Monday, November 30, 2020

Review: Seven Crows by Kate Kessler


 
Title: Seven Crows
Author: Kate Kessler
Series: Killian Delaney, #1
Published: October 2019, Redhook
Format: Paperback, 357 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 

An ex-con tracks down the men who have kidnapped her niece in this gritty and visceral thriller.

Killian Delaney has a skewed moral compass, a high threshold for pain, and has just been released from prison to discover that someone has taken her niece.

Killian does not hesitate. Loyalty is the most important thing in her life, and when she gets a call from her sister saying that her daughter is missing, Killian immediately begins hunting down the men responsible.

She quickly discovers her niece was involved with a notorious biker gang who are engaged in everything from drugs to human trafficking. And to make it worse, the man who sent Killian to jail, the one she nearly beat to death, is at the center of it all.

To save her niece, she'll need a plan. A smart, quick, and efficient one. Because she's going to do it right this time. She'll burn them to the ground.




My thoughts: I was recently asked to read Kate Kessler's upcoming new release, Call of Vultures, which comes out December 1st. I was excited when the publisher offered to send me this book as well, which is the first of the Killian Delaney books...you know how I prefer reading series in order whenever possible.

This book starts off with a bang and never lets up and I loved the intensity of it. And Killian Delaney is one kick-a** main character that I know I am going to love reading about. She is an ex-con who is fiercely protective of those she loves and is so flawed and broken you can't help but love her all the more for it. I loved the way the story was mostly told in the present, but would flash back to the past every now and again to fill in Killian's backstory. It was such an effective way to help us get to know her better, without getting bogged down with too many details.

This story is fast-paced and is full of mystery, suspense and family drama all rolled into one. It's dark and gritty, but has heart at the same time and I could not get enough of it. It is filled with some of the best characters I've read in a long time - some really good guys and some really awful, bad guys that you wouldn't want to meet ever. I hope the good guys are ones we see again in future books.

There are some developments that happen regarding Killian personally that I will be curious to see how they play out in the next book. Secrets are revealed that were not meant to be and this has potential to stir things up. In addition, relationships are taken to new levels and of course that could be a good thing but it might not.

This is the type of book that totally consumes you because of both the nonstop action and the main character. I am excited to have found this book and am looking forward to reading the next book. Have you read this one yet?


Books in this series:

  1. Seven Crows
  2. Call of Vultures


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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Review: Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson

 


Title: Whiteout
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Series: Dark Iceland, #5
Published: January 2020, Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kalfshamarvik.

Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thor Arason discovers that the victim's mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier.
As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

Dark, chilling and complex, WHITEOUT is a haunting, stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland's bestselling crime writers.



My thoughts: This is the fifth book in Ragnar Jonasson's Dark Iceland series and I needed to read this one before the sixth and final book comes out next month. While these books are not really fast-paced, I find that I become completely consumed in the story that I end up reading them in a day or two.

This book is set a few days before Christmas and has Ari Thor partnering up with his old boss Tomas to get to the bottom of a death that turns more sinister by the minute. I loved that this installment had the ultimate locked-room style mystery to it and it really kept me on my toes as to how who was responsible for the death. Not only was there the death of the one woman that Ari Thor and Tomas were looking into, but also that of past deaths.

All the characters that we meet have their secrets and this makes them all suspicious. I had a hard time figuring out just who might have been the guilty one and was wavering back and forth, which I loved. I don't always like when I figure it out and I definitely did not this time around.

This book, as they all have been in this series, was completely atmospheric, which lends to a sense of foreboding. The isolated area, the lighthouse, the cliffs, the chilling landscape all add to the overall tension of the story. 

I cannot recommend this book and this series enough but I highly suggest reading the series in order so that you can fully appreciate the main characters and all that has happened with them.


Books in this series:

  1. Snowblind
  2. Nightblind
  3. Black Out
  4. Rupture
  5. White Out
  6. Winterkill - December 2020 (e-book) / March 2021 (Paperback)
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Blog Tour & Review: Bright Lies by A.A. Abbott


  

Title: Bright Lies
Author: A.A. Abbott
Published: November 2020, Perfect City Press
Format: ARC E-copy, 224 pages
Source: Publicist

Summary: 
She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?

Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. While Emily breaks free, she’s forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.

Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 - and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.

David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future...

What would you sacrifice for love?



My thoughts: This is the first time I've ever read anything by A.A. Abbott but if this book is anything to go by it won't be the last. This psychological thriller was intense and completely captivating and I found myself hooked right from the beginning.

This is a dark, twisted book that pulls you in and does not let up. It is real and gritty and all too relevant in today's world and while it may be too much for some people, it is compelling and engaging nonetheless. I found my emotions all over the place with this book. Emily and Jack easily grabbed my heart and while I didn't necessarily always agree with all their decisions, I did feel for them most of the time. 

This is the type of book that gets under your skin. It makes you uncomfortable reading it, yet you cannot walk away because you need to see how it will end. The short chapters, which I am always a fan of, will have you zipping through it, yet there are also times when you just have to put the book down to take a breather. This book is intense and it makes you angry at times. But I felt that the author handles everything in such a way that nothing was done for shock value and I appreciated that. 

This is certainly not a book for everyone, but if you like dark, disturbing reads that give you something to think about, pick this one up.




About the author: British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott (also known as Helen Blenkinsop) loves to escape with an exciting and emotional read, and that’s what she aims to write too. Based in Bristol, she’s also lived and worked in London and Birmingham. All three cities feature in her pacy suspense thrillers. Her latest psychological thriller, ‘Bright Lies’, begins in North Somerset with a posh art exhibition in Bath. Young Emily meets the man who will change her life and cause her to run away to a squat in Birmingham, work in a nightclub and get further entangled in a web of lies.

To write ‘Bright Lies’, Helen has had advice from thirty beta readers on subjects as varied as police procedure, drug abuse, grooming, art, music, DJing and clubbing. She’s grateful to them and to her editor, Katharine D’Souza, for making huge improvements to the story.

Helen’s earlier 5 book Trail series is a lighter read focused on a vodka business. Snow Mountain is a premium vodka made in the former Soviet Union, and its owners have blood on their hands. The saga follows the fortunes of two families running the business and what happens when they fall out with each other and with a London gangster. Glamorous heroine Kat is the girl readers love to hate at the beginning of the series, but by the last book, she has won them over. Book research for the series included prison life, hotel research and vodka. Helen especially enjoyed a tour and tasting with the helpful folk at the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.

Like 10% of us, many of Helen’s family are dyslexic. While she is not, she wants her books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. She publishes her thrillers in a Large Print dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. (You can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.) Audiobooks are definitely on the cards – watch this space!

Helen likes speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you're a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, she’d love to hear from you.

Helen is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers' Group, and Birmingham's New Street Authors.




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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Review: The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz (audio)


  

Title: The Girl Who Lived Twice
Author:David Lagercrantz
Series: Millennium, #6
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published: August 2019, Random House Audio
Length: 9 hours 54 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:
The sixth Lisbeth Salander story in the Millennium Series--the crime-fiction phenomenon that has sold more than 90 million copies worldwide.

Lisbeth Salander--the fierce, unstoppable girl with the dragon tattoo--has disappeared. She's sold her apartment in Stockholm. She's gone silent electronically. She's told no one where she is.

Mikael Blomkvist is trying to reach Lisbeth. He needs her help unraveling the identity of a man who died with Blomkvist's phone number in his pocket--a man who does not exist in any official records and whose garbled last words hinted at knowledge that would be dangerous to people in the highest echelons of government and industry.

Once again, Salander and Blomkvist will come to each other's aid, moving in tandem toward the truths they each seek. In the end, it will be Blomkvist--in a moment of unimaginable self-sacrifice--who will make it possible for Lisbeth to face the most important battle of her life, against her twin sister Camilla, and, finally, to put her past to rest.


