Saturday, November 28, 2020

ARC Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The Cousins

Author:
Karen M. McManus
Publication: Delacorte Press (December 1, 2020)

Description: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You'll never feel the same about family again.

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point--not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious--and dark--their family's past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over--and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

My Thoughts: Family secrets come out when three cousins who barely know each other are all invited to Gull Cove Island to work for a resort. The island is the home of the grandmother who disinherited all four of her children before the cousins were born. Each one has a different reason to want to reconcile or at least get to know their grandmother.

Milly Story-Takahashi is the daughter of Allison, the only girl. She is named for her grandmother and has a difficult relationship with her own mother who seems to have unreasonable expectations for her. Milly would like to get to know her grandmother.

Aubrey Story is the daughter of Adam who is the oldest Story child. He was always his mother's favorite but hasn't had a very successful life since he was disinherited. He wrote a book which gave him fifteen minutes of fame but has done nothing since. He lets his wife who is a nurse support him while he dwells on his own sense of entitlement and keeps putting his daughter down. Now, he has done something that Aubrey is finding hard to forgive and it is a secret she's carried with her to the island.

Jonah is supposed to be the son of Anders Story. He is an imposter who has dreams of revenge since Anders convinced his parents to take part in an investment scheme that cost Jonah all his college fund and has almost driven his parents to bankruptcy and the near loss of their business. 

When they arrive at the island, they find that their grandmother wasn't the one who invited them to come and really wants them all to leave. They also begin to have a number of questions about their family.

Part of the story also includes Milly's mother Allison's activities the summer of 1996 which laid the seeds of all that comes later. 

This was a wonderfully twisty mystery with intriguing characters. I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with the cousins. The story had a nice mixture of suspense and development of the characters of the cousins. All of them grew and changed over the month they spent on the island before it all come to a fiery conclusion.

Favorite Quote:
There's something dangerously seductive about Story secrets; they snake their way into your heart and soul, burrowing so deep that the very idea of exposing them feels like losing a part of yourself. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday Memes: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

 Happy Friday everybody!

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
"I'm late for dinner again, but this time it's not my fault. There's a mansplainer in my way.
Friday 56: 
"I think it was excessive," Theresa Ryan is saying. She's in a room adjacent to the kitchen, and from my spot in the hallway I can see an entire wall of built-in bookshelves. "We've been down this road before. You think you're getting rid of one problem, but all you're doing is creating a dozen more."
This week I am spotlighting The Cousins by Karen M. McManus. This is from my review stack and is her latest YA thriller. Here is the description from Amazon:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You'll never feel the same about family again.

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point--not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious--and dark--their family's past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over--and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

ARC Review: Murder Is a Must by Marty Wingate

Murder Is a Must

Author:
Marty Wingate
Series: A First Edition Library Mystery Book 2
Publication: Berkley (December 1, 2020)

Description: Determined to make the First Edition Library a success, Hayley Burke wasn’t expecting to have to solve an old friend’s murder in this all-new mystery from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

Hayley Burke, curator of Lady Fowling's collection of first edition mysteries, is settling into her position at the First Edition Library in Middlebank House. She's even made progress with Lady Fowling's former secretary, the ornery Miss Woolgar. The women are busily preparing for an exhibition that will showcase Lady Fowling's life and letters. Hayley knows the exhibition is a huge undertaking and decides, against her better judgement, to hire Oona Atherton, her former boss from the Jane Austen Centre to help with the planning.

Oona is known for being difficult, but all seems to be going swimmingly until she and Hayley uncover a one-page letter that alludes to a priceless edition of MURDER MUST ADVERTISE signed by several Golden Age of Mystery authors. Oona feels this book could be the focal point of the exhibition and becomes obsessed with finding it.

When they find clues that appear to point to the book being somewhere in the First Edition Library, Oona is certain she's unraveled the mystery and texts Hayley the good news, but upon arriving back at Middlebank, Hayley finds her old boss dead at the bottom of the stairs. Did her discovery of the rare book get her killed or was it some angry shadow from her past? Hayley must read between the lines to catch a malicious murderer.

