Monday, February 29, 2016

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

A work of fiction that seems to owe its premise to the Madeleine McCann case, She's Not There centers around the disappearance of Samantha, a two year old girl who goes missing while her parents eat in a nearby cafe.

While this is most assuredly a mystery, full of psychological suspense, Fielding also tackles some very weighty issues. Cutting back and forth between past and present, readers are shown how Samantha's disappearance completely decimated her family in a way they have never recovered from. Her mother, Caroline, is reminded every anniversary of how the press blamed her for leaving her children alone in their hotel room, even though it was her husband's idea. Her husband, Hunter, moves on to start a new family while grappling with deep guilt from that night. And their older daughter, Michelle, is in a state of constant rebellion, refusing to eat, and getting caught driving drunk.

As I neared the end of this book, I thought I was going to be disappointed. The ending seemed pat, and anticlimactic. But then, to give Fielding a lot of credit, she played off that perfectly. She makes readers think that they know it all, but then offers up a shocking twist that changes everything.

While I didn't love this as much as I've loved other books in this genre, this was a good, quick, gripping read. If you like psychological thrillers, I would say you should give this one a try.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

This is a book full of creativity and creepiness in equal measure. It tells the story of a mysterious fire that happened at a high school two decades ago, an unsolved crime where the main suspect is a girl who doesn't seem to exist. Kaitlyn Johnson is the alter ego of Carly Johnson, and it is her diary that is discovered so many years later among the ruins.

Readers learn about what happened right alongside "the witness", who has collected Kaityln's diary entries, notes between her and Carly, medical files, transcripts of therapy sessions and police interviews, and video clips (described for the readers in great detail), in an attempt to piece together what really happened that night.

I love YA horror/mystery books, and I love books that utilize mixed media (like Night Film, another really creative, really creepy read). The Dead House had me hooked from the first page and never let me go. It kept me guessing, left me reeling, and had me curled up on my couch for hours to find out what happened next. I look forward to seeing more from Dawn Kurtagich!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge! (Plus TBR 24 Hour Readathon!)

Take Control of Your TBR Pile

I'm very excited to participate in this challenge! Throughout the month of March, I will be especially focused on reading books from my TBR shelves. I'm not setting a specific goal, but my general goal is to read predominantly from those shelves in March.

I will be posting my results here :) Check out the challenge, it should be a lot of fun!

1) Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
2) By Flower and Dean Street by Patrice Chaplin
3) The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
4) Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon
5) Dragonwell Dead by Laura Childs
6) A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
7) Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell
8) The Dead Lie Down by Sophie Hannah

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book, or the review itself.

Amy Stevenson has been in a coma for fifteen years, the result of a vicious attack that occurred when she was a teenager. The perpetrator was never caught, and though Amy's scans still register brain activity, she has not been able to communicate any information about what happened to her.

Alex Dale is a reporter who has fallen from grace. Marriage over, job gone, she discovers Amy in a hospital ward while there to interview a doctor.

Alex begins to investigate, sitting by Amy's bedside hoping for discernible responses, tracking down the people from Amy's past. But can she possibly hope to bring a suspect to justice when the victim is trapped in silence?

The thing I loved most about this book was how it kept me guessing. I kept thinking I had it solved, and then kept being proved wrong. I never correctly guessed the ending, and Seddon had me on a roller coaster ride throughout the entire story.

The amount of different characters who get their own chapters, as well as the back and forth of what year the action takes place, can get a bit confusing, especially in an ebook format. But Seddon more than makes up for that with a gripping, well-written psychological thriller that packs a punch.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bullies: A Friendship by Alex Abramovich

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Alex Abramovich's memoir is centered around an unusual subject. He tracks down the person he remembers as being his childhood bully, Trevor, to find out what his life is like now, and they end up becoming friends.

Trevor is living in Oakland, the head of a motorcycle club known as the East Bay Rats. After Alex visits, he ends up moving to Oakland with his then-fiancee, and becomes the "embedded" recorder of the life of Trevor and his East Bay Rats.

This book is about so many topics, and Abramovich writes about all of them with knowledge and skill. Bullies is about childhood, forgiveness, morals, loyalty, poverty, the unreliability of our memories, the power of our past, masculinity, violence, freedom, and politics. It covers both the decline and gentrification of Oakland, the Occupy Oakland movement,and a local murder and subsequent trial.

