Monday, February 26, 2024

Nowhere Like Home - Sara Shepard

Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about unreliable characters! Pretty much every character in Sara Shephard's new book, Nowhere Like Home, is lying. And I loved trying to figure out what was the truth.

Nowhere Like Home is told through three women's narratives - Lenna, Sarah and Rhiannon. There is a fourth woman, and her narrative is told a bit differently. Shepard did a great creating her characters. I was drawn to one in particular, and could understand the motives of another. But one is downright dangerous. As the book progressed, my opinion about what the final chapters would bring was challenged. I love not being to predict a plot. 

Friendship is the driving theme in this book. What makes a good friend? How much of your life would you reveal? Some? All? And what if that trust was broken.... 

As readers we are privy to some (but not all) of the lies being told. The not knowing the answer as to what the truth, was kept me engrossed from first page to last. There's lots of suspense and action as well. A few plot devices were a bit overboard for me - but just go with it. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

The Guest - B. A. Paris

I've enjoyed B.A. Paris's past titles and happily picked up her latest - The Guest - without reading the synopsis.

The opening prologue is the now, and the book then takes the reader back to the beginning.

When couple Laure and Pierre separate, Laure heads to the countryside home of their friends, Ivy and Gabriel. Ivy and Gabriel come home from a holiday of their own to find Laure ensconced in their bedroom. Wearing Ivy's clothes as well. A bit of a shock, but they want to help out their friends in any way they can.

I thought this was a great opening scenario. What next? And also a chance to meet the lead characters, especially Ivy. I was curious as to what would happen next.

What happens next is a slow burning tale. Ivy is a bit of a pushover. Laure takes advantage of her and Ivy makes excuses for her, over and over again. And as much Ivy and Gabriel are doing the right thing, I found it was really hard to like both of them. Gabriel is also dealing with an issue of his own. The supporting cast was newly arrived neighbours and a gardener. And as the book progressed I felt the same about them as well. Too friendly, too fast, too unbelievable.

Things pick up in the second half of the book as I waited to see if my suspicions were correct. Not quite on every thread, which is always appreciated. 

A good read, but not my favorite from Paris. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Guest.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Last Word - Gerri Lewis

The Last Word by Gerri Lewis is newly released.

Now, you might be right if you surmised that The Last Word is a cosy mystery! That pup on the cover is Diva - and she has a role in things - beyond being cute. 

Obituary writer Winter Snow is our lead character. She has been asked to meet with Mrs. Arlington and have her obituary created in two days. And yes, Mrs. A is found dead and  last person have seen her is....yes, you guessed right again. Winter is now the prime suspect. It soon looks like the two officers investigating  have quite different methods and ideas. And so does Winter - she dives right in to clear her name - and find the person who's guilty.

There's a wealth of supporting characters that gives us more than one culprit to choose from. Some are innocent and some are duplicitous. Can you suss out the killer before the end of the book?

Lewis takes her time and rounds out the players with personal lives. She describes the settings very well. And...there's a dog. All good cosys have a dog. ;0) (okay - or a cat)

I chose to listen to The Last Word. The narrator was Alex Raby and she was a great choice.
Her pacing is great, she enunciates well and her voice is pleasant on the ears. She uses her voice to accentuate dialogue, emotions and actions of the book. Her voice has movement, holding the listener's attention. She provides different voices for the many questions. 

A lovely cosy, and a good presentation. 9 Hours, 41 Minutes

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Boy Who Cried Bear - Kelley Armstrong

Oh my gosh, I have been eagerly waiting for the second entry - The Boy Who Cried Bear - in Kelley Armstrong's Haven's Rock series. 

Now, you could read the book as a stand alone, but you'd be missing some great tales in the books before this title.

What is Haven's Rock? It's a well-hidden town surrounded by forest, way up north in the Yukon. It's a refuge for those who need to disappear. Which opens the door to so many plots!

All of the favourite characters are back - notably Detective Casey Duncan and her husband, Sheriff Eric Dalton. The core group of supporting players are also back. But, there are some new faces as well. And for the first time, a child has been granted a place in the town. 

Max is only ten. When he goes into the forest, he thinks he has seen a bear. But when he goes back to town and tells everyone that the bear had human eyes, he is told not to tell tales. Yeah, you can see where the plot is gong to go, right?

Here's the things that I love about this series. The plot is never a straight road, instead there are new ideas, events, deductions and more that change that road into a winding path to the final answers. I change my opinion on whodunit with each new revelation. I really enjoy how Casey and Dalton think things through, coming up with new avenues. They're adept in reading both people and the wilds. They're a couple in both work and at home. Their personal lives move forward with each book.