 

My thoughts: This is the sixth and final book in the Millennium series and I am so sad to see it come to an end. This is the series that got me into Nordic Noir and I will be forever grateful to Stieg Larsson for that. And while I had my trepidations with continuing the series once a new author came on the scene, I am glad I did. Lisbeth Salandar will forever be one of my favorite characters!

I do have to say, this is not my favorite book in the series. I liked it, but I was just hoping for a bit more of Lisbeth and I feel we didn't get that. Yes, there was a very interesting storyline involving Lisbeth and her twin sister Camilla, but I feel there was a bit more time spent o the other storyline featuring the homeless guy that had Blomkvist's number in his pocket when he was found dead. 

Do I regret reading this one? No, not at all. But I cannot help but wonder had Larrson lived, what we would have been given for an ending to a series instead of this. And let's not forget, Larsson's original plan was for this series to have 9 or 10 books. I would have loved that!

It's a good book and I'm glad I read it, but in all honesty this is probably not one I would reread. I would definitely reread the first three in the series because those ones are fantastic and that is the reason I fell in love with this series in the first place! 



Audio thoughts: One of my favorites aspects of this series has been that Simon Vance has been the narrator for all the books, so even with the change in author, there has been consistency with the narration. That has helped. Simon Vance is phenomenal with these characters and the telling of this series and his consistency over the course of these books has been amazing!

 

Books in this series:

     1.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
              * book review
              * audio review 
     6. The Girl Who Lived Twice

 

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Review: Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti


 
Title: Girls of Brackenhill
Author: Kate Moretti
Published: November 2020, Thomas & Mercer
Format: ARC Paperback, 332 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
Haunted by her sister’s disappearance, a troubled woman becomes consumed by past secrets in this gripping thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year.

When Hannah Maloney’s aunt dies in a car accident, she returns to her family’s castle in the Catskills and the epicenter of a childhood trauma: her sister’s unsolved disappearance. It’s been seventeen years, and though desperate to start a new life with her fiancĂ©, Hannah is compelled to question the events of her last summer at Brackenhill.

When a human bone is found near the estate, Hannah is convinced it belongs to her long-lost sister. She launches her own investigation into that magical summer that ended in a nightmare. As strange happenings plague the castle, Hannah uncovers disturbing details about the past and startling realizations about her own repressed childhood memories.

Fueled by guilt over her sister’s vanishing, Hannah becomes obsessed with discovering what happened all those years ago, but by the time Hannah realizes some mysteries are best left buried, it’s too late to stop digging. Overwhelmed by what she has exposed, Hannah isn’t sure her new life can survive her old ghosts.



My thoughts:  I am such a fan of Kate Moretti's books! She can sure write a twisted, thrilling story that leaves you turning those pages, not sure where it is all heading as is clearly evidenced by this latest book.

I am always a fan of gothic novels and when you throw in deliciously twisted, well-developed characters that you aren't quite sure you can trust, I am all in. Add in a haunted house and a family fueled by secrets and I couldn't tear myself away. I loved how this whole book was narrated by our main character, Hannah - sometimes it's a nice change of pace to just have one narrator rather than multiple ones. 

This pacing of this story is just right and it is so atmospheric. The tension is so taut and there is a sense of creepiness to the book. Having the story move back and forth in time just amped up that tension as Hannah starts to remember what happened those summers  she spent at Brackenhill with her sister.

This book is thrilling and downright chilling at times, and the twists and turns keep you turning the pages until you reach the conclusion. While I did figure a few things out, I was still completely drawn in and needed to see how everything fit together. I definitely recommend picking this one up!


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Friday, November 27, 2020

Review: The First Shot by Liv Constantine (audio)


  

Title: The First Shot
Author: Liv Constantine
Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman
Published: November 2020, Audible Originals
Length: 2 hours 35 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:
In this gripping prequel to the blockbuster best seller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick The Last Mrs. Parrish, listeners will discover exactly how Amber Patterson transformed from small-town girl to master manipulator - after all, practice makes perfect.

