Thursday, November 30, 2023

ARC Review: The Buried Hours by R. S. Grant

The Buried Hours

R. S. Grant
Publication: Thomas & Mercer (December 5, 2023)

Description: Is she following a path of redemption or an enemy’s revenge? A crime reporter’s traumatic past comes back to haunt her in a twisting novel of lies, betrayals, and killer secrets.

Investigative crime journalist Signe Gates’s life became a nightmare the day she was kidnapped and drugged. After forty-eight missing hours, she woke to a blur of unsettling memories and a warning from her unknown abductors: tell anyone what happened and they’ll die. They’ve already proved they will deliver on that threat.

For two years, Signe has been haunted by what she knows she did and terrified of what else could be buried in her memories.

Then an informant tells her two men recently found dead in Yosemite are connected to her missing hours, and more answers await her in the park’s backwoods. But she must hurry. Desperate to know who targeted her and why, she has no choice but to embark on the dangerous journey.

With a seasoned hiker acting as her guide, Signe ventures into the wilderness to solve a crime, get justice for the crimes committed against her, and overcome her demons. If only she could trust the man leading her into the backwoods…

Because with each new suspicion, deliverance is starting to look more and more like a trap.

My Thoughts: This thriller stars investigative journalist Signe Gates who is trying to rebuild her life after she was kidnapped, drugged, raped and tortured. Besides her self-confidence and sense of security, her ordeal cost her the husband refused to believe what had happened to her and who divorced her and accused her of cheating on him.

Signe has been living in fear because her abusers convinced her that they were watching her closely enough that any attempt to go to the FBI would result in the death of someone she loved. She is also living with guilt because she gave up some of her confidential sources while she was drugged and at least two of them were murdered as a result. 

When she gets a text from a source she's named DiscoFever telling her that two deaths in Yosemite were somehow related to her kidnapping, she needs to go there and find out what she can if she ever wants to reclaim her life. But to go, she needs a guide and calls her ex Leo for help in finding one. 

Cole Banner is an archaeologist who is slated to be the face of Leo's new video series is drafted to be her guide to Yosemite. But Cole has an agenda of his own and is determined to use Signe to accomplish it. 

Signe doesn't know who she can trust. As she investigates the deaths in Yosemite while undertaking a grueling hike to get to the rendezvous deep in the wilderness of Yosemite, she comes to trust Cole and comes to love him. But there are betrayals and more betrayals as she investigates and the course of her new life takes some major twists and turns, 

This story deals with human trafficking and is an intense thriller. If you are triggered by stories of rape which is described in brutal detail, this isn't a story for you. If you are interested in characters who overcome great damage and struggle to rebuild their lives, this one was excellent. 

Favorite Quote:
He didn't say it had all been her imagination, and she was glad for that.

Truth was, she wasn't certain she hadn't imagined it. Her brain was ripe for creating horrors where there were none.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong

The Curse of Penryth Hall

Jess Armstrong
Publication: Minotaur Books (December 5, 2023)

Description: An atmospheric gothic mystery that beautifully brings the ancient Cornish countryside to life, Armstrong introduces heroine Ruby Vaughn in her Minotaur Books & Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning debut, The Curse of Penryth Hall.

After the Great War, American heiress Ruby Vaughn made a life for herself running a rare bookstore alongside her octogenarian employer and house mate in Exeter. She’s always avoided dwelling on the past, even before the war, but it always has a way of finding her. When Ruby is forced to deliver a box of books to a folk healer living deep in the Cornish countryside, she is brought back to the one place she swore she’d never return. A more sensible soul would have delivered the package and left without rehashing old wounds. But no one has ever accused Ruby of being sensible. Thus begins her visit to Penryth Hall.

A foreboding fortress, Penryth Hall is home to Ruby’s once dearest friend, Tamsyn, and her husband, Sir Edward Chenowyth. It’s an unsettling place, and after a more unsettling evening, Ruby is eager to depart. But her plans change when Penryth’s bells ring for the first time in thirty years. Edward is dead; he met a gruesome end in the orchard, and with his death brings whispers of a returned curse. It also brings Ruan Kivell, the person whose books brought her to Cornwall, the one the locals call a Pellar, the man they believe can break the curse. Ruby doesn’t believe in curses―or Pellars―but this is Cornwall and to these villagers the curse is anything but lore, and they believe it will soon claim its next victim: Tamsyn.

To protect her friend, Ruby must work alongside the Pellar to find out what really happened in the orchard that night.

My Thoughts: It's 1922 and book seller Ruby Vaughn has been sent by her octogenarian employer and housemate to Cornwall to deliver a box of books to Ruan Kivell. She's reluctant because she hasn't been to that village since her former best friend Tamsyn married the local baronet Sir Edward Chenowyth. Ruby was in love with Tamsyn and feels betrayed that she threw her over for Sir Edward.

