Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers."

My Thoughts:

Don't you just love when you find the perfect book at just the right time that fits your reading mood?  This book was exactly the type of read that I needed without even knowing it.  This isn't a book to be rushed through in my opinion.  Instead, I took my time with this one and just enjoyed the ride that the author was taking me on.  And what a ride this was!  One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was that the author really took the time to give the reader a sense of place with this book.  I felt like I was really there in North Devon investigating right alongside Matthew.  I also have to say how much I appreciated Matthew's character.  He's a quiet character but the strength in his character really shines through the pages even as he struggles with self doubt at times.  I really, really enjoyed him as a main character which makes me so happy that this is just the beginning to this new series.  I liked the conflicts that he had at times because of his upbringing and the experiences he had after leaving the community he grew up in.  The mystery portion of this book was also really enjoyable for me as it kept me guessing until the end.  I really liked that there were ties not only to Matthew's past with the case he was investigating but also ties to his husband's work.  It made the case more personal for Matthew which made the stakes for him figuring everything out that much more important.  The other characters in this book were also really enjoyable which has me so excited about this series.  I couldn't help but appreciate how everything came together at the end of this book.  I didn't see it coming and honestly I kind of thought that I had it figured out at one point while I was reading.  How wrong I was though!  That was probably the only part of this book that I rushed through and that was because I just had to see how it would all end.

Overall, I just really enjoyed my time with this book!  I'm so glad that I have finally given this author a try as I've had her books on my TBR list for years.  This new series was the perfect push to finally read her - now I have lots of other books to look forward to which will make the wait for the second book in this series not seem so long!  This isn't a book to rush through in my opinion.  Instead, I would recommend doing exactly like I did and just immersing yourself in this book.  Reading this book slowly allowed for me to appreciate everything that the author did with not only setting up the mystery but also the sense of place that she created.  I honestly am really looking forward to reading more of these characters because they were all so great!  I would recommend this book to fans of both mystery and suspense.  I also have to say that those readers who enjoy Deborah Crombie or Louise Penny should give this book a shot.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A lovely beginning to this new series that has me so excited to have found this author and all of her books!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe."

My Thoughts:

This book is JUST as creepy as that summary makes it seem!  Let me tell you, I cannot remember the last time that a book creeped me out enough that I was freaked out walking into my dark garage one evening after the overhead light had burned out.  Oh but this book did exactly that!  I picked this one up but honestly was a bit intimidated by the size at first.  I needn't have worried because the pages just flew on by with this book.  It WAS SO good and I just couldn't seem to stop reading.  I do need to say that this book is considerably dark so it won't be for all readers.  And there are definite trigger warnings in here that readers will want to be aware of as well.  All of that being said, books like this are exactly why I read (and I kinda have to wonder about myself after saying all of that - ha!)  But seriously, this book felt like the perfect read to start fall off with.  It was dark and creepy with a terrifying killer.  It's a police procedural which is something that I always enjoy.  And it has these characters that maybe I didn't understand at first but by the end I wasn't ready to let them go or even see this book end.  Somebody please tell me that this is going to be the first book in a series because I will be there for it!!!  I love a book like this that just wraps you up in the atmosphere of the story that the author is telling.  I could feel the chill in the air as these two detectives tried to figure out what was going on and who the killer was.  I really appreciated the fact that I was kept guessing with this book until the very end.  I didn't see the ending coming whatsoever which boosted my enjoyment of this book that much more.  I'm at the point off gushing but this book completely deserves it in my opinion.  I need more books like this in my reading life because wow....just wow!  Also, can we please discuss that ending and what you think that it means?

Overall, this book is a five star read for me which should tell you everything that you need to know.  It was dark, suspenseful, eerie, and just one of the most twisted but best books that I've read so far this year.  I can't give it any higher praise than that!  I don't think that this book will be for everyone but I do think that this book is the perfect kind of thriller to read for this type of year.  It's exactly the type of book that I look for with my fall reading which is why I want more books just like it!  I think that fans of thrillers, horror (although this book isn't exactly horror it does have those kind of vibes), and suspense.  I highly recommend this one and am so excited to see that so many other readers have been enjoying it as well!