But these weighty topics, as many as there might be, never get lost, or short-shifted. Abramovich weaves them all together, to tell a story about not only the impact we have on others, and on our environment, but the impact others, and our environment, have on us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Enjoyed That Weren't My Typical Genres or Were Out of My Comfort Zone

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and the Bookish !

1 and 2: Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile, and Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland


These are both genre-defying novels, a little bit science fiction, a little bit fantasy, a little bit thriller, and both unlike anything I have read before or since.

3: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I don't typically read much science fiction, but my dad and brother both told me I would love this book, and they were right.

4, 5, and 6: Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town by Blake Crouch

These were three more science fiction books that I absolutely devoured. I had gone in expecting them to be more mystery/thriller, but was pleasantly surprised by just how much I loved the deviation into science fiction territory.

7: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

I am not a science person, and I am especially not a math person. But this book, with all its physics and numbers, was entertaining, informative, and sometimes laugh out loud funny.

8: Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins) by Andrew Lane

This one may come as a surprise on the list, as if you know me you know how much I love Sherlock Holmes. But I rarely read any prequels to the original canon, as one of my favorite parts of the Holmes stories is his friendship with Dr. Watson. This book was a good read though, and I plan to pick up the rest of the series someday.

9: Bones and All by Camille DeAngelis

While I enjoy horror novels, I normally avoid books that have a "squick" factor, in this case cannibalism. But this book was really well-written, and DeAngelis managed to make the main character likeable, sympathetic, and someone to root for.

10: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

This is way outside my usual reads, in terms of being so strongly science fiction, but it is my brother's favorite book of all-time, so I had to read it. I ended up finding it a really good read.

Shock and Awe (Sidewinders Book 1) by Abigail Roux

So first, the review, of Shock and Awe by Abigail Roux:

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review.

Shock and Awe is the first in the Sidewinder spinoff series,  spun off from the Cut and Run series, also by Abigail Roux (with earlier books co-written with Madeline Urban). I have not read the Cut and Run series yet, though I definitely want to after reading this book! And even though I didn't have a connection to the characters from earlier books in the original series, it didn't matter. I loved this book  anyway.

Shock and Awe follows the story of Nick and Kelly, best friends who served on the same Marine Force Recon Team for years. Kelly was shot in a previous Cut and Run book, and Nick has taken time off to help him as he heals. But Kelly is interested in far more than just resting up, and what originally starts as curiosity turns into something far deeper than either of them could have imagined.

This is a sweet, sexy m/m romance, with hints of the battle action and police work I imagine are more prevalent in the Cut and Run books. Kelly and Nick both feel likable and real, and Roux is very good at making readers feel their emotional and physical connection. This is definitely not a PG read, both because of language and sexual situations. These two men are hot, hot for each other, and hot together, but its their emotional bond that shines through the most.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

I have been a fan of Lisa Lutz ever since her first Spellman Files book. When I heard she was coming out with a psychological thriller, one of my all-time favorite genres, I could not have been more excited. The Passenger did not disappoint.

When readers first meet their narrator, her name is Tanya Dubois, and her husband is lying dead at the foot of the stairs. Tanya chooses to change her identity and run, for reasons that gradually become clearer. Along the way, she meets Blue, who seems to be a kindred spirit, albeit one with her own deep dark secrets.

But the past is near impossible to leave behind, and Tanya struggles to know who to trust and where to turn. No matter where she runs, no matter who she becomes, something from her past refuses to let her go.

One of the best things about this book is how Lutz builds up suspense. The book is so tense, and so full of twists and turns, that reading it the time flies by. You simply cannot put it down. You have to know what "Tanya"'s secret is, and what will happen next. Lutz is an expert at dropping tantalizing hints and clues, just enough to keep a reader's rapt attention without giving too much away. There was one section of the book that actually made me gasp out loud, which to me is the mark of an especially good thriller.

I really hope that this isn't Lutz's last psychological thriller. She is an exceptionally talented writer, and her foray into this new genre has produced a great read.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mix & Match ll Love-A-Thon 2016

One of my hobbies, outside of reading, is making graphics (especially icons) and fanvideos. So for today, I made some icons of book covers (from books I've talked about previously on this blog). Please feel free to take any for your own personal use, just please give credit :)

These are older, but these are two book trailers I've made, one for Thirteen Reasons Why, and one for And Then There Were None.

