Luck
  4. Secrets of Cavendon
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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Review: Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman


Title: Cover of Snow
Author: Jenny Milchman
Published: December 2013, Ballantine Books
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard. 

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.


My thoughts:  I have been a fan of Jenny Milchman's books since reading her second book, Ruin Falls. Since then, I have read all her books, but somehow never got around to reading her debut novel even though I've had it sitting on my shelf for some time now - and it's even signed by her from one of the many times I have seen her.

Jenny Milchman has such a way of using the environment in her stories - her sense of place definitely comes into play a lot in her books and it is always well done. She manages to create such sinister, creepy stories that are just dripping with tension and suspense. And this one is no exception. 

I loved how this story was told - mainly from Nora's point of view with occasional chapters told from other characters points of view. At first it takes some getting used to when it all the sudden jumps to another character's perspective, but it doesn't happen often and it does provide some telling details about the other characters that we otherwise wouldn't know. 

This book is filled with twists and turns and they begin right away, starting with Nora's husband's death. From there you are just pulled in and with so many compelling characters that you aren't quite sure about, it makes for such a great read. I wasn't sure who was trust-worthy, who was truly on Nora's side to get to the bottom of things, and the deeper she seemed to get into the investigation, the more someone wanted to shut her down! It certainly keeps you flipping those pages at a frantic pace, for sure.

Jenny Milchman is definitely a must-read author for me. I know when I pick up one of her books, I am going to get a great thriller that will keep me on the edge of my seat. I've now read all her books and will be anxiously awaiting her next book. Do you have an author (or a few) that you stalk until their latest release comes out? Because that is what I will be doing here with Jenny Milchman!





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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Review: The Light Over London by Julia Kelly


Title: The Light Over London
Author: Julia Kelly
Published: January 2019, Gallery Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
Reminiscent of Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, this sweeping, entrancing story is a must-read for fans of remarkable women rising to challenges they could never have predicted.

It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.

Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.

Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.



My thoughts: I picked this gem up at Book Expo last spring and I am so glad I did. One of my New Year's reading resolutions is to read a wider variety of books, including historical fiction, which I love but tend to not read as much. This book peaked my interest because it is set in London and part of the book is set during WWII. 

I love a good dual narrative and felt that this one really was well-done. The present day story, narrated by Cara, was just as engrossing as the past timeline, narrated by Louise. Both women it seems are trying to find themselves and a place where they belong. Cara is just coming off a divorce and still reeling a bit from the deaths of her parents. She works for an antiques dealer and comes across a diary belonging to a WWII "gunner girl." Louise, tired of living with her overbearing mother, decides to run off and enlist, where she eventually finds herself part of the "ack ack girls" unit. 

While I will say this book leaned a bit more towards the romance than the history, I did find the bits about the gunner girls to be quite fascinating. I had not heard about them before, so this was all new to me, and there is nothing I love more when reading historical fiction than picking up new tidbits of knowledge. 

I loved how the story was told, how we would be in Cara's section and it would end with her "reading" an entry or two from Louise's diary and then that would carry into Louise's section, where we would go a bit deeper. The use of the actual diary entries was a great way to hook the reader and keep you engaged. 

As much as I enjoyed the mystery that was part of this book, it really was the characters that kept me glued to the pages. I was completely invested in what was happening in their lives, wanting to know just how they were going to deal with all that had been thrown at them. And I loved that not everything ends up all sunshine. Life isn't like that and Julia Kelly gave us a more relatable, believable story by giving us just that.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will certainly be looking into more books about those gunner girls...my interest is totally peaked! If you are looking for a light read about WWII, I recommend picking this one up...it's a great read!!!


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Short & Sweet Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich (audio)


Title: Look Alive Twenty-Five
Author: Janet Evanovich
Series: Stephanie Plum, #25
Narrator: Lorelei King
Published: November 2018, Penguin Audio
Length: 6 hours 46 minutes
Source: Library

Summary:
Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times bestselling series.
There's nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manage, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

 
***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 think the only thing that keeps me coming back to this series is that I am determined to find out how it will end and who Stephanie will eventually end up with - Morelli or Ranger. These are the only two questions that are keeping me from walking away from this series...that and the fact that all I do when I listen to this series is laugh, which isn't such a bad thing.

This latest installment is filled with the usual array of antics that Stephanie and her sidekick Lula seem to find themselves involved in - once again Stephanie manages to lose a car and they end up getting chased by chickens. Of course, having Stephanie become the manager of a deli was an interesting concept - and with Lula working at the deli, making sandwiches she creates instead of what they ordered, I'm quite surprised the deli didn't shut down from complaints! 

I was a little disappointed that Grandma Mazur, my absolute favorite character in this series, was only in two scenes...and the last one being that crazy ending. And really, what is up with that ending...yes, it does set up for the next book, but is this the beginning of the end? Is that what is going on here? 

And let's just talk about this on-going love triangle. I have to say, the more I think about it, the more I am leaning towards being on #TeamRanger. I just don't see there being a future for #TeamMorelli. And if you take into account all that happened and didn't happen in this book, perhaps that is a clue? I don't know...but at some point, a decision has to be made.



Audio thoughts: Once again, Lorelei King brings her A-game to this audio production. She has really nailed down these characters, consistently using the same voices and personalities from book to book. She really gets the nuances of each character and brings each book to life, making it a fun experience to listen to. 



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