Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Newest Hebridean Thriller A Compelling Page Turner

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Ruairidh Macfarlane proposes investing in a small, Hebridean tweed company, his wife balks.  Niamh has business and marketing experience, but still, sinking their life's savings into her husband's dream seems more than a little risky.  Still, the duo manage to make a successful go of it.  When their unique version of Harris tweed catches the attention of some bigwigs in the fashion industry, it seems like everything's finally coming up roses.

Although the business is taking off, Niamh's relationship with her childhood friend turned husband, has gotten a bit rocky.  While on an important business trip in Paris, she accuses Ruairidh of having an affair with Irina Vetrov, a married fashion designer.  Furious, he stomps out of their hotel room.  Moments later, Niamh spies him climbing into Irina's car.  Minutes after that, the vehicle explodes, killing Ruairdh and Irina instantly.  A shocked Niamh soon finds herself the prime suspect in her husband's murder.  Even when she's released and allowed to return to Scotland, she's hounded by police and regarded with suspicion.

While Niamh grapples to come to terms with her husband's violent death, she also searches for answers.  The more she discovers, the more she begins to suspect that the reason for Ruairdh's murder has more to do with local politics than international ones.  When someone makes an attempt on her life, she knows the killer isn't satisfied yet ...

I'm a big fan of Peter May's thrillers, especially those that take place in the moody, broody Hebrides.  May has a keen way of making the locale come alive for me in all its stark, striking glory.  His newest, I'll Keep You Safe, is set mostly off-island, which might explain why I didn't love it as much as some of his others.  Like a true Hebridean, I'm leery of outlanders and prefer an all-local cast.  This novel also seems more graphic to me.  May uses a different format for this novel, which provides an interesting contrast.  Still and all, I'll Keep You Safe remains a tense page turner that kept me riveted from start to finish.  I saw the killer coming, but a couple of the story's twists did catch me by surprise.  So, while this isn't my favorite of May's, I'll still read anything of his, especially if it's set in the always-fascinating Hebrides.

(Readalikes:  Other Hebridean thrillers by Peter May; also books by Ann Cleeves)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, depictions of illegal drug use, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of I'll Keep You Safe from the generous folks at Quercus.  Thank you!

  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

TTT: Re-Reads for Non Re-Readers


It's been a little while since I did a Top Ten Tuesday and, honestly, I almost skipped this week because of the topic—Top Ten Books I Could Re-Read Forever.  Thing is, I'm not much of a re-reader.  I have a sky-high stack of new reads that I want to get to, so going back to something I've already read seems like a waste of time.  Once I got to thinking about it, though, I realized I do have a few favorites that I don't mind re-reading from time to time.  I'll get to that in a sec.

First, though, I want to encourage you to join in the TTT fun.  It really is a good time and a great way to explore the wondrous book blogging world.  If you want to discover new blogs to enjoy, add a ton of great recommendations to your TBR pile, or just drop in on old friends, TTT is the meme for you.  All you have to do is click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few instructions, then make your own list, and start visiting others.  

Okay, here we go with my list of the Top Ten Books I Could Re-Read Forever:


1.  The whole Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling—Who wouldn't want to re-visit Hogwarts over and over again?  I love the characters, the world, the stories, everything.  If I was stuck on a deserted island, I'd want the box set to keep me entertained.


2.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—This is my favorite book of all time and one I could definitely re-read forever without tiring of it.


3.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery—Despite the fact that this novel is about 90% lengthy, flowery description, I love it so much that I could read it a million times over.  


4.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott—Ditto for this novel.  I love it more with every re-read.


5.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault—Because all my children have adored this book, it's probably the one I've re-read most in my life.  With its fun, upbeat rhythm it's a popular readaloud that my kids requested for bedtime stories over and over and over.  I have it memorized and so does my 9-year-old.  We don't even need to look at the book to re-read it!


6.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens—I re-read this holiday classic every December to put me in the Christmas spirit.   


7.  Are You Grumpy, Santa? by Gregg and Evan Spiridellis—This is another fun readaloud that my kids love.  I'm a pretty big fan, too, since I totally relate to Santa's plight!


