Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She's an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only victim who lived.

When three people disappear from her town in three years, all around her birthday—the day she was kidnapped so long ago—Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer’s closet all those years ago.

Agent Reed Markham made his name and fame on the back of the Coben case, but his fortunes have since turned. His marriage is in shambles, his bosses think he's washed up, and worst of all, he blew a major investigation. When Ellery calls him, he can’t help but wonder: sure, he rescued her, but was she ever truly saved? His greatest triumph is Ellery’s waking nightmare, and now both of them are about to be sucked into the past, back to the case that made them...with a killer who can't let go."

My Thoughts:
The Vanishing Season was a thrilling read that left me really excited to read more by this author.  It was also a much darker mystery than I expected which I enjoyed.  I don't know why that I thought it was going to be closer to a cozy mystery but that definitely wasn't the case!  Instead, this book was filled with suspense and had me reading late into the night.  In this book, Ellery is investigating the disappearances of three different individuals who she believes are now dead and possibly the victims of a serial killer.  She has no proof though and no one will listen which is why she then turns to Reed Markham, the agent that saved her when she was younger from a serial killer.  That's enough right there to get things started, and to get me as the reader turning the pages.  I loved that I was instantly caught up within the pages of this mystery.  What happened to Ellery when she was a young girl was horrifying but she has basically hidden her past from everyone that is in her life now.  Those secrets though are about to brought into the open as someone else is about to go missing.  I felt like this added such a different layer of tension to the book because as the reader you are just waiting to see when her past will be revealed.  

I also really enjoyed the fact that because Ellery kept her past hidden from others that there is a layer of mistrust of her intentions present.  I'm trying not to say too much but you are led to wonder on if she is right that there is a serial killer at work or if there are other reasons behind her pushing for these investigations.  I won't say more than that though!  I really enjoyed both Ellery and Reed as main characters - I would love if this was just the beginning of a new mystery series focusing on them!  They are both so damaged but in different ways.  I just couldn't get enough of either of them.  The ending was intense and unexpected - I didn't figure out who the killer was until I was supposed to.  At that point I found myself unable to stop reading as I just needed to see how it would all end.  I was left wanting more from these characters, more from this story.....but all in a good way as I just wasn't ready to see the book end.  I can easily say that this is an author that I will be watching and reading more of!

Overall I really, really enjoyed my reading experience with this book!  It was dark, creepy, and thrilling - everything that I enjoy in a great mystery read!  I really couldn't get enough of it which should be apparent in my review.  Ha!  I would say that I flew through the pages but I read it on my e-reader so should I say I swiped through the pages as past as I could?  LOL!  Honestly it was a really great mystery and I'm so glad that I had the chance to read it.  I will be reading whatever this author writes next since I enjoyed this one so much!  I would recommend this one to fans of mysteries and thrillers alike.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A really great mystery that I couldn't put down!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.

The Vanishing Season just released on December 5th if you want to check it out now!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bloodstains With Bronte by Katherine Bolger Hyde (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It’s a dark and stormy autumn on the Oregon coast. Windy Corner, the Victorian mansion Emily Cavanaugh inherited in Arsenic with Austen, is being remodeled into a writers' retreat. Two of the young workers, Jake and Roman, are showing too much of the wrong kind of interest in Katie, Emily's young single-mother housekeeper. Their boss, Jeremiah, is a disturbing presence in a different way with his obsessive, tormented piety. Soon the passions in the house grow as dark and stormy as the weather, and Emily begins to feel as if she’s living in a Brontë novel.

Meanwhile, to raise money for the local clinic, Emily and Katie host a murder mystery dinner on Halloween night. All goes well until the supposed corpse turns up actually dead—with Katie standing over him, a bloody knife in her hand.

Luke Richards, local sheriff and Emily’s true love, is forced to regard Katie as a suspect, but Emily refuses to accept the situation. Her loyalty to Katie crashes against her duty to Luke and to the truth as she fights to save Katie from a murder charge."

My Thoughts:

Bloodstains with Bronte was a fun follow-up and second book in this cozy mystery series.  Also, how great are these titles?  I was really looking forward to jumping back into this series as I enjoyed the first book so much.  In this book, Emily is working on converting her house into a writer's retreat. As I absolutely love her house and the descriptions of it, I couldn't get enough of this part of the story.  I find it so fun to imagine inheriting a big rambling house like this filled with secret passageways and other fun stuff.  It is just one of those things that makes these books such a pleasure to read!  Then she is talked into hosting a murder mystery dinner at her house and that is when the real trouble begins.  I've got to be honest and say that the premise is what made want to read this book (and ultimately got my reading this series) in the first place.  Such a fun idea!  This book had my attention from the very beginning thanks to all of this.  I just couldn't stop reading and really didn't want to.  That's really what I am loving about this series - how easily I fall into the books and the fact that I just can't seem to stop reading.  It makes for a really great reading experience.