Amber Patterson has many secrets. This much is clear when she sneaks out of her home in the dead of night and hitchhikes across state lines to meet up with a man she hasn’t seen or spoken to since high school graduation. So begins her desperate attempt to leave her old life behind, and she’ll use everything and everyone at her disposal, from social media stalking to the kindness of unsuspecting strangers, to get where she needs to go. It’s not long before she’s ready for the main event: armed with a new identity and a new purpose, she heads to Gunnison, Colorado, preparing herself to meet her future husband among the wealthy vacationers.

Even the smallest misstep could derail this carefully-laid plan, and in the end, can you even truly outrun your past? The First Shot is an absorbing, binge-able thriller that shows just how far some will go to build the lives they want.


 

My thoughts:  I am a huge fan of the writing duo, Liv Constantine, and The Last Mrs. Parrish is one of my all-time favorite books of theirs, so I was thrilled when I saw that they had written a prequel to that book. Amber Patterson is one of those characters that you love to hate and I was so excited to get more of her. I needed to see where she came from and how she become the person she was when we first met her in TLMP...and oh boy, this one sure doesn't disappoint. It may be short but it is well worth it!

This is only available on Audible right now so go grab it while you can...it's highly entertaining and if you have already read TLMP, you will get to see Amber in action before she sets her eyes on the Parrishes and if you haven't read TLMP, this is a great introduction to one crazy character and then you seriously need to pick up The Last Mrs. Parrish immediately!!!


Audio thoughts: This was such a great audio and Suzanne Elise Freeman, a new-to-me narrator did such a great job. She brought all the characters to life and her pacing and intonations were spot on. 


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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Review: The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo


 
Title: The Kingdom
Author: Jo Nesbo
Published: November 2020, Knopf
Format: Hardcover, 560 pages
Source: pages

Summary: 
Roy and Carl have spent their whole lives running from the darkness in their past, but when Carl finally returns to make peace with it, the two brothers are inexorably drawn into a reckoning with their own demons.

Roy has never left the quiet mountain town he grew up in, unlike his little brother Carl who couldn’t wait to get out and escape his troubled past. Just like everyone else in town, Roy believed Carl was gone for good. But Carl has big plans for his hometown. And when he returns with a mysterious new wife and a business opportunity that seems too good to be true, simmering tensions begin to surface and unexplained deaths in the town’s past come under new scrutiny. Soon powerful players set their sights on taking the brothers down by exposing their role in the town’s sordid history.

But Roy and Carl are survivors, and no strangers to violence. Roy has always protected his younger brother. As the body count rises, though, Roy’s loyalty to family is tested. And then Roy finds himself inextricably drawn to Carl’s wife, Shannon, an attraction that will have devastating consequences. Roy’s world is coming apart and soon there will be no turning back. He’ll be forced to choose between his own flesh and blood and a future he had never dared to believe possible.



My thoughts: Jo Nesbo is still a relatively newish author to me, as I have only read a few of his books so far. But of what I have read, I have really liked and I know he is one of those authors that I will continue to read.

This latest book is a stand-alone and I really enjoyed it. I find that his books, whether they are stand-alones or part of his Harry Hole series, are ones that are not meant to be rushed through, but rather to be read a little slower. This one in particular is so layered and there are so many secrets that are just waiting to be peeled back that you really need the time to digest what you are reading and I found myself flipping back to earlier sections just to remind myself of what had already been revealed.

This story is dark and it is disturbing at times and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. While it starts off a little slow, the pace definitely picks up and it becomes a book that you just cannot walk away from. There are more than a few secrets that are eventually exposed and play a central part to this book. As they come to light, you first think one way about them and then come to find out it was completely another way...that is what I love about Jo Nesbo's writing. It's so clever and cunning. 

This book, while still a crime novel, also delves into how far we will go for family and those we love. This dark family saga has psychological undertones that make for such a riveting, gripping read and the twists and turns really keep you on edge. Jo Nesbo really proves he is a master at his craft and I look forward to reading more from this uber-talented author.