After meeting Ruan and dropping off the books, she proceeds to Penryth Hall where she encounters a decidedly gothic atmosphere. Tamsyn has changed a lot becoming much more withdrawn and is clearly unhappy. Ruby takes a strong dislike to Sir Edward who proves to be a philandering bully. But she wasn't expecting anyone to murder him the night she arrives. Nor was she expecting his death to be attributed to a curse that had previously taken his uncle and his uncle's wife.

Ruby had weird dreams of the death the night of Sir Edward's death and she was attacked in her bedroom. She even believes for a while that she might have been the one to kill Sir Edward. Ruan is called in to investigate since he is the Pellar - a witch who is believed to be able to break curses. 

Ruby and Ruan develop an interesting relationship. He can read her thoughts which is something that Ruby is forced to believe despite her disbelief in anything supernatural. The two work together to try to determine who murdered Sir Edward since neither believe that it was a curse.

Ruby was a fascinating character. She is an heiress who was sent away from her home in New York when she was a teenager because of a scandal. She lost both her parents and sister when the Lusitania sank. She worked as an ambulance driver during World War I. She is determined to live in the present since the past held so much trauma for her. Tamsyn sees her as brave and daring, but Ruby feels that she has nothing left to lose. She tries to survive by drinking too much and doing dangerous things. 

I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere of this story with its curses and superstitions. I liked that Ruby who might have some supernatural powers of her own in the form of prophetic dreams is determined to find a rational explanation for all the various events. 

Fans of the gothic will enjoy this story filled with intriguing characters. 

Favorite Quote:
"You can't possibly believe in this nonsense. It's the twentieth century, Mr. Kivell. We have science. Logic. Mathematics! There's no room in the modern world for magic or curses." Even as I said the words, I saw how pathetic my reasoning was. The simple fact was I refused to believe. Couldn't even conceive of it. Because if such a thing were real, it opened up a box of questions about my own past that I wasn't ready to answer.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

ARC Review: Death by Demo by Callie Carpenter

Death by Demo

Callie Carpenter
Series: A Home Renovation Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 5, 2023)

Description: Perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Diane Kelly, after her ex-husband tears down their marriage, the last thing Jaime wants is to renovate a worn-down historic home. But when a body is discovered behind a wall—she realizes she’ll have to catch the killer before she builds herself up again.

Jaime and Henry were the perfect couple with the perfect life; together, they ran one of the most successful construction and interior design companies in all of Charlotte, North Carolina. But when Jaime catches her charismatic husband in an affair, she realizes her husband is not the man she thought she married. The divorce is equally gutting—due to an ironclad prenuptial agreement, Jaime receives only one thing: a historical house in disrepair. Knowing that any renovation she attempts will be tedious and costly, Jaime starts to believe that things can’t get much worse—until she finds a dead body in the house.

The body is found behind a recently renovated wall—and this leaves Jaime with more questions than answers. Who killed this person and why? Could it have been the previous owners, someone who snuck in while nobody was looking, or Henry? Furious that the house is now a crime scene, which further delays all renovations, Jaime decides to investigate the murder herself, DIY-style. Together with the new resident cat she calls Demo and the handsome and friendly hardware store owner who happens to be her neighbor, Jaime is ready to use all the tools in her toolbox to catch the killer.

Jaime needs to renovate this house if she wants to move forward with her life, but will this murder investigation leave her in ruins—or worse?

My Thoughts: Jaime thought she and Henry had the perfect marriage until she caught him making love to another woman. The divorce left her with only a derelict mansion in need of many repairs because Henry's father had had her sign an ironclad prenup when the two married. After going into a depression and crashing on her best friend's couch, Jaime is starting to come around. 

Sure, it would be best to sell the house for whatever she could get and start over, but Jaime helped her former husband start a home renovation business and she is eager to bring this wreck back to life. Only things start to go wrong immediately when she finds a body behind a hastily built wall that she is demoing. 

The police declare the house a crime scene and Jaime's plans for her new future are in jeopardy if she can't determine who murdered the women behind the wall and get back to work on her renovation. She has a number of suspects including the oh-so-helpful and hot next-door neighbor, her lawyer, and her ex-husband. The suspect pool enlarges when the identity of the victim becomes known. Jaime had known and liked Cilla ever since she helped her out once while the two were in high school. Now, besides wanting to clear up the crime so that she can get back to work, she wants to find justice for the woman who was once her friend.

I enjoyed this mystery. I liked watching Jaime reclaim her life after her ex did the best he could to make her feel useless and stupid. I liked the way she was determined to rebuilt both her life and the business she loves.