Bottom Line:  An easy five star read for me! I need more books like this in my reading life!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Sunday Post #58 (Fall Reading Edition)

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme"

Happy Sunday everyone!  Fall weather has hit here and I'm enjoying every minute of it.  I'm actually typing this up on Saturday afternoon with the windows open, a blanket covering me to keep the chill off, and the sound of rain which is the absolute icing on the cake.  This is my absolute favorite time of the year for a reason.  I am one of those rare birds that enjoys all four seasons (yes, even the snow and cold) but fall has always been my favorite.

I haven't finished a single book this week.  I'm in the middle of four books currently which is absolutely unheard of for me.  In reality that looks like me with bookmarks in three books and actually reading the fourth one on a continual basis.  I always want to read all of the books, but lately I REALLY WANT TO READ ALL OF THE BOOKS!  It's kind of affecting my focus because it just feels like I want to read everything and right this second.  So basically that seems to have led to me starting multiple things and finishing none of them this week.  I need to do better next week!  When I get like this, I usually try to slow down reading which seems like the opposite of what one would want to do.  But I don't want to race through I'm really working on just enjoying that one book that I'm focusing on and then I can do the same thing with one of the other books I have currently going.  That's the plan anyways!

I've also been very blessed this week with book mail thanks to publishers.  I've gotten out of the habit of sharing about the books I receive for review on here but I would like to change that.  I'm hoping that by sharing it will also keep me accountable to share my thoughts on these books after finishing.  I can always use the gentle push especially when it comes to writing up my thoughts.  With that being said, I'm planning on sharing my thoughts on at least two books this week (not in this pile) that I received for review but haven't yet shared my thoughts on.  Maybe three if I'm feeling extra motivated (I'm woefully behind on reviews in general).  Anyways, these books all hit my mailbox this week so hence one of the reasons why I'm feeling the need to read ALL of the books.  Let's move on though to what I'm currently reading.

I currently have bookmarks in the following books:

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller is the book I'm really actually reading.  It is absolutely delightful!  I'm just a little over halfway through this one (I'm reading it on my e-reader) and you guys I swear I'm reading it with a smile on my face half of the time.  If you enjoyed A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn, then I really think that you will enjoy this one as well.  I haven't seen this one much on bookstagram yet which is just a shame because it really is a delight so far!

Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard is a print copy of a book that is due to release in December if I'm correct.  The ONLY reason that I'm not reading this one right this second is because of the above book and it will be what I'm diving into exclusively next if I'm honest.  I'm such a sucker for women detective fiction so this is kind of already my jam.

Death Masks by Jim Butcher should really need no explanation.  I NEEDED some Harry Dresden in my life and purposefully read the first few pages so that it wouldn't end up going back to the library unread.  It has been at least a year since I read the fourth book in this series so it is definitely time to dive back into Harry's world!

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag has been all over the bookstagram world lately so of course I requested it from the library.  I probably wouldn't have started this one but another bookstagrammer was reading it and I decided to just add one more to the pile and read it with her.  It's actually due back to the library soon though so if I can't renew I will just let it go back and get to it another time.

Whew!  That's a lot.  Plans for Sunday include laundry and reading.  The Walking Dead returns this weekend which I'm pretty pumped about.  We will be watching football and just basically being as lazy as possible while also preparing for the upcoming week.  That's my plan anyways - we will see what actually happens!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Price of Grace by Diana Muñoz Stewart (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family's secrets.

Special Agent Leif "Dusty" McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family's covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He'll use everything he's got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family's mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they'll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact."

My Thoughts:

This is the kind of romantic suspense read that I could not help but enjoy!  It was fast paced and unexpected throughout the entire book which I couldn't help but love!  This is actually the second book in the series but I decided to start with it first (and now will soon be going back to the first book to catch up on what I've missed).  One of the main things that made this book stand out for me was Gracie's family and the things that she has given up to protect her family.  I don't want to spoil anything for readers so I'll just leave it at that.  As the book goes along, we get to see that she is struggling with the things she has given up and is wanting to make changes to her life.  At the same time, she is dealing with Dusty's arrival back into her life after other certain events.  Grace knows that Dusty is investigating her family for the FBI but she just can't seem to keep away from him herself.  The chemistry between these two is definitely hot!  Before I go any further, I have to tell you my one small gripe with this book.  It starts off when these two first meet and there was such a huge case of insta-lust that I was immediately thrown off especially with the dangerous situation that they were in.  I'm only telling you this because I think that there are other readers like myself that aren't quite as huge fans of insta-love or lust and might feel similarly.  I'm super glad that those opening scenes didn't stop me from continuing because the rest of the book wasn't like that at all.  Yes, they are still attracted to each other from the beginning but they both understand why a relationship between the two of them is a bad idea and probably wouldn't work.  Gracie fights her attraction to Dusty which just made the moments when they finally came together (not a spoiler - this IS a romance) that much sweeter.  I actually really adored both of their characters so I was rooting for them to find their happy ever after. The suspense portion was very well done and was why I just couldn't seem to set this book down!  The way this book ended left me very curious to see what will happen next in book three.  To make the wait seem shorter though, I definitely plan on going back to the first book I Am Justice!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and flew through the pages of it!  One of the things that I'm most excited about with reading more books in this series is learning more about Gracie's family.  They have me so intrigued so I can't wait to read more about them all.  This book was also another really great reminder of why I enjoy romantic suspense so much!  There is just something about a book with a romance and a mystery mixed together that I can't get enough of!  It's like the best of both worlds when it is done right and this book definitely was!  I would recommend this book to readers of romance and romantic suspense easily!  You definitely don't have to read this series in order (I didn't).  I didn't feel like I was missing out whatsoever.  That being said, this book and series has me wanting to go back to that first book which should tell you all that you need to know!

Bottom Line:  A romantic suspense that reminded me exactly why I love this genre so much!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Monday, September 30, 2019

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It was the perfect place to disappear...

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all..."

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed my time with this book!  I was in the mood for an atmospheric read and this one really fit what I was looking for.  The story begins with Allison getting the opportunity to house sit in this gorgeous house for a few months while she works on figuring her life out.  As the reader, we know that something major has happened to Allison in regards to her work and marriage that she is now dealing with the aftereffects of.  She moves into this house which is situated in this almost deserted beach town due to it being offseason.  Before too long, Allison is pulled into the mystery of a missing young girl and what happened to her so many years before.  This book just totally sucked me in from the very beginning.  Who knew that a deserted beach town with hints of mystery would be so intriguing?  Add in the fact that the weather (and especially the winter storms) added another element of almost darkness to the book and I was completely hooked!  I tried to take my time with this one but the pages just flew on by.  And if all of that wasn't enough for you, there were these hints of paranormal where just maybe Maureen's spirit was trying to get Allison's help as well.  It all added up to one very solid read that I wasn't ready to see end.  I especially enjoyed the fact that I thought that I had all of the answers at one point only to realize that I didn't.  I also really liked seeing Allison coming in to her own and getting stronger.  Allison's past also plays an important role in this book so it was good to see her come into her own and find both her confidence and strength.  I'm really eager to see what other readers think about this book as it was one that I enjoyed immensely!

Overall, I'm so excited to see what this author comes up with next because I thought that this was an really great read!  It was just so atmospheric and perfect for this time of year!  I loved the way that the author used the weather to build up the suspense in this book.  And I also really just loved the story that she was telling.  The book is told from both Allison's viewpoint and also from Maureen's viewpoint and it switches between the two so perfectly.  I came to care about Maureen just as much as Allison even though we the reader know that something bad has happened to Maureen.  I just wanted Allison to find the answers and to finally get some closure on the entire situation.  I obviously can't say enough good things about this one.  An easy book for me to recommend!

Bottom Line:  An atmospheric read perfect for the colder temps that are coming around the corner!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a PICT Book Tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery,Suspense
Published by: Graydon House Books (Harlequin)
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1525832190 (ISBN13: 9781525832192)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Author Bio:

TARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a best book of 2017 by Jennifer Egan in The Guardian. She has had stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, among others. Her Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine story, “States of Matter,” was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, and her short story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” is a finalist for the 2019 Agatha Award. Tara was the winner of the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Prize, has been the editor of the popular online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia. One Night Gone is her first novel. 

Visit Tara at:
TaraLaskowski.comGoodreadsBookBub@TaraLWritesInstagram, & Facebook!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Bookstagram Made Me Do It (Edition #1)

I feel like I've been a lot more active on "bookstagram" these days compared to my blog.  And to be fair, I'm just as spotty at posting there as I am on here when it comes to keeping up with reviews of books I've read.  But I've been neglecting my blog a bit which I'm hoping to change.  Book blogging in general has really changed from my early blogging days - and that's okay.  Things evolve with time so it is to be expected I suppose.  Time also gets away from me as there is only so much of it that I'm willing to dedicate to the book-related world.  All of this rambling is to say that I've been wanting to change things up here and share more than just reviews or my occasional reading updates.  Will I ever post on here regularly and consistently again?  I don't know but I'm okay with that.  I do feel like my blog is in a posting rut though so that part needs to change (hence this post).  I used to get ALL of my book recommendations from other book blogs.  I still get book recommendations from blogs but I also get many, many more recommendations now from bookstagram.  Here are just a few of the books that are now on my radar thanks to the bookstagram world:

After The Flood by Kassandra Montag

Summary from Goodreads:

"A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers."