8.  The Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny—So, I haven't actually finished this series yet, but that's because I'm taking it slow and really savoring it.  I can definitely see myself re-reading it in the future.  Even though it's a mystery series, it's really more about the characters at its core, which means that you can enjoy it again and again even if you already know "whodunit." 



9.  The Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer—As with #8, I'm still reading this series for the first time.  The author died recently, so once again I'm taking my time with these books knowing they will be the only ones Meyer will ever write.  They're so funny and delightful, though, that I can definitely see myself re-reading the whole series in future.



10.  The scriptures (Holy Bible; The Book of Mormon; The Doctrine and Covenants; etc.)—On a more serious note,  I have to include the scriptures.  Not because these volumes are riveting page turners, but because they give me great insight and inspiration.  No matter how many times I read them, I find new gems every time I delve inside.  It will take eternal re-readings for me to even begin to understand them! 

What do you think of my list?  What's on yours?  I'd love to know, so please leave me a comment on this post with a link to your blog/list.  I will gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Civil War Novel an Ode to Strength and Spirit of Women Warriors

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With constant talk of the war, it's no surprise that the boys of Flat Creek, New York, are eager to join up.  Rosetta knows it's only a matter of time before Jeremiah Wakefield, the boy she's always loved, enlists. She  can't stand the thought of her beloved in harm's way, even if the money he'll earn will get them a whole lot closer to their shared dream of marrying and buying a farm of their own.  Even though they wed before Jeremiah leaves, Rosetta is still plagued by anxiety and worry.  She can't sit at home idling her days away, so she disguises herself as a boy and secretly follows her husband into battle.

Jeremiah isn't exactly thrilled when he discovers what Rosetta's done, but she's determined to see it through.  With both of them earning a soldier's pay, they can buy their farm even faster.  If both of them survive the war, which grows increasingly more desperate and bloody by the second.  As Rosetta works to prove herself as capable as any other soldier, she'll have to face the greatest dangers and struggles of her life.  With comrades dying all around her, Rosetta fears she'll never make it home alive.  Will Jeremiah and the other Flat Creek boys ever return to their farms and families?  What of the glittering dream that's driving Rosetta on?  Will it come to pass?  Or will everything—and everyone—she loves become just another casualty of war?  

Inspired by the hundreds of real women who served in the Civil War in various capacities, I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe honors the strength and spirit of female warriors who fought for the right to battle alongside their husbands, sons, and countrymen.  And held their own.  Rosetta embodies everything admirable about those real-life women—she's brave, loyal, compassionate, and tough.  Her story is an intriguing one, with lots of tension and adventure to keep the reader turning pages.  For me, the most fascinating part of a historical novel is often the Author's Note at the end which talks about the real stories behind the fiction and this one was no exception.  I had no idea how many women served in the war—I'm definitely planning to read more about these real-life heroines (starting with the reading suggestions McCabe offers on her website

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of I Shall Be Near to You from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Bookish Cozy Warm and Fun

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Despite her obsession with British mystery novels, 46-year-old Karen Nash has never actually crossed the pond.  That's why the Minnesota librarian is so thrilled about her upcoming trip to London.  Six months in the making, the vacation will be the fulfillment of all her bluestocking dreams.  Karen's boyfriend ("the love of my midlife" [9]), a 50-year-old plumber named Dave, doesn't share her enthusiasm, but after a week in a quaint British B&B, she's pretty sure he'll come around.  

When Dave calls at the last minute to cancel not just their trip but also their entire relationship, Karen is devastated.  Deciding that the best revenge will be to have a good time in London without him, she scrapes up enough cash to purchase her own ticket.  When she spies Dave at the airport with a pretty, young blonde on his arm, she becomes even more infuriated.  She feels mad enough to kill the jerk, but when she spills her drunken guts to a stranger in a pub, he appears to take her pronouncement seriously.  Has Karen just sicced an assassin on her ex-boyfriend and his new fling?  

While Karen tries to warn Dave, a wealthy flower breeder is murdered at the B&B where she's staying.  On the verge of creating a blue rose, Howard Worth had plenty of enemies.  Who actually did the dirty deed?  With a nose for sleuthing, Karen—the self-proclaimed "master of the mystery section" (5)—is determined to find his killer.  In the process, she'll soak in British culture, find drool-worthy books to add to her collection, and fall in love with both England and a kindly bibliophile who may also be a murderer.