Favorite Quote:
Jaime tuned out Roger's blustering protests and felt a wide smile spread across her face. She's identified the unfamiliar feeling. it was Pandora's leftover.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Audiobook Review: Enquiry by Dick Francis


Dick Francis
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Publication: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (December 15, 1999)
Length: 5 hours and 46 minutes

Description: Jockey Kelly Hughes and trainer Dexter Cranfield have been barred from racing - a devastating event for them both. The charge at the secret enquiry? Throwing a race for personal profit. It is a vicious frame-up and, worse, they have nowhere to turn to clear their names. Still Hughes refuses to take the phony verdict lying down - even though his personal enquiry might have him lying down permanently...

My Thoughts: Enquiry was an excellent example of Dick Francis's best writing. Kelley Hughes is a steeplechase jockey. After the favorite he was riding fails to win a race, he and the trainer are called in by the stewards for an inquiry. Neither of them are expecting the result of that enquiry: they lose their licenses and aren't allowed around racing. 

Kelley is surprised at the hearing both because of the verdict and because of the "evidence" presented. A fellow jockey testifies that Kelley told the other riders to ease off and photos were shown that indicate he took bribe money from the trainer. And a tape from another race shows him contradicting what he had said to explain not using a whip on the horse. Only the horse in the race wasn't the one he was riding in the disputed race.

Determined to clear his name, Kelley begins his own investigation and easily learns that the fellow jockey had taken a bribe to lie about Kelley and that the detective who shot the pictures showing bribery was well known for producing "evidence" for the right price.

Someone is clearly fearful that Kelley will learn the truth because his car was tampered with almost causing his death. But the accident makes Kelley even more determined. With the assistance of some of his racing acquaintances, Kelley finds evidence that proves that the enquiry was rigged but finding out who was so determined to have him and the trainer disbarred from racing leads Kelley into even more danger.

The writing is spare, and the action is fast-paced and furious. Kelley is an ordinary man doing what he loves and then doing what it takes so that he can keep the career he loves. He's not a superman and is beaten up during the story but pain won't stop him from reaching his goal. 

I got this one via Audible Plus. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Lost Hours by Paige Shelton

Lost Hours

Paige Shelton
Series: Alaska (Book 5)
Publication: Minotaur Books (December 5, 2023)

Description: Lost Hours is the fifth instalment in Paige Shelton's gripping, atmospheric Alaska Wild series.

A year after arriving in Benedict, Beth Rivers is feeling very at home in Alaska, even as outsiders are starting to return to enjoy the brief summer perfection. Beth feels like she’s finally let go of most of her demons. She’s even found her father, Eddy Rivers―or, rather, he found her―and she's trying to find the middle ground between anger and forgiveness.

One sunny July day, Beth boards a tourist ship to see the glaciers, the main reason visitors venture to the area, and something Beth hasn’t attempted until now. But when the captain has to navigate to an island, a bloodied woman is found standing on the shore, waving for help. When she’s brought aboard, she claims she was kidnapped from her home in Juneau three days earlier, and that a bear on the island killed her captor. She, however, is unharmed.

The woman, Sadie, finds a sympathetic ear in Beth. She tells her that she’s been in Juneau under witness protection, and that the Juneau police don’t like her. When another kidnapping occurs, Beth and police chief Gril can’t help but think the two cases are interwoven, though the clues to solving them will be harder to unravel.

My Thoughts: Thriller author Beth Rivers fled to Benedict, Alaska, after being kidnapped. She has made a new life for herself and finally feels confident enough to go on a tourist ship to see the glaciers. What she doesn't expect to see is a blood-covered woman calling for help from one of the remote islands as the ship passes it.

Sadie claims to have been kidnapped and escaped her kidnapper when he was killed by a bear. She is also quick to tell Beth that she is in the Witness Protection Program but doesn't tell her why. However, there is no evidence on the island to support her story. At least there isn't until Beth's boyfriend Tex discovers a body in one of the island's inlets. Sadie claims amnesia about the events of her kidnapping leaving Beth and her friends including Gril who is the sheriff to puzzle out what happens on that island.

Meanwhile, Beth's father Eddy invites her along with a family who hired him to go on a fishing trip. The teenage daughter claims to be a big fan of Beth's writing. Beth agrees as long as Eddy makes a stop at the island where Sadie was found. Beth wants to take a look herself. But when she and Eddy return from their hike, the young daughter is missing. A thorough search of the 5-sware-mile island doesn't uncover her leaving her parents and the residents of Benedict puzzled.

Beth begins to wonder if those two occurrences are connected and wonders if the prison break-out of a young man soon to be tried for murder also fits into the puzzle. Beth also has stressors in her personal life too. The man who kidnapped her has hired a high-powered lawyer to defend him and she's already got one piece of evidence thrown out. Beth worries that he'll get away with his crime. 

Beth and her friends in Benedict manage to untangle all the various pieces of the mysteries which are connected and Beth does finally get to see the glaciers. But a phone call from her police friend back home in Missouri leads to a cliffhanger ending to this story. 