My Thoughts: Hayley Burke is determined to make the First Editions Library a success and relevant to today's fans of mystery novels. She is beginning a series of literary salons. But the big event to increase the Library's membership and reputation is an exhibition.

Hayley needs to find a perfect location and an exhibitions manager. Her first choice of venue has a surprise cancellation that Hayley is quick to jump on and an exhibitions manager that Hayley worked with previously is able to take the job. Oona Atherton is a wonderful, creative exhibitions manager but she is also a severe taskmaster who makes many enemies as she finishes her creative exhibitions. Hayley herself once with with Oona and knows her faults but thinks she's the best choice considering the need for a quick turnaround.

Hayley has also found a clue in one of the Library's books that indicates that there is a rare first edition of  MURDER MUST ADVERTISE by Dorothy L. Sayers hidden somewhere which contains the autographs of all of the members of the Detection Club from 1933 including Sayers and Agatha Christie among others. The book would make a fine centerpiece for the exhibit - if only Hayley can find it. 

But then Oona is found murdered and Hayley has a murder to solve, a new exhibition manager to hire, her boyfriend's two daughters to meet, and various other problems to solve including a fire caused by her ex-husband at her daughter's rental flat. 

I enjoyed the many interesting characters in this one from an exhibition manager who is rather famous for his disasters to a computer geek with an obsessive personality but a great eye for detail. I enjoyed Hayley's new romance with Val which has many other obstacles than his two daughters disapproval of a a new woman in their father's life.

This was an engaging and entertaining new episode in this series. I look forward to more of Hayley's adventures. 

Favorite Quote:
I walked out and took a gulp of cold air as an icy mizzle began to fall. I should ring Arthur Fish. I should try again to contact Zeno's other two references. I should figure out what to do about Bess and Becky. I should have a talk with Clara. I should find that first edition. I should suss out who murdered Oona. But couldn't I do all of that in the morning?

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Audiobook: Echoes of Honor by David Weber

Echoes of Honor
Author: David Weber
Series: Honor Harrington Book 8
Narrator: Allyson Johnson
Publication: Audible Studios (Dec. 15, 2009)
Length: 27 hours and 15 minutes

Description: BACK FROM HELL

For eight bloody years, the Star Kingdom of Manticore and its allies have taken the war to the vastly more powerful People's Republic of Haven, and Commodore Honor Harrington has been in the forefront of that war.

But now Honor has fallen, captured by the Peep Navy, turned over to the forces of State Security ... and executed on the interstellar network's nightly news.

The Manticoran Alliance is stunned and infuriated by Honor's death and grimly resolved to avenge it. Yet their military is over-extended and the People's Republic is poised to take the offensive once more, this time with a new strategy, new weapons, a new command team, and a whole new determination to win. The war is about to enter a phase of unprecedented ferocity . . . and the Alliance is on the short end of the stick.

But even as powerful Peep fleets hurtle towards their objectives, neither they nor the Alliance are aware of events occurring on a distant, isolated, inescapable prison planet called Hell. For what no one knows, not even State Security, is that Honor Harrington is not dead. She and a handful of her people are trapped on Hell, and determined to disprove the Peep boast that no one can ever escape it. Honor Harrington is going home, and taking her people with her... even if she has to conquer Hell to do it.

My Thoughts: This episode divides into three separate threads. The first thread deals with Honor trying to engineer her escape from Hell along with almost 400,000 fellow prisoners. The second deals with the effects of Honor's death on Grayson and Manticore. The third thread deals with the Peeps getting a new, effective military leader in Esther McQueen and its new program of going on the offensive against the Manticoran Alliance.