Thirteen Reasons Why:

And Then There Were None:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Love-a-Thon Introduction!

This is my first time participating in the Love-a-Thon, and I am so excited!

Here is a little bit more about me. I look forward to getting to know more about all of you!

1) What's your name?


2) Where in the world are you blogging from?


3) How did you get into blogging in the first place?

I started keeping a personal journal on Livejournal, and realized that I really wanted a place where I could talk all books, all the time. I discovered this wonderful community and have loved being a part of it ever since!

4) How did you come up with your blog name?

It's a play on one of my favorite books, The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King-I wanted to make sure I got the word book in there somewhere ;) It's a non-canon Sherlock Holmes story, and I love Sherlock Holmes. When I came up with it, it just felt right, and I really liked the way it sounded.

5) What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

Definitely mysteries-mysteries are by far my favorite genre. Included in this would be true crime and psychological thrillers as well. These are predominantly what I read.

6) What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from review?

I do themed book posts-I currently have a Five Friday Alphabet Series that is ongoing. I also do author interviews, and participate in Top Ten Tuesdays.

7) Best blogging experience so far?

This would have to be getting to interview one of my all-time favorite authors, Will Lavender. It was definitely one of those surreal amazing moments.

8) Favorite thing about the blogging community?

The blogging community has been so kind and welcoming, it's really been such a great experience. I've really enjoyed getting to talk books with fellow book lovers, as well as getting some new recommendations to add to my TBR list.

9) Name the 5 books you're most excited for this 2016!

It's so hard to pick just 5! I will go with books that came out/are coming out in 2016 that I haven't gotten to yet:


10) Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn't get to in previous years.

Again, I'm terrible at picking just 5, but I will go with:


11) What's an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

These two books are genius-they are incredibly clever, creepy, well-plotted mystery thrillers that expertly tie in literary theory and psychology. 

12) Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

13) Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games series

14) Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad? (5 characters max)

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series), Dimitri Belikov (The Vampire Academy series), Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Flavia de Luce (Flavia de Luce series), Sherlock Holmes

15) Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies and interests?

I love traveling, writing, making fan videos, going to concerts, going to museums, going to sports events, making graphics, watching TV and movies, snuggling with my dog, seeing family and friends, meditating, coloring, and doing crossword puzzles. I'm also a Pre-K teacher and a babysitter and tutor, so I work with kids a lot. I love spending time with my family and friends as well.

16) Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

Clothes and shoes, DVDs and CDs, Funko Pops and blind boxes, little things for my apartment

17) At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song-and it's your song. What song would be playing?

All We Are by Matt Nathanson-I have some of the lyrics from that song tattooed on my shoulder.

18) Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/tv show, or a film/tv show you want turned into a book. 

I would love to have The Westing Game adapted into a miniseries. It was done as a movie once, but that version no longer seems to be available anywhere, and I would love to see a modern take on it.

19) What would your dream library look like?

I would want it to be giant, so it could also be my house. It would have the world's biggest mystery section, tons of comfy couches, hammocks, and chairs to curl up in, and a cafe where I could order whatever food and drink I wanted where I read. There would be lots of cozy blankets, and my dog would be able to sit with me on any of the furniture. And I would want rolling ladders-I've always wanted those!

20) Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?

Agatha Christie! She's my favorite author of all time.

And to end, here is a picture of my dog Sherlock, wearing a Chanukah sweater:

Death of a Nurse by M.C. Beaton (Including Q&A and Giveaway!)

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review.

In the 31st entry in the Hamish Macbeth mystery series, Hamish encounters, as the title suggests, the body of a nurse, who has been mysteriously murdered. But this is no straightforward crime. As other murders occur, and suspects pile up, Hamish begins to realize he is in the middle of a tangled web of greed and jealousy. He must also navigate his way through a complicated police hierarchy that seems to be becoming a little too every man for himself,, a situation that does not sit well with Hamish.

One of my favorite things about this book was the pacing. In lesser hands, the brisk speed of events could have come across as overwhelming, rushed, or even amateurish. But Beaton expertly navigates events at a fast clip, in a way that keeps the reader's attention and prevents them from ever being confused or bored. There is always something happening, some new lead to follow up on, or some new clue to unravel.