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Review: My Darling by Amanda Robson


 
Title: My Darling
Author: Amanda Darling
Published: November 2020, HarperCollins
Format: ARC Paperback, 372 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
A new couple moves in next door.
And nothing will ever be the same again…

I watched you move in and thought we might be friends.

I saw you watching from the window – and knew I’d have to keep you away from my husband.

I started to trust you. Confide in you.

I started to mistrust you. Suspect you.

I was confused when I blacked out after an evening at your place. Was I really that drunk?

I came up with a plan. A plan to make you both pay . . .

Sexy and sinister – this book will keep you up all night . . .



 

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Amanda Robson and if all her books are as twisted and dark as this one, I will definitely be reading more by her. Holy cow did this one have me flipping the pages wondering where it was heading!

I love domestic thrillers and this one is one of those where the less you know going into it, the more enjoyable it will be. It is such a thrilling, addicting ride where once you start reading it, you are not going to be able to put it down! Every time I thought I had the slightest inclination as to what was going on, something new would happen and I finally gave up trying to guess and just went along for the ride. And what a crazy ride it was!

This is one of those books where you end up not being able to trust anyone and I absolutely love books like that. I find it makes for a much more compelling read because you start questioning every little thing. And as far as the characters go, while I didn't particularly love any of them, I found I was captivated by them all the same. I needed to see how this all played out. 

This book moves at such a great pace and the short chapters - some that are only a paragraph long - will have you flipping those pages like a sprinter. And all along the tension is building and you just cannot walk away - you need to know what is going to finally going to be the end result.

This book is crazy and filled with secrets and murder - what's not to like? It's totally binge-able and I always love books like that! I highly recommending picking this one up!



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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Review: Agent 355 by Marie Benedict (audio)


Title: Agent 355
Author: Marie Benedict
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Published: July 2020, Audible Original
Length: 2 hours 7 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:
From Marie Benedict, best-selling author of The Only Woman in the Room and Lady Clementine, comes a captivating work of historical fiction about a young female spy who may have changed the course of American History.

The tide is turning against the colonists in the Revolutionary War, and 18-year-old Elizabeth Morris cannot sit by idly. Quietly disdainful of her Tory parents, who drag her along to society events and welcome a British soldier into their home during their occupation of New York City, Elizabeth decides to take matters into her own hands. She realizes that, as a young woman, no one around her believes that she can comprehend the profound implications of being a nation at war - she is, effectively, invisible. And she can use this invisibility to her advantage. Her unique access to British society leads her to a role with General George Washington's own network of spies: the Culper Ring.

Based on true events, Agent 355 combines adventure, romance, and espionage to bring to life this little-known story of a hero who risked her life to fight for freedom against all odds.


 

My thoughts:  I have come to love Marie Benedict's work and applaud how she brings to life extraordinary women from the past who we have little to no knowledge of. This latest novella is just one such example. We don't know who the spy was that took down Benedict Arnold, but what Marie Benedict has done here is given us a fictionalized version of who she thinks it might have been. We may never know Agent 355's true identity, but we now know her story and her sacrifice.

I appreciated the story and all the research that Marie Benedict put into it, but I also appreciated the note from the author at the end. There is so much that is unknown in our history and I love Marie Benedict for helping to fill in just a little bit where she can.



Audio thoughts: Emily Rankin does a fantastic job narrating this audio. Her pacing and intonation are spot on and she brings the characters to life. She infused just the right amount of emotion into her voice as necessary. I really enjoyed listening to the short novella and found her narration to be perfection!


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Monday, November 23, 2020

Cover Reveal: Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams

I am so excited to help Beatriz William spread the news today about her newest book - and share the cover!!! I love reading historical fiction and Beatriz's previous books have been so good. I am so excited to read this one.

This book will be released June 1, 2021, but you can pre-order now. See the pre-order link below. 

 



 
Title: Our Woman in Moscow
Author: Beatriz Williams
Published: On Sale June 2021, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages

Summary: 
The New York Times bestselling author of Her Last Flight returns with a gripping and profoundly human story of Cold War espionage and family devotion that proves again why Elin Hilderbrand says Beatriz Williams “is writing the best historical fiction out there.”

