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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

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:

Historical fiction for the YA set, A Beautiful Poison, is a fun, engaging murder-mystery that will have you turning pages faster and faster to find out "whodunit".  Set during the Gilded Age, this story centers on three BFFs - Allene, Birdie, and Jasper.  All three besties are now eighteen, which means they are embarking on adulthood and all the responsibility that it entails.  Allene is rich, privileged and about to be married.  Her love of science is seen as a hobby that is to be forgotten about, according to her father.  Birdie and her mom used to work for Allene's family until they were thrown out of the household and are now trying to scrape by a living.  As for Jasper, he is living with his uncle who refuses to leave the house, so he is forced to fend for the both of them.  The trio reunite for Allene's big engagement party.  A party that will impact them in ways they never could have imagined.

At the party, a young woman named Florence dies.  She's fallen down the stairs and broken her neck.  Everyone assumes she was drunk and in a clumsy accident, she fell.  However, Jasper sniffs the glass that Florence was drinking from and discovers the scent of almonds.  What does that mean?  It means that cyanide was in her drink.  Does that mean she was murdered? Well, it seems pretty likely, especially once Allene finds a note that reads, "You're Welcome".  How crazy is that?  What does that even mean?  Someone killed Florence as a favor?  Say what?!  Yep, looks like the three besties have a murder to solve - or at least they decide that they do.  Allene, Birdie, and Jasper resolve to figure out what really happened to Florence.  Through their investigation, they discover truths about their friendships and themselves that show them just how much they have changed and grown apart.  They also discover that love and friendship is even stronger than they imagined. 

A Beautiful Poison is a terrific story that entertains and captivates.  The writing is rich and full of gorgeous details about the Gilded Age.  The characters are flawed, selfish, and focused on helping themselves by any means necessary.  Their friendship is broken and dysfunctional, filled with betrayals, jealousies, and mistrust.  And yet, they do care about one another, and that love does shine through at times.  As for the murder-mystery they set out to solve - its filled with red herrings that throws them off the scent, but eventually the truth is revealed.  All in all, a truly fun read.

I would happily recommend A Beautiful Poison to fans of Kang and anyone looking for their next mystery story - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule:  A Beautiful Poison
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes: A Stewart Hoag Mystery by David Handler

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

HARLAN COBEN calls it “One of my all-time favorite series! …David Handler is so good at writing one smart, funny page-turner after another that he makes it look easy.”

Fans of JANET EVANOVICH and CARL HIAASEN, get ready. If you haven’t yet discovered wisecracking sleuth Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag and his faithful basset hound Lulu, you’re in for a sharp, hilarious treat.

Once upon a time, Hoagy had it all: a hugely successful debut novel, a gorgeous celebrity wife, the glamorous world of New York City at his feet. These days, he scrapes by as a celebrity ghostwriter. A celebrity ghostwriter who finds himself investigating murders more often than he’d like.

And once upon a time, Richard Aintree was the most famous writer in America — high school students across the country read his one and only novel, a modern classic on par with The Catcher in the Rye. But after his wife’s death, Richard went into mourning… and then into hiding. No one has heard from him in twenty years.

Until now. Richard Aintree — or someone pretending to be Richard Aintree — has at last reached out to his two estranged daughters. Monette is a lifestyle queen à la Martha Stewart whose empire is crumbling; and once upon a time, Reggie was the love of Hoagy’s life. Both sisters have received mysterious typewritten letters from their father.

Hoagy is already on the case, having been hired to ghostwrite a tell-all book about the troubled Aintree family. But no sooner does he set up shop in the pool house of Monette’s Los Angeles mansion than murder strikes. With Lulu at his side — or more often cowering in his shadow — it’s up to Hoagy to unravel the mystery, catch the killer, and pour himself that perfect single-malt Scotch… before it’s too late.

my thoughts:

First off, I need to mention that this book is the ninth in a popular series (A Stewart Hoag Mystery) by David Handler.  And secondly, I've never ready any of the books in the series until now, so I honestly didn't know what to expect.  Why did I pick up a book way down in the line of a series?  Well, I loved the title and I loved the sound of it - a celebrity ghostwriter who is an amateur sleuth?  How crazy fun does that sound?! I just had to find out for myself if the book would be as fun a read as I imagined it to be.

I grabbed my copy, a huge cuppa, and settled down for a long afternoon of reading.  I knew that if I loved it, I wouldn't be getting up for anything.  And boy, did I love it!