On Hell, Honor is busy making plans for capturing enough tonnage to remove herself and all her fellow prisoners from the planet, convening courts martian for the many guards who used the prisoners as their personal toys, and retraining the prisoners whose military knowledge is decades out of date to crew the ships they manage to steal.

On Grayson and Manticore, there are state funerals and especially on Grayson a strong desire to get revenge on those who murdered their steadholder. Also the question of what to do with Honor's fortune and estate needs to be settled so that Benjamin's reforms aren't being derailed. We also see how Honor's parents and her closest friends are dealing with her loss.

On Haven, Esther McQueen is building herself a place on the Committee for Public Safety as she gets control of the Navy and makes it a more effective force. There is a lot of in-fighting because no one on the Committee can trust anyone else and everyone has their own political agenda. McQueen's plans to lead to Peep forces bringing substantial losses to Alliance forces and holding but they run into some problems when they try to regain planets that are testing grounds for new and effective weapons being developed in secret by Manticore and its allies.

I liked the way the various threads of this story were woven together. The pacing was fast even though the story was very long. My audiobook spanned more than 25 hours!

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

ARC Review: Grave War by Kalayna Price

Grave War

Author:
Kalayna Price
Series: An Alex Craft Novel
Publication: Ace (November 24, 2020)

Description: Grave witch Alex Craft is getting pulled back into deadly fae politics in the thrilling new novel in the USA Today bestselling series.

Grave witch Alex Craft has forged an uneasy truce with the world of Faerie, but she's still been trying to maintain at least some semblance of a normal life in the human world. So it's safe to say that stepping up as the lead investigator for the Fae Investigation Bureau was not a career path she ever anticipated taking.

When an explosion at the Eternal Bloom threatens to upend the fae who make their home in our world, Alex finds herself in charge of the most far-reaching investigation she's ever tackled. And it's only her first week on the job. With the threats mounting and cut off from half her allies, Alex can't wait on the sidelines and hope the fae's conflicts stay contained within their borders.

My Thoughts: Alex Craft finds herself beset with problems both personal and political in this final novel in the series. 

The story opens with Alex starting her new job as Agent in Charge of the FIB (Fae Investigation Bureau). There she finds some resistance from her second in command and she also finds she had been assigned a troll named Tem as her bodyguard. She is also getting gifts of red roses with notes addressed to Lexi. The only ones who ever called her Lexi were the insane Winter Queen and her murderous nephew Ryese. The Queen is dead and Alex's boyfriend Falin is now the Winter King but Ryese escaped and is somewhere still causing trouble.

The next thing she knows there are explosions at the Eternal Bloom which manage to destroy the door into faerie and strand the fae left on this side. Without a way to get to faerie, the fae will all fade away. Alex needs to find a way to get the door open again. But the door in Nekros isn't the only one that is closed. Most of the doors to faerie have been destroyed and the rest are closed from the fae side. 

Because Alex is a planeweaver, she does still have some access to faerie through the Shadow Court. She learns that faerie has its own problems. It is in danger of failing. Time is critical to find a way to save faerie. But the fae aren't trusting sorts and gathering allies is not an easy proposition.

The story was filled with all sorts of action. Alex learns secrets about herself and her father that will change her life and change faerie forever. This was a great ending to Alex Craft's story and a fun urban fantasy story, 

Favorite Quote:
"I don't know what I'm doing," I said, my voice sounding slightly strangled, as if even my throat resisted admitting the fact.

"That isn't atypical for you," Death said without hesitation.

"Hey!" I sat up, but despite myself, a small smile broke through.

At my fake outrage, a lazy smile crossed Death's lips and he lifted a dark eyebrow. "Am I wrong?"

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, November 23, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 23, 2020)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.


It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading... 

This was a nice, quiet week. New restrictions were put into place last Friday closing indoor dining and gyms among some other places. Beauty shops and churches are still open. Schools are open if the district isn't too badly affected. Duluth's school went to all virtual learning for all grades on Friday too. Middle School and High School had already been digital. The most distressing thing to me is the state of the hospitals. They are nearing capacity being around 95% full which is concerning but even more concerning is the percentage of staff that are out with the virus or quarantining because of suspected contact. 