If you are looking for a cozy mystery packed with unique characters, and lots of twists and turns, this is definitely a book you want to look into.

And in fact, you can win a copy of the book from the publisher! Just enter the giveaway below. It's open to US residents only, and the winner will need to provide a mailing address to receive their prize. Winners must be over 18 or have a parent or legal guardian's permission to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was also lucky enough to be able to conduct a Q&A with the author herself, M.C. Beaton!

 1) Scotland is almost a character in itself in your books. How does this setting influence your writing choices?

I find the geographical background of my books shapes the character of the detective. Hamish Macbeth, for example, is a Highlander.

2) How do you develop your mysteries and their solutions? Do you start with a murderer and victim in mind right away, and plant the clues, or do the clues lead you to a solution?

I present a skeleton plot to a publisher and then flesh it out with clues. Yes, I start with  murder in mind, rather than a murderer.

3) How did you come up with the character of Hamish Macbeth?

Hamish Macbeth was born on Fifth Avenue in New York. I had been on a fishing holiday in Sutherland and was full of ideas for a plot. My editor, Hope Dellon, asked for the name of my detective and I said Hamish Macbeth off the top of my head. The character is based on combination of two Highlanders I knew.

4)  What was your favorite book when you were a child? When you were a teenager? And now?

My favourite book as a child was The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As a teenager, any Lord Peter Wimsey detective story by Dorothy Sayers. Now, too many favorites to list.

5) Are there any authors you admire or that are particular favorites?

 But particular favorites are Alexander McCall Smith, John Le Carre, Charles Cumming,  Josephine Tey, Eric Ambler, Nicholas Blake and Gladys Mitchell.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Lies We Tell by Jamie Holland

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review.

In The Lies We Tell, Holland deftly explores the heady topics of loss, grief, truth, and lies.

Set in 1974, Martie and Blaire have just lost their father, and their mother has moved them to Wisconsin for a fresh start. Martie is obsessed with the symptoms of a heart attack (what her mother told her her father died from), as well as the case of two sisters who have gone missing from what used to be Martie's hometown. Blaire, the older sister, is acting out, their mother is evasive and defensive, and Martie fears things will never be the same again.

So she searches for the truth, about what really happened to their family. But as she begins to find out more and more, she realizes that the truth may truly be what finally breaks her.

I read this book in less than a day. The writing style is simple and flows well, and Holland has a deft touch for getting into the head of thirteen year old Martie and making her feel real to the readers. It's a gripping story as well. I had to keep reading not only to find out the truth, but to find out if Martie and her family would be okay, where they would end up in life.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, well-written read that tugs on your emotions and makes you think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg

As someone who has chosen to live alone since I graduated college, I was very interested to read this book, especially as it is a subject I had not seen written about in depth before.

Klinenberg has clearly done his research, both by reading studies and going out to talk to people from around the world. This means he is able to present a well-rounded argument that the uprise in people living alone does not mean society as we know it is crumbling. Rather, it is a positive that needs to be well-supported so as to remain a positive.

Looking at everything from the impact of social media on the sense of community, to which countries support their "singletons" best in terms of housing, Klinenberg deftly explains how this is a trend that is not going away, and that it is the world at large who needs to adjust.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Release Day Review and Giveaway: The Widow by Fiona Barton

I'm lucky enough to be able to participate in the blog tour for The Widow, a new psychological thriller by Fiona Barton. I'm also hosting a giveaway, sponsored by the publisher, for one reader to win their very own copy of this book!

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review.

The Widow is being billed as the next The Girl on the Train , and for good reason. It too features a female narrator who may not know the whole truth, or may be choosing not to tell all that she knows.

The narrator in this case is Jean Taylor, whose husband, Glen, may have committed a terrible crime years ago. The prime suspect, Glen has recently died, leaving Jean weighing the decision that it may finally be time to tell her side of the story.

While Jean is the primary narrator, readers also hear from a detective and a journalist, who remain deeply involved in a case that continues to haunt them. These alternating perspectives amp up the tension, as readers put together bits and pieces of the puzzle right along with the characters.