Killer Librarian, a debut novel by Mary Lou Kirwin (a pen name of Mary Logue) and the first in a series, is a fun bookish cozy.  Anyone who loves mystery novels will enjoy hanging out with Karen, who throws out reading recommendations right and left.  The situation in which she finds herself gets sillier as the story progresses and the mystery she's trying to solve really isn't that mysterious.  There is one twist in the tale that caught me completely off-guard, mostly because it seemed completely unnecessary.  Other than that, Killer Librarian is a fairly typical cozy—it's warm, it's fun, it's far-fetched, it's enjoyable.  The bookish theme is my favorite part of this series; because of that, I'll keep reading it.  

(Readalikes:  Death Overdue by Mary Lou Kirwin)  

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Killer Librarian from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Madcap Middle Grade Adventure a Fun, Zany Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the ruler of the Kingdom of Camellia, the 22-year-old emperor has been so spoiled that he's become an insufferable egomaniac.  Watching from the Great Beyond, his meddling ancestors decide it's high time their ungrateful descendant learns a lesson in humility.  Using their otherworldly powers, they plop him in the countryside alone except for an 8-foot tall ostrich.  

While attempting to make his way back to Lotus City, the helpless emperor crosses paths with Begonia, a young dairymaid in search of her lost cow.  She's accompanied by Key, a romantic lad who's seeking his fortune away from the overcrowded home in which he feels invisible.  When two of their party make an unlikely love connection, all of them are sent on a wild, madcap adventure that will have them crisscrossing the kingdom, chasing twitterpated animals, encountering strange folk, and rescuing a forlorn emperor who cares only about himself.  Along the way, they will all learn some valuable lessons about friendship, family, and working together to save the day (also, an ostrich).
  
Because of stunning novels like All the Truth That's In Me and The Passion of Dolssa, I've become a big fan of Julie Berry.  She's a talented writer who's not afraid to take risks.  I love that about her, even if her newest—The Emperor's Ostrich—is a risk that didn't work all that well for me.  Although I enjoyed it overall, the story did seem overly long and it got confusing in places.  Despite a few dull spots, though, it's a fun, zany adventure that will appeal to kids who like fairy tales (which I never was, which probably explains why I didn't like this one as much as Berry's others).  With a strong female lead who's brave and independent but also a team player, the tale offers a refreshing spin on a conventional genre that should delight girls who prefer to rescue themselves rather than wait around for Prince Charming to do it for them.  Even though The Emperor's Ostrich is not my favorite Berry novel, I still think it's worth the read for fairy-tale lovers who like quirky adventure stories infused with magic and mayhem.  

(Readalikes:  This tale is supposed to be Berry's nod to Lloyd Alexander, an author whom I've never read.  Presumably, it's similar to his novels?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Emperor's Ostrich from the generous folks at Macmillan.  Thank you!

Monday, February 19, 2018

MG Friendship Novel Tender, Touching

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since Katie Burton moved to Boston four months ago, she and her neighbor Ana Petrova have been best friends.  At least that's what Ana thinks.  Katie still misses her BFF in Utah.  She's getting used to Ana's effusive personality, but she's a little frightened of it, too.  With her heart condition, Katie's used to playing it safe; Ana's an impulsive risk-taker, whose wild schemes sometimes get them both in trouble.

Although Katie wants to trust Ana, she feels like she can't share her biggest secret.  Not only was Katie adopted from Russia as a toddler, but lately she's been wondering about her birth family and the country where she was born.  She doesn't want to upset her kind, loving adoptive parents with awkward questions and yet, she can't stop thinking about Russia.  Ana is hiding her own troubles.  Ever since Ana's dad walked out, her mom has been so depressed that Ana's been the one taking care of the house and her little brother.  The surprise arrival of her brusque, bossy Babushka is making everything worse.  Ana has to convince her dad to come back, but how?
In a time when both girls desperately need someone to lean on, their secrets are tearing their new friendship apart.  Can they learn to trust each other or will the weight of their individual problems pulverize a bond that hasn't even really had a chance to form? 