Favorite Quote:
Something came to me. "Huh. Did you know that I read In Cold Blood when I was twelve? I just remembered that."

Orin laughed. "That could explain a lot about the subject matter you write about."

"It could. That's what I'm going to tell everyone who asks me where I get my ideas now: Truman Capote."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, November 27, 2023

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 27, 2023)

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.

Want to See What I Added to My Stack? links to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality.

Other Than Reading...

I hope everyone who celebrates had a nice Thanksgiving. Ours was nice. Our recipe for a sheet pan Thanksgiving Dinner turned out well. It didn't look exactly like the picture but pretty close.
Cleaning out some of the leftovers for dinner is my current plan since my brother is working during the dinner hour today.

It is hard to believe that it is almost the end of November. I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow and it is lightly snowing now as I'm writing this. I would have been all right if there wasn't snow until Christmas Eve, but we have had less snow than usual for my part of Minnesota. We are 11.9 inches below the average for this date. We have had a couple of inches of snow in November but none of it stayed on the ground. I'm afraid this snow is on the ground until Spring.

This week should be a quiet one. I don't have any appointments on my schedule or any reason to leave the house. I will shortly be finishing my last 2023 review book, but I can't take a break since I have one January 2 release and six January 9 releases on my review stack. I'll be working on my draft posts for my January calendar, preparing my State of the Stack post, and totally out my November reading this week too. I do know that I've already met my often-revised Goodreads goal and will likely be increasing it again this time to 400 books. 

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.)
  • Second Duke's the Charm by Kate Bateman (Review; December 26) -- Historical romance. Interesting characters. My review will be posted on December 19.
  • He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters (Audiobook Reread) -- Takes place in Egypt during WWI. My review will be posted December 19.
  • Public Anchovy #1 by Mindy Quigley (Review; December 26) -- Catering a library fundraiser leads to solving a couple of murders. My review will be posted December 20.
  • Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas (Audiobook Reread) -- The fifth Lady Sherlock concerns clearing Inspector Treadles of a murder charge. It was another excellent addition to the series. My review will be posted on December 21.
  • Coconut Drop Dead by Olivia Matthews (Review; December 26) -- Lyndsay Murray, the Grenadian Nancy Drew, has another mystery to solve when the lead singer of an up-and-coming reggae band falls to her death at the annual Carribean American Heritage Festival. My review will be posted on December 21.
  • Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey (Review; December 26) -- This is the third novel in the Founding of Valdemar series and, among other things, explains why there are Heralds and Companions. My review will be posted on December 23. 
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?


What was your week like?

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Audiobook Review: Found Object by Anne Frasier

Found Object

Anne Frasier
Narrator: Eileen Stevens, Perry Daniels
Publication: Brilliance Audio (October 18, 2022)
Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes

Description: A journalist begins to question everything she knows about her mother’s murder in a startling novel of suspense by the New York Times bestselling author of The Body Reader.

Culpable in an exposé gone tragically wrong, investigative journalist Jupiter Bellarose takes her boss’s advice: head back to her hometown for a fluff piece and get her world in balance. But in Savannah, the past is waiting.

Twenty years ago Jupiter’s mother, actress and celebrated beauty Marie Nova, was murdered, leaving many in her wake: Jupiter’s father, who has erased memories of his wife’s murder with alcohol. The matriarch of the cosmetics company who helped make Marie a star—and who takes every opportunity to reopen old wounds. Then there’s the fragile cop with blood on his hands, and the killer whose confession no longer seems convincing.

With so many lingering questions, Jupiter must revisit the grisly event that has influenced every decision in her life. Maybe her homecoming will bring closure.

Or maybe the worst is yet to come.

My Thoughts: FOUND OBJECT was an excellent thriller with an intriguing and vulnerable main character. Jupiter Bellarose is an investigative journalist who was hospitalized for depression after an undercover assignment went wrong. She never expected to fall in love with the subject of her investigation nor to watch him commit suicide by walking into the ocean and swimming away.

Jupiter's editor offers her a puff piece about a cosmetics company turning 100 to get her back into journalism. But doing the story will take her back to Savannah which was the site of her life's greatest tragedy. When Jupiter was sixteen, her mother television star Marie Nova was murdered and dismembered. A man was convicted of the crime but Jupiter still has questions and isn't convinced that he was guilty.

Detective Ian Griffin whose first day on the job was marred by discovering the dismembered body of Marie Nova also still has questions. He and Jupiter get together to investigate and, somehow, Marie finds her two investigations coming together.

Marie Nova was the face of Lumet, the cosmetics company Jupiter is supposed to be writing about. As Jupiter uncovers things the company doesn't want the public to know like radioactive face cream and face creams with human fat as a part of the formula, she also learns more about her mother's death.