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes is a jolly good murder-mystery that deals with writers, books, celebrity scandal, and pet pooches.  Its light, fun, and easy to get lost in.  I absolutely enjoyed getting to know Hoagy and Lulu (his doggy sidekick) - they are quite the investigative pair.  Apparently, once upon a time, Hoagy wrote a novel, a bestselling novel.  However, he soon realized that he only had one novel in him.  So, he turned to ghostwriting for celebrities and became a part-time amateur sleuth.  Talk about a career change, eh?  Well, in this book, his agent calls him up and tells him about a new job.  Apparently, he is to write about the celebrated author, Richard Aintree and his family.  Hoagy sets off to stay with one of Aintree's daughters - Monette.  The other daughter, Reggie, was a love of Hoagy's once upon a time.  It seems both daughters have recently received letters from their father, who has long been in hiding, following his wife's death - and that was twenty years ago!  And then, there's the murder.  Yep, a murder!  Seems like Hoagy is going to need to call upon his sleuthing skills to find out what the heck is happening.  He needs to find the murderer, figure out who wrote those letters to Aintree's daughters, and find Aintree.  Hoagy definitely has his work cut out for him.

Handler has written a great new story to add to his collection of mysteries starring Stewart Hoag. Set in 1992, we get plenty of references to the nineties lifestyle and culture - all of which felt like a nice blast from the past.  We also get to know a terrific cast of characters who keep the story moving along with their dramatics and complicated lives.  The story itself has a noir-ish feel to it, which I just loved.  And the writing was top notch.  The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes is a delight for fans of Handler's books and anyone looking for a new mystery series to get lost in - you will LOVE this book!!  I know that I can't wait to get my hands on the first eight books in the Stewart Hoag mystery series - woo hoo, new books to devour!  I would definitely recommend this book!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Lost Ones: A Novel by Sheena Kamal

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Recommended for summer reading by TIME magazine

“A brave, unflinching heroine and brave, unflinching writing add up to an extraordinary debut–highly recommended.”–Lee Child

A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.

It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.

A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.

The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

my thoughts:

Mystery-thrillers chock full of suspense are my go-to this summer.  Especially the page-turners that haunt you for days after. I just love those books to bits. So, I was definitely excited to get my hands on a copy of Sheena Kamal's debut novel, The Lost Ones.  I'd read the blurb about it and thought it sounded right up my alley.  Plus, it has been getting nothing but rave reviews.  How could I not want to read it, right?

I settled down with a huge cuppa, ignored the rain and howling winds, and read all day long.  I found myself in Canada with Nora, a strong and very flawed woman who is on a mission to forget her past.  Except, her past won't let her go.  One day, out of the blue, Nora receives a phone call.  The caller asks for her help.  Bonnie has gone missing and they need Nora to help find her.  Who's Bonnie?  Well, Bonnie is Nora's daughter.  Fifteen years ago, Nora gave up her baby and now she's being asked by the adoptive parents to help look for her. What's Nora to do?  She could ignore the phone call and keep on trying to forget about her past.  Or, she could choose to help look for Bonnie and face her past head-on.  Hmm...talk about a tough decision...or not.  Nora knows that she has to look for Bonnie and she knows that her past will definitely be haunting her all throughout her search.  And so, the story begins.  Where is Bonnie?  What happened to her? Why has she gone missing?  What dreadful things from Nora's past is she keen to forget?  How does her past connect with Bonnie's disappearance?  Will Nora find Bonnie?  Ack! So many questions and so many twists and turns to get through. And I loved every minute of it!

The Lost Ones is a terrific story that will grab you from the start.  Its slow-going, but feels fast-paced at the same time (if that makes any sense).  Nora is a great character - complicated and messy - the kind that you want to keep reading about.  And the story lines are captivating - you can't help but want more.  I absolutely enjoyed this book. It was such a thrilling read - perfect for summer!

I would happily recommend The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal to fans of suspense/mystery novels - you will LOVE this book!!  I know that I can't wait to read more of Kamal's books.