Paper Chains, a middle grade novel by Elaine Vickers, tells a tender, touching story about a burgeoning friendship with all its charms and challenges.  Both of our heroines are sympathetic and likable.  It's simple to root for the survival of their friendship.  There's a lot going on in their lives, maybe too much, as the story sometimes feels unfocused.  The plot gets far-fetched as well, but overall, this is an engaging tale that teaches some valuable lessons about friendship, family, and fighting for what's really important.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:

If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for subject matter that's most appropriate for readers over the age of 8

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Paper Chains from the generous folks at HarperCollins.  Thank you! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Wordy Medical Drama A Dull Slog

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since they were randomly assigned to be roommates at a summer camp for teens interested in medicine, Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends.  Although their backgrounds and personalities differ, they've always gotten each other.  Their bond has only strengthened over the years as they pushed through med school together, got married, had children, and now juggle the demands of medical careers and motherhood.  No matter how busy their lives get, Zadie and Emma always make time for each other.

The women's contented lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, are upended when a former colleague moves to town.  Chief resident while Zadie and Emma were in med school, Dr. Nick Xenokostas was the handsome hotshot who turned everyone's heads.  Zadie fell under his spell, a mistake that led to a heart-rending tragedy that broke more than just her heart.  The last person she ever wants to see again is the infamous Dr. X.  Emma's still furious with him as well.  She couldn't protect Zadie from him 12 years ago—this time she'll stop at nothing to shield her best friend from his egotistical manipulation.  And from the secret she's been hiding since med school.  

When the truth about what really happened during Zadie and Emma's third year of med school comes out, what will happen to a friendship that's been rock-solid from its beginning?  Will the women's lives ever be the same again?

As a former ER fan girl, I still find myself drawn to hospital dramas from time to time.  The Queen of Hearts, a debut novel by Kimmery Martin—an emergency medicine doctor herself—seemed intriguing enough to keep my attention.  Seemed being the operative word here.  Although there's plenty of potential action in the novel, Martin spends so much time describing everything and everyone that the first 3/4 of the story just drags along, veering here, there, and everywhere.  It doesn't help that none of the central characters are very likable.  Zadie, Emma, and Dr. X are all immature, self-centered, and annoying, which makes it difficult to care what happens to any of them.  The novel's Big Reveal is pretty obvious from the get-go, so even the tale's finale seems anticlimactic and silly.  I did read to the end (just to confirm what I already knew, I guess), but honestly, The Queen of Hearts felt like a long, dull slog to me.  The book gets rave reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, so I'm in the minority once again.  That's okay—different strokes for different folks and all that.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of He Said She Said by Jane Casey)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Queen of Hearts from the generous folks at Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House).  Thank you!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Story Behind Famous Wyeth Painting Interesting, But Not Riveting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For Christina Olson, life is small and ordinary.  House bound because of a debilitating condition (probably Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease) that twists her limbs into useless twigs, she spends her days keeping house as best she can, sewing dresses for ladies in town, and conversing with her brother, Al.  As the only daughter in a family of sons, she's destined to be the eternal housekeeper—but never the owner—of Hathorne House, her ancestral home.  Although a young man once offered her the dim hope of a different life, Christina knows she will never leave Cushing, Maine, her tiny piece of the world.

When 46-year-old Christina meets Andrew Wyeth, a young painter, life changes most unexpectedly.  His frequent visits light up Hathorne House with an energy and vitality that hasn't been there in decades.  He brings color into Christina's bleak, lonely world.  Already enraptured by the stark scenery of Cushing, Andrew becomes fascinated by Christina, even featuring her in an evocative painting that becomes one of his most famous.  This surprising friendship changes both of their lives and ensures that an ordinary, but remarkable, woman is not forgotten.

It's hard to describe the plot of A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline's newest, because it really doesn't have one.  Blending fact and fiction, it tells the story of the real woman who inspired Andrew Wyeth's striking painting, Christina's World.  Kline delves into Christina's growing-up years, which were marked by difficulty and pain, as well as her adulthood and her unlikely association with Wyeth.  It highlights her fierce independence as well as her undying devotion to her family.  What results is a quiet, character-driven novel that is interesting, but not riveting.  I ended up liking it, but not loving it.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of A Piece of the World from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rear Window-Ish Mind-Twister a Thriller of the Highest Order

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After a horrific accident, Anna Fox becomes a prisoner in her own home, separated from the two people she loves most.  Crippled by agoraphobia, the 38-year-old can't even step outside her Harlem brownstone without being crushed under the weight of her own panic, fear, and anxiety.  To protect herself, she stays inside 24/7, relying on a delivery service for groceries and old mystery movies for company.  A child psychologist, Anna finds some purpose on the Internet, where she counsels other agoraphobics in an online forum between games of chess.  Although she chats with her husband and daughter daily, she's still heartbroken and lonely.  