All of those positives being said, I did not care for Emily's choices in this book and found her to be quite frustrating at times.  She basically punished Luke for doing his job and I just couldn't get behind that.  I did appreciate though that the story wasn't told just from her viewpoint or I don't think that I would have enjoyed this one as much.  Instead we also got to see Luke's point of view and even Katie's at times.  I adore her as a character so much so that was really a delightful surprise!  I really appreciated that we got to see more of her history in this book even if it wasn't always easy to read about.  I've been curious as to who her daughter's father was and now we know (although I won't spoil anything by saying who).  The mystery portion of this book was fun although I was able to pick out the killer myself.  I definitely didn't figure out the why's behind it all until the very end which helped to make this still a suspenseful read.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and thought that it was a solid follow-up to book one.  I'm really looking forward to continuing on with this series whenever the next book is released.  I have added this series to my must read cozy series list because I have enjoyed the books so much.  This book was a fun read and a great change of pace from some of the darker reads that I have finished lately.  And while I had a few complaints with it, I still really enjoyed my time with this book.  That should tell you everything that you need to know!  I don't think that you necessarily "have" to read this series in order but with only two books, why wouldn't you?  Recommended to fans of cozy mystery series and also those who enjoy classics.  The author does a great job of really including pieces here and there from books by the authors that she includes in her titles (and I've actually read Wuthering Heights so that's a win for me).

Bottom Line:  An enjoyable read!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.

*This book is released on December 12th if you want to check it out!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Library Loot (December Edition)

I've been to two different libraries in two days - this is the result of those two visits.  I'm calling it my December library loot but let's be honest here:  there is a good chance I'll visit the library a couple of more times before the month ends.  I made out with some really great books though that I cannot wait to read!  If I'm being honest I didn't manage to read any of the library books from my last post before they had to go back unread.  Sigh!  I'm 100% sure that I'll check them back out at some point though so no worries.  Here are the books that I couldn't not bring home with me:
  • The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti - This book has been on my radar since it first released.  I couldn't put it down though once I saw a comparison to Rebecca on the back cover.  Yes please!  It sounds great and I basically want to read it right now.
  • Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn - It has been way too long since I last read anything by Vaughn.  Add to that a dystopian setting and a mystery...I just cannot resist.  Plus this book has a gorgeous and unique cover - it is calling my name right now!
  • The Dark Room by Minette Walters - I found this book while browsing the new book shelves.  I hadn't heard of it but it sounds creepy and thrilling - that's basically all I needed to know before I brought it home with me.
  • The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood - I've got all three of this author's books on my TBR list.  I tried one of her other books and just didn't quite get into it (although I do plan on going back to it at some point).  I really like the sound of this one so I'm planning on reading it instead.
  • Dark River Rising by Roger Johns - Yes another find courtesy of the new book shelves.  It has such a gorgeous cover and then I realized it was set in Louisiana and had to bring it home with me to check out.  This may be my next print read!
  • Beloved Poison by E.S. Thomson - I was browsing and found the 2nd book in this series which was sent in an asylum (if I'm remembering correctly now).  That is basically catnip to me but then I realized it was part of a series and went searching for the first book which is this one.  It sounds really great so I'm eager to try it!
  • Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter - This is the only book that I actually went to the library specifically for.  It will be my first read off of my TBR list challenge.  I've got really high hopes and a lot of readers that I trust have sung this book's praises so I'm pretty excited to read it!
That's a lot of great books all in one pile.  I've also got a few books on hold that I'm patiently (or not so patiently waiting for).  I'm planning on ending my reading year with some really great books and this pile will help that happen.  Has anyone read any of these?  Are they any that I should read before all of the rest?  And just out of curiosity: does anyone else go their library non-stop like I do?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price."

My Thoughts:

Yes!  This book was just as good as I had hoped that it would be - actually I would say it was even better.  I'm going to start off by stating for the record that I love, love, love Grant's Newsflesh trilogy (of which I've read each book multiple times minus Feedback which I haven't read yet).  Because I love those three books so much, I've been very hesitant to pick up anything else by her.  Not because I don't expect to love everything that she writes.  At this point I actually do expect to love all of her books.  But more because I remember clearly the first time that I read Feed and how it managed to rip my heart out after I had come to care about the characters so much.  That might sound slightly like a spoiler so I won't say more than that.  I just knew that there was a good chance that anything else I read by her would either not live up to my very high expectations or would also rip my heart out.  I told myself though that I wasn't waiting to read this one and I'm so glad that I didn't.  It was absolutely fantastic!  Yet again I found myself completely immersed in this world that Grant has created.  This time though there was a creepy horror movie vibe to the book that I just couldn't get enough of.  Killer mermaids folks.....that should tell you everything that you need to know.  

One of the things that I really loved about this book was the characters.  Grant has a knack for creating characters that I really come to care about.  These characters were no different and I grew to care for them at my own peril.  As soon as you start reading this book, you basically know that things may not turn out well for everyone.  In fact, just from reading the summary you can see that they are heading straight into the danger zone in the attempt to determine what actually happened to the Atargatis so long ago.  Cue the creepy horror music from here on out.  The author starts dropping hints from the very beginning that things may not go as planned.  It adds this layer of tension to the story that made for quite the reading experience.  I won't say too much more but the comparisons to horror movies should tell you all you need to know.  And yet again I say, killer mermaids folks.  This book was everything I wanted to read and didn't even know it!  I basically couldn't stop reading this book.  I ended up finishing it late in the night because I just needed to know how it was all going to end.  I was thrilled when after finishing I realized that it looked like this is going to be part of a series.  I can't wait to read more!  Also, there is a prequel that I need to check out as soon as possible because I just can't get enough of this world that Grant has created!