I haven't really changed my patterns. I'm still staying at home most of the time with only an infrequent grocery store trip maybe once a week. My brother keeps telling me about staffing at his job. Frequently there are people who don't show up. When he left one evening two-hours before closing, there was only one cashier remaining because four others had called in. 

We are planning our usual quiet Thanksgiving. With Target closed Thanksgiving Day, we'll be able to have our Thanksgiving dinner on the actual day. It has been some years since that was true. Bill does work until 10:30 on Wednesday and starts again at 7:15 on Friday. I don't think Black Friday will have the same impact this year as usual. Stores have been having sales all month and I doubt many people are eager to be part of a large crowd waiting until the doors open for special deals. 

I hope all of those who are celebrating Thanksgiving this week are going to have a wonderful, safe time. 

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Deck the Hounds by David Rosenfelt (Mine) -- Holiday mystery from deep in the Andy Carpenter series was a fun read. My review will be posted on Dec. 26.
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Audiobook) - reread
  • All the Colors of Night by Jayne Ann Krentz (Jan. 5) -- Second in the Fogg Lake series which combines romance, paranormal, and mystery in an entertaining way. My review will be posted on Dec. 29.
Currently
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What was your week like?


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Book Review: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon

A Brush with the Moon

Author:
Raquel Lyon
Series: Foxblood Book 1
Publication: Self-Published (November 28, 2010)

Description: One moment is all it takes to change your life. For Sophie, it happened the day the fox attacked her.

All Sophie ever wanted was a way out. Only a few weeks ago, she was a quiet art student with an overbearing mother and no higher dream than starting university and reuniting with her BFF, but destiny intervenes in the form of a fox bite.

If being attacked by a rabid animal isn't freaky enough, her new town has secrets. People are dying, and Sophie feels she is being watched. Then there's the arrogant and annoyingly sexy Sebastian with his plummy accent and come-to-bed eyes creeping her out. She should stay well away, but then he does live in the spooky manor house, and curiosity is her middle name.

My Thoughts: Sophie is looking forward to getting out of her dead-end town and studying art at a nearby university. She already has plans to live with her best friend Beth who has found a nice apartment above the local undertaker. But a fox bite changes a lot of her plans.

Beth has always had vivid dreams but now her dreams seem to be turning into premonitions. One of the first guys she meets at the university is Sebastian whose eyes have been haunting her dreams for years. Sebastian and his cousin Connor are both attending the university though they are a few years older than Sophie and her friends.

Sebastian introduces her to a whole new world filled with werewolves, vampires, demons and other paranormals. He tells her that she has been chosen by the goddess Tokala to fulfill an epic destiny. Sophie isn't sure what to believe but she is developing strange new powers of her own.

I liked the worldbuilding in this one where their are different worlds each with different varieties of paranormals. It seems that Earth has become something of a battleground where they are all fighting for power. 

I didn't really care for Sophie. I didn't like the way she treated her mother or her best friend. I also couldn't quite buy in to the massive personality change she exhibited in the story. She didn't seem like a very nice person and I wondered why the goddess had chosen her for a great destiny. I also thought that she hooked up with the wrong cousin. Connor showed caring and concern for her while Sebastian went off without a word and just left her behind and confused. He also seemed to be careless of her feelings and seemed to find it easy to dismiss her when he had other things to do. 

This book is the beginning of a trilogy and the trilogy is part of a much larger sequence of stories set in the same fictional universe that only loosely resembles the real world.

Favorite Quote:
Where was the young student with dreams of being an artist? She certainly wasn't visible in the mirror before me. I had secretly undergone a complete metamorphosis into bitch lady of the manor, and I wasn't sure if I was wholly comfortable with that. It felt like a pretty lonely position, and loneliness is scarier than any monster.

I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.