Friday, July 21, 2017

A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson Blog Tour!

Publication: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Publisher
Discover the real-life mystery centered on the queen of crime herself: Agatha Christie. In this tantalizing new novel, Christie’s mysterious ten-day disappearance serves as the starting point for a gripping novel, in which Christie herself is pulled into a case of blackmail and murder.

“I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.”
Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, is boarding a train, preoccupied with the devastating knowledge that her husband is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events—for her rescuer is no guardian angel, rather he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind.
“You, Mrs. Christie, are going to commit a murder. But, before then, you are going to disappear.”
Writing about murder is a far cry from committing a crime, and Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her expertise and knowledge about the act of murder to kill on his behalf.

In A Talent for Murder, Andrew Wilson ingeniously explores Agatha Christie’s odd ten-day disappearance in 1926 and weaves an utterly compelling and convincing story around this still unsolved mystery involving the world’s bestselling novelist.

The Facts
Agatha Christie never spoke of her ten-day disappearance in the winter of 1926, and it has remained one of the most intriguing mysteries of modern times. She eventually turned up in a seaside hotel, registered under the name of her husband's mistress.
The official statement released by the family was that Christie suffered a sudden episode of amnesia as the result of a car crash. She rarely talked about the experience, and omitted its mention entirely from her autobiography.


Agatha Christie has always seemed to have a great talent for developing entertaining whodunits with unsuspecting culprits. But for 11 days...and even longer after that, she becomes the story that everyone is talking about…

It’s 1926, Agatha Christie is at the top of her writing game; her sixth novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, was very popular. But unfortunately her life outside of her writing only looked good to outsiders. Having to deal with her husband is having an affair and the passing of her mother is a lot for Mrs. Christie to deal with. Then one day, she decides to go for a drive and "The Queen of Mystery" soon becomes a mystery herself.

Andrew Wilson, a great fan of Agatha Christie manages to create an intriguing story in the same vein as Christie’s mysteries. The author does extensive research into Christie's life and uses that to create his own spin on what he believes occurred during those missing days that no one really can account for except Agatha Christie herself.  A Talent for Murder, is a good story if you enjoy a cozy mystery or the works of Agatha Christie, like myself.

RATING: 3 out of 5
Andrew Wilson is the highly-acclaimed author of biographies of Patricia Highsmith, Sylvia Plath, Alexander McQueen, as well as Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived. His first novel, The Lying Tongue, was published by Atria in 2007. His journalism has appeared inThe Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, and The Washington Post.
Find Andrew Wilson Online
Twitter: @andrewwilsonaw
A TALENT FOR MURDER: A Novel by Andrew Wilson
Atria Hardcover | ISBN: 9781501145063 | On sale: July 11, 2017 | 320 pages | $26.00
eBook: Atria | ISBN: 9781501145087 | On sale: July 11, 2017 | 320 pages | $13.99


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Monday, July 17, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Bear & the Nightingale #1) by Katherine Arden

Publication: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Source: Publisher/ Purchased my own copy also

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

I loved how the book began with the story of Morozko (The Lord of Winter) being told to the children in their home. I felt like it set the tone for the rest of the book.

Six years after the death of her mother, Vasilisa’s (Vasya) father brings home a new wife (Anna). Anna is very devout and strict. Her personality clashes greatly with Vasya, who is a bit of a rebel. At least for her time period. She doesn’t like to follow a lot of rules/orders. She gives food and talks to the spirits/creatures that live in the forest and in her home. Much to the dismay of her stepmother.

All of that comes to an end when Father Konstantin, a priest comes to their village. He forbids the worshiping of the spirits. Soon after that, the crops aren’t coming in as plentiful, the food sources start dwindling. But Father Konstantin just urges everyone to pray harder and be strong in their faith.

Vasya knows it is because the spirits/creatures are being neglected. And she even attempts to secretly appease them by herself. But it is not enough. And pretty soon an evil creature threatens to awaken and harm everyone.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully imaginative and atmospheric tale that I enjoyed from start to finish. Gorgeous cover? Check. Historical Fiction? Check. Story involving a strong heroine and inspired by Russian folklore? Double check.

There is so much I could say about this book. I feel like my review doesn’t really do it justice. So I am going to tell you to check it out for yourself. The book started off a little slow, but it had a really interesting start and I fell in love with the writing style. The descriptions were vivid, the characters were complex and interesting. Each character added another layer to the story. I loved Vasya. She was a very strong character. It was interesting to see that in an “old tale” there was a “modern” girl. So far ahead of her time I thought. I was even more excited to discover that I would get to find out more about her when book 2 releases, The Girl in the Tower on December 5, 2017!