In the autumn of 1948, Iris Digby vanishes from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children. The world is shocked by the family’s sensational disappearance. Were they eliminated by the Soviet intelligence service? Or have the Digbys defected to Moscow with a trove of the West’s most vital secrets?

Four years later, Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from the twin sister she hasn’t seen since their catastrophic parting in Rome in the summer of 1940, as war engulfed the continent and Iris fell desperately in love with an enigmatic United States Embassy official named Sasha Digby. Within days, Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of counterintelligence agent Sumner Fox in a precarious plot to extract the Digbys from behind the Iron Curtain.

But the complex truth behind Iris’s marriage defies Ruth’s understanding, and as the sisters race toward safety, a dogged Soviet agent forces them to make a heartbreaking choice between two irreconcilable loyalties.




About the author: Beatriz Williams is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Golden Hour, The Summer Wives, A Hundred Summers, and The Wicked Redhead. A native of Seattle, she graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA in finance from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

 
Author links:  Website | Facebook  | Twitter  | Instagram

 
 
Preorder  OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW now:
 


 

OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW
by Beatriz Williams
William Morrow
June 1, 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0063020788
eBook ISBN: B08H25CQPL

 

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Review: The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb


 
Title: The Haunting of Brynn Wilder
Author: Wendy Webb
Published: November 2020, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
After a devastating loss, Brynn Wilder escapes to Wharton, a tourist town on Lake Superior, to reset. Checking into a quaint boardinghouse for the summer, she hopes to put her life into perspective. In her fellow lodgers, she finds a friendly company of strangers: the frail Alice, cared for by a married couple with a heartbreaking story of their own; LuAnn, the eccentric and lovable owner of the inn; and Dominic, an unsettlingly handsome man inked from head to toe in mesmerizing tattoos.

But in this inviting refuge, where a century of souls has passed, a mystery begins to swirl. Alice knows things about Brynn, about all of them, that she shouldn’t. Bad dreams and night whispers lure Brynn to a shuttered room at the end of the hall, a room still heavy with a recent death. And now she’s become irresistibly drawn to Dominic—even in the shadow of rumors that wherever he goes, suspicious death follows.

In this chilling season of love, transformation, and fear, something is calling for Brynn. To settle her past, she may have no choice but to answer.



My thoughts: I have really become a fan of Wendy Webb's Gothic ghost stories and this latest one is just so good. I was completely mesmerized by this story - once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down.

I was completely captivated by the story and found myself completely immersed in it. While it is a little slow to start, it totally kept me engaged and I loved that it ended up being more emotional than I expected it to be. It deals with grief and lucid dreaming, which I found to be so fascinating and loved how the author incorporated into the story. The mix of charming, quirky characters really makes this book come to life and the mix of themes - not only the grief, but also the Alzheimer's story line and the romance - really help propel the story line to the ultimate ending, an ending I was not expecting but loved all the same.

I had no idea where this story was heading and I absolutely loved where it ended. It has that supernatural element that gives this book that slight edge and while I normally don't read a lot of books in that genre, it just works here. This one tugs at every heartstring and I was all for it.

I love Wendy Webbs books and while this is slightly different from her usual books, it was still just as enjoyable. It's atmospheric and mesmerizing and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!


 

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Review: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz (audio)

 

Title: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye
Author: David Lagercrantz
Series: Millennium, #5
Narrator: Simon Vance
Published: September 2017, Random House Audio
Length: 10 hours 50 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:
From the author of the #1 international best seller The Girl in the Spider's Web: the new book in the Millennium series, which began with Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander - the girl with the dragon tattoo, the brilliant hacker, the obstinate outsider, the volatile seeker of justice for herself and others - has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And nothing will stop her - not the anti-Muslim gang she enrages by rescuing a young woman from their brutality; not the deadly reach from inside the Russian mafia of her long-lost twin sister, Camilla; and not the people who will do anything to keep buried knowledge of a sinister pseudo-scientific experiment known only as The Registry. Once again, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, together, are the fierce heart of a thrilling full-tilt novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this very moment.