Jupiter has always feared that her father who was estranged from her mother finally snapped and murdered her. And she learns that he has always feared that Jupiter had a sleepwalking session and murdered her mother since he was sent a recording of his car at the scene of the crime and knows he wasn't the one driving it. 

This was an engaging and twisty thriller about a woman nearly drowning in guilt about a case gone wrong who is also determined to finally find out the truth about her mother's death. The narrators did an excellent job with the story. 

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

Friday, November 24, 2023

Friday Memes: Found Object by Anne Frasier

 Happy Friday everybody!

Book Beginnings on Friday is 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.

The Friday 56 is currently on hiatus but many of us are still including them. Anne @ Head Full of Books is picking up the slack until Freda is ready to return. I think this link will get you to the correct place.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, present day

I looked down at the release form on the desk, my main focus being the empty line awaiting my signature. They couldn't hold me longer than seventy-two hours, but I still had to sign the paperwork to get out. I picked up the pen, leaned over, with a dramatic flourish, wrote Found Object.
Friday 56:
I took a deep breath and dove in, and we did our five-minute set. Most jokes elicited groans, as they very well should have, and when we were done, people clapped, probably glad it was over. Someone turned the jukebox back on, and it was like Max and I had our own soundtrack, a Leonard Cohen, song as we walked to the bar, where he ordered drinks.
This week I am spotlighting a Kindle/Audible Daily Deal that I bought earlier this year -- Found Object by Anne Frasier. Here is the description from Amazon:
A journalist begins to question everything she knows about her mother’s murder in a startling novel of suspense by the New York Times bestselling author of The Body Reader.

Culpable in an exposé gone tragically wrong, investigative journalist Jupiter Bellarose takes her boss’s advice: head back to her hometown for a fluff piece and get her world in balance. But in Savannah, the past is waiting.

Twenty years ago Jupiter’s mother, actress and celebrated beauty Marie Nova, was murdered, leaving many in her wake: Jupiter’s father, who has erased memories of his wife’s murder with alcohol. The matriarch of the cosmetics company who helped make Marie a star—and who takes every opportunity to reopen old wounds. Then there’s the fragile cop with blood on his hands, and the killer whose confession no longer seems convincing.

With so many lingering questions, Jupiter must revisit the grisly event that has influenced every decision in her life. Maybe her homecoming will bring closure.

Or maybe the worst is yet to come.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

ARC Review: Road Queens by MaryJanice Davidson

Road Queens

MaryJanice Davidson
Publication: Montlake (November 28, 2023)

Description: From the bestselling author of the Undead series comes a ride through the lives of three estranged friends as they’re reunited by murder (possible frame job) and mayhem (just the way they like it).

Operation Starfish has one goal: to remove domestic violence survivors from danger. But when a mission backfires in tragedy, the band of bikers who founded OpStar dissolves the organization and their ride-or-die friendship.

Five years later Amanda, Sidney, and Cassandra are brought back together by the same thing that tore them apart when the man who victimized his wife is murdered, and all signs point to Cassandra.

Circumstances being what they are―in a word: dire―the trio reignites their bond, if only to shut and barricade the door to their past once and for all. Their tentative sisterhood is infiltrated by Investigator Sean Beane, whose intentions aren’t as clear as they should be, but even so he’s too tempting for his (or Amanda’s) own good.

Despite all reservations, regrets, and blossoming romance, it’s time for these biker babes to strap on their helmets and hit the road―before the real murderer can run them off it.

My Thoughts: This is a story about three women's friendship and there is a mystery too. Cassandra, Sidney, and Amanda met in middle school and formed a lifelong friendship. 

Cassandra's mother killed her father when he caught Cassandra in the face with a fishhook. Of course, he had been abusing her mother Iris for years previous to that incident. Iris pled guilty, didn't want to plead extenuating circumstances, and didn't want Cassandra to have to testify. At age sixteen, Cassandra becomes a virtual orphan with her father dead and her mother in prison. Cassandra decides that she wants to help other spouses who are in abusive situations when she graduates from high school and her friends Sidney and Amanda want to help her. 

Cassandra names their organization Operation Starfish and they wrack up successes. But when one of the women they got out of a situation turns around and going back to her abusing husband who promptly kills her, Cassandra breaks up OpStar and leaves town. Leaving Sidney and Amanda to wonder where she went and try to fill the hole in their friendship.

Five years later, Cassandra is back and a suspect in the murder of the man who killed his wife and caused their organization to cease operation. Sidney and Amanda are quick to rush to her side along with Sean Beane who has been keeping an eye on the members of OpStar since they rescued his sister from a bad situation. He's fallen for Amanda.