When Hitchcock films fail to keep her entertained, Anna indulges in her favorite hobby—watching her neighbors through her camera's telephoto lens.  Although she's ashamed of her tawdry voyeurism, that doesn't stop her from looking in on private arguments, affairs, and other activities.  It's harmless; after all, "Watching is like nature photography: you don't interfere with the wildlife" (4).  And Anna doesn't.  Until she witnesses what looks like a brutal murder-in-the-making.  The victim has become an unlikely friend.  In spite of what it will cost her, Anna must intervene.  When the police come calling, however, they see no evidence of a crime.  With her obsessive viewing of old mystery movies, her habit of mixing prescription pills with alcohol, and the obvious damage to her own sanity, Anna makes for a very unreliable witness.  Try as she might, she can't make the cops understand that she's not crazy, that she's sure of what she saw.  

As Anna tries to make sense of everything, she has to ask herself some terrifying questions—Has she finally lost her mind?  Is she seeing things, assuming things, that aren't real?  Will she ever live a normal life again?  Or has she forfeited forever the right to live the life she wants with the people she loves?  If she really saw a murder taking place, what can she—a woman so broken she can't even leave her home—do about it?  Convinced she must do something, Anna starts digging.  With the safe world she's made for herself crumbling around her, she will risk everything—her home-sanctuary, her last bits of sanity, her very life—to solve a mystery that may only exist inside her own warped and tortured mind.

The book world has been all abuzz about The Woman in the Window, a Hitchcockian debut novel by A.J. Finn.  Rightly so.  With its Rear Window-ish setup, its complex characters, and its tense, suspenseful plot line, the book offers plenty to tickle a thriller lover's fancy.  While the story is less of a white-knuckled, adrenaline-fueled roller coaster ride and more of a slow-burning, carefully-crafted psychological mind twister, it's still a page turner of the highest order.  Even though I saw some of the plot surprises coming, the Big Reveal walloped me good.  All in all, then, I loved this skillful, satisfying debut and will absolutely be looking forward to more from Mr. Finn.  


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, disturbing subject matter, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Woman in the Window from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Atmospheric Yukon Dystopian Absorbing, But Indistinct

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With the world in shambles after a crippling apocalypse, Lynn McBride and her family have found safety in the wilds of the Yukon Territory.  It's not an easy life they live, nor a simple one.  Every day, they must battle the harsh weather, find enough food to sustain them, and deal with the loneliness and boredom that come from seeing the same four faces day in and day out, year after year after year.  Although Lynn is grateful for her safety, she longs for something more.

"More" comes in the form of Jackson Day, a 27-year-old stranger she finds wandering the barren landscape with his dog.  Jax is the first new person Lynn has seen in seven years; bringing him home seems like a natural, normal gesture.  Not everyone in Lynn's family is glad to see him, though, especially when he triggers a chain of events that will have deadly consequences for the McBrides.  Before long, Lynn will find herself traversing a frigid, hostile world toward an unknown future in a ruined world.  It's up to her to save the world.  Can she do it?

I had very high hopes for The Wolves of Winter, a debut novel by Tyrell Johnson that has been described as "written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path."  With that kind of acclamation, I expected to be knocked off my feet by excessive wow.  Did that happen?  Not exactly.  While The Wolves of Winter offers an absorbing survival tale set against an intriguing, atmospheric backdrop, the story adds little originality to the genre.  The plot remains very basic, nothing you won't find in dozens of other post-apocalyptic stories.  While this is a comparatively quiet tale with lyrical prose reminiscent of Station Eleven, it's nowhere near as unique or compelling as The Hunger Games and there's little about it that's truly distinct.  That being said, I enjoyed the novel overall.  I didn't love it, but I liked it enough to be interested in reading more from its author, a talented newcomer.