 

My thoughts:  As I was getting ready to finally pick up the last book of this series, I realized I had never written my review of this book, book 5. Luckily I had written some notes, so it actually worked to my benefit to have to write this now, because it gives me a little refresher on where we left things with Lisbeth and Mikael before heading into the final book of this amazing series.

I love this series. I am so glad that I decided to continue on despite the change in author. Yes, I was devastated when Stieg Larsson died and I do think things would have been different had he been able to continue on with the series, but unfortunately that is not the case here. I think David Lagercrantz has done a great job with the two books he has written so far, really coming into his own in this latest one and I can't wait to see how he handles the final book. 

This book picks up a few months after the previous book. I highly recommend reading this series in order as so much of what happens really hinges on what has come before. Yes, the author does a good job filling the reader in with a bit of backstory, but to really get the full picture and understand all the is going on, I think you would be better off reading the series from the start. But that's just my opinion.

The book starts out with Lisbeth serving her sentence in jail where she meets a young Pakastani girl who is being targeted by the jail bully. Lisbeth being Lisbeth not only takes care of the bully, but gets her lawyer to look into the Pakastani girl's case.

The other part of the story revolves around the case of identical twin brothers. I have to say, this was a disturbing story line - the experimental twin studies that had been happening. But, this is where we delve into Lisbeth's past and her history as a twin and I found this so fascinating. I have wanted to know more about her and why she is the way she is since the start of this series and I am so glad we have finally gotten some of those answers.

This was such a great installment and I am looking forward to the next installment...I can't wait to see how it all wraps up - but at the same time I am a little sad that it will be the final book!



Audio thoughts: One of my favorites aspects of this series has been that Simon Vance has been the narrator for all the books, so even with the change in author, there has been consistency with the narration. That has helped. Simon Vance is phenomenal with these characters and the telling of this series and his consistency over the course of these books has been amazing!


Books in this series:

     1.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
              * book review
              * audio review 
     5. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye
     6. The Girl Who Lived Twice

 

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Review: Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini (audio)

 

Title: Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Published: June 2020, Harper Audio / William Morrow
Length: 12 hours 24 minutes / 336 pages
Source: Audio via library / Print via Publisher

Summary:
The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns to her most famous heroine, Mary Todd Lincoln, in this compelling story of love, loss, and sisterhood rich with history and suspense.

In May 1875, Elizabeth Todd Edwards reels from news that her younger sister Mary, former First Lady and widow of President Abraham Lincoln, has attempted suicide. 

Mary’s shocking act followed legal proceedings arranged by her eldest and only surviving son that declared her legally insane. Although they have long been estranged, Elizabeth knows Mary’s tenuous mental health has deteriorated through decades of trauma and loss. Yet is her suicide attempt truly the impulse of a deranged mind, or the desperate act of a sane woman terrified to be committed to an asylum? And—if her sisters can put past grievances aside—is their love powerful enough to save her? 

Maternal Elizabeth, peacemaker Frances, envious Ann, and much adored Emilie had always turned to one another in times of joy and heartache, first as children, and later as young wives and mothers. But when Civil War erupted, the conflict that divided a nation shattered their family. The Todd sisters’s fates were bound to their husbands’ choices as some joined the Lincoln administration, others the Confederate Army.

Now, though discord and tragedy have strained their bonds, Elizabeth knows they must come together as sisters to help Mary in her most desperate hour.


 

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a little bit fascinated with Mary Todd Lincoln and have turned to Jennifer Chiaverini and her books on her. I absolutely loved the first book she wrote on her, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, and have looked forward to each and every book since. This latest one was just as fascinating as I expected it to be and I find I learn just a little more about this truly remarkable woman with each book.

I loved how this book explores Mary Todd Lincoln's early life with her sisters as well as the time after her husband has died and she has attempted suicide. Her son, Robert, feeling as if he has no other choice, has declared her legally insane and has her committed. But is she really? She has been estranged from her sisters for some time now, but once they hear the news, they feel they must do something.

