Thursday, August 31, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore (audio)

Title: The Daughters of Ireland
Author: Santa Montefiore
Series: The Deverill Chronicles, #2
Narrator: Genevieve Swallow
Published: August 2017, HarperAudio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 18 hours 33 minutes / 576 pages
Source: Audio - personal copy via Audible / ARC Paperback - Publisher via TLC Book Tours
Ireland. 1925.

The war is over. But life will never be the same...

In the green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill has burned to the ground. But young Celia Deverill is determined to see her ruined ancestral home restored to its former glory — to the years when Celia ran through its vast halls with her cousin Kitty and their childhood friend Bridie Doyle.

Kitty herself is raising a young family, but she longs for Jack O’Leary — the long-ago sweetheart she cannot have. And soon Kitty must make a heartbreaking decision, one that could destroy everything she holds dear.

Bridie, once a cook's daughter in Castle Deverill, is now a well-heeled New York City socialite. Yet her celebrity can't erase a past act that haunts her still. Nor can it keep her from seeking revenge upon the woman who wronged her all those years ago.

As these three daughters of Ireland seek to make their way in a world once again beset by dark forces, Santa Montefiore shows us once more why she is one of the best-loved storytellers at work today.

My thoughts: This is the second book in Santa Montefiore's Deverill Chronicles and I found myself just as swept up in this story as I was in the first one. I so love family sagas and this one is really good!

This one picks up shortly after the previous book, The Girl in the Castle, ends and while it's not necessary to read that book before this one - Santa Montefiore does a great job getting you up to speed -  I do highly recommend it as it is really good!  And, if you're like me, reading series, or in this case, trilogies in order, just makes sense!

While the first book centered primarily on Kitty, this one is focused more on Celia and Bridie, though of course, the three lives are most definitely intertwined and have been since childhood, as we learned in the first book. Celia has now bought Castle Deverill and is determined to restore it to it's former glory at all costs and Bridie has escaped to America where she has done well for herself, marrying a wealthy elderly man. Kitty is still living on the Deverill estate, though not entirely happy with Celia's grandiose plans for the Castle. 

The book takes place just after the end of WWI and leads into the Great Depression right up to WWII. It takes us from Ireland to London to New York and even South Africa and each setting is just as vivid as can be. But as the characters learn to live with and accept their pasts, they come to realize that no matter where they are in the world, Ireland is truly the only place that will ever be home for them.  

I also loved that once again there is just the slightest bit of the Irish lore included in the story - that of the Irish curse and the ghosts that linger in the castle. This just adds that little bit of fun to the book that I really enjoyed. Yes, you do have to suspend belief here, but it's so worth it. I loved the parts when the ghosts were talking and commenting on what was going on in the castle. 

I am so eager for the final book in this trilogy. We meet some new characters in this installment and their storyline is left open-ended for a conclusion in the final book - at least I hope! Plus, there is still some resolution to be had for the three women who are the primary focus of this series...I can't wait to see where it will all go!

Audio thoughts: I am so glad to see that Genevieve Swallows was narrating this book. I had listened to the first book in this series and thought she had done a fantastic job and once again she did another wonderful job with this one! I would imagine it being hard to narrate a book that encompasses such a large cast of characters, but I feel that Genevieve Swallows handles it quite well. She is able to give each of the characters their own unique voices and infuses just the right amount of tension and emotion into her voice as necessary. Her pace and tone are spot on throughout the book. I really enjoy her narration and hope that she narrates the third and final book in this trilogy!!!

Books in this series:
  1. The Girl in the Castle
  2. The Daughters of Ireland 
  3. The Last Secret of the Deverills - due out summer 2018???

About the Author: Santa Montefiore was born in England. She went to Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and studied Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She has written sixteen bestselling novels, which have been translated into thirty different languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #TheDaughtersofIreland).


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Title: Emma in the Night
Author: Wendy Walker
Published: August 2017, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher
From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

My thoughts: Last year, I read Wendy Walker's debut novel, All is Not Forgotten, and I was blown away by how dark and twisty it was - I loved it! Of course, I was psyched to see she had another book coming out and couldn't wait to get my hands on it, but was a little apprehensive at the same time - could she pull it off again with another hit? Well...I think she did! In fact, I actually liked this one better, if you can believe it!