This book just released this week and the reviews for this one have been rolling in like mad.  I've seen nothing but positive things so far, but I'll admit that I try to skim reviews as much as possible when the hype for a book is this big so nothing gets ruined for me.  Some of the big name bookstagrammers are really raving about it so I'm intrigued.  Add in the fact that post-apocalyptic books are something I'm almost always drawn to and I just knew that I have to read this one soon.  If I didn't have The Passage by Justin Cronin already checked out from the library this one would be on my holds list right now.  I do want to get my hands on this one though before the end of the year!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Be careful who you let in. 

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. 

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them. 

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone."

This book has yet to be released (looks like it releases in November) but early bookstagram reviews have me itching to read this one.  I may have EVERY SINGLE one of this authors books on my TBR list now but I've yet to read a single one of them.  I'm thinking this may be the one I begin with honestly.  The premise just sounds so delightfully creepy - it also sounds like the perfect type of read for this time of year.  I do have a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley so I'm hoping to read this one before publication date.  It just sounds SO good, doesn't it?

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Summary from Goodreads:

"In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter's crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window..."

Now this book has been ALL OVER bookstagram.  So much so that even though I currently have it checked out from the library I'm a bit hesitant to read it (which is what happens to me when the hype for a book is this big).  But I also just can't resist giving this one a try to see if it is as creepy as it sounds.  And this is the perfect time of year for creepy reads just like this!  I just want to read them all....give me all of the creepy thrillers to read until the end of October!

I'm going to stick with three books this time around.  Tell me though, what books have you added to your TBR list lately?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Claire Abrams’s dreams became a nightmare when she passed on a genetic mutation that killed her little boy. Now she wants a second chance to be a mother, and finds it in Robert Nash, a maverick fertility doctor who works under the radar with Jillian Hendricks, a cunning young scientist bent on making her mark—and seducing her boss.

Claire, Robert, and Jillian work together to create the world’s first baby with three genetic parents—an unprecedented feat that could eliminate inherited disease. But when word of their illegal experiment leaks to the wrong person, Robert escapes into hiding with the now-pregnant Claire, leaving Jillian to serve out a prison sentence that destroys her future.

Ten years later, a spunky girl named Abigail begins to understand that all is not right with the reclusive man and woman she knows as her parents. But the family’s problems are only beginning. Jillian, hardened by a decade of jealousy and loss, has returned—and nothing will stop her from reuniting with the man and daughter who should have been hers. Past, present—and future converge in a mesmerizing psychological thriller from acclaimed bestselling author Kira Peikoff."

My Thoughts:

What an interesting and compelling read!  I breezed through the pages of this book in a matter of two short days because I just couldn't stop reading.  I will say that this isn't a long book which is another reason why it was such a bingeable read for me (not sure if that's a word but it should be).  What I really liked about this book though was that the author took what is a controversial issue and made me see both sides of it.  This book shows firsthand the heartache that Claire has dealt with after losing her son and the fear that having another baby with the same genetic issues causes her.  You feel for her and want for her to have that chance of a healthy child.  There's also that question present of if science is going too far and where is the line in the sand type of thing throughout the book.  I fully admit that I don't know enough about the subject to have strong opinions one way or the other which meant that I just found the story compelling.  For me, I cared about the characters and what was going to happen to them.  This is billed as a thriller from the above description, and it is a thrilling read in the fact that you can't put it down.  But really for me this was more of a suspenseful book where I just wanted everything to be okay and turn out for the best for everyone.  I'm not sure if I'm explaining that really well to be honest.  I just don't want readers to go in expecting this psychological thriller when for me at least it was different then that.  More maybe then what you usually get with thrillers.  It was thrilling though and oh so hard to put down!  I'm hesitant to say much more than that because I don't want to spoil anything for readers.  I'm looking forward to seeing what others think about this one for sure!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am eager to read more by this author.  The subject matter of this book really made it stand out for me as it is so different from my usual reads.  This is my first book by this author but it certainly won't be my last!  I would recommend this book to readers to fans of suspense and thrillers as well.  