RATING: 5 out of 5


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Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Darkness Absolute (Casey Duncan #2) by Kelley Armstrong

Publication: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher/ Purchased by own copy also

The follow-up to #1 NYT bestseller Kelley Armstrong’s acclaimed City of the Lost, Rockton town detective Casey Duncan makes a terrible—and dangerous—discovery in the woods outside of town.
When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their past misdeeds and past lives. She knew living in Rockton meant living off-the-grid completely: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. What she didn’t expect is that Rockton comes with its own set of secrets and dangers.
Now, in A Darkness Absolute, Casey and her fellow Rockton sheriff’s deputy Will chase a cabin-fevered resident into the woods, where they are stranded in a blizzard. Taking shelter in a cave, they discover a former resident who’s been held captive for over a year. When the bodies of two other women turn up, Casey and her colleagues must find out if it’s an outsider behind the killings or if the answer is more complicated than that...before another victim goes missing.

Casey Duncan returns in another heart-racing thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong.

A Darkness Absolute, the second book in the Casey Duncan series, begins with Casey and Anders searching for one of the town residents who apparently got a little stir crazy and ran off in the woods. The woods is a dangerous place on a normal day, but now with a storm threatening to hit, it’s even more dangerous. Not long into their search, Will and Casey have to take shelter in a nearby cave and it’s there that they discover a woman still alive in a hole in the ground.

From there it’s a matter of rescuing the victim (Nicole)  and trekking back through the woods to Rockton to get help. Unfortunately Nicole may not be the only victim and Casey, Will, and Eric, will have to use all of their resources if they want to catch the person doing this. Is it Hostiles or Settlers? Or worse could it be one of Rockton’s very own behind it?

The mystery aspect of this book was very interesting. Even though I was able to guess who the culprit was, It wasn’t until I was more than half way in. That didn’t ruin anything for me though. I was still able to enjoy following the characters while they put the pieces together and discovered who the bad guy/gal was and the reason behind it all.

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong was a very entertaining story. Ever since I discovered Kelley Armstrong's writing a couple of years ago, I kind of fell in love with it. Her writing style and the characters that she creates are always interesting and enjoyable. I’m looking forward to finding out what the next mystery, This Fallen Prey reveals when it releases on February 6, 2018.

RATING: 4 out of 5


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

Publication: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Source: Publisher
A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.
Winifred Allen needs a vacation.
Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.
What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

Winifred (Wini), Sandra, Pia, and Rachel have been friends for eons. Their lives being so hectic, Pia plans a white water rafting trip for the four of them. Wini is hesitant to go, but she fears being left behind by her friends and ultimately decides to go. After all this could be the trip of a lifetime.

It was hard for me to connect or even care for these characters because I knew so little of them. I wished that there was more backstory for them. The story is told through Wini’s POV, so I got to know her a little bit more which was nice. It was kind of strange that one of the characters ended up sleeping with their young tour guide almost immediately and then seemed to fall for him just as fast. It was kind of weird and to me it didn’t add anything of great interest to the story. That action seems to set off a chain of cattiness and tenseness between these friends.

Whatever their differences, they learn fairly quickly that they need to work together in order to navigate the river successfully. The author does a nice job of painting a picture for the reader in regards to the atmosphere in the woods and dangers of river rafting. Especially when things take a turn for the worse and their fun girls trip turns out to be a nightmare and they have to fight for their own survival.

The River at Night was an interesting read, but not exactly what I had hoped it would be. It almost felt like I was watching a made for tv Lifetime movie instead of reading an edge of your seat adventure / thriller book.  Would I call this a suspenseful thriller? Hmmm no. All in all this story was an entertaining adventure read if not a little bit predictable at times. I love suspenseful and adventure stories,  but I think this book fell a little short for me.

RATING: 3 out of 5


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Monday, May 8, 2017

Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

Publication: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Source: Bought/Own

I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.
He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.
Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.
I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
That is until I see Will McAlister for the first time in a decade.
Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.
We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction.
A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.
But it’s just a harmless crush, right?
It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?
It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.
Before I Ever Met You is a contemporary standalone romance, a light-hearted swoony read that will make you believe in love again

I absolutely loved Will.  He was a great character. And even though he had been hurt pretty badly in his marriage, he was so open to trying again with the right person. He didn’t let his experience make him a bitter person. Once he meets Jackie who is now a young woman, he is immediately attracted to her. But she is his assistant. And worse still, she is his close friend’s daughter.  The situation practically screams trouble. But staying away may be harder than either one of them had anticipated.

I loved Jackie at first, but as the story progressed, she began to wear on my nerves a little bit. It frustrated me that she was in her head way too much. She overthought everything. It took her too long to realize how much of a great guy Will was for her and her son. Even though she recognized how different her feelings were for Will compared to her bad ex, she still didn’t trust herself to make the right decision.

Before I Ever Met You was a nice slow burn romance that I ending up enjoying quite a bit. There wasn’t a bunch of unnecessary drama or over the top antics or humor, which I appreciated. It was a sweet romance with interesting characters that I couldn’t help but cheer for. This is the first light hearted romance that I’ve read from Karina Halle (I’m used to more of her darker/heavier stuff).
She is a great writer and I hope that she continues to write more stories similar to this one.

RATING: 4½ out of 5


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