The story isn't as straightforward as this precis. It is gradually revealed in flashbacks and comments between the three women. The story is filled with banter and pop culture references. Each of the women is a really, really quirky character. From Cassandra's obsession with dinner for breakfast to bookstore owner Amanda's desire to host a book signing for Edward Gorey (despite the fact that he died years ago) to Sidney's fear of moths, each woman is a unique individual. 

Fans of Davidson's writing style - her characters have no filters - will enjoy this story of friendship with a bit of mystery dropped in. 

Favorite Quote:
"At no point in our lives has 'don't worry' ever been followed by anything good."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Shards of Glass by Michelle Sagara

Shards of Glass

Michelle Sagara
Publication: MIRA; Original edition (November 28, 2023)

Description: The Academia, once an elite proving ground for the rulers of the world, has been frozen for centuries. Now its strange slumber has ended, and a new Chancellor, an orange-eyed dragon, has reopened its lecture halls and readied its dorms. In order to thrive once more, however, the Academia needs fresh blood—new students with a passion and talent for learning.

One such student, Robin, has the perfect recruit in mind: his friend Raven, an orphan who lives in the dangerous Warrens. Robin grew up in the Warrens, and he wouldn't have made it if not for Raven. He knows she’ll be safe at the Academia, where her unusual gifts can be appreciated.

But when students start turning up dead, the campus threatens to collapse completely. Raven and Robin will not let that happen to their new home…if they can survive long enough to figure out who—or what—is trying to kill them.

My Thoughts: SHARDS OF GLASS is set in the same world as the Chronicles of Elantra series and has some of the same characters. This story takes place at the recently rediscovered Academia which was once a center of learning for the world but was shifted out of its timeline in the battle to defeat Shadow which was set to consume the world. 

Young Robin was kidnapped from the Warrens when it was discovered that Academia needed students to complete its recovery. After the defeat of the people who wanted to use Academia to build their own powers and a new Chancellor was chosen, the quest for new students began. 

Robin proposed the friend who kept him alive in the Warrens when he was a child. Raven was a strange person who knew how to survive and chose to help Robin survive too. Robin is the one who named this child Raven and who acted as her interpreter to the world since she was almost completely nonverbal when they first paired up. 

Robin hoped that bringing Raven to Academia would provide the safety, food, and shelter that were so scarce in the Warrens. He wasn't expecting to drop her in the middle of a campus where random students were being murdered. 

Robin has been making new friends among the students including three of the Cohort of Barrani who were rescued from captivity in an earlier book of the Chronicles of Elantra. Serralyn loved the Academia especially its endless library staffed by Arbiters from three ancient, immortal races. And Terrano was another friend who was most changed by their captivity and now has very non-Barrani abilities. Robin is even friends with Starrante who is one of the librarians and a Wevaran who looks like a giant spider. 

As Robin and Raven work together to solve the murders and preserve this new home they learn more about each other and more about the pasts that are impacting their presents. 

This was an excellent, complex fantasy filled with magic and magical beings. Robin seems to be an ordinary human but one with a potential magical ability. Raven is anything but human which comes as a surprise to Robin. The Chancellor of the Academia is a dragon. The Arbiters are a Wevaran, an Ancient, and a Barrani. There are sentient buildings and human mages.

But beyond the fantastical elements, this is a story of friendship and love and finding a home. I really enjoyed it and would be eager for more stories in this world. 

Favorite Quote:
It was the discovery of the world's why that made the Academia so compelling to Robin -- and Serralyn, and probably to at least a third of the other students.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

ARC Review: The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor

The Fiction Writer

Jillian Cantor
Publication: Park Row (November 28, 2023)

Description: From USA Today-bestselling Jillian Cantor, The Fiction Writer follows a writer hired by a handsome billionaire to write about his family history with Daphne du Maurier and finds herself drawn into a tangled web of obsession, marital secrets, and stolen manuscripts.

The once-rising literary star Olivia Fitzgerald is down on her luck. Her most recent novel—a retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca—was a flop, her boyfriend of nine years just dumped her and she’s battling a bad case of writer’s block. So when her agent calls her with a high-paying ghostwriting opportunity, Olivia is all too willing to sign the NDA.

At first, the write-for-hire job seems too good to be true. All she has to do is interview Henry “Ash” Asherwood, a reclusive mega billionaire, twice named People’s Sexiest Man Alive, who wants her help in writing a book that reveals a shocking secret about his late grandmother and Daphne du Maurier. But when Olivia arrives at his Malibu estate, nothing is as it seems. The more Olivia digs into his grandmother’s past, the more questions she has—and before she knows it, she’s trapped in a gothic mystery of her own.

With as many twists and turns as the California coast, The Fiction Writer is a page-turner that explores the boundaries of creative freedom and whose stories we have the right to tell.