This is one of those books that is so good, it flies right by. I looked down at my Kindle to suddenly realize I was over three quarters of the way through. This is a book that grabs you and refuses to let go. You have to keep reading, because you have to know what happens. You have to find out what the crime was, who was responsible, and what Jean knew then and knows now.

I am a huge fan of psychological thrillers, and The Widow is a welcome addition to the genre. This is a book I would highly recommend, especially to those who loved Before I Go to Sleep and The Girl on the Train. 

If you would like to win a copy of this book, please enter the giveaway below! This is open only to US residents, the winner needs to be over 18 or enter with a parent or legal guardian's permission, and must provide their mailing address if they win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Monday, February 15, 2016

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

The Flavia de Luce series is one of those rare collections of books that divides my family in opinion. My father finds Flavia too precocious (and thus unrealistic and somewhat irritating) for her purported age, while I consider her a brilliant heroine who makes me think of my beloved Nancy Drew, if Nancy had a lot more attitude and a fascination with chemistry and famous poisoners.

In this entry in the series, Flavia has been sent away from home to a boarding school. Homesick and feeling like an outcast, she soon finds her footing when she happens onto a corpse.

The mystery is exciting, full of intrigue, twists, turns, and a lot of highly unique characters. Readers (at least this reader) can't help but cheer for Flavia as she uses her immense intellectual aptitude to outsmart the adults around her, conduct clandestine chemistry experiments, and sneak around after hours in search of clues.

If you haven't read any of this series before, you should start with the first book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I'm hopeful you'll agree with me, and walk away wanting to spend more time with the indomitable spirit of Flavia de Luce.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver

I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for a review. This did not effect my opinion of the book or my review.

I'm a major Jeffery Deaver fan. I especially love his Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs series. So I actually squealed out loud in excitement when I saw I had been approved for an ARC of the newest Rhyme and Sachs thriller, and The Steel Kiss did not disappoint.

The book begins with Sachs tracking down a suspect in a recent homicide investigation, but her attention is quickly diverted by an escalator seemingly malfunctioning in a crowded mall.

To say much more about the plot would be to risk giving away the amazing twists and turns Deaver has plotted out for his readers. That is one of the things I love most about Deaver's books, how he expertly turns everything you thought you knew about the plot completely on its head, but when you look back at previous chapters, it all makes sense.

I highly recommend this book. You may get more out of it if you have read the previous entries in the Rhyme and Sachs series, as there is a lot of important character development, but the plot can absolutely be enjoyed by a newbie to the series as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Cozy Mysteries With a Twist of Romance!

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish !

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Valentine's Freebie! I kept going back and forth over what I wanted to do, and decided to combine up a post I've been wanting to do for a while (cozy mysteries) with a Valentine's Day spin.

So in no particular order, here are ten cozy mysteries I love, with some romance I love too!

1) The Death on Demand series by Carolyn G. Hart

The couple: Annie Laurance and Max Darling, a mystery bookstore owner and a self-declared private investigator

2) The Murder 101 series by Maggie Barbieri

The couple: Alison Bergeron and Bobby Crawford, an English professor and a police officer

3) The Bad Hair Day Mysteries by Nancy J. Cohen

The couple: Marla Shore and Detective Dalton Vail, a beauty salon owner and a police officer

4) A Psychic Eye series by Victoria Laurie

The couple: Abby Cooper and Dutch Rivers, a professional psychic and a FBI agent

5) The Sophie Katz Murder Mystery series by Kyra Davis

The couple: Sophie Katz and Anatoly Darinsky, a mystery writer and a private investigator

6) The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

The couple(s): Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli, a bounty hunter and a police officer; Stephanie Plum and Ranger, a bounty hunter and a security expert

7) The Anneke Haagen series by Susan Holtzer

The couple: Anneke Haagen and Karl Genesko, a computer consultant and an ex-professional football player/police officer

8) The Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle

The couple: Clare Cosi and Mike Quinn, a coffehouse manager and a police officer

9) The Claire Malloy Mysteries by Joan Hess

The couple: Claire Malloy and Peter Rosen, a bookseller and a police officer

10) The Mantra for Murder Mysteries by Diana Killian

The couple: A.J. Alexander and Jake Oberlin, yoga instruction/yoga studio owner and police officer