The idea of that town off the grid is somewhat tantalizing. What would it be like to walk away from it all? Armstrong gives us a look at her idea how it might look - and how  it would function. There has to be some structure. And there will always be someone who says differently.

There's answers to the goings on in this latest, but the door is open for what's going to happen next. I can't wait!

I really like Armstrong's writing. Her books make for addictive reading. So, my advice would be to clear a day on your calendar, hunker down and make a visit to Haven's Rock.

See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Boy Who Cried Bear. An easy five stars!

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Framed Women of Ardemore House - Brandy Schillace

I loved the cover of Brandy Schillace's new novel - The Framed Women of Ardemore House

There's lots of clues on that cover, as to what you'll find inside the book if you look closely. A gun, a skeleton key, flowers, women's profiles and a manor house. The title itself holds a pertinent addition to the plot. I went in thinking this book would be set in the past. Not quite - it's about the past, but firmly set in the here and now.

Jo Jones is the new owner of Ardemore House. She's an American who has never set foot in England, let alone inheriting a manor house. But she's excited at this turn in her life. But...there's a bump in her new life. (Well, really more than one. And a bit bigger than a bump).

Jo is such a great lead character. She is self described as a neurodivergent, hyperlexic and divorced. She's a quick thinker that can see the pieces she needs, but has trouble making sure that others see what she means at times. The other lead character is DCI MacAdams. His inner dialogue and thinking adds so much to the book. Did I mention he's divorced as well? I realize I've left out the reason for his inclusion in this tale. That would be the dead handyman found in Jo's cottage. And the worrisome news that she's a suspect...

Schillace is a clever, clever writer. The plot is multilayered and offers up many avenues for things to take, in the now and in the the then. The two leads are fabulous characters, as are the supporting cast. I would love to see MacAdams and Jones again. Surely there's another body somewhere in the small village...

See for yourself - read an excerpt of the Framed Women of Ardemore house. I'm excited to find that Schillace has three previous books. I'll be checking them out and watching for new titles. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Original Sins - Erin Young

Original Sins is the newest book from Erin Young.

This second book in a series brings back Riley Fisher, now a FBI rookie. She needs to hit the ground running as she's been assigned to protect the new governor, who has received death threats. And a historical serial killer named The Sin Eater, seems to be back...

Riley is an engaging lead character. She's smart, intuitive and driven. But she's being stymied by a co worker. He doesn't want to work with Riley, leaving her out and taking off on his own tangents. Riley wonders if it's her personally - or is it all women? This is a theme throughout the book in Riley's beliefs, actions and in her work. I also enjoyed the personal life Young has written for Riley. 

This book is set in Des Moines, Iowa. I'm familiar with this area and it was fun to say "I've been there". But also a little worrisome about such a dark crime being committed in this area!

The book is busy with two crimes, a raft of suspects and supporting players. Young gives the listener many paths and a choice of culprits to consider before the final ah ha moments. Gentle readers - there are some triggers in the book.

I chose to listen to Original Sins. The reader was Kate Handford. She did a great job of presenting Young's work. Handford speaks clearly, is easy on the ears and sets the perfect pace. She has lots of movement in her voice and she easily expresses the emotions of the characters and the action of the plot. She has created a voice that suits the mental image I had for Riley. Voices for male characters are believable. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Original Sins.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Village in the Dark - Iris Yamashita

Village in the Dark is the second book in Iris Yamashita's Detective Cara Kennedy series. (Yes, this can be read as a stand alone.)

Yamashita takes us back up to Alaska and the fictional village of Point Mettier. The entire village lives in a high rise building. This setting is based on an actual village that does indeed live in one building. I enjoyed the descriptions of life inside and the many idiosyncrasies of the inhabitants.

Cara suffered a loss in the last book. She thought she had put that loss to bed, so to say, but the past is still knocking on the door.

Yamashita gives us some great opening chapters - from the point of three women. Cara, Ellie and Mia. Ellie is a feisty landlady at the building. And Mia is a young woman who was raised in the bush, but has decamped to the city of Anchorage. Three very different backgrounds, skills and ages give the reader a different take on what's going on. Each is engaging, but I think I enjoyed Ellie the most. The narrative changes every chapter - which had me staying up to read 'just one more chapter.'

The crime in the book is not new, but Yamashita has put her own twist on the final how why. There's lots of tension and action throughout the novel. I can see this book being made into a movie. Yamashita is an award winning screenwriter with four Oscar nominations.

There are a few plot devices that need to be taken with a pinch of salt - just go with it. Overall, a great addictive read. I would happily pick the next book. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Village in the Dark.