My Thoughts: Failing author Olivia Fitzgerald jumps at the chance to be a ghost writer in this gothic story. Olivia's first novel was a success, her second sold barely a thousand copies, and her editor hasn't been able to sell her third book. And her boyfriend of nine years has just dumped her. When her agent calls her with a high-paying ghostwriting opportunity, Olivia quickly signs the NDA and heads off to LA. 

When she learns that Henry Asherwood III a.k.a. Ash wants her to write the story of his grandmother Emilia's life, she's intrigued but skeptical. Ash is convinced the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca was stolen from his grandmother since it is the story of her life. He says that he wants Olivia to write the story because he read her second novel Becky which was also a retelling of Rebecca.

Olivia soon finds herself in her own retelling of Rebecca complete with a mysterious hero who might or might not have murdered his wife and who is very reluctant to answer questions about his grandmother's life and why he thinks du Maurier stole her story. There is also a mysterious housekeeper who has an agenda of her own and who was Ash's deceased wife's cousin. 

This was one twisty sort of thriller that takes a woman from a very unhappy state and transforms her. Olivia, though initially dazzled by Ash, manages to regain her independence and confidence as this story advances. She's helped by old friend Noah who has loved her from afar since their college days. 

Fans of meta fiction would be the best audience for this one. 

Favorite Quote:
"This feels very meta, doesn't it? Gorgeous widower, big house on the water, rumors about his wife's death."

Is that what had been bothering me, what I couldn't quite put into words? I'd practically stepped inside my own personal retelling of Rebecca, hadn't I? And I was supposed to be writing some sort of story about Emilia Asherwood and Rebecca, after I'd written my own Rebecca retelling. Charley was right. Extremely meta.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Audiobook Review: Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters

Guardian of the Horizon

Elizabeth Peters
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Series: Amelia Peabody (Book 16)
Publication: HarperAudio (August 11, 2004)
Length: 14 hours and 36 minutes

Description: "A hitherto lost journal of Amelia Peabody's has been miraculously recovered -- a chronicle from one of the "missing years" -- 1907-1908 -- shedding new light on an already exceptional career, a remarkable family . . . and an unexpected terror"

Ousted from their most recent archaeological dig and banned from the Valley of the Kings, the Emersons are spending the summer at home in England, when a mysterious messenger arrives. Claiming to be the brother of their dear friend Tarek, prince of the mysterious Lost Oasis, the herald brings news of a strange malady that has struck down Tarek's heir and conveys his urgent need for help.

Driven by loyalty, the family sets off in secret, braving the treacherous desert climate on a trek fraught with dangers. Guided by only a crumbling map, the Emersons are unaware that deception is leading them onward into a nest of vipers -- where a dreadful fate may await.

My Thoughts: The Emersons head back to the Lost Oasis first visited in The Last Camel Died at Noon when a messenger arrives saying that Tarek and his young son are very ill and in need of medical attention. But planning a secret expedition is not an easy thing. 

The Emersons need to fool rival archaeologists, the military, and assorted treasure hunters on their way to the hidden city. But there are just so many suspicious characters surrounding their expedition. Ramses rescues Daria who is the property of a big game hunter who wants to know where the treasure is. He falls for her but she has her own agenda. 

When they arrive at the lost city, they learn that their guide has misled them. There has been a coup which has removed Tarek from his throne and Tarek has survived to go off and be with his faction. But neither side in the conflict has enough forces to defeat the other. 

The usurper has plans for Nefret which involve her being taken from the Emersons and forced to work for him to cement his legitimacy. But the Emersons aren't going to let that happen. Nor are they going to let either side start a war which will kill many on both sides. They are going to use their heroic status and reputations to make things go their way.

When Amelia learns that Sethos has his hand in the events, she keeps this news from Emerson but finds a way for Sethos to help her with her plans. 

This was another excellent adventure in the Amelia Peabody series. I also enjoyed the parts of the story that were from Manuscript H.

I bought this one with an Audible Credit. You can buy your copy here.

Book Review: Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

Hide in Plain Sight

Marta Perry
Series: The Three Sisters Inn (Book 1)
Publication: Love Inspired Suspense; Original edition (August 7, 2007)

Description: Book one of The Three Sisters Inn: Danger awaits the Hampton sisters in quiet Amish country.


So when her sister was injured, financial expert Andrea Hampton traded the big city for Amish country to help turn her grandmother's house into an inn.)

But life with the Plain People took a treacherous turn when a string of accidents and pranks threatened her family. Someone didn't want the secrets the old house harbored to come to light. Trusting anyone—even the handsome carpenter who seemed so genuine—was a battle for Andrea, but her life depended on her ability to find the truth…

My Thoughts: This Christian romantic suspense title stars Andrea Hampton who has left Amish country behind to try to find security in her job in Philadelphia and Calvin Burke who has given up city life and his law practice to find his faith and make furniture in Amish country.