(Readalikes:  similar in tone to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; story reminds me of the Partials trilogy [Partials; Fragments; and Ruins] by Dan Wells

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language and violence

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Monday, February 12, 2018

Moody, Broody Hebridean Mystery Atmospheric and Engrossing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Hetty Deveraux inherits her crumbling ancestral home in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, she decides to transform the dilapidated edifice into a hotel.  Never having seen the property before, she's shocked at the ruinous state of Muirlan House.  Even if she sinks every penny she's got into the place, it won't be enough.  With potential backers in London, Hetty decides to go forward with the plan anyway.  

Hetty's project goes awry almost immediately.  She's meeting resistance from locals who don't want their quaint island turned into a fancy tourist destination.  Then, bones are discovered at Muirlan House.  With police crawling all over her property, she doesn't know what to think.  Who could possibly be buried in the old house?  

As Hetty digs into the house's history, she learns it once sheltered Theo Blake, a distant relative and a skilled painter of some renown.  She also discovers that the bride he brought to Muirlan House disappeared without a trace in 1910.  Could the bones be those of Beatrice Blake?  If so, what happened to the couple's seemingly happy marriage?  By listening to local gossip and studying Theo's increasingly dark, disturbing paintings, Hetty hopes to find answers to explain the past and guide her future.

Thanks to Peter May, I'm all in for novels set in the wilds of the Outer Hebrides.  Initially, that's what drew me to The House Between Tides by English author Sarah Maine.  The novel's premise did the rest—I'm always up for a family secrets novel set in a mysterious old house in the middle of a moody, broody landscape.  And you know what?  The House Between Tides did not disappoint.  With it's atmospheric setting and tense, suspenseful plot, it sucked me right in.  Yes, I saw the big reveal coming, but there were other twists that caught me by surprise.  Overall, I enjoyed this one and will definitely be checking out Maine's previous (and future) books. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz as well as Hebridean mysteries by Peter May and novels by Kate Morton)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The House Between Tides from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Friday, February 09, 2018

BBB Steps Into 2018—FINALLY!


Get out the noisemakers and shoot off some fireworks—Bloggin' 'bout Books is finally ready to step into the new year!  Phew.  After the reviewathon of the past few weeks, I am done reviewing books that I read waaaayyy back in 2017.  Thank you for your patience during this catch-up process.  Thanks, especially, for continuing to visit and comment.  I appreciate your support more than you know.  Because I enjoy blogging so much, I would probably do it even if no one read a word I wrote, but it's a lot more fun to have book conversations here rather than just monologues, so THANK YOU.  

I'm going to take a little break from reviewing (your feed readers will be so relieved), but I will be responding to comments, visiting your blogs, and updating some things this weekend.  

Thanks again for your support.  What's everybody reading these days?  I'm about 1/2 way through Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson and I am loving it!  

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Promising Mystery Series Opener Convinces Me to Read More

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Earl Marcus left Coulee County, Georgia, twenty years ago with no intention of ever going back.  Scarred—both physically and emotionally—from growing up in the snake-handling obsessed Church of the Holy Flame, he's cut ties with the "church," his cult leader father, and his haunted past.  Now a private investigator in North Carolina, he's compelled to return only when a photograph of his dead father surfaces with a recent time stamp.  The man in the picture is no corpse.  It appears as if the powerful, legendary R.J. Marcus is still alive.  Either that or, as his followers believe, he's come back from the dead.  Earl has experienced the mystical power of his father's presence enough to believe almost anything.  Thing is, he can't put his own demons to rest until he knows for sure.

R.J. isn't the only person missing in Coulee County.  "Rebellious" teenage girls from the Church of the Holy Flame's congregation are also disappearing, only to return changed.  The strange marks on their skin could be signs of almost anything.  Hoping to find answers before another girl is traumatized, Earl starts digging.  Unearthing old secrets doesn't sit well with some people and Earl finds himself in danger once again.

Heaven's Crooked Finger by Hank Early is a debut novel and the first in a promising series.  The novel tells a tense, compelling story that's both atmospheric and suspenseful.  Although the tale feels a bit flimsy and far-fetched, it's still engrossing.  In the end, I didn't love Heaven's Crooked Finger, but I liked it enough to continue with the series.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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