This is a twisty, crazy book. It's at once a mystery/suspense novel layered on top of a psychological thriller that gets under your skin and doesn't let up until you get all the answers you desperately need. I found there was not one part of this book that didn't captivate me - I was entranced from start to finish!

The story is told from two points of view - from Cass, who has just turned up after being missing for three year, and from Dr. Abby Winters, a Forensic Psychiatrist and FBI agent. Cass's chapters were at times a bit strange - she was revealing the events of what happened while she gone, and always insisted her mother be present, but at times, her emotions didn't match what she was talking about. It was odd! 

Dr. Abby herself is a complicated, complex character. She specializes in narcissistic personalities and suspects that not all is as Cass tells. She had become obsessed with this case when the girls first went missing, and was jumping at the gun to talk with Cass when she re-appears. She spent a lot of time studying Cass's family - seeing the dysfunction to the full extent. Dr. Abby has plenty of first-hand experience with a narcissistic mother, so she just doesn't understand why Cass would come home to a mother that just isn't nice? What is Cass up to?

This book kept me on my toes as secrets are slowly revealed and just like a jig saw puzzle, it all comes together. The twists and turns this book takes are crazy, and as each piece is revealed, you are left scratching your head, wondering how you didn't see that coming. Ever so slowly the tension ramps up, until the final secret is revealed. This book takes you on a wild ride and I loved every bit of it! Wendy Walker is two for two with me and I cannot wait to see what comes next from her!!!


Monday, August 28, 2017

Review: A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

Title: A Beautiful Poison
Author: Lydia Kang
Published: August 2017, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 350 pages
Source: Publisher

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Lydia Kang and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure what to expect...but when I saw the setting was New York City just after the Gilded Age, I knew I wanted to read it - and what a great story it was!

This book hooked me from the start and kept me on my toes the entire time! It is an engaging murder mystery, told from three great narrators - Allene, Jasper and Birdie. Each of these three were well-drawn and complex characters and I was fascinated by all three, though Birdie was my favorite!

I loved not only the historical detail that is included in this book, but also the scientific and forensic detail that Lydia Kang weaves into her tale. Set against the backdrop of WWI and the Spanish Influenza in NYC, you have young men worried about being called up for the draft while the rest of the city worries about falling ill to the spreading of the horrible illness. But it is the chemistry and pathology that really bring this story to life. And let me just stop here to say - the story doesn't get bogged down in detail here, but rather, it is a fascinating look at these fields as they were at that time.

I also loved that we really got to see both Jasper and Birdie at their respective jobs. This was quite interesting. Jasper worked in the morgue and while those scenes where he was at work, especially working on the victims they were investigating, were a bit creepy, it was also quite fascinating. Knowing that Lydia Kang herself was a physician, who incidentally worked at Bellevue like Jasper, I found these details all the more interesting! And Birdie worked at the clock factory where she painted radium on the dials of faces of watches for the soldiers. Having recently picked up Radium Girls by Kate Moore, I am even more eager to read it after reading this bit about Birdie and what happened to her!

I think what makes this book really shine was the way all the different parts came together cohesively to tell one story - the murder mystery, the bits of science and how radium poisoning really was killing these young women. Plus you had really engaging characters, with plenty of twists and turns as far as the mystery itself went. I found myself wavering as to who I thought was behind the deaths, thinking I kept figuring it out, only to find I was wrong time and time again! This is a relatively quick read and I really enjoyed it. 


Review: Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale (audio)

Title: Everything We Left Behind
Author: Kerry Lonsdale
Series: Everything We Keep, #2
Narrator: Timothy Andres Pabon
Published: July 2017, Brilliance Audio / Lake Union Publishing
Length: 9 hours 14 minutes / 348 pages
Source: Audio - Brilliance Audio / Print - Lake Union Publishing
From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes the highly anticipated sequel. Told from one man’s two perspectives, Everything We Left Behind effortlessly blends suspense, mystery, and romance in an exploration of loss, resilience, and the compelling need to protect the ones we love at all cost.

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancĂ©e, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

My thoughts: This book is a sequel to Kerry Lonsdale's Everything We Keep, which I absolutely adored, and I have been waiting for this sequel to come out! But, I can't stress this enough - if you have any plans of reading that one, read it first! This is the type of series where there are minor spoilers in this second book about the first book, enough so that it ruins the enjoyment of the first book. You also might not want to keep reading this review if you still need to read the previous book!