Bottom Line:  One of those books that I just couldn't set down until the very end!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and Meryl Moss Media.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The Asian community is kicking off summer with the return of its popular Cleveland Night Market festivities, and Lana Lee is excited to represent the Ho-Lee Noodle House booth with her favorite chef, Peter Huang. Lana is confident that the evening marks the beginning of a great season to come. Not only is she looking forward to the warm temperatures, but her birthday is only weeks away, her handsome boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, is planning a romantic get-away. Life couldn't be better.

But before she can get too accustomed to the idea of a carefree summer, an explosion involving a nearby food truck, Wonton on Wheels, kills one of the proprietors and injures several others in the nearby vicinity.

When the authorities discover that this was no accident, the family members of the dead man become the number-one suspects in a front-page murder story. Lana and her best friend, Megan Riley, fall back into detective mode. But as they uncover family secrets of abuse and angry costumers, Lana's own family drama raises its head. Will Lana be able to juggle everything the universe is throwing at her, or has she jumped from the frying pan to the fire?"

My Thoughts:

Two books in and I'm really enjoying this cozy mystery series.  To be clear though, I started earlier this year with the third book (Murder Lo Mein) and just now finished this one which is the fourth book so I'm still reading completely out of order.  I enjoyed both of these books for a variety of reasons but one highlight of the series is the food featured in each book.  I read both of these books constantly craving spring rolls and rice.  LOL - but seriously these books made me hungry!  My favorite things about cozy mysteries is that they feel like comfort reads.  I don't usually read these types of books for the mystery although that is always an enjoyable part of it.  I read them for the characters, and this series is no different.  I really enjoy Lana's character and her inquisitive ways.  I think I enjoyed this book just a tiny bit more than its' predecessor only because I really started to get a handle on all of the other characters and who they are.  It's fun to see Lana navigate this new life of running her family business while also trying to solve crimes.  She never means to get involved but her curiosity always gets the better of her.  This book had a bit of a darker theme to it in regards to spousal abuse.  If this is a trigger for you then you may want to read Murder Lo Mein instead.  I thought that the author handled this topic respectfully which is all that you can really ask for.  I'm excited to continue on with this series but I REALLY need to catch up with the first two books while I wait for the next book to release.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and this series in general has moved on to my must read list.  I've become attached to Lana and all of her family thanks to these two books.  It's actually really nice that I've read them both this year because I remembered most of the details from Murder Lo Mein which doesn't always happen when I read books that are part of series.  I would recommend this series to fans of cozy mysteries.  I don't think that you have to read them in order (I sure haven't been) but I'm sure that you would also get maximum enjoyment if you did read them that way.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A great addition to what is becoming a favorite cozy mystery series for me.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Still Life by Louise Penny (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. 

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces--and this series--with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny."
My Thoughts:


'We choose our thoughts. We choose our perceptions. We choose our attitudes. We may not think so. We may not believe it, but we do. I absolutely know we do. I've seen enough evidence, time after time, tragedy after tragedy. Triumph after triumph. It's about choice." 
from Still Life by Louise Penny

I first read this book back in 2012 according to my Goodreads account (I never actually shared my thoughts on it though it looks like).  I never continued on with the series though afterwards.  Fast forward seven years and I decided that it was time to reread this one thanks to all of the love this series gets from bookstagram.  I enjoyed my time rereading this book immensely.  I immersed myself within the pages of this book and almost didn't want to come up for air.  This book isn't one to rush through but instead is one to just savor.  With such gorgeous writing I don't know how you would want to do anything else if I'm being honest.  I'm not one that marks passages that speak to me but I did while rereading this book.  Maybe it was the perfect timing of reading this book again at just the right point in my life.  I can't say for sure but there were various points where this book just spoke to me.  It made me sit and think with it for awhile which I certainly don't do often enough.  I saw somewhere that Inspector Gamache had been compared to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot.  I can definitely see what they mean and feel like it explains all the more my enjoyment of Gamache as I'm a huge fan of Christie's Poirot books.  Reading this book again after seven years was an interesting reading experience also because my memory of the storyline was basically forgotten.  I could remember who I thought was behind everything but the why's, what led there, and everything else all still felt knew to me.  It honestly felt like I was almost experiencing this book again for the first time.  I'm so glad that I went back and reread this book so that I can now continue on with reading more of this series.  It's a reading experience that I'm not likely to forget any time soon as this book just struck a cord with me!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book so much and am grateful that I've found this series (again?) thanks to bookstagram!  I can tell you that I certainly won't be waiting seven years before finally moving on to the second book in this series.  I actually think that this is a series that I'm going to want to own and have on my own shelves so I'm going to start picking up copies as I can.  I've always been a huge fan of mysteries but a book like this really stands out from the rest.  I loved my time with this book and almost wasn't ready to see it end.  I'll leave you with another quote that I couldn't help but savor.  Highly, highly recommended!