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Lost Ones
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, July 24, 2017

My Sister's Bones: A Novel by Nuala Ellwood

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

“Rivals The Girl on the Train as a compulsive read (and beats it for style). — Observer (UK)

In the vein of Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Renée Knight’s Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

my thoughts:

Wow! Talk about a psychological thriller at its best! I absolutely LOVED My Sister's Bones. This book was on fire! It had top notch writing, chock full of mystery and suspense which all made for quite a thrilling and exciting read. And the characters were crazy good - they had me questioning everything!  Oh, and the flashbacks mixed in with present day were terrific - they really made you get a better understanding of Kate's past.  Or did they? Hmm...

So, who is Kate?  Well, she's a war reporter who has just returned from Syria to her childhood home for her mother's funeral.  However, once she's back in familiar territory her life seems to take a turn for the worse.  We find out about her abusive childhood, her terrible father, and her alcoholic sister.  We see Kate become convinced that something sinister is happening to the kid next door.  And we find ourselves wondering just how mentally competent Kate really is - how hard has her job impacted her life?  The horrors she grew up with combined with the war torn countries she travels to must have affected her psyche in some way or another - right?  Or is something else happening to Kate?  What is making her see what's not there? Hmm...let me just say, you will have quite a time figuring it out.  All the horrors, the family drama, and the hallucinations - Whoa, Nelly! Talk about storytelling at its best! 

I would happily recommend Nuala Ellwood's debut novel, My Sister's Bones to fans of psychological thrillers - you will get a kick out of this one!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: My Sister's Bones
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dark Saturday: A Novel by Nicci French

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Enter the world of NICCI FRENCH with Dark Saturday, an electrifying, sophisticated psychological thriller about past crimes and present dangers, featuring an unforgettable protagonist…

A decade ago, 18-year-old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the shocking murder of her family. It was an open-and-shut case, and Hannah has been incarcerated in a secure psychiatric hospital ever since.

When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment, she reluctantly agrees. But what she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the idea that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family — that she might, in fact, be innocent.

As Hannah’s case takes hold of her, Frieda begins to realize that she’s up against someone who will go to any lengths to keep the truth from surfacing — even kill again.

Utterly compelling and enthralling, Dark Saturday speeds readers down a twisting trail of secrets, suspense, and murder.

my thoughts:

I'm going to be upfront and admit to never having read any of the books in the Freida Klein series by writing duo Nicci French (the authors are husband and wife, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French).  However, I have heard nothing but amazing things about their books and so I've always had their name on my list of authors to read.  So, when I was provided with the chance to review Dark Saturday, I jumped at the chance.  How could I not?  The book not only sounded amazing, but the author was on my TBR list - it was fate!

I settled down with a huge cuppa, a warm blanket ( the A/C is cranked up to freezing in my house, because its so HOT outside ), and my copy of Dark Saturday.  I did not get up for anyone or anything - I just read, read, and read some more until I reached the very end.  And let me tell you, I loved every minute of.  The book was fantastic! Chock full of mystery and suspense, I was hooked all the way through.  I can't wait to read the rest of this series!

So, what is Dark Saturday about?  Well, its about psychotherapist Freida Klein and her latest case: Hannah Docherty.  Hannah was eighteen when she was arrested for murdering her family.  All the evidence pointed right at her, so she was sent to Chelsworth Hospital - a hospital filled with inmates that the doctors are supposed to be treating/helping.  Its been thirteen years and the police want her case looked over again.  Apparently the lead investigator has just had another case overturned and in order to make sure that it doesn't happen again, the police have asked Freida to look over Hannah's case.  They figure the evidence is all there and the fact that Hannah is crazy will pretty much confirm what they already know - that's she's guilty.  Of course, Freida being Freida, can not just meet Hannah once and decide that she is guilty.  Nope, she needs to meet with her multiple times and pore over the files of the case.  Why?  Well, she's wondering if perhaps Hannah is a victim.  And she's wondering who really killed Hannah's family and why.  Yep, Freida is now on the case and she wants her answers.

French has written a chilling and gripping story that is the epitome of unputdownable.  It is seriously addictive- you won't/can't stop reading.  The writing was spot on with its quick-paced feel that provided the right amount of tension to each scene.  The horror and grittiness of the hospital was eye-opening and terrifying.  And getting to know Freida through her friends and her work was perfect.  I loved how smart, determined, and dysfunctional she was - a flawed, but realistic character.  This book was seriously just what I needed to get me out of my reading doldrums. I absolutely LOVED it!!

I would happily recommend Dark Saturday to fans of Nicci French and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to my TLC Book Tour schedule for: Dark Saturday
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!