When Andrea learns that her younger sister was hurt in a hit-and-run accident and rushes to be by her side, she is drawn back into the life she thought she had left behind forever. Her grandmother and the injured Rachel are in the beginning of setting up their family home as a B&B which Andrea thinks is a bad idea. 

Andrea isn't alone in her thinking. Her grandfather's partner is his real estate agency thinks it is a bad idea. So does the owner of the other local B&B who is trying to sabotage the startup. There have been attempts at theft and various acts of vandalism. Worst of all for Andrea is that her grandmother's financial situation is much less robust than she had believed. 

Andrea is torn between the needs of her family and her own need for financial security after an unstable childhood. Her determination to return to her life in Philadelphia hampers any hope of romance with Calvin who is just as adamant about not returning to a life that hurt his soul. The attraction between the two of them is strong though and grows stronger as they investigate to determine who wants to harm her grandmother's new business. 

Fans of Christian romantic suspense will enjoy this story. 

Favorite Quote:
He couldn't will himself into finding peace and joy in the everyday things of life. That only happened when he forgot the effort and simply lost himself in what he was doing. 
I bought this one July 17, 2009. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, November 20, 2023

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 20, 2023)

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.

Want to See What I Added to My Stack? links to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality.

Other Than Reading...

This was a lovely late Fall week. Temperatures approached 50 a few days and the skies were sunny which finally let us make some solar power after a very cloudy month. 

After a break to read some things of my own, I'm back to reading mostly review copies as I tackle the books that are being released December 26 and in early January. I also need to start setting up draft posts for my January calendar. January is nearly full already. I only have open spots for two books and two audiobooks since I have a bunch of review books and have some scheduled posts that got bumped for late-arriving review copies. 

Last week I visited my ophthalmologist for my annual eye exam and was pleased to learn that my vision didn't change enough to require new glasses and the cataract in my left eye doesn't yet affect my vision enough for surgery. I was glad to have my brother as chauffeur since those eye drops really mess up my vision. 

This week is appointment free. All that is on the agenda is Thanksgiving which will be a quiet celebration including a sheet pan Thanksgiving dinner. My brother has mostly 11:30 - 7:30 shifts this week with Monday and Thursday off. That means I'm on my own for dinner most nights and he doesn't get a real dinner. I see lots of brunches in my future if I want to eat at the same time he does. 

Last week's reading helped me reduce TBR mountain a tiny bit. I was especially pleased to find two great stories that I had purchased in 2009. Of course, I needed to buy the third which added one back to the stack. I also chipped away at two series that I am trying to complete -- the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt and the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews. Luckily, neither has to be read in order since I was introduced to both series by getting ARCs from NetGalley for titles late in the series.

I have something of a dilemma though. I have a bunch of unread Meg Langslow audiobooks that I've purchased from Chirp but I don't have book 5 in the series. I don't know if I want the Kindle copy for $9.99 after my Kindle Rewards discount or the audiobook copy using an Audible credit. I don't have to make a quick decision. Maybe We'll Always Have Parrots will go on sale at Amazon or Chirp before I have time to read it which will likely be for my February calendar. 

Or I could continue to read the Andy Carpenter series since I do have the next ones already on my Kindle...

Read Last Week

Reviews for these are available on my LibraryThing and Goodreads accounts. I've indicated in each description when the review will be posted on this blog.
  • The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters (Audiobook reread) -- Last book written by chronologically the 14th book in the Amelia Peabody series contains a number of copies of the famous Nefertiti statue and a group of bumbling assassins. My review will be posted on December 12.
  • Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (Mine since November 7, 2023) -- Second in the Empyrean epic fantasy series. My review will be posted on December 6.
  • Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore (Mine since July 19, 2009) -- YA urban fantasy starring Maggie Quinn who wants to be an investigative reporter and is busy denying her psychic gifts. My review will be posted on December 7.
  • Kris Longknife: Bold by Mike Shepherd (Mine since October 13, 2022) -- Fourteenth in the Kris Longknife space opera series. My review will be posted on December 9.
  • Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore (Mine since July 19, 2009) -- Second in the Maggie Quinn YA urban fantasy series. My review will be posted on December 12.
  • The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas (Audiobook Reread) -- Charlotte Holmes and her associates need to enter a well-guarded French chateau and steal a painting which contains blackmail letters for one of Mrs. Watson's old friends. My review will be posted on December 14.
  • One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt (Mine since November 2, 2022) -- Ninth in the Andy Carpenter series. Entertaining mystery. My review will be posted on December 16.
  • Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz (Reread; got my new Kindle copy October 21, 2023) -- Sweet science fiction romance. My review will be posted on December 13 for this book that I first read before 2008.
  • Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon by Donna Andrews (Mine since November 22, 2022) -- Fourth in the Meg Langslow series. Filled with great characters and laugh-out-loud moments. My review will be posted on December 14.
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

What was your week like?