This book is narrated by the sisters and I loved getting to know about Mary's family this way. In all the other books I've read about her, I don't recall reading about her early life, so this was such a fascinating read in that aspect. Her mother died when she was quite young and she and her stepmother did not really see eye to eye, so much so that she was sent to boarding school. How much of who she was to become and how she ended up being was shaped by all that I wonder?

There is no doubt in my mind that Mary Todd Lincoln had a difficult life. But was she truly insane? I don't know. She certainly could be manipulate for sure, but she was an inquisitive person who knew what she wanted and often got it. 

This book is such an interesting look into her life and I loved how easy it was to read. Jennifer Chiaverini puts so much research into her writing and I just soaked it all up. I have one more book of hers to read that has been sitting on my shelf for some time and I am definitely going to be putting it on top of my list - Mrs. Lincoln's Rival. I can't recommend her books enough!



Audio thoughts: This was such a great audio and I found myself completely captivated from start to finish. Cassandra Campbell brought her A-game when narrating this, giving each sister their own unique voice and really bringing this audio book to life. Her pacing and intonation were spot on and I really enjoyed listening to it.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review: First Girl Gone by L.T. Vargus, Tim McBain


 
Title: First Girl Gone
Author: L.T. Vargus, Tim McBain
Series: Charlotte Winters, #1
Published: September 2020, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 429 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
Down the beach, she can just make out the rusting hulk of the Ferris wheel through the dawn mist. The hairs prickle on her neck as she drags her focus back to the chestnut hair fanned out in the shallow water at her feet. To the grains of sand decorating the beautiful girl’s white cheeks like freckles.

Private Detective Charlie Winters never thought she’d find herself back on Salem Island, but she’s forced home re-open the wound that never healed: her sister was abducted from the small town when they were teenagers.

For Charlie, her sister’s voice in her head—pushing her to risk everything to seek justice for the innocent—is a painful and constant reminder of what she lost. And never has that voice been louder than when a family friend comes to Charlie begging for help to find her missing daughter, Kara.

Searching Kara’s messy, poster-covered bedroom, Charlie finds more questions than answers. Did Kara run away, or was she snatched? She’s clearly been keeping secrets from her family—but don’t all teenagers?

A little black matchbook hidden in a jewellery box is Charlie’s only lead, but the seedy nightclub it comes from proves to be nothing but a dangerous dead end. Until Charlie is approached by a second distraught mother whose daughter has also vanished.

Forced at every turn to relive the trauma she ran away from, Charlie’s blood runs cold when a girl’s body is discovered in the exact spot on the water’s edge where the last trace of her sister was found. It’s clear someone is taunting Charlie, but with other innocent girls’ lives at risk, she has no choice but to take the bait…



My thoughts: This is the first book in L.T. Vargus and Tim McBain's new series and I am all in! I love crime thriller series and I think this one is going to be a new favorite.

This was one fast-paced, suspense-filled read that kept me flipping the pages from start to finish. It is filled with an array of interesting characters that kept me intrigued and so many twists and turns that it was hard to put any solid guesses together. My favorite aspect of this book, however, was the voice that Charlie hears in her head throughout the book...I loved this unique part of the story and found it to be at times humorous as well as quite telling. 

As far as intros to series, I think this was a great set-up and I am looking forward to really getting to know more about Charlie. She's a strong, independent female character but she is a flawed character and I loved those types of characters. As someone who loved series, I am excited for the authors to dig into her backstory as the series progresses. This case she is working on, that of the missing girls is tough for her because it forces her to relive the disappearance of her sister, a case that has never been solved. I really felt for her and can see that this is what drives her. Will her sister's case ever be solved?

I will for sure be continuing on with this series and already have the next book sitting in my kindle just waiting to be read. This was my first time reading this author duo and I loved their writing style. I can't wait to see what awaits Charlie Winters!


Books in this series:

  1. First Girl Gone
  2. Girl Under Water - due out December 2020


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