Overall, I can tell you that this book will easily be on my best reads of 2017 list!  It was such a great reading experience and just writing up my thoughts has me so excited to read everything else that Grant has written.  I've always wished that they would have made a movie (or movies) based off of the Newsflesh trilogy.  I have to say that this book would make an amazing horror movie as well!  I will always sing Grant's praises because her books are just that good!  The worlds that she creates are just so unique and complex - I just can't say enough good things about her or her books.  This book was dark, tense, and so flipping good that I can't even talk coherently about it.  I'm going to need a copy of this one for my own shelves for sure!  Highly, highly recommended!  Readers of horror, science fiction, everyone really....check this one out!

Bottom Line:  One of the best books that I have read in 2017!  I don't need to say more than that!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.       

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Sunday Post #38 (2018 Reading Plans)

"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"

Good morning everyone!  I'm actually writing this post ahead of time which means it won't get posted in the late afternoon like it usually does.  Success on my part - LOL!  As the title of this post probably already shows, I've been really thinking about my reading plans for 2018 already.  I've said this before but 2017 has not been my best year of reading.  In fact, I'm on track to read the fewest number of books this year since I began blogging back in 2008.  I'm sitting at 50 books read for the year - if I finish 4 more books I will tie with my reading year in 2012.  I know I shouldn't worry about the numbers so much but it is quite the difference when in the last two years I have finished eighty books both years.  My TBR keeps growing but my reading pace has slowed down and I'm not really sure why.

I'm not going to sit and moan about it though, instead I'm trying to figure out what I can do to make 2018's reading better.  Signing up for #COYER was a great way to begin but I'm not going to stop there.  One of my new plans to jump start my reading with really great reads is I have come up with a list of fifty books that I'm calling my TBR list (not very original - I know).  This is a mixture of fiction and nonfiction reads that have all been on my TBR list for some time- no new 2018 releases involved.  Every month (or more than once a month if I like) I'm going to use the random number generator to pick one of these books to read.  I'm going to knock some of these books off of my TBR list once and for all!  I have a tendency to "save" books to read that I think I'm going to really like but I don't want to read right away because then I won't have them to look forward to read.  This makes no sense but there you have it.  I put a bunch of books like this on my list to finally give myself the push to read them.  I made a tab on my blog if you are interested in seeing the fifty books that I chose (I might make a separate post but it is doubtful because that is a lot of books covers to share).  The plan is to keep my list at fifty constantly - for every book that I finish I will add a new one to the list.  And at the end of the year I'm going to look back at all of the books I finish for this personal challenge.  It should be fun! I've got other reading plans for 2018 but I'll post about them at a later date.  I've already got my first book picked out for this because I can't wait until the new year to begin.  I will be reading this gem very soon:

It has been a few weeks since my last reading update which means I have a lot to catch up with you on.  I've actually finished three books since my last post which is pretty awesome considering.  These are the books that I've recently read:

Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant was just as amazing as I had hoped that it would be.  I loved every minute of reading it so I'm absolutely thrilled that it looks like it is part of a series.  I need more killer mermaids in my life!  I'm going to post my thoughts on this one soon but expect a lot of gushing to be involved.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie was delightful read.  I've actually already written up my thoughts on this one which I'm calling a success.  This book was such a great read!  It has me wanting to read more of her books soon, and I heard on another Read or Dead podcast episode that there is another movie coming in the future based off of one of her books.  I'm pumped!

Bloodstains with Bronte by Katherine Bolger Hyde was a fun follow-up to the first book in the series (Arsenic With Austen) that I recently read.  While I definitely liked the first book more, it was great to get back to this cast of characters and cozy series once again.  I will be working on writing up my thoughts on this one very soon as well.

I'm now currently reading the following two books:


Final Girls by Riley Sager is so completely intense!  I can't stop reading yet find myself unsure if I want to keep going.  I'm loving every minute of it!  I'm also reading Troublemaker by Leah Remini as my nonfiction read.  I'm a huge fan of her show exposing Scientology so I couldn't resist picking up the book.  I'm enjoying it although I have to say that most of my attention is currently focused on Final Girls at the moment.  These are both print books and I don't have an ebook on the go currently which is rare.  I'll be picking up one of my choices from my #COYER reading pool soon to start on my kindle.

Plans for the day are the usual.  My youngest has basketball pictures before his game so we have that in the afternoon.  My laundry piles are sky high so I'm going to be working on getting those down to a more manageable level.  Reading and blogging as much as possible.  And then football, family time, and The Walking Dead of course.  It sounds like the recipe for a great Sunday and perfect start to my week.  I'm off to work on said laundry piles but do share if you are also already thinking about your reading in 2018.  I would love to hear what your plans are!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!