I wasn't sure what to expect with this sequel - after finishing the previous book, I knew there was going to be follow-up, but I didn't know who's story it would be. Would it continue with Amy now that she knew what had happened to James or would we be given James's story? I was pleased to see that Kerry Lonsdale decided to give us James's story, but picking up where we left off after Everything We Keep leaves off. Again, this is why you really need to read that book first!

I really liked the way this story is told, though I do have to admit, it takes a bit of getting used to. And, since I was listening to it, it took a lot of concentration! This book jumps back and forth in time - from the present day to the past. The present day is where James has come out of the fugue state and is trying his best to sort out what the hell is going on. The past is where he is living in Mexico as Carlos with his young sons. 

I loved that this book really keeps you on your toes. Not only do we find out James's perspective of what happened, but we get to learn a little more about his family. I really felt that I had a better understanding of all that happened and this in conjunction with Amy's story in Everything We Keep is just quite a tale! I loved that these two are told this way - I really don't think this all would have worked had it been done in one story - too much would have been left out. This story in particular is really about acceptance and family. And it wouldn't have had the same impact had it been combined with Amy's story. I really think each side needed it's own book, so brava Kerry for giving each character their own book - I think that was a very smart decision! I really felt invested with each character this way.

This book really shows just how talented a writer Kerry Lonsdale is - the way she crafted this, which to me had a much different feel from Everything We Keep - is mind-boggling! I loved them both and am so excited to know that there is going to be a third book in this series...I can't wait to get my hands on it and am so curious as to who it is going to focus on!

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Timothy Andres Pablo narrate a book and I think he was the perfect narrator for this story. He was able to really bring James/Carlos to life, using the right accents when necessary and giving the other characters distinct voices as well, even the children. His pacing and tone were great and I think he really did a good job with this naration!

Books in this series:
  1. Everything We Keep
  2. Everything We Left Behind
  3. Everything We Give - due out Summer 2018

Friday, August 25, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Review: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley (audio)

Title: The Goddesses
Author: Swan Huntley
Narrator: Hillary Huber
Published: July 2017, Random House Audio / Doubleday Books
Length: 11 hours 38 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley

The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship, from the celebrated author of We Could Be Beautiful.
When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy's husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana's hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she's ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her. 

A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Swan Huntley and I found it to be a very different book from what I was expecting. Was it based on the description or the tags used to classify it, I'm not sure, but in my mind I had pictured it a very different type of read than what it actually was.

This was one of those books that again is more of a people-watcher type of book than anything else. I found myself consumed with the friendship that develops between Nancy and Ana - did anyone else find this uber-creepy? I kept waiting for something to happen. After all, this friendship happens because Nancy feels she needs to become a new person - she's just uprooted her family to Hawaii after her husband has admitted to infidelity and realizes that after all the changes, she's still the same old person. Wanting to try out something new, she finds a yoga class and hits it off with the yoga teacher, but does she really? 

The characterizations in this book are creepy! I have to say I didn't necessarily like all the characters, and yet I couldn't put the book down. There was just something pulling me back to it - I had to see just what would happen. Nancy becomes glued to Ana's hip - does she like her that much or is she just that desperate for a friend? And what about the marriage that she is supposed to be working on? Or her sons that she is supposed to be keeping on eye on so that they don't keep acting out? Are they suddenly shining stars?

Can you see how easy it is to get sucked into this book? This isn't your happy-go-lucky type of read, but rather one layered with dark undertones, that slowly builds up the tension until that shoe finally drops. It's a rather addictive read that with drive you crazy with some of the antics that take place, having you shake your head in frustration. But isn't that the fun in reading sometimes? To live vicariously through the lives of our characters so that we don't have to? 

Audio thoughts:
Hilary Huber did a great job with this audio book. She brought these characters to life and her pacing and tone were spot on. I've listened to Hilary narrate before and I know her audio performances are always good, so I was excited to see her name on the audio package when I selected this audio book. A narrator can make or break an audio book and this one definitely need a good narrator!

The Goddesses  by Swan Huntley is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

Title: The People at Number 9
Author: Felicity Everett
Published: August 2017, HQ
Format: ARC Paperback, 315 pages
Source: Publisher

Have you met them yet, the new couple?

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara's street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another's houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they've no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them...

Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs...

My thoughts: Sometimes you pick up a book thinking it's going to be one type of read when in reality, it turns out to be something completely different...that's what this book was. Not that it was a bad book - but it just wasn't quite what I was expecting. 

This is a dark, domestic drama - and I should warn you, it's a little strange. But it's also one of those books that you just need to keep reading to see how it all plays out - kind of like the car accident that you just need to look at.  This is a people-watcher type of book if that's such a thing. It gets under your skin and while I didn't necessarily connect with either couple, I found them all rather intriguing. 

Very much a character-driven novel, this one is about an intense friendship that turns out to be toxic. It has one narrator, Sara,  which I found to be refreshing. I read a lot of books where there are multiple narrators, so it's nice to have just one person telling the story sometimes. The new neighbors dazzle the old neighbors and it's a bit of the grass being greener on the other side, but just how long does the last? As these neighbors start spending more and more time together and their lives become more and more intertwined, jealously and contempt rise their ugly heads - is this friendship more one-sided than it appears?

While I was expecting more of a twisty, thriller-type read, it's the subtleness of the dark undertones that really makes this book stand out. It's an intriguing read for sure! So, for a book that wasn't quite what I expected, it turned out to still be a good read. Has that happened to you?


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

Title: The End of Temperance Dare
Author: Wendy Webb
Published: June 2017, Lake Union Publishing
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Haunting and atmospheric, The End of Temperance Dare is another thrilling page-turner from the author reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic.

When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.

But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows—including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks—she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.

My thoughts: Wendy Webb is not a new author to me and I have to say, I might have done a little dance of joy when this book landed on my doorstep! I've read one other of Wendy's books - The Fate of Mercy Alban - and really liked that one, and have been meaning to read more of her books, but as usual, time and my ever-growing TBR pile have gotten in the way!

Right from the start this book pulled me in. I loved the setting - an old tuberculosis sanatorium turned into a retreat for artists and writers located in a remote area - talk about an atmospheric setting! And with something happening right away, you just get that sense of foreboding hanging over the book -  and you know that's not the end of things. 

The characters in this book are well-developed and complex, especially Eleanor. And I particularly loved getting to know more about the Dare sisters - talk about a messed up family! But when strange things start happening while Eleanor is in her new position as Director of the retreat, she begins to wonder if she and her guests are in danger. It is only after these strange things start happening that she begins to wonder if there is some connection to the past.

This was a really good book, at times a bit creepy and haunting, but not so much that I was afraid to keep going! The mystery was good and the twists and turns kept me glued to the pages. I particularly loved the way the past was woven into the storyline - how awful for those afflicted with TB during that time. But, what a great setting for a gothic novel now - and Wendy Webb surely used it to her advantage as this was really well-written. I can't wait to read more from this author...she really does know how to spin a tale!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

Title: The Other Girl
Author: Erica Spindler
Published: August 2017, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC E-copy, 256 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author of Justice for Sara and The First Wife comes a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.
A horrific crime. One witness—a fifteen year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, one known for lying and her own brushes with the law.
Is it any surprise no one believed her?
Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community.

When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealed…except for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist.

Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop—the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda.

My thoughts: It's been a long time since I've read an Erica Spindler book, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to read and review her latest book...and I am so glad I did! Now I remember why I used to pick up her books and really need to get back to reading her again soon!!!

This book is so engaging - right from the start I was pulled in and ended up reading this book in two sittings. I found the characters to be very-well developed, especially Miranda. I was intrigued by her and wanted to know all about her, especially her relationship with her partner Jake. I have to admit, I was a little suspicious at times about that. I couldn't put my finger on why, but there were times that I did question certain things.

Miranda has a past. She has managed to turn it around and become a cop - a really good cop, but that past haunts her! And now, someone is using that past to taunt her. Two deaths occur and the only thing that links them is her.

While I was able to guess the identity of who was behind the killings about half-way through, I was still completely hooked. I wanted to know why this person was targeting Miranda and I definitely wanted to see how it would all play out. And boy oh boy was it good! This book takes you on quite a roller-coaster of a ride and is gripping throughout. Between the flashbacks and the present-day story - it totally consumes you. It's an addicting read for sure!

I really enjoyed this quick read and know that I will be picking up more of Erica Spindler's books. I think I have a few of her older books on my shelves somewhere that I plan on digging out. Have you read any of her books?


Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Title: Unraveling Oliver
Author: Liz Nugent
Published: August 2017, Gallery/Scout Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 272 pages
Source: Publisher

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

My thoughts: I was very fortunate to pick this gem up at BookExpo this past year after hearing about it during the Adult Book Buzz session. I had already had it marked as a book I wanted to pick up, but after listening to the one editor speak about it so highly, I knew I had to get my hands on it at all costs - and luckily I did!

This book, in a word, is brilliant! From the opening line (quoted above) to the tightly woven story that quite literally unpacks all that is Oliver so that we can get inside him to understand the man he has become to even attempt this atrocious act, is so cleverly crafted. 

At first I didn't quite understand all the bits that were being told to us - the people that had a big part in Oliver's life were narrators throughout the book and this is how the story unfolds. It moves back and forth in time through their memories - quite seamlessly I might add. But as I got more into the book, I slowly started to understand what was going on - they were slowly giving us a picture of Oliver. Interspersed throughout this, were chapters told by Oliver - and this just helped more to unravel the man that Oliver had become. 

This is an addicting, almost haunting read as you get to know more and more about Oliver and why he is the way he is. It's chilling and yet you just can't put this book down. I found myself glued to the pages once I picked this it up. From that stellar opening line to the very end, I could do nothing else til I knew everything! 

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from Liz Nugent - for a debut novel, this was amazing! She is certainly an author to keep an eye on!!!


Short & Sweet Review: Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

Title: Cockroaches
Author: Jo Nesbo
Series: Harry Hole, #2
Published: February 2014, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Personal copy
When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case.

But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls. Surrounded by round-the-clock traffic noise, Harry wanders the streets of Bangkok lined with go-go bars, temples, opium dens, and tourist traps, trying to piece together the story of the ambassador’s death even though no one asked him to, and no one wants him to—not even Harry himself.
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I am totally late coming to the Jo Nesbo party, and being the traditionalist that I am, I am reading the series in order. I know that the first two books weren't translated right away in the US - that the first book translated was book 3, but I decided to start at the beginning and am sticking with my guns. If you read my review of The Bat, you'll know I didn't love it, but I decided to continue with the series and am so glad I did - Cockroaches was much better!

I still don't understand why the first two books aren't set in Norway where Harry is set, but that is neither here nor there. This second book finds Harry traveling to Thailand to help solve the murder of the Norwegian Ambassador. The powers that be in the Norwegian government want this murder solved with as little fanfare as possible and want to avoid any scandals. Of course, Harry isn't willing to let anything prevent him from finding out the truth, even if that means going against direct orders.

I am really enjoying getting to know Harry - I feel that in this book, we get a better feel for how he works. He is still battling the bottle, though he seems to have a much better handle on that. He still has his demons and I think this might just make him stronger for it.

This book moved a little faster than the previous one. I felt it more engaging and enjoyed it more. I am definitely looking forward to picking up the next one in the series...and perhaps I can even get caught up enough to have read up to The Snowman by the time the movie comes out?!?

Books in this series: 
  1. The Bat
  2. Cockroaches
  3. The Redbreast
  4. Nemesis
  5. The Devil's Star
  6. The Redeemer
  7. The Snowman
  8. The Leopard
  9. Phantom
  10. Police
  11. The Thirst 

Friday, August 18, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl in Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka
Published: August 2017, Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher 

Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

My thoughts: This is one of those books that as soon as I heard about it - it's one of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge picks - I knew I wanted to read it. It just sounded so intriguing and would you look at the cover - doesn't it just call to you to pick it up!?!

One of the things I really liked about this book is that it really keeps you guessing as to who did it - who killed Lucinda Hayes. I think I thought I had it figured out at least a half-dozen times, only to be completely flabbergasted at the final reveal. It's narrated by three very different, yet complex characters - and as the mystery is ever so slowly revealed, you are given a picture of what was really going on in this small Colorado town.

This really is as much a mystery as it is a character-study into the lives of the people in this town. It is a bit slow at times as it delves into the lives of these characters, but I think this was all necessary as this gives us all the connections and memories needed to link everything together.

The writing it quite lyrical and beautiful - it really keeps you engaged throughout. It's addictive as much as it is haunting and I am quite eager to see what comes next from this author. 

Girl in Snow  by Danya Kukafka is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

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