"Life is change. If you aren't growing and evolving you're standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead. Most of these people are very immature. They lead "still" lives, waiting.'

'Waiting for what?'

'Waiting for someone to save them. Expecting someone to save them or at least protect them from the big, bad world. The thing is no one else can save them because the problem is theirs and so is the solution. Only they can get out of it.from Still Life by Louise Penny

Bottom Line:  An outstandingly good read!  I cannot highly recommend enough!

Disclosure:  I checked this book out from my local library - it is my mission to now have this one on my own shelves in the near future.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"While Britain is obsessed with the newest hit true-crime television show, Fact, or Fable? detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver are tormented by a fiendish flesh-and-blood killer on the loose.

Lured to a “crime scene” by a mysterious digital invitation, Ruth Lake is horrified by what she finds: a bizarre and gruesome tableau surrounded by a crowd of gawkers. The deadly work is the latest “art installation” designed by a diabolical criminal dubbed the Ferryman. Not only is this criminal cold-blooded; he’s a narcissistic exhibitionist desperate for an audience. He’s also clever at promoting his deadly handiwork. Exploiting England’s current true-crime craze, he uses social media to titillate and terrorize the public.

Ruth is joined in the investigation by her partner Greg Carver, who is slowly regaining his strength after a run-in with another sadistic criminal. But Greg can’t seem to shake the bewildering effects of the head wound that nearly ended him. Are the strange auras blurring his vision an annoying side effect of his injury, or could they be something more . . . a tool to help him see a person’s true nature?"

My Thoughts:

I'm starting to feel like 2019 is becoming the year of sequels for me.  I've been reading some absolutely stellar books that are all second books in their respective series - and I can add this one to the list without hesitation!  Last year, I read and loved the first book which is titled Splinter in the Blood.  It was dark and thrilling which is exactly the type of book that I enjoy reading most.  I've been anticipating this book every since finishing that first one.  I've got to say that this book was just as good (if not slightly better) than its' predecessor.  Let's start this off though by saying that it's probably for the best if you read these books in order.  Do you have to read that first book?  No, but if you don't a lot of what happened in that first book will be spoiled for you to a certain extent.  I just think you will enjoy these books more if you read them both but you certainly don't have to.  That being said, this book starts off with a bang.  Carver and Ruth are both still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in that previous book but in different ways.  All of that has to be pushed aside though as they are drawn into another dangerous and high profile case.  The best part of this book for me was how easily the author was able to keep me guessing.  I feel like I was going back and forth suspecting different individuals but I wasn't even close.  The storyline was just as dark and fast-paced as it was in the first book.  I found myself reading for as long as possible because I just couldn't stop reading.  In fact, I broke my late night reading rule that I have during the week just so that I could finish this one.  Ha!  I'm very, very intrigued by a separate storyline that the author brought into this book.  I expect that we will learn more about it in the next book but I fully admit that it's going to be a very long wait until then!

Overall, I enjoyed this one immensely and am now officially a huge fan of this series!  I was a huge fan after the first book but I feel like with two winners in a row this author has jumped on to my must read list.  It's going to be so hard to wait for book three in this series, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait after loving these first two so much!  What more can you ask for with a book that has you on edge while reading guessing the entire time?  It was a marvelous reading experience and now I need more books and series to follow just like this!  I would recommend this book to fans of suspense, thrillers, and mysteries alike.  Be warned that both of these books edge on the darker side but it's so worth it!  I'll just be over here impatiently pining for the next book whenever it is due to release.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A series and author to take note of - do yourself a favor and start with Splinter in the Blood to get